Monthly Archives: December 2015
Breakfast in Bed – Vasilopita
by Alison Hein.
In Greek, the word “pita” can mean pie, cake or scone, in addition to the popular flatbread we know and love. In this case let’s go with “cake”. When you add the term “Vasil” to its front, our cake becomes St. Basil’s Cake, traditionally served at the Greek New Year. There’s a story that goes along with the cake:
The city of Caesarea was under siege. St. Basil, the archbishop, called upon the townspeople to contribute their valuables to stop the siege. The people freely gave all their gold, silver, jewelry and coins, and when the enemy learned of this, he was so embarrassed he called off the siege. St. Basil wanted to return the unpaid ransom, but with no way of knowing the rightful owners, he baked everything into loaves of bread and distributed these evenly around the city. Miraculously, each resident was returned exactly what he or she had contributed.
The story changes with the region, as does the cake. Sometimes it is sweeter, or made with yeast. It may incorporate lemons, oranges, or apples. Usually it calls for “makhlepi”, crushed sour cherry pits that are difficult to find in these parts. The numeric year may be written on the top of the cake with nuts, cloves or icing. Almost always, a coin is wrapped in foil and inserted in the batter before baking – an extra blessing in the new year for the lucky recipient.
On New Year’s Day, the cake is cut and servings distributed, starting with the eldest member of the family down to the youngest. A slice may be cut for St. Basil, the church, the poor, etc. Or, a slice may be cut for a Greek New Year’s breakfast in bed.
Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος!
½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butte
½ cup sugar
1 orange (zested and juiced)
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sesame seeds
Coin wrapped in foil
Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease a large spring-form pan with the tablespoon of butter and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together remaining stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in two eggs, one at a time, until mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in the rind and juice of the orange and lemon.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into cake batter, a little at a time, until batter is thick and smooth. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Insert coin wrapped in foil, if using. Use a spatula to smooth top. Lightly beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water and brush on top of cake. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of cake.
Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until cake is golden brown and cooked through when tested with a toothpick.
Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.
Makes 1 small cake, about 8 to 10 slices
Post by Tracy Kaler.
One-room living spaces come with advantages such as more floor space for entertaining and an open feel. However, creating a sleep space can prove challenging unless you implement one of these five suggestions to define the bedroom area.
Tall bookshelves can easily separate the living room from the bedroom, and act as storage at the same time. If the bookcase is open from both sides, you’ll have a library feel in both spaces. If the case has a closed back on one side, be sure it’s finished and not raw wood. Consider painting the back of the bookcase a fun accent color to add interest.
A screen or freestanding room divider is the next best thing to constructing a wall, and it’s a lot less messy. Luckily, these accessories come in most every style and color, so you’re bound to find one that’s a match for your decorating style. If not, design a custom screen instead.
Hanging curtains can create a cocoon type effect for your bedroom and add softness to your living room. Install hardware on your ceiling and hang away. Want light to pass through? Use unlined sheers rather than opaque panels.
A temporary or sliding wall can turn your open studio space into a one-bedroom. This option is particularly appealing if you live with a roommate or even a significant other and sometimes desire privacy.
The right furniture arrangement
Arranging furnishings in the correct way can designate space. Place living room furniture –– such as a sofa and club chair or two loveseats –– on one side of your room, and place bedroom pieces on the other. Separate the two areas with a desk or credenza, and visually, you’ll feel as if you’re living in two rooms rather than one.
Post by Alison Hein.
Congratulations to Kathy Cassel Marino and Bonny Shampang Zalewski, the two winners of our Charles P. Rogers cookbook giveaway! We hope you both enjoy the book, and would love to hear your impressions after you receive your copies!
Now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging…
Our good friends Nick and Vicky came to our home for dinner last weekend. We hadn’t seen them for a while, so I wanted to do something simple (so we would have more time to visit) but special (because we love them and it’s a festive time of year). We put together a cheerful cheeseboard and Nick’s favorite artichoke dip for appetizers.
Our first course was creamy vegetable soup, followed by a crisp, palate-cleansing tri-color salad. Kevin then prepared an elegant entrée of steamed lobster (growing up in New Hampshire has its benefits J) which we served with drawn butter and lots of cracking implements.
After much eating, drinking and gabbing, we settled in to enjoy our dessert of Apples en Croute. The French term “en croute” refers to a food that has been wrapped in pastry dough and baked in the oven. When you do this with apples, you get a homey, seasonal dessert – fresh-baked and warm and fragrant. Your friends and family will enjoy eating their own individual, pie-like creation.
Use pre-made pie dough to simplify the process even further. Fiddle around with the types of apples. Experiment with a variety of fillings. Make Apples en Croute after dinner as a homey, seasonal dessert; or first thing in the morning, for a simple, special breakfast in bed.
Pie crust (recipe below)
3 small, tart apples (about 4 ounces each)
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 325°.
Roll out pie crust and cut into 6 6-inch circles. Place on ungreased baking tray.
Peel and core apples. Cut each apple in half horizontally, so circled core remains intact. Mix sugar and cinnamon together. Roll each apple half in sugar mixture, and place on prepared pie crust circles.
Mix together pecans and golden raisins, and stuff into apple cores. Dot each apple with butter. Bring dough up around apples and pinch together. (You may also tie with baking twine, just be sure to remove before serving.)
Beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush egg mixture all over the dough-wrapped apple. Sprinkle each apple with any remaining cinnamon sugar. Place apples in oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until crust is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream on the side, if you like.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup water
Crust – sift together flour and salt. Remove 1/3 cup flour mixture and add 1/3 cup water to make paste. Cut better into small cubes and cut into remaining flour mixture. Mix all ingredients together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes. Cut dough in half. Roll out each half. Makes enough for one covered 9” pie.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Expecting guests over the Christmas holidays? Not only will you want to be sure the room is tidy and has all the basic conveniences to make your guests comfortable, but it won’t hurt to throw in a few extras to make their holiday stay more memorable.
Keep a snack waiting.
After traveling, guests might be slightly peckish or even completely famished. Leave a few snacks in the bedroom –– cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, and bottled water should satisfy. If you’re not available when your guests arrive, leave instructions in the room for food offerings in your pantry or fridge.
Have fresh bath towels.
If your guests had a long flight, they might want to shower as soon as they arrive. Have fresh towels (bath and hand, and wash cloths) as well as plush robes ready and waiting in the guest room.
Write down remote control instructions.
Remote controls can vary among networks. Write down detailed instructions for your guests, so they don’t have any questions when it comes to turning on the television, cable, and DVD player.
Guests can’t feel very welcome when they have no place to unpack and hang their clothing. Be sure your closets have ample hangers and hanging space, and clear a few drawers for foldable garments. Make certain that closets or under-bed storage guarantee adequate space to tuck luggage away.
Add a touch of evergreen.
Add a wreath, small tree, fresh pine branches, magnolia leaves, or some other scented greenery that evokes the holiday spirit.
Offer holiday music
Besides the obvious in-room television, a CD player cranking holiday tunes when guests arrive will put your overnight housemates in a jolly, festive mood, ready for December 25th.
by Alison Hein.
Today I have some important instructions for you – click on this link to the Charles P. Rogers FB page and “like” today’s post for a chance to win a Breakfast in Bed Holiday Cookbook! Go do it right now, then come back and read the story: 🙂
Several weeks ago, I received a call from Linda Klein, the President of Charles P. Rogers. Linda wanted to create a special holiday gift and had the idea to compose a cookbook from my Breakfast in Bed posts. She wanted to know what I thought.
“Are you kidding?”, I responded. “I’m honored and delighted!”
So we gathered a small team and began work on the production process. Jeannine had the great idea to create a menu format, Olga worked with the photos and constructed the layout, and Jess went through it all with a fine-toothed comb. I just did whatever they told me to.
The finished product is a lustrous 8-inch square hardcover book, with vibrant, colorful photographs and menu options for holiday breakfast, brunch, or sweets and treats – the perfect holiday gift!
During our work on this project, we had lots of lively discussions regarding which recipes belonged in the book. Many made an appearance, then were dropped to make way for something the team liked better. But there was one that always remained everyone’s favorite – Million Dollar Pound Cake. And so we reprint that recipe here, and wish you much luck in the Charles P. Rogers Breakfast in Bed for the Holidays cookbook!
NOTE: Two cookbooks will be given away. You will have until midnight on Sunday, December 20, 2015 to respond. Winners will be announced on the Charles P. Rogers FB page shortly thereafter.
Million Dollar Pound Cake
Mix together an obscene amount of butter, sugar, and flour; add a hefty slug of hazelnut extract. Bake for a little more than an hour and you’ll have a breakfast in bed that looks and tastes like a million dollars!
½ pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
Powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top of cake
Preheat oven to 325°. Generously grease a large tube pan and set aside.
Add butter and sugar to a large bowl, and cream together until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until batter is light and smooth. Pour milk into small bowl and stir in vinegar. Mix flour and baking soda together. Alternately add milk mixture and flour mixture into batter, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Stir in vanilla and hazelnut extract.
Spoon batter into tube pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack for 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan and invert onto serving plate. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.
Makes 1 large cake, about 20 slices.