Countdown Abbey (II)

Downton-Abbey-series-4-premieres-on-PBS

God bless us all, it’s finally that time again!

I can’t believe I arrived home from our “Grand Tour” of Patagonia JUST in time.

It’s all too exciting!

I’m literally dashing off this post as I’m unpacking (wet clothes from our suitcases-nice) and drinking way too much coffee waaay too late in the day.

But stay up I must!

I hope you’ll all be watching with me and for those across the Pond and Down Under please feel free to chime in, with judiciousness of course (omg-I spelled that correctly the first time. Note to self; perhaps more coffee less wine…)

And…

May I just include a complete non-humble brag and mention I attended a party during the Christmas Season where I met a lovely relative of Lady Mary’s who told me that L.M. reads Slim Paley!!

Swear! Fetch the smelling salts

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management slimpaley.com

A great friend of mine who lives in Britain says this season is an absolute cracker.  She’s been awfully good at not letting anything slip while whetting my curiosity just enough.

She also sent me this absolutely divine and massive antique book;

 “Mrs BEETON’S BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT”

published in 1912 and weighing in at no less than 2,040 pages.

I’m quite sure Mrs. Patmore kept it handy.

‘Isabella Beeton (1831-1865) the eldest child of an extended family of 21, was required from an early age to see to domestic arrangements. After her marriage to a small publisher, she began to contribute to his Domestic magazine. In 1861 her writings were published in book form for the first time. An immediate success, selling over 60,000 copies in its first year and nearly two million by 1868! One of the most famous of all cookery books it also contains advice on household management, childcare, etiquette, entertaining and employment of servants.’

slimpaley.com

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her”

Can we get an AMEN?! :-)

Mrs Beeton's slimpaley.com

Sadly, Isabella Beeton’s life story was not a happy one. She lost her first child at only 3 months of age, her second to Scarlet Fever at 2 and poor Isabella died just days after giving birth to her 4th child when she was only 28.

Downton Abbey-esque or what?

A BBC drama based on Isabella Beeton’s life aired in 2006 and a documentary by Sophie Dahl in 2011.  I would love to find both.

OK, must wrap up before the show begins!

One Final Downton Abbey Recap before Tonight’s American Premiere HERE

And, if you’re so inclined;

Exactly One Year Ago

& last but certainly not least,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

xox SP

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CIAO ORVILLE

fashion, popcorn

When you think of Summer do you think of popcorn?

Drive-Ins, Summer movie dates, pool parties..

It’s not the first thing, mind you, but I think of it.

Oh, let’s be real, I think of popcorn just as much in the winter.  I’m a complete kernel fiend but it was a so-so (desperate) segue into the post.

BTW, Do you think it’s easy to find a photo combining fashion with popcorn?!  NUH-UH Girlfriend.  Was so excited when I snapped the above window in NY!

But  I’m thinking about popcorn pretty much every day, now that I’m on my gluten-free trial period (I hate the word DIET).

In fact it was one of the very first things I looked up before deciding whether or not this G-F choice would even be doable for me.

Because It’s absolutely, positively, your chances are zero, IMPOSSIBLE to get me to go to the movies and not eat popcorn.

If I’ve been to Bouchon for lunch and The French Laundry for dinner and you say let’s go to the movies I will at least get a medium, butter 1/2 way down.

No Sharesies.

Butter 1:2 way down trick

Here’s an insider’s trick for the cinema: establish two straws at different levels of the bag and shoot the “butter” down the straws.

Don’t judge.

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24 carat good news?

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There’s NO GLUTEN IN POPCORN :-)

Now I know there are a million & one different ways to doctor popcorn. Whether you like it sweet or savoury, the possibilities are truly endless.

Basically, when it was suggested to God He create the perfect vehicle to deliver every possible flavour, He created popcorn.

I like both sweet & savoury, though I’m partial to salty for sure.

When I first moved to London, not all theatres even sold popcorn and if they did it was only sugared, which horrified me, but after my boyfriend put an end to bringing my own (spoilsport) I grew to sort of like the sweet stuff. Amazing how the human body adapts under pressure.

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But enough about ancient history and uptight old beaus who care about car smells.

I have this great tip for popping corn that I’d like to share with you.

popcorn maker

First, I would highly recommend dumping your microwave popcorn. I hear it’s very unhealthy and possibly linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Just saying. I certainly have no idea if this is a valid accusation, but what I do know to be true is that freshly popped corn is way more delicious and only takes a few minutes extra to make, so why not make the switch?

Another benefit to popping stove top style is you may choose healthier oils such as olive, or coconut, for example. Who knows what Redenbacher really puts in that reservoir of goo at the bottom of the bag?

Pre-popped popcorn stores really well for at least a week. Make it when you have time, store in the same type of container you would keep cereal in and add the fixins’ when the movie starts.

Which is how we get to the popping tip below…

We were staying with dear old friends in Lake Tahoe earlier this year and I commented on how incredibly good their popcorn was (as we were watching an incredibly bad movie)

I was digging for every last ‘Old Maid’ (what’s your euphemism for un-popped kernels? I admit my old British one is so politically incorrect :-()

My friend said it was all in their friend Khalil’s “Top Secret Tip” which she gave me permission to share here;

KHALIL’S TOP SECRET POPCORN TIP:

Slow  roast  the  kernels  first!!!

I know. omg. Shhhhhh. Promise not to tell any other blogs…especially that Pioneer Lady.

popcorn tricksWhat looks tastier-These?

slow roast popcornOr these?

So, the secret’s out of the bag. Do with it what you will.

It does take some time and yes, skills to achieve just the right deep golden colour before cranking the heat up and commencing a popping.

On my stove it takes about 15-20 minutes but it is old and the gas control is either “Rainy Campfire on Survivor!” or “Industrial Kitchen Bake Off”

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have one or two “Incidents”

Who amongst us hasn’t thrown a ‘seriously burnt popcorn’ microwave away?? (our score is 2)

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I’m thinking of spreading a bag of kernels on an oiled cookie sheet and slow roasting them in the oven, as I do with steel cut oatmeal, to see if I get the same results.

Popcorn kernels may also be pre-toasted and saved to pop later, but I’ve found they don’t save for very long, maybe 3 or 4 days.

Then for some reason, husbands can’t get them to pop anymore and they burn.

They burn badly.

And your “Ray Donovan” Sunday evening viewing will be scarred.

As if you’re not being scarred enough just watching that show.

Truffle sea salt

A few of my personal fav’s; “Olive Oil & Sea Salt” butter from “Land O’ Lakes” (new, at least to me) , ghee, celery salt, Sriracha, Old Bay Seasoning, parmesan cheese, truffle salt…you know the drill.

stove top popcorn maker

I totally love the popcorn maker I asked for last Christmas after reading about the perils of micro-waved popcorn.

I’ve never looked back.

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Charlotte-Olympia-Movie-Night-Shoulder-Bag

Charlotte Olympia leather bag.

Thanks to L & E & especially Khalil!

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orville

Ciao Orville Baby. It was fun while it lasted.

XXXSP

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Scorch & Soda

We turn the clocks back tonight (boo hoo!)

You know what that means my friends.

That’s right

It’s Officially Heartier Cocktail Season.

Not since a caramel fell into a bowl of salt have we seen a flavor sensation dominate like the “smoky” cocktail.  I’ve been experimenting here & there while slowly compiling this post over the summer but it wasn’t until I had my very first GIN martini the other night (I know, right? wonders never cease) accompanied by big fat smoked olives that I became a full fledged “Smoker”

OK, I know this photo would have been so much nicer if the glass wasn’t 1/2 empty and I hadn’t taken a big bite of the olive, but I just wasn’t anticipating how damn good it was going to be! (Hendricks gin btw) and you’re probably saying; can this possibly be the same Slim who loves roasted marshmallow martinis? I agree-it’s sheer madness.

Even I didn’t know I was this ambi-drinkerous.

So, at least for the month of November, I’m all about the “the fumes”

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to think of a way to capture smoke within an ice cube. I tried typing “Smoke in ice cubes ” into Google and got nothing but photos of the rapper “Ice Cube” smoking cigars, plus some rather inventive ways of smoking meth.

Do you think I’m going to get meth spam now??  I’m worried :(

Try putting a few of  these in your pipe;

A couple of tasty smokers at Rick Bayles’ “The Frontera Grill” Chicago

Los Angeles: The molecular-minded Bar Centro at the Bazaar by José Andrés.The Drink: Smoke on the Water ($18)What’s in It: Blackberries, atomized Islay Scotch, liquid nitrogen, and a flaming orange peel.

Miami: The new Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. The Drink: Smoked Pear ($8).
What’s in It: Woodford Reserve bourbon, pear liqueur, lemon juice, maple bitters, and smoked-pear purée. 1600 Lenox Ave.; 305/538-5220.

Boston: Clio, home to the city’s most extensive cocktail list. The Drink: The Hunter ($13).
What’s in It : Sage-infused white rum, Willet single-barrel rye, and apple cider, plus a cloud of burned oak and cinnamon. Smoked ice (smoked over liqueur-soaked wood chips) are used in the “Frank-)” cocktail, also at Clio

(info via Nicki Goldstein/Travel & Leisure magazine)

In Yountville, CA, Bottega serves up a smoky trifecta with smoked tequila, smoked jalapeños, rimmed with smoked salt.

“The Smoker’s Delight” at PX in Alexandria, Virginia uses strained water that has been steeped in 3 kinds of tobacco. ( Oh, sorry, but that sounds gross! )

Smoke Signals

Here I’ve found a recipe to “smoke” your own ice at home-but be careful kids!

Line heavy large pot with heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle wood chips over bottom of pot; cover. Turn exhaust fan on high. Heat pot over high heat until smoke begins to form inside pot. Fill 9 x 4 1/2 x 3-inch metal loaf pan with ice. Place in pot; cover tightly. Smoke ice until just melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Cover loaf pan tightly with plastic wrap; freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Using ice pick, cut ice block crosswise into 4 large smoked ice chunks. Wrap tightly in plastic and keep frozen.

Bring 1 cup water and sugar to boil in medium saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pecans; reduce heat to medium and simmer until syrup tastes like pecans, about 12 minutes. Strain; discard pecans. Cover and chill pecan syrup until cold, about 2 hours.

Place 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons pecan syrup in cocktail shaker. Fill with plain ice cubes; cover and shake until cold. Divide mixture between 2 old-fashioned glasses. Repeat with remaining 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons pecan syrup, and ice. Place 1 smoked ice chunk in each glass and serve.

(via Epicureous)

Mezcal and tobacco-infused syrup flavours the “Oaxacan Fizz” at FATHER’S OFFICE in LA (LOVE that name!)

“Smoke on The Water” at Bar Centro in The Bazaar, LA, literally smokes with a blast of liquid nitrogen and Islay Scotch.

Wouldn’t this make a good Christmas present?

Smoked salt via TheSpiceLab.com

For those smoked olives, you may

1) Marinate your olives for several hours in smoked olive oil

$24

2) make your own smoked oil by gently heating and infusing olive oil with hickory smoke powder and fresh or dried herbs of your choice, then marinate olives.

3) Thoroughly soak a cedar plank (important), wrap olives in a tinfoil package, making several slits in the top and sides,  place on wet plank, cover and grill (smoking times will vary depending on temperature) You can find several recipes for smoking olives online.

4) or just buy them already smoked.

Lastly, if you’re not already totally smoked out,

An interesting article on smoked cocktails HERE

Thank you for smoking and don’t forget those clocks tonight!!

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(First photo Artist Liza Ryan (2012) any uncredited photos via Tumblr or Google)

Getting Excited for Thanksgiving!

L1020510Slim Paley photo

A fire crackling away in our living room in Sun Valley, Idaho

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English Bread Sauce

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Bread Sauce is a very traditional English dish that doesn’t have a huge amount of “hanger appeal” but is absolutely delicious!!  I am including it here because even though you might feel you don’t need the wretched excess on Thanksgiving, it is served traditionally with turkey or chicken and I say the more the merrier!!  Serve it beside the cranberry sauce and the contrast between red and white is very pretty.

How to make Bread Sauce click here

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French "English Bread Sauce"

“French” English Bread Sauce

Hell yes!  This recipe is the same, except you substitute big chunks of french bread rather than plain white, add a mere glance of mace and use extra rich cream or creme fraiche.  Bring.  It.  On.  (L.K. don’t read this)A Few Thanksgiving Tips

- I flip the bird.  I start out with my turkey upside down for a couple of hours so that lots of juice runs into the white meat at the top and the bottom gets brown and a little crispy, then half way through the cooking time, I take it out and flip it around the other way.  This can be difficult if it’s a really large bird, but doable.

- another option, particularly if you are serving guests or family that fight over the dark meat is to roast two small turkeys, doubling your wings and legs and Pope’s noses!

-A pretty idea I poached from Martha is to place large sage leaves underneath the skin of the turkey in a “pleasing pattern”.  It’s not difficult and it does look wonderful when the skin becomes golden and translucent.

- Best way to keep mashed potatoes warm for up to a couple of hours before serving? Place them in the top of a double boiler on a low simmer.  Much better than keeping them warm in the oven as this way they don’t dry out. Just be sure to keep an eye on your water level.

Ginger Pumpkin Meringue pie

ginger pumpkin meringue pie

(From Better Homes & Gardens / November 2008

Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 69 minutes
Cool: 2 hours

ingredients
1  Recipe Gingersnap-Graham Crust, below
1  15-oz. can pumpkin
1/3  cup sugar
1  tsp. ground ginger
1/2  tsp. salt
1/2  tsp. ground cinnamon
3  eggs, lightly beaten
2/3  cup milk
1/2  cup maple syrup
1  Recipe Brown Sugar Meringue, below
directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare Gingersnap-Graham Crust; bake 4 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

2. For filling, in bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, ginger, salt and cinnamon. Add eggs.; lightly beat with fork to combine. Gradually stir in milk and maple syrup.

3. Pour filling into pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Uncover edges. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Carefully spread Brown Sugar Meringue over hot filling; seal to edge. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Loosely cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. Serves 8.

Gingersnap-Graham Crust:In large bowl combine 3/4 cup finely crushed gingersnaps (12 cookies), 1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers (7 squares), and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter. Spread evenly on bottom and up the sides of 9-inch pie plate.

Brown Sugar Meringue:In large mixing bowl let 3 egg whites stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Beat on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until mixture forms stiff peaks (tips stand straight).

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Wanna Marrow?

marrow bones

Is there anything better, especially as the weather turns cooler, than a plate full of gorgeously roasted marrow bones accompanied by freshly toasted bread, rock salt, crunchy gherkins and a full-bodied, dare I say, buxom bottle of red wine?

Oh be still my little carnivore heart! Nothing better.

If you really wish to go full throttle decadent, sprinkle Dean & Deluca Truffle salt on dem bones!  (I seldom travel without my little jar of truffle salt. I was only half joking to my husband when I asked for a truffle salt holster for Christmas)  Not one of my more lady-like qualities, but I will knock family members down to get at the marrow-iest bones in the Osso Bucco, the Pope’s nose on a roasted turkey or chicken, the crackling on the pork, and all the dredgey bits at the bottom of the Sunday roast pan-Heaven!!

I believe there’s a lot of truth to what my friend Lucy Dahl says in her wonderful article about the “grisly bits”.  I’ve attached a link below.  And although Lucy says “Parson” and I say “Pope”, she says “Black” Pudding and I say “Blood”, I think we all agree that most of us strive to have a little adventure in our lives-why not with our food? Like one S.P. reader commented in an earlier post- “How can people hate something they’ve never tried??”

  Come on people!  It’s almost Halloween- a perfect time to suck on bones!!


Roasted Marrow Bones

Place marrow bones upright on a foil lined baking sheet.  drizzle a teeny teeny amount of good quality olive oil over the top and sprinkle with any herbs of your choosing.  Cover with more foil and roast for about 15 minutes.  Serve with an assortment of salts (sea, rock, black, truffle…), small crunchy gherkins, and freshly toasted french bread.


click here for Lucy Dahl’s article :My Dinners with Wally

dean-deluca-truffle-salt_1681677_175Best truffle salt ever.  Also delicious on steaks, eggs and popcorn.

 

Cambridge, Hanger Steak at Craigie on Main: Tony Maws takes a beautifully charred piece of beef, tops it with silky bone marrow, caramelized onion, and bits of smoked tongue confit-then adds an outrageously flavourful sauce amplified with walnuts and foie gras.