Happy almost Easter! This year I decided to go with a table setting that was more over the top than usual. There is no room for food so you need to do it buffet style! Check out the blog article I did for Martha Stewart here.
Makes 12 Madeleines
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1teaspoon orange blossom water
Butter the molds lightly with 1 teaspoon softened butter (leftover butter paper works perfectly)
1. Adjust oven rack to low center position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Sift flours and salt together in small bowl; set aside.
2. Beat yolks with whole egg in bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mixuntil the color changes to light yellow and gets fluffy, about 3 minutes. Next add the sugar and vanilla bean paste and beat until ribbons form in the batter, about 3 minutes. Lightly fold in flour mixture, then melted butter. ( do not over mix )
3. Spoon batter into a piping bag and pipe enough batter to just fill to the top of each mold. (oruse a spoon to fill the molds) Bake until tops are golden and cakes spring back when pressed lightly, about 8 minutes. Transfer the madeleines to a sheet of parchment to cool.
Savory bread pudding or "strata" as we call it in my family is one of our favorite easy brunch go to dishes. I love this because you can customize the flavor with whatever you happen to have on hand and it also freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. Try this muffin tin version for easy to serve brunch appetizers this Easter and you will wonder why you never did this before.
Easter Egg Bread Pudding
14-16 oz sourdough cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1 pound Italian sausage
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups half & half
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
6 sprigs of thyme
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
Pre heat the oven to 350˚
Butter a 12 slot standard muffin tin. In a large skillet brown the sausage and red pepper, transfer to a plate and hold.
Mix the eggs, dijon, thyme, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Add the half & half and mix in the bread, sausage and peppers with a wooden spoon. Using a large ice cream scoop portion the mixture into the greased muffin tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Top with cheese and melt in the oven for 3 minutes, finish with chives.
You can assemble the bread pudding the night before and bake in the morning for an easy no fuss brunch.
Serves 4-6 people
1 4-5 lb. fully cooked, spiral-cut ham on the bone
6 garlic cloves peeled
8 ounces blood orange marmalade
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
zest of 1 blood orange,
1/2 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
Preheat the oven to 350°
In a glass measuring cup add the garlic, mustard, marmalade, blood orange zest, and blood orange juice and blend with an immersion blender. ( you could use a standard blender as well) Add the brown sugar and mix to dissolve the sugar. Place the ham in a roasting pan (smaller is better so the glaze wont burn on the bottom. Pour the glaze over the ham and bake for 30 minutes, then baste with glaze from the bottom (this gives you a mixture of hard crack and sticky) Bake another 30 minutes or until the ham is warm and the glaze looks delicious. Move to a platter and garnish with blood orange segments and bay leaves. Serve either warm or at room temperature.
Mini Zucchini Pancakes
3 medium zucchini
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoonfresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Preheat the oven to 275°F
Grate the zucchini using the large holes of a box grater. Beat the eggs, add salt & pepper. Add in the zucchini, leeks and 3/4 of the flour and the baking powder.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add oil to the pan. When the oil is hot (shimmering) lower the heat to mediumand drop small spoonfuls of batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven, and continue to cook the pancakes. Serve hot.
Watch how I made them:
When you live somewhere a long time it can be hard to have perspective on how to style it. We lived in New York for two years and when we moved back I put almost everything back where it was. When you have a friend who has a leg up on decorating, offer to make them lunch in exchange for some fresh eyes. That is exactly what I did when I invited my ever so chic friend Audrey over to help me switch things up for Spring. (She brought lunch too! I owe her big time)
I had this idea that if I took all of my decorating do-dads, books, candles, vases everything and put it all on one table I could have her “shop" from them and put things in new fresh spots that I would not have thought of. When you try this yourself make sure your surfaces are bare so your friend doesn't have any pre-conceived ideas of where to put things.
But as they say change is a good thing so here are the before and afters.
Here is the coffee table which became a collection of every random thing you can burn to clear energy: sage, palo santo, candles...
This is the entry of the cottage:
Here is Matts bedside table:
This Is my bedside table:
Here are a few extra things she put together, I love how she makes everything have its own little story. I was so inspired when she started putting simple boxwood greens everywhere from the garden. Im sure a lot of us have greens lying around (or room in your ourse for some shears!)
Since we did this I actually have a new appreciation for the things we have and I am enjoying their new homes. What do you think would you do your own mini re style with a freind?
There are plenty of people that just love to clean, I am not those people. Regardless if you like it or not a clean space is guaranteed to improve your overall mood and probably your sanity. As I write this I have laundry to fold , a dishwasher to empty and my office could use some love. But the bed is made, and there is laundry actually in process so I guess I am ahead (I’m ahead right? If not by the time cocktail hour rolls around I will be)
The cleaning bucket has to be one of the most brilliant things because you can have everything right where you need it at all times. Choose a bucket that is the right size for your space, my house is small but has a lot of different surfaces so I went with this medium oval bucket. Fill the bucket with all of the products to get your place sparkling.
Here is what is in mine:
Mrs. Meyers All Purpose Cleaner
When I was working in the kitchen at Bouchon in New York we would do a top to bottom clean at the end of every shift. Yes not at the end of the day but the end of EVERY shift! Needless to say I learned a few things doing all of that cleaning. One takeaway was working top down, start on the upper shelf, wipe down, clean reset and keep going until you reach the floor. If you have open shelving, bookcases or simply window mouldings start on those upper areas first and work your way down, the idea is that you won't be wasting time re cleaning anything.
I am writing this tip so I can take my own advice, divide and conquer. How many of us have been “cleaning” and we wind up on the floor looking at our highschool yearbook for 30 minutes only to look up ands realise that every room is in mid clean and your house look like you were robbed. (please tell me I'm not alone here, please) To avoid this and get to things much faster start and finish one room at a time and don't stop until that room is totally done.
I hope these tips inspired you to take on a good Spring clean, I'm no Marie Kondo but
I do appreciate a clean house. Please share ANY cleaning wisdom you might have so we can all get to work:
We have all probably been to a dinner party that was really off, like really off. Like you walk into the house and you could perform complex surgery it's so bright, or the music is so random you feel like you are in a coffee house from the 90’s.There is so much that can go wrong but when you are throwing a dinner party there are a few details that can really make you look like you know what you are doing. I don't care if you are an accountant with the creativity of a paper cup or the next Ina Garten these are the BASICS:
Tea lights- for the love of all that is good on the earth please stock up on tea lights. The gentil flicker of a candle makes any space feel more relaxed and elegant (yes I said elegant I love that word, Im bringing it back)
scented candle in bathroom- let's face it none of us really love using other peoples bathrooms so make it easy on your guests and hide all of your stuff and light a good candle. A bathroom without a scented candle is camping to me.
Music- there is no excuse for bad music these days, with things like Pandora, Spotify, Sonos the music options are endless and easier than ever. My new favorite dinner music is Peggy Lee radio (thanks Dawn from )
Dimmers- this is where I draw the line in the sand dear readers this is the place. You MUST dim and dim often. Full blast overhead light is good in one place and that is an interrogation room on CSI. So why do I drive around at night and see these disastrous lighting moments all the time, the lights are so bright I'm getting a suntan. I might just walk around one day handing out dimmers as a public service. Until then you can pick these up:
Many times I come early to a get together to help set up, it's really my favorite part. But I discovered that most people don't have cocktail napkins. This is so simple and makes a difference. I have both paper and cloth but my favorites are these disposable napkins on a roll.
Looking for a wine opener is such a waste of valuable drinking time, that's why I have 5 or more wine openers around.
Long skinny platters are great to have on hand for everything from cheese and crackers to small appetizers. You can get them with a rack and stack them to add height or mix in some silver bowls to make your dips pop.
Unless you are still in college (if so wear your sunscreen!) make sure you have enough wine glasses when you host a party (some extras too in case one breaks)There is no excuse not to have enough REAL wine glasses, they have them at the dollar store folks.
Now I want to know your ideas for making a people think you know how to host a party below:
It is so easy for the years to go by and the clothes to pile up and the routines to get made. And then one day we look in the mirror, (no really get in there) and realise that it might be time to splurge on a new lipstick, those white tees are not white anymore and that thing we call a bag and take to the gym is embarrassing.
If this sounds like you (or me, or both of us) it's time for a makeover. As someone who has done countless makeovers in my career here are my 10 signs it's time:
Dull hair color- your hair color has as much pop as flat water
Dry skin- You had a facial that one time you got that Groupon, oh wait you never actually went...
Nails- you think getting a manicure is for special occasions, you woke up today, its special occasion.
Pale- (not in a Nicole Kidman way)
Basic basics- your white tee shirts were white when the Iphone 4 was a thing.
Time warp- you look at old pictures and basically look the same but older, time for a change up.
Mellow yellow- with our love of coffee comes the task of erasing the signs (teeth whitening) C
Smells like teen spirit- you could be wearing the same fragrance you wore when you got carded because people actually thought you might not be 21, lets update. I love this scent subscription service Scentbird.
Your haircut is not actually a haircut. Its hair that gets a trim on the ends because your are "growing it out" let it go and try something new like an actual cut.
You are reading a blog post that says you need a makeover this is the 10th sign you need one.
If you fall into any of these categories (I sure do, booking a spray tan stat!) the time is now to shake things up, let's not wait for a friend to nominate you for a makeover, give one to yourself, you deserve it.
How many times have you walked into your space and felt like it was so blank, no life to it. ( or let's be honest this might be the reason you never have anyone over. I am a total nester, the type who re decorated my room growing up constantly (much to my mother's dismay) and thought of every detail. I actually put together a coffee bar in my room to feel like I was in an episode of Friends. (dork) Over the years I have ditched the espresso machine in my bedroom but I have put together some key elements that I feel really makes a space feel alive. Whether you live in a studio apartment or mansion in Beverly Hills there are some details you can add to your space to make it feel like home.
Lighting a proper candle seems like the easiest thing in the world until you come home exhausted and can barely feed yourself before crashing on the couch with a glass of wine to watch yet another Netflix series. If you actually light the candle it will transform your space dramatically and make your home feel warm.
We are totally guilty of having no photos around and making our house look like a staged catalogue. But great photos make a space feel so uniquely you, there are so many sites that where you can print your own & get them framed all in one spot. Bedside tables are a great home for these and also a gallery wall is also fabulous ( I have been “planning “ a gallery wall for years and have yet to hang a single one!)
Art & photo books are the ultimate “twofer”. You not only get to enjoy them while snuggled up on the sofa, they can also become a defacto tray, or pop of color in a sad corner. Just be careful because buying these things can get out of hand. Check out my bookcase overhaul where I had to take myself to art book rehab (isn't the first step admitting you have a problem?)
I know you are going to give me some long story about why having cloth napkins is so impractical, I will defend this to the end. Cloth napkins have to be the single most affordable way to show yourself and others that you care about the way you live. It's that extra effort that takes your home from empty and sad to personal and lovely. (I would love to know what you think of this one in the comments down below)
I do not have fresh flowers in my house everyday, however the days I do are wonderful. If I was insanely rich I would have them delivered weekly, nothing crazy just simple fresh flowers tucked here and there. Until that day I will stick to Trader Joe's, the farmers market and the occasional downtown flower market. My favorite spots to have flowers at home are: bedside table, bathroom, coffee table, dining table, home office and a single stem on my coffee tray ( yes I have a coffee tray, it might be time for one now actually)
If you have pets you understand why this one made the list. We have two dogs Baxter & Brighton and they are our babies (trust me they get more medical care and haircuts than I do) and just hearing them rush to the door or drink out of the water bowl makes our house feel alive. If you live in an a place where you cannot have pets or they are just for you I totally get it (they are a huge responsibility and considerable expense) I just had to share.
Giving your home a name is just so fun and can really make your space more personal. I have heard some awful and hilarious ones. We came up with Gingham Cottage after a trip to Big Bear where we made up our ideal lake house, it would have two jet skis wrapped in gingham with saddle brown seats. Since we found this amazing cottage in Laurel Canyon first we used the name for it. When we moved to NY for two years my friend Brian (who is brilliant at coming up with house names) picked out Gingham Place. We have all sorts of names for homes we hope to have someday but the next one is going to be Gingham Sands (Palm Springs!)
Adding house plants is such a nice touch, I never really payed attention to them until I stayed with my sister in Oakland. I realised how much they really changed the space of her rental and made it feel like home. She has reminders on her phone so she remembers to water them. I have been able to keep this pine thing alive since before christmas so please give me a gold star.
When we lived in New York we decided to invest in a Sonos wireless speaker system. It totally changed our experience living there because we would set the ocean waves on while we slept (to drown out the horrible garbage truck noises). Having music all around sets the mood immediately, I do “old lady jazz after 5 (like Rosemary Clooney, Billie Holiday) for cocktail hour. The best part is all you have to do is plug it in so taking the speakers back to LA was a cinch.
Finally we have come to an absolute must have, dimmers. Every single light in the house I don't care if it is the laundry room (if you have a laundry “room” I secretly hate you ) need a dimmer. There are so many options now, you can have wireless light bulbs, plug in dimmers, or legit wired in dimmers. If you are in a rental just see if you can have an electrician come in and install dimmers most landlords don't mind as long as they are licenced.
I do hope that reading this long list has inspired you to try one 2, or all 10 ideas. Now let the floodgates open, what did I miss? (leave a comment, I will read them and respond I promise!)