Tuesday, May 29, 2012

le weekend ...

 After being on the go the past couple of weekends it was a pure blessing to stay local this weekend. Not to mention ... a long holiday weekend was exactly what we needed. There is something tranquil about staying in one's neighborhood, cherishing time at home, sitting at a favorite coffee shop, and reading our latest reads. We perused a quaint Saturday market, puppy sat, bought a farm fresh chicken and made several meals out of it ... more about this later ... and started our herb garden (something we have had on our to do list for over a year). I even dabbled in arranging a small pot of succulents.

After visiting with Lauren and Craig in Portland we have been determined to make our home ... a home. Adding those little touches like an herb garden, crafting do it yourself projects that make us happy to sit at home and ... be. Our long weekend could not have ended more perfectly as our friends (whom we had not seen for three months ... a long time for us) invited us over for our signature fondue dinner.

We caught up over a wine from Paso Robles Chronic Cellars ... a wine that is perfect served with fondue as it is flavorful and sinfully delicious. We brought the cheese and our friends made the bread and supplied the wine ... and what can get better than that. This week ... make your home a home and enjoy in life's sweet and simple things and do not forget to ... TREAT YO SELF (we have been laughing ourselves silly watching Parks and Rec) Bisous.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Amaretto Peach Pie

Mini Amaretto Peach Pies

Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time to make a pie. Now, not just any pie but an Amaretto peach pie will surely kick things off. I love the way Amaretto mingles with each and every peach ... creating a sweet yet savory taste. Lately, I've seen several different peach varieties and even though they are not perfectly in season ... I sometimes splurge as to remind myself what fruits Summer will bring. Whether you are planning an outdoor weekend with friends this weekend, a barbecue at home with family, or you are planning on keeping things simple ... I highly recommend that your weekend should include a slice of pie, a mini pie, and more precisely ... a sweet and perfect mini Amaretto peach pie. Next week, I will have several posts all about Oregon ... so if you are a lover of the Pacific Northwest stay tuned. Bisous.

A Recipe: Mini Amaretto Peach Pies
The Crust: a Pâte Brisée pie crust
(From Martha Stewart)
2 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced into cubes, chilled
½ cup ice water plus 2 tablespoons

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse for several seconds. Add your diced butter, and process until the mixture looks coarse, about 15 seconds.

Next, add your iced water (it is important that your water is cold) slowly, and process until your dough comes together. Make sure that you do not add too much water as you do not want a sticky dough.

Form your dough into one ball, and then cut the ball in half. Roll out each half into a disc and wrap individually. Store for an hour in the refrigerator to let your dough chill. After an hour, your dough is ready to use. For mini pies, I use the top of a wide mouth mason jar to cut into my dough for perfect sized mini pies.

 The Filling: Peach Amaretto 
(from yours truly, Coeur de La)
6-8 peaches, peeled, pitted, and cubed
¼ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon amaretto

1. Mix ingredients in a small bowl, being careful not to mash the peaches
2. Roll out one disc of pie dough, as this will be your bottom crust. To cut perfectly sized bottoms, I use the lid to a large mouth mason jar. Once your dough has been rolled out and cut, fit your pie bottoms into mini ceramic pie dishes. I found mine at Cost Plus.
3. Pour your filling into your pie molds. I like adding a heaping amount as there is nothing worse than taking a bit of pie and getting no fruit.
4. Now with your second dough, cut 3 inch by ½ inch long pieces of dough with a pie cutter. These will be used for a lattice crust.
5. Make an X over your pie filling with your cut dough, then begin to weave over and under with the other dough strips until you have a lattice. The first time you do this will not be perfect, but with time you will get the hang of it. Starting with mini lattice crusts is the way to go, as you only need about six pieces of dough.
6. Place pies on a cookie sheet, as they will ooze and make a precarious mess in your oven.
7. Make an egg wash with one egg and 3 tablespoons of water and lightly brush the tops of your pies, sprinkling with a bit of sugar if you feel inclined.
8. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Let the pies cool and … 
Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our forest dinner ...

And so it began,  our dinner in a forest ....

 This past weekend we made ourselves quite comfortable in Oregon. We ventured up to Portland to visit our close friends, Lauren and Craig, and I ran the Portland half marathon. 
Our trip was everything and more than what I had expected. 

We found new coffee spots, tried new restaurants, went to new areas where our friends bought a home where their backyard is literally a forest, spent time enjoying their backyard swing, visited with baby Fern who is now four months old (she stole my heart) 
and enjoyed a dinner of local goodness that Lauren and I put together the night before my run.

I had told Lauren prior to the trip that I wanted to collaborate with her and make a farmers' market dinner where we could comfortably sit, laugh, and enjoy a dinner that was rooted in Oregon. A week earlier Lauren was given a chicken from one of her friend's farms, Afton Field Farm, and we decided to center our meal around chicken. Now this may sound surprising to some as it was a bit surprising to us at first, but, we cooked our chicken in her crock pot. Yes, a crock pot. Saturday morning, Lauren rubbed the chicken with paprika, salt, pepper, and a secret rub, placed it in the crock pot, and seven hours later we had a deliciously made chicken. Not only was the crock pot convenient but also resourceful ... because as the chicken cooked in the crock pot a plethora of juices filled the pot that later could be used with our chicken leftovers for chicken broth.

I love recipes that yield goodness far beyond one meal.

Knowing that we would be serving chicken we looked for sides that were seasonal and would serve well with chicken. While at the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market we purchased red and gold fingerling potatoes, two bundles of asparagus, fresh thyme, and two baskets of strawberries. Our goal for dinner was to make a seasonal meal that was simple yet all together satisfying. So, after a day of farmers' market perusing, coffee sipping, and photo taking, we arrived home and got to cooking.

I prepared the potatoes in a little olive oil, thyme, cracked pepper and sea salt, and cooked them in an iron skillet with a bit of garlic. Then Marc broiled the asparagus with olive and red pepper flakes giving us asparagus that were simple, no fuss, and still had a great crisp. We shared a bottle of homemade hard cider given to us from a friend in Red Bluff, and each glass reminded me of a cider I enjoyed in Paris. Once dinner was ready, I was in photography heaven as I had forest as my backdrop and a tablescape right out of storybook. Lauren styled as I photographed, her simple, creative, and thoughtful touch added to the whole ambiance of our meal.  Lauren thoroughly enjoys and appreciates the little things and by doing so, she often brings out the finer side of things.

Our Forest Meal:
So, there we sat, four friends in a backyard forest, sipping on homemade cider, breaking pieces of a fresh baguette and slathering them with my strawberry vanilla jam, enjoying cheese from the Wilamette Valley, laughing with each bite, and trying to ward off bugs as they wanted in on the party too. And with each bite, we savored in the tastes of a dinner that was made by us, 
and from a place I love ... Oregon. 

I encourage everyone to dust off an old blanket, head outside, and prepare a seasonal dinner with friends. Take in the little things life has to offer, drizzle them with olive oil, add a pinch of salt, and cherish those moments where you can sit outside in the company of those who make you laugh, and  enjoy the beauty of ... eating.

The Menu for our Forest Dinner
(Veggies and Fruit from the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market)
Afton Farms Chicken
Broiled Asparagus with Red Pepper Flakes
Grilled Red and Gold Farmers Market Potatoes with Thyme and Olive Oil
Cheese from the Willamette Valley Cheese Co.
St. Honore Boulangerie Baguette
Hard Cider with Honey made from a friend in Red Bluff
Smith Hibiscus Tea
Strawberries sprinkled with sugar
Coeur de La Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Lauren and I are for hire for small forest gatherings. Bisous!

*photographed by:  me, Caroline of Coeur de La Photography
  styling by: Lauren Hartmann

Monday, May 14, 2012

a picnic under the pines

Lately ... I have been feeling all together grateful for life's little things ... perfectly poached eggs, homemade beet hummus, a visit from Marc's cousin from France which allowed us to open champagne, venture to Mt. Tam for a ten mile hike, and show him all the things that make us happy.

This past weekend we spent several days with my mom where each morning we grabbed cofee and relaxed. Each trip was filled with the best espresso, the retelling of classic family stories, and lots and lots of laughs.

We went to our favorite park where we had a picnic under the pines indulging in Lambrusco, homemade sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and fresh berries. And ... after several hours of frisbee we finally wore ourselves out and headed home. I love days where glancing at one's watch is an after thought and the only way to tell time is by an occasional grumble of the stomach ... meaning it must be time for dinner. I cherish moments where we do not have to do anything out of the ordinary ... and it is the little things that make our weekend special.

My favorite evening was when Marc was busy outside washing the cars, a warm breeze with smells of citrus filled the air, and my mom and I squeezed lemon after lemon for vanilla bean lemonade. And it reminded me that ... it's the little things that I will always remember not the dinners out or jam packed weekends filled with things to do and places to see ... but the little moments that stop us in our tracks and have us appreciating just being with the ones you love.