Archive for May 2013

I work from home. And so I’m super close to my kitchen all.the.time. Incidentally, when I need a break from my computer, I find myself poking around in the cabinets for a snack. It’s bad, I know, I know. So, I look for some reasonably healthy alternatives that will keep me excited.

Enter this concoction, that’s so simple you’re bowled over by it’s deliciousness. Yogurt. Strawberry Rhubarb Compote. Granola. Raisins. It’s heaven. Sometimes it’s a snack, sometimes it’s a lunch, always it’s fantastic.  The only part I have to make is the compote, and it’s so easy it shouldn’t even really be considered a recipe.  I didn’t, but I bet with a bit of cinnamon, this would be even better!
Eclairs 0005 Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote 

12 ounces slender rhubarb stalks (about 3), cut into 2- by 1/3 -inch-thick sticks

1 pound fresh strawberries, halves

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a large heavy skillet, bring the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the juices thicken slightly and the rhubarb is falling apart. Let cool.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Enjoy!


So, I haven’t read this one yet.   Well, I’m a handful of chapters in and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner.  I’m pretty in to it.  It’s one of those books that Jessica recommends to me and I’m all “That sounds AWFUL!”  But she absolutely guarantees that as awful as this one sounds, it’s one of the best we’ll read all year.  And this girl never steers me wrong.   So, we read.

images Flipping Pages: The Song of Achilles


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

Oh. My. God. This has been my favorite read of 2013 (so far). Look, the description don’t sound amazing: it’s a retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War. It’s got some Illiad mixed in there. Yeah, the Illiad, which you may have skimmed or read the Cliff’s Notes for in high school. Sounds like a snooze, right?

Wrong! This is the most transporting book I’ve picked up in a long time. Ancient Greece and Troy feel so real you can almost smell the ripe figs and the salty sea air. Patroclus, who was Achilles’ lifelong companion, narrates and you just fall in love with him in the first ten pages. Greek mythology is woven so beautifully and realistically into the story that I actually took new interest in these ancient stories that always seemed dusty and over-the-top to me. I’m going to be all mysterious now…I don’t want to say too much about the plot, because you deserve to get lost in it without expectations. You guys, read this book. You will be bowled over. This is more than just a great read, it’s a story that will live in your heart and your imagination for the rest of your life.

And I don’t just say hokey stuff like that every day.

Happy Reading,


I love all things French.  All of them.  And their pastries are real high on the list… just behind their wine and their food and their nonchalance.  My absolutely lovely friend Heidi Ryder gave me this beautiful book, Sweet Paris.  Because I love France.  Because I love pretty pictures.  Because she knew there would be some sweets in it for her pretty face icon smile The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

Clearly, I made my first attempt from this book on one of the toughest pastries included… the éclair.  And it was a disaster.   Well, a delicious disaster, but a disaster none the less.   The pastry didn’t rise.  It was dense and not airy at all.  The filling was lumpy.  I ran it through a sieve and it was fine… but that shouldn’t have happened!  The ganache was delicious, but ganache is always delicious.  So I’ll take the win on the ganache, but it’s not really the most thrilling victory… how can you go wrong with chocolate, sugar and butter!?

I’ve done some research and I think I’m figuring out what went wrong.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be attempting a few other recipes, combining a few different methods and, fingers crossed, coming up with some worthy of the most nonchalant Parisian.

Eclairs 0001 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

These guys were so sad and lifeless the filling had to sit on top icon sad The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0002 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0003 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0004 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

At the end of the day, sugar & chocoalte with my morning coffee isn’t the worst way to start a day.  Or get through a day.  Or end a day.

If you want to make your own attempt, and tell me where I might have gone wrong, this is the recipe I followed word for word.


Classic French Chocolate Eclairs


For the Choux Pastry

2.25 fl oz water

2.25 fl oz whole milk

2 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar

pinch of fine sea salt

3.5 oz plain (all purpose) flour, sieved

4 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.  Put the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Take off the heat and slowly fold in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Return to a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs, beaten, one at a time until you hae a smooth, dropping consistency.  Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 0.5 inch plain nozzle and leave for 5 minutes or so to cool and stiffen slightly.

Pipe 10 large, sausage-shaped eclair shells about 6 inches long on to the baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart to allow room to expand.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.  Do not open the oven door during baking, or they will collapse.


For the Chocolate Filling

1 vanilla pod

12 fl oz whole milk

6 egg yolks

3.5 oz caster (superfine) sugar

1.75 oz heavy cream

1 oz all-purpose flour, sifted

1 oz corn starch, sifted

1 oz bittersweet dark chocolate

0.5 oz unsweetened cocoa powder

Slit the vanilla pod lengthwise with a small sharp knife and scrape out the seeds.  Add them, along with the pod, to the milk in a suitable saucepan.  Bring almost to the boil, being careful not to let it burn, then fish out the vanilla pod.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar until creamy.  Add the cream, plain flour and cornflour, and whisk well until smooth.  Slowly pour the hot milk into this mixture, whisking constantly.

Return the milk mixture to the saucepan and bring almost to the boil once more, whisking all the time to prevent any lumps from forming.  Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes over a very low heat, while continuing to whisk, then pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming.  Set aside to cool.

(If you prefer a vanilla filling, skip this step!) Melt the chocolate in a separate heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until there are no lumps.  Pour the melted chocolate into the filling spoon in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Then leave to cool completely.

Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a 0.5 inch nozzle.  Using the tip of the nozzle, pierce the underside of the eclairs in three places along the length and gently squeeze in the filling as evenly as possible.


For the Glaze

5.5 oz bittersweet dark chocolate

2.25 unsalted butter

1.75 icing (confectioners) sugar

2 fl oz water

Melt the chocolate in the same way as above.  When melted, add the butter and sugar, whisking continuously until it looks shiny and creamy.  Remove from the heat, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then dip each éclair in the icing and smooth over using a spatula.  Wait until the icing hardens before serving .



As I’m aging, I realize that I sometimes need the caffeine jolt to get myself going.  I’ve never needed it before, but now there are days I just can’t get out of my own way.  The coffee helps :-)  And if I need to help myself get through the “ahh, it would be kind of nice to curl up on the couch” mood so that I can actually get myself out of the house and speak to other humans for an evening, this little concoction helps!   Perfect to give me a teeny jolt and remind myself that getting out of my gym clothes can encourage a world of good!

This particular one does need a little bit of forward thinking with the coffee ice cubes and cold coffee.  But, if you’re short on time, the cubes are a lovely touch, but not entirely necessary either!  And if your coffee is hot, make it super strong, then add ice.  The ice will melt and mellow the strength while chilling the temperature.
Coffee Cocktails 0001 Caffeinated Cocktails

Caffeinated Cocktails (Makes 1 Cocktail)

2 oz vodka

2 oz cold coffee

1 oz Baileys

1 oz Chambord

4 iced coffee cubes

Add ingredients to a shaker.  Shake. Pour into a glass, add coffee ice cubes. Enjoy!


Something about watermelon makes me know that it’s summertime.  And with the temperatures heading into the eighties next week, I’m guessing that we’re all up in it already.  What!?  Already!?  How does that happen every year?

So, something simple.  Something refreshing.  Something light, but not so light that it’s tasteless.  Here you are folks.  And with a sweet macaroon, it’s the perfect summer snack.  Enjoy!
Watermelon Cocktails 0001 Fresh Watermelon Cocktails
Watermelon Cocktails 0002 Fresh Watermelon Cocktails

Fresh Watermelon Summer

2 oz Vodka

2 oz fresh watermelon juice

1 oz Monin Raspberry syurp

1/2 lime

Add all vodka, juice & syurp to a shaker with ice.  Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 a lime.  Shake and strain into a glass.  Garnish with a lime slice.  Enjoy!


Last week I spent a lovely few days in New York City.   I had to go for work (a little of the lovely I shot is here & here), but was so lucky to pack in lots of food and lots of fun with my Aunt!   This year I’ll get to spend some time in the Big Apple on three separate occasions.  Three!  Such a lucky year for me :-)   On this trip, I felt for the first time that I could belong to this city. Beyond just a walking through the city and seeing it with the eyes of a tourist!  Instead of just following someone else through the subway system, I learned how to do it on my own.  I even got all the way to New Jersey… through all kinds of trains and systems.  (For those of you who know me in real life, you realize that this is INCREDIBLE!)  I’m going back to places that I love and discovering new ones that I know I’ll be visiting again.  Love love love.

So, below are a few Instagram images, and a few of my favorite recommendations from this trip.  Basically, eat, drink, run, repeat.  Enjoy!
Coffee Cocktails 0002 New York Has My Heart
Coffee Cocktails 0003 New York Has My Heart
Coffee Cocktails 0004 New York Has My Heart


Buvette – In March we went for dinner, in May we went for brunch.  Both incredible!  Very French, VERY tiny, very adorable.  Literally, the smallest table I’ve ever had the pleasure of gobbling up such delicious food.  It’s real tight, but the food makes the squeeze more than worth it!

Locanda Verde – My Aunt frequents Locanda Verde on the regular.  Breakfast, brunch, dinner, all of it.  Fantastic Italian food in a gorgeous setting.  The Sheeps Milk Ricotta, I have dreams about it.

Rosemarys - It’s brand new, they don’t take reservations unless you’re a large group and it’s packed.  Get there early and snag a table.  Every single bottle of wine is $40 (and they’re delicious), the decor is perfect and the food is amazing.  Definitely more on the contemporary side of Italian.  Delicious.

To Do

Fundraisers – One of the best ways to feel like you’re part of a community!  Look online, see what you can see and buy tickets to a fundraiser.  New York is so full of events centered on food and wine, I’m jealous at the abundance!  We went to a wine tasting and silent auction for Wheeling Forward.  We had so much fun, bought a ridiculous amount of wine and benefited an amazing group that helps disabled people achieve amazing goals.

Motown The Musical – I’m feel like this can’t be true, but I can’t for the life of me remember ever seeing a Broadway show actually in New York.  One of my clients works on Motown The Musical and so generously snagged us seats.  It’s incredible!  So much fun, such great music… I laughed, I cried.  Was a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon!

Running – I’ve become one of those people that makes running shoes for every trip.  I’m not sure when or how this happened, but I kind of enjoy it.  Gives me a whole new outlook on a new city.   And New York has some really great places to run.  This trip we did a bit of The Westside Highway and a good chunk of The Highline.  Both incredible places to run!