Thursday, June 25, 2009

Best English Scone Recipe!

I've had my fair share of scones. Some good, some were like eating hardened mud. Of all the recipes I've tried though, this one is my absolute favorite! The trick is to use COLD butter and a hand pastry blender.

Here is what you'll need:

from top left: two bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, pastry blender, sifter, pastry stone, hands

2 cups flour

5 TBS sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick of cold butter, cut into 1/2 cubes (approx)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pastry stone in oven (if using baking sheet, omit this step).

In a large bowl, sift in dry ingredients. Working quickly, add cold butter to the mix. With pastry blender, cut butter in until the consistency is similar to coarse meal. Set in cool place.

2 medium eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup of sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In another bowl, beat eggs. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Add to the flour and butter mixture'
With hands, and working quickly , combine wet and dry ingredients until moist ONLY! Pat dough ball into an 8 inch round. With a large knife, score the round (without cutting all of the way through) into 8 wedges and place on pastry stone (or well buttered baking sheet). Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool only slightly. Serve with Devon Cream and preserves (recipe to follow). Enjoy!

Kitchen Inspiration

Everyone is updating their kitchens to be more modern and efficient. Many times, the end result is a very sterile, cold look. This kitchen is my inspiration for a fun 1950's vibe.

Here are some products that will give you the same effect without sacreficing convenience.

KitchenAid appliances in Martha Stewart Blue. Available at Macy's.

Vintage fruit and flowers tablecloth. Scour flea markets and antique stores, or if you would like a new reproduction, check out Tabletop Couture's online store.

Another flea market favorite is the enamel/porcelain top table. The one pictures is from Ebay. There are so many different styles and colors available. Most also come with leaves. Perfect for a breakfast nook or use as an island.

Toleware chandeliers are making a comeback! The new ones look authentic, with the exception of possible wiring issues! This one with pretty yellow daisies is from Posh Living.

Last but not least, Anthropologie. Their selections of kitsch is dependable. These are just a few of my favorites. If you are lucky enough to have a store within driving distance, it's worth checking out their sale section every few weeks. I've found killer juice glasses and frames for a quarter of the original price!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bee Happy

The French have praised the mighty bee for centuries. There is a significant history with the bee and royalty, but it is said that its popularity reached a peek when Napoleon Bonaparte took up residence in the Royal Palace at Tuileries. He refused to spend a franc on new decor, but couldn't live with the drapes covered in fleur-de-lis, a symbol of French Royalty. Therefore, he had the drapes turned upside down, which resulted in the symbol taking on the form of the bee.

I am not French nor am I of royal descent, but I am captivated by the bee, often seen surrounded by a laurel wreath. As with anything, too much is a bit hokey. But a bee here and there in a home is lovely.

My first and favorite find is the Laguiole flatware from Horchow. On the handle of each piece sits a stainless steel bee. 20 piece sets with your choice of stainless or wooden handles is on special for $99.90. Often I receive emails for an additional 30% off all items, including sale! Williams-Sonoma sells the very same thing for $279.

Ballard Designs has a selection of glassware from La Rochere. I love the little juice glasses and carafe for breakfasts in bed!

Another lovely is this Royal Jelly bee soap from Gianna Rose. How beautifully it displays in the bathroom next to a pretty little guest towel!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Salads

I was a vegetarian for 14 years, so salads were a staple of my diet, and still are today. I was always coming up with new concoctions, like a mad scientist, and the kitchen was my lab.

Here is a super easy recipe I came up with a few years ago and at for almost a month straight! If you must have a protein, grilled chicken would be alright, but honestly, the recipe is better without it.

1 bunch of Arugula
If you are fortunate to have a little plot of tilled dirt outside of your back door, grow this. It doesn't require extra care and the rewards a many. The taste is peppery, verdant, and a compliment to all salads.

Tear off the very bottom of stems if they appear discolored.

1 small head of Radicchio
Radicchio has crunch that is able to hold up in most salads.

Use about half a head, cut in quarters, and give it a rough chiffonade.

3 medium sized Carrots
I always buy organic carrots in a bunch with leaves on. It gives you a pretty good idea of how long they've been out of the ground. If you're in a pinch, 1 pre-shredded bag of carrots will work fine (use about 1/2 of the bag).

Shred the carrots with a box grater. If your carrots are on the small side, shred 4.

1 cup of mixed Olives (with their oil)
I get mine from the olive bar at the grocery store and mix the different
varieties. If you want a little kick, get a few of the marinated Greek olives with red pepper flakes. Spoon in some of their oils too. Pit in or out, depending on how much of a purist you are.

8 ounces of good Bleu Cheese or Gorgonzola
I buy chunks and crumble myself. I don't know if this really has anything to do with the end product, but it makes me feel a little less Sandra Lee.
I like Maytag and farmhouse buttermilk bleus.

4 medium sized Sun dried Tomatoes (packed in oil)
Just give a rough chop and reserve some of the oil.

In a serving bowl, add your bleu cheese, olives (with 1tbs oil) and sun dried tomatoes (with 1/2 tbs oil). Give it a toss. Add the carrots and radicchio and toss again. Pile on top of the arugula just before serving.

You can make this recipe a day or two before hand, omitting the arugula. Add some mild herbs like parsley or chervil with a squeeze from a lemon quarter.
Serves about 4 as a side. Double amounts for a dinner get together. Perfect with a vodka martini!

Strawberry Fields

Anthropologie is constantly blogged about, and for good reason. June is California Strawberry month, and to pay homage to my favorite berry and store, I present you with a few selections you just have to check out.

Strawberry Citrus Reamer, $10

Fruit Stand Apron, $32

Fruit Stand Pot Holders, $12

De Vincennes Strawberry Dinnerware, $16-$24

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Second Time Around

Most people consider vintage items to be old and smelly objects which are at best are locked away in a curio cabinet. Those folks just don't know what they are missing! Years ago, I was told the secret of how something old can make a house look like a home.

One of the first things I started collecting was seltzer bottles. Check out some of the ones I found:

Check out Ebay, Etsy, your local antique stores, auctions and estate sales. Beautiful bottles can be found for as low as $10! Seltzer bottles will not only add a dramatic touch of color to any room, but also give it a nostalgic feel from country style to art nouveau homes.