Breakfast in Bed – Corsican Chestnut Cake

Corsican Chestnut Cake 9

Post by Alison Hein.

Brian B, our favorite Chief Operating Officer at Charles P. Rogers & Co., has tasked me with coming up with a fabulous cake recipe for Halloween. Well, this isn’t it, but it is a cake, and here’s what got me started thinking about it:

Brian asks me to think of a great idea…

My mind is blank…

I start googling Halloween cakes but am not inspired by my findings…

I turn to my old cookbooks and start leafing through…

I remember Rosemary Cookies, an old Halloween tradition of baking cookies into shapes for remembrance…

And then I remember Corsican Chestnut Cake, a version strewn with rosemary and pine nuts.

Corsican Chestnut Cake 1

Also known as Pisticcini, this in-between sweet and savory cake recipe was adapted from The Book of Bread by Judith and Evan Jones. There is a long history of growing chestnuts in Corsica, where the flour is used to produce bread, pancakes, porridge, and traditional polenta. Oh yeah, and cake.

Chestnut flour is rich, dense, and sweetish, and does not suit everyone’s palate. Some cakes are baked with butter and milk and sometimes a mixture of white flour, but I like the simplicity of just a couple of eggs to create a light, firm dough. Fresh rosemary, pine nuts, and a splash of sea salt adorn the top of the cake and add balance. Try a thin slice, served warm, with a strong cup of black tea for a Corsican breakfast in bed.

P.S. Stay tuned for Brian’s cake!

Corsican Chestnut Cake 2

Ingredients

2 cups chestnut flour (available in Italian specialty shops, gourmet shops, or online)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Corsican Chestnut Cake 4

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, mix together chestnut flour, water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, eggs and sugar. Pour batter into greased round cake or pie pan (about 9 inches in diameter). Sprinkle top with rosemary, pine nuts and sea salt.

Bake until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the pan, and the surface is lightly cracked. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve warm.

Makes 1 9-inch round cake.

Corsican Chestnut Cake 6

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Bedtime Stories: Spooky Read for Older Kids

hollow boyPost by Mark T. Locker.

Lockwood & Co., book 3: The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud.

Happy October, friends, and welcome to the best time of year! I love looking for all the new spooky reads to keep the creepy feelings going all month long. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to look hard for this one. I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the third book in the Lockwood & Co. series for some time now. And it doesn’t disappoint.

London is in a right state. For some time now, and seemingly out of the blue, ghosts, wisps, ghasts, and other creepy spectres from the beyond have been haunting the streets and homes of London. Nobody knows why but it’s created a huge stir and a new, unusual job: child ghost hunters. Although adults can sense the presence of the ghosts, only children can see them. So armed with salt, iron, silver and rapiers, teens and younger work nights battling these spirits.

Although not part of the elite Fitz or Rotwell agency, Antony Lockwood has managed to create a successful freelance ghost-hunting agency with George Cubbins, the socially awkward but brilliant-minded researcher and Lucy Carlysle, whose particular secret ability is communication with the dead spirits. When Chelsea becomes suddenly overrun with ghost activity, Lockwood & Co. are drawn in to help rein in and end the outbreak. But nobody seems to know what is causing it. Although Lucy’s hidden talent has gotten her into deadly trouble in the past, perhaps the can use it wisely and help save London.

Creepy fun for tweens, teens, or adults who like a good shiver, this is one of my favorite series to be released in the last few years. This is the perfect time to pick it up.

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Movies in Bed: The Haunted Mansion

220px-Haunted_mansion_ver3Post by Mark T. Locker.

Happy Halloween season, folks! Time to get out the fake skeletons, wrap everything in spooky black gauze and bust out the scary movies! But if you have a kid who is sensitive to scary things, you may have to dial down the eek factor by a significant margin. There are a number of kind of scary movies you can choose from and then a lot of not scary but Halloween-themed.

We decided to try out Disney’s Haunted Mansion, starring Eddie Murphy. If they can make a movie based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, why not a movie based on the Haunted House at Disneyland?

The premise is pretty out-of-the-box: Jim Evers (Murphy) is a realtor with his wife and business partner Sara. But he can’t stop working and lets his job get in the way of his personal life, his wife and two kids. SO in an effort to mend things, they take a family vacation with one caveat: they stop and check out this crazy mansion that they’ve been asked to sell.

Oh, one other caveat: the place is crazy haunted and the lord of the manor is a ghost and he wants Sara to join him in the Eternal. Oops! But nobody is really that scary; the maid and the servant are funny and kind to the children. They’re just a bit translucent. You can imagine that a lot of hi jinks take place. And perhaps along the way Jim Evers will learn that there are things that are more important than making the sale. In a word: family.

Despite its total un-scariness, my seven-year-old found it a bit too much to handle. No nightmares, but he demanded we turn it off. I guess we will stick to The Worst Witch for now. But if you child is made of tougher stuff, it’s a fun spooky Halloweeny good time!

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Tips and Tricks: Drink Any of These 5 Beverages For a Good Night’s Sleep

Post by Tracy Kaler.

cherries

Insomnia affects approximately 60 million Americans each year. What gives? Hectic work schedules, stress, and even diet can have an impact on overall quality of sleep. Before turning to prescription medication, give any or all of these natural beverages a try and put your insomnia to bed once and for all.

Valerian tea
It’s no secret that Valerian encourages relaxation and even drowsiness for some, so a cup of this herbal tea before bedtime could send you off into a sound sleep until the alarm sounds in the a.m.

Tea

Banana smoothie
Loaded with potassium, bananas might be all you need to drift off to a peaceful slumber. Try combining a half a cup of low-fat milk or unsweetened soymilk with a small banana. It’s tasty too.

Coconut water
Many people love the flavor and drink it on a regular basis, but coconut water is also jam-packed with potassium and magnesium. The healthy drink contains B vitamins too, which have been known to reduce stress. If you’re not already sipping coconut water, you might want to start.
Coconut Water

Almond milk and honey
Almond milk is high in tryptophan and magnesium, both key components for good sleep. Raw honey is known to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can keep you asleep through the night. The two together could be the winning combination your body needs to get a full night’s rest.

Tart cherry juice
Cherries contain melatonin, which could be the reason the tart fruit juice will put you into a sound sleep. An eight-ounce serving twice per day is recommended for optimal benefits.

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Breakfast in Bed – Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine

Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine 12

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!

Cliffside Inn (1)

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. 😉

Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine 1

Eggs Florentine

4 eggs
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)

Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine 3
Tomato Garnish

1 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
Pinch of dried culinary lavender
Pinch of salt
2 thin slices tomato

Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine 6

Preparation

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.

Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine 8

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.

Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine 9

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

Preparation

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.

Cliffside Inn Eggs Florentine 10

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