Food

Airy Decadence in Beverly Hills—Le Mervetty

  • 9th March 2014

The boutique pâtisserie, Le Mervetty Beverly Hills, is named after a French-born and Belgian perfected dessert—should I repeat that?  I think I will!  French born, Belgian perfected dessert.   It’s called the ‘Merveilleux’ and it is made by way of delicately stacking crumbly meringue together with decadent whipped cream.

 

 

The chocolate Mervetty

The chocolate Mervetty

 

 

 

A dessert, with a heritage drawing back to two nations with a collective conscience focused on pastry perfection, has to be divine.  Its namesake in Beverly Hills is perfection as well.

 

Le Petit Mervetty in a 6-pack and 12-pack

Le Petit Mervetty, beautifully packaged, in a 6-pack and 12-pack.

 

 

Le Mervetty in Beverly Hills offers a selection airy temptations in flavors ranging from praline to speculoos to chocolate.  They come in regular and the adorable, mignon petit size.

 

 

Coffee flavored Mervetty

Coffee flavored Mervetty

Praline Mervetty

Praline Mervetty

 

 

 

The praline tastes as good as it sounds:  Meringue layers, hazelnut praline whipped cream covered with caramelized praline feuilletines.

 

The desserts are as eye-catchingly elegant as they are delicious.  They look especially lovely displayed on a tiered stand amongst colorful spring flowers like anemone and ranunculus.

 

 

Les Petits on Tiered Crane from Anthropologie.

Les Petits on Tiered Crane from Anthropologie.

 

 

Sharing is hard, thankfully!  It is particularly difficult to maintain elegance when cutting into them.  Here’s a peek inside with the neatest cross-section we could obtain.

 

 

 

Neatly cut Speculoos and Chocolate Mervetty.

Neatly cut Speculoos and Chocolate Mervetty.

 

 

Le Mervetty also tempts visitors with Le Pavlova—meringue layers, fresh strawberries, vanilla whipped cream covered with crystallized meringues and Le Grand Mervetty for bigger parties and fêtes.

 

 

Le Pavlova

Le Pavlova

 

 

 

 

Le Grand Mervetty

Le Grand Mervetty

 

 

 

Le Mervetty

319 North Canon Drive

Beverly Hills, CA

lemervetty.com

 

 

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Little Kisses

  • 9th January 2014

Cronuts, Dossants, Cupcakes, Macarons and Cake Pops have met a rival trend across the Pond by way of the light, airy and perfectly petite Meringue.

 

 

 

Bite-sized decadence offered by the Meringue Girls in London

Bite-sized decadence. Photo courtesy of: meringuegirls.co.uk

 

 

 

Enter the Meringue Girls and their kaleidoscope of mouthwatering colors!!

 

 

A kaleidoscope of flavors offered by the Meringue Girls in the UK

A kaleidoscope of flavors offered by the Meringue Girls in the UK

 

 

 

The tiny meringue is sweet, complex and rich—while being concurrently ethereal in texture and experience.

 

 

The inside of a rosewater and pistachio meringue
Mallowy inside of a meringue by Meringue Girls UK

 

 

The central texture of their meringue, made solely of free-range egg whites and British grown sugar (as the base meringue) is reminiscent of a melt-in-the-mouth marshmallow.  But, the flavors span the globe in sophistication:  Manuka honey; Lemongrass and Ginger; Matcha green tea; Mojito; Strawberry and Black pepper; Pistachio and Rosewater; Sugared almond; Mince pie…..the list goes on and on and on!

 

 

Piping the Meringues.  Photo courtesy of: meringuegirls.co.uk

Piping the Meringues. Photo courtesy of: meringuegirls.co.uk

 

 

How could you have a gathering and not want this on display?  It’s their best seller and one look will reveal why.  A vintage apple crate filled with 170 intoxicatingly beautiful kisses.

 

 

A vintage apple crate filled with a rainbow selection of meringues offered by the Meringue GIrls in the UK

 

 

The girls behind the brand, Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman also offer master classes.

 

 

 

Jars of meringues offered by The Meringue Girls of the UK

 

 

The cute-as-a-button kisses are currently available upon delivery and stocked at:

Selfridges

Harvey Nichols

Fortnum & Mason London

 

 

meringuegirls.co.uk

 

*All photos courtesy of: meringuegirls.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Iced Tea

  • 6th June 2013

Move over traditional iced-tea and make way for tamarind…

 

Tamarind Juice

Iced Tamarind Juice at the Amantaka, delicious and refreshing alongside freshly made plantain chips

 

This sophisticated sweet & sour drink is perfection iced on the hottest days.  Thus, its popularity in tropical climates.

Try this replacement for the standard iced-tea, either in your fridge in the heart of summer, or for your next home-based gathering.

Tamarind is a leguminous tree indigenous to tropical Africa that likely reached South Asia by way of humans thousands of years ago.

It is here in South Asia, Laos to be precise, that we fell in love with the iced-drink.  It is high in acid and sugar, thus providing an unmistakable sweet and sour taste, as well as Vitamin B and Calcium.

 

Tamarind Juice Amantaka

 

The Amantaka was very hospitable in sharing their signature recipe for this tropical classic.

 

Tamarind Juice:

Ingredients

500 grams Tamarind

300 grams honey

200 grams sugar

3 liters of drinking water

 

Directions:

 

1.)   Cover the tamarind with the water and boil for 40 minutes

2.)   While the tamarind is still hot add the sugar and stir until dissolved

3.)   Strain liquid and add the honey.  Adjust the taste with more or less honey to obtain the perfect sweet and sour taste.

4.)   Chill.  Serve with ice

 

 Enjoy!!!

 

The primary health benefits of tamarind appear to be related to ease of digestion.  It can serve as a very very mild laxative.  Tamarind is also a great anti-oxidant and assists with inflammation.

 

 

If You’re Heading to…Roma

  • 3rd June 2013

You cannot, absolutely cannot miss Ciampini!

 

Ciampini Gelato
Ciampini at Night

 

 

 

We tried a lot of gelato in Rome, a lot!  Every time it was not Ciampini we regretted it.  A few times we actually frequented somewhere new, threw away our order and headed back to Ciampini.  If in Rome eating gelato, we had to eat the best.

 

Making Gelato at Ciampini
Ciampini Tartufo

 

 

 

Why is it so amazing? According to their web site, they use a technique which allows for more air, thereby increasing the softness of their gelato.  We agree, it is like liquid velvet.  They use the highest quality ingredients and the most ‘noble fats.’  (An excellent term)!

 

Ciampini Crema/Pistachio
Ciampini Desserts

 

Beyond their gelato, their food is actually delicious as well.  Their Cacio e Pepe is simple in presentation but wonderfully rich and flavorful.  The ambiance rivals the food as to which is the bigger draw!  The piazza is perfect for people watching, spacious enough to give you breathing room yet quaint enough to feel cozy.  It’s right off of a main artery for strolling through Rome, Via del Corso, so the location is ideal and easy.

 

Ciampini Ambiance
Ciampini Ambiance

 

Our favorite gelato flavors:  Zabaglione, Gianduja, Chocolate Fondant

 

Piazza S. Lorenzo in Lucina, 29
00186 Roma – Tel. 06/6876606

Via della Fontanella di Borghese, 59

00186 Roma – Tel. 06/68135108

 

www.ciampini.com

 

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 1st June 2013

In the spirit of delicious Cacio e Pepe, just a few months back, Bon Appetit came out with a fabulous recipe for this simple, gratifying dish.  Enjoy!!

 

Cacio Pepe Bon Appetit

Photo Courtesy of: bonappetit.com

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino

Preparation

  • Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

Recipe Courtesy of:  Bon Appetit

The below link includes a video to watch preparation of this dish.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/05/cacio-e-pepe

 

 

Allure d’Asie Part Two

  • 30th May 2013

One of our favorite weeknight recipes takes the ease and comfort of a corn tortilla and loads it with simple, fresh Asian flavors.

 

Asian Pork Taco

 

 

 

 

Recipe adapted from William Sonoma Five-Spice Pork Wraps.

 

Ingredients:

4 tsp. Chinese five spice

1 Tbs. kosher salt

3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

6 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 10 large pieces

3 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 yellow onions, diced

1 1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 Tbs. minced garlic

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/3 tsp.  red pepper or cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

 

For Serving:

2 cups chopped fresh basil

1 pack fresh corn tortillas

2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

2 limes

3 carrots thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler

 

 

Thinly Sliced Carrots

 

 

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine the Chinese five spice, red pepper, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture evenly on the pork.

In a pot, over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the oil. Working in batches, brown the pork on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl.

 

 

Cooking the Pork Wraps

 

 

Reduce the heat to medium and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Add the yellow onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, the 1/3 cup rice vinegar, and the broth and bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pot. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake, turning the pork occasionally, until it is fork-tender, about 2 3/4 hours.
Using tongs and a fork, pull the pork apart into large chunks and gently shred.

 

 

Shredded Pork

 

 

On warm, blistered tortillas (we heat on the stove directly)  serve pork topped with basil, cilantro and carrots.  Squeeze fresh lime onto the top before rolling and eating!

 

Asian Taco Fixings

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 9th May 2013

Tam Mak HoongThe Best Green Papaya Salad

 

Finished Green Papaya Salad

The finished Green Papaya salad ready to devour

Green Papaya Salad Ingredients

Green Papaya Salad Ingredients

 

 

This salad, which we made in a cooking class in Luang Prabang Laos is fresh, savory, healthy and super easy.  It’s one you will definitely turn to again and again. It has very few ingredients so the key is making sure they are of superior quality.

 

Shopping for ingredients in the morning market Luang Prabang

Shopping for ingredients at the morning market in Luang Prabang

 

 

Ingredients:

 

2 cups green papaya, julienne

4 pcs, cherry tomatoes halved

4 pcs, Thai eggplant quartered

1 tsp sugar

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs lime juice

2 cloves garlic

3 pcs chili (optional)

2 tbs roasted peanuts

 

Instructions:

Peel the papaya.

 

Fresh Green Papaya for Salad

Fresh Green Papaya for Salad

Peeled with a traditional Lao shell peeler

Peeled with a traditional Lao shell peeler

Traditional Lao shell peelers

Traditional Lao shell peelers

 

 

 

Finely slice the papaya.

 

Papaya being sliced in a traditional style

Papaya being sliced in a traditional style. (Feel free to use your favorite mandoline slicer)

Julienned papaya for the salad

Julienned papaya for the salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using mortar stone, pound (chili-optional), garlic, sugar, until smooth.  Add raw eggplant and tomato, crushed not pounded.

 

Smashing the eggplant for the dressing

Smashing the eggplant for the dressing

 

Add papaya, season with fish sauce,lime juice and a pinch of salt.  Pound while mixing them.  Serve with roasted peanuts on top.

 

Smashing and mixing all of the ingredients

Smashing and mixing all of the ingredients

 

 

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

Frites Fantastique

  • 26th April 2013

If you made a New Year’s resolution involving healthy eating and you are still sticking with it, this is not the post for you!  If you have designs on a particular swim suit for the summer which involves steadfast will-power, look away!

 

 

 

Herbed French Fries

 

For everyone else, these French fries, or herbed chips as Nigelissima would call them are absolutely fabulous!!

 

I watched her make them, courtesy of Thai Airways inflight entertainment, as we had just begun to make our way across the Pacific ocean.  Then, I thought about them for the next 14+ hours.

 

Her secret is putting the potatoes into cold oil.  As she puts it, you would think the fries would emerge soggy, but in fact the insides are light and fluffy and the outsides perfectly crispy.

 

Cut your potatoes into generously sized wedges, leaving the skin on, and lightly dry them on a paper towel.

 

Potato Wedges for Frying

 

 

Lightly salt them.  Place them in your preferred oil on the stove and then fire up the heat to high.  When the oil is bubbling add about 6-7 cloves of garlic to the pan, again skin on.  The garlic caramelizes within the thin skin exuding a delicious subtle flavor to the fries.

 

While lightly turning the fries add a thin coating of coarse sea salt.

 

Just before removing the fries from the pan, add a palm full of hand-torn fresh sage and let it fry for 1 minute.

 

Fresh Sage

 

 

Remove fries from the oil and let them stand on a paper towel to absorb any excess grease.  Arrange fries on a platter and season generously with coarse sea salt and the fried sage.  Remove skins from garlic and sprinkle slightly crushed cloves throughout.   Serve immediately.

 

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 20th April 2013

Pistachio Madeleines

These pistachio madeleines are the perfect Sunday afternoon snack.  They have a delicate nutty flavor and the clarified butter lends a light, fluffy texture. The recipe is from the LA Times and was adapted from Keswick Hall in Virginia.

 

 

Pistachio Madeleines

 

 

Total time: 45 minutes

Servings: Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

 

 

Pistachio Madeleines
Pistachio Madeleines

 

 

1 1/4 cups clarified butter (the butter should be firm but not hard), plus more for greasing

To make the clarified butter, heat 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter in a small saucepan over low heat; allow the butter to melt and separate, then spoon off any foam on the top and remove the pan from the heat. Gently ladle out the clear (clarified) butter, leaving the milky residue in the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate the butter until it is firm but not hard, about 2 hours.

1 1/3 cups sugar

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

2 cups flour

 

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and salt, then fold in the pistachios and flour just until fully incorporated.

2. Pipe or spoon the batter into greased madeleine molds. Bake until set and light brown, about 10 minutes. Cool the cookies in the trays 10 minutes before removing from the molds.

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 17th April 2013

How many ways can you use bananas and the bounty of the banana tree?

 

Banana Tree

Banana tree in Ban Xieng Men, Laos

Banana Tree

Banana tree off of the lane in Ban Xieng Men, Laos

 

 

 

 

 

In Laos the banana flower is cut up and used in traditional salads, the leaves are used to steam food like fish, often as decorative plates for meals and in traditional floral décor and offerings.

 

Banana Flower

Banana Flowers for sale in the morning market in Luang Prabang

Banana Leaf Plate

Banana Leaf Plate

Banana Leaf Floral Offerings

Floral Offerings

 

Experiencing all the unexpected ways they use bananas in Laos inspired us to dig-up this surprising and delicious beloved banana cake recipe.  Similar to the above, it is an unexpected role for bananas in that they are center-stage in an upside down cake—nudging pineapple right out of the spotlight!

 

 

 

Caramel-Walnut Banana Upside Down Cake

Caramel-Walnut Banana Upside Down Cake. Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit

 

 

Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake 

(Recipe from Bon Appetit, March, 2008)

 

Ingredients

Topping

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves or pieces

Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3 large)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Preparation

topping

  • Spray 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. (We substitute a 9″ cake pan here) Bring butter, sugar, and corn syrup to boil in medium saucepan, stirring constantly until butter melts. Boil syrup 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Spread topping in prepared pan. Let topping cool completely.

cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then mashed bananas, sour cream, rum, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 2 additions just until combined. Spoon batter into pan.
  • Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Cut around cake. Place platter over pan. Holding pan and platter together, turn over. Let stand 5 minutes, then gently lift off pan. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 10th April 2013

The Queen of Fruits

Why is it called the ‘Queen of Fruits?’  Some believe because of the legend that Queen Victoria offered a reward of 100 pounds sterling to anyone who could deliver her fresh Mangosteen.  Even a few years ago, Mangosteen sold for up to $45 per pound in some specialty stores in New York.

 

 

Mangosteen

 

 

In our humble opinion it tastes like a strawberry coated in sugar, it’s so good!

 

The tropical evergreen tree is believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Molaccas of Indonesia.  The rind of the fruit, which is not edible, is a deep, beautiful, reddish purple when ripe. Mangosteens are best when harvested from May-August.  To eat or use the Mangosteen, cut the shell around the circumference of the fruit.  Rotate it gently and remove the shell.

 

Mangosteens have become more readily available in the United States recently.  They can be found at high-end specialty grocers, or Asian markets

 

Mangosteen and Lime Sorbet

2 Mangosteens delicately halved with stones discarded.  (Keep outer shell of fruit to serve in)

1 lime juiced

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 egg white

4 ice cubes

 

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth

Empty the mixture into a shallow container and let it set, for approximately 15-20 minutes in the freezer

Scoop the mixture into the preserved mangosteen shells

Serve immediately, garnished with fresh mint or a pinch of freshly grated lime zest

 

Recipe courtesy of:  Ready Steady Cook

 

 

Cadeaux Parfait—Prix Parfait (Deux)

  • 5th April 2013

You’ve asked for it again and we’ve obliged!  Our second part in the ongoing series….Cadeaux Parfait!  Perfect gifts for under $50.00 (for you, a hostess, your best girlfriend, your great aunt!)

 

 

 

Sweet Creations

 

Beautiful, unique and delicious, ‘the Cinderella shoe,’ by Sweet Creations is completely edible and made from finely sourced chocolate.  Comes elegantly packaged

Cinderella Shoebit.ly/14wjJuY, $40.00

 

 

Antique Silver Condiment Set Pottery Barn

 

 

Antique Silver Condiment Set, potterybarn.com, $49.50

 

Tylt Y-Charge Dual USB Car Charger compatible with any device that takes a USB charger

 

tylt y-charge
tylt y-charge
tylt y-charge

 

 

 

 

tylt.com $25.00

 

 

Ballard Designs Beverage Tags

 

Set of 6 Beverage Tags, Ballard Designs.com, $15.00

Pure Tangerine Extract, igourmet.com, $12.99*

 

*Tangerine Extract is delicious in numerous cold drinks from lemonade to punch to iced-tea

 

 

Romano Tumblers

 

The perfect housewarming gift for the new couple:  two gorgeous tumblers and fancy cold-drinks for the fridge!

 

Romano Tumblers, exhibit.net.au, $17.00 a piece

Riemes French Limonades Blood Orange, amazon.com, $3.99

 

 

4" Bottle Vase with Wood Holder

 

 

4″ Bottle Vase with Wood Holder, set of 4, worldmarket.com, $9.99

 

1 bunch of multi-colored gerber daisies

 

Crossed Spoons Plate Stand

 

 

Crossed Spoons Plate Stand, anthropologie.com, $20.00

La Woof Plate, anthropologie.com, $24.00

 

Cave Coasters Zara Home

 

Cave Coasters, zarahome.com, $16.00

Fred Cool Jewels Ice Cube Tray, amazon.com, $7.64

 

 

Williams Sonoma Food Made Fast Asian Cookbook

 

 

Williams Sonoma Food Made Fast Asian Cookbook, williams-sonoma.com, $17.95

Norpro Deluxe 3-piece Bamboo Steamer, amazon.com, $16.84

 

 

 

Madeleine mold

 

 

Melamine Faience a la Corne plate, johnderian.com, $9.50

Norpro Non-Stick Mini-Madeleine Pan, bakedeco.com, $14.90

Gourmet Bourbon Vanilla Beans, lifegourmetshop.com, $9.99

 

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 3rd April 2013

These adorable spoons deserve a delicious accompaniment and this they find in Hazelnut Gâteau Breton.    If you like Gianduja or Nutella, trust us, you will LOVE this cake.  It’s dense and buttery and is traditionally served with coffee in the late afternoon.  It is unmistakably French in that it is amazingly simple in ingredients, yet complex in flavor and texture.

 

Gateau Breton

Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit

 

Hazelnut Gâteau Breton

Recipe from Bon Appetit, May 2007

 

  • 1 1/4 cups Vanilla Sugar , divided  (SEE Recipe below for Vanilla Sugar—It’s worth making as you can use it all other baking recipes sprinkle it on yogurt or enjoy it in your morning tea or coffee.  A real treat!)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, husked
  • 6 large egg yolks (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, melted
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
  • Whole strawberries with stems attached or warm strawberry jam (optional)

 

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Combine 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar and hazelnuts in processor; blend until nuts are finely ground but not pasty. Combine 6 egg yolks and remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar in large bowl; whisk until well blended and slightly thicker, about 2 minutes (do not use electric mixer). Whisk in hazelnut mixture. Gradually whisk in melted butter. Sift flour over batter; stir just until blended (batter will be thick; do not over-mix or cake may be tough).

Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top with offset spatula (layer will be thin). Brush top generously with egg glaze. Using back of tines of fork, deeply mark crisscross pattern atop cake, marking 3 times across in 1 direction and 3 times in opposite direction. Bake cake until deep golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes, then remove pan sides and cool cake completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature.

Cut cake into wedges and serve with whole strawberries or with warm strawberry jam.

Vanilla Sugar:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 coarsely chopped vanilla bean

Blend sugar and vanilla bean in processor until bean is finely ground. Store in covered container at room temperature at least 2 days, then strain through fine strainer before using.

 

 

 

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 1st April 2013

Persephone n’est pas seule!

 

She is not alone.  Throughout time the pomegranate has been revered and for good reason.

 

persephone & Pomegranate

Photo Courtesy of: Google Images

pomegranate seeds

 

 

 

 

According to Greek mythology Persephone could not resist the temptation of a juicy pomegranate seed and thus she was bound to the underworld (at least for part of the year) with Hades.   But, even before the Greeks, the Zoroastrians were using pomegranates in many sacred ceremonies, in fact in Persian mythology, Isfandiyar eats a pomegranate and becomes invincible. In Judiasm pomegranates symbolize sanctity, fertility, and abundance and in Buddhism the pomegranate is one of the three blessed fruits.

 

 

Avocado Hummus Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate seeds look and taste lovely sprinkled on Avocado Hummus

 

 

There are a few reasons pomegranate seeds should always be in your refrigerator.  They make any dish look beautiful, add a touch of tang and texture to everything and bring abundant health benefits.  If you rinse them, dry them on a paper towel and then pop them in the fridge they last for about 2 weeks. (You can either scoop the seeds out yourself, or many fine grocery stores carry fresh pomegranate seeds in their produce department)

 

We sprinkle them on hummus and instantly your appetizers look truly Mediterranean and authentic.

 

Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Quinoa salad with pomegranate seeds

 

 

 

We throw a dash onto quinoa and use them to brighten a spring salad.

 

 

 

Spring Salad

Spring Salad with shaved beets, parmesan, strawberries and pomegranate seeds

 

 

 Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

 

A must try!  It’s easy, looks beautiful, is super healthy and lasts well in the fridge, can be made a day ahead (just add the goat cheese on the day of serving) if necessary.  Recipe below serves 4 people.  Trust us, this recipe is always requested by friends after serving!

 

 

1 1/2 cups of quinoa

1 bag sundried tomatoes (cut in quarters)

1 box cherry tomatoes (cut in half, optional)

1 bunch of green onions (white part only finely sliced in rounds)

1 quarter red onion very finely sliced

1 English hothouse cucumber skin left on sliced and quartered

1 bunch of asparagus steamed and cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 cup of pomegranate seeds

 

Cook quinoa as directed on package.  We often substitute chicken broth for water in the boiling instructions for a richer taste.  Stir in above ingredients.  Add coarse sea salt or Himalayan sea salt, ground pepper and generous amounts of good quality olive oil (this is key!).   On day of serving add quarter inch pieces (dollops) of goat cheese sprinkled on top (if desired).

 

Whole Pomegranate

Photo Courtesy of: Google Images

 Pomegranate Seeds

Photo Courtesy of: Google Images

 

Medicinal Properties:

—High source of Vitamin C

—High source of antioxidants

—Enhanced immunity benefits

 

Paques Preview (Deux)

  • 21st March 2013

Every Easter as a child, we have fond memories of the most beautiful 3-dimensional lamb-cake gracing the center spot on the holiday table.  This was in the late 70s and early 80s in St. Louis.  For the past 10 years, in efforts to recreate this tradition on the West Coast, we have used an industrial lamb mold and the fruits of our labor while not nearly as lovely are certainly delicious!

 

Lamb Cake
Lamb Cake

 

It’s a particularly fun tradition to start with children as decorating the little lamb requires many merry-making ingredients, frosting, shredded coconut, candies, sprinkles, ribbon and bells! It’s a wonderful way to cap-off an afternoon of egg dying!

 

Lamb Cake Mold

 

12″ Lamb Cake Mold, bakedeco.com, $67.50

 

 

Some other pretty, delicious and fun Easter finds for your celebrations and Easter baskets… 

 

Lamb Tray Robin King Designs
Rabbit Plate Robin King Designs
Lamb Plate Robin King Designs

 

 

Lamb Tapestry Tray, robinkingdesigns.com, $225.00

Rabbit Plate with Pink Flowers, robinkingdesigns.com, $44.00

 

Wooden Rabbit in Oak nova68

 

Wooden Rabbit in Oak, nova68.com, $120.00

 

Bunny Dish Set Olive and Cocoa
Bunny Dish Set Olive and Cocoa

 

 

Bunny Dish Set, oliveandcocoa.com, $58.00

 

Fill these sweet little nests with delicious Medici Almonds from Williams Sonoma.  These Jordan almonds are unlike any others that you buy elsewhere due to a lining of vanilla just underneath the candy shell.   They are a delicious treat all year long.  We buy boxes and save them to portion out throughout the year.  (They last well for up to 10 months if you store them in a cool dark place.)  They also make a lovely hostess gift for Easter, bridal showers, brunches, or baby showers.  

 

Easter Birch Twig and Nest Grandinroad

 

Easter Birch Twig and Nest, grandinroad.com, $19.00-$39.00

 

Williams Sonoma Medici Almonds
Williams Sonoma Medici Almonds

 

 

Medicis Almonds, williams-sonoma.com, $15.99

 

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 21st March 2013

Easter Lemon Cookies (Vintage Recipe You Must Try!)

 

Lemon Drop Cookies

 

 

My mother-in-law uses this vintage cookbook by Mary Meade, former ‘Home Economics Editor of the Chicago Tribune.’  100 Favorite Cooky* Recipes by Mary Meade could be purchased for 18 cents by mail, and 14 cents at the Public Service Office, 33 West Madison!  A true steal any way you look at it!  While the book is no longer in print, you can still enjoy the lemon cookie recipe!

 

*This appears to be how they spelled cookie

 

Lemon Drop (Cookies)

 

2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 lemon juice ( juice of one lemon)
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

Lemon glaze (Powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Add lemon juice to powdered sugar until the desired consistency—thick, milky)

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture to cream mixture alternately with lemon juice and rind. Mix well. Must chill cookie dough at least 4 hrs, over night is good.  Drop by teaspoon full on parchment lined baking sheets.  We press them down gently before baking them. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Once completely cool, glaze with lemon glaze.

 

Enjoy!

 

Interested in purchasing the book? We found a few copies on biblio.com:

100 Favorite Cooky Recipes by Mary Meade, biblio.com, $19.50

 

Some fun trivia!  

Edit below comes directly from the Chicago Tribune Web site:

 

“Mary Meade was the pen name used by five food editors of the Chicago Tribune from 1930 to 1974. Ruth Ellen Church was the longest tenured food editor, from 1936 to 1974. She published recipes, books and booklets under her own name as well as the Mary Meade pen name. When Church, so did Mary Meade.

Church published many pamphlets, but was best known as the author of the 1964 cookbook, “Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook.” In this cookbook, there is a recipe for a sunshine cake, a spongecake. The recipe is printed in the chapter for old-fashioned cakes, where she also includes suggestions on how to make flavor variations to cakes.

We tested the recipe, with her suggestion for orange and lemon flavoring, and found it just as delicious 37 years later.”

Dollop of Color

  • 10th March 2013

From elegant brushstrokes in hair, to wildly brilliant nails….

 

Town & Country Hair

Photo Courtesy of: Town & Country

Town & Country Hair

Photo Courtesy of: Town & Country

 

 

Victoria Beckham Pink Hair

Photo Courtesy of: Elle UK

Wild Nails

Photo Courtesy of: Elle Collections, Spring/Summer 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top to Bottom, the runway looks for 2013 Spring/Summer are all about bold color

 

 

Eyes at Dior

Eyes at Dior, Photo Courtesy of: Elle Collections, Spring/Summer 2013

 

Here are few fabulous ways to work bright hues into your lifestyle and a few more runway looks to get your inner-palette energized!

 

 

 

stella.it jean skirt

 

skirt, stellajean.it, $544

 

Preen Serpent Skirt
Preen Serpent Skirt

 

 

Serpent Skirt by Preen, modaoperandi.com, $1,210

 

i-wares, seletti

 

i-wares,  Seletti.it and seletti.us

 

 

Stella Runway

Stella McCartney Runway

Stella Runway

Stella McCartney Runway

Stella Runway

Stella McCartney Runway

 

 

Irene Neuwirth Mixed Boulder Opal Bracelet

1.) Irene Neuwirth Mixed Boulder Opal Bracelet, barneys.com, $43,380.00

2.) Wave Vases, dbglassworks.com

 

Cambridge Satchel Company

 

Cambridge Satchel Company, cusp.com, $170.00

 

 

Arnold 100 patent-leather and mirrored-python sandals

 

3.) andreamarques.com

4.) Arnold 100 patent-leather and mirrored-python sandals, net-a-porter.com, $895.00

5.) Burberry London Metallic Leather Trenchcoat, bergdorfgoodman.com, $2995.00

 

 

Candy Chairs, indiamahdavi.com
Candy Chairs, indiamahdavi.com

 

Candy Chairs, indiamahdavi.com

 

Perro Leather Bookmark Coral

 

6.) Festive Wonderland Ornaments Cake, modernbite.com, $100.00

7.) Perro Leather Bookmark Coral, Loewe Madrid, loewe.com, 95 €

8.) Diorite Adizero sneakers, net-a-porter.com, $150.00

 

 

Eye Color at Spring Runway Shows

Eye Color at Spring Runway Shows. Photo Courtesy of: Elle Collections Spring/Summer 2013

Eye Color at Spring Runway Shows

Eye Color at Spring Runway Shows. Photo Courtesy of: Elle Collections Spring/Summer 2013

 

 

Mod Artist's Palette Painting, Horchow
Wild Chevron Giclee, Horchow

Mod Artist’s Palette Painting, horchow.com, $1125.00

Wild Chevron Giclee, horchow.com, $500.00

 

 

Charlotte Olympia Alexa Wedges

 

9.) Flip Flops Asia, Agatharuizdelaprada.com

10.) Rouge Coco Shine Lipstick, Rebelle, chanel.com, $34.00

11.) Alexa, charlotteolympia.com, £325

 

Waterford Araglin Prestige Cobalt 9" Vase
Napoleon Flatware, Horchow

 

 

Waterford Araglin Prestige Cobalt 9″ Vase, na.wwrd.com, $425.00

Napoleon Flatware, horchow.com, $84.90

 

M. Patmos Flora Silk Front Top
Veronica Beard the Skort

 

 

 

 

M. Patmos Flora Silk Front Top, shopbop.com, $395.00

Veronica Beard the Skort, shopbop.com, $495.00

 

 

Boden Seventies Wedge

 

Seventies Wedges, bodenusa.com, $98.00

 

For the little ones:

 

Bo-Kaap Trapeze Mini Dress

12.) Alex Toys Duct Tape Bangle Kit, store.metmuseum.org, $16.25

13.) Bo-Kaap Trapeze Mini Dress, teacollection.com, $27.00

14.) Durban Two Tie Romper, teacollection.com, $35.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 15th February 2013

Sprouts!

Five times in the past week alone I have been stopped and questioned about brussel sprout preparation.  Three times in the Farmer’s Market and twice in Whole Foods.  Thus it seems like a natural post.

 

Brussel Sprouts

 

If, like me, you’re attracted to their amazing hue—a splendidly royal purple during these winter months—feel confident and purchase them knowing that preparation is a cinch.

 

 

1.) Try to find baby sprouts as they are quicker to cut and cook.

2.) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

3.) Rinse thoroughly.  Select a few randomly and pull back the leaves for a bug check.  Like broccoli they can sometimes be absolutely infested with aphids.

4.) Slice in half, arrange in a baking tray.  Drizzle with olive oil, coarsely chopped garlic, generous salt and pepper

5.) Cook covered with foil for 10 minutes.  Uncover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until most have a ‘broiled’ brownish appearance

 

Prepared Brussels

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 6th February 2013

Today’s posts are calling for accompaniment from a rich-meaty North African tagine recipe.  We’ve tried this numerous times and because it can be cooked well in advance while you are prepping the house for your evening event, it is perfect.  Guests will be greeted by the most amazing aromas.  Enjoy!

 

Recipe taken from, “Around the World Cookbook,”  by Hermes House Press

 

Tagine

Photo Courtesy of: Around the World Cookbook

 

Beef Tagine with Sweet Potatoes

 

This warming dish is eaten during the winter in Morocco, where, especially in the mountains, the weather can be surprisingly cold.  Tagines, by definition, are cooked on the stove (or, more often in Morocco, over coals).  However, this works well cooked in the oven.

 

Ingredients:  (serves 4)

1 ½ to 2 pounds stewing beef

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

Good pinch of ground turmeric

1 large onion chopped

1 fresh red or green chili, seeded and chopped

1 ½ teaspoons paprika

Generous pinch of cayenne pepper

½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 pound sweet potato

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon butter

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Trim the meat and cut into ¾ inch cubes.  Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry the meat, together with the turmeric and seasoning, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until evenly brown, stirring frequently. Cover the pan tightly and cook for 15 minutes over fairly low heat, without lifting the lid.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

Add the onion, chili paprika, cayenne pepper and cumin to the pan together with just enough water to cover the meat.  Cover tightly and cook for 1-1 ½ hours until the meat is very tender, checking occasionally and adding a little extra water to keep the stew fairly moist.

 

Meanwhile peel the sweet potatoes and slice them straight into a bowl of salted water (sweet potatoes discolor very quickly).  Transfer to a pan, bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 minutes, until just tender.  Drain.

 

Stir the herbs into the meat, adding a little extra water if the stew appears dry.  Arrange the potato slices over the meat and dot with the butter.  Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes feel very tender.  Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees or heat the broiler.

 

Remove the lid of the casserole and cook in the oven or under the broiler for another 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are golden.

Tagine Around the World Cookbook

Photo Courtesy of: Around the World Cookbook

 

The Around the World Cookbook, amazon.com, $31.91 new

 

Around the World Cookbook

 

What I Love Today…

  • 3rd February 2013

My amazingly health conscious, Ashland-Oregon based friend has been turning up aces recently with a wide range of all-natural delicious treats.  Many of them are blog-worthy, but this 100% pure Maple Candy is in season right now and not for long.  A delicious dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, guilt-free gift for yourself or someone else.

 

www.coombsfamilyfarms.com

Coombs Family Farms Maple Candy
Coombs Family Farms

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 2nd February 2013

On Robertson Blvd., in an area not even slightly reminiscent of Capri is the enchanting bakery for the Ivy, Dolce Isola.

The ambiance is classic shabby chic café/bistro, perfect for a lazy Saturday morning and the treats are far from ordinary.  While their gelato is suitably creamy and their croissants flaky and buttery what truly is worth the trip is the baguette and cheese crackers.

Serve the baguette at a dinner party and it will steal the show (trust us).  The inside is light as air, like cotton-candy and the outside crunchy, crisp and salty.  With the right cheese (Surfas is just minutes away), it’s heaven.  Tangy, sharp, a bit spicy and salty, their cheese biscuits are divinity.  They must be pre-ordered one day in advance so plan ahead suitably.

If you do not reside here in sunny Southern California, don’t fret.  We have a similar cheese biscuit recipe clipped from Bon Appetit (tried, tested, delicious and easy) and a tip on how to recreate the café ambiance at home.

 

Dolce Isola Los Angeles

 

 

Savory Parmesan Shortbread Rounds 

(recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit)—Serve with pre-dinner drinks and salumi platter—Makes 24

 

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 small garlic clove, properly minced

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix flour, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic, and cayenne pepper in processor.  Add butter and, using on/off turns, process until dough begins to come together.  Gather dough into ball.  Divide dough in half.  Roll each half into 12-inch log, and cut each log into 1-inch pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Arrange dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Press each ball into 2-inch diameter round.  Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over.

Bake shortbread rounds until tops are dry and bottoms are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Transfer shortbread rounds to rack and cool completely.

Shortbread rounds can be made 1 week ahead.  Store rounds in airtight container at room temperature, or freeze up to 1 month.

 

Cheese crackers, Dolce Isola Los Angeles

 

 

Dolce Isola, 2869 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, 90034

310-776-7070

Hours
8am – 4pm, Monday through Friday
8am – 3pm, Saturday
Closed Sunday

 

What I Love Today…

  • 24th January 2013

It’s the cagey look that has everyone tied up, at it’s supremely wearable.  Soft gray can work with almost any color and perfectly offsets the modern lattice of this shoe.  It has style in spades and the warm gray pairs perfectly with the bold prints of the season like this Mara Hoffman embroidered strapless dress.

Garnet Hill Wedges
Cage Suede Shoes
Mara Hoffman Dress
Tie-Back Dress

 

 

Eileen Fisher Cage Leather Wedges in Antique Gold Metallic

Eileen Fisher Cage Leather Wedges in Antique Gold Metallic

 

 

 

Eileen Fisher Cage Leather Wedges, Garnet Hill, $260.00

Mara Hoffman Embroidered Strapless Dress, Shopbop.com $297.00

 

 

DeBoles Pasta

DeBoles Organic Jerusalem Artichoke Flour Pasta.  If my Italian mother-in-law recommends it, I know I’m right and it’s definitely good.  You’ll enjoy the nutty flavor, the silky, non-sticky texture and the health benefits to boot!  Try it with your favorite ragu and you won’t be disappointed.  Available online and at most Whole Foods locations.

DeBoles Organic Artichoke Angel Hair, 2 pack for $5.38

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