Fresh Fig & Nectarine Vinaigrette

  • 7th September 2013

As summer closes and fresh figs, peaches and nectarines flood farmer’s markets, this vinaigrette is the perfect way to celebrate their flavors.  It will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and can be used on sandwiches, salads, to marinate meats and for the perfect savory appetizer, as we have done below.

 

 

Nectarine & fig spread on melba toasts with brie cheese and black forest ham.

Nectarine & fig spread on melba toasts with brie cheese, black forest ham and pomegranate seeds.

 

 

Ingredients:

5 fresh black figs (flesh scooped out)

1 nectarine cut into quarters (flesh scooped out)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (best quality)

1/4 cup olive oil (best quality)

1/4 tbs rice wine vinegar

1/8 tbs soy sauce

4 cloves of garlic quartered

Salt & Pepper

 

 

Fig and Nectarine Vinaigrette ready to blend.

Ready to blend

 

 

Blend and enjoy.  (You can modify the thickness by varying the amount of olive oil).

 

 

Fig & Nectarine Vinaigrette blended.

Blending is a cinch

 

 

For the toasts:

 

Spread a dollop of the vinaigrette on melba toasts.

 

Melba Toasts

Melba toasts available at Surfas in Los Angeles.

Nectarine & Fig spread on toasts

Nectarine & Fig spread on toasts

 

 

 

Add hand-torn black forest ham, sharp good quality brie cheese, 3-4 pomegranate seeds for extra tang, generous salt & pepper.

 

Mini savory toasts.

These mini savory toasts are loved by all.

 

 

 

.

Scotland’s Seductive Summons—Part Deux

  • 1st September 2013

In the Chanel Pre-Fall collection (pieces are in boutiques now and selling-out rapidly) Lagerfeld took the medieval ornamental ‘sporran’ and transformed it into a gorgeous line of purses and minaudieres.  We’ll highlight those today, alongside another beautiful and famous transformation, that of Inverlochy Castle into a renowned destination hotel.

 

The Sporran as a handbag:

Typically made of leather or fur, often with feather ornamentation, the sporran is a traditional part of male highland dress and functions as a pocket, for the pocketless kilt.

 

Traditional Sporran

Traditional Sporran. Photo Courtesy of: Wikipedia

 

 

Below it is gloriously adapted per Chanel, even for those not Highland-bound:

 

Chanel Pre-Fall Collection Sporran-style purse.

Chanel Pre-Fall Collection Sporran-style purse. Photo Courtesy of: Bragmybag.com

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Lachanelphile.com

Photo Courtesy of Lachanelphile.com

 

 

A few more favorite handbags from the collection include:

 

Beautifully embellished tartan minaudieres.

Beautifully embellished tartan minaudieres.

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy of: Citizenoffashion.com

Photo Courtesy of: Citizenoffashion.com

 

 

 

Luxurious velvet clutch-bag

Luxurious velvet clutch-bag

 

 

 

Velvet clutch bag on the runway.

Velvet clutch bag on the runway.

 

 

 

The luxurious tartans and tweeds, pearl embellishments and delicate feathers from the Edinburgh Pre Fall collection could not be more perfectly suited to the impeccably resplendent grounds of Inverlochy Castle Hotel.

 

The drive up to Inverlochy

The drive up to Inverlochy.

 

 

Just a four hour drive (through the Scottish countryside) from Edinburgh, Inverlochy Castle Hotel is a 19th century-baronial mansion located near the town of Fort William.

 

 

The front of Inverlochy as seen from the rolling grounds.

The front of Inverlochy as seen from the rolling grounds.

 

 

It was built in 1863 and retains all of the elegance the time-period afforded.

 

 

The perfect room to take tea.

The perfect room to take tea.

 

 

The main reception room features live music in the evening.

The main reception room features live music in the evening.

 

 

Invelochy Castle Hotel Main Reception

 

 

 

Queen Victoria spent a week at Inverlochy in 1873 remarking, “I never saw a lovelier, more romantic spot.”  The Queen’s suite allows you to share in her wonderment.

 

Dress for dinner, but sorry there are no Lady's Maids.

Dress for dinner, but sorry there are no Lady’s Maids.

 

 

The mansion has been a hotel since 1969 and in 2006 Inverlochy Castle Hotel was voted, “Best Hotel in Europe”  by Travel + Leisure magazine.  Much of its fame is due to its renowned cuisine.

 

Adult breakfast

Adult breakfast

 

 

 

Traditional 'Egg & Soldiers' for children

Traditional ‘Egg & Soldiers’ for children.

 

 

Cap off dinner with an amazingly fresh cheese course.

Cap off dinner with an amazingly fresh cheese course.

 

 

True that some of the best game hunting and sport fishing is just steps away, but even a walk through the rolling grounds or a canoe-ride across the lake is activity enough.

 

 

Stop for a game of chess before ambling down a pathway into greenery.

Stop for a game of chess before ambling down a pathway into greenery.

 

 

Walking paths surround the castle.

Walking paths surround the castle.

 

 

The greenery is only broken by wildflowers and small lakes.

The greenery is only broken by wildflowers and small lakes.

 

 

 

 

Velvety Foxglove pops up everywhere.

Velvety Foxglove pops up everywhere.

 

 

 

The grounds behind the castle are equally stunning.

The grounds behind the castle are equally stunning.

 

 

 

All guest rooms enjoy sweeping views.

All guest rooms enjoy sweeping views.

 

 

Inverlochy Castle Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

Forever 21, but Under Fifteen

  • 28th August 2013

 

Put any prejudice aside and prepare for fun.  If you’re in need of retail therapy, an end-of-summer pick-me-up, some wardrobe pizzaz, gifts for girlfriends…whatever, it’s here.

 

 

 

Great finds at Forever21.

This whole array cost a few cents more than $100.00

 

 

With the same fervor that some scour estate sales, it can be just as much fun to scour the endless pages of jewelry on Forever21.  Every third or fourth page there is an amazing find.  Even if it only lasts for one season (though we’ve never found that to be the case) it has barely cost you as much as a muffin and a fancy latte (nothing costs more than $15.00).  In fact, the whole bundle above came in at just over $100.00 ($100.32).

 

 

Goddess Crescent Earrings

 

 

All of the these pieces pair perfectly with this summer’s beloved maxi dress, a simple white long sleeve t-shirt ushering in autumn and the last hint of a summer glow.

 

Goddess Crescent Earrings in navy, forever21.com, $6.80

 

 

I know we’ve posted it before, but it is very hard not to LOVE this cheetah ring.

 

xo ring set and cheetah ring

 

 

 

Rhinestoned Cheetah Ring in gold, forever21.com, $5.80

xo Ring Set, forever21.com, $4.80

 

 

Edgy and modern…

 

 

Shell plated triangle necklace

 

 

Shell plated triangle necklace in pink, forever21.com, $8.80

 

A few fun ‘art-deco-ish’ pieces…

 

Chained Art Deco Earrings
Sparkling Art Deco Earrings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chained Art Deco Earrings, forever21.com, $6.80

Sparkling Art Deco Earrings in mint, forever21.com, $6.80

 

 

knotted braided chain necklace

 

 

 

knotted braided chain necklace

 

 

 

 

Knotted braided chain necklace, forever21.com, $9.80

 

 

Bold emerald cut earrings

 

 

Bold emerald cut earrings in dusty pink, forever21.com, $6.80

 

Ropes & ropes…

 

Braided Chain Necklace Navy and Gold

 

 

 

Braided Chain Necklace in navy and gold, forever21.com, $8.80

Faux Suede Woven Necklace, forever21.com, $5.80

Box Chain Choker, forever21.com, $14.80

 

 

Flirty and fun…

 

Heart shaped hoops

 

 

 

Heart Shaped Hoops, forever21.com, $2.80

 

 

 

Parting Words…

  • 27th August 2013

The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels:  it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.

 

Salvador Dalí

 

 

BonConseil

Movement in Three Tiers

  • 25th August 2013

A few years ago I tore a page out of Martha Stewart Living that became an absolute go-to guide for me, flower obsessed with not a stitch of training in arrangement.  

 

In this conversation with floral gurus, Nicolette Owen and Sarah Ryhanen (google them immediately), they describe how elaborate bouquets require movement and arrangements look better in three tiers.

 

 

Martha Stewart arrangement by Ryhanen and Owen.

Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart Living

 

 

 

“Bulky real estate items like heather and lilies create form and structure.  (Tier 1)  Showy “face” flowers like tea roses give a bouquet their focus (Tier 2).  Gestural, attention getting elements give a sense of finish. (Tier 3)”   I love this and it has given me direction and confidence ever since.

 

Today’s trip to the Farmer’s Market and the backyard gave meaning to their above words.  I am not a floral designer so my rendition did not look as elegant.  But, anyone can easily do four of the below arrangements in less than $25.00 and less than 20 minutes following their technique.

 

 

Tuberose and Love in the Mist arrangement.

Tuberose and Love in the Mist arrangement.

 

 

Love in the mist and a sturdy hydrangea stand in as the solid foundation—Tier One.  Vibrantly hued dahlias and garden roses with their explosive pops of color serve perfectly as the “showy face flowers”—Tier Two.  But, my favorite is the ‘gestural’ detail, because it is only in bloom for a few more weeks…the Tuberose—Tier Three.  What better gesture than it’s plump creamy buds bursting with sweet fragrance.

Another tip from Rhyanen, is to avoid the all too easy and deadly “pyramid” arranging.  Stagger heights of flowers and create asymmetry with beautiful movement.

 

The bouquet should have inherent movement.

The bouquet should have inherent movement.

 

 

Finally, for the showy “face flowers” avoid the temptation to sprinkle them about.  Instead, cluster like colors, shades and shapes together.

 

 

Dahlias and garden roses anchor each 'side' of the arrangement.

Dahlias and garden roses anchor each ‘side’ of the arrangement.

 

 

 

Another look for inspiration, from Ryhanen’s blog, Saipua….

 

Photo Courtesy of: Saipua

Photo Courtesy of: Saipua

 

 

 

 

.

Parting Words…

  • 25th August 2013

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 

 

 

BonConseil

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Cumin and Roasted Red Peppers

  • 23rd August 2013

This is not your every-day pasta salad.  It’s a surprising, unique combination of flavors that translates beautifully for many differing tastebuds across families and peer circles.

 

 

Orzo salad with cumin, cucumber, and chickpeas

 

 

Serve it slightly chilled and:

—It’s perfect to pack up for a picnic, the beach, a plane-trip, your lunch at work

—It looks pretty, colorful and healthy served at a party

—It can be made ahead and in fact tastes better the next day….and the day after that!

 

 

upclose

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

2 cups orzo pasta

1 can chickpeas (make sure they are pre-shelled) drained

2 small, 1/2-pint containers of cherry tomatoes cut length-wise  (mix red and yellow here for added color)

1 English hothouse cucumber left unpeeled and diced

1/2-cup roasted red peppers from a jar chopped coarsely

2/3-cup finely chopped dill

1/4-cup finely chopped parsley

1/2-cup olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1/2-tsp white balsamic vinegar

1/2-tsp red wine vinegar

1/8-tsp rice wine vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

(The higher quality vinegars and olive oil you use, the better it will taste)

 

Getting things prepped

Getting things prepped

 

 

 

Preparation:

Cook orzo until tender.  When done please rinse the orzo with cold water and drain it well.  Mix with chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, dill and parsley.

 

Prepare the dressing separately, whisking the olive oil, cumin, and three vinegars together.  Add the dressing to the salad.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Oil, vinegars and cumin

Oil, vinegars and cumin

 

Chill slightly, 1/2 hr-45 mins before serving.

 

*Note:  For a little extra heat you can throw in chopped radish or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, for extra tang you can add the whites of a green onion diced.  

 

 

Serve it and enjoy!!

Serve it and enjoy!!