Friday, August 10, 2012

hbd, julia

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In a few days (August 15), the master, the legend--Julia Child--would have turned 100 years old. One of my earliest and fondest culinary memories is watching [local Houston] PBS Channel 8 with my mom while Julia worked her kitchen magic through the TV box. To this day, the idea of Julia brings me a sense of comfort and warmness that few other non-family/friends offer.

When I came across these Julia-inspired quotation cards by Alexandra's Kitchen, I smiled BIG. Do you love them? I'm in the process of trying to figure out a way to cleverly display several in my kitchen at once (order a set of cards here).

Complete greatness.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

{vote 2012} and so it begins

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Lord, have mercy.
This was today's mail.
Today's alone.
I get it.
It's going to be a long 4 1/2 months.
(God bless all of the slaughtered trees)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

strawberries & balsamic vinegar

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Don't cringe. They're wonderful.

I really wanted something sweet yesterday (ok, so I want something sweet every day) ... but I didn't want any part of the oven/stove (it's hot hot hot outside). As if on cue, Ina spoke to me through my television ... Strawberries with balsamic vinegar. So easy to make, yet they can be served after the fanciest or most casual of dinners (or in my case, in the middle of the afternoon).

Initially I hesitated. I mean, come on ... strawberries and vinegar (she even adds black pepper)? I've done that combo in a salad, but I wasn't sure how it'd work with ice cream ....

It's super yummy. And again, it's so easy to assemble. After macerating overnight, I actually think the berries are better today than they were yesterday. Ina serves 'em with ice cream, but you certainly don't have to. I enjoyed a bowl yesterday with a "spray" of whipped cream (out of a can ... tee hee); but they'd be just as tasty without anything to accompany them in the bowl.

Considering the simplicity of this recipe, typing the words "ingredients" and "directions" sounds funny; alas, here are both:

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar
Ingredients [Note: You may want to halve the following amounts; I did]
4 pints of fresh strawberries, sliced thickly
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pints vanilla ice cream
Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving

Thirty minutes to an hour before serving, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a bowl. Set aside at room temperature.

Place a serving of the strawberries in a bowl with a scoop of ice cream, and dust lightly with lemon zest.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

the joy of juniper

“I really need a gin and tonic.” --Camilla Parker Bowles

A few days ago I did something I've never done: I attended a gin tasting event. It was fantastic. The Co-Founder and Director of Broker's Gin, Andy Dawson, facilitated the evening's events in College Station, TX (I even walked away with an autographed bottle of Broker's Gin). We sipped, we smelled, we swirled, we laughed, and we learned all about gin--with only one caveat: "Do NOT drink all of the gin in front of you." That was good advice, since we each were sipping from five different glasses of gin.

As the daughter of a good Brit, I'm a huge gin fan. Huge. In fact, it's my favorite spirit (and boy, do I enjoy some spirits). For an alcohol beverage to be classified as gin, it need only meet three criteria: (1) It starts from a liquid base mash/spirit (e.g., corn, wheat, barley); (2) it contains various botanicals/aromatics (the types and numbers vary, based on the brand of gin ... I learned that my gin preferences lean towards those gins with fewer botanicals); and (3) it's steeped with juniper berries. That's it!

Anyway, I loved every minute of it. And I intend to hold my own "gin tasting evening" at my house sometime in the near future. Good, good times.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

pan-seared scallops

Scallops? Oh, yes. YES. Along with a glass of white wine, I'm not sure dinner (or lunch) gets much better. Light & satisfying, what I love most about this particular recipe (from Use Real Butter) is its simplicity. When pan-searing scallops, it's important, however, to heed two vital rules: (a) Dry the scallops as much as possible prior to cooking, and (b) do not overcook.

Now go get yourself some large bay scallops and get after it. 

Pan-seared Scallops
4 large, dried scallops (I did 6)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup white wine
Pat the scallops dry with a towel or paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the scallops (both sides). 

Heat olive oil in a frying pan (don’t use non-stick) over high heat. When oil is hot, place the scallops in the pan with at least one or two inches between them (so they don’t crowd and steam one another).

 Flip the scallops and cook for another minute or until base is browned. After two minutes, the base should be browned nicely. 

Remove scallops from heat and set on serving dish(es). While still on high heat, drop a pat of butter into the pan. Move the pat around the pan until melted completely. Pour in the wine and use a whisk or spoon to scrape the pan and stir it into the liquid. Leave the heat on high and let the sauce boil until it reduces to desired consistency.

Immediately remove from heat and serve with scallops.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

sexy white wine sangria

There's certainly no shortage of sangria recipes floating around out there in the recipesphere; but on a hot, casual Saturday afternoon, I'm usually wanting white wine, rather than red. The club soda in this particular version really does it for me by skimming off the overly sweet and leaving behind a thirst-quenching crispness.

Alone or with your best sangria drinkin' guys & gals, this super refreshing and very simple (chances are good you already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen) winey goodness does the trick.

Sexy White Wine Sangria
  • 1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc 
  • 1/2 litre of club soda (or ginger ale if you like it really sweet ... I personally do not) 
  • 2 kiwis 
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries 
  • 2 limes 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar 
Cut the kiwi and the lime into wedges. Pour the wine into a large, preferably glass, pitcher. Add all the fruit and the sugar then mix well. Cover and let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour. When you’re ready to drink, add the club soda and about two handfuls of ice. Mix again and serve immediately.
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

flowers + {now empty} bottle

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends. --Kozuko Okakura

P.S. If you haven't had any wine from Miranda Lambert's Red 55 Winery, get your hands on a bottle or two. It's good.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

costco ♥

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Bottles so big, they barely fit in the freezer.

(I don't have a ruler handy, but that Grey Goose is muy grande)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

antiques week :: round top/warrenton, tx

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Made my springtime trek to Round Top and Warrenton, TX for Antiques Week. The bluebonnets are still in bloom, so the drive is stunning. It's early April, so the sun is bright, but merciful. And best of all, everyone is smiling and filled with "Howdys." Oh yeah, the beer, wine, and champagne are cold and plentiful.

Below are a ton o' shots, capturing some of the day. As one of the signs says, "Wish you were [beer]."

Wouldn't be a trip to Warrenton without a stop at my favorite tent/shop/ladies ever ... Junk Gypsy
 I was tickled to see these Rewined Candles (I've been intrigued by them for awhile) at the Junk Gypsy tent!
Have to have this JG chair, I do.
Wouldn't be the JG tent without a gorge chandelier.
 Yeah, I take this same shot every year. But this lantern continues to call out to me, every time we meet.
Sangria at the Junk Gypsy tent, made with Miranda Lambert's new wine. It was really, really good.
 A mirror made from turquoise-painted tire, plastic flowers, and plastic beads. Can you stand it? Me neither.
Nothing like monogramed turquoise bags, hangin' next to a historical marker ;).