Monday, September 23, 2019

Afternoon Tea

386. Afternoon tea is a simple, light meal composed of three course of tea sandwiches and savories, followed by scones with clotted cream and jam, and ending with sweet pastries. Everything is bite-sized and eaten with fingers.
Afternoon tea time is around 4:00PM,  between lunch and dinner. The light meal is not meant to replace dinner but instead to hold you over until dinner which was usually at 8:00PM for the upper class.
The concept of afternoon tea started in England in the 1840s when The Duchess of Bedford would grow hungry and wanted a small bite between lunch and dinner.
With the new movie following the Downton Abbey Series coming out this past weekend, I found it fitting to enjoy this English tradition.  Rather than make tea sandwiches we rather made cheese and crackers trays with fresh fruits, homemade scones and jam. 

 And of course a variety of teas with the Downton Abbey original soundtrack playing softly in the background.  It was a lovely event shared with 5 lovely young ladies.  And after we enjoyed our afternoon tea we whisked away to the movie theater to watch the delightful Downton Abbey movie.  The movie was all we hoped it would be...a wonderful continuation of this engaging, charming story.  The day was a win-win.
“We must always travel in hope.”
— Carson, Downton Abbey, Season 5

“You are being tested. And you know what they say my darling, being tested only makes you stronger.”
— Cora, Lady Grantham, Downton Abbey, Season 3

“Sympathy butters no parsnips.”
— Mrs. Patmore, Downton Abbey, Season 5

“There is nothing more ill-bred than trying to steal the affections of one’s dog.”
— Robert, Lord Grantham, Downton Abbey, Season 5

“I’m a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.”
— Violet, Dowager Countess, Downton Abbey, Season 2

“We must all have our hearts broken once or twice before we’re done.”
— Mrs. Hughes, Downton Abbey, Season 4

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Four O'clock Flowers

385.  This summer I have been extremely pleased with my garden.  The greatest surprise has been my  "Four O'clocks".  I have an abundance of seeds and have packaged them up to sell.
This flower is an heirloom flower and the name indicates the time of day when the plants trumpet-shaped flowers open.  The flowers open in late afternoon, in response to a temperature drop.  Nocturnal moths and other nighttime pollinators are attracted to their nectar.   The name of the plant also goes by "Marvel of Peru" due to its native South American habitat.
The flower is hardy and grown as a perennial in zones 7b-11, but gardeners in other zones often grow these beauties as annuals.  They will self-sow also.  They can grow to four feet tall and three feet wide.  They are heat and drought tolerant and are a favorite of hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
And the scent is very fragrant and similar to lillies.  

"Just living is not must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."
~  Hans Christian Anderson

Friday, September 6, 2019

Chicken Piccata with Ziti

384.  Lemony,  cheesy,  warm and crispy chicken smothered with a lemon caper sauce nestled over hot ziti noodles.  Now that is an ideal meal.  I found this recipe that was Paleo, Whole30 and Keto compatible and it was so delicious, you could be fooled.
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This recipe is very similar to most chicken cutlet recipes cooked in sauce.  You can find this process in Polish, Italian, French and Russian cooking and so many other nationalities.   
It's what is for dinner tonight!  Try it!

Question:  "What is your favorite smell?"  "Basil or sautéing onions."  ~ Stanley Tucci

Chicken Piccata originated in Italy and was originally made from veal instead of chicken. Chicken Piccata is chicken cooked in lemony sauce and sometimes served with noodles. Piccata is a method of preparing food, not The dish as such : meat is sliced, coated, sautéed and served in a sauce. The dish originated in Italy using veal (veal piccata).
In Italy, veal piccata is considered as a “secondo” (second course) and would be served after the pasta course.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Custard Tart with Apricots

383.  When you find a full-proof recipe that checks off all the boxes - boxes being:  tasty, delicious, satisfying, surprising, second-helping know you have to share it.  Now, I'm not a huge fan of custardy desserts unless they hold flavor and are not gummy or slimy.  (I don't like that word slimy!)  The beauty of this recipe is that it is versatile and could be made in one large pan or 6 small tart pans for individual servings.  You could also choose any fruit you would like:  cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, figs, apple quarters, or make it savory by omitting the sugar and extracts and adding a pinch of chopped basil or parsley with tomato, zucchini, squash, or eggplant.

The secret...fresh ingredients!  This would make a lovely brunch item to serve as the main dish or as dessert.
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I used frozen apricots I had in my freezer and some of the fruit was slightly frozen.  You could also use fruit from the freezer section of your market.  You could substitute the coconut oil for butter and the heavy cream for coconut milk but the consistency will be softer.
The crust was perfectly browned and risen slightly.  And it had a wonderful nutty flavor.  While the custard was perfectly set and it cut easily.  You couldn't ask for a more perfect slice!
"Anything with dairy, yogurt, milk, cream or eggs - any custard or flan - how can it be bad?
~  Alex Guarnaschelli

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


382.  My new venture has lead me into delicate French pastry and the croissant.  I usually would purchase frozen puff pastry mentally convincing myself that, "I can't make puff pastry dough...It is too difficult!".  But recently, I was challenged to experiment and experiment I have.  I've made multiple batches and have tried different types of flours and processes.
My very first recipe turned out amazing!!!  I took so much time and spent hours waiting, rolling, waiting, rolling.  The layers were amazing and the flavor was divine. I made Pain au Chocolat and Pain au Almond Croissants.
The second batch was made with different flour and I was not as pleased with the texture.  It seemed the flour was a bit too heavy and the layers didn't rise as high.  But they were delicious.
And my third batch was just ok...still a bit heavy with bread flour but the taste was wonderful!  They turned out more like bread rolls...not as flaky.
Don't doubt yourself, but give yourself the chance to try.  You may surprise yourself!

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  Don't settle.  
As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
~  Steve Jobs

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

White Bean Dip

381.  On a hot summer's day it is enjoyable to share light meals and eat as much or as little as you so choose.  This was one of those days with a Mediterranean flavor.  It started with a delicious and so very simple White Bean Dip that I discovered from Giada on Food Network.  It called for great northern beans, which I soaked and cooked till tender.  You could also use cannellini or chick peas.  Once I made the dip I decided to grill chicken on skewers and a pan roasted sauté of mixed vegetables and toasted crostini since I didn't have pita on hand.
For my roasted veggies I chose to use a large pan on top of the stove or you could roast them on a flat tray in the oven till tender.  I included onion, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, pea pods, small colored peppers halved, fresh parsley and mint on high with a lemon olive oil and salt and pepper.  

The White Bean Dip was lovely, smooth and paired so well on bread or with the chicken.
How refreshing and satisfying!  Great summer vibes.
"Food brings people together on many different levels.  It's nourishment of the soul and body;
 it's truly love.  ~ Giada De Laurentiis

Monday, July 8, 2019

Blackberry Balsamic BBQ Ribs

380.  Blackberries are ripening right now and we foraged for them today.  We picked roughly 5 quarts of these "black beauties".  They were somewhat sweet but there was that lovely tang to them as well. This is antioxidant heaven!  So I froze  several bags full but made sure we used them for a special dinner.
With ribs on the menu, I decided to make a Blackberry Balsamic BBQ sauce and use our fabulous blackberry balsamic from Lucero's Oil. (Which, I am sad to say, Luceros has gone out of business.)
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The flavor was outstanding!  And this was a stunning recipe both in flavor and presentation.
I also used blackberries on our salad and drizzled with blackberry balsamic and olive oil.  This was a lovely compliment along with a side of whipped cheesy sweet potatoes.
So if you see blackberries along the side of the road...don't just drive by, stop and pick some for your dinner tonight or to toss on the top of your yogurt for breakfast.
"So it is with blackberries.  If you pull too hard, you may get the berry but you will lose the sweetness of it.  On the other hand, if you leave it, it may be gone the next time you come by.
Each person must find this point of equilibrium for himself."
~  Robert Finch, "Death of a Hornet"


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