All posts filed under: brandy and cognac

summer recipe: fresh fig tart

Every summer I cannot resist buying a basket full of figs from my neighborhood farmer’s market. I prefer to eat them freshly washed right out of the basket. But while commuting home last night I contemplated incorporating the figs into a light dessert. Check out what I found here: For crust 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground) 1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water For filling 1/3 cup sour cream 1 cup mascarpone cheese (8 oz) 1/4 cup sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons red-currant jelly 1 tablespoon honey 1 1/2 lb fresh figs Special equipment: an 11 1/4- by 8- by 1-inch rectangular or 10-inch round fluted tart pan (1 inch deep) with a removable bottom preparation Make crust: Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles …

recipe: panna cotta perfected

Yes I am going to start the week off with a recipe because I feel as if I need a pick me up and usually sensual – yes food can be sensual – dessert recipes will do the trick, that is only if I cannot travel to Europe at the particular time. Anyway, I found this recipe here and in my opinion it is one of the best Panna Cotta I have ever tasted, well, outside of my “late” chef cousin who used to make them for me. So here it goes and if you try it, please let me know how you liked it. One piece of advice, get creative with the toppings. Also, if you are on a strict diet or a healthy eating kick, this recipe is not one to follow. Panna Cotta Eight servings Adapted from Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts I love this dessert and the great thing about Panna Cotta is that it demands to be made in advance. You can make them up to two days …

inspiration: cafe de flore – paris, france

After a long week, I needed some inspirational photos to help escape “mentally” at least from the every day norms. My favorite place to hang out – Cafe De Flore in Paris (of course), France. I have a strange appreciation for cafe photos and here are some of my favorites Cafe de Flore to share with you. Have a great weekend and remember think happy thoughts no matter how hard life can be. 🙂 {photos: courtesy google search cafe de flore – various artists}

healthy eating: understanding champagne

I admit I am one of those women who have converted from drinking wine to drinking champagne. The funny thing is it took me a while to learn about wine and by the time I finally got a clear understanding of wine types and pairing, I decided to convert to champagne when I made the decision to eat healthy. So now I am trying to understand and learn about what makes for a good or excellent champagne or since I am from California – sparking wine.  I know, I know there is no comparison and the two are not the same. But, now that I am able to address the beverage by its proper title based on what part of the world it’s from (California, USA or Europe), I want to understand how to choose quality “bubbly” so that I am in line with my healthier eating agenda. I found my answer here, from one of the best (French of course) wine conesuir I can think of 🙂 and based on what she says, these are …

2010 in a nutshell and happy new years

With a blink of an eye, 2010 comes to an end. This year was the most eventful for me because I celebrated a milestone birthday, lost a job, sold a house, lost a family member, rekindled relations with extended family as well  as travelled to some interesting destinations and some not so interesting. I admit I experienced too much and from it learned alot in the course of  365 days. One thing I must say, thanks to maturity and an unexplainable sense of self-control (which I think is associated with maturity),  I was able to cope with the “personal” events which unfolded during  the course of the year  and in a way survived the outcome(s) with minimal damage to my mental health 🙂 . As I result of 2010,  I have decided to pass up on making New Years  resolutions altogether so that I am not too disappointed in myself, should I not be able to uphold the commitment.  Instead,  I have set some flexible goals for myself, which I am going to do everything …

new years eve decoration suggestions

A few things  to remember while hosting  a New Years Eve party are of course,  champagne,  party favors, an array of (silver and gold) decorations, at least for my taste (you can choose your own color theme as you wish)  around the living room and several funky clocks strategically  placed  at the buffet table and fireplace mantle alarmed and ready to go off at midnight. In light of the New Years Eve decoration suggestions, I have included some photos to share. Have fun planning!!!  

new years eve appetizer and dessert ideas

Although there are many parties or events happening around the world, in my opinion, there is nothing more rewarding than celebrating New Year’s Eve with loved ones and  close friends, gathered in someone’s home. What I also like is when everyone is asked to bring a dish for the pot luck style dining. I think this is the only night I find myself munching into the wee hours of the morning (providing I am able to stay up that late anymore). So for this joyous occasion or celebration, I have included some quick appetizer and dessert ideas to consider, just in case you are either hosting a party or are invited to one where you are asked to bring a dish. Above photo: Antipasto sausage skewers, click here for the recipe Above: S’mores.  Recipe:  Graham crackers, chocolate piece, marshmellow and sprinkled with toasted coconut Above: Cupcakes in Fancy cups: Dark Chocolate cupcakes are recommended, white icing and silver or gold hard candy drizzled on top. Above: Various cheese and crackers  and dried fruits displayed on …

new years eve and black-tie event dresses and gowns

I know I have stated before, if all else fails, consider the color black in fashion. Believe me a woman over 40 can seldom  go wrong with the choice of color, because no matter how self-conscious she may feel about her figure, black has a way of smoothing out the edges. However, choosing age appropriate black dresses or gowns is  very important for the woman over 40 because, selecting the wrong cut, length or style , can surely be the most damaging. Since choosing the dress or gown is a hit or miss in some or most cases, I have included one of my favorite designer’s website here to help guide the process. I have also included some of my favorite selections (below) from the site to consider or duplicate (depending on one’s budget)  for that special soiree. Enjoy and let me know what is your favorite gown from the selection.

boutique hotel pick – Soho Grand Hotel – New York

There is nothing like visiting New York during the holiday season, in my opinion, to sort of reconnect with the past and do some good old fashion shopping and dining. In the midst of this romantic destination (only during the holiday season, mind you), I have included one of my favorite boutique hotel picks to consider, just in case you are up to the adventure. It is none other than the classic and mostly unique Soho Grand Hotel Enjoy and have a great weekend!

healthy thanksgiving recipes – stuffing

Not a shocker to anyone in the U.S. trying to make it through the holidays without over eating or avoiding eating things that are not good for you. Although if you think about it, the Thanksgiving meal in itself is pretty healthy, based on today’s healthy eating standards.  But just in case you are thinking about how to add more to the healthy Turkey, Cranberry, sweet potato or green beans dishes, I have included a recipe for  stuffing which  I have found  here, that I plan to incorporate to my menu this year. Pear, prosciutto and Hazelnut stuffing INGREDIENTS 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced, cut into ribbons 2 cups onion, chopped 2 cups diced fennel bulb 1/4 cup minced shallot 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary 8 cups stale baguette, preferably multi-grain (not sourdough), cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 Bosc pears, ripe but firm, chopped 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken …