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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

It seems like restaurant design only gets better and better and Gracias Madre is a perfect example. Previously an antique store, Gracias Madre is beautifully designed by interior designer Wendy Haworth and exterior designer Scott Shrader.

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Click here to read more about the design behind this little gem.

Happy Tuesday!

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Since my first Papasan chair many moons ago, I have always loved the look of rattan furniture. Recently, while checking out David Niven’s (big fan of his) home in Cape Ferret, I fell in love with all his gorgeous rattan furniture. For me, rattan furniture personifies vacation/beach life/relaxation and you can’t go wrong when adding a bit of rattan into your world.

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I feel this lounge chair could benefit from a gorgeous cushion — but just love the look of it

More exquisite chairs –

 

 

My favorite from GALERIE RIVIERA

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The Menu

Some of the most enjoyable entertaining I’ve done has been when friends happened to pop over last-minute. There is not that initial pressure of having everything perfect, and people are usually more relaxed with little expectations for the evening ahead. When this happens, my “go-to menu” typically consists of some type of salad, a good cheese and meat platter, some nuts and some kind of cracker/bread. I also keep some good chocolate in the fridge for something sweet at the end. No cooking involved. Super easy!

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Happy Weekend!

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I’ve had this picture at my desk for years! I tore it out of W Magazine in ’03. It’s not a fancy or staged photograph – just family and friends around a table for an afternoon lunch. A good reminder to me to take time out and enjoy the small things in life — a long meal with family & friends.

Cheers!

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8 ITEMS TO HELP MAKE YOUR HOUSE GUESTS FEEL COMFORTABLE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The Guest Room

A good reading lamp, soft sheets and a cozy blanket provide a sense of comfort for those traveling far from home. Adding a box of chocolates and good reading material is also a nice touch depending how long you wish your guests to actually stay. For those of you living in smaller quarters, with a little imagination almost any part of your home could become a guest room. Once, I turned the dining room of our tiny Venice bungalow into a guest room for a friend staying for a week.

Whether your home is large or small the 8 items suggested below could apply to any size abode. It’s all about one’s attitude — being flexible and working with what you have.

A task lamp to give the perfect light for late night reading. This one is from Restoration Hardware but Target and Lamps Plus have similar ones as well.

A small bedside tray to house your guests jewelry, coins and spent candy wrappers. This “Dot Tray” is from Jayson Home & Garden.

A bedside carafe for water — from Crate & Barrel

A nice smelling candle for the dresser. The Fedora Patch Candle is from Jayson Home & Garden.

A throw for chilly days/nights

Slip on slippers to fit any foot size

Fresh flowers or anything green from your garden (or supermarket).

Another great thing to have when guest arrive is the aroma of something special on the stove or in the oven. So, I have also included my favorite comfort dish recipe, Braised Chicken with Shallots. It’s great because you can make it the day before and just reheat when you are ready.

Ingredients

8- Bone-in skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)

coarse salt and ground pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound small shallots (about 12), peeled and halved

5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 pint cherry tomatoes halved

Fresh tarragon leaves for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper; coat with flour, shaking off excess.

2. In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid heat oil over medium-high. Cook chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

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

4. Return chicken, bone side down, to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Add tomatoes to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook on high until sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and return chicken to pot; cook until heated through. Serve, garnished with tarragon, if desired.

Serves 4

The recipe (and photo) for Braised Chicken with Shallots are from Martha Stewart.com

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Jamie Oliver’s Sausage Carbonara

My last blog about food was “Rotolo di Zucca e Ricotta“. This time it’s Sausage Carbonara, also from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, Jaime’s Italy (I love this cookbook). I’m cooking again with Karla, who has gathered some tomatoes and basil from the Alamo Heights Community Garden. Karla is making a tomato pasta with basil, and a butter pasta for the kids. This Sausage Carbonara recipe is super easy and really delicious without being too heavy.

 The dough waiting patiently to be transformed into linguine

 Tomatoes & pancetta

The Sausage Carbonara

Jamie Oliver is also trying to change the way our children eat with his “Food Revolution” click here to learn more about it.

The Recipe

linguine alla carbonara di salsiccia

4 good-quality organic Italian sausages
olive oil
4 slices of thickly cut pancetta, chopped 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1lb. dried linguine
4 large egg yolks, preferably organic
1/2 c heavy cream
3 1/2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon
a sprig of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil

“With a sharp knife, slit the sausage skins lengthwise and pop all the meat out. Using wet hands, roll little balls of sausage meat about the size of large marbles and place them to one side.

Heat a large frying pan and add a good splash of olive oil. Gently fry the sausage meatballs until golden brown all over, then add the pancetta and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until it’s golden. While this is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the linguine, and cook according to the package instructions.

In a large bowl, whip up th egg yolks, cream, half the Parmesan, the lemon zest and the parsley. When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and immediately toss it quickly with the egg mixture back in the pasta pot. Add the hot sausage meatballs and toss everything together. The egg will cook delicately from the heat of the linguine, just enough for it to thicken and not scramble. The sauce should be smooth and silky. If the pasta becomes a little sticky add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water to loosen it slightly. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan, season if necessary, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and serve. Eat immediately!”

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The other night I decided to have a go at making “Rotolo” — a rolled up pasta dish. This pasta is stuffed with butternut squash, spinach and ricotta. With the Texas heat reaching over 100 degrees everyday, I am trying to think of different ways to get through the hottest part of the day. One solution has been getting together with friends and cooking long meals (with a chilled glass of wine). So, my friend, Karla ( a food stylist here in San Antonio), and I took a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy cookbook and gave Rotolo a shot.

Karla was in charge of the dough, which I am still a bit intimated by

The spinach waiting for its turn in the saute pan

The  roasted butternut squash with coriander and fennel seeds

The rolled out dough ready to be stuffed

Iris rolling out her dough

rolling…

…rolling

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into the boiling water

weights so it doesn’t float to the top

unrolling the pasta

Sliced and ready for the table with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and fried sage leaves. A great vegetarian dish, however, we did decide to serve it with steak and a beet salad. Very fun and super tasty!

Click here for Jamie Oliver’s website

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Hotel Havana

About a month ago, I finally checked out San Antonio’s Hotel Havana. I wanted to see for myself what all the talk was about. It’s another establishment by Liz Lambert, who also has Hotel San Jose and the Saint Cecilia in Austin.  I admit, I did fall in love. Her use of vintage furniture recovered in vibrant colors is inspiring! The overall feel is very warm and sophisticated, yet casual and comfortable — more like a friend’s home than a hotel.

My daughter excited about the “griddle cakes”

Yesterday morning, a friend and I checked out their new little restaurant, Ocho that had just opened. It’s housed in a glass conservatory and felt much like a hotel in Florence I visited last summer. It was also nice to see an uncomplicated menu, friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere. It doesn’t hurt that the little restaurant overlooks the River Walk either, and on pleasant days they can open several huge garage-like doors to allow the ultimate in dining alfresco.

In the summer, the dimly lit bar in the basement, with its blue painted cement walls, is a welcome refuge from the South Texas sun.

I did snap some more pictures of the rest of the hotel but I thought I would just include the link to the Hotel Havana website instead.

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The party took place at a friend’s house–a wonderful Tudor style home perched on a small hill in a very cute neighborhood. Candles placed in silver tins lined the pathway leading to the garden and the faint sound of jazz could be heard as you passed through the garden gates.

Karla, Ella and I

The hostess, Karla (food stylist, amazing cook and plant lover), and I started work on the garden about a month before the party.

Tree stumps were repurposed as small cocktail tables. A mirror hung on a wall reflecting the roaring fire. Old pieces of driftwood were turned into lamps. And a table, made by Karla’s husband, became the perfect place to set the wine and appetizers.

 The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The smell of bacon-wrapped jalapenos filled the air and forty guests enjoyed a jazz quartet under a full moon.

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Back Camera

Hilltop garden in Tuscany

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been able to travel a bit this summer and my absolute favorite trip this summer was to the beautiful country of Italy. I remember an eight-course meal in Florence, a wonderful market in the village of Poppi and a beautiful garden on a Tuscan hilltop.

There were nine total in our group, so a long table with friends around was easily provided. I’m already looking forward to next year! Below are some of my favorite snap shots from the trip.

A Campari & Soda at the Four Seasons, Florence

After a long train ride from Milan, a Campari & soda at the Four Seasons sounded too good to pass up.

Tuscany, & the village of Poppi

Cocktail Hour on the rooftop in Florence

This was such a wonderful hotel in Florence and every evening cocktails on the rooftop made it even more amazing.

Our stay in Florence

Food & Drink

Of course, the food and drink was amazing. My favorite restaurant was in a small village near Poppi. Once we found it we had to return every night.

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The group in Florence

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