Monday, April 30, 2007
Bank of America is running a promotion for the month of May where you and a guest can get into several museums throughout the county for free. Just present your Bank of America card at the ticket desk. The locations for San Francisco are The Asian Art Museum, California Academy of Science, SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, de Young Museum, and Legion of Honor. Click here for more details and other locations.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Miette, the yummy organic bakery in the Ferry Building, opened a candy store on Octavia a couple months ago. I finally checked it out this morning and it is adorable! It's one of the prettiest candy store I've been in. I tried the peach taffy and Fleur de sel caramels. The caramels were particularly good. This is the type of shop that you can't help but be happy the second you walk through the door.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tartine Bakery is one of the best bakeries in the city. The morning buns are my favorite. They are the perfect combination of a flaky, crunchy, caramelized exterior and a soft, bready interior. To finish, they are dipped in large crystal orange infused sugar. They usually sell out by 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., so get there early. If you don't get there in time don't worry because everything they make is divine.
p.s. I got really excited when they released their cookbook, but I was very disappointed that morning buns weren't even mentioned anywhere in the book.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I'm very intrigued by these Bella Cucina salts. These would make great hostess gifts. They have currently have four combinations of sea salts: Wild Oregano & Sage, Tuscan Rose & Pink Peppercorn, Citrus & Fennel,and Rosemary & Lavender. I have a recipe for butter cookies with Fleur de Sel that might be good with some of these salts. Or you could use them as a topping for focaccia.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I think postmodern design was invented just for me. I'm always torn between the beauty, history and tradition of classic design and the clean lines of modern design. The solution is postmodern which beautifully blends the modern with classic references. I love this chair designed by Philippe Starck inspired by the classic Louis XVI chair. I would love these for the dining room someday.
I love straw mats for picnics, trips to the beach, or any other time I'm sitting on the ground. They are so much easier to handle and clean than a blanket and they can withstand ground moisture much better than fabric. I especially love these for the beach because the sand shakes right out. We keep one permanently in our car trunk.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I having a growing collection of art books that I want to display somehow so that people, myself included, will actually view and enjoy the books. I'm considering this bookcase from Design Within Reach. Each shelf holds up to 20 pounds which is nice since art books tend to be heavy and it doesn't take up a lot of room. Plus I like that is not your typical boxy bookshelf. I might consider one for the kitchen too for my cookbook collection.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Tyler and I just finished watching a really good period drama. It is based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell and produced by many people involved with the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. Tyler actually liked it more than Pride and Prejudice. Although nothing can beat P&P for me, this production can definitely compete. The story centers around 17-year-old Molly Gibson and her father who remarries a widow with a daughter of about the same age as Molly. Wives and Daughters is a very enjoyable and entertaining way to spend 5 hours (4- 75 minute episodes). You can rent it through Netflix.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
It's the perfect time to make panna cotta now that berries are coming back in season. Panna cotta is an easy dessert to mess up, but if you get it right there is nothing here on this earth closer to a little piece of heaven. This recipe is foolproof if you follow it to the letter. It's the perfect recipe for entertaining because it can be made up to a day ahead.
Panna cotta translated from Italian means "cooked cream." It's a very simple recipe with only six ingredients. It's the perfect centerpiece for a variety of flavors, my favorite being raspberry. Puree some fresh raspberries, season to taste with sugar, and strain for a prefect sauce to spoon around the unmolded panna cotta. Bon appetito!
Classic Panna Cotta
From Cook's Illustarted
Serve panna cotta very cold with strawberry or raspberry sauce or lightly sweetened berries. Though traditionally unmolded, panna cotta may be chilled and served in wine glasses and sauced on top. If you would like to make the panna cotta a day ahead, decrease the gelatin to 2 5/8 teaspoons (2 ½ teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoon), and chill the filled wine glasses or ramekins for 18 to 24 hours.
1 cup whole milk
2 ¾ teaspoons gelatin
3 cups heavy cream
1 piece vanilla bean, 2 inches long, slit lengthwise with a paring knife (or substitute 2 teaspoons extract)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1. Pour milk into a medium saucepan; sprinkle surface evenly with gelatin and let stand 10 minutes to hydrate gelatin. Meanwhile, turn contents of two ice cube trays (about 32 cubes) into large bowl; add 4 cups cold water. Measure cream into large measuring cup or pitcher. With paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds into cream; place pod in cream along with seeds and set mixture aside. Set eight wine glasses or 4-ounce ramekins on baking sheet.
2. Heat milk and gelatin mixture over high heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved and mixture registers 135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 ½ minutes. Off heat, add sugar and salt; stir until dissolved, about 1 minute.
3. Stirring constantly, slowly pour cream with vanilla into saucepan containing milk, then transfer mixture to medium bowl and set bowl over ice water bath. Stir frequently until thickened to the consistency of eggnog and mixture registers 50 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes. Strain mixture into large measuring cup or pitcher, then distribute evenly among wine glasses or ramekins. Cover baking sheets with plastic wrap, making sure that plastic does not mar surface of cream; refrigerate until just set (mixture should wobble when shaken gently), 4 hours.
4. Serve panna cotta in wine glasses, or, following steps 1 through 4 below, unmold panna cotta from ramekins and serve immediately.
Unmolding Panna Cotta
1. Pour one cup of boiling water into a small wide-mouthed bowl, dip ramekin into the water, count to three, and lift the ramekin out of the water.
2. With a moistened finger, press lightly around the periphery of the cream to loosen the edges. Dip the ramekin back into the water for another three count.
3. Invert the ramekin over your pal, and loosen the cream by cupping your fingers between the cream and the edges of the ramekin.
4. Gently lower the cream onto the plate.
(Picture from Martha Stewart)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I went to the Picasso & American Art exhibit at SFMOMA today. It's a wonderful exhibit. It even includes what the experts believe to be the first Picasso painting brought to the U.S. by Max Weber. Even though Picasso never stepped foot in the U.S., his work was extremely influential on many American artists including Weber, de Kooning, Gorky, Lichtenstein, Pollack and others. The exhibit closes on Monday, May 28th. Go now before the crowds get even worse, and make sure you spring for the $2 audio guide. (Art pictured: Top - Pablo Picasso's Femme Assise, and bottom- Arshile Gorky's Blue Figure in Chair)
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
On the walk home from Avenue Montaigne, I came across a small British food store on Nob Hill called You Say Tomato. They were closing so I didn't have a lot of time to explore, but it looked like they have a pretty good selection of food, candy, tea, cheese, and other British imports at pretty good prices. The owner was really nice too. I'll definitley be returning to learn more. I bought some cranberry, raspberry & elderflower tea.
I saw two good movies this week. I've definitely grown more picky over the years, but it just doesn't seem like the movie selection has been that good for the last few years. Is it just me? I'm excited to be able to share a couple of good ones with you.
The Namesake revolves around the angst between the generations of a family who immigrates from India to the U.S. Not only is there the struggle between the generations of parents and children, but you add the complication of cultural differences between the parents who were raised in India and the two children who are born and raised in the U.S. The movie beautifully portrays the struggle for understanding and acceptance. This movie made me cry which I don't do that often for movies.
Avenue Montaigne wasn't nearly as good as The Namesake, but it deserves an honorable mention. It's basically "a day in the life" of a Parisian actor, musician, art collector, waitress, and others that connect together in the end. The plot was a little slow at times but it tied up nicely in a very sweet little ending.
Both are independent so some of you may have to wait for the DVDs. For those of you in the Bay Area, you can see The Namesake at the Embacadero Theaters and Avenue Montaigne at The Lumiere on California.
Tyler got off work early on Monday, so to celebrate we went to La Mediterranee for dinner. This is one of my favorite "everyday" food places. They have a couple places in SF and one in Berkeley. I love the Chicken Cilicia which is cinnamon spiced chicken with almonds, chickpeas and raisins in filo. Their baba ghanoush is incredible too. If you are hungry or in a group, order the large combination appetizer with dolmas, hummus, baba ghanoush and other delicious morsels. They cater too. My friend Jen has used them for a couple of parties and highly recommends them.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I love this table. I have two and I use them all the time. I'm going to get one more this year so I don't have to keep borrowing Michelle's. It's the best table to use for picnics, beach outings, projects, entertaining, kids projects, kids dinner table or anything else you need a table for. (See my Dinner Club Photos post from 3/1/07. I used three tables end-to-end to comfortably seat 8 people.) It rolls up and stores very easily.
I've been using these two notepads to keep myself organized lately. The 3-way pad is nice for a running to do list. The 7 Days a Week pad is handy for date specific appointments and items. I've also been trying to add at least one fun thing to do each day.
Monday, April 09, 2007
We had a lovely Easter dinner with friends. Michelle set a beautiful table. The planter box centerpieces made it seem like we were dining in the garden. (To make them without the mess of potting soil, just add individual potted plants to the planters and cover the pots with moss.) Our menu included various hors d'oeuvres, raspberry soup, green salad with asparagus and orange, carrot souffles, salmon with Upland cress-caper sauce, au gratin potatoes, lemon-buttermilk pudding cake, and lavender lemonade.
Friday, April 06, 2007
I got way too much sun in my youth growing up in the desert and working as a lifeguard during high school. I'm regretting that now, but the only thing I can do about it now is wear a lot of sunscreen to prevent further damage. I'm trying out this new product and so far I like it. I'm not trying to look like I just got back from Hawaii, but it's nice to find something that takes the edge off my very fair skin. This product seems to dry very quickly, it doesn't streak, it doesn't smell horrible, and the color is pretty natural.
As for sunscreen, I love DDF's Matte Finish Photo-Age Protection SPF 30. It's not greasy at all. You can use this even if your skin is oily.
I'm having Easter dinner with friends at David and Michelle's house this weekend. We usually split up the courses for holidays and this year I'm in charge of salad and dessert. I'm making Green Salad with Asparagus, Oranges, and Red Onion and Lemon Pudding Cake with Chantilly Cream and Berries. Here are the recipes for both.
GREEN SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS, ORANGES AND RED ONION
The asparagus and orange segments are arranged in a sunburst pattern on a large platter, with baby greens and sliced red onion in the center. Or plate individually using the same star burst pattern.
2/3 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin), plus more for asparagus
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
24 asparagus spears, trimmed
12 cups mixed baby greens
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
Make dressing: Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Chill until cold.
Make salad: Preheat oven to 450ºF. Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Using small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release segments. (Dressing, asparagus and orange segments can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.)
Arrange asparagus spears in sun burst pattern on platter. Place orange segments between asparagus spears. Mound greens in center of platter. Sprinkle salad with basil and tarragon. Top with red onion slices. Drizzle some dressing over. Pass remaining dressing separately.
Lemon-Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Chantilly Cream and Berries
From Big Small Plates by Cindy Pawlcyn
I got the recipe for this cake from my cousin Joan years ago. You can bake it in an eight-inch-square glass baking dish or, for individual servings, in eight 4-ounce ramekins.
2/3 cup plus ¼ cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 ½ cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 pints fresh raspberries or blueberries, mashed
¼ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup of sugar and the flour. Add the lemon juice, zest, and buttermilk and whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter and egg yolks. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the buttermilk mixture. Using the whisk attachment of a mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy. Sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and whip until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk and buttermilk mixture. The batter should be smooth and thick.
Pour the batter into a baking dish and place the dish in a water bath with the water halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake 23 to 30 minutes, until slightly brown and beginning to crack but still jiggly. The smaller the baking dish, the less time will be needed to reach this stage. Cool to room temperature.
While the cake is in the oven, make a Chantilly cream by whipping together the cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Keep chilled until needed.
To serve, turn the cake out onto a serving platter. (Individual ramekins do better in low, rimmed soup dishes.) Spoon on mashed berries and sprinkle with sugar. Finish with a dollop of cream and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I've been looking for a good address book for a while. I've been storing all my contacts on electronic media such as my PDA, cell phone, computer, etc., but I'm learning the painful lesson that it can all go poof in an instant. I found this address book at MOMA in New York and you can buy it on-line here. They have other designs as well including larger versions with removable pages.
I bought this cute little linen cropped jacket from Forever 21 for $22.90. I hate the button though because it's really cheap looking and chipped, so I bought a pretty mother-of-pearl button from Britex Fabrics and replaced it. The button detail doesn't show up well in the picture, but it has a cool geometrical pattern around the edge.
Sarah hosted our monthly dinner club for March. Her theme was Southern food. We had Southern-style black eyed peas salad, cheddar garlic biscuits, macaroni and cheese with bread crumbs, crab-stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon on a bed of jasmine rice with basil cream sauce, red velvet cake with berries, sparkling lemonade and orange berry coolers. Yum!! I stand by my statement that dinner club is my favorite night of the month.
My friend Jordan is a brilliant event planner. Last week she put on a party for our women's group at church. She can work miracles even with the small church budget. I especially loved the pom-pom tissues decorations. Here are her directions for this party. The pictures are from her blog too.