Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Classic Comes Home

I posted awhile back about reading the book Julie and Julia. Loved it. Couldn't wait for the movie, and then somehow missed it in the theater. So when it came out on DVD, I had to snatch it up. Loved it also. Like many people, I was hungry and ready to cook after watching it.

I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I didn't own Julia Child's groundbreaking cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, until a couple weeks ago, but better late than never! The Boeuf Bourguignon in Julie and Julia looked divine (ahhh, movie magic), and is featured in the cookbook. It was also the first dish Julia Child made on her show, The French Chef, as well as the first recipe editor Judith Jones tried from the original manuscript. Not to mention that it is one of the quintessential dishes in French cuisine. Not surprisingly then, I felt it was only right to keep with tradition, and make that the inaugural dish to try.

If I had to pick one word to describe the finished dish: sublime. It was so good, I almost picked up the phone and quit my job, so I could enroll in culinary school, and be surrounded by food for the rest of my life. So good, I almost started collecting boxes to pack up the house we just bought, and move to France so I could eat it everyday (and I hate moving with the fire of a thousand suns!). It's that good! Every ingredient in this stew adds another layer of flavor.

Although this was quite a lengthy production (plan on 5-6 hours in the kitchen), the finale is well worth it. I don't even know what a chic chef would wear to serve this, because nobody's eyes are going to be on the chef. This masterpiece of a dinner is the true eye candy of the evening. Served with some good bread to sop up the juices, it was the perfect meal on a cold, winter day.

Despite the many steps involved, each one was fairly easy, and well described by the authors in the cookbook. I had great results on the first try, and the results will only get better from here. One shudders when imagining what that will be like...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas to Me!

My husband and I have never been all that skilled at giving each other gifts. Either we buy them while we're together, the don't get wrapped, they are given way early, or we guess the gift before we get it. See what I mean?

So it comes as no surprise that I already got my gift this year for Christmas, which I helped pick out (hey, I found a good deal. I had to go with it). I feel it is the final piece of the puzzle for a well-equipped kitchen.

May I proudly introduce you to my new baby...
KitchenAid® 5-Quart Artisan™ Stand Mixer
Bed Bath and Beyond

Ain't she a beauty? Perhaps under this laid-back, creative, fancy-free cooking exterior, there lies the disciplined, exacting, and patient nature of a baker. I can't wait to find out!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Feeling Nostalgic, and as Always, Chic...

While there are certainly some drawbacks to living life in bygone days, I have lately been feeling nostalgic for those times. I think much of it has to do with teaching etiquette in the classroom. It reminds you of a time when men were gentlemen, and women were ladies. Of course, I'm not saying that we should return to the times of blatant social inequality between the sexes, but I wonder what has happened to the days when women carried themselves with grace and elegance. I see it less and less these days.

The amazing photography of Richard Avedon allows me to travel back in time for a moment, to capture the style and sophistication of a different era. His fashion photographs are especially captivating.

Richard Avedon, Paris, 1955

I can just imagine myself sitting in a cafe in Paris right now. My precious poodle, Gusteau, sitting in my lap. A classic Chanel suit (I wish!) with killer heels. A frothy cappuccino, and warm, buttery croissant on my plate. A slight chill in the autumn air.

That's my mental vacation for the day! Where does yours take place?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gobble Gobble Gobble!!

I was watching my favorite chef Ina today on Food Network, and saw her make Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter (recipe available on Side note: I love watching the Food Network during Thanksgiving time! I might need to start wearing a bib to catch all the drool! Anyways, I have recently started working with truffle butter and truffle oil. I am hooked! The deep flavor really makes even easy dishes taste rich and elegant.

Needless to say, when I saw Ina using it on a turkey, I was ecstatic! I am thinking I might try to make a small turkey using this method. I typically buy my truffle goods at Williams-Sonoma when I can make it to the store (I'm not close by unfortunately). The truffle oil is available in-store and online, but the truffle butter is in-store only. Ina buys hers online at, so I might have to go that route if I run out before I try this recipe. Yes, they are expensive, but as I always say, I'm worth it!


A Shout Out for all the Holiday Entertainers Out There

"Host- and hostessing, as we know, is often a heroic endeavor, requiring daring, ingenuity, a desire to take chances and a concern for others. These traits are also called for in saints and Nobel Prize winners."

---Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

Creative Home Style

Please remember this as you begin your hosting adventure tomorrow!

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Discover Wine Country

One of our new traditions for Thanksgiving is to go out to eat at a Thanksgiving Buffet. Then, it's off to see a movie. While relaxing and enjoyable, the only drawback is our lack of leftovers. Now, I'm typically not a big leftover person, but in the last couple years, I have enjoyed seeking out new and interesting ways to turn leftovers into something different. And let's face it, there's something you can't resist about Thanksgiving leftovers. So, I might be deep frying a small turkey during the holiday weekend, just so I can partake in a couple great recipes.

The first that I love is Turkey Bolognese by Giada De Laurentiis. You can follow her recipe, or really just throw your favorite pasta sauce ingredients all together (as I did the first time), using the leftover turkey instead of ground beef. The possibilities are endless. It's a nice, quick pasta dish that puts a new spin on turkey, and it's nearly impossible to mess up!


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 pound shredded cooked turkey (preferably dark meat)

3 cups marinara sauce

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound spaghetti

Freshly grated Parmesan


Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and saute 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, stirring often. Stir in the basil. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cool the sauce completely, then transfer it to a container and freeze for future use. Bring the sauce to a simmer before using.)

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten as needed. Serve with the Parmesan.

I also love Giada's morning after Thanksgiving recipe, Eggs in Purgatory. It's a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes. I'm anxious to try this one again, as the first time, I didn't get the right consistency.


5 large eggs

2 cups mashed potatoes, chilled

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup marinara sauce, warmed

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Stir 1 egg in a large bowl to blend. Mix in the potatoes, then the flour. Using a generous 1/2 cup of potato mixture for each, form the potato mixture into 4 (4 1/2-inch) diameter pancakes.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat. Fry the pancakes until they are golden brown and heated through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pancakes to paper towels to drain. Keep the pancakes warm on a baking sheet in the oven. Pour off the excess oil from the pan.

Heat the pan over medium-low heat. Crack the remaining 4 eggs into the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the white is firm, about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the eggs over and cook for 30 seconds longer.

Spoon the sauce onto 4 plates. Place a pancake atop the sauce. Top each pancake with a fried egg. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

Mmmm. My mouth is already watering. I can't wait to spend a lazy day enjoying some creative uses for turkey!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A thought for the holidays...

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
---Harriet Van Horne

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Perfect Fall

Finally we have made it to my favorite time of the year: Fall. Even though I don't decorate my house for the occasion, I have many little touches that capture the feeling of the season.

For food, my husband and I made Ina's Company Pot Roast last night, with baked potatoes, and it was fabulous! With the cool fall air coming in through the open windows, the warm, comforting smells and taste of pot roast was perfect. It was a wonderfully cozy meal. Because this recipe makes so much sauce, it is perfect if you're looking to stretch a dollar. We plan on using the leftover sauce to top egg noodles, and possibly for spreading on a steak sandwich. Be prepared to spend many hours at this recipe, even though the steps themselves are very easy. Totally worth it though! This will definitely be a staple in our Fall menus.

Picture of Company Pot Roast Recipe

For dessert? I'm thinking Ina's Ultimate Ginger Cookies. I have not tried these yet, but just imagining the warm and spicy notes in them makes me almost want to bake! Smells are very powerful for me. Bad ones trigger my migraines like nothing else, but the good ones have the ability to transport me back to some of my favorite times and memories. Can you imagine the house smelling of warm cinnamon and ginger on a rainy, overcast day? Heaven!

Picture of Ultimate Ginger Cookie Recipe

To drink, I'm thinking some hot chocolate of course, cappuccino with cinnamon on top, or some hot, spiced cider. Now, to get the full effect of Fall, for me it must be served in an Irish Coffee mug. It's amazing how your glassware can change the mood of the drink!

The scent of the season may also be captured for body and home. For me, I just picked up the new Bath and Body Works scent, Leaves. I really notice the apple and cinnamon fragrance in this body lotion and shower gel. To prevent those cold weather chapped lips, my go-to lip balm is Chicken Poop. Weird name, but the best I have used. What appeals to me most is the scent of lavender and orange. Very comforting and warm, which is what Fall is all about. For the home, I picked up a new electric oil warmer (also from Bath and Body Works) to use with my old fragrance oil standbys: Apple, Spiced Cider, and The Smell of Christmas.

Leaves Body Lotion - Signature Collection - Bath & Body Works Chicken Poop™ Combo Pack

To brave the colder temps, nothing says Fall like a fabulous scarf. My favorite is my new one from Anthropologie:

Transmission Scarf

I have received so many compliments on this scarf. You can't beat the colors and texture of this one!

Finally, I don't think it gets any better than curling up in front of the fire with a good book. In my mind, there is no better choice than Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, and More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen, both by Laurie Colwin. The charm and cozy nature with which Colwin writes, is the perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday morning under the covers. Another great choice is Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I always get a laugh out of that one!
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen Cover More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen Cover

So that's my plan for maximum Fall enjoyment! What's yours?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You're the Chef d'elegance...

Well, that's what my husband called me last night. I rather like the title! Don't know how true it is, but I'll take it.

So, we went to the Williams-Sonoma technique class, Bistro Suppers. On the menu was Steak au Poivre and Pommes Frites. As far as techniques, the class did not teach me anything new, but I was happy to pick up a couple new goodies that were used in the demonstration for my own kitchen. We finally tried them out last night as we re-created the meal to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.

The first item was the Steak au Poivre seasoning rub. Very tasty and very simple. Just rub onto ribeye steaks, and cook (we did ours all on the stove top). Much easier than putting all the separate ingredients together. The second was the truffle oil finishing sauce. We used this with a little butter, and beef stock to make a delicious pan sauce to coat the meat with. Quite tasty, and couldn't be simpler!
Instead of the Pommes Frites, we stuck with Ina's Matchstick Potatoes, which were excellent as usual. Thinly sliced potatoes, fried in vegetable oil, and topped with Fleur de Sel and parsley.

Now what would a chic chef wear to serve such an elegant, Parisian bistro meal? This dress from my favorite store, Anthropologie:

I had never thought about it before, but this dress reminds me of the outfit Carrie Bradshaw wears in the final season of Sex and the City, when she finally makes it to Paris.

And that's how to combine two of my favorite things: food and fashion. Add in a bottle of French Burgundy wine, and you've got the perfect evening!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So French!

I once saw Ina's episode where she cooked a French bistro meal for Jeffrey to remind him of their trip to Paris. She made Steak au Poivre and matchstick potatoes. It looked sooooo good! Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when I saw that Williams-Sonoma was offering a technique class called: Bistro Suppers. In the advertisement was a meal that looked exactly like the one that Ina made.

My husband and I signed up a few days ago and are so excited to attend the class on the 20th. I will definitely blog on the outcome. I have always wanted to sign up for one of these classes through W-S, but have just never got around to it. Or, maybe none have jumped out at me the way this one did. I can't wait!

French Fries (Pommes Frites)

Classic Steaks au Poivre

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kindred Spirits...

Well things have been crazy busy getting ready for the new school year. I am trying to lay off the committees and activities this year so I can just try focusing on teaching. I am working, though, on cleaning up the etiquette program I started in my classroom last year. That's fun stuff though!

I am so excited about one of my classes this year. I told them that I love to cook, and that my favorite chef was Ina Garten. About seven people in my class said they watched the food network and knew Ina's show, Barefoot Contessa. Finally! I have met my class of kindred spirits! It should be a great year!

Recipes - Cooking Tips

One of My Many Projects for the New School Year...


My clasroom

Monday, August 3, 2009

Currently Reading...

I'm just about finished reading my second cooking related book this summer. My first was Julie and Julia, which I really enjoyed. The one I'm working on now is titled, Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin. I found this book by accident on a message board on Readers were discussing their favorite food related books, and I noticed Colwin's name come up a couple times. I decided to give her book a try.

I'm so glad I did! It's hard to describe the feeling you get from her book, but the best word I can give it is: charming. It makes you want to move into a quiet little cottage in the country and cook simple dishes, in a simple, and humble kitchen for your loved ones. Her writing style is very straightforward, yet gentle, and down-to-earth. In addition, there are so many perspectives in this book. Colwin describes her experiences with food and cooking as a guest at dinner parties, and as the cook. She talks about her favorite foods, and gives wonderful suggestions on how to cook them. Many recipes are included in the book, as well as quaint little illustrations at the end of each chapter which serve to add to the charm. She talks about her successes and failures in the kitchen, and some of her innovative ideas which were created by a lack of gourmet tools and gadgets. She advocates simplicity in stocking a kitchen, but is still able to churn out elegant dishes, which I think appeals to all levels of cooks.

There is something so attractive about her humor and honesty in this book. Everyone can relate to something in it. For me, it was the author's addiction to salty foods that spoke to me. Colwin had to give it up eventually; luckily, I'm not there yet!

This book is quite an easy read, and goes quickly. I plan on reading the second installment, More Home Cooking, as soon as I can order it. Hopefully, I can crack into it and finish it before the new school year starts!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Hippest Kids on the Block

As someone who loves stylish and beautiful things, it is no wonder that my pets are spoiled rotten. I think animals are just like us in many ways, and when they look good, they feel good. I know mine like to strut after a bath or grooming!

I just took our poodle puppy Gusteau to the vet the other day, and he got so many compliments on his "attire" (leash, collar, harness, and I.D tag). Since I put a lot of thought into the designs I selected for my cat and dog, I figured I'd showcase them here. All collar designs were bought from Up Country (love their stuff!), and both I.D tags were from Animal Stars (pricey, but long lasting, and custom designed to your liking).

Cavalli's (my Bengal cat) look:

Green Floral
The green color here matches her eyes.

I.D Tag:
martini olive dog pet cat tags
I selected the tag on the left, but opted for pink crystals on the bubbles. The green olive matches the green on the collar, and the pink bubbles bring out the pink flowers in it. I thought this tag worked perfectly since Cavalli is a "diva princess". They can also do a red stone in the glass for a cherry if you prefer.

Gusteau's look:

Brown Songbird
I wanted something kind of preppy and urban chic. No wonder, then, that this style is listed in their "urban portfolio". The colors look great against his apricot fur. I also got the harness and leash in the same pattern.

I.D Tag:
diamond 18k gold id tags charms
Some of the other designs we liked didn't quite work for us (either not the shape we wanted, or stone color not available), so we ended up going simple with a fully jeweled tag. We got the bone shaped tag like we wanted, and we chose aquamarine stones, so it matches the color of the blue birds on the collar perfectly. We also chose the bronze metal instead of silver since the collar is brown. The price is high (luckily I got Cavalli's cheap because I worked at a place that sold them), but when you look at the engraving on these next to the cheaper ones, you will see that the quality is so much better. The engraving is deep and clear, and will not rub off anytime soon, and the stones are protected with your choice of light coating or super coating (for larger, rougher dogs). Plus, you have so many design options to create the perfect one for your pet. So chic!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fun with Chicken!

Like most people, I'm always looking for new ways to make chicken. About a year ago I bought the Food Network All-Stars Cookbook. It features various recipes from some of the top Food Network chefs. I have to admit, I haven't found many of the recipes useful or accessible to us as a busy working couple, but there is one that we have used over and over again. It literally is the easiest thing that I make, and is a really fun alternative to your standard chicken meal. It would also work perfectly for a game-day menu.

Spicy Chinese Five-Spice-Rubbed Chicken

Wings with Creamy

Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Recipe courtesy Dave Lieberman from Food Network Favorites: Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs, Meredith Books, 2005

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
hr min
Cook Time:
25 min
40 wings


  • 40 chicken wing pieces or 20 whole chicken wings
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce, recipe follows


Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

If you have whole chicken wings, cut off wingtips and cut the wings in half at the joint. Discard wingtips or freeze to make stock.

Place the wings in a large bowl. Sprinkle five-spice powder and cayenne on the wings; add generous pinches of salt and about 15 grinds of black pepper. Rub the mixture into all the wings until no more loose rub remains.

Line the wing pieces up on a baking sheet so the side of the wing that has the most skin is facing up. Roast until cooked through, browned and crispy, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce.

Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce:

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup yogurt

1/2 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients to incorporate them fully and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Yield: about 1 cup

My Own Tips:

  • I buy the "party wings" in the supermarket. They are already the correct size and it is so much easier than splitting the wings yourself.
  • The Cilantro dipping sauce is so essential to this dish so at least try it. I'm not a huge fan of cilantro, but I love this sauce, and it goes perfectly with the spice on the wings.
  • If you've never tried Chinese Five Spice, it is a must-try! I had never used it until I started making this recipe and now I am always on the lookout for new ways to use it. It is so unique! It is available right in the regular grocery store.
  • I use this dish often as my main course for dinner with a salad to go with it. There's something so fun and relaxed about eating your dinner with your hands and making a mess (or maybe that's just me!). Food and laughter go together, so my husband and I find no shortage of giggles when eating chicken wings!
  • For a household of two, these recipes always make a little more than we can eat (not to say we don't try!), so I go ahead and season all the wings, and when my baking sheet is filled, I put the rest of the seasoned chicken wings in a Ziploc, and place in the fridge to cook in the next couple days. We always have leftover cilantro sauce too, so we're able to use that with our second batch of wings. All I have to do is throw them in the oven when I'm ready, and dinner is done!

Welcome Home Dinner

Last Friday, my husband came home from being in L.A. for a week on business. What better way to welcome someone home than with a home-cooked meal? I went to my favorite go-to steak recipe (Ina's of course!), and my own strawberry balsamic salad (recipe to come soon). The recipe for her steakhouse steaks is exactly that-steakhouse quality steaks that melt in your mouth. It's quite easy to make and is a hit every time. After we both finished our filet, my husband even joked, "you do have more steaks, right?" Unfortunately I didn't, but there's always next time...

Steakhouse Steaks

2008, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time:
40 min
Inactive Prep Time:
hr min
Cook Time:
1 hr 10 min
2 servings
  • 2 (10-ounce) filet mignon
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fleur de sel
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, optional
  • Roquefort Chive Sauce, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and brush them lightly with vegetable oil. Combine the fleur de sel and cracked pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture, pressing lightly to evenly coat all sides.

When the skillet is ready, add the steaks and sear them evenly on all sides for about 2 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes.

Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter, if using, and place the skillet in the oven. Cook the steaks until they reach 120 degrees F for rare or 125 degrees F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer. (To test the steaks, insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you're actually testing the middle of the steak.)

Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve hot with Roquefort Chive Sauce on the side.

Roquefort chive sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 ounces French Roquefort cheese, crumbled (4 ounces with rind)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has become thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese, salt, pepper and chives and whisk rapidly until the cheese melts.

Yield: 4 servings

Yum! Image:

My Own Tips:

  • Open the windows before searing the steaks. It gets smoky! I still haven't had any luck figuring out how to alleviate this problem. Many reviewers of this meal have had the same issue.
  • As I've mentioned before, I love Fleur de Sel and I think it really makes a huge difference. It can be hard to find, so if you don't want to order it online like I do, you can find an alternative at the regular supermarket (Safeway for us). It is the La Baleine brand Sel de Mer Gros in the red container. I used this the first time and really liked it.
  • Ina only gives an internal temp. to look for after cooking the steaks in the oven. I like to know the actual time in minutes. We leave ours in the oven for 5-6 minutes tops (most reviewers agreed with that time). We like our meat a little more done than medium-rare. Check your oven temp. though, because on the episode when Ina made this, she checked after 7-8 minutes for medium-rare (her oven is probably better than mine. Just a guess.).
  • Some reviewers thought the steaks came out too salty, so use your best judgment and adjust to your liking. I happen to love salt so I probably use even a little more than she does. Fleur de Sel is very mild and soft so I don't find the amount overpowering at all.
  • Definitely let the steaks rest to re-distribute the juices, and make the Roquefort Chive sauce! It's fantastic and goes so well with the steaks!
With some roses on the table, and a nice bottle of wine, we felt like we were actually eating in a fancy steakhouse!
No matter how many times I have made this, I always feel like a rock star chef afterwards! It's easy enough to make
during the week, but elegant enough for the most special occasion-like a homecoming!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cooking and Fashion Movies Coming Soon!

I just recently finished reading Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. I absolutely loved it! I truly admired Julie's commitment and courage during the year long project of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I don't know that I'd have the guts to sample some of the foods that Julie cooked, or to even try some of the cooking methods she did, such as cutting up a live lobster. I'm kind of a big baby. But I love that with Julie, there were no excuses, no skipping the hard stuff. Julie was able to create meaning in her life all on her own, and it gives the reader hope that they can do the same: wherever their interest lies.

What's even better is that the movie version is coming out August 7th. I can't wait to see it, and hope that it is as good as the book. I have to say that I love Amy Adams, but I am having a hard time picturing her as Julie. But hey, you never know. She could end up being brilliant in the role.

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

I am also thrilled that The September Issue is coming out on August 28th. This will be the world's first sneak peek into the world that is Vogue. I have always loved Vogue magazine. It is the very epitome of glamour and style, and the images in it are some of the greatest works of art you will ever see. In this documentary, we will actually get to see what it is like to be Anna Wintour: the most influential woman in fashion, and editor-in-chief of the magazine.

You may have an idea about Anna Wintour if you saw one of my favorite movies, The Devil Wears Prada. Meryl Streep's character, Miranda Priestly, is based on Wintour. I have a special affinity for the character of Miranda Priestly. My own "teaching persona" is based on her, and it totally changed my teaching for the better. In case you haven't seen the movie, Priestly is feared, respected, and idolized. When she speaks, people listen. If she says jump, well, you get the picture. She is able to do all this without ever raising her voice. I tried it in my classroom-worked like a charm! Anyways, back to the topic at hand. I am intrigued to see the real-life version of Miranda Priestly in action.

I have been interested in fashion since I started out in retail in college. While I love all art in general, to me, fashion is the greatest form of art because it's changeable. If you don't like the look of an outfit, you can change the accessories and get a whole new look. Try changing a painting you don't like in an art gallery!

I am sure this movie will have some stunning images and designer clothes that will make us drool. Can't wait!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Barefoot Contessa Season Coming Soon!

Finally! I have to admit I have seen just about every episode of Barefoot Contessa multiple times. But starting July 18th at 1:30 on The Food Network, Ina is back with her new season. Fresh episodes for me! I can't wait to see what she has in store this time around! I'm sure it will include great and easy food, and casual but elegant entertaining ideas. I can't wait!!

From House Beautiful

Monday, July 6, 2009

Finally...perfect Lasagna noodles!!

My husband's favorite food is Lasagna (I don't think it's half bad either!), but I have never really made them because of how involved they can be. Since he loves Lasagna so much, though, I wanted to start trying various recipes to find a good/easy one. Luckily, the first one I tried was the winner. I use Tyler Florence's recipe for The Ultimate Lasagna Bolognese from his book, Dinner At My Place. It is quite delicious, and I especially love the taste of cinnamon and red wine in it. It is quite a production, though, so I wasn't able to escape that, but this one is worth it I must say. Tyler even gives the recipe for homemade pasta dough so you can make your own pasta. I'm sorry, but the rest of the recipe takes long enough, so I don't want to add on even more work. Plus, I don't have the nifty pasta attachment that you can buy for stand mixers. Hell, I don't even have a stand mixer. Plus, I like whole wheat pasta better. So, as you can see, I really don't want to make the pasta from scratch.

The problem is that the noodles never come out quite right. Usually, directions will tell you to cook the noodles according to what's on the box. I've done that and they get overcooked when the whole thing goes in the oven. Then, I've tried cooking them a few minutes less than the directions, but they still don't come out perfectly. I've heard about the no-cook lasagna noodles that just go straight into the oven, but to tell you the truth, I have a hard time trusting some of those cooking shortcuts, so I can't bring myself to try them. I haven't heard great things about them anyway.

Finally, I saw Ina making a lasagna, and she simply filled a large bowl with really hot tap water and left the lasagna noodles in it for about 20 minutes before draining. I figured, why not? Less time and hassle, since you don't have to wait for water to boil and all that. I was a little skeptical, I have to admit. I usually snack on one of the noodles-you know, just to make sure they're good-and this time, you couldn't eat them because they were still pretty hard in the center. Way short of al dente! I guess that's the secret, though. After cooking in the oven for an hour, the noodles were perfectly done. Finally, success! And it's so much easier! Ina comes through again!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beautiful Water/ Wine Glasses

Anyone who watches The Barefoot Contessa has to admire Ina's beautiful glassware. I love how simple and elegant it is. It looks great with a casual or formal setting. Her pattern is called Amite by Cristallerie La Rochere. You can find sites that allow you to order the pattern, but it is a little pricey. I just found a great alternative the other day from Crate and Barrel. I think the pattern is similar, but has a modern twist that would work well in my home. The price is great too, at only 11.95 per glass. I already have wine glasses, but have been looking for something nicer to serve water in when people come over.

Ina's glassware pattern

Marcel Wine Glasses
Marcel Pattern at Crate and Barrel

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Best Caesar Salad!

Now that I have discovered the exquisite taste of a homemade Caesar Salad, I haven't bought a pre-packaged salad since. The recipe I use is by Rachael Ray, located on

San Fran-Caesar with Sour Dough Croutons

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Prep Time:
10 min
Inactive Prep Time:
0 min
Cook Time:
20 min
4 servings



  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cups cubed sourdough bread
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

Salad and Dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • 2 large hearts Romaine lettuce, chopped, 7 to 8 cups
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • Salt and coarse black pepper
  • Anchovies, optional garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat garlic and oil over low heat and melt butter into the oil. Place the bread in a large bowl and toss with garlic oil and butter. Season with pepper, Parmesan and thyme. Spread croutons evenly on a baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden, 15 minutes.

In the bowl you made the croutons in, combine garlic, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Whisk in extra-virgin olive oil while mixing the dressing.

Remove croutons and let cool. When you are ready to serve, add lettuce to the dressing in the bowl and toss to coat evenly. Add cheese, salt and pepper, croutons. Toss again. Adjust seasonings and serve, with or without anchovies.

My own tips:

  • minced garlic works just as well for the croutons instead of crushing it.
  • There is a reason Tabasco is recommended! I have tried other hot sauces and it really doesn't have that tang that Tabasco has. I usually add a little more than called for because I like things spicy.
  • I have done the anchovies as a garnish and it's good, but now I prefer anchovy paste right in the dressing. About 1tbsp.
  • I am hooked on Fleur De Sel Sea Salt! That is the only kind I use in salads. I order it online from Also available online from Williams-Sonoma.
  • I usually bake the croutons at 350 or 375 degrees for the 15 minutes. I like them really crunchy and golden! Still keep your eye on them though so you get the perfect color you want.
  • I have a large wooden bowl that I use for Caesars and a separate salad bowl for all other types of salads. Traditional Caesars usually have actual anchovies ground into the bottom of the bowl so the flavor ends up seeping into it. That's why many prepare their Caesar in the same wooden bowl all the time, and never prepare any other type in it.

The process for this is so easy. I have done this so many times now that I don't need the recipe and can eyeball everything. I have to warn you though-this salad will ruin just about every other Caesar Salad for you in the future. My husband especially has a hard time enjoying a Caesar when we go out to eat. He usually won't even touch it now because he knows the huge difference compared to a homemade version.

 Fleur De Sel de Camargue - 4.4 oz.
Photo from