Thursday, March 31, 2011

Read and White Quilts at the Armory

 On Tuesday night my friend Elizabeth and I went up to the Park Avenue Armory to check out the "Infinite Variety" exhibition of quilts. The show was an exhibition of 650 quilts that were being show as a gift to the city (admission was free) by Joanna S. Rose -- her collection is nothing short of remarkable and Thinc Design's clever exhibition design showcased them in a surprising and delightful way with quilts suspended from the rafters of the huge armory space. It is my understanding that the quilts will ultimately be donated to the American Folk Art Museum.


I'm so glad we went to see the show, as it was incredibly inspiring. I was humbled by the thought of the hours of handiwork that went into creating these quilts. We were both also struck by how graphic and modern-seeming many of the designs were -- you can almost imagine some being sold at CB2 or Design Within Reach (especially the running brick style design below!). Take a peek at some of the photos I snapped at the show:











Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anthropologie, Booksellers Extraordinaire?

Has anyone else noticed the arrival of many more books than usual to Anthropologie stores? The last few times I have been into an Anthropologie location, I noticed that there were tons of well-chosen titles for sale -- and not necessarily new books either. At the SoHo location, I spotted Annie Leibovitz At Work, which is more than two years old and hardly a best-seller (it is an excellent read, by the way, buy yourself a copy!). Likewise, the Domino book was a not-new-but-always-wonderful tome for sale.  I'm thrilled to see Anthropologie selling books, and I hope that this trend continues.

Another clue that Anthro is serious about their book selection is their exclusive on Holly Becker's new book Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home, which is available exclusively through Anthropologe until April 20th. I can't recall another time when a decorating book was launched with a limited release like this, can you? It's an interesting development, and I applaud Anthropologie for selling books in this increasingly digital age.

DIY Inspiration: Dip Dyed Sheets

I love the look of these Indigo Modern Tie-Dye sheets from Ralph Lauren, which are a sophisticated and almost minimalist take on a tie-dye pattern. While I wouldn't shell out big bucks for these particular sheets, it got me thinking that you could easily recreate the look with white sheets and a dip-dye technique. Martha Stewart conveniently has directions for how to get the dip-dyed look on her website.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Julia Child's Gigot a la Moutarde

The last time I posted I was about to host a dinner party, and it was a smashing success. We had such a nice night, and the food all worked out perfectly.

At my mother's suggestion, I roasted the lamb following Julia Child's recipe for Gigot a la Moutarde (Herbal Mustard Coating for Roast Lamb) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is a very simple and very delicious way to prepare a leg of lamb -- it got rave reviews from our guests and my boyfriend and I were both thrilled to have leftovers for the rest of the weekend. Give it a try the next time you are preparing leg of lamb. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Gigot a la Moutarde
Adapted from Mastering The Art of French Cooking (Volume 1)

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tb soy sauce
1 clove garlic mashed (I used 5!)
1 tsp ground rosemary (I used more)
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
2 Tb olive oil

1. Blend the mustard, soy sauce, garlic, herbs and ginger together in a bowl. Beat in the olive oil by droplets to make a mayonnaise-like cream.
2. Paint the lamb with the mixture and sit it on the rack of the roasting pan. The meat will pick up more flavor if it is coated several hours before roasting.
3. Roast in a 350 degree oven, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, for medium rare or 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours for well done.

Notes:
- I bathed the lamb in the sauce several hours before cooking it and then removed the lamb from the fridge two hours before putting it in the oven.
- I roasted my boneless leg in a roasting pan with no rack (I don't own one) following Alice Waters instructions: Heat oven to 375, roast 30 minutes on one side, flip the roast and roast 20 minutes on the other side. Turn again and finish cooking until the internal temperature reaches 128 degrees. Let rest for 20 minutes in a warm place.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dinner Party Tonight

Tonight we're having our biggest dinner party yet, and I am so excited. It's a ten-person group of both old and new friends that we're thrilled to be hosting. We've got a great menu planned and thanks to some prep work last night, I'm in such good shape that I'm typing a blog post instead of madly trying to get the meal ready. Hurray!

With cocktails we'll serve:
- Sliced apples, almonds, aged cheddar
- Goat cheese with herbs and foccaccio
- Cured meats

For dinner:
- Roasted Leg of Lamb marinated according to an old Julia Child recipe
- Parsnip, Potato and Leek mash from the big yellow Gourmet cookbook
- Roasted Asparagus with Feta from the big green Gourmet cookbook
- Mixed greens salad with chopped herbs and vinaigrette

To finish things off, there's dessert, of course:
- Lemon Curd Mousse with fresh raspberries from the big green Gourmet cookbook
- Coffee

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Window Film for Privacy

Four years ago, I installed decorative window film on the lower half of my bedroom windows for increased privacy. At the time, I meant to add plain, frosted window film to the living room windows, as well. Somehow four years managed to pass before I finally got around to it. However, after much delay, I did finally get the living room windows covered, and I am thrilled with the results. As you can see in the photo above, the film offers and incredible amount of privacy, without sacrificing light. I picked the simplest, frosted option from Home Depot.
Here's the window before the film was installed--any passerby could see right into the apartment when we had the curtains pulled back.
The first step to installing window film is to cut it to size. Be sure to measure your windows very, very carefully. You'll want to cut your film about 1/8-inch smaller all around than the actual window size, so you can fit it into the frame. I used a T-square and a rotary cutter for straight lines. When cutting, press down hard, as the film is thick enough that you need to apply some pressure.


The sealant on my windows isn't perfectly square at the corners, so I trimmed every corner of the film into a rounded corner, so it would lie flat and not touch the sealant.
Make sure your windows are very clean. Fill a pray bottle with water and a few drops of dish washing detergent. Spray the windows so that they are completely wet. The manufacturer doesn't instruct you to do this, but I found it helpful to pre-spray the back of the film itself in addition to spraying the window.

The final step is to place the film on the window and smooth it into place. Use your hands to position it and then take a credit card (or in this case a Starbucks gift card) to smooth out all the small air bubbles beneath the surface. It's important to be patient with this step for the best-looking results.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Paella Night

Tonight we're having a small dinner party, among our guests are a vegetarian who eats fish and her boyfriend who eats meat, but doesn't like fish and a pregnant woman and her gluten-intolerant partner--talk about a tricky crowd for which to cook! After debating the merits of several dishes, we finally settled on a paella as our main course. I plan to make a hybrid of this Mixed Paellea recipe from Saveur and a seafood paella recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook. I'll use a combo of vegetable broth and shellfish stock, and I'll plan to cook the chorizo and chicken in separate pans. Then I'll separate out a fish-only portion for our vegetarian.

Hopefully everyone will be happy. I'm excited to cook paella for the first time; I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones and Butter


Last night, my sister, my boyfriend and I met up at Powerhouse Arena Dumbo to hear chef Gabrielle Hamilton talk about her new book Blood, Bones and Butter, which was officially released two days ago. Long-time fans of her restaurant Prune and new admirers of her writing (the New Yorker excerpt from the book was beautiful, if you can get your hands on it, do), we were all excited to see her speak.

Unfortunately, moderator/interviewer Peter Meehan wasn't the world's greatest interviewer (in fact, he was terrible and didn't manage to ask any concrete questions the whole night, which was sort of shocking). Luckily, Hamilton was so charming and guileless that the talk was captivating even without structure.

Hamilton said many things that rang true to me as a writer, a former catering cook and a home cook. Among them, she said that the food she serves at Prune is a way to bring people together. She said she hopes the first few bites delight and maybe even surprise the diner, but the food ultimately just recedes as a delicious background to conversation. Hamilton said that when she looks out at her restaurant and sees people talking, laughing and enjoying themselves, she knows she has succeeded as a chef. Sharing this anecdote was actually a way to talk about her writing, that the author should recede, but the story should entertain.

After the talk, the line to buy a copy of the book was too long for our tastes, so we headed out without copies. However, I plan to stop by my local bookstore this weekend and pick up this book--I can't wait to read Blood, Bones and Butter.

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