Archive for the 'Recipes' Category
This is my recipe for dressing well and looking good. With the holidays coming and parties galore, I’m often tempted to go shopping for things to wear. However, I do have a smallish problem: I have very little fashion sense. But there are some things I’ve learned through the years from my super stylish friends, and from the mistakes I’ve made. I hope this post saves at least one of us, from looking like we belong in the wrong decade, or looking a decade older.
1.) Know the weaknesses and strengths of your body and work to emphasize or de-emphasize as needed. Be honest with yourself about this. Have the discipline to say ‘NO’ to the wrong skirt, pant, shirt, sweater, shoe.
2.) Buy the best shoes and handbag you can afford. If they are made well, they will last for years and years.
3.) Avoid trends. I read somewhere that trends are like fast food. So true. And if you’re like me and you wear what you have until it goes to pieces, remember this: nothing will date a look faster (or bring attention to a sagging bottom) than the velour sweatpants with ’sexy’ written on the backside.
4.) Ditto cheap, synthetic fabrics.
5.) Bulky pants or skirts do not go with bulky tops, unless you’re super tall and super slim.
6.) Smile. Blind everyone with your pearly whites and they won’t notice what you’re wearing. Haha.
7.) Stand up straight. Look people in the eye. And if you don’t know what to do with your hands, grab a drink, or put them in your pockets where they should stay without clenching and unclenching.
8.) Be well groomed. Hello…
9.) Develop your own style: classic, cutting edge, bohemian, glamorous, the list goes on.
10.) Boring=safe. And safe does not equal fashion disaster. So when in doubt, wear black.
11.) No scratching, no chewing gum, no yawning with your mouth wide open. Because if you’re already a fashion disaster, why bring more attention to yourself?
Since this is a recipe which takes kindly to adjustments and the addition of other ingredients, what do you all recommend?
Maybe it is the sight of smoke curling out of chimneys, or maybe the scent of damp earth, or it could even be the sound of hissing pines in the wind, or the feel of frost touching the tip of my nose on my late afternoon walks, but in autumn my body craves the comforting taste of soup.
When I was young, my family had a rooster who in turn had his own little harem of hens. Whenever one of the hens would stop providing the required daily eggs, my mom or my dad would catch it, cut off her head, pluck off the feathers, and plop the body in the soup pot. But every once in a while it was determined that a new rooster would need to become the king of the henhouse. The overall egg production was too low, the hens bickered far too much, and my parents were in no mood to humor their jealousies, or his disinterest. And so it was decided that the rooster would be made into soup. And what a soup it was!
Honestly, I cannot tell you that rooster soup is better tasting than hen soup. My dad insists that it is so. I, however, tend to think that it is the combination of chicken broth, my mother’s home-made noodles, a few slices of carrots and a bit of parsley, that make that simmering bowl unforgettable.
1 whole free-range rooster (or hen), beheaded and de-feathered. Wash well and discard the liver, neck, and heart.
8-10 large carrots, peeled
6 celery stalks
1 large yellow onion peeled
1 parsnip (small)
1parsley root (small)
1 cup parsley chopped
1 tablespoon salt
Fill large pot with cold water. Add the salt and the chicken. Cover. Keep it on medium high until it starts to boil, then lower the temp to medium. Add the carrots, celery, parsnip, parsley root, and onion and bring to a boil, partially covered. When the meat is fully cooked (check by inserting a fork, or approx. 2 hours later), turn off the heat and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then strain it, discarding everything but the chicken and carrots, and let it cool a bit more before refrigerating.
In a saucepan bring some of the broth to a boil. Add the home-made noodles and let them simmer over low heat, covered for 10 minutes. Ladle it into bowls. Garnish the serving with the chopped parsley.
It is particularly delicious with a buttered chunk of baguette. Oh, and the meat you can lightly brown in some olive oil. Add sauteed mushrooms, some polenta, and a green salad and you’ll have every excuse to stay in, build a fire, and perhaps play a game of Scrabble.
Anyway, Bon Appetit!
This is a Magpie Tale.
My earliest memories of Christmas are all involved around this delicious recipe from my mother. She used to make platters of it, then cut it up, roll it into two inch long pieces and wrap it in crinkled paper and foil and hang it on the fresh cut Christmas tree my father had just brought in. Also hanging on the tree were precious oranges, walnuts in their shells, prettily wrapped candy, cookies, and real candles dripping wax. We lived in communist Romania back then and didn’t have strings of lights, electric trains circling the tree, nor ornaments weighing down the branches. Life was much more simple, much more real. Maybe because we lacked what we now take for granted, any unexpected treat was such a luxury and such a joy.
Eagerly we anticipated the carolers we knew were coming anytime between nightfall and the crack of dawn on that Christmas Eve night. We dressed in our finest, helped set out the pastries, the cookies, and the little fancy sandwiches my mother, my aunts, and my grandmother had worked on for the last several days. The best china was brought out, for it was a perfect opportunity to show it off. Butter, sugar, chocolate and coffee were precious commodities hoarded throughout the year, and only used for special occasions: Christmas, New Year, Easter, birthdays, weddings, christenings, and funerals.
The house filled up with guests who reminisced all through the night, feasting on sausages, creamed potatoes and delectable desserts. The kids got to stay up too, and usually there were so many of us that when we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore, every available surface or parent’s lap held a softly snoring child.
725 grams (3 cups) powdered milk
5 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder unsweetened
500 grams (2 cups) sugar
1 cup water
2 sticks unsalted butter cubed and at room temperature
1 tablespoon (or more) rum
1 cup roasted walnuts or hazelnuts (optional)
Coat a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray, or if you are seriously self-indulging, butter. Have it ready and close by.
Sift the powdered milk and cocoa powder into a bowl, and combine with a whisk until well blended. On medium heat make a syrup of sugar and water by pouring the cup of water into a deeper pan and gradually whisking in the sugar. Don’t forget to stir! Let it simmer a few minutes and check readiness by placing a teaspoon of it into a glass of water. If it holds together it is ready, if not keep stirring! Add the blended powdered milk and cocoa and mix with a wooden spoon until it’s well incorporated. If it is too thick, you can add water, but only a little at a time. Work those muscles in your arms until it resembles a smooth chocolate frosting, otherwise you get air bubbles, or a mouthful of powder. Add the rum and the nuts, take it off the heat and stir in the cubed butter until all melted. With the help of a spatula spread it on the prepared cookie sheet and let it cool at room temperature. It will harden as it cools. Enjoy it! I guarantee it won’t last long.
By the way, I have no idea on the number of servings. And since I have never made or eaten the American version of fudge I don’t know how closely it resembles it, in either recipe or taste.
Also: HUGE congratulations to Autumn of#mce_temp_url# for winning this week’s $25.00 giveaway to Target. Now leave me a comment and go check out her site. Don’t forget any comment from today on qualifies you for the next $25.00 giftcard giveaway.
Apparently I work too many hours, have horrible eating habits (too much chocolate, coffee and pastries), and sleep too little. For the second time, in as many weeks, I am sick again. I’ve had the flu shot and the H1N1 shot, to no avail. I have no idea what exactly is the matter, as I dread going in to see the doctor just to be told to go home and rest. But my right ear hurts so, I feel like cutting it off, and I who have never smoked, have a smoker’s raspy voice.
It’s been sunny, yet very cold. At night the wind scratches at the windows and sends the kids to our bed, where they snuggle in wide eyed, clutching at the covers and twining their legs with ours. And although I am sick and should know better, I love the warmth of their little bodies and let them stay, only to awaken hours later my limbs all numb, hubby gone down the hallway to sleep in the empty room.
My hours awake are spent in bed, looking through my journal for favorite recipes,
pasting cutouts of images from my favorite magazines,
opening my mail (yay, Christmas presents have arrived!),
Finally, I will be enjoying a bowl of this delicious stew prepared by my darling hubby, with a chunk of crunchy French bread, at the kitchen table surrounded by the dear faces of my family. I adore the primitive taste of bone marrow. There’s something so satisfying in it’s goodness.
And then off to bed for sleep and another day of the same, until I feel better. Stay safe and healthy!
half cube butter
4 large cloves garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
sprinkle of dried crushed red pepper
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
lots of baguette slices
Heat the butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and let the butter and garlic blend with it until it becomes almost a sauce. Stir in the rosemary, thyme and dried crushed red pepper. Add chicken stock and bring it to boil. Reduce heat and add the half-cup of heavy cream. Simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat broiler. Brush baguette slices with some olive oil. Transfer to large baking sheet. Broil until golden. Serve alongside soup.
Now, I am really not a cook which is a shame, for I sure love to eat. And more than anything else, I gravitate to those foods that take time and patience. I’ve read and heard some amazing women say that the trick is having a few fabulous recipes up one’s sleeve to whip up at a moment’s notice. A few for every season, I suppose is best. Enjoy!
In the last month, I have been to more weddings, parties, showers, birthday celebrations, family barbeques, dinners, and lunches than I have the entire year. With the exception of the winter holiday season, the months of July and August are spent hopping from one place to the next. Rarely a day goes by that we don’t go somewhere or see someone. And while it is tiring (and we are the only neighborhood family carrying our sleeping children from the car into the house at midnight), it is also great fun. Both hubby and I are sociable people who love to be around other sociable people every chance we get.
Yet I am reminded that my turn is coming. One way or another, I have to reciprocate. Today I spent a good portion of my free time looking over easy summer recipes for a dinner with family and friends that I’m to give in the next two weeks. I say easy, because I usually go for the complicated, only to find out halfway through that either the meal will never be ready in time for the guests’ arrival, or judging by how dry it is, it was ready a while back, and the only thing it’s good for now, is the garbage can.
Because hubby is a fabulous cook (who really should do all the cooking in our family), and I am good at delegating, I’ll give him the job of preparing the meal. I’ll do what I do best: selecting and arranging the flowers, staging various surfaces throughout the rooms for exquisite presentations of food, donning my favorite embroidered apron from my mother-in-law, arranging the sofas and chairs in a conducive conversation provoking sitting area, and so on.
With the crowd coming, I don’t need to stress in the least. Because they love us, they believe everything we do is spectacular (and I am not giving away the menu, after all, some of you readers will be there). Still, we aim to impress, if not our guests then at least each other. That’s just how it is when one’s married, I suppose.
One Saturday morning when I was 12, my father woke up and decided that that was the day his daughters would learn the feminine art of keeping house. “Marioara,” he said to my mom, “these girls are getting as tall as poplars and all they do is play.” Now I may have been 12, and already taller than my mom, but my sisters were 10 and 7, and petite. However, that’s how things were done in our family. The entire group was involved. Example: if one of us broke a rule, we all paid for it. The reasoning? So we’d learn the consequence and not attempt to break a rule, ever again. Sometimes it worked, most often it didn’t. It created an accomplice sort of bond between the five of us kids, though, and we saw to it that we weren’t found out.
My mom, being the wise woman she is, set about finding age appropriate tasks for us three. The youngest was shown how to fold clothes and organize the closets. The second was soon scrubbing the toilets, polishing the furniture and vacuuming, and I got sent to the kitchen to start on the soup, and peel the potatoes. I was 12, old enough to know better than burn down the house.
All the while cleaning the chicken, I was remembering the ones at my Tanti Marie’s country house, running around the yard without their heads, blood splattering everywhere. Not a pretty sight, nor memory. But I persevered and soon enough I added it to the cold water-filled pot waiting for it. To that I added salt, carrots, onion, celery, and parsley, placed the lid on top and moved on to the potatoes.
I will admit that to this day, I do not enjoy peeling potatoes. There is something about their cold and slimy texture (to me, at least) that raises the hair on my arms. I cut them, cubed them, filled another pot with cold, fresh water, added salt and the potatoes, and set them to boil. After the potatoes were fully cooked, I drained them, added the softened butter that had been sitting on the counter for so long it had practically melted, and then the milk, and stirred like crazy. They turned out delicious.
When the soup was ready, my mom strained it, disposing of the celery, parsley, and onion, saved the meat and carrots on the side for frying them later, and explained the importance of simmering the homemade noodles in the soup broth. Thankfully, I didn’t have to make the noodles. Those remained my mother’s and grandmother’s responsibility.
Over the years I experimented with the addition of herbs, garlic, roasted shallots, heavy cream, sour crème, crème fraiche, and a few other condiments in my mashed potatoes. The soups became more complicated as well. Yet, regardless of the outcome, my most proud moment is when we sat down for lunch on that Saturday, and I served everyone the chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes I had made.
Every once in a while I get a craving for something that reminds me of my childhood. I often associate good food with it because most of what went into making a specific dish or dessert were such hard to come by commodities, that in my memories of it now, the preparation of the pastries and cakes were an event into themselves. Everyone was around. Grandmothers and aunts shooing us out of the way, cousins skipping to the hen house for eggs, or to the larder for butter, or to the well to get a bucket of water. Of course, we were also stealing precious chocolate or spoonfuls of sugar when we thought no one was looking. And washing dishes. There were always lots of dishes.
The saddest thing for me about the fall of communism in Romania, is that some of the country’s yummiest recipes have become modernized in the interest of saving time. All that nurturing and comforting right out the door the minute electric mixers and food processors entered.
Don’t despair, this dish does not require anyone to give up any modern kitchen utensil. Added bonuses: it’s easy, fast, and absolutely delicious. Make it for your kids and they’ll be hooked for life. With that in mind, allow me to remain nostalgic for another 50 minutes or so while I make this.
4 cups milk (2% or whole) + 1/2 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise with the seeds scraped out
6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
12 tablespoons sugar
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the 4 cups of milk and vanilla bean and scraped seeds to a simmer, turn heat off so that it doesn’t burn.
2. Beat the egg whites with half of the sugar until stiff peaks form.
3. Place a metal serving spoon in the simmering milk so that it heats up and use it to spoon out servings of the egg whites into the milk.
4.Turn the egg whites into the milk after 2 minutes or so, and then let them poach on that side too. After another 2 minutes, remove the egg whites and place them in one layer into a deep baking dish, leave room in between them so they don’t stick. Repeat this until all of the egg whites are done.
5. In a bowl, use a whisk to beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and about 1/2 cup milk (you might need more). *
6. Add some of the hot milk to the cold yolk mixture in order to temper it and then gradually combine the two together.
7. Once they are combined, remove the vanilla bean and whisk the milk mixture thoroughly.
8. Gently ladle the milk mixture into the baking dish where the egg whites are sitting.
9. Keep warm in the oven at 200 for about 30-45 minutes (any longer and the milk will thicken and become like pudding)
*Rachel uses 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, which she gradually adds into the egg yolk mixture until incorporated. I forgot to buy it, so I went without. Nevertheless, they were delicious!!!
After a long day of early Christmas shopping it felt good to come home, build a roaring fire in the fireplace and eat a bowl of this delicious salmon chowder with huge chunks of homemade bread (Danny is a great baker!), smeared with roasted garlic and whipped butter. Try it and let me know what you think. I apologize in advance that I do not remember where I got this recipe from, but I do know that I substituted some vegetables based on the discerning palates of my two little ones. The recipe serves about four.
1/2 cube unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, cut in narrow strips
5 green onions, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced in narrow strips
3 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth (simmer 1 onion, 3 celery stalks, 3 carrots, 1 potato and 1 parsnip if you want to make your own, if not use store bought)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups low fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 ounces smoked salmon
In a large, heavy pot over low heat melt the butter and add the olive oil. Stir in the garlic, onions, red pepper, and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium and saute, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Potatoes are next, stir for 5 minutes or until they get a slight roasted color. Add the broth and cover, letting all ingredients simmer for about 10-15 minutes. When potatoes are tender, add the milk, tomato paste, and salmon. While it all simmers add the cream. Enjoy!
(Total preparation and cooking time about 30 minutes.)