Saturday, July 23, 2011


Dear readers,
I have transitioned to a new site. I will keep sharing my favorite simple recipes there (and more lovely things). I would love to see you there!

The Scarf and Stripe

love and cupcakes,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

strawberries, mascarpone & whole wheat bread

This could also be titled, "what you should be eating right now."

Whole wheat bread (lightly toasted), spread with creamy mascarpone cheese, and layered with ruby strawberries. For breakfast, for snack, for a quick tea sandwich.

It is just so lovely. I wish I could say I came up with this on my own.

Leopold (Hugh Jackman) made this for breakfast for Kate (Meg Ryan) in the movie Kate and Leopold. The thoughtful gesture moves her to tears and it is my favorite moment of the movie. (But I do get a bit obsessed with food ideas from movies. Do you have a favorite food/movie moment? I'd love to hear about it.)

I love the simple perfection of summer food.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

a few Easter ideas

I hope you find yourself surrounded on Easter with those you love.
If you're in need a little last minute Easter celebration meal inspiration, I submit the following: 

I think these would be quite charming on an Easter table.

It would not be Easter dinner if I wasn't peeling 10 pounds of potatoes to make this.

This has been a regular go-to spring dessert and the tart crust can be made in advance.  

Finally, some bits of leftover ham and Easter dinner veggies could find a new purpose in this dish.

Happy Easter !

lemon blackberry tart

This is gorgeous and simple. I have brought it out for a number of events and people always love the combination of the lemony curd and the buttery crust. I love it because the crust can be made well in advance and the lemon curd and berries are just assembled at the end.

These pictures are not too fantastic and simply do not do it justice. My excuse? This tart was mere seconds away from having the lid of my cake carrier snapped over it in a rush to get out the front door for work.

Do I think homemade lemon curd is better than store bought? Absolutely. However, when pressed for time, energy and plain sanity, there are a number of lovely options at the store. My personal favorite is Trader Joes lemon curd. (It made a memorable appearance here.)

The shortbread tart crust recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa.

lemon blackberry tart

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1 10.5 ounce jar of lemon curd
1 to 2 pints of blackberries

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

2) Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.

3) Butter one side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes mores, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Note from Ina: The tart shell can be baked a day ahead, and the tart can be assembled a few hours before serving. Never refrigerate a baked shell or a finished tart. (Ina is very correct about not refrigerating a baked shell. It gets very tough and seems to pick up every flavor in the fridge and not in a good way.)

4) Spread the tart with the lemon curd (about 3/4ths of the 10.5 ounce jar) and arrange the blackberries on top in whatever fashion you fancy. Sometimes I like a nice neat pattern, other times a shimmery jumbled heap of jeweled fruit. Serve immediately.

Friday, April 22, 2011

vegetable pot pies with puff pastry

 Chicken pot pies were a big deal when I was a little girl. They were generally only served when my parents were going out for the night and we were left in a babysitters care. My mom would pop them out of their individual cardboard boxes and into the oven before she started to get dressed up for the evening. It was actually pretty genius of her because we were so obsessed with them, it distracted us from the fact that our parents were going some where without us. They were of course the premade, frozen kind. But we could not have cared less. We loved the buttery crumbly crust and savory gravy. 

A couple years ago, I attempted a homemade chicken pot pie and it did not turn out so well. It made me pot pie shy and I have not attempted once since. One of the joys of learning to cook is revisiting a recipe that was a previous failure only to see how my own skills have grown. This recipe was such a success I feel that I have to share it. 

The recipe originally is for chicken pot pies but the ones pictured are all vegetable. I have a good friend who showed up at my doorstep the day before with a sack of fresh gorgeous veggies from her garden, including some lovely little turnips (see below- isn't it pretty?) I quite like turnips and they found a nice home in these pies (along with some diced butternut squash, shallot, and peas.) 

 As we move into spring and summer harvest I like to have recipes around that lend themselves to adapting to whatever produce is loveliest now. I think this is one of those recipes.  The original recipe is from Martha Stewart Living.
vegetable pot pies with puff pastry

1 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 thyme sprigs
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
5 teaspoons cornstarch whisked with 2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 package (14 ounces) puff pastry, cut into four squares
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook shallot in oil in a large pot over medium heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Add turnip, potato, and butternut squash. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. 

2) Add wine; simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock; bring to a boil. Add thyme and peas. Season with salt and pepper. Add cornstarch mixture and cream. Bring to a simmer; cook until thick, about 5 minutes.

 3) Divide mixture among four 6-ounce ramekins; top with pastry. Brush with egg. Cut a hole into each to vent. Bake on a baking sheet until golden, 12 to 14 minutes.

4) When finished baking, wallow in their delicious adorableness! 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

potato leek soup

Some days are better than others. I came to this conclusion recently when, around 4pm, I realized that the day I was currently in was not so great and had little chance of being salvaged. And yet I also realized that I can't have great days (days of bright sparkling fireworks of beauty, love, grace and butter) without crummy days thrown in along the way. Some how this knowledge helps me release the crummy days a bit more easily.
I also thought of this poem by Longfellow:

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark and dreary; 
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering past, 
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life a little rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

For me, potatoes are my comfort food. Mashed, roasted, baked, fried- I will take it all. This soup is simple to put together and the reward for minimal effort is velvety smooth and savory. Interestingly enough, unlike so many potato soups, there is no cream. I promise you will not miss it.

Note: aside from being great comfort food, this is also great party food. We had a Halloween party one year and I served little tea cups of this soup on the buffet. I loved the moment when I turned to see a couple of gentlemen guests carrying tea cups back into the kitchen for refills (several times.)

The recipe is from The Joy of Cooking.

potato leek soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large leeks (white part only), cleaned thoroughly and chopped
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cups chicken stock

1) Melt the butter in a soup pot over low heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned. This will take about 20 minutes.

2) Stir in the potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.

3) Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (If feeling fancy, garnish with chives.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

chocolate covered strawberry cake

This is not a humble shy kind of a cake. It is not a quiet restrained kind of a cake. It is a show stopping ta-da! kind of a cake. I like to think that if this cake could talk it would greet me with a "why hello sugar" and a sassy wink. This is not the kind of treat to serve to someone that you are just okay about. This cake a declaration of love, true friendship, and genuine affection.

I think it would be a very appropriate over the top gesture to make this for someone for Valentine's day. See if you get a little "hello sugar" yourself.

chocolate covered strawberry cake
The cake is three main components: north douglas chocolate cake, strawberry buttercream, and chocolate ganache. The creamy light strawberry buttercream frosting is sandwiched between two layers of moist chocolate cake. Then a good dosing of chocolate ganache is poured over all. Each component on it's own is pretty easily done. It is the combination of them together that creates this magical experience.

North Douglas chocolate cake
(link) Follow the recipe for the cake portion only of the North Douglas chocolate cake.

strawberry buttercream frosting
(this recipe is from Martha Stewart)
So, this recipe is a bit fiddly. I will admit to that. It is not particularly tricky or difficult, but it does require some patience to stand in front of a mixer and drop in each little piece of butter and allow it to fully incorporate. But, wow oh wow is it worth it. Friends flip out over this frosting. It is like strawberry cloud heavenly light.

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, pureed (blitz the strawberries in a food processor)

1) Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2) Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking well after each addition.

3) Switch to a paddle attachment. With mixer on low, add strawberry puree, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, or cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

chocolate ganache
(this recipe is from the genius Ina Garten)

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1) Cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

2) When smooth, remove from heat and set aside. Let it cool slightly.

cake assembly
1 pint of strawberries

1) Once the cake has cooled completely, take one of the layers and place it top side down on the serving dish.

2) Pile 3 cups of the strawberry buttercream frosting onto this layer and smooth out to the sides. Be a bit gentle with the buttercream because we did spend some time getting it nice and fluffy. It would sad to lose that to spatula smashing.

3) Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream frosting, top side up. Take the remaining 2 cups of buttercream frosting and fill in the side space between the chocolate cake layers. (Note: do not put any of the buttercream on the top of the final cake layer. This layer will be covered with ganache).

 4) Pour the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake. Gravity will probably pull the gorgeous chocolatey-ness down the edges of the cake, but if not a gentle nudging from a spatula will do the trick. 

5) Wash and cut the tops off the pint of strawberries. Blot the cut top of the strawberry on a paper towel and then arrange cut side down on the chocolate ganache cake.

6) Step back and marvel at the general gorgeous splendor. Share with someone you love.