Thursday, February 27, 2014

dinner party rules from Town and Country

(I'm almost finished cleaning up from last night's dinner.  It's always amazing to me, no matter how informal a meal might be,  there is never less mess.)

In the meantime...
image courtesy of Town and Country

image from Downton Abbey
The ever elegant, Town and Country Magazine has recently shared a "what not to say" list for dinner parties... It's quite comical, and unfortunately I've overheard more than one of these faux pas at a party.

1.) "I'm on a cleanse."
2.) "The doctor says I'm not contagious."
3.) "That was a great mugshot of your husband on the news."
4.) "How could anyone vote for that jerk?"
5.) "It's amazing what they can do with tummy tucks, isn't it?"
6.) "I didn't know you cooked!"
7.) "How was rehab?"
8.) "So are you wife number two, or is it three?"
9.) "I have to leave right after the appetizers."
10.) "Did you just come from the stables?"
11.) "I'm not smoking, it's electronic."
12.) "I think you'd really like this book I'm reading, it's called Wheat Belly.
13.) "I saw your ex's wedding announcement in this month's issue of Town & Country."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

an informal "french style" dinner - tonight's menu

not this.....
more this....(for tonight at least)
In general, I prefer cocktail hour to be quite informal. It's a chance to relax, without worrying about conversing in the midst of a meal.  I usually offer a martini, a lillet, or maybe even champagne.  Of course, some prefer to start with wine, and that's fine too.


"french kisses"
armagnac soaked prunes, stuffed with fois gras

armagnac chicken, roasted with fingerling potatoes and shallots
haricot verts sautéed in butter 

Roquerfort, St Angel triple creme, and Pyranees goat's milk
 medjool dates, and clementine oranges
...more red wine...

warm madeleines 
espresso, and/or calvados


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bienvenue retour!

these are a few of my favorite things
I'm planning a special dinner for dear friends who have just returned home from Paris.  I'm consulting a few of my favorite french cookbooks for inspiration, and while I haven't finalized the menu,  madeleines will definitely be served with coffee. I'm so excited to try this recipe for the Hermès Madeleine from the most recent issue of Cherry Bombe !
image courtesy of Cherry Bombe
**addendum -  my thoughtful husband has reminded me that I've left out one very important, French Menu Cookbook, written by, Richard Olney from his home "in the hills of Provence", first published in 1970.
"two informal winter dinners" - photo courtesy of Collins Publishing House

"scrambled eggs with fresh truffles" - photo courtesy of Collins Publishing House

Monday, February 24, 2014

a (very good) italian cake of sorts - part II

Hazelnut Almond Focaccia Cake, with Mascarpone Cream and chopped Hazelnuts
I'm not usually one to brag outright, but this cake is really, very good! As mentioned in the previous post,  I was looking for a dessert to share with our new Italian friends.  Initally, I thought I should make something quintessentially "American" to share, but frankly apple pie is not my forte!  The Spiaggia Cookbook provided the perfect solution, as it often does.  Spiaggia opened its doors in Chicago, on Michigan Ave in 1984.  Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano is a James Beard Award recipient for Best Chef, and the menu at Spiaggia speaks for itself. 
The Spiaggia Cookbook
The original Spiaggia dessert
The original creation by Spiaggia is absolutely elegant, and slightly more complicated than what I was looking for this weekend.  While I do enjoy more involved recipes that require painstaking attention to detail,  this wasn't the time.  My version of Chef Mantuano's decadent cake is actually quite good, despite it's more rustic presentation. The taste combinations of the slightly sweet, slightly crispy hazelnut cake, topped with creamy mascarpone, and crunchy hazelnuts is hard to beat, and for that I can only claim inspiration.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

an italian cake of sorts...

Tonight we're attending a small reception for some visitors from the Domenico Cimarosa Conservatory in Avellino, Italy.  They've been here performing Baroque chamber music at the University's School of Music.  We've enjoyed several beautiful concerts this week, and are looking forward to celebrating with them before they leave.  I've decided to bring a very rustic version of the gorgeous Italian Foccacia Cake from the Spiaggia cookbook.  We sampled a bite (or two) last night, with a glass (or two) of Sicilian Nero D'avola.... the pairing wasn't right at all, but they were both so good on their own, that we managed to satiate ourselves nevertheless.  I'm still working the recipe a bit, but it's almost finished!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

a little mug here, a little mug there...

this morning's mug by Royal Copenhagen -photo by Butter and Figs
On Saturday mornings I always look forward to the "Off Duty" section of the WSJ's weekend edition.  It's a perfect mix of food, travel, fashion, always with a good dose of miscellany.   The food makes me hungry, and the fashion even better.  One of the blurbs that caught my eye this morning - as a I sat sipping coffee from my little mug -was about, LITTLE MUGS!
photo from +The Wall Street Journal 
It's a great article, and I encourage you to read it here.  It's absolutely true that a smaller cup of coffee tastes better, and feels more social, and you're never left slurping a mouthful of cold coffee from the bottom of your cup. It feels better in your hand, and is a good excuse to keep the french press close.
But I must say, I was surprised that they left out one of my favorite purveyors (of everything), Royal Copenhagen - who has been making an annual version of the little mug for decades. 
i should be better about collecting-photo by Butter and Figs
Every year at Christmas, they release a new design, by a Danish artist, for the forthcoming year. The timing is of course impeccable , as they make for excellent gifts.  Although I can't say that I'm enamoured with 2014's version.  

Royal Copenhagen 2014

According to their website, "The motif of the 2014 mug is graphically simple and at the same time dramatically expressive - twilight on the moor - the last rays of sunlight bathe the landscape in shaded beauty. With great intensity the artist Dag Samsund has created a unique mug for the Royal Copenhagen collection.".

Incidentally, I think 2013's mug is gorgeous.
Royal Copenhagen 2013

 You can also find them on etsy from time to time.
Royal Copenhagen 1969 - Etsy

Friday, February 21, 2014

dreaming of spring - a salad to get you through February

We just returned from a brief trip to southern Florida, and I'm craving food reminiscent of warmer weather.  This salad seems to do the trick - it combines the fresh flavors of a southern climate, with a cozy creaminess that February demands.  It's a simple recipe, sure to keep you content while you're dreaming of spring.  As a bonus,  it's completely paleo friendly )Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free).

vacations are never long enough....

Alas, I was remiss in sharing any photos from our recent trip, on the blog.  There was a bit of activity on Instagram, and Twitter, but I tend to get caught up in moments, and forget to record them for posterity's sake.  I should be better,  but in the meantime here are just a few snaps from last week. 
everything must be screened for security puposes!
i can't think of a better way to start my morning, than with an americano, at Cafe Bouloud!
poolside at our favorite Brazilian Court Hotel - it's private and quiet, a perfect retreat from the hype one may find at other resorts on the island
Mr. Butter, by the pool, with the journal +The Wall Street Journal 
the Polo Hall of Fame:  Annual Awards gala
a nightcap, and a game of checkers
The Outback Challenge +International Polo Club Palm Beach, a match to benefit the Polo Player Support Foundation
my lovely sister and her beau joined us for the day
there's always something to do on the island
but lounging around barefoot is the best way to relax
the very best cobb salad is also found at Cafe Bouloud

the mr. and me
Never enough - Sunday Polo +International Polo Club Palm Beach 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Food is Fashion.

If you don't already subscribe to both of these publications, you're missing out (and yes, I did end this last sentence with a preposition). 

Cherry Bombe, a bi-annual journal -now on their second issue, is best described on their kickstarter profile,  from which they raised over $40,000.00 in just 21 days.  The brainchild of Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, "Cherry Bombe is a beautifully designed, biannual indie magazine that celebrates women and food—those who grow it, make it, serve it, study it, enjoy it and everything in between. It is about sustenance and style and the things that nourish the mind, the eye and, of course, the stomach. Cherry Bombe features a variety of cultures, cuisines and voices—chefs and servers, food stylists and scientists, culinary icons and up-and-coming entrepreneurs—as documented by some of the most interesting food and fashion writers and photographers around.
Almost all of the subjects and contributors are women."

This is absolute truth.  I have devoured this issue, many times over, and I'm already starving for the next. Beautifully written, photographed, and editorialized,  Cherry Bombe will bring you both inspiration and joy for all things food.

Porter magazine, published every two months, is a, "fashion magazine for the stylish, intelligent woman of now.  Combining the intimacy of the printed page with the instant gratification technology allows, PORTER delivers an authoritative global point of view and a bespoke curation of fashion, beauty, travel and culture in one luxurious glossy package, brought to life by an innovative digital edition.
Porter celebrates women in fashion, and women in the world. Already published in 60 countries, after just being launched at New York Fashion Week.  Read more from Christy Binkley in a recent WSJ article here.

I brought this magazine to Palm Beach last week, and spent several hours reading, and re-reading the articles, as well as lusting after all of the gorgeous fashion spreads. I might have even done a bit of shopping.  Porter brings to the table so much more than beautiful photo spreads, but with just enough to keep us shopping.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Palm Beach...and more content going forward

photo by Slim Aarons - book cover Assouline
Hello friends,  We're heading to Palm Beach for much needed sunshine and warmth! I'm currently void of motivation, and as a result my poor little blog is suffering!  I'm looking forward to much needed inspiration in the form of good food, incredible architecture, the ocean, seeing friends, and of course, polo, polo, polo.
When I return,  I have exciting plans for this little blog o' mine.  More food,  more photos, and heaps more inspiration from the kitchen and beyond.

I'll be posting photos while we're away - mostly food, and ponies of course.  You can also follow my adventures on Instagram @butterandfigs  and on twitter @butter_and_figs
Vintage Postcard - Palm Beach

the Breakers

International Polo Club - Wellington, FL

photo by Slim Aarons