No excuses….

Like all writers, I have been bitten by a little bit of writers block, including having to get up from my laptop to even remember the term “writers block”. It’s not that I don’t love ya, just not feeling especially inspired at this time of year. Looking forward to warmer days and nites, my garden and more. I’ve also been doing a bit of painting with my online class, a little cooking, but really nothing new and of course, looking for gainful employment that won’t make me break out.

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Oh, and the Hubs and I built this closet system in my dressing room. Took us the whole holiday weekend. I have gathered up the clutter from the floor and installed some new hooks, so things are looking much better. Two bags of clothes to donation, and I think I can say I have officially decluttered my entire house!

So stay tuned for this and that and some new posts coming soon. Oh and if you were wondering what I made out of all the clementines, I brushed them with brown sugar and broiled them and then used them in salads! Great with goat cheese, spring onions, and mixed greens.

Turning the Pages….

You may have noticed some new links on my homepage for cashmeretea. I’m adding some features for existing and up and coming options that will make it easier to find some new things.

First, I have created links to my India Hicks business.

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You can watch and learn here!

Connected to royalty and living on an out island in the Bahamas, India is smart and funny and has created a great business model for women, of which I am a part. Her designs are contemporary and sophisticated with a bit of whimsy mixed in. You can shop from the link and you can reach out to me on comments if you’d like to learn more about joining me in the business with India!

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Then I have added a page called “Paint me a Picture” that I’m going to use to convey my new creative endeavor or painting in oils from an online class taught by the artist Dreama Tolle Perry. You can read about her here. She’s so talented! Oh my gosh, the colors!

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Then I have two more pages, one called “Por Deux” or “for two” that showcases pictures that I have taken of two glasses or cups or sometimes meals when the Hubs and I have been traveling. The second is called “Look Up” and is a record of photos, mostly of religious statues, from my travels. In our secular America, it is unusual to see holy figures outside of the grounds of churches and temples, however in Europe, they appear everywhere and often.

I hope you enjoy these new additions. I may in fact add more in the future, but for now this will give me some new areas to fill out. Check back often and I’ll try to remember to update on the main site when something new is posted!

 

An oldie but goodie

I’ve had this book for almost 30 years, and recently revisited one of my absolute favorite recipes from it. Best of all, the recipe has 5,only 5 ingredients! Chicken, butter, zucchini, cream and marjoram or tarragon..and salt & pepper, but I don’t count those two.


Cut one pound boneless, skinless chicken into large finger size pieces. Lay on a tray or large plate and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Then, slice a large zucchini into 1/2 moon slices. Season with salt and pepper. Chop fresh marjoram if you can find it (yeah,  right) or fresh tarragon ( miraculously found in Worcester this week, someone must have ordered in error!) Worst case scenario is to use dried.

 

Sauté the zucchini in 2 tbsp of butter on medium high heat, add the herbs and continue till just starting to caramelize. Remove to a bowl, add 2 more tbsp of butter and add the chicken. Sauté on med high heat until cooked through. 



Add the zucchini back in and pour in 1 cup of heavy cream. Bring to a boil, dial the heat back and reduce by 1/2. Serve over rice pilaf.

Same church, different seat…

You may remember this sunburst shaped and filled pastry from Thanksgiving, when I filled it with olives and sundried tomatoes. In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, I changed up the recipe to buffalo chicken. Because…Super Bowl.

 

I cooked off a large boneless and skinless chicken breast in Franks Hot Sauce and butter and when it was cooled, popped it in the cuisinart and shredded the life out of it. Then 8 oz of no fat cream cheese and more hot sauce. Spin again, so it’s like a pate…which of course it is.


Meanwhile, back at the puff pastry board…dust with a little flour and roll it out so that a dinner plate will fit on it. Trace the outline with a knife and set aside. Repeat with another piece of dough, this time on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment or silicone. Spread the chicken mix and top with a little shredded cheese. Then lay the second pastry round on top and lightly pres edges together. Put a glass in the center and press lightly then score the dough in rays from the circle. You can use a pizza cutter to cut all the way through. Twist each ray a 1/2 turn and lay flat. Bake in 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Fun fact! Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving for food consumption in a single day in the US!

Fun fact #2. I have officially named this pastry piñata!

Lighter than air…

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Isn’t that what they say about ballerinas? And didn’t they name this dessert Pavlova after a great ballerina?

What is it about a great big cake of egg whites and flavoring that instantly melts in your mouth that is so delicious? I mean, it’s barely there, and then it’s gone…like air ( do you see a pattern forming here?)

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Anyway, for aforementioned dinner party on Saturday, I decided to break out the last jar of salted caramel that I brought home from France last year. I was going to just serve it over coffee ice cream, but then I thought…’it need something’. Why not make a pavlova? So I did.

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Dead simple, egg whites, powdered espresso for flavor, sugar, cornstarch and a couple of drops of white vinegar. It will come out of the mixer able to be formed to your liking, so in light of the upcoming Valentine holiday, you could always form it into a heart.  Then a 300° degree oven for about an hour, and let it cool completely in the oven.

Of course, no pictures are extent of the finished product because I got completely absorbed in dinner and guest and wine…but trust me it was delish!

 

 

You can’t go wrong with brisket…

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We had some friends over Saturday nite for dinner and I was pondering cooking my standard short ribs for dinner when I struck upon the idea of doing a brisket instead. I had made Gail Simmons Horseradish Brisket in the past, but it came out kind of dry. I had followed the recipe and cooked it in the oven, but this time I reverted back to the trusty pressure cooker.

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Like all pot roast, short rib type beefs, it’s kinda hard to mess it up and instead just go for savory and slow. If you have to run a second cycle on the pressure cooker, don’t worry, cooking it more, just means a more tender meat at the end. I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper and browned it in the pressure cooker with a little butter and olive oil. I took the meat out and and added carrots and sliced onions to the cooker. img_2068img_2064img_2070

Then I slathered the meat with prepared white horseradish according to the recipe and put it back in the pressure cooker with the veggies and the beef broth. I cooked for a total time of 2 hours under pressure, but oven cooking might be longer.

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And just because I could, I threw in some short ribs for soup also. We got a brisket for 4, and 2 notes worth of soup for 2 out of the recipe. The horseradish may seem like a lot, but honestly, it just adds a nice note of savory to the jus. Not spicy at all.

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Oh and I set the table really pretty, too. See?