Friday, October 31, 2008

A Card Obsession

It's true. I'm obsessed with cute and clever gretting cards. Like this one that I picked up for my friend's birthday because he, on the other hand, is obsessed with tea.
Lots of fun designs to choose from on their website:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza Dough

I think I really cheated the recipe on this month's Daring Baker's Challenge. I'll admit to not fully reading the recipe when I made the dough the day before and didn't realize all the timings involved.... "On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator [...] Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours." This was not a recipe for a weeknight dinner... unless you're happy eating very late. So I thought I'd be smart and take the dough out of the fridge that morning on my way to work and so my dough developed a pretty thick crust as it rose...


So we peeled it off and things were fine. This is also when i realized that I hadn't done anything past step 2 for day 1 in the recipe... so I hadn't separated the dough into 6 balls or whatever it was...

My friend and new fellow Daring Baker Jen came over to assist
The Action Shot
In this photo it's important to note the evil Gluten and Wheat Free flour I bought by mistake.. Thankfully I only had to use it to toss the dough
Adding the toppings
We made two savory pizzas. A delicious Broccoli and Sun Dried tomato Pizza with chicken and we tried to improv a Barbeque Chicken Pizza which turned out pretty darn tasty!

I mean look at that!!

Overall I was pretty satisfied with the dough, although I'm not sure that I will use this recipe again- too time consuming! Plus the directions were thoroughly confusing due to the back and forth between the regular recipe and the GF version. I still give this challenge the thumbs up for inspiring my pizza topping creativity

British BBQ Chicken Pizza

The tomato chutney adds a wonderful texture and punch of flavor to this sometimes overwhelming pizza.

  • Pizza dough
  • 1/4 Cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Creme Fraiche
  • 1/3 Cup of Tomato Chutney
  • 1 cooked chicken breast
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 2 spring onions chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese

Mix the first three ingredients and adjust accordingly. Spread evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle on remaining ingredients, finishing with the cheddar. Bake in hot oven until it smells ready

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Egyptian Lentil Soup

Last weekend I had a lovely surprise email waiting in my inbox from my mother's good friends Rosalie. She had seen my blog and wanted to share a recipe she had acquired while living in Egypt. Egyptian Lentil soup is a "big deal to them!" according to Rosalie and this soup is sure not to disappoint. From the creamy texture and punchy cumin, right down to the color, this soup is perfect this time of year.

Let's get started shall we?

Just look at those ingredients! How can you go wrong?

Wash your lentils thoroughly
Bring your broth to a boil and then add your lentils, cut tomatoes and quarted onion.

Let the broth mixture simmer while you prepare your chopped caramelized onion.

Cut to 20-30 minutes later: your chopped onion is caramelized and your soup should be pureed- add in the cumin.

And voila!

Egyptian Lentil Soup
This is the recipe as written by Rosalie- my mom's fabulous Roman friend who lives with her China. Talk about an international recipe!
Ingridients :

  • 2 cups ads majroosh, (dried, hulled split, red lentils), or other dried lentils
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, fresh or can
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 medium tomato, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper freshly ground
  • lemon, cut into wedges


Wash the lentils in a large sieve or colander set under cold running water, until the draining water runs clear.
In a heavy 4 to 5 quart saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils, onion, tomato and garlic, reduce the heat to low, and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over moderate heat. When the foam begins to subside, add the chopped onions and, stirring frequently, cook for 10 minutes, or until they are soft and deeply browned. Set aside off the heat.

Puree the soup through a food mill or pour the entire contents of the saucepan into a sieve set over a deep bowl and force the ingredients through with the back of a large spoon, pressing down hard on the vegetables before discarding the pulp. Return the soup to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, cook over low heat for 3 or 4 minutes to heat through. Stir in the cumin, salt and pepper, and taste for seasoning. Just before serving, stir in the remaining3 tablespoons of butter.
To serve, ladle the soup into a heated tureen, sprinkle lightly with the reserved browned onions and serve the lemon wedges separately.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Weekly Roundup

A random assortment of items we're selling that have caught my eye:

Sale 7624 Lot 33

MARKO VUOKOLA (b.1967 Finnish)
The Seventh Wave 4, 2002
6,000 - 8,000 British pounds
I would love to have an entire room decorated around these photographs. They're obviously much nicer in person when their sheer size takes you right in.

Sale 7615 Lot 265

40,000 - 60,000 British pounds
I think this chest would fit into the above room quite nicely...

Sale 2017 Lot 1213

1,500 - 2,500 U.S. dollars
(and sold for only $812!!!)

Sale 7615 Lot 230

20,000 - 30,000 British pounds
Don't these look magical?!

Sale 2253 Lot 1100
60,000 - 80,000 U.S. dollars
And in that room I could wear this necklace with something completely understated. Like jogging pants.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Badass Portrait

Dali and Rhinoceros, 1981

Estimate: £1,000 - 1,500
Sale 5435 Lot 55

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pear and Stinking Bishop Cheese Tart

If my dad ever made it all the way over to the UK in the fall, this is what I would make him. It has all those wonderful fall ingredients that he loves: pears, black pepper and really smelly and gooey cheese. Plus he's French. So this one is for you Dad! And believe me- it tastes just as good as it looks!!

NB: this recipe has been adapted from this one on "What to Eat Now" which is currently showing on BBC2-I highly recommend it.

What you will need:

This cheese stands alone my friend. I bought this wedge of Stinking Bishop cheese at Fortnum and Mason (an extravagance, I know) and the smell followed me all the way home; through Zara, up Regent Street, into John Lewis, down Oxford St, onto the number 7 bus, onto the tube, into Tesco and Video City... I left quite a trail....

Peel, core and quarter your pears. Fry them up in some butter until golden brown.

In a medium bowl, mix your single cream, 1 egg and 1 egg yolk. Whisk until blended.

Roll out your pastry dough and line a pie dish.

I tried to skip this phase by not adding the beans... but you really need to blind bake your pie shells with either baking beans or any old dry beans. This keep your sides from falling down and you pastry from bubbling up.

Once your pie crust is goldenny brown- add in your cooked pears and cubed cheese.

Add in just enough of the cream mixture to cover without going over the edges. Add a crack of black pepper and bake for about 15 minutes until it turns- you guessed it- golden brown! with still a bit of a wobble in the middle.

Best enjoyed with a simple salad. And try not to eat it all in one go. It's some pretty pungent stuff!

Pear and Stinking Bishop Cheese Tart

I realize that not everyone will be able to pick up some "Stinking Bishop" cheese and I admit that I wouldn't know what to substitute... But you should aim for something with the consistency of brie with a very tangy bite. Stinking bishop pairs ( ha! get it?!) well with pears because it is in fact washed in pear cider. If all else fails- go for Roquefort. Can't go wrong with a blue.

  • Pastry (homemade of otherwise....)
  • 2 Tblsp butter
  • 2 dessert pears- peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1 tblsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 284 ml / 10 oz single cream
  • 100 grams (AKA a wedge) of Stinking Bishop cheese
  • black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

Roll out your pastry and line your tart tins. Add some parchment paper on top and fill with baking beans or some old dry beans to blind bake your pie crust for about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pears with a big nob of melted butter until golden brown and tender.

Once pie crust is golden brown, remove and lower oven to 360 degree F.

Add sugar to pears and cook until caramelized.

Whisk the cream, eggs, salt and pepper.

Equally fill your tarts with the pear slices and cheese then fill with the cream mixture making sure not to overfill.

Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and barely set.

Monday, October 13, 2008


A bit of a badass...

Picasso (B), Cannes, 1957

Estimate: 60,000 - 80,000 U.S. dollars
Sale 2106 Lot 324

platinum-palladium print, flush-mounted on aluminum, printed January 1985
signed, initialed in ink, titled, dated, numbered '14/47', 'Penn/Condé Nast' copyright credit reproduction limitation edition stamps and typed edition label affixed (on the reverse of the flush-mount)
18½ x 18½in. (47 x 47cm.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sesame Pasta Chicken Salad

When I was at college (or at "Uni" for those reading this from the UK) my best friend and roommate Ashley cooked very little. My other best friend and roommate Anna cooked a little. And Jeremy, the surrogate roommate and final best friend cooked a lot. And although Jeremy and I were always making feasts for our friends, Anna and Ashley did bring two kick ass recipes to the fray. I'm sure that I'll one day share with you Anna's awesome Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe; as soon as I get permission from her and locate a tub of Crisco.... But first- and without her permission, let's go over the only pasta salad I like. Nay, LOVE. Ashley made this regularly and kept in our fridge. OUR fridge. It was at this point in my life that I had to learn restraint because damn is this stuff good. So tangy and sweet at the same time- and gets better the longer it sits in the fridge! And I know Ash got this recipe from her mother, so my theoretical hat is off to Ms. Haynes for this awesome recipe which has spiced up many of my office lunches.

So lets get semi-cooking! (because it's just that easy people)

Here's what you're gonna need- more or less.

Chop up some green onions (aka: salad onions to my homies in the UK) and if you're gonna use cilantro (blech) chop that up too. If you don't have pre-cooked chicken, just slather two chicken breasts with some sesame oil and bake in the oven until cooked, about 12 minutes. Then shred.

Mix up the dressing. And I'm not sure how useful this picture is since it's so friggin blurry... it was late, I was tired- my arm was obviously giving up...

In a large bowl, toss your cooked pasta, chopped spring onions (and cilantro if you like the stuff...) and about 3 cups of cooked and shredded chicken- Add in the dressing- mix and stick it in the fridge to cool for about 3 hours or overnight.

And Voila! Absolutely delicious!!! and dead easy!

Sesame Pasta Chicken Salad

  • 1 Bag of bow tie pasta (16 oz)
  • 3 cups cooked & shredded chicken
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1/3 cup green onions

for the dressing

  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tblsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and let cool

Chop up your spring onions and cilantro. Add everything minus the dressing to a large bowl.

Whisk up all the ingredients for the dressing and pour it over the pasta salad. Mix well.

Refrigerate overnight (or several hours)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Butternut Squash Risotto with Stilton

Marks and Spencer's is renown for their suggestive food comercials. Close up shots of food being chopped and thrown into a simmering pan in slow motion while a woman's sexy voice narrates: "Light, crispy, butter-rich puff pastry cases, packed with British pork and seasoned with sautéed onions and fresh thyme, make a great party piece." (would you have guessed that this is describing cocktail wieners?)

The latest food porn commercial is a guy explaining to his mates how to make his delicious Butternut Squash Risotto with Stilton- leaving out the bit about buying it from Marks and Sparks. The kicker is that the bloke actually outlines how to make it at home, so anyone who can turn on their electric burner, doesn't actually have to succumb to M&S food. So here's how to dress up a classic risotto just in time for Autumn.
Start off by peeling and cubing 1 small butternut squash or about half of a large one. I had a large one so I peeled, cubed and roasted all of it an used half in the risotto.

Put your diced squash into a roasting tin and add a salt, pepper, a gulp of olive oil and if you have- some sage. Roast for about 21 minutes, mixing it up every 7 minutes until very tender and a little golden brown.

Meanwhile, start our risotto off by chopping 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic

Heat a large saucepan with a glug of Olive Oil and add in your onion and garlic, cooking until tender and translucent. Then add your arobrio rice and cook for about 2 minutes to lock in some flavour.

You will have of course already have a separate pot simmering away with 1 cup of white wine and about 6 cups of chicken stock. So add a large ladle full of the hot brew to your rice.

Now just keep stirring your risotto until all the broth is absorbed.

The add another large ladle of the broth and cook it down until absorbed- add another ladle etc. Until the rice is tender and has plumped up to about 3 times its original size.

Once the risotto is cooked through, fold in the butternut squash.

Then add in about 1/3 cup of crumbled Stilton

Mix it all up careful. Sprinkle on some more Stilton and die of Autumnal bliss.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Stilton

  • 1/2 of a large butternut squash
  • 2 Tbl Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 1 Large yellow onion
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1. 5 cups of Arborio or Risotto Rice
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups of white wine (whatever is lying around)
  • 1 cup of Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup Stilton + more for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and dice your butternut squash. Place in a roasting pan and toss with Olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the squash for about 21 minutes, checking and tossing every 7 minutes until very tender and golden brown.

In a large saucepan melt the butter and add in the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent- about 5 minutes. In another saucepan mix the chicken broth and white wine and bring to a slow simmer. Add the arborio rice to the onions and garlic and stir to combine for about 3 minutes until you know the rice is infused with that wonderful flavour. Add a cup of the liquid and stir. Now you basically get to stand at the pot stirring, which when I first started was my absolute (and still sorta is) my favorite part of cooking. Once the liquid has been absorbed, add another cup and just keep stirring! Keep adding the liquid until your rice is tender and then add the Parmesan. Next fold in the butternut squash and Stilton.

Sprinkle on extra Stilton to taste.

To serve the risotto always remember to serve from the outside of the dish towards the center so that the middle will stay warm and gooey.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kris's great idea....


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oh Damian....

Damien Hirst
With Dead Head
Estimate: £30,000 - 40,000
Sale 7619 Lot 352

From the catalogue:
Damien Hirst's photograph With Dead Head is one of the most iconic images of the artist ever taken. Hirst, currently on the path to becoming one of the rare mega artists who are a living legend during a considerable amount of time in their lives, is known to have a rather non conformist relationship with death. "I think I've got an obsession with death, but I think it's like a celebration of life, rather than something morbid. You can't have one without the other" (D. Hirst in interview with G. Burn, reproduced in "On the Way to Work", in The Guardian, 6 October 2001, interview date 1992). Hirst about the photograph: "It's me and a dead head. Severed head. In the morgue. Human. I'm sixteen. If you look at my face , I'm actually going 'Quick. Quick. Take the photo.' I wanted to show my friends, but I couldn't take all my friends there, to the morgue in Leeds. I'm absolutely terrified. I'm grinning, but I'm expecting the eyes to open and for it to go 'Grrrraaaaagh!' I was doing anatomy drawing. I took some photos when I shouldn't have done. To me, the smile and everything seemed to sum up this problem between life and death."