Sunday, April 19, 2015

The breath of the cherry blossoms...

I went down to
mingle my breath
with the breath
of the cherry blossoms.

—Toi Derricotte, 1941

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chocolaty chocolate tart

How have never mentioned this utterly divine and wickedly chocolate glazed chocolate tart before? (The recipe comes from Bon Appetite magazine.) See those three layers? It's a trio of buttery chocolate, topped with whipped chocolate mousse, cloaked with chocolate ganache. That's three kinds of chocolate experiences on one tart! It's rich, and I've made it at least a dozen times and always get rave reviews. I don't change a thing on the BA recipe and like to serve it with slightly sweetened freshly whipped cream and raaaahhhhspbreeess. And if you have some fresh, edible pansies, even better.

INGREDIENTS for crust:
9 (5- by 2 1/4-inch) chocolate graham crackers (not chocolate-covered), finely ground
   (1 cup)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For filling:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 65% cacao if marked), chopped
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:
2 tablespoon heavy cream
1 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon warm water

a 9-inch round fluted tart pan (1 inch deep)

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Stir together all ingredients and press evenly onto bottom and 3/4 inch up side of tart pan. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack 15 to 20 minutes

Make filling:
Bring cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, and salt in another bowl, then stir into melted chocolate.

Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set about 3 inches from edge but center is still wobbly, 20 to 25 minutes. (Center will continue to set as tart cools.) Cool completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour.

Make glaze:
Bring cream to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in corn syrup, then warm water.

Pour glaze onto tart, then tilt and rotate tart so glaze coats top evenly. Let stand until glaze is set, about 1 hour... if you can!

NOTE: This tarts keeps well for several days—just make sure to glaze it while it's still warm.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Color inspiration—a melange of blues

This magnificent melange of blues is a sky detail from Vincent Van Gogh's View of the Roofs of Paris. It's so modern—and crazy to believe that it was painted in 1886. The colors, texture and overall intensity are very inspiring.

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wooing spring

Arise, my darling,

my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.

—Song of Solomon

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pink + green!

I think Lilly Pulitzer would have approved of the pink and green combo of these spring colored crostini. The bread slices (sliced bagels, in this case), were browned in olive oil in a saucepan, then topped with 2 separate dips. The pink crostini on the left is made of a mix of a beet and goat cheese then it was garnished with a tiny cube of beet, and the green crostini on the right is a mix of peas, ricotta and Parmesan cheese that was garnished with whole peas and pea shoots. I brought this to my family Easter gathering. Easy peasy!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Color Inspiration— WM's Tapestry

Easter greetings! I adore the muted colors of William Morris's The Forest tapestry (most likely faded from it's original glorious colors). This handsome hare was featured on The Forest Tapestry—designed by William Morris in 1887 at Merton Abbey—and woven by Morris & Co.'s three most excellent senior weavers. The tapestry depicts scrolling acanthus leaves, a lion, peacock, hare and fox, all frolicking among wild flowers. Shown below is the entire tapestry.

Click to enlarge.

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Russian red eggs

These richly colored eggs have a story behind them. Growing up in Beverly our Russian neighbor, Manishka Kotsovolos (married to a Greek man), would celebrate Russian Orthodox Easter every year  after our regular Easter. When we would arrive at her festive and aromatic home to celebrate the Russian Pascha—the Greek word for Easter—Manya would greet us with a hearty "Christos Anesti!" (Christ is risen!), and the feasting and celebrations would begin.

At the Pascha, the grown-ups would drink and laugh and talk with wonderful passion, and the kids would indulge in the many exotic Russian-Polish-Greek sweet treats that Manya had baked. And there, on the table, was always a giant bowl of these glorious ruby colored eggs that we—both children and adults—would play "Egg Wars" with. Two people, each holding an egg, smash the pointed or round ends of their two eggs together. The owner of the eggs that does not crack is the winner who goes on to the next round, and so on, until there is just one winner. Read more about Greek Egg Fighting here. Needless to say, there was a lot of egg salad the following week. Our family has since adopted this tradition for own own Easter celebrations.

So why do the Russian Orthodox dye their eggs red? Red symbolizes many things, but in this instance the Red is meant to represent the color of life and victory, and blood of Christ. Coloring Easter egg originated with the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ. Read more about the history of Russian red eggs here.

Yummy red!

Here's how to make these crimson, blood red eggs: Dyed in onion skins and red food coloring, these eggs come out vibrant red every time. You may have to scrub your pots and pans a bit when the dying is complete.  After your eggs have come out of their red bath and are dry, lightly oil them with mineral or olive oil to give them a brilliant, luminous shine. Have fun!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Girl on Rocks

Girl on Rocks  9 x 12  Circa 1977 

For Throwback Thursday... here is a painting I made when I was just a wee lass of only 16!  For anyone who is curious, that's... cough, cough... around 37 years ago. I  knew that I was going to be an artist since around age 3, when it was noted that I had and obsessive love of Crayola Crayons and construction paperIn my early teen years I took drawing and painting classes at Montserrat College of Art and at The Sisters of Notre Dame in Ipswich, and a spark grew into a flame that still burns. This painting, one of my first experiments using oil paints, proudly hangs on a wall in my mother's bedroom, and is definitely, absolutely not for sale. Ever.