Sunday, July 29, 2012

Peachey Perfect

I recently felt like God had the thumb-screws on me, until I compared notes with some dear friends.  Hello…God…why all the trials for such great folk?  Oh that’s a much longer, philosophical discussion.  I send my love to a few dear ones, you know who you are, and I pray for improvement.  In the meantime, let’s have some fun and some good food; though Dad is not his best, he asked for peach pie.  Here is the simplest one you can make:

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In the grocery store you will find frozen puff pastry sheets; this brand is Pepperidge Farms; set one sheet out to defrost~

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When pliable, unfold it; you can roll it a little at this stage but I don’t bother~

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Pick four peaches from your local market, organic if possible, like these from Rieger Farms~

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Slice the peaches onto the open pastry~

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fold up the edges, as little or as much as you want, and dust with a handful of sugar~

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Bake at 425 until brown~

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meanwhile today, I went to Rancho Santa Fe and then back home, the roses from Laura’s visit were a little droopy~

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though the entire bucket of roses cost me $20, I am getting extra miles….the petals have not browned….


so I have picked them and spread them out to dry in the sun~


where they are making wonderful rose potpourri and will mix nicely with lavender in the candle hurricanes….


I am going to have the summer party of parties in mid August.  Plans are underway and otherwise I would be completely depressed….I spent the entire last week with Dad’s Dr. visits and parents.  The party will be a welcome distraction…oh for now back to parents and tomorrow a few orders.  Soldier on….

Friday, July 20, 2012

Company’s Coming

If I could, I would have guests for dinner five nights a week.  I love to have guests for dinner, especially if a) they are good friends; b) do not arrive empty handed; c) provide scintillating conversation or jokes and d) from time to time reciprocate with their own dinner.  Unfortunately, most of my good friends live in far flung regions of the world, so I’m usually home cooking just for family.  This weekend, though, I have the treat of a visit from Laura of Décor to Adore, so yesterday I got busy with the preparations.  First up, clean house, and that was a bit of work!


We’ve been enjoying the patio quite a bit lately, and the koi pond is not crystal blue but a nice shade of Italian green~


I got a round table out and started to set the places~


Yep, this is where we will sit; shaded from the late afternoon sun~


I got my Alice Waters book out for a few menu ideas.  Actually, I wanted to see if she had any simple fish recipes, because Wednesday I was given a Sculpin fish with the understanding that I would photograph it cooked.  In addition to the little fish, we will have Blinis and Caviar (not the real stuff) a Garden Salad, Tuscan Chicken (recipe to follow below) and Apricot Souffle.  Thanks for the inspiration, Alice! 


But after I got most of the house cleaned up, I decided what it really needed was fresh flowers.  Friday…hmm not much for markets.  But since I got up at 4am, I made an early morning run today to the LA Flower Mart.  One of my favorite treats is what they call a “Bucket of Roses.”  I have never counted, but I’m sure there are at least 100 roses in each bucket; and they come in all sorts of colors and sizes.  It’s $20 for the whole bunch, and $1 if you want the actual plastic bucket that holds each bunch, which I generally take as there is no way you are going to get these roses into another bucket….this is stuffed with roses in several layers so that you can’t see all of the flowers…today the hot pink caught my eye~


Enough for me to do a vase in the kitchen, dining room, living room, powder room and fill a series of hurricane shades with petals on top of the lavender buds and fresh rosemary~


Nothing like fresh flowers to make the house pretty.  If you are in the LA area you can get these at the Mart on Wall Street, not the “big mart” on Maple.   You don’t need a badge or anything to buy there; you just can’t go shopping with the pros at 2am.  I used a bucket of golden roses for the event two weeks ago; it’s a great inexpensive way to have your home absolutely filled with roses~


For dinner tonight I am making Tuscan Chicken.  It’s a recipe that R has made for me many times, and as my parents seem to have become tired of my regular French roast chicken on Sunday nights, I have started to make this meal once each week and they love it.  It’s made on the barbeque and especially nice to have in summer.  So here goes:

Tuscan Chicken

One small chicken, butterflied (cut the chicken completely down the backside so it lays flat)
Four lemons
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
five cloves of garlic
Fresh herbs of your choice (sage, rosemary, thyme etc)

Salt & pepper the chicken and lay it on top of your pile of herbs.  Crush the garlic cloves and rub on the chicken.  I often sprinkle generously with herbs de Provence.  Every time I make this it seems like it’s with different herbs, so feel free to experiment.   Juice the lemons into a bowl and add a generous amount of olive oil to it, about 1/4 cup.  Brush the chicken with the lemon & olive oil mixture and pour the marinade over the chicken; let sit for about an hour.


I’m using some olive oil from Thyme of Essence at the RSF market, as well as lemons from Kay of Maria’s All Natural Garden, Sage Mountain garlic, and rosemary from my own garden~


I use lots of rosemary.  I put it on the grill first and put the chicken on top of it.  Somehow this makes me feel like the chicken will have more rosemary flavor.  That might be my imagination, or it might help the chicken start to cook without burning.  Anyway, that’s how I’ve done it, and I can say that the rosemary is charred by the end of the cooking but the chicken is not~


I put the chicken on the rosemary (save the lemon juice & olive oil it was resting in), then pile the herbs and lemon rinds on top and cook like this with the BBQ lid closed and moderate heat~


Baste the chicken every ten minutes with the remaining lemon juice and olive oil mixture~


Cooking times vary, I think about 30-45 minutes for a 3.5 pound chicken.  I cook on one side, then the other; basting a lot and moving the herbs around.   Mix up more lemon juice & olive oil if you run out~


Here is my chicken as it’s finishing.  I put the roasted herbs under the chicken on the serving platter.  Ideally, it will be roasted and brown the same way as a conventional oven will cook it.  That is, I try not to serve it charred, but roasted.  That’s kind of the trick, to make sure it’s adequately cooked but not burned.  I cook over medium heat (charcoal not gas) and with the chicken on the second level right over the heat.


Hope you will try it; not sure if Laura has had this before, but tonight we will find out!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Manque

We are approaching mid summer, and the last few days I have been emailing with my dear friends Jacqueline & Guy in Brittany, and skype-calling Patty in Beaune…soon to hear from Elizabeth in Fayl-Biot.  I was wistful today thinking of past summers in Beaune, in Antibes, in Villefranche.  The pity-party lasted about ten minutes as I got back to working on filling orders and tending my parents’ affairs.  Dad fell out of bed two nights ago and has a big bonk on his nose that we all ignore.  I wish to be in France, but I am here, helas…..I can not leave them now, so I play the short order cook, the driver, the bookkeeper and the housekeeper…laundress and confidante. 

My farmers markets are definitely outlets….time to see friends and visit….as well as discover what is new.  Today Ali had small bundles of herbs….he has never heard the word tisane but that is what they are (see my post HERE) ….super great to see them sold in bundles at the market~


I am going to pot up and gift some tisane herbs this summer, but this was a great addition to the market today~


there is nothing prettier to put on your table after dinner than this, even better with a few rose petals~


You can buy them potted like this, from Larry at Atkins…but better yet is to have them planted at your back door like Rachel does in France and snip a few pieces to make your tea….the best French after dinner digestif


meanwhile there was summer goodness all over the market, in style….


I still have to show you pics from Saturdays big party; finishing that post soon, and sitting here at half past ten listening to the seals bark….ah summer….!  Meantime I have bought a few new pieces of copper to tide me over until I can be in France guilt-free…..more pics soon…..

ALSO be sure to stop by Karena of Art by Karena to enter her fantastic stencil giveaway HERE and wish her a perfect recovery from her recent hip surgery.  Thinking of you, Karena!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nothing Short of Amazing

Though I haven’t shown you all the pics, each week I have styled a large “best of the market” basket or crate at the Sunday Rancho Santa Fe and Wednesday Encinitas markets.  Every week it’s different, and each week people come by to see what I’ve selected, snap an iphone pic and how they might incorporate it into their meals~IMG_6641

Various farmers and purveyors have asked me to help them restyle their booths; here are the trio of French grain buckets that Laura and I had with Metis; I can’t believe no one bought these, but I use them weekly now at the markets, and yes, sales have increased~IMG_7252

It seems like a few weeks ago, but it was actually a few months ago….I had a vintage bean basket cornucopia-style for the best of the market, and a woman stopped by.  “Who Did That?”  She was redirected to me; turns out, she is a very well known chef with several restaurants.  Would I like to style an event the next weekend?  Sure.  It was a benefit for the Farmland Trust, and it was FUN.  Styling it was easy~


Our Host & Hostess have an amazingly beautiful and interesting estate.  At the entry, you see an aviary full of exotic birds~


Yes, this is a toucan, and that is a mist, to simulate a rainforest~


The estate is four acres, overlooking La Jolla...Wow~


On the bluffs overlooking the beach is an expansive green~


On a slightly cloudy day….wow so pretty….


and looking back up to the house~


the property is also an extensive farm;


Herbs, flowers, edibles….it’s all here, right on the bluffs….


there are tons of berries….boysenberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries….you name it, lots and lots~


Not to mention all kinds of citrus, fruit trees, flowers, chickens and ornamentals.  I was a kid in a candy store styling the last event~


The house contains a museum-quality art collection.  Here is my plate of Isabel’s amazing food and a glass of wine, in front of a Picasso plate.  I am definitely a hard-to-impress gal….but this pic makes me say YEAHHH~


The Master of the House is a collector of Tribal Art.  This is just the corridor to the powder room, you should see the rest of La Maison!!


Oh, and they are also dog lovers; a sweet Whippet on Kuba Cloth pillows…I love it….


Saturday night I am styling the tabletops at a party at this Estate.  The details:

210 guests.

23 of San Diego’s top Chefs.

Berries from the Farm in each course.

12 courses with wine pairings for all.

Served a table by a host of waiters.

This is the hottest foodie ticket in SoCal!!

And I get to style the tables~ can’t wait!

Each guest gets a trio of organic cotton net bags in their goodie bag;

and each Chef will get a beautiful French Basketeer Basket.


Look for pics later in the weekend; ps Sherry and Helen your orders are off and will be confirmed by FedEx this eve….