Lobster is a luxurious treat

Lobster is a luxurious treat; something my family uses to celebrate.  My father chose lobster for his 55th birthday dinner. For a man that isn’t too fond of fish, he absolutely adores crab, lobster, shrimp and mussels alike. At $14.00/ pound, four of these beauties came out to be $100. We got some fine crustaceans from up north, Maine. It pains me that these are not local, that I don’t get to see the process of raising and harvesting the lobster. Its scrumptiousness told the story.

We went to the local fishmonger, giving the local business the attention it deserves. The options were vast, but lLobster was what we came to get. Our fishmonger suggested we steam each lobster for 7 minutes per one pound. Add three minutes for every extra pound. Pretty simple, who would have thought such an intimidating crawler, was so easy to cook.

The lobsters may have been the star of the show, but how good can the show be without outstanding supporting actresses. We grabbed 10 ears of fresh jersey corn to make a grilled corn salad. The difference in texture was epic. Sweet and spicy crunchy corn paired with the forgiving tender elasticity of the lobster meat just snapped around your tongue. A big salad filled with greens, and of course a fruit tart as requested by my more than deserving dad.  I told him in his birthday card, that nothing comes close to the happiness I feel when dancing around the kitchen with him. It’s a small kitchen, a big island with a decent size stove top, and very little counter space (thank you kitchen aid mixer, and Cuisinart coffee maker). It’s the perfect small farmhouse kitchen, we laugh as we bump into each other, as kitchen bumper cars do, whilst putting away groceries, simmering butter, or dashing off to the grill. It was a perfect day, usually I would object to the birthday being lifting a finger on their day, however I couldn’t dismiss such an eager helper, after all it was his idea. I would have loved to have had this feast outside somewhere, with a blanket to set us atop the grass and away from the bugs, but it was much too hot out as most mid July evenings are in NJ. So we slurped our lobster dinner in the cool air conditioning, not many words were said, our jaws were dropping for the star of the show. That’s when you know you did well.

That’ll do!

Grilled Corn Salad:
* I adapted this from Half baked harvest’s grilled street corn recipe

Ingredients:

-6 ears of fresh corn, husked
-extra virgin olive oil
-two limes, squeezed
-2 tsp of honey
-1.5 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp smoked paprika
-1 jalapeño
-sea salt & black pepper ( I love fresh cracked pepper!)
-a couple stalks of chives chopped
-1 cup of basil leaves chopped
-1/2 cup cilantro chopped
-4/4 cup feta cheese
Instructions:

1) Put three of the 6 ears of corn on the grill, allowing to blacken a bit on all sides, remove and cool, then when you are able to handle, slice the kernels off the cob.
2) Slice the remaining 3 ears of corn so the kernels are the only thing remaining, keep all the juices.
3) Stir all the remaining ingredients together

* I added a bit of chipotle powder to some ranch and had it as a sauce to add on… however I never used it because the flavors of the fresh corn & spices were incredible!

Berry Tart:

I borrowed this recipe from Manger, my favorite food blog, curated by Mimi Thorisson

A very impatient but good boy, jealous of the attention of our yummy berry tart

Ingredients (for dough):
-1 cup of flour
-1/3 cup of butter, softened at room temp
-2 tbsps of sugar
-4 tbsps of confectioner’s sugar
-1/4 cup ground almonds- almond flour will do!
-1/2 egg
– pinch of salt

Instructions for the shortbread crust:


1) in a medium bowl mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. Shape into a ball and wrap in cling film, putting in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2) On a floured surface roll out the dough, to fit the tart pan, gently pressing the edges of the pastry against the pan. Prick the fitted dough with a fork.  Cover with more cling film and place in the freezer for 30 minutes… the longer the better… (this prevents shrinking of the crust!)
3)Cut out parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan, fill with marbles, rice, beans or popcorn (yes it works! And no they don’t pop… however they make a mess when you drop them everywhere)
4) Bake for 15 minutes @ 350. Remove the weight and bake until slightly golden ( 5-10 mins) Cool for 20 before putting the filling in.

For the lemon crème patisserie:
ingredients:
-1 cup of whole milk
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-3 egg yolks+ 1 egg
-2 tsp of vanilla extract
-two lemons zested
-2/3 cups of heavy cream
-juice of one lemon
-1/4 cup of plain flour

instructions:
1) whisk the sugar, eggs, and flour until light and fluffy( 8 mins). Then add the lemon juice & zest
2) Bring the milk, cream, and vanilla in a saucepan to a soft simmer. Pour the mixture gently into the egg bowl, whisking continuously.
3)Put the mixture back into the saucepan, continuously whisking on low heat until the mixture becomes a custard consistency ( this could take 10 minutes or more)
4) pour into a bowl and cover, place in the refrigerator once completely cool, close to serving time
5)Spoon the crème patissiere into the tart and smooth with a spatula.
6) place the berries on top in any fashion that pleases you!

** I would recommend letting this custard sit overnight, it becomes so much firmer for a day 2 serving**

Enjoy!

Xx,

Key- lime Pie in July

This weekend was spent in Vermont, the place I love the most, cherish and call home despite the contradicting reality of the rental property my name is on does indeed reside in Brooklyn, NY. Someday Vermont will once again be my full time home, but for now it will just have to do as my weekend elopement from the city.

As the train proceeds along the Hudson, closer and closer to where this rental agreement is located, I am reflecting on the lovely time we had in Vermont. The Green Mountains are well known for their winter time splendor.A place where many city folk flock in hopes of a quintessential winter wonderland, filled with skis and ski boots, snowshoes and wool hats. Although winter is spectacular and for a very long time has been my favorite season, the summer in Vermont is just as enchanting. Rivers and lakes alike beg you to dip your toe,and a slower, more thoughtful life expands your horizons and suddenly an afternoon spent by the lake becomes all your heart desires (of course great company truly is the key,but this can be done alone too!)

Our dear friends invited us to their lakefront property for an afternoon of snacks and drinks. I rolled over yesterday morning asking… what is the best dessert to accompany snacks by the lake? There really isn’t a wrong answer, however my matter of fact mountain man spewed, “lemon meringue or key lime pie” as if he had anticipated the question coming from my mouth long before the question evolved. Smart, and matter o’ fact.

So key lime pie it was. And the only reason necessary was that he suggested and I don’t usually get suggestions so I wanted to reward such good behavior. That and key lime pie is dreadfully easy! I am alarmed how cost effective it is and how delicious. So here is my painless recipe:

Key-lime-pie

Ingredients:
-3 cans of sweetened condensed milk
-¾ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
-2 tbsp of fresh lime zest
-1 cup of sour cream
-2 sleeves of graham crackers
-1.5 sticks of butter (melted)
-¼ cup of granulated sugar

Instructions:

  1. crush the graham crackers (by hand is fine) & add in the melted butter & sugar
  2. Pack the slightly sandy mix into the pie tin firmly & place in the freezer
  3. In a bowl mix together the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and lime juice stirring in 1 tablespoon of lime zest until all ingredients are combined
  4. After the graham crust has frozen a bit, pour in the key-lime mixture
  5. Bake @ 350 for 5-8 minutes, until the pie jiggles only a little when shaken. Put in the freezer for 30 or the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Enjoy with some homemade whipped cream and more key lime zest to garnish

(This makes 2 pies for shallow pie dishes or one pie for a deep pie dish)

Xx

Manger Workshop- Playing Restauranteur

Day Three

(Please read the previous post- Manger Workshop- Remembering a Beginning to understand this one fully)

Photo credits: Oddur Thorisson (our fearless leader, and owner of ALL denim shown above)

The Summer abundance workshop seems to be quite a hit, I have learned that this one is and has been the quick fill out of all the workshops for Mimi & Oddur Thorisson.

Our ‘Playing Restauranteur’ workshop was special, a new workshop but not a new concept. If you have followed Mimi’s blog or maybe read her cookbooks cover to cover you may know that her family presented the town of Medoc with a “Pop- up” a few years ago. They opened the many rooms of their home and transformed it to the ultimate French Bistro experience. Suddenly we were in the big leagues.

Oddur and Mimi separated us into two groups halfway through the second day, Team Lunch vs. Team Dinner. We then brainstormed what we would be presenting, how we would be presenting it, and which lovely sequence of rooms would we covet as our ‘French Bistro’. I was Team lunch. So I will focus on the epic course of events we took to make sure our meal was special, after all we were nearing the end of our great Mimi expedition. It needed to be epic, St. Yzans Style.

The lunch went like this…

We wanted a uniform… but that’s tres dificil to coordinate when traveling as strangers. So we fashioned ourselves in Oddur Couture as I like to put it. Soon he flew down the stairs with 6 chambray denim shirts. We looked Magnifique. It sold our unity!

First we served oysters and Champagne in the garden to get the pallet moving

We had the most appropriate music setting the mood of our French Bistrot. I used the Manger Workshop Playlist you can find on Spotify (It has become a close friend and first thing I turn to when prepping my meals)

We then brought our guests into the Green Room, a room where we had not yet dined for the workshop.

Roberta and Myself, serving the fresh oytsters! By the end of the workshop I named her my Italian auntie

Roberta, a graduate of the International Butler Academy in Holland taught us how to serve, how to approach our guests, how to set the table. Serve left, clear right.  Under her tutelage we turned our French Bistro Lunch into an extraordinary experience with seasoned staff.

Garnishing the Gazpacho

Cool gazpacho took the helb as we sailed into the afternoon. Refreshing and lovely it truly took the summer solstice lunch to the next level, reminding us all just how much we missed tomatoes.

Next course was Asparagus a La Bismark… a favourite of Lady Bismark

Although we were under Oddur’s tutilage, Mimi was a little helpful

Soon to follow was our Quaile stuffed with Foi gras. Served atop the wild asparagus.

Country Quail stuffed with Foi Gras wrapped in bacon

Our desert was Crème Caramel, with the crunchy caramelized top we truly blew away our guests. Lastly we brought out Espresso with an extra piece of caramel candy to close the lunch.

Creme Caramel, Mimi’s granmother’s recipe
Not a piece was left

We wobbled out to our guests once the espresso had been served. Mimi devoted an entire section of her latest book to ‘staff meals’ and although our staff meal was a bit more extravagant than they typically are (i.e., we feasted just as much as our guests did… wine pairings and all, immediately after each course was served). We grew just as most groups would, closer together laughing at the silly mess ups and enjoying each moment for what it was. We all agreed we would absolutely do it again. This was the first ‘playing restaurateur’ workshop, and if they present another, I advise you take it! It means more cooking time with Mimi & Oddur, more jokes and games. More secrets disclosed of the home, more moments to learn from.

Shucking oysters for the first course, Champagnge & Oysters

Now this post has become quite long, as one usually does when chatting about St.Yzans Style and all things Mimi Thorisson. I came to Medoc as a fan and left with many friends. The Voyage to Mimi was well worth every minute of travel, every dollar saved, and every indulgence taken. Cheers Dear Reader, I hope you are inspired to bring a little Mimi into your life.

Xx

Manger Workshop- The Garden Party

Day 2

There isnt much else to say following the first post. One can go on and on about such lovely times but I feel strongly that less is more. Afterall, I want this amazing family to have more business, I cant give everything away, where would your mind then wander Dear Reader?

These photos capture much of the second day… A garden party & splitting up into teams for the final day in Medoc, our restauranteur challenge. Please read the other two posts regarding my time with the Thorissons & my reflections to get a good feel for the expierience. Now, feast your eyes!

My love, the one that got away.. or that Oddur just wouldnt let go!
Mimi gave us a taste of her new adventures in Torino, Italy … Homemade PASTA!
Agnolotti pasta, filled with ricotta mixed with hazelnuts. The black specks you see are a tint of coffee. C’est Magnifique
Making the Red Salad with my little helper, Lucien
Endives, Red onion, purple cabbage, pomegranite, and beet root. Buy yourself a mandolin my friends
We headed to the garden
Rose Champagne was had
The Garden was ravaged for an afternoon of sage fritters

I had the most lovely time. I truly wish everyone I love gets to expierience something of this excitement. Heart is so full!

Manger Workshop- Remembering A Beginning

Where to begin?

Ahh yes, I will try my best by remembering a beginning.

It’s beautiful arriving upon a moment that you have been looking forward to for so long. The experience feels slightly just slightly out of body. I have been awaiting this experience for a few years, reading every post, and every page that  Mimi has shared with the world of food. As each moment pulled me closer to the workshop, I plowed through obstacles, small ones, but obstacles nonetheless that challenge one whilst traveling alone (maybe they happen just as often while with someone, but having the crutch of a companion makes the obstacles seem smaller, more mundane). I think I might cover my thoughts on that topic once I get finished with this one.

I arrived at the Chateau le Ormes de Pres with a happy excitement, driving around the little village 100 times attempting to find the entrance. It’s amazing how well you know a place once you leave, laughing at the moments of complete ignorance that plagued the beginning of your trip.

That night I gave myself a tour of Saint Estephe. If I’m being honest, I was trying to find a place to eat, as well as keep myself busy until night fell. It stays light quite late in Europe. I was puzzled. The area looked abandoned. Moving from one village to the next I was perplexed to find NOTHING. No store of any type, modern conveniences aside. A few locals here and there (even more perplexing, was where did these few people eat! What did they do! How did they survive? Who were they?!) I found more tractors than people.

Fields and Fields of grapes
Seemingly abandoned villages
The Priests home, sitting right behind the Church, hands off people. I will be the one renovating this beauty!

Day one

My fellow workshop attendee, Roberta (and soon to be fast best friend) hopped in the Peugot and got moving, over the hills and around the bends to St. Yzans De Medoc, Mimi’s village. It looks a bit like the others; a church with an impressive steeple, small roads, and stone homes built closely, one abandoned chateau after another. But Mimi’s home is glorious. the smooth fox terriers greet you with anticipation, and you realize there is life to this village after all.

Walking into her home… through what looks like a side door, you land in the La Boucherie. Instead of the traditional boucherie (butcher room) where meat is the main attraction, this one houses heaps and heaps of vegetables. Mimi’s husband Oddur, mentioned on our last day that they surround themselves with an abundance of produce for two reasons, 1) we fuel ourselves with it, we do it for us first, our family and  2) it creates moments that represent our family, when a photographer or journalist pops by we are never scrambling, this is our life and this is what it always looks like (I’m paraphrasing obviously).

The first photo I took of the workshop, Oddur met us at the door, we stepped into a room that seemed like a movie set.

The many photos that represent their family & lifestyle through the years are the raw truth. This family is just as fantastic as your wildest dreams imagined it to be. Soon you walk into the “Big Harvest room,” then the “Green Dining Room” and then to where the heart beats – her kitchen.  Each room is adorned with copper pots; antique this and that, hardwood floors meet tile. Your eyes don’t stop moving, there are moments where you feel small and there are moments where you feel like you’ve left the century you came from. The home is bigger than you think, and I mean that in many ways, she holds history and that beauty exposes itself in every corner.

The room just before Her kitchen, housing the florets, wine glasses etc…
Before we knew it the Savoy cabbage became our dear friend
Chou Farci, from Mimi’s first book, apropriately our first meal in Medoc
These meringues became the most elegant desert

This world they live in is a fairytale. Oddur said it simply, they want to be together as much as possible, and live that way. So they do, and they do everything they can to hold on to this lifestyle.

I soon found myself falling a little in love with this life. The home being wedged between vineyards and abandoned chateaus begins to feel more charming than inconvenient.

So for those of you who are thinking about attending this workshop, I recommend you hop on the opportunity. Of course there is no end date in site but this beautiful family has to live! And I’m sure there will be less and less workshops as the years progress, their adventures are growing as I type. But for now…snatch it up while you can, the experience is that of a fairytale.

Some folks wrote to me asking if the trip was worth it. As I said, this trip exceeded my wildest dreams. The drive to Medoc, the adventure of traveling alone in Europe, renting a car and navigating the vineyards with little to no service was all worth it. However, the workshop itself was magic. Mimi says to make this home yours, relax and enjoy yourself over the next three days. Once you do just that, the workshop transports you, it pauses time. The simple techniques you glean from Mimi as she glides around the kitchen, you could not possibly put a price on. The quality of produce and drink make you amp up your standards for your own kitchen, brainstorming how you can replicate in your everyday usual before you even leave Medoc.

You don’t drink? No problem, there is no pressure to consume any alcohol, cooking with drink, now that’s a must! If you do love wine, Oddur will be sure to help keep your glass full with the most delectable bottles. Mimi herself prefers not to have a glass until the evening, so if you are at all worried I guarantee the pressure is off! The cooking alone is intoxicating and smiles never ever left my face. I go back to those three days often in the short time since I’ve left, truly a Red Letter triage of days.

stay tuned for the day 2 & 3 reflections!

Xx

France is Calling and I must go…


This trip has been in the works for close to 10 months. As the days grow closer I am memorizing the pieces of my trip that will be the focus.

I rarely eat out, even on birthdays I would rather eat with family and friends. Eat really great food, really great drink, and have everyone together. I find this makes the evening more enjoyable, the celebration more intimate. The food becomes the focal point, alleviating the pressure of everyone’s departure times, the bar never closes, the kitchen stays open, there’s room for everyone. Especially the dogs,

However, when we leave our dear little home, when we get to a city of new gastronomic tendencies I try to indulge. Gift myself the loveliness of eating out, enjoy the newness of someone else’s cooking. I have a few places to indulge specifically for this trip. There will be a total of 3 nights in Paris, and 4 nights in Medoc (Bordeaux region). Two in the beginning, then Mimi’s workshop in Medoc, then back to Paris for my final evening (closer to the airport- makes for a much easier departure) .
Here are a few of the places I’ll  be dining, a report will come back once I have experienced their loveliness!

Le Grand Colbert- brasserie

Chez Andre- brasserie

Verjus-restaurant ( best tasting menu under $100)


Le Victoria (in the Palace hotel)– famously looks over Champs elysee

-Hutrerie Regis – Oysters from the famous fields of Marennes-Oléron

To Market to Market

Farmer’s Market optimization

The word agriculture translates to: “Field” + “Cultivation”

Call me crazy but field cultivation sounds SO dull. When I think of agriculture I think of beautiful animals plowing through the land, breaking apart soil and creating new homes for seeds to grow. Agriculture is sprouting plants that will someday fill stomachs and sustain our lives. But mainly, I think of hard working farmers toiling in fields from dawn to dusk. Brillat-Savarin the father of gastronomy (Frenchie, obviously) said “The universe would be nothing were it not for life, and all that lives must be fed.”.

Of course he is right. But what we feed our stomachs, and our animal’s stomachs, matters! Not to be super quotey but – Michael Pollan planted a seed that has grown into a HUGE farm in my mind: “you are what you eat and you are what you eat eats too.” The food we consume matters, not only for our bodies but also for the farms. Voting with our forks goes beyond what our stomach wants. Take these 7 tid bits with you during the next grocery run and we can begin to make the shift to a truly a sustainable plate:

1) Meat for dinner? Again? Why— I choose 1-2 meals per week where I have meat be the star. Reason 1) $$$$ meat is expensive. 2) To me, quality is more important than quantity, I make sure the meat that ends up in my market tote is from a farmer I trust, and desperately want to support! Also gotta give ye olde veggies a chance to shine!

2) Buy for the week – (easier said than done, I know), but I try to do my buying once a week and the staples once a month. For me this habit began when I started living on my own, realizing just how much I was wasting. I began to buy less each week knowing that I can always buy more the following market day. It worked! Less $ wasted and less veggies wasted!

3) Find the market! I urge everyone with the ability to get to the markets and experiment with those ingredients (I understand in rural areas this may not be possible!)

4) Obviously don’t shop on an empty stomach. Over purchasing is my claim to fame.

5) Bring a reusable bag & baggies for wrapping all the goods up & toting them home safely!

6) Think outside the box. Get some of those items that intimidate you – for me beets were those root veggies that I lOVED when prepared for me but initially shied away from buying fresh. Turns out they are easy to cook and create a wonderful juice. They are now my go to when I’m feeling uninspired! Ha!

7) Value added-Invest in that cheese. I love cheese. I love it I love it I love it and I will absolutely be the one spending $15 on a nice raw aged cheddah. But since I am not spending much on meat/ fish products I validate splurging with other bi-products that make me a happy gal.

That’s it for now! Enjoy your market time!

Snail blazin’

April showers bring May flowers… and snails

Last week I got all excited about supporting a particular local farmer at the Union Square Market. This guy had all the plants for building up my home garden. I got a dozen different plants ranging from tomatoes (which I don’t like- I know, weird- they are for tomato sauce) to spinach and bush beans (which I really really like).

I planted those suckers in the beds and gave em a goodnight kiss (I did no such thing) My own ruffage in my own backyard! Proud plant mother moment.
I couldn’t help but gawk at how many slugs/snails were blazing around my humble Brooklyn Backyard… So cute, so not offensive, I was even thinking this was a win- at least there was life back here! After all… Slow Foods mascot is the snail, it had to be a good omen! Right?

No
No No
NO


They ate my baby spinach! They noshed on my Montpelier bush beans! They didn’t touch my tomatoes (figures- the one I would volunteer as tribute, they leave alone, continuous eye roll)

So I called my mom.
Turns out her grandmother used to put cheap beer in empty tuna fish cans and the slugs would blaze on over to this amazing drink (slugs love beer) but end up passing away in their slow drunk sluggy dreams. My roomie’s mom also confirmed this “let them drink beer” technique, so all the moms have voted and feeding beer to slugs wins.

Another, more snail loving course of action is to hand pluck all of the snails (before they get to the beer)and bring them to the abandoned backyard adjacent to yours. 🙂

But the beer works… if you dont have the luxury of an abandoned backyard to use at your leisure

Bottom line is, these critters like cool damp places, so ofcourse my overgrown backyard was a haven for the little cuties. Spring is their prime season. So cleanin up the beds, weeding out the unwanted plants and giving your garden more sunlight should dry up the land nicely. Dryer conditions= no more snails!

P.S. I planted Marigolds near the half eaten baby plants. Their natural chemical wards off most pests, which is absolutely what we want.

Happy Gardening!

Strawberries and Cream Cake from your Dream


This weekend was my sister’s twentieth birthday. Strawberries and Cream is her all-time favorite so there was no negotiating (although I’m not too sure why anyone would want to negotiate themselves out of that!).  For Grace’s birthdays my family always picks up a strawberries and cream cake from the grocery store. Although the cake is made fresh at their bakery it just wasn’t satisfying anymore. Maybe management changed, maybe there was some sort ingredient switch-up, or it’s possible my family has become quite spoiled. Turns out-baking with farm fresh eggs changes the baked goods game. This year I decided to try my hand at Grace’s cake (assuring everyone that if the cake was a flop ice cream would be on me!).

There is no cake left, there were oohs and there were ahhs and most of all the birthday girl was smiling. We ate it all. So I am jotting it down here for you dear readers to modify/replicate. If not for a birthday then just because it’s spring!

It‘s rumored that Marie Antoinette sang “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” when the people of France were starving. The tale goes that cakes and pastries were handed out to the poor. I guess they must have had a lot of leftover cake. Whether that’s true or not I will still take a fat slice of homemade cake anyday. Cheers!

Beware: This recipe calls for buttermilk and cake flour- two uncommon ingredients in my household- if you are in a pinch, no fear!  I put the substitutes below 🙂 Happy Baking

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
-3 cups of cake flour (or 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour + ¼ cornstarch)
-3/4 tsp baking soda
-1 ½ tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 ½ (three sticks) butter- room temp
-3 large egg whites
-2 1/3 cups of granulated sugar
-2 tsp almond extract
-1 ½ cups Buttermilk (whole milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar/ lemon juice)

For the Filling:
-2 cups sliced strawberries
-1-2 tsp sugar

For the Frosting:
-1 pint of heavy whipped cream (chilled)
-1/4 cup powdered sugar
-1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract will do! I prefer the almond undertone)

How to make that cake!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350* F. Butter two or three round cake pans generously with butter.
  2. Sift flour (3 cups), baking soda (3/4 tsp), baking powder (1 ½ tsp), and salt (3/4 tsp) together in one bowl
  3. Cream the butter (3 sticks @ room temp) and sugar (2 1/3 cups) until light and fluffy
  4. Add in the egg whites (3)and almond extract (2 tsp), continue beating on medium for a few
  5. While the mixer is still running add in 1/3 of your dry ingredient mixture to the mixer. Scrape down the sides, then add ¾ cup of buttermilk. Repeat until all batter ingredients are mixed together.
  6. Divide batter into buttered cake pans evenly. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until they reach a golden brown (Use ye-olde toothpick trick)
  7. Let cakes cool for at least 10 minutes

Meanwhile… in the filling department:

  1. Cut the tops of strawberries off and chop ( 2 cups worth)
  2. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and let sit in a bowl for 10 min.
  3. Strain and keep pink strawberry water for frosting

Whip it! Whip it real good!

  1. Chill the whisk & clean mixing bowl in freezer until cold
  2. Pour in (1 Pint) heavy cream, powdered sugar (1/4 cup) and almond extract ( 1tsp)
  3. Add in whatever pink strawberry liquid you have leftover
  4. Whip until stiff peaks!

Build it!

  1. Place the largest cake (there always is a bigger layer) on the plate & spread with whipped cream
  2. Spread half of strawberries
  3. Repeat if doing three layer cake
  4. Frost top layer and decorate with remaining strawberries OR fresh chopped strawberries- it’s up to you!

Chateau Ormes de Pez



The Elms of Pez

A trip is planned for Bordeaux as you know… these sketches are me doing my very best to contain my exciteement. Thank you for baring with me!

June 2019. Plans are coming to together and solidifying as the next few months progress.  I’ll be flying into CDG and spending the first two nights of the 8 day trip soaking up the magic of Paris. It’s been just under two years since my last visit, I am due for another! Although Paris is incredible it is but the beginning of my voyage. I will be taking a train to Bordeaux where I rent a car (to say that I traveled by plane, train, and car). Who knows, maybe I can convince someone to lend me their boat!

I will barrel my way through Bordeaux to the commune of Saint Estephe in southwestern coast of France, which hugs the Gironde Estuary.  The Medoc region in France is known as the wine growing region (go figure-afterall we are in Bordeaux) It is also the region where Mimi Thorisson now resides and provided inspiration for her second book French Country Cooking. The French countryside indeed.


For those new here, I will be taking a much anticipated workshop with Mimi & her husband Oddur in June. Learning the ropes of her kitchen, and Oddur’s photography skills. Mimi sent a list of her housing recommendations and after reading up I made my decision. The deciding moment was when I came across an entry on Manger: “ Chateau Ormes de Pez… the place I’d love to stay if I did not live in Medoc. In fact I think I might like to stay there anyway” Mimi’s words, and advice I must not take for granted. So, it’s four nights at the Chateau Ormes de Pez, The Elms of Pez. Check out Mimi’s post for yourself!http://mimithorisson.com/2013/05/09/lintendant-his-slow-cooked-lamb-2/


Dating back to the 16th Century, the Chateau is now owned by the Cazes Family (will report back about who these people are and why their name is just so important in Bordeaux). The home was originally named “Domaine de Pez” the field or Domain of the town of Pez. During the French Revolution the name was changed to reflect the many Elm trees that garbed the 82 acre vineyard. An award winning vineyard in Bordeaux? How perfect. 50% of the grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon (the real reason behind my housing decision). The remaining acres are filled with 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The soil consists of gravel, clay, and sand just perfect for these earthy robust wines. I’m salivating.


The beautiful building sings romance, a sweet melody that runs through the vineyards, around the horse barn and through each of the five rooms. I wrote to the L’intendant Gilles de Marcellus about my stay and he suggested a car. Enter the first car rental this chick has ever signed for. Wish me luck! Or better yet, wish the people of Bordeaux luck…