You Say Shiitake…

Multifarious varieties of fungi at our local Farmer’s market

Walking around my garden after the rain we had, I wasn’t at all surprised to see the multitude of mushrooms that had popped up virtually overnight. Would that blog posts sprout as quickly as fungi I’d be one prolific blogger. I always look at them and wonder who has the nerve to eat these fleshy morsels plucked straight from the earth, not really knowing if they’re poisonous or not? Pas moi. I’d rather trust the perfect stranger at the Farmer’s market to tell me they’re safe!

Vermont Wildcrafters

Recently I  read a book called “The Wild Trees” by Richard Preston which is essentially about the Sequoia sempervirens in the Pacific Northwest and the crazy daring botanists and amateur naturalists that climb them, but it was also here that I first learned of the giant Armillaria ostoyae in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. For those easily squeamish, this is a tad, well, eewwwy, but this humongous fungi, mercifully growing mostly beneath the ground, encompasses nearly 4 square miles (that’s 1,665 football fields People!) Discovered in 1998 it knocked the 200 ton Blue whale off its pedestal (or should I say out of the water :)) as the record holder for The World’s Largest Known Organism. Based on it’s current growth rate, it is estimated to be somewhere between 2,400-8,650 years old. FYI, I know some humans that fudge their ages that much. This would also place the giant fungi as one of the oldest living organisms on the planet.

Think about that the next time you are filling your bag with cute little button mushrooms at Von’s (which, another FYI, you should never eat those button mushrooms raw-bad, bad for you)

365267677_ctvoolHu_cAnd to think a Giant Fungus could be growing just beneath this idyllic woodland picnic scene…

But alas, once again I digress…let’s return to my favourite subject

Food!

Butter Roasted mushrooms super simple recipe HERE

Or perhaps you prefer your mushroom flavour on the sweet side?Chanterelle macaroons from Pierre Herme

tvs9173ab_lMartha has this delicious sounding recipe for a “Mushroom Martini”  HERE

Purists (and Martha) would likely kill me for saying this, but these gallon sized buckets of freeze dried(?) assorted mushrooms from Costco are surprisingly good, especially in a pinch for soups & sauces.

Caveat; If my counsel means anything to you-do not, I repeat DO NOT stick your nose inside and take a big smell.

There. I saved you.

One of my favourite ways to prepare mushrooms is to simply flash fry some of the fancier, frilly ones in a 50/50 combo of butter & olive oil until they get crispy, drain on paper towel then serve still hot; sprinkled with coarse sea salt and a generous squirt of fresh lemon juice. Like decadent, earthy potato chips-yum!

Do you think it’s easy working fashion into a post about mushrooms?!

ring via Boticca.com

Givenchy bag

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I’ve had this image and recipe in my files for years thinking I would someday attempt it. I think it was also from Martha. It’s really the pastry that scares me, but this year might be the year. Rest assured I so will be sharing the photos if I ever make this.

DSC04189Link for Morel mushroom Christmas ornaments below

Magic Mushrooms

I once had mushrooms growing in the trunk of my car when I lived in Vancouver. Not on purpose. It’s an embarrassing story involving a long wet winter and some disastrously forgotten paperwork…that never got ‘filed’. Ah…blessed youth…

Mushroomy tiles

Mushroomy rug

Mushroomy coasters from Barney’s (I have these in violet-so pretty!)

I think Hermes

Toadstools in my friend’s garden in Greece

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Brass stools via Remodelista.com

I’d love a couple of these in my garden

There’s really something quite magical and pure about mushrooms, don’t you think?

(excluding 4 mile ones and the ones that grew in my car)

elegant

Mushroom Christmas ornaments via MadAboutMushrooms

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Uncredited photos via Tumblr or Pinterest

Must Be Jelly Cause Jam Don’t Shake Like That

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Slim Paley photo (from my collection of jelly recipes)

.Happy First Day of Summer Everyone!!

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Awhile back I’d mentioned that I felt “Jellies” were making a happy comeback.  I say “happy” because I think there’s always something joyful in the jiggly presentation of a jelly, don’t you?  I know they’ve fallen desperately out of vogue for many years, and some people might relate to jelly more as hospital food than a culinary treat, but I’m here to  trumpet the triumphant return of  The Jelly!

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Gelatin as jewels by Bompas & Parr


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Bompas & Parr

Jelly not only harkens back to my childhood, but to my endless fascination with the world at the turn of the century (uh-that would be the 19th century)

Jellies, aspics and blancmanges played a large part in all the menus and cookbooks of the day.  Britain in particular was famous for it’s jelly- one of the few foodstuffs they excelled in over the French.  Take that Francois.

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Slim Paley photo  (from my collection circa 1924)

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Slim Paley photo

I love the wine jelly for the “Invalid”

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Apparently, the British are still the Reigning Kings of Quiver;

L’Enfants Terrible of Jellydom; Bompas & Parr

Bompas & Parr set up shop in 2007 and are already rather infamous in Europe for their bespoke jellies and moulds. “Blurring the boundaries between art and food”, they’ve appeared on Hester Blumenthal’s  program (he of the  world renown “The Fat Duck” restaurant), hosted a jelly banquet for  2000 guests featuring jellies designed by prominent architects, filled a gallery with a breathable gin & tonic vapor and created a four ton bowl of punch for people to row across in boats.
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Apparently, I’m just not going to the right parties.

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As of last month, their book  is now available on Amazon here in the U.S.

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Neon Jellies by Bompas & Parr

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Bompas & Parr

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 I couldn’t resist including this “Sugared Jelly” of a poppy that my friend snapped in her garden!

Isn’t nature amazing?!

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When I was little, one of my favourite treats was to pop open boxes of Jello and play “Lick-a-stick” with several flavours, my fingers and tongue stained alarmingly unnatural hues.

Somehow, this look triggered that memory!

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Bompas & Parr

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Bompas & Parr

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Bompas & Parr

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Broken Glass Jello  (find recipe on The Food Librarian)

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Slim Paley photo (told you I was a Jello-nerd)

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If sweet jellies aren’t shaking it up for you (see what I did there?) I offer up a couple of savory aspic recipes for the summer;

YELLOW GAZPACHO ASPIC

1/2 red bell pepper, stem, ribs, and seeds removed, flesh coarsely chopped,1 small red tomato, coarsely chopped, 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco, Coarse salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin, (scant tablespoon each), 5 (about 2 1/2 pounds) yellow tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed and reserved, flesh coarsely chopped, 1 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and chopped, 3 scallions, coarsely chopped, 6 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, Freshly ground pepper, 1 clove garlic, Grape or cherry tomatoes, for garnish

Make bell pepper layer: Feed bell pepper and red tomato through an electric juicer. Pour juice through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard any solids. Skim foam from surface with a spoon. Stir in hot sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Sprinkle 1 envelope gelatin over top. Let stand 5 minutes.

 Transfer mixture to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin has just dissolved, about 1 1/2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer bell pepper mixture to a 4-cup scalloped gelatin mold. Refrigerate until just set and still sticky, about 20 minutes.

 Make gazpacho layer: Process yellow tomato flesh, the cucumber, and scallions in a food processor until almost pureed, about 10 seconds. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Finely chop basil; add basil, 1 teaspoon each salt and lemon juice, and the vinegar to bowl; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

 Puree reserved yellow tomato seeds and pulp with the garlic in a food processor. Pour through a very fine sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids.

 Sprinkle remaining gelatin over garlic mixture. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir garlic mixture into the reserved gazpacho.

 When bell pepper layer has just set, pour gazpacho layer on top. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Aspic can be refrigerated, loosely covered, up to 1 day.

Run the tip of a paring knife around edge to loosen. Dip mold into a bowl of lukewarm water for several seconds. Pat mold dry, and invert onto a serving plate. Garnish with tomatoes and basil.

Serves 10 – 12. Martha Stewart Living

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AVOCADO PANNA COTTA WITH TOMATO GELÉE
Tomato gelée:
3 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 shallot
1/2 garlic clove
salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder (vegetable gelatin)
Panna cotta:
1/2 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder
2 avocados, halved and seeded
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup crème fraiche
Tomato gelée: Combine the tomatoes, shallot and garlic in a food processor and purée. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, pour the tomato mixture into the sieve and refrigerate overnight to allow the tomato water to slowly drip through the sieve and into the bowl (do not press).
Panna cotta: The next day, bring half-and-half, milk and agar agar to a boil in a saucepan; transfer to a food processor. Spoon the avocado flesh into the processor and purée. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spoon into six small glasses or 4-ounce cups and chill until firm, 20 – 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer the tomato water to a saucepan and add the agar agar and a pinch each of salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Ladle 2 tablespoons tomato gelée on top of each panna cotta and refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes. Top each panna cotta with a teaspoon of crème fraiche, and a spoonful of minced cubed fresh tomatoes mixed with oil, lemon and chopped basil.
Serves 6. Met Home, May 2005
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How pretty is this vegetable terrine in jelly?
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Or this simple little dessert via my friend R.B., via Martha;.
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LIMONCELLO GELÉE

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon (from two 1/4-ounce envelopes) unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons cold water

3/4 cup Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine)

3/4 cup limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur)

1/2 cup sparkling water

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 thin lemon slices, for garnish

Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

Heat Prosecco, limoncello, sparkling water, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and softened gelatin, and whisk until gelatin dissolves.

Pour mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Refrigerate until set, at least 45 minutes (or overnight). Cut into 4 portions, and garnish with lemon slices and mint.
Serves 4. Martha Stewart Living, May 2008
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Clementine and blancmange

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5 Great Things about Jellys

- They’re inexpensive and easy

-They’re not that fattening (I don’t think…)

- They’re fun to make with your kids

- They’re both “retro” and “of the moment” – so look at you, Trendsetter! “Oh this? It’s nothing! Just a little recipe from Bompas & Parr”

-They mix well with alcohol :)

and speaking of…

They have another book coming soon about a subject even nearer & dearer to my heart

Get on the list to be notified by Amazon when it arrives Stateside

No doubt there will be some  wickedly wobbly libations within

Bottoms Up (wiggle wiggle) :)

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Fire & Ice On New Year’s Eve


Slim Paley photo

Nature hangs in the balance outside a bedroom window, Sun Valley .

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Alert the press- I finally saw Black Swan yesterday.  I’m still thinking. The juxtaposition of beautiful and shocking images had such a strong visceral effect that this disturbing film stayed with me long after I’d left the theatre…and much later, when I walked past the bathtub… and the mirror (well, it wasn’t that long til I looked in a mirror) In the end, if you’re anything like me, you’ll still be wondering the next day what was real and what wasn’t? Or if that even matters. Maybe it’s just as well I never got around to seeing “Inception”

Towards the latter part of the movie, we started to smell something burning in the theatre. It appeared  the small audience was too engaged in what was happening on the big screen to notice but not so my husband, who alerted the management.  The fire trucks were just arriving as we exited into the fuhreeeezing night.  Driving home along the snow banked highway,  a massive elk or moose (not sure which- huge, brown, real antlers) darted out of the darkness and sprang in front of our car; a jarring reminder of just how quickly a single moment can change your life.  Later in the evening, the temperature dropped to -9 in our neck of the woods and it’s predicted to go below -20 tonight.  Having to go outside, even for a few minutes, feels almost absurd.  Perhaps it was the combination of the  unsettling film, the smoke in the theatre and the surreal moment in which the massive wild animal had crossed our path so silently and powerfully  in the night, but the crazy cold made me feel slightly giddy. Once again I confirmed to myself that, without any doubt, the answer to the age old question; “If you had to choose, too hot or too cold?”   NO contest. Bring that deserted tropical island on!  How about you?!

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The Ice Palace in Dr. Zhivago

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Julie Christie and Omar Shariff in Dr. Zhivago

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic

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Slim Paley photo

Our home in Sun Valley

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Slim Paley photo

The sun breaking over the mountains this morning…brrrrrr

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Creed’s Silver Mountain Water

A nice clean winter scent for men or women

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Helena Normark

Sweden- So beautiful!

…and for when you get home from your New Year’s Day Walk….

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Martha Stewart’s Original Eggnog recipe

(serves 26- Hello- it is Martha’s recipe)

12 eggs separated

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar

1 quart whole milk

1 1/2 quarts heavy cream (you heard me)

3 cups bourbon (ya)

1/2 cup dark rum (that’s it??)

2 cups cognac (God, this is sounding good)

Freshly grated nutmeg (grate nutmeg before sampling too much eggnog)

In a very large bowl, beat egg  yolks until thick and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar to yolks. With a wire whisk, beat in milk and 1 quart cream.  Add bourbon, rum and cognac, stirring constantly. Just before serving, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into mixture. Whip remaining heavy cream until stiff, and fold in. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Fat Bottoms Up!

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You know what? I can’t go into the New Year with such a cold last photo- just can’t do it

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Slim Paley photo

What to do when you accidentally leave your ipod in your ski pants and it goes through the washing machine? Submerge completely in a jar of dry rice and place it in a warm place overnight.  WHO’S your Martha?! (Really, a genius tip from Son of Slim :))

HAVE FUN TONIGHT!

AND WISHING EVERYBODY SUCH A HAPPY 2011!!!!

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Forget The Turkey, What About The Table?

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Slim Paley photo

An intimate & casual Autumn lunch at my beach house. You wouldn’t really expect gourds to mix well with objects from the sea, but it worked.

 

Slim Paley Photo


And now, my favourite part of November- setting the Thanksgiving table, particularly fun, as Fall’s bounty is so plentiful and I love a great Over The Top, Bring It ON table for ‘Giving Thanks’.

 

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How chic, this black & white Thanksgiving table from Domino.  I have some black & white transfer ware- but not nearly enough.

I do have feathers though, and might just throw them into the mix this year.

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Martha.

Martha, Martha, Martha. If you’d only let me come to that cooking class all those years ago…we coulda’ been Buds!

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credit unknown (what if it’s martha?!!)

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Photo Luca Trovato for House Beautiful

An interesting and sophisticated table by Janice Feldman (Founder of Janus et Cie)

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Slim Paley Photo

I could do an updated version of my Sun Valley Thanksgiving table from last year…

BTW,  I’m going on record now- I don’t want to hear  “J’accuse” if I use a version of this photo again on my upcoming Plaid post!

Think of it as recycling. Plaids not the easiest subject.

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Photo via Linda Ervin

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“Her” again

Love this.

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Slim Paley photo

I’ve used those colours too  ( apples and hydrangea from my garden :))

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But ever since seeing this photo recently…

 

(Oh…let’s say British Homes & Gardens)

I’m feeling the urge to do a ‘Spicier’ tableau

Something about the heavy linen and very fiery flowers is really inspiring me.

 

I have copious amounts of Cranberry glass, which I would love to mix with mustard and brown.  You heard me.  There’s some interesting foliage in the garden right now that would work well with these colours, though I don’t have brown dishes, or at least not enough for the number of guests this year.  I might be taking a run down to P.B. or the local antique collective to see what I can find- because, really, it’s just not a Holiday for me unless I’m leaving everything until the last possible moment.

Don’t read my New Year’s Resolutions from last January about being more organized .  I’d obviously been drinking.

 

 

Some of the things I’ve pulled together so far….

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Slim Paley photo

Cranberry glass, mushrooms, quail eggs, antique books, and old letters…

 

I’ll keep you posted.

Do I win anything if I get the table set before Saturday?? (which would be absolutely wonderful, considering I’m out of town Thursday and Friday )

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Do you favour tradition and set the same table for the Holidays every year, or do you like to shake things up too?

What’s your favourite part of the holiday; the cooking, the table setting, or

the Clean up?!

(if you answer #3, we have one more place at the table :) )

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We’re Getting Close!

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Slim Paley photo

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We’re getting close...

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Via Splendid Market (please click here for easy recipe and more photos)

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SO LUCKY all you parents who still have little ones to dress up and go Trick or Treating!

What fun to pour forth those bulging pillowcases at the end of the chill night!

Such lovely, lovely memories.

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One year, we had a little beaver…

Who started the school parade with halfed baby marshmallow teeth stuck to his upper lip.

As you can see by the photo above, the teeth lasted all of 5 minutes before they were chewed off.

Helloooo- he was a beaver


More permanent dental work was needed for Trick or Treating later that evening…

“Clarence The Beaver” complete with “permanents” and coffee bean paws

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Nowadays, The Halloween Season takes on a different feel…

Via Content in a Cottage

 

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Martini Time!

Martini recipe via LOLA’S L.A.

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and if you’re still able to walk…

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PRADA Spring 2011

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Proenza Schouler Spring 2011

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Via Martha Stewart  (Let’s face it- The Queen of Halloween)

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Velvet pillow from Dransfield & Ross

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Slim Paley photo

Candle Gourds from Pottery Barn

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Butternut Squash Lasagna- YUM!  Via YummyMummy (or in Slim’s Pickings :) )

 

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Slim Paley photo

Getting cozy in Santa Barbara  (because apparently the sun is never coming out again!! Aargh)

 

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And lastly,

just in case the Butternut Squash Lasagna wasn’t quite enough to tempt you  (after all, isn’t Halloween all about giving in to temptation?!)

Pumpkin Truffles!

(recipe via YUMMY MUMMY link just above)

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.Cartoon from The New Yorker

Hey, after the last post, I had to show The Love!!

 

 

 

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