Monthly Archives: December 2010

This Year In Review

Move over twenty-ten, we’re heading into the new year at full speed!  There are just a few days left to say our goodbyes and there’s no better time than the last week of an extra fabulous year to reflect on all the good that took place.  Although this year will most definitely be a hard one to beat, I’m so incredibly eager for the next chapter to unfold.

So, without further ado, a few of my favorite highlights from 2010:

I Got Hitched!

First and foremost, I turned in my singlehood this year for an adorable blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jersey boy.  Also known as my husband, Grant.  As many of you know, we were married this September in Charleston, SC –and it was nothing short of perfect.

 

El Bulli Hacienda Benazuza

Eating at El Bulli Hacienda Benazuza, Ferran Adria’s restaurant outside of Seville, Spain was without doubt one of my top restaurant experiences.  Previously named the world’s best chef, Adria is known for his wacky, scientific style.  His take on food is that “Cuisine is not something to be had, but a state to be in”….and that state swept me away to a playful world of spherical olives, mimic peanuts and disappearing desserts.

Noma Named Best Restaurant in World

Taking over El Bulli’s number one spot this year for world’s best restaurant is René Redzepi’s Noma  in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Opening the door for Scandinavian cuisine, you will find on Chef Redzepi’s Nordic menu, items that have been foraged straight from the wilderness (so I hear).   This is likely something we’ll be seeing much more of in 2011 as many chefs are finding new ingredients the oldest kind of way — seeking out pure, natural foods like wild greens, nuts and even tree bark.  You can read more here in The New York Times where they recently highlighted some of the many new ingredients being foraged.

The Cherpumple Was Born 

Ok, I don’t know if I would classify this as a highlight, but it was entertaining nonetheless!  For those of you who unfortunately missed this gargantuan creation, writer Charles Phoenix developed the “turducken of desserts” – the cherpumple.  An outrageous creation consisting of three pies baked inside three cakes and glued together by heaps of cream cheese frosting.  Holy sweet tooth!

Eataly Opens in NYC

I have yet to go, but when I do I am going hungry, thirsty and wearing  the stretchiest pant I own.   Some of our favorite Italian chefs opened a celebration of Italian cuisine in Manhattan, comprised of markets, restaurants and shops with the the nations best Italian foods.

Avocado Ice Cream

One of the first recipes posted here on Daily Crave and one of my favorites.  If you’ve never had it, try it.  You’ll love it.  I promise.

I Got A New Camera

Not just any camera, but my first SLR!  Give it up for the Canon EOS Rebel T2i.

Ninety Acres at Natirar

Although Ninety Acres actually opened in December of 09′, it wasn’t until 2010 that I finally got to indulge in the new restaurants “farm to table” experience.  If you live in the surrounding area, and you’ve not yet been — go!  (And then thank me later.)   Even a non-foodie will appreciate the gorgeous setting in the heart of New Jersey’s countryside.  The 491-estate set against green rolling hills, previously owned my the King of Morocco, has now been transformed into an elegant spa and an amazing restaurant based on local ingredients sourced directly from the Natirar property.

Chef Natalie Lewis: Open for Business!

Lastly, in 2010 I announced the opening of Chef Natalie Lewis, a personal chef and catering service.  A lot of fun was had in the process of creating the new biz, so I thought I’d share with you a couple of photos that didn’t make the cut…

Take two:   (There are very few things more fun than doing a photo shoot in the woods with a bottle of wine and a baguette!) 

Ok, one more time:

So, here it is — just a few of the delicious happenings of this spectacular year!  Happy New Year to you all and here’s to an even more flavor-filled 2011 — Salut!

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Filed under All Posts, Favorite Finds, Holidays - Christmas, Personal, Restaurants, Uncategorized

Around my house on Christmas Eve

Cookies and Milk for Santa, New England Style…

 

Peppermint Whoopie Pies!

Cheerful snowmen

Sparkly tree

 Lots of goodies decorating every nook and corner

Nutcrackers, of course

And at last, my favorite. May the sweet magic of Christmas bring you the gift of love, peace and happiness for many years to come.

  Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

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Marlys’ (Pumpkin) Carrot Soup

If you’re looking for a good and good-for-you soup to warm you up this holiday season, look no further!  Courtesy of my mother in-law, (shout-out to Marlys), I’m sharing the recipe with you here.

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Filed under All Posts, Healthy Options, Holidays - Christmas, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Vegetables

Raspberry Crumble Bars

More sweets?  I know.  Don’t hate me.  As if you haven’t had enough sugar from this pumpkin pie and Christmas cookie-coated season. 

I hate to do it to you.  I really do.  But trust me when I tell you that these are worth taking a 15 minute break from your holiday to-do list to whip some up.  They are so quick and easy, and also make for a lovely gift. 

You can find tons of holiday tins and festive boxes at most craft stores which will allow you create a beautiful little package to give.  A perfect homemade-from-the-heart holiday gesture!

Crumb Mixture

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 3/4 cup (good quality) raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, pecans, butter and egg. Beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside 2 cups of crumb mixture for later.

Press remaining crumb mixture on bottom of greased 8-inch square baking pan. Spread preserves to within 1/2 inch of edge. Crumble reserved 2 cups of crumb mixture over preserves.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
(If using a dark or nonstick bakng pan, reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.)

Recipe from Land O’Lakes.

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Asiago and Sage Potatoes Au Gratin

In case you didn’t get the memo Christmas is less than 20 days away.  As in, I’ve got only 19 days left to procrastinate.  I keep telling myself that one of these years I’ll get my shopping done before the mad rush begins, but me and Time have always had a rocky relationship. 

Just when I think we’re moving forward in the right direction, I find out I’m being two-timed for some over-achieving broad. 

Hmmt!  Two can play at this game…

Make ahead Christmas dinner ideas, anyone?  Oh, what’s that you say — make ahead and delicious?  Coming right up 😉

You can make this a day in advance and will keep great. 

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (1/2 c + 1/2 c plus additional for topping)
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 4-5 baking potatoes, peeled and (sliced 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick)
  • 12-15 sage leaves, chopped roughly
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine heavy cream, ½ cup of Asiago cheese, garlic, nutmeg, pepper and salt (a generous amount of salt – about a tablespoon) in large sauce pan and simmer for about 10 minutes until the cream mixture begins to slightly thicken.

Arrange a third of the potatoes in a 8×8 baking dish sprinkle with a third of the cream sauce, a third of the sage leaves and a third of the cheese. Repeat three times, ending with a layer of the potatoes and sauce.

Bake for 1 – 11/4 hours or until potatoes have softened. Remove from oven and top with additional cheese and broil for about 5-10 minutes or until the top turns a nice golden brown color.  Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

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Filed under All Posts, Holidays - Christmas, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Recipes, Side Dishes

Raspberry Macarons

 

Simply put, a good macaron (not to be confused with macaroon) will completely and totally sweep you off your feet.  The delicately crisp outer shell surrounding a moist airy interior creates a meringue like texture that leaves you in a state of utter smitten-ness.  Oh yes, and you take two of those heavenly meringue cookies and sandwich them together with a dab of filling and it will send you over the sweet-lovin’ edge.

If you’ve been to Paris you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Patisseries everywhere show off colorful variations of this chic French confection with endless flavors ranging from pistachio to espresso to fruit-filled goodness.

But the sad part to all of this is that I don’t live in Paris.   And the thought of taking five minutes to combine four simple ingredients to make my own totally freaks me out.  I’ve heard of so many disheartened macaron stories and failed endings due to their finicky nature that I wasn’t quite ready to take on the task…until I saw this:

Making French Macarons: Instructions & Recipes  

David Lebovitz has complied dozens of blogs, websites and demonstrations on how to make the perfect macaron. With tips like aging your eggs whites for at least 24 hours prior and techniques on handling your batter this article will direct you to places all over the web where French professionals divulge their secrets.  Halle-freaking-lujah!  Let the baking begin!

Raspberry Filled Macarons:

(Recipe derived from Tartelette)

For the macarons:
90 grams of egg whites (about 3 eggs)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
pink food coloring

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve. Add them to the meringue,with the coloring and give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

To assemble:  spread raspberry preserves in the center of two cookies

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