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January 30, 2012

ALLAN D’ARCANGELO-AMAZING POP ART-I LOVE HIS WORK!

Filed under: allan d'arcangelo — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 11:01 am

I recently was introduced to the work of Allan D’Arcangelo-I immediately fell in love with his work! I have always been enamored of pop art-given the time-the sociological implications of pushing art this way-all of it.

I was not familiar with his work until recently and wanted to bring him to your attention.  You will see a lot of other artists inspirations in his paintings, which all seem, oddly enough to have been influenced by similar influences.

To think about the commitment you have to have to a subject, much like an author on a topic.  

Have a great day!

Enjoy the post!

Love,

Jamie

Allan D’Arcangelo began his studies interested in history and government, but eventually switched to art. He was born in Buffalo, New York in 1930.  he is best known for his paintings of the highway,

which he bagan in 1963.  These paintings, typically flat planes with a perspectival highway extending into the distance.  Often the highway was surrounded by the logos of gas stations and other highway signage,

floating, disembodied, on the background.  Early in his career, he made a name for himself as part of the pop movement, with works such as marilyn and madonna and Child.  some of the characteristics of pop are

retained in his highway paintings, particularly the use of popular brand name logos, and the expanses of flat color.  However, as the highway  paintings evolved, they moved away from Pop art.

D’Arcangelo’s paintings became much more abstracted, sometimes reduced to a stylized traffic barriers repeated at different angles. The most interesting part of the paintings are the contrasts: the flat picture plane

and the one point perspective highway receding beyond the picture plane,the real and the artificial as seen in the use of color, light and shape, and the abstract and representational.

January 29, 2012

Fabulous Comfort Food, for a Fabulous Weekend!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jherzlinger @ 2:03 pm

This past week has been a blur! I am really excited to be designing projects that are pushing my talents to styles that I love! and can’t wait to share the finished product with you!  So, needless to say, this is a time when comfort food really hits the spot!

On the menu for tonight enjoy a, Curried Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup,  Potato-Apple Latkes and the best Roasted Chicken and finish it all with Paula Deen’s Pound Cake, which I promise is the best one!

Curried Butternut Squash and Cauliflower

3 medium butternut squash (about 5 pounds)-halved, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 table curry powder

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

One 2-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets

3 quarts Vegetable Stock

1 cup heavy cream

Roasted Garlic Flat Breads and cream fraiche, for serving

1. Cut 4 of the butternut squash halves into 1-inch chunks; cut the remaining 2 squash halves into 1/4-inch dice(i always roast the squash first-as it helps the sweetness to come out_425-for like3-40- minutes-toss with a little olive oil first and some sea salt

2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the onion. Cover with a piece of crumpled wax paper and cook over moderately low heat until the onion is softened, about 10 minutes. Remove the wax paper. Add the curry powder and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Raise the heat to high, add honey and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Stir in large chunks of squash and the cauliflower until coated with the spices. Add Vegetable Stock and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 40 minutes.

3. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan. Add the heavy cream, cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the curried squash soup with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket set over boiling water, steam the finely diced squash until just tender, about 8 minutes. Lightly season the diced squash with salt.

5. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Garnish the soup with the diced squash and dollop of creme fraiche and serve hot with a great hunk of bread!

Potato-Apple Latkes

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

4 baking potatoes (2 1/2 pounds), peeled and coarsely grated

1 Granny Smith apple-peeled, cored and coarsely shredded

Canola oil, for frying

1. In a large bowl, mix the egg with the flour, salt and white pepper. In a colander, toss the shredded potatoes with the onion and apple and squeeze dry. Add to the bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 cup of canola oil

3. Spoon heaping tablespoon of the latke mixture into the oil  about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with a fork. Fry the latkes over moderately high heat until golden  on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat to moderate, turn the latkes and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes longer. Drain the latkes on paper towels set on a rack and transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining latke mixture, adding more oil  to the skillet as needed. Serve hot  Applesauce and sour cream.

The Best Roast Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
  • Olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Paula’s Sour Cream Pound Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating in each egg 1 at a time. Add vanilla.

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

YUMMY! Enjoy

January 25, 2012

AMAZING TALENT-JOHN FERREN-AND NOT OF THE COLOR FIELD ARTISTS!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 1:21 pm

I fell in love with the works of JOHN FERREN!  An american in Paris at the time of the 30′s, and you can so see the influence his relationships with Picasso, Klee, Miro, Kadinsky and many others had on him.  His works are varied and beautiful and interpretive.  So different  from looking at color field abstracts where the lines are so definitive, and it seems the mission statement is more clear, and not as interpretive!

John Ferren was born in Pendleton, Oregon and grew up in Los Angeles.  His life history is pretty interesting, given that as a young man he was briefly emplyoed as an engineer for California Telephone, worked as a producer of plaster sculpture and was an apprentice to an italian stonecutter, for whom he carved tombstones and made building ornaments.

In San Francisco Ferren developed the basis for the art that he would create throughout the rest of his career.  He became interested in oriental philosophy, and through his friendship with the abstractionist Yun gee, he became well acquainted withEastern philosophies.  This philosophy really influenced his work in regards to the abstract boldly coloristic work based on the ideas of spontaneity, chance and unity .

I hope you enjoy this post!

Have a great day!

Love,

Jamie

January 21, 2012

SATURDAY SUPPER AT ITS’ BEST!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jherzlinger @ 2:24 pm

I am so craving tonight’s dinner! I can’t wait to have a couple friends over and enjoy this amazing meal! To start we will have a blood orange, beet, and fennel salad, then Dover Sole with mustard sauce and green beans, followed by  chocolate souffles! Enjoy!! Have a great weekend!

Much love,

Jamie

BLOOD ORANGE, BEET, & FENNEL SALAD

(4-6 servings)

2 medium red beets, tops trimmed

2 medium golden beets, tops trimmed

3 blood oranges

1 medium navel orange (preferably Cara Cara)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced crosswise on a mandoline

1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced on a mandoline (about 1/3 cup)

Good quality  extra-virgin olive oil, pumpkin seed, or walnut oil (for drizzling)

Coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt, and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup loosely packed frshed cilantro and.or chervil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash beets, leaving some water on skins. Wrap individually in foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith from all oranges; discard. Working over a medium bowl, cut between membranes of 2 blood oranges to release segments into bowl; squeeze juice from membranes into bowl and discard membranes. Slice remaining blood orange and Cara Cara orange crosswise into thin rounds. Place sliced oranges in bowl with segments. Add lemon juice and lime juice.

Peel cooled beets. Slice 2 beets crosswise into thin rounds. Cut remaining 2 beets into wedges. Strain citrus juices; reserve. Layer beets and oranges on plates, dividing evenly. Arrange fennel and onion over beets. Spoon reserve citrus juices over, then drizzle salad generously with oil. Season to taste with coarse sea salt and pepper. Let salad stand for 5 minutes to allover flavors to meld. Garnish salad with colantro leaves.

DOVER SOLE WITH MUSTARD SAUCE AND GREEN BEANS

(2 servings)

1/2 lb. small green beans (haricots verts), trimmed

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons grape seed oil, divided

1 whole 1-lb. skinless Dover sole

1 teaspoon (or more) paprika

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small shallot, minced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Freshly ground pepper

Mustard sauce (recipe follows)

Lemon wedges

Drain; transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain; pat dry. Halve beans crosswise.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Season sole all over with salt. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust paprika over both sides of fish. Add fish to skillet. Cook undistrurbed until golden, 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter.

Meanwhile, melt butter with remaining 1 tablespoon oil in another large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add green beans and cook, stirring to coat, until warm. Stir in parsley and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully remove 2 fillets from top of fish, keeping pieces intact. Lift bones from fish to expose remaining fillets. Divide fillets and Mustard Sauce between plates. Serves with green beans and lemon wedges.

MUSTARD SAUCE

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons minced shallot

1 small sprig thyme

1/2 small bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon tarragon or white wine vinegar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large egg yolks

1/8 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or paprika

1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

Bring the first 5 ingredients to a simmer in a small saucepan; cook until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 10 mintues. Transfer to a medium metal bowl. Let cool slightly. Discard thyme sprig and bay leaf.

Meanwhile, simmer butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foamy; skim foam surface; discard. Pour clarified butter into a small glass measuring cup, leaving browned bits behind. Keep warm.

Whisk egg yolks, piment d’Espeltte, and 1 tablespoon water into wine mixture. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not allow water to touch bowl). Whisk constantly until ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in butter. Whisk constantly until well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in Dijon mustard. Season with salt. Serve immediately.

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLES

(6 servings)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (for ramekins)

6 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided, plus more for dusting

1 cup whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (62%-70% caco) chopped

2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) 6 large egg whites

Powder susgar

lightly sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter ramekins and lightly dust with superfine sugar. Chill. Place milk in a small saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and let milk steep.

Discard bean form milk on high speed, beat yolks and 3 tablespoon super fine sugar in a medium bowl until slightly thickened and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Beat in flour and salt. Gradually beat in half of vanilla milk. Whisk egg mixture into remaining vanilla milk in saucepan; bring to a simmer, whisking constranlty, over medium heat. Cook, stirring constrantly, until souffle base is thickened, 2-3 minutes. Transfer souffle base to a large bowl.

Combine chocolate and cocoa powder in a small bowl; set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk chocolate mixture into souffle base.

Using an electric mixer with clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in a large bowl until frothy, about 1 minute. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoon super fine sugar by tablespoonfuls, beating to blend between additions. Continue beating meringue until semi-firm, glossy peaks form, 6-7 minutes. Gently stir 1/4 of meringue into souffle base to lighten; then fold remaining meringue in 2 additions. Fill ramkins 3/4 full.

Bake until centers are just set and souffles are puffed, 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.


January 20, 2012

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jherzlinger @ 2:46 pm

I have been in Los Angeles all week working on what is to be a spectacular project! Please forgive the lack of post today,
I will look forward to writing some great ones for next week! Have a wonderful weekend! And look for Saturday Supper tomorrow!
Tons of love,
Jamie

January 16, 2012

JONATHAN SELIGER-A NEW IDEA ON COLLECTING SHOPPING BAGS

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 12:58 pm

A dear friend of mine had me over to their home last week to show me a fabulous piece of contemporary art! and low and behold, it was an amazing shopping bag! Chanel no less! Fabulous piece, metal and gorgeous and the epitome of all that is great with contemporary art.  That being said, I thought I would introduce you to this amazing artist!

Enjoy!

Much Love,

Jamie

“In my work, I try to blur the boundary between painting and sculpture in order to create what can be regarded as a three-dimensional painting. Drawing on the languages of Pop and Minimalism, abstraction and representation, I make recognizable objects,

such as milk containers, shopping bags, or matchbooks, using

traditional painting and printing materials and techniques. By focusing on mundane, ephemeral, or disposable subjects, I want my work to be both ordinary and poetic, accessible and transfigured.” – Jonathan Seliger

Born in 1955, Jonathan Seliger graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton in the year 1978, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Since his first solo exhibition in the year 1993, his work has been shown extensively in galleries and museums throughout the world.  His neo-Pop sculptures and installations provide viewers

with a compelling re-contextualization of familiar, everyday objects such as traffic barriers and recognizably-branded shopping bags.  The often-whimsical nature of Seliger’s work belies the sculptor’s meticulous and highly detailed technical approach to its creation.  His art, uniquely hand-crafted, succeeds in creating the illusion of having

been mass-produced, thus bringing an echo of consumerism into the traditionally rarified environment of fine art gallery and museum.

January 14, 2012

Saturday Supper is Here!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 12:58 pm

I hope everyone’s weekend is off to a great start!  Your weekend can get even better with this delicious menu! We shall start with a Radicchio salad with Spanish blue cheese and peppered almonds, followed by glazed pork chops with spiced onion marmalade, finished up with a Texas pecan and chocolate pie. Enoy!

Love, Jamie

RADICCHIO SALAD WITH SPANISH BLUE CHEESE AND PEPPERED ALMONDS

6 servings

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

1 head radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces

8 ounces blue cheese (preferably Cabrales), crumbled

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

5 tablespoons almond oil or olive oil Peppered Almonds (see recipe)

Combine lettuce, radicchio and cheese in large bowl. Pour vinegar into small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Toss lettuce mixture with vinaugrette. Season salad with salt and pepper. Sprinkle Peppered Almonds over and serve immediately.

PEPPERED ALMONDS

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Stir all ingredients in small baking pan to coat almonds. Arrange in single layer. Bake until coating is crisp and almonds are toasted, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Cool.

GLAZED PORK CHOPS WITH SPICED ONION MARMALADE

6 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mid-flavored (light) molasses

1/4 cup bourbon

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove, minced

6 8 ounce pork loin chops (each about 1 inch thick)

Spiced Onion Marmalade (see recipe)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Whisk next 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. Brush generous 1 tablespoon glaze on each side of pork chops. Place chops on prepared baking sheet. Bake until thermometer inserted into center registers 150 degrees F, about 20 minutes. Serve with warm Spiced Onion Marmalade.

SPICED ONION MARMALDE

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound Maui onions, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; saute until onions just begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in tomato paste, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low and simmer until marmalade is thick, stirring often, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

TEXAS PECAN & CHOCOLATE PIE

6 to 8 servings

CRUST:

1 cup call purpose flour

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (or more) ice water

FILLING

4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons ( 1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted

FOR CRUST: Combine first 4 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfus if mixture is dry. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhand to 1 inch; fold under and crimp decoratively. Set aside.

FOR FILLING: Stir chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low medium heat until melted. Cool slightly.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk in corn syrup and chocolate mixture. Sprinkle pecans over unbaked crust. Pour filling over pecans. Bake until crust is golden and filling is puffed, about 55 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack.

January 7, 2012

The Cleanses and Diets can wait! Here’s to Good Food!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jherzlinger @ 1:18 pm

Every New Year I start out on a new diet regime. But this year, i decided that this will be the year of breaking the molds for old ways. I want to have fun! So here is my all time favorite menu. I can start eating healthy next week! Start out with a Roasted Baby Beet Salad with warm Goat Cheese and Arugula, followed up by a Chocolate Milk Shake, with the best Mac and Cheese you will ever taste. The main course is an amazing Cheese Burger topped with a Red Onion Ring. The grand finale is a Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookie! Enjoy my friends and here’s to the New Year! Cheers!

ROASTED BABY BEET SALAD WITH WARM GOAT CHEESE & ARUGULA

*6 servings

1 1/2 lbs baby beets (assorted red and golden)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (drizzling plus 12 cup divided)

1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar (divided) salt

black pepper (freshly ground)

3 tablespoons flour

1 egg (lightly beaten)

1 tablespoon milk

13 cup bread crumbs (plain)

6 ounces goat cheese (chilled & cut into 6 even slices)

1/4  cup extra-virgin

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoon shallots (minced)

2 teaspoons chopped parsley (leaves)

2 teaspoons chervil (chopped, leaves)

1 teaspoon chives (chopped)

3 cups arugula

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Spread aluminum foil onto the work surface. Place beets on foil and drizzle olive oil generously over beets. Seal aluminum foil around the beets and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.Remove from the oven, unwrap the beets and cool. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into wedges. Place the beets in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sherry vinegar over the beets and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside to cool completely.

Place flour in a shallow dish or pan. Whisk together egg and milk in a second small dish. Place bread crumbs in a separate shallow dish or pan. Season chilled goat cheese rounds with salt and pepper. Dredge rounds in flour, shaking off the excess, then in the egg wash, and finally in the bread crumbs, pressing to coat well. Allow the breaded goat cheese rounds to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Arrange roasted beet wedges on 6 salad. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons of vinegar, Dijon, shallots, parsley, chervil, and chives. Drizzle 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil into the vinegar mixture, whisking to combine. Place arugula in a bowl and drizzle a little of the vinaigrette over the greens. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide the arugula evenly among the 6 plates in the center of the sliced beets.

Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Carefully place the goat cheese rounds into the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until lightly browned and softened, about 1 to 2 minutes each side. (since the goat cheese gets very hot, it maybe helpful to use a fish spatula to turn the goat cheese during cooking.) Removing goat cheese from the oil with a slotted spatula, and place on top of the arugula. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette on top of the sliced beets. Serve immediately.

CHOCOLATE MILK SHAKE

*Recipe is for one serving

3 scoops chocolate ice cream

Chocolate syrup

1/2 cup of milk

In a blender combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into glass and serve!

MARTHA STEWART’S MAC & CHEESE

*Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish

6 slices good white bread, crust removed, torn into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces

5 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

4 1/2 cups grated Sharpe white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces) or 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 5 ounces)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking 1 minute.

While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water, bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook to 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside in underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

CRISPY RED ONION RINGS (for burger)

2 large red onions, peeled and sliced thin into rings

*Dipping Mixture*

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

*Cripsy Coating Mixture*

1 3/4 all purpose flour

1 teaspoon seasoning salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

Heat the oil to about 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk and eggs.

In a bowl mix together the coating mixture, then place into a shallow dish (a shallow dish makes for easier coating for the rings).

Dip/coat the onion rings into the buttermilk mixture.

Then coat generously into the dry coating mixture.

Fry briefly in hot oil (turning once) until onion rings are lightly brown on both sides.

BEST CHEESEBURGER

2  tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup water

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pounds ground sirloin

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

5 ounces pepper jack cheese, thinly sliced

4 brioche buns, split and toasted

Lettuce, tomato slices and pickles for serving

Gently shape the sirloin into four 1-inch thick patties. Season generously with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the oil. Cook the burgers over moderately high heat until deep brown outside and medium-rare within, about 6 minutes per side. During the last 2 minutes,  top the burgers with the cheese and cover loosely with foil so the cheese melts. Transfer to the buns, top with the onion rings made previously. Serve with a side of lettuce, tomato and pickles.

GIANT CHOCOLATE-TOFFEE COOKIES

*makes about 18

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 1.4 ounce chocolate covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

Using electric mixter, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets.

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