It’s A Date

December 29, 2019

It’s no secret that I prefer an assortment of “befores and afters” when gathering for the holidays, particularly New Years. Who couldn’t be satisfied with an assortment of appetizers, a glass of something sparkling with a finish of a little something sweet? That said, it’s not ever a bad idea to switch things up and add a something new to your usual mix. I first got hooked on stuffed dates at a favorite restaurant last winter but put off making them at home figuring they were too time consuming. Once I realized they were easily made ahead of time and rewarmed prior to serving, well that changed things. While there is a bit involved in prep, there are only a few ingredients…three actually…plus two pantry items for the glaze…pitted dates, blue cheese and bacon plus a little apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Stuff pitted dates with a bit of your favorite blue cheese. Cook thin bacon that has been cut in half lengthwise until nearly crisp. While the bacon is still warm wrap each date with a slice and secure if necessary with a soaked wooden pick. Place wrapped dates on a foil lined baking sheet and brush with a glaze made of equal parts maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Heat in a 400 degree oven brushing with additional glaze until warmed through. That’s it…done. Fair warning, these will go fast so plan accordingly.

While you’ve got the oven on you might take a few extra minutes to knock out a batch of gougere and check your supply of gougere’s best buddy…Champagne. The recipe can be found here. https://simplequietmodern.com/2012/12/18/gougere-i-think-its-french-for/

photos: gp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down To The Wire

December 24, 2019

Is it just me or has this holiday season seemed like a “drive by”?  I know, with all good intentions of getting your shopping completed early, you find yourself feeling totally behind the eight ball with the clock ticking down fast. Enter the gift card. A quick trip the the grocery store will have you leaving with a pocketful or simpler yet, an hour or so online will have you checking off that list with lightning speed. In no time…in a word…DONE. From cookies to cashmere, wine to winter coats there isn’t anything that isn’t available with a gift card and what recipient wouldn’t love one?  Selecting exactly what they’d like beats having to make a return or exchange by a long shot. Santa has already started his trip on the other side of the world, so if you still have gifts to buy you better get on it.

photo: gp

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Ending

December 20, 2019

Another twist on Nigella Lawson’s Meringue Gelato Cake? Yes sir. Last year’s candy cane version was such a hit I couldn’t resist trying to see how it worked with chocolate and coffee. Turns out it’s fantastic. And, with only the slightest tweaks to the original. I started with stirring two Tbsps of turbinado sugar and two rounded Tbsps of instant espresso powder into 1 1/4 cup whipping cream until dissolved. Chill the cream, your beaters and bowl while you prep a standard loaf pan by lining it with plastic wrap leaving enough overhang to cover your contents once the pan is filled. Then shave into thin shards 1 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate and crush two cups of store bought chocolate meringues…in this case, Trader Joe’s Cocoa Chip. Whip the flavored cream to soft peaks and gently fold in the crushed meringues, chocolate and two tablespoons of Bourbon until combined. Fill the prepared pan with the mixture, smooth, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least eight hours or over night. To serve, umold onto a serving platter and cut into slices. Serve with a simple sauce of equal parts semi-sweet chocolate and cream with a dusting of crushed caramelized hazelnuts for a lovely crunch.There you have it, a perfect ending to your holiday feast. Serves 6-8. Simple enough.

 

The candy cane version from last Christmas can be found here. https://simplequietmodern.com/2018/12/23/simple-finish/

photos: gp

 

Hard to believe,

December 17, 2019

but I am actually enjoying a Poinsettia moment. Really. Like Truman Capote in Jay Presson Allen’s Tru, I too felt that “Poinsettias are the Bob Goulet of Botany”. Decades of over-saturation in the seasonal marketplace have rendered this bright red holiday staple cliche’, cheesy and hopelessly out of date. It was spotting this new variety, Envy, with it’s bright chartreuse coloring that made me stop and rethink it’s potential. While I generally indulge in white Tulips, Amaryllis and Helebore from the Winter Solstice through till Christmas and the New Year, I couldn’t help but think how well this fresh new addition would play with the others, both in the pot and as a cut specimen.

 

Photos: gp with the exception of the Amaryllis photo via https://www.shopterrain.com/categories/blooming-gifts and the last photo via: https://www.gardenista.com/posts/poinsettias-rethinking-traditional-christmas-flower/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Cut

December 6, 2019

Keep them hidden in your desk drawer and you’ll never be cut short again. These 10″ black Kevlar shears will have you cutting through everything from tape, gift wrap, card stock or fabric with ease. Made of Xylan coated hot forged carbon steel, a little gentle care after each use will have you at the ready no matter what your cutting needs are. I see some gift wrapping in your future, it might be a good time to pick up a pair for yourself and maybe another as a thoughtful gift.

photos: https://www.bestmadeco.com/products/ten-inch-kevlar-shears

 

Still Gorgeous at Seventy

December 2, 2019

An Icon of modern Danish design, the Chieftain Chair is celebrating it’s seventieth birthday and looking as good as ever. Originally designed by Finn Juhl in 1949 the Chieftain chair was reissued in 2002 and produced as originally specified in walnut and leather. Now, a Chieftain Sofa and Footstool are also available as well as an optional oak frame. Could be a good use of that Christmas bonus, right?

 

Photos: https://finnjuhl.com/collection/chieftain-chair

 

 

 

Not only today,

November 28, 2019

but every day. In all things, give thanks.*

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

* Thessalonians 5:18

photo:gp