Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Cook and Her Books

Now that it's Thursday, my mind is taking its initial leap towards the weekend--or rather to what to cook and eat over the weekend.  I suppose I foster similar notions throughout the week to some degree or another, but with the bit of extra time and leisure typically afforded at the week's wind down, I allow myself to ponder more.

Grabbing vintage cooking magazines, searching my favorite digital sources (like this app I discovered), flipping through current subscriptions and my own over-stuffed recipe book from my 'print everything' streak of days gone by, all offer the inspiration that I've come to rely upon.  But what truly gets me going and planning and, yes, possibly salivating, most of all are my books--my treasured (and growing) collection of cookbooks.

I've always been a lover of books and the written word.  And when my love for food and cooking emerged, that affinity naturally carried over to cookbooks.  Although they're not novels or memoirs or the like, they are lively and beautiful and motivating.  I curl up with them in bed and take sheer pleasure out of the decadence between their pages.  With no formal culinary education to tout, my cookbooks (along with all of my other sources of cooking knowledge and inspiration) remain my most beloved culinary tutor.

While I may never cook my way through every recipe I've amassed, the possibility alone thrills me.  And that's simply because this cook loves her books--and wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

D.M.R. Fine Foods Pop-Up Cooking School: Savor the Flavors of Spring

Although the 'April Showers' mantra has been proving true of late (rain, rain go away...), I'm elated that Spring has finally sprung again.  And I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than with a Spring-themed menu for my upcoming Techniques and Tastings(TM) Pop-Up Cooking School!

On the afternoon of May 2nd, you're invited to join me for our first class of 2015 where we'll indulge once again in a fabulous time of food, learning and fun--replete with up close and personal cooking instruction, scrumptious tastings, recipes and more, at the beautiful host venue, Lovable Foods.

Mark your calendars and make plans to attend for a delicious afternoon to remember!  For full event details, including our featured menu, and registration--go here.  Seating is limited, so don't delay!

I look forward to seeing you there and sharing...

Happy Eating!

P.S. If you missed our 2014 Spring and Summer Pop-Up Cooking Schools, check out the highlights--here and here.  You can also visit our Facebook page to see what previous attendees had to say.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Swoon-Worthy Interiors

"An interior is the natural projection of the soul." ~Coco Chanel 

Coco said it best.

And gorgeously designed home interiors are especially soul-stirring and wake-up the dreamer in me.  Growing up, I (reluctantly) watched my mom and aunts throw themselves into decorating their homes.  And nothing has changed on that front these many years later.  Well, nothing, except my awakening to an equal thrill and love for creating my own world of beautiful and inspiring personal spaces.

And because of that, I love to seek inspiration and turn-up the dream machine for all the possibilities interior design can offer.  I have a running list of everything from closets, to kitchens, to bathrooms, to living rooms, to libraries, accessories, and more, to fuel my penchant and keep me swooning.

For more inspiration, visit my Home/Interiors board on Pinterest.

Happy Living!

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake

The trifecta of berries, baking and dessert seems to have made its way into my kitchen chronicles again recently.  I know I've been sharing a bit along these lines lately, but can you blame me?  Well, if I told you that this latest confection came together in just over an hour (baking time included), you would surely understand why I just had to share.

I discovered the recipe in my March issue of Bon Appetit and knew I would be baking it soon.  And why not?  It's quick, easy (you don't even need a mixer), and delivers up a moist, sweet, berrylicious bite that's ideal for a last minute dessert--or, as in my case, a just because treat.

  Springtime, berries, cake and the joy of baking.  What could be better?

Happy Eating! 

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup frozen raspberries (or blackberries), divided

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a 9"-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, ricotta and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended.  Then fold in butter, followed by 3/4 cup of raspberries, taking care not to crush berries.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 cup raspberries over top.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.  Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead.  Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.   

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Berry & Balsamic Shortcakes

Shortcakes represent simple, no-fuss goodness of many desserts gone by.  Light and delicate “cakes” filled with berries and cream make this treat a classic for all the right reasons.  An accent of decadent, aged balsamic takes it over the top for the absolute best in sweet indulgences. 

These were a hit at my Summer Pop-Up Cooking School--and I know they'll be one in your kitchen, too! 

Happy Eating!

Berry & Balsamic Shortcakes


Fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

Whipped cream (recipe follows)

Aged balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Make the sweetened strawberries: Hull and quarter strawberries; toss in a bowl with sugar. Let stand until syrupy, tossing occasionally.  Can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.

In a food processor, combine flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk; pulse just until moistened, 4 or 5 times. Do not overprocess.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; with floured hands, gently pat dough into a rectangle.

Dust a large knife with flour; cut dough into 8 squares. Transfer to a baking sheet; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes; cool on baking sheet. To serve, split biscuits with a serrated knife; layer with whipped cream, berries and balsamic vinegar.

Whipped Cream


1 cup heavy cream, chilled

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Pour heavy cream into a large bowl and begin whisking on low speed with a mixer.  As cream develops volume, increase speed to high and slowly add sugar and vanilla.  Beat until firm peaks form. 


Friday, March 13, 2015

{Be Inspired!}: Simple Pleasures

Photo Credit: The New York Times

I'll admit that I love the grand, OMG, wow moments that punctuate our lives.  But the reality is that those punctuation points are intermixed with the more tempered--and more frequent--normalcy of our everyday lives and routines.  Routine isn't a bad thing, however--especially when sprinkled (or showered) with simple pleasures. 

If you've never thought of simplicity and pleasure as likely bedfellows, I assure you they are.  A favorite song.  A talk with a good friend.  A thought-provoking read.  A motivating quote.  Fresh flowers.  An unforgettable meal.  A great dress or shoe sale. :)  A lingering sunset.  The list becomes virtually endless when I take the time to pause and reflect and embrace the joy of everyday living. 

So today's inspiration is all about sharing a few of the simple, but nonetheless special, pleasures that brought laughter, satiation, and the joie de vivre to my life this week.  

A new recipe for my weeknight repertoire --  I discovered a "fried" chicken like dish that came together on a sheet pan in my oven.  The results? Delicious crispy-skinned, moist chicken legs that are still as good the next day (without the added cleanup or calories of its fried counterpart.)   See the easy recipe, courtesy of New York Times, here.

Farm-to-table meets the runway at Paris Fashion Week -- It sounds strange, I know.  And it is.  Except that we're talking jokes and fun and the quirky approach Valentino lended to its Autumn-Winter '15 runway show this week.  I love fashion--and intermixed with a bit of Zoolander humor brought a welcomed laugh.  Lighten up with this fun video parody.  

Photo Credit:
A birthday party for me! -- So, Anthropologie just happens to be one of my favorite stores for everything from home and kitchen decor, to clothing, jewelry and more; we go way back.  And I received a sweet surprise from them this week: an invitation to a birthday party for me (not a private party, but a party all the same!--a spring fashion show, sips and snacks, etc.).  So a little shopping and celebrating are in order for this March birthday girl.  

What are some of the simple pleasures that brighten your days?

May we all embrace more of them...along with Happy, Inspired Living!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Garlic Herb Salt

Infusion is, without question, one of my most favorite ways of imparting extra umph and scrumptious goodness to the foods and drinks I love.  From coffee, to compound butter, to vinaigrettes, and beyond, it's found its way into my repertoire on more than a few occasions.  No coincidences there.

Over the weekend, I was inspired to combine some of my favorite herbs (thyme, rosemary and parsley) with several cloves of fresh garlic to create a beautiful and exceptionally delicious garlic herb salt.  And, if you're remotely like me, then you might be tempted to salivate slightly at just the thought of all the ways this treasure will transform your dishes and enhance your cooking regimen. 

The hand-chopped technique, along with the overnight air-drying, yielded the perfect coarse, crumbly texture.  All stored away, with a little reserved for gifting, it's a welcomed gourmet addition to my pantry--and it should be in yours, too.

Happy Eating!

Garlic Herb Salt
Recipe courtesy of Saveur

6 cloves garlic
½ cup kosher salt

1 cup mixed fresh herbs

Crush garlic and coarsely chop with half of salt to form a chunky paste. Slowly add herbs and remaining salt and continue to chop into a fine paste. Spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let sit uncovered overnight or up to 24 hours until dry and crumbly.  Store in an airtight glass jar up to 1 month.

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