Monthly Archives: October 2015
by: Alison Hein
Last Christmas, my husband, Kevin, gifted me with a trip to beautiful and quaint Newport, Rhode Island, to attend the annual September Food & Wine Festival. I was eagerly anticipating it for the past nine months. We would be visiting the historic mansions – living it up at a cocktail party at the ill-fated Rosecliff, indulging in an elite wine dinner in The Elms’ splendorous gilded age dining room, sipping wine and tasting culinary tidbits on the vast lawn at Marble House. Maybe even meeting Jacques Pépin!
What could top all this? Our stay at the elegant, romantic Cliffside Inn! Innkeepers Nancy and Bill Bagwill have lovingly restored their stately Victorian manor house (built in 1876) that sits in the heart of the historic district just steps from the famous Newport Cliff Walk. Each room is filled with elegance and personality. Just like us, you may want to keep going back, staying in Beatrice’s Room with its cozy window seat, then the Garden Suite with private garden and giant soaking tub, etc., etc….
In nice weather, guests gather in the morning on the huge wraparound porch, where Bill and Nancy serve heavenly French-pressed coffee, fresh baked goods, and a variety of sophisticated and tasty daily breakfasts. Bill kindly let me talk my way into the kitchen one morning, where I photographed, and he orchestrated his very special Eggs Florentine recipe. Read on to learn some of Bill’s tricks so you can prepare this wonderful breakfast in bed at home. Or, better yet, go visit this one-of-a-kind bed and breakfast and ask Bill to make them for you. 😉
1 Portuguese Bolo muffin (or substitute English muffin)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons caramelized onions
1 tablespoon Never Fail Hollandaise Sauce (recipe below)
1 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
Pinch of dried culinary lavender
Pinch of salt
2 thin slices tomato
To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Try Bill’s surefire method – break eggs one at a time into a fine mesh strainer, gently roll the egg in the strainer to remove the excess loose egg whites. (This allows the eggs to cook without feathering and eliminates the need to trim). Carefully pour the eggs, one at a time, into the simmering water. Cook for about three minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. (Bill transfers the eggs to a tepid water bath to keep warm while preparing the dish.)
Cut Portuguese muffin in half and brush lightly with mayonnaise. Place cut-side down on a grill surface and cook a few minutes until nicely toasted.
Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium heat. Place fresh spinach in pan, in two separate portions. Place 1 tablespoon of caramelized onions on top of each spinach portion. Cook, for a minute or two, until spinach is wilted and onions are warmed through.
Place panko in a small dish, and stir in a pinch of lavender and a pinch of salt. Lightly dredge one side of tomatoes with panko mixture. Place under broiler for less than one minute, until panko is lightly browned.
To plate each serving, place one half of toasted Portuguese muffin on plate. Cover muffin with one spinach / onion portion. Place two eggs on top of spinach / onion mixture and drizzle with Hollandaise sauce. Garnish with one tomato slice.
Serve hot with crispy Applewood bacon.
Makes 2 servings.
Never Fail Hollandaise Sauce
4 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ cup (1 stick) butter, bubbling hot
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it is bubbling hot. While butter is heating, combine egg yolks and lemon juice in a food processor with a couple of quick pulses. With food processor on, slowly stream in the hot butter until Hollandaise emulsifies. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and pulse the Hollandaise one more time to combine.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
If I can’t be in Paris, I can dream about it, can’t I? If you have any romantic notions and you’re any kind of dreamer, you’ve probably caught yourself wishing for a trip to Paris at some point or another. Have you never been before? I was in the ‘City of Light’ for a brief weekend more than 20 years ago, and I’ve planned to return but haven’t yet.
Wishes can come true, and if that statement is a fact, I’ll be in Paris very soon! Until then, I enjoy perusing Parisian-inspired interiors like these five beautiful bedrooms.
This French farmhouse bedroom uses chartreuse green in a bold way. Notice the old tile and the floor-to-ceiling casement window. What a stunning space!
Although this shabby chic bedroom is located in the US, it certainly oozes Parisian charm. From the ornate moldings to the chandelier and French bed, I feel as if I’ve been transported to Paris when I look at this photo.
More modern than the typical Paris home, this all-white minimalist attic bedroom still has a very French feel.
Miles away from Paris, this Vancouver bedroom borrows a few elements from the French style.
Paris or the US? Believe it or not, this fabulous country retreat by Frank de Biasi Interiors is in Upstate New York. The wall covering was custom colored and imported from France while the canopy bed, tall ceilings, and clever mix of pattern add a dash of Parisian charm.
Post by Alison Hein.
Cold, dark, rainy days like we’ve been having lately aren’t good for either photographs or bread baking. L They are, however, wonderful for fresh-baked bread eating! I have been obsessed with these pavot (poppy baguettes) since first biting into one many years ago in France. I use about ¼ cup of poppy seeds to completely cover the tops of the loaves. If you’re not as obsessed as I am, feel free to minimize, or even skip (gasp!) the pavot entirely.
Baby your dough as it rises by finding a warm, non-drafty spot in your kitchen. (Sometimes a small distance away from a pre-heated oven is just the right spot.) Don’t bang any pots or slam any doors either, and at the end of your patient waiting period, you will be rewarded with the dreary day joy of slicing into a fresh, yeasty loaf of handmade and well-tended deliciousness. Try it like they do in Europe – slather a slice with some soft, unsalted butter, then sprinkle on salt to your liking for a breakfast in bed that will cheer you and warm your heart on a dreary day.
2 cups tepid water
1 tablespoon (2 packets) dry yeast
2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, plus one egg white
1½ teaspoons fleur de sel (or sea salt)
5 cups white flour
1 tablespoon semolina flour
Oil for rising
Flour for kneading, shaping and dusting loaves
¼ cup poppy seeds
Add water to large food processor, or large bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top to cover surface. Set aside until yeast begins to activate, about 10 minutes.
Add oil, sugar, egg, fleur de sel, and one cup flour to food processor or bowl. Gently pulse on food processor dough setting or stir until mixed in. Add remaining flour, about a cup at a time, until mixed in. If using food processor, gently pulse until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Be careful not to over mix or dough will become tough. If making bread by hand, turn out onto floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon oil to large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn and flip so oiled side faces up. Cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Turn onto floured board and shape into 3 equal-sized baguettes. Sprinkle large baking tray with semolina flour. Place loaves on tray, cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let loaves rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425° about 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. Lightly brush loaves with egg white, then sprinkle poppy seeds on top to cover. Carefully make a few diagonal slashes on each loaf, using a razor blade or very sharp knife (I keep a craft knife on hand for this purpose).
Place loaves in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 3 baguettes.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
What components make up a typical bed well? A stylish headboard. A pair of bedside tables. Art above the bed. Window treatments. Accoutrements. But what about those bed walls that push the envelope, those that lack the obvious choices for a headboard but boast a custom backdrop instead? Some bed walls come adorned with built-in nightstands rather than the usual freestanding tables. Some designers think outside the box when they create a space for sIeep. I searched high and low for the most innovative bed walls I could find. Enjoy!
Industrial in design and feel, this Santa Barbara loft bedroom is like no other I’ve ever seen. A driftwood backdrop and platform feel primitive yet sophisticated. Matching nightstands blend in, and the art above the bed keeps the color palette neutral. A skateboard and guitar add a smidge of playfulness to the space.
Busy to some and inventive to others, this colorful, patterned bedside corner sets the tone for this unusual guest bedroom in Newport Beach. Notice the simplicity of the other elements in the room –– although the shag rug and ornamental dresser introduce texture and make up for the bedroom’s lack of accessories. A pouf acts as a bedside table.
No headboard is visible in this photo, so we have to assume that there isn’t one. The decorator of this Florida bedroom uses a crisp, Moroccan pattern on the pillow shams. Decorative molding creates architectural interest on the bed wall while the artwork resembles branches or coral and provides just the right amount of interest above the bed. This room is fantastic in many ways.
The feature wall in this charming East London bedroom dons black, and the headboard sports a zig-zag pattern. The silly sign as artwork somehow fits the mood, as do the light fixtures suspended by red cords.