Allied Member, ASID
Licensed General Contractor
AZ ROC 287314
November 26, 2011
If you’re refrigerator is packed as full as mine with holiday leftovers, you will appreciate this easy dinner that will clear your fridge (or at least your turkey stash!). Pair with a large glass of white wine and of course, treat yourself to one of my favorite cookie recipes for dessert. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and enjoy the rest of your weekend! Love, Jamie
SPINACH, STRAWBERRY AND PECAN SALAD
WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH MACADAMIA NUTS
Spinach, Strawberry and Pecan Salad
1 pound fresh spinach (washed and dried)
1 pint strawberries (washed and halved)
½ cup pecan halves, toasted
1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 ½ tablespoon poppy seeds
*Combine dressing ingredients except the poppy seeds in a blender. Add the poppy seeds by hand. Toss dressing with spinach, strawberries and hot pecans. The hot nuts will slightly wilt the greens.
1 pound Rigatoni
½ pound fresh mushrooms
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
2/3 cup flour
1 large onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and copped
4 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 cups light cream
¼ cup dry sherry
4 cups diced turkey, cooked
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
*Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Slice the mushrooms 1/8 of an inch thick and sauté in 2-3 tablespoons of the butter along with sliced onion and chopped garlic until lightly browned.
*Combine the remaining butter with flour and add broth stirring over low heat until thickened. Add the cream, salt, pepper, sherry and garlic powder.
*Divide the sauce in half. Add one half of the turkey meat and half of the mushrooms and cooked pasta. Butter a casserole dish and turn the pasta mixture into the casserole leaving a well in the center of the pasta.
*Turn remaining cooked turkey into the center of the pasta mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
To drink: Mount Eden, Chardonnay Estate (Santa Cruz Mountains), 2007
White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Macadamia Nuts
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ½ ounces white chocolate, chopped
¾ cup macadamia nuts, halved
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until fluffy, stopping once to scrape down sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate and nuts.
*Do not over mix. Arrange on a lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart.
*Bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown around edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes, then remove to racks and cool completely.
November 24, 2011
KHALIL GIBRAN is one of my all time favorite poets. I am bringing you his poem on friendship for this wonderful holiday.
Wishing you all much Happiness for this Thanksgiving,
Friendship IXX by Khalil Gibran
And a youth said, “Speak to us of Friendship.”
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
November 23, 2011
I just finished reading The letters of Sylvia Beach. A stunning recount of a fearless woman’s life in Paris. A visionary in the 20′s. It was beautiful and heartfelt. Then, the other day, my eldest daughter, who is an avid reader brought home a copy of Ulysses. So I thought it fitting to write about the woman that
had the belief to friend this writer and many others and do everything to get this writer published. The influence that she had and the enthusiasm is amazing.
I do hope you have a chance to read this book, it is wonderful.
Have a Fabulous Thanksgiving!
If the world’s dwindling independent bookstores have a patron saint, an exemplar to cling to in moments of duress, she is Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), the soulful and fearless owner of Shakespeare & Company, the English-language bookstore she founded in Paris in 1919 and operated on the Left Bank
until the German occupation during World War II.
Beach was the first publisher of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and helped smuggle copies to readers in the United States. She coined the term Bloomsday to describe the day on which the novel is set. Her bookstore, packed with fresh journals, good sunlight and plump armchairs,
was a sanctuary for the era’s best writers, ex-pat and otherwise. Her friends — she introduced many of them to one another — included Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound ,Ernest Hemmingway , Janet Flanner and the poet H. D. For her favorites she operated as banker,
post office, clipping service and cheering section. She was a prizewinning translator of Paul Valéry and Henri Michaux. As it happened, she also had “pretty legs and she was kind, cheerful and interested, and loved to make jokes and gossip,” Hemingway wrote in “A Moveable Feast.”
“No one that I ever knew was nicer to me.” Beach’s story has been told before, in her appealing memoir “Shakespeare & Company” (1959) and more exactingly in Noel Riley Fitch’s “Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation” (1983).
Beach was an unlikely champion of literary modernism. The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, she was the second of three daughters and grew up in Bridgeton and Princeton, N.J. She didn’t attend college but saw the world, working during World War I as a volunteer
agricultural laborer in France and then as a Red Cross volunteer in Serbia. She was plucky. One letter home from Belgrade describes a springlike day ruined by the “bomby”
She was a bibliophile from an early age and debated opening a bookstore in New York or London. But in Paris she met and fell in love with a bookstore owner, Adrienne Monnier, who would become, Ms. Walsh writes in her introduction, “her lifelong personal and professional partner.”
(This book’s dust jacket speaks of these women’s complicated “affair,” an odd phrase for a decades-long relationship. That phrase also goes farther than Beach does; she was reserved about her sexuality, and these letters are quite chaste.)
Shakespeare and Company opened in 1919, when Beach was 32, with money supplied by her mother and vital help from Monnier. The shop’s literary clientele wasn’t wealthy, and Beach lent books, for a small fee, in addition to selling them. She referred to her patrons as her “bunnies,”
a play on the French word for subscriber, “abonné.”
Beach was scalding about the censorship of “Ulysses.” “What a dark age we are living in and what a privilege to behold the spectacle of ignorant men solemnly deciding whether the work of some great writer is suitable for the public to read or not!” she wrote a friend.
She deeply admired Joyce’s work, but as a businesswomen she was not stupid.
November 19, 2011
It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving so I thought I would give all of you chef’s a break and put together a menu that’s easy and absolutely delicious. I’m sharing with you my all-time favorite recipe for lasagna and I hope you love it as much as I do! Enjoy and have a great weekend! Love, Jamie
JAMIE’S FAVORITE LASAGNA
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
12 cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
½ cup tiny pasta shapes, such as egg flakes or pastina
1 head escarole (washed and cut into ½ inch strips)
3 hard boiled eggs (sliced thin and lengthwise)
1 cup coarsely grated parmesan.
*In a kettle, cook the garlic in the oil over low heat, stirring until pale golden. Add the onion and cook the mixture, stirring until onion is softened. Add the broth and the oregano, bring the mixture to a boil and add the pasta. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes, add the escarole and salt and pepper to taste and simmer the soup for 5 minutes more. Ladle the soup into soup plates, top it with the egg slices and sprinkle it with the parmesan.
Jamie’s Favorite Lasagna
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage (5 links)
½ lb ground beef
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil leaves
½ teaspoon fennel seed
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 cups canned tomatoes, undrained or 1 can Italian-style tomatoes
2 cans (6 oz size) tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt
12 curly lasagna noodles
1 container (15 oz) ricotta or cottage cheese, drained
½ teaspoon salt
¾ lb mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
*Remove sausage meat from outer casings and chop the meat. In a 5 quart Dutch oven, over medium heat, sauté sausage, beef (break up beef with wooden spoon), onion and garlic, stirring frequently until well browned (about 20 minutes).
*Add sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, the basil, fennel, pepper and half the parsley and mix well. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and ½ cup water, mashing tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Bring to boiling; reduce heat; simmer, covered and stirring occasionally until thick (1 to 1 ½ hours).
*In an 8 quart kettle, bring 3 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling. Add lasagna, 2 or 3 at a time. Return to boiling, boil, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain in colander; rinse under cold water. Dry lasagna on paper towels.
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, remaining parsley and salt and mix. In the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish, spoon 1 ½ cups sauce. Layer with 6 lasagna lengthwise and overlapping to cover. Spread with half of ricotta mixture; top with third of mozzarella. Spoon 1 ½ cups sauce over cheese; sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan.
*Repeat layering, starting with 6 lasagna and ending with 1 ½ cups sauce sprinkled with Parmesan. Spread with remaining sauce, top with rest of mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil, tucking around edge.
* Bake 25 minutes, remove foil. Bake uncovered 25 minutes longer or until bubbly. Cool 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings.
Serve with your favorite bread (warmed of course!).
To Drink: Neudorf Vineyards, Chardonnay “Moutere” (Nelson), 2007
Serve with your favorite biscotti.
November 12, 2011
It’s been a crazier week than usual with my trip to New York and the launch of JAMIE! I spent the week in New York and had the best time meeting with clients, catching up with friends and was lucky enough to attend the insanely inspirational Traditional Homes Woman of the Year Luncheon. I caught Other Desert Cities on Broadway and saw the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit at the Guggenheim which is not to be missed! The best part of the trip was watching the New York marathon with tens of thousands of people. It was an absolutely euphoric experience and makes me feel so grateful to live in this country. Amidst the excitement of the trip, we successfully launched JAMIE!! I cannot thank you enough for your tremendous support through emails, phone calls and comments. It means the world to me and I am so grateful! Have a wonderful weekend! Love, Jamie
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND FENNEL SOUP WITH CRÈME FRAICHE AND CANDIED PUMPKIN SEEDS
CHICKEN PAILLARDS WITH PARMESAN BREADCRUMBS, ESCAROLE, CAPERS AND ROSEMARY
PUMPKIN CAKE WITH PECAN STREUSEL
Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup with Crème Fraiche and Candied Pumpkin Seeds
2 pounds Butternut squash
2 medium bulbs fennel
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups sliced onions
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 chiles de arbol (or red chile flakes)
1 bay leaf
¾ cup sherry
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
¼ cup crème fraiche
Candied pumpkin seeds (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to remove the peel. Slice the squash into 1-inch thick wedges.
*Toss the squash and fennel with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Place the vegetables flat on a baking sheet and roast about 35 minutes, until tender and slightly caramelized. Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly brown. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
*Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter and when it foams, add the onions, fennel seeds, thyme, chiles, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often until the onions are soft, translucent and starting to color.
*Add the squash and fennel and stir to coat with the onions for a minute. Turn the heat back up to high and pour in the sherry. Let it reduce for a minute or two and then add the stock and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer 20 minutes.
*Strain the soup in a colander set in a pot. Put a third of the solids into a blender with ½ cup of the broth (you will puree the soup in batches). Process at the lowest speed until the squash mixture is pureed. Add another ½ cup broth and then turn the speed up to high and pour in more liquid, a little at a time, until the soup has the consistency of heavy cream. Blend at least a minute on high speed, until the soup is completely smooth and very creamy.
*Transfer to a container and repeat with the rest of the ingredients. You may not need all the liquid. Taste for balance and seasoning. Pour the soup into six bowls, spoon some crème fraiche in the center of each and scatter the pumpkin seeds over the top. Or serve family-style in a tureen with the crème fraiche and pumpkin seeds on the side.
Candied Pumpkin Seeds
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Generous pinch each of ground cinnamon, paprika and cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon honey
*Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
*Melt the butter in the cumin pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and sugar, then sprinkle the spices and a healthy pinch of salt over them. Toss the pumpkin seeds to coat them well with the putter and cook a few minutes, until just after they begin to pop and color slightly. Turn off the heat and wait 30 seconds. Add the honey, tossing well to coat the pumpkin seeds. Spread on a plate and let them cool.
Chicken Paillards with Parmesan Breadcrumbs, Escarole, Capers and Rosemary
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 extra large eggs
4 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 sprig rosemary, broken in half
1 chile de arbol (optional for an added kick, red chile flakes also work too!)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 heads escarole, core removed, leaves separated and cleaned
1 lemon, zest finely grated
2 tablespoons chopped capers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
*Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a mallet to an even 1/3 inch thickness. Place the flour on a plate or in a pie pan. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmigianino and 3 tablespoons chopped parsley in a shallow dish. Line the three dishes up in a row.
*Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumb mixture, using your hands to pat the breadcrumbs onto the chicken. Transfer the prepared chicken breasts to a large plate or baking sheet.
*Heat two sauté pans over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl 2 tablespoons olive oil into each and wait a minute. Place three chicken breasts in each pan. Cook 3 minutes and then add 1 tablespoon butter to each pan. Cook another minute and when the crumbs are golden brown, carefully turn the chicken over. Turn the heat down to medium and cook a few more minutes until the second side is golden brown and the chicken is just cooked through. Remove the chicken to a baking sheet.
*Return the pans to medium heat and swirl 1 tablespoon olive oil into each pan. Divide the rosemary and chile between the two pans and let sizzle 30 seconds. Add half the garlic to each pan, stir a few seconds and then add the escarole to the pans. Season with salt and pepper and sauté gently 2 to 3 minutes, until the greens have just wilted. Season the escarole with a squeeze of lemon juice and transfer to a large platter. Place the chicken on top.
*Wipe out one of the pans and return it to the stove over medium heat. Add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and cook until its brown and smells nutty. Remove from the heat and wait a few seconds. Add the capers, lemon zest, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons parsley. Carefully taste for seasoning. Spoon the caper brown butter over the chicken and around the escarole.
To drink: Windracer, Chardonnay Russian River Valley, 2007
Pumpkin Cake with Pecan Streusel
1 Butternut squash
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus a little for the pan
½ vanilla bean
2 cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
3 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon honey
Pecan streusel topping (recipe follows)
Maple ice cream (optional)
*Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and place on a baking sheet, cut side up (don’t remove the seeds yet, they give extra flavor). Cover with foil and roast about 1 hour until very tender. Let cool 10 minutes and then scoop out the seeds and discard them. Puree the warm squash through a food mill and measure out 1 ½ cups.
*Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan. Brush the bottom of the pan with a little butter and then line it with the paper.
*Place the 8 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and use a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla-coated knife through the butter. Add the vanilla pod to the pan and cook the butter over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally until the butter browns and smells nutty. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
*Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. Add the salt. Make a well in the center. In another large bowl, whisk the reserved 1 ½ cups squash puree, milk, ¼ cup cream, eggs and honey to combine. Pour the liquid into the well in the dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Stir in the brown butter, scraping with a rubber spatula to make sure you get all the brown bits from the pan.
*Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 25 minutes, then remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Bake the cake another 45 minutes, until the topping is crisp and the cake has set. Cool the cake on a rack for at least 15 minutes.
*In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 1 cup cream to soft peaks. Cut six slices from the cake and serve with scoops of maple ice cream and dollops of whipped cream.
Pecan Streusel Topping
¼ cup pecans
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them 8 to 10 minutes, until they darken slightly and smell nutty. When the nuts have cooled, chop them coarsely. Toss the nuts with the oil and salt.
*In a food processor, pulse the butter, sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg until just combined. Remove to a bowl, stir the salted pecans and chill until ready to use.
November 5, 2011
The weather has officially turned and it’s time for some delicious comfort food! This Saturday I have compiled a few of my tried-and-true recipes that I make all the time for my family. Kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy! Love, Jamie
AVOCADO AND CITRUS SALAD WITH GREEN OLIVES
BRAISED BEEF STEW WITH RED WINE, TOMATO, OLIVES AND BUTTERED NOODLES
TARTE AU FROMAGE WITH LEMON CREAM AND BLUEBERRY COMPOTE
Avocado and Citrus Salad with Green Olives
4 pounds mixed citrus fruit (about ½ cup citrus segments per person
2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ripe but not too soft avocados
½ cup pitted Lucques, Picholine, or other green olives
1 bunch watercress, cleaned, tough stems removed
1 bunch frisee (about 2 ounces), cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
*Zest some of the citrus to get 1 teaspoon fine zest. Using a sharp knife, cut the stem and blossom ends from the fruit. One by one, place each of the fruits, cut side down, on a cutting board. Following the contour of the fruit with your knife, remove the peel and cottony white pith, working from top to bottom and rotating the fruit as you go.
*When the fruits are all peeled, hold them in your hand one by one and carefully slice between the membranes and the fruit to release the segments in between. Discard all the seeds.
*Combine the shallot, ¼ cup citrus juice (from segmenting the fruit), the vinegar, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk in the olive oil and the zest. Taste for balance and seasoning.
*Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pits and peel. Cut the avocados into ¼ inch slices and place on a plate. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the citrus and olives in a large bowl and spoon three quarters of the vinaigrette over them.
*Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Gently toss in the watercress and frisee. Taste for balance and seasoning. Add more vinaigrette if you like.
*Place half the salad on a large chilled platter. Nestle half the avocado slices in the salad, being careful not to flatten the greens. Arrange the rest of the salad on top and tuck the remaining avocado slices into the salad so you have a tapestry of colors. Place the blood-orange slices among the greens.
To drink: Carmes de Rieussec (Sauternes), 2009
Braised Beef Stew with Red Wine, Tomato, Olives and Buttered Noodles
3 pounds boneless beef short ribs (cut into 1 ½ to 2 inch chunks)
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon thyme leaves, plus 6 sprigs
6 cloves garlic (smashed)
Zest of a whole orange
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
½ cup diced fennel
½ cup diced carrot
1 bay leaf
¾ cup tomatoes crushed slightly
8 whole tomatoes (San Marzano))
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 ½ cups red wine
4 cups beef or veal stock
½ cup pitted Nicoise olives
¾ pound papardelle
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces young spinach
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
*Toss the beef in a large bowl with the cracked black pepper, 1 tablespoon thyme, the garlic and the orange zest. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Take the meat out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking. After 15 minutes, season it on all sides with 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt. Reserve the garlic and orange zest.
*Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the meat in the pan, being careful not to crowd it (you will need to do this in batches). Sear the meat until well browned on all sides (this step is very important and should not be rushed; it will probably take 15 to 20 minutes). As the batches of meat are browned, remove them to a baking sheet.
*Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, fennel and carrot. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits left in the pan. Add the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and the reserved garlic and orange zest. Cook 6 to 8 minutes until the vegetables are caramelized.
*Add the crushed tomatoes and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat the vegetables. Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce to a glaze. Pour in the red wine and reduce it by half (about 5 minutes). Add the beef stock and bring to a boil.
*Add the meat to the pot. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (yes, it can go in the oven!), aluminum foil and a tightly fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.
*While the meat is in the oven, cut the whole tomatoes in half lengthwise. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a baking dish in which the tomatoes will fit snugly. Place the tomatoes in the dish, cut side up and season with ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon thyme. Roast the tomatoes in the same oven for 1 ½ hours, until they are shriveled and slightly caramelized on top.
*To check the meat for doneness, carefully remove the plastic and foil, being aware of the hot steam. Spoon a piece of meat out of the pan and press it with your thumb or a spoon. If it’s done, it will yield easily and almost fall apart. If it’s not super-tender, cover again and return the pot to the oven. When in doubt, taste it!
*Take the pan out of the oven and uncover completely. Using a ladle, skim off the fat that rises to the top. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees.
*Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Ladle half the braising juices into a large sauté pan and add the olives. Return the meat to the oven for 15 minutes to caramelize. When the water boils, cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Transfer the noodles to the pan with the braising juices and olives. Over medium-low heat, toss the noodles in the juices to coat well and bring to a low simmer.
*Stir in the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Quickly add the spinach and ¼ cup chopped parsley and toss for just 1 minute, until the spinach begins to wilt.
*Transfer the pasta to a large warm platter. Spoon the meat and its juices over the noodles. Tuck the roasted tomatoes in and around the noodles and meat. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped parsley over the top.
Tarte au Fromage with Lemon Cream and Blueberry Compote
1 frozen sheet all-butter puff pastry (8 by 12 inches or equivalent)
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 extra-large egg yolk
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
Lemon cream (or use pre-made lemon curd)
Blueberry compote (fresh or frozen blueberries, recipe to follow)
*Defrost the puff pastry slightly and unfold it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a paring knife to scare a ½ inch border around the edge of the pastry. Brush the border with water and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Place the puff pastry (on the baking sheet) back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pastry from the freezer and bake about 30 minutes, until it’s golden brown and cooked through (if you undertake the pastry, the ricotta filling will make it soggy). Remove the pastry from the oven and let it cool. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
*Meanwhile, whist together the eggs, egg yolk, remaining ½ cup sugar, cream vanilla, lemon zest and salt in a medium bowl. Add the ricotta and stir in gently to incorporate, without overworking it.
*Remove the top layer of pastry from the area inside the ½ inch border. Press down the remaining pastry with your fingers to flatten it. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the center of the tart. Use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to distribute the filling evenly just up the ½ inch border.
*Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the ricotta mixture is set (look for Jell-O motion) and start to color on top.
*Cut the tart into six squares and garnish with dollops of the lemon cream and blueberry compote.
½ cup granulated sugar
½ vanilla bean
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen)
2 tablespoons brandy
½ cup dried blueberries
*Place the sugar in a medium pot. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use a paring knife to scrape out the seeds and pulp into the sugar. Add 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring. Cook about 10 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is an amber caramel color.
*Meanwhile, stir 1 tablespoon water into the cornstarch. When the sugar has reached an amber caramel color, add half the blueberries and brandy to the pot. The sugar will harden. Cook for a minute or two over low heat, stirring gently, until the berries release their juices and the sugar dissolves.
*Strain the mixture over a bowl and return the liquid to the pan, whisk in the cornstarch slurry and cook another minute, stirring often until it comes to a boil. Transfer the cooked berries to the bowl and stir in the remaining fresh and dried blueberries. Pour the thickened juices over the berries and stir to combine.
November 3, 2011
Today’s post is on a great writer, tough on herself, and brutally honest. It is not often that I introduce writers to you, but Didion has written some amazing books. The one she just finished, is a heart break from a mother’s pain,
but so beautifully written that it makes you take stock and accountability.
You may have seen her play, The Year of Magical Thinking, with Vanessa Redgrave, stunning! Her books on her politics are very interesting. If you have a chance, grab a novel, her writing is amazing.
Excerpts from Why I write-JOAN DIDION
Of course I stole the title from this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:
In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. Its an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and
qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasionswith the whole manner
of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than statingbut theres no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writers sensibility on the readers most private space.
I stole the title not only because the words sounded right but because they seemed to sum up, in a no-nonsense way, all I have to tell you. Like many writers I have only this one “subject,” this one “area”: the act of writing. I can bring you no reports from any other front.
I may have other interests: I am “interested,” for example, in marine biology,
but I don’t flatter myself that you would come out to hear me talk about it. I am not a scholar. I am not in the least an intellectual, which is not to say that when I hear the word “intellectual” I reach for my gun, but only to say that I do not think in abstracts. During the years when I
was an undergraduate at Berkeley, I tried, with a kind of hopeless
late-adolescent energy, to buy some temporary visa into the world of ideas, to forge for myself a mind that could deal with abstract.
Just as a foreign correspondent sets out to understand everything about a new country once he is posted there, Joan Didion embarked in 2004 on a mission to record all the contours of the grief she experienced after witnessing the death of John Gregory Dunne, her husband of nearly
40 years. Her report, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” became a best seller and later a Broadway play. The book was something of a surprise: This novelist and essayist known for her cool, unsentimental style had powerfully and intimately described the permutations of mourning—how
the mind shifts and dodges, recasting events and diving into the past as it tries to process the loss of a loved one.
In “Blue Nights,” Ms. Didion can revisit the same emotional territory because 20 months after Dunne suffered a fatal heart attack, Quintana, their 39-year-old daughter and only child, died from pancreatitis. But this book is unlikely to resonate as “The Year of Magical Thinking” did—the story
it tells is less focused and less universal. Many people have lost a spouse (or can contemplate such a loss), but far fewer need to cope with the death of a child or the questions about one’s own mortality that such an agonizing event provokes. Ms. Didion also delves into the special circumstances
of Quintana’s birth and upbringing, making the account even more narrowly focused. Still, the potency of her prose remains in place as Ms. Didion, determined to avoid pat conclusions or easy salves for the anguish she feels, confronts the passing of her daughter and her own aging. The book
that results is raw and unsettling, a meandering mediation rather than a polished version of events. Few will find comfort here.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Joan Didion.
November 2, 2011
In continuing with my love of fashion, CELINE is another company that I love to wear and I feel reflects my design taste very well. The lines are amazing, and it is the kind of collection that you can buy a few pieces and easily pair them into your closet.
Phobe Philo who is the current designer I really think is a fabulous talent.
Originally launched in 1945 as a children’s made-to-measure shoe business for petits pieds d’anges, the French luxury house expanded during the sixties with adult footwear, handbags, and a women’s ready-to-wear collection of couture sportswear or “fashion for everyone.”
During this time, Celine was one of the first luxury brands to open up distribution to Japan, and their focus on international expansion continued over the next few decades. Besides their flagship Left Bank boutique, shops can be found in cosmopolitan cities such as Monte Carlo, Geneva,
Hong Kong, and Rome, where the high-end wearable separates, such as swinging skirts, fitted shirts, and soft knits and accessories—belts, boots, shoes, and bags—with a distinct sexy, city-girl appeal are sold. Helmed for over forty years by Madame Céline Vipiana, Michael Kors took the
reins in 1997, but upon his departure in 2004, the collection lost much of the buzz he brought to the label as head designer. After Kors, ex-Burberry designer Roberto Menichetti struggled for one year as head designer. He was succeeded by Ivana Omazic, and in September 2008 the label
announced that ex-Chloe visionary Phoebe Philo would step in to take the reins, beginning with a fall 2009 collection.
The clothing speaks for itself! Have fun shopping!
November 1, 2011
I was in San Francisco for a couple of days the other week and ran into the Museum of Modern Art, which is one of my favorites in the Country! I have always been enamored with the California School of Abstract Expressionism and I thought I would bring you one of my favorite artists.
I have written a brief description of what abstract expressionism is and I hope that helps. It sounds complicated, but in art. For me, the history lesson of the time period is what is so fascinating, like to know why the artists felt they needed this type of expression, I guess the same can be said of literature.
Abstract expressionism arose during World War II and began to be showcased during the early forties at galleries in New York . The McCarthy era after World War II was a time of artistic censorship in the United States, but if the subject matter were totally abstract then it
would be seen as apolitical, and therefore safe.
Richard Diebenkorn was an American painter who came to define the California school of Abstract Expressionism of the early 1950s. Although he moved back and forth between making abstract and figural paintings throughout his career, his version of Abstract Expressionism became an
important counterpart to the more well-known
brand of the movement popularized by such New York artists as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.
The work of Richard Diebenkorn was very important in the Abstract Expressionist movement in California in the 1950s because he provided a touchstone for other artists who were interested in the movement but not directly involved in the New York School.
Diebenkorn’s earliest paintings reflect his interest in Hopper’s style, as they depict realistic American scenes with stark contrasts between shadow and light. Although his early work is predominantly figural (that is, portraying real imagery rather than abstract forms), Diebenkorn transitioned
between representational and abstract
work throughout his career – a seeming indecisiveness that would come to characterize his artistic personality. However, this spoke more to his keen interest in exploring all manners of art-making than to a deep vacillation.
Along with the friends he had made at various teaching positions, including David Park, Diebenkorn became a central member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which rejected Abstract Expressionism in favor of a return to figural representation. Apparently, the freedom of gesture and composition in
his Abstract Expressionist period was ultimately not to his liking.
Richard Diebenkorn achieved a rare feat in the life of an artist, which is to approach painting from many different angles and to take earnest inspiration from other artists while maintaining originality. Although Diebenkorn did not reach the level of fame of Abstract Expressionists of the New York School, his influence on artists
of the latter half of the twentieth century is undeniable.