Yearly Archives: 2015
Post by Alison Hein.
We had some friends over for a barbecue last week, so I bought some pistachio nuts for people to pick on while dinner was being grilled. The pistachios were already roasted, salted and shelled – my kind of nut! Sadly, they weren’t very good. The flavor was there, but the nuts were mushy. Almost as if they needed more roasting. Thinking about roasting, then re-roasting the pistachios made me think of biscotti – the traditional Italian twice-baked cookie. Could a twice-roasted pistachio be revitalized in a twice-baked cookie?
Biscotti, literally “twice-baked” in Latin, were first made centuries ago, and are said to have been a staple food of the Roman Legions. Very dry bread products can be stored and last a long time – good for travel and war. Antonio Mattei, a pastry chef from Prato, “rediscovered” biscotti in the latter part of the nineteenth century. His variation, now considered the traditional biscotti recipe, is still made today. Ingredients include only flour, sugar, eggs, almonds and pine nuts.
Unlike the traditional version, my recipe includes butter, baking powder, and of course, pistachio nuts. Your version, if you feel like experimenting, can include anything from lemon peel to chocolate chips.
It took some time to make the biscotti, baking them twice with a cool down period in between. The end result? A crisp, sweetish cookie with a hint of pistachio flavor and a satisfying nutty crunch. Eureka! Yet another biscotti rediscovery and an accidental poem:
Brew some coffee,
Steep some tea,
Then feel free
To dip your (breakfast in bed) biscotti!
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pistachio nuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly each time. Mix in vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and pistachio nuts. Dough should be thick and moldable.
Wet or flour hands, split dough in half, and shape into two long, mounded loaves (approximately 8 inches long by 3½ inches wide). Place loaves on prepared baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer to wire racks and let cool at least 15 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, slice loaves into roughly ¾-inch slices. Place slices cut-side down on parchment paper and bake for another 30 minutes or so, turning biscotti once during baking, until golden brown. Remove to wire rack and cool.
Makes about 20 to 25 biscotti.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
A great event for American children’s literature occurred on this day in 1966. Illustrator and author Brian Selznick was born! Perhaps you have read one of his remarkable picture book-meets-novels, Wonderstruck or The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Hugo Cabret is an amazing novel all about magic and early filmmakers, automata and a boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. It has huge segments that read like a silent film. It was made into a pretty good movie by Martin Scorsese. He has also illustration literally zillions of books for other authors. Okay, maybe not zillions, but a number of books. My favorites is The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins which tells the story of the British gentleman who assembled the first dinosaur bones into what he believed them to have looked like. Famously (well, famously if you were a dinsoaur nerd as a kid) he thought the iguanadon walked on fours and had a horn on its nose, like a giant iguana/rhinoceros mashup. We now know it actually has spikes on its thumbs, goodness knows why.
Another great book he illustrated was When Marian Sang about the amazing African American singer Marian Anderson who was forbidden from performing places due to her color. It is a wonderful story and beautifully illustrated.
There are more books that he has illustrated and/or written than I can list here but I encourage you to fill your child’s or nephew’s or your own head with the fantastic drawings and stories of David Selznick.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Pardon me while I pull myself together. I just went to see what year Labyrinth was released, which gave me palpitations. Next year, the iconic movie, starring David Bowie and a bunch of Muppet-esque creatures, turns THIRTY YEARS OLD. Ouch.
Well, let’s just put that aside until next year.
I don’t know about where you live, but in Portland, summer marks another Movies in the Park series, with a different city park hosting a viewing of a movie. They range from new blockbusters to classics such as Wizard of Oz and everything in between. I’m pretty sure that Labyrinth is on the docket every year.
Starring David Bowie as the Goblin King Jareth, and Jennifer Connelly as discontented 15-year-old Sarah, the rest of the cast is made up of dozens of whimsical, weird, and sometimes creepy creatures from mind of Jim Henson, who pretty much single-handedly created my childhood. When Sarah has to watch her half-brother Toby, she is deeply resentful. So much so that she takes a page from the play she is studying a part for, Labyrinth. She tells the Goblin King to come and take him away. And he does.
Suddenly remorseful (who would have thought it would actually WORK?) Sarah now must find her way through an insane Muppet-laden labyrinth to get to Toby, in the goblin city at the center. On the way she meets friends, strange strangers, and a few who are out to get her.
If you haven’t seen this 80’s classic, or haven’t seen it in a while, it’s great movie to watch on a picnic blanket with a spread of snacks, or in bed with a bowl of popcorn.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
It’s not uncommon to find Leopard, Zebra, and Cheetah prints in traditional and contemporary rooms. In fact, animal prints are often considered classic –– a pair of pillows, a throw, or an area rug can swiftly add punch or personality to any interior.
Animal prints can make a room feel less serious or more luxurious; they’re versatile and adaptable. With the above in mind, it’s easy to understand why these bold, earthy patterns never go out of style. Let’s explore how we can successfully use animal prints in bedrooms.
Ralph Lauren zebra pillows create a soft backing against a wooden headboard in this London home. The elephant art above the bed ties all of the elements together. I like the style of the bedside lamps, but I would’ve selected a different pattern or a plain finish rather than more zebra, allowing the print on the bed to be the star.
Pairing pink with animal prints isn’t the most obvious choice, but the duo creates a dynamic interior in this Connecticut bedroom. Beyond the artwork, the animal print bed and pillows are the only pattern in the space. The Roman shades help soften the windows and allow light to filter in.
Burberry and leopard complement each other nicely in his Little Rock bedroom by Tobi Fairley Interior Design. This room is a fantastic example of how to combine patterns with ease.
A cowhide adds a whim of sophistication to this child’s bedroom. With a few small changes, the space can easily transition to an adult bedroom in the future, if desired.
Post by: Alison Hein
Here’s another wondrous idea from my friend Iva – Fig n’Feta Toast. Who knew the flavors of fig and feta go together like peanut butter and jelly, like salt and pepper, like prosciutto and melon? It’s a perfect pairing, a delicate secret, an idea I wish I’d thought of. 😉
In Iva’s native Albania, breakfast can be as easy as toasting a thick slice of crusty bread, then schmearing with a swipe of butter, a dollop of fig marmalade, and a generous hunk of creamy feta cheese. It’s warm and toasty, sweet and salty. I gobbled mine up in seconds.
I was able to purchase a good fig spread in a local specialty grocery, but if you can’t find any, try ordering online. Dalmatia Imports makes a very nice fig spread (as well as other interesting fruit condiments and tapenades) which can be ordered from igourmet.com. There is hardly any sweetener added, so the spread has a rich, natural fruit flavor. Try it, and you will soon find yourself experimenting – fig spread adds sweetness and dimension to sandwiches, pastries, cheese dips, even ice cream!
But for now let’s stick with breakfast. Iva recommends a tall glass of steamed milk to go with the Fig n’Feta Toast. “No coffee. Just steamed milk,” she says. “I know it’s not a common drink in this country, but it perfectly complements the sweet and salty, fruity and cheesy toast.”
What have you got to lose? Try Iva’s perfect pairing of fig n’feta for a wondrous breakfast in bed!
4 slices thick bread
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fig marmalade, jam, or spread
4 slices feta cheese
Toast bread to a light golden brown. Spread butter evenly on toast slices. Top with fig spread and a slice of feta cheese. Serve while still warm, accompanied by fruit and a glass of steamed milk.
Makes 2 servings.