Monday, February 9, 2015

visual gastronomy

I recently realized that every search through iPhoto leads me on a gastronomic tour - my minds eye blurs details of what we ate and with whom so it makes me happy that it is documented.

Sometimes we love a recipe so much we make it again and again, each time attempting to recreate the magical first bite.

Every preparation is a little different.

We begin to trust ourselves with the familiarity of a recipe or technique.
Refining it, we might have decided something is important or can be omitted because we don't have it on hand.  Maybe we don't quite measure the olive oil, salt and pepper or decide we might chop too much of one herb and decide to throw in the extra.  Omitting heat for a flavor with a pepper.

Our love of The Jerusalem Cookbook and Plenty have entertained many dinner parties.  Certainly Mario Batali has his greatest hits at our table so has Nancy Silverlton's Mozza recipes.

Our tried and true old standards still amaze and gratify us every time we prepare them.  Grilled steak rubbed with salt and pepper, grilled Ahi Tuna with a rub of rosemary, sugar salt and pepper with the  grilled artichokes from The Hitching Post drizzled with lemon, salt and olive oil replacing the butter.

Savor some blasts from our past year of cooking

Roasted chicken with clementine and arak
served with saffron rice  with barberries, pistachio and mixed herbs

Jerusalem Cookbook chicken with clementine and arak has become one of our favorites served with  the saffron rice recipe. We always make this recipe with brown rice a simple substitution that we adopted.

Little Gems with a bit of whatever was on hand doused in a vinaigrette 

Simple salads dressed in Nancy Silvertons perfect vinaigrette are a staple.

Olive Oil bread 

As is her Olive Oil bread, which I make in huge batches for holiday gifts.

Breakfast or lunch

Poached eggs over frisee or on homemade sourdough toast

A mix of what was on hand 

Grilled toast with blistered tomato served with Grilled Ahi on top of cabbage salad

mostly for color

Arugula salad with roasted red peppers fresh buffalo mozzarella drizzled with balsamic and olive oil
don't forget to finish with a sprinkling of Maldon salt and fresh pepper

Mushrooms with marjoram over toast

Potato crusted chicken on a grill

Tomato+ tarragon= YUM!

Lemon zest on anything and pretty much everything as a special finish

Homemade ravioli with ricotta and tarragon finished with lemon zest

And for desert

Poached Pairs cooked in a reduction of saffron and and cardamom pods were sticky and delicious

Bon Apetite!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tales from Dinner Parties Past

Tattered Tales from Bygone Dinner Parties

Last year as we were moving house, downsizing and trying to purge, my neighbor was doing the same.  She was moving from her family home where she had raised her children and enjoyed a wonderful life with her husband, dogs and giant yard for over 50 years.  They travelled, collected art, furniture and books.  He had been a photographer who had worked for Life Magazine shooting iconic photos such as one of my favorite of Martin Luther King that hung in their home.  She told me of the containers of furniture she purchased in at an old farm in France and shipped on her journey on The Queen Elizabeth.

We often spoke over the fence while I was tending to Ivarene Farms.  I would offer her a purple carrot freshly plucked from the ground, and she would entertain me with stories about her life, dogs, horses, children, grand daughter.  We shared a love to food and good living.  One year as she was preparing to take Peking Duck to a Thanksgiving celebration she called to ask if I would like the  carcasses to render for stock- I did!   It made the best stock, and I used the fat for frying potatoes the result was incredibly decadent.

She was moving back east to be closer to her children and grand daughter.  Did I mention she had fantastic style and taste? When the estate sale was over she invited me to take what was still there before it was donated.

I was reluctant until I opened cupboards to find Bauhaus plates, English crockery, French bakeware, and a variety of other goodies.  I couldn't just leave the stuff.... In the next room there were shelves lined with art books by just about every artist I had ever heard of or not.  The pantry was chocked full of cookbooks by the likes of Alice Waters, Julia Child, James Beard and countless others.  She had warned me that there was never anything that her husband liked and bought that he didn't buy two of,  she was right!


John decided to curate what we would take.  No pristine cookbooks here - the books showed signs of love, pages splashed with ingredients, covers torn and stained.  It was a treasure trove.  
annotated recipes
Do You think Toulouse-Lautrec Cooked in his Spare Time?

The books are beautiful, their spotted pages spin tales of long forgotten dinners.

Treasure Maps to Fabled Dinner Party's 

His Voice Echos from the Pages

Favorite Recipes Hidden in Books

I opened the tattered covers to find pages stuffed with recipes torn from old newspapers.  An article on getting your child to mind you hidden in the midst of one cookbook.  More than recipes live in these pages, memories of dinner party's past, meals shared with friends and families, celebrations.  Ghosts of lost evenings of cigarette filled air, spilled wine on tablecloths dishes left to do until mornings black coffee had taken affect.


Beautifully Illustrated 
Beautifully illustrated recipes

They inspire us to recreate and continue our devotion to cooks from eras past, present and future.  Throw parties, make recipes, leave the dishes until tomorrow..

 If you like this visit:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Eames La Chaise Chair- finally close enough to sit in

I can only think of what it must be like to be a vegetarian but love to eat meat.  This is the comparison I draw when after living in a giant minimal house for 9 years we have moved on to a small, cluttery, warm and cosy house.  I have been on a clutter free diet for 9 years, and missed my belongings.

We are in the process of downsizing from our enormous nearly 6000 square foot home to our temporary abode, the 1300 square foot  guest house of Ivarene Farms.

Our dinning room surrounded by The Hollywood Dell
Breakfast on the patio

Although space is compact inside I have the glorious gardens and Hollywood Dell surrounding me.
moving is exhausting

We are physically closer enjoying each other in new found ways
Our new space, which we resided in during our 2008 remodel is familiar and comfortable.
For the first time in so many years I living in close proximity to my belongings, which were spread throughout our enormous house.  The children were smaller and we hadn't aquired quite so many kitchen tools.

My things!!
Some of my treasures close enough to cherish

I think I prefer a bit of clutter over sparse minimalism.

The garden is on hold this summer due to circumstances beyond our control, which will be explained in detail in the coming months.

The peach tree seems quite happy and the avocado tree  provided about 30 small gems

One has to continue to eat.....

The cooking continues

 Our new house doesn't allow me the exercise of scaling stairs, instead we live intimately together, steps away from the kitchen are the bedrooms.  Sharing one lovely bathroom rather than 4.  We are practicing patience and respect for each other in a new way.

Happily we embark on a new chapter with older children, little or no albatross and great adventure ahead.

The lesson:  Smaller is better.  Smaller life= more freedom.

Stay tuned for more from the semi-dormant Crockery Chronicles...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fresh Fabrics

Fresh Fabrics
Today I took a field trip to The Fabric Store.  Based in New Zealand this is the first of their US stores plunked down on La Brea and stocked with designer dress fabrics and curated like a candy shop.  

Signage outside the shop

satiny reds lined up like lollypops

Summer caftan fabric?


Candy floss.. or Thread?

Unique sequin fabrics by the yard

what do you think this says?  Conversation piece?
Laser cut Tory Birch leather
If you go to their blog The Fabric Store Blog  there are directions on making a fantastic  and super simple DIY handbag from this laser cut leather.

The ancient tile floor 

lovely tables to peruse magazines for inspiration

The lovely Kaitlin another New Zealand transplant

Inspiration by the bolt- I only wish I were better at following patterns.  I might just buy some fabric to drape around myself.