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GARBURE

My final cozy meal for the winter is Garbure. It originates from the south west part of France and it’s one of my standby favorites. Don’t let the plain, simple look fool you. This is one that once you’ve made it, you will always crave it.  It’s a very hearty thick soup that gives immense soul soothing flavor.  

THE INGREDIENTS

1 cup dried white beans such as Great Northern, navy or cannelloni (7oz), picked over and rinsed

1 whole clove

1 medium onion, peeled and left whole

2 1/2 lb smoked ham hocks (or you can use shanks or pork belly)

3 qt water

6 fresh parsley sprigs

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1 fresh thyme sprig

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold (3 to 4 medium)

1 lb cabbage, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups)

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

12 (1/2 inch-thick) slices froma baguette

serves 4 to 6

STEPS

First I soaked the beans in cold water and covered overnight for 8 hours. Then I drained the beans and placed in the fridge until I was ready to start cooking.

Bring ham hocks and 3 quarts of water to a boil in a wide 6 to 7 quart heavy pot, skimming off any froth, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 hour.  

*It’s optional but I do recommend adding a chicken or duck carcass to the simmering process.  It adds a wonderful flavor dimension. 

Add beans, onion (with clove stuck in it), parsley, bay leaf, thyme and garlic.  Continue simmering uncovered and stirring occasionally, until beans are almost tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

When beans are almost done, peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add potatoes and cabbage to beans then more simmering (uncovered) until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Remove ham hocks. When ham hocks are cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones, then cut meat into bite-size pieces. Stir into soup with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf and onion.

When it comes to the bread, I highly recommend spending the extra effort and grilling.  One of the keys to this recipe is good bread done right.  Generous amount of olive oil, heat up your grill or fire and get a nice crust.  Finish with a little more olive oil and sea salt.  You will thank me later.

To come home to this after a long day of work or school, when you’re cold and ready for warmth is truly one of the best things next to sliced bread. I hope you give it a try.

Confit isn’t readily available for everyone, but if you are lucky to have a good source I’m including a similar recipe where you can add in as the “icing on the cake”.  Click here

Happy Monday!

 

recipe from Gourmet Magazine

WINTER WREATH

If you’re like me and wondering what you should hang on your front door right now, the answer is — a winter wreath! This time of year is always a little bit of a downer as we come off of such a fun holiday season and the decorations start to come down. With a couple more winter months to go, I typically like to leave some lights up, candles lit and a winter wreath on my front door. This has been my way of adding some warmth and comfort to a couple more winters months. To make a winter wreath, you can use things from your garden, as well as store bought flowers and branches. See below.

I started with a wreath template that you can find at your local craft store or floral supply shop.

For my winter wreath, I love to use purples, reds, different shades of green and some gray. Above, I used magnolia leaves, eucalyptus, dried hydrangeas and dusty miller. Since texture is important, I collected seed pods from my crape myrtle trees and tied them in as well. Other plants that would work well are olive branches, loropetalum (chinese fringe flower) and proteas.  They are all such show stoppers.  Side note, these also dry beautifully.

My tools

I bought moss at my local craft store and then soaked it in water so that it’s easier to use. Then I squeezed out all the excess water and let is dry a tad.

I wrapped the entire wreath in moss and then tied it with twine to secure it to the wreath frame.
I started at the bottom and then just worked my way up to the top of the wreath. I started with one foliage and then added another one and just continued to layer them, filling in the holes and covering the moss completely.
I found that I really loved the color of the dusty miller (gray plant), the movement of the eucalyptus and if I’m being honest, the texture of the crape myrtle seed pods warms my heart. 

Finally, I added copper battery operated LED lights which I think finish it off perfectly.

Then . . . enjoy your work. 

To see more of how I put this wreath together, check out my video on Instagram.

HOLIDAY CHEESE BOARD

I had such fun shopping for flowers and cheese today and decided not to play favorites and selected a cheese from each animal — goat, sheep and cow. My daughter, Ella, helped put together this fun board for tonight’s festivities.

The first one is a Herve Mons 1924 Bleu which is both sheep and cow. Then I got a cow’s milk cheese from Whey Creamery, and a goat cheese, Midnight Moon, from Cypress Grove.

Placed everything on a board with parchment paper

Ella added macadamia nuts and dried figs

We added a Manchego, along with Spanish olives and two different types of fun crackers. 

HAPPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!!

BEEF BOURGUIGNON

My next cozy winter dish is Beef Bourguignon from Burgundy, France. This dish has been around since the middle ages and originally was considered a peasant dish (typically my favorite type of dish) because it’s hearty, could feed many and you could use the cheaper cuts of meet.

THE INGREDIENTS


3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 slices dry cured center cut bacon, cut into small pieces

*3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks (I like to cut them into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes)

coarse salt + freshly ground black pepper

2 large carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks

1 large white onion, sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups red wine (I use almost a bottle. You can use chianti, Pinot Noir or a good red table wine)

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cloves smashed garlic

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 crumbled bay leaf

12 small pearl onions, peeled and halved

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered

STEPS

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a dutch oven (or heavy based pot with lid) and simmer bacon until lightly brown. When done, remove and set aside.

Pat dry beef with a paper towel and sear the beef on all sides and set aside with bacon.

Note: This time I seared whole pieces of brisket on the grill to speed up this process and then I cut the brisket into 1 1/2 inch cubes, and it worked out beautifully. Either way will work.

In the same dutch oven that you cooked the bacon (and the beef, if you didn’t use the grill) add your sliced carrots and onions and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain excess fat.

Add the bacon and beef back to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Toss. Sprinkle with flour and toss once more. Add your pearl onions.

Add your beef stock and wine to cover the meat. Add the tomato paste, garlic and thyme. Bring to a light simmer. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

Note: a lot of recipes have you place it in an oven for part of the cooking but I prefer to just cook it on the stove for a very long time. Traditionally, this dish cooked for 2 days. 

In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add your butter to a sauté pan and then your mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir to make sure all the mushrooms get coated with the butter.

Once stew is done add your sautéed mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes to combine. 

Garnish with parsley and serve with mashed potatoes or bread. I like to grill my bread, but any fresh tasty bread would work beautifully.

Every French chef has their variation on this classic French dish. Mine is a version of Julia Child’s but Ina Garten and Anthony Bourdain also have great versions. This dish is delicious when done, but even better the next day.

HAPPY THURSDAY!!

 

BRAISED CHICKEN

I love this time of year, especially when it comes to cooking something warm and cozy. Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing my top three cozy winter recipes. Today, it’s one of my favorite go-to meals for this time of year, Braised Chicken.

This is a perfect dish to make ahead of time because it reheats beautifully. Plus, it makes your home smell incredibly good.

 

THE INGREDIENTS 


(recipe is from Everyday Food)

8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (I use ones with skin on as well)

course salt and ground pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound small shallots (peeled and halved)

5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

1/2 cup dry white wine (I use a full cup)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I just leave mine whole)

Fresh tarragon leaves for garnish

 

Add your oil to the pot and place on medium high

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Cook on both sides until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

You may have to cook the chicken in batches so not to crowd. When all the chicken is done, set aside.

Add the shallots and garlic; cook stirring occasionally until slightly softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine until evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in dijon mustard and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil.

Add the chicken back in, bone side down. Turn heat down to a simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken and add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook on high until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Return chicken to pot and reheat if necessary. Garnish with tarragon, if desired, and serve.

I love to serve it with really good bread, it helps soak up all the delicious juices, however, my husband loves it served with warm mashed potatoes.

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

 

Happy Wednesday! I’m sharing some before and after images of a master bedroom of a wonderful client. I’ve been working with this client for over five years, and in that time we’ve tackled the exterior, the interior, and all the bedrooms in the home.

This client is an avid art collector, and found a painting from a local artist in Laguna Beach. It was this painting that would dictate the tone for the rest of the master bedroom space. I fell in love with the colors the artist used, and the feeling of serenity was perfect for over the bed.

Since the palette of the painting was neutral and earthy, I used creamy whites and beiges. I added brass elements to keep it modern, and because my client really loves deep colors, we decided to do beautiful burgundy, velvet drapery.

I wanted to bring organic elements into the room, so we used natural toned, roman shades to filter the light nicely. We also chose sustainable organic linens for the bed, used a soft rug, and added a wooden planter and greenery throughout. I included some smaller images below to show the accessories we used.

The main goal was to create a retreat to contrast how busy life can be. And I’m happy to say, I think we achieved it! It’s always a pleasure to work with people who are so open to creativity.

AFTER

 

BEFORE

Realizing we’re all living some crazy busy lives these days, I love sharing ideas on ways to simplify our lives while making them as enjoyable and beautiful as possible. Therefore, today I’m sharing a very simple way to put together a holiday wreath. Did I mention is was simple?

I found this wreath for about $15.00 dollars at my local craft store.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been obsessed with this gold/rust color that you see on the berries above. It was actually these gold berries which inspired me to put this wreath together.
I decided to go with three different variety of embellishments for my wreath but you could get crazy and do tons more — whatever makes you happy.
I started with the berries because they will dictate where everything else will go.
I started by adding them in the middle of the wreath on both sides. Working my way down and layering them as I go, my goal was to meet at the bottom while still leaving a little room for the pinecones.
Next, I added these little pinecones, with the goal of creating a small cluster at the bottom of the wreath.
Then, I added these two embellishments for more greenery.
Just add them above the berries on either side of the wreath.
And her she is! From start to finish it took me about 20 minutes. You could always add a beautiful ribbon at the bottom if you’d like.
Note: You may need some floral wire to attach everything securely.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

I REALIZE THIS IS SUPER LAST MINUTE, BUT I WAS JUST SO INSPIRED THIS MORNING OVER MY CUP OF COFFEE TO DO THIS YEAR’S THANKSGIVING TABLE A BIT DIFFERENTLY.

One of my favorite tablecloths to use, anytime and every time, is just a simple painter’s drop cloth from your local hardware store — I love them!
I found all these dried wheat stalks years ago at a local craft store and made wreaths with them one year. For the most part I just throw the stalks into whatever vase or bowl I’m in love with at the moment.
Again, I always love using branches or flowers from my own garden (or whoever’s I’m in at the time). This is a black diamond crape myrtle. I love the color!
Now, I’ve collected all my goodies to put together tomorrow’s Thanksgiving table.
I love these little corn guys.
I’m ready to clip my fun branches to fit into my black wooden pots. I clipped some branches from an oak tree as well.
Clipping them away from the table to avoid making a ginormous mess.
And, she’s all done and ready to be enjoyed…
My favorite guy, Bruno, who always gives me great support, but can be a little camera shy.
I strongly believe in creating a table that moves you. Throw away the perfection part of it, or whatever prevents you from living the way you want to live. I even mix and match placemats, napkins, whatever works at the time. I’ve never been a rule follower when it comes to design or entertaining. As we all know the most important part of Thanksgiving, or any meal, is that we enjoy time with friends and family. Ever thankful for those around us and the time we have together.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

I love tomatoes and I thought, with summer coming to a close, it was the perfect time to take advantage of some really gorgeous tomatoes.

TOMATO TART

from Mimi Thorisson’s, A Kitchen in France

Tart dough (see below)

All-purpose flour for rolling

A few sprigs of fresh basil

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/4 pounds (550g) tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 tablespoon honey

1 small ball buffalo mozzarella torn into small pieces

*Serves 4

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Press into the base and sides of a 10-inch tart pan and trim the edges. Prick the base with a fork. Put the pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F

Combine the basil, mustard, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and pinch of salt in blender. Puree until smooth.

Spread the tomato paste over the base of the tart shell and then pour the basil oil over it. Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a circular pattern, in one layer, in the tart shell. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the honey and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the tomatoes.

Bake until the pastry is golden, about 35 minutes. Let the tart rest for 15 minutes.

Scatter the mozzarella and some basil over the tart before serving.

I went ahead and just bought the dough in the frozen section of my local supermarket but if you do have time, it’s easy enough just to make it from scratch. See recipe below.

TART DOUGH

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

9 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes and chilled

1 large egg

3 tablespoons cold water

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the butter and work it in with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Make a well in the center and add the egg and water. Mix until the dough comes together and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least 1 hour, or overnight. Makes enough for one 10 inch tart shell.

Happy Sunday!

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