Audrey and I have been taking a break from baking . . . I know, I know, such a shame. It’s just that the whole house heats up the instant we turn on the oven. Consequently, we open the windows and doors, only to attract a host of fluttering insects that seem to thoroughly enjoy orbiting my head during photoshoots. So rather than suppress my sweet tooth entirely, I’ve opted for more appropriate warm weather desserts, such as ice cream, fresh fruit, and this panna cotta. The first time we made Claire’s coconut panna cotta, we were hooked. Something about that cool, silky coconut cream that is simply irresistible. I decided to make a topping that was reflective of what I had in the kitchen at the moment – blackberries, thyme, and sloe gin. Sloe gin is made by soaking sloe berries (a relative of the plum) in gin. The result is a bright, fruit forward liqueur that I feel perfectly compliments both the blackberries and thyme in the sauce. Bon appétit!!
Here’s a little cocktail 101: a “buck” is a type of cocktail that combines ginger beer and citrus with the spirit of your choice. So for example, a Moscow mule (vodka, lime, and ginger beer) is technically also a vodka buck. Today’s cocktail is from one of my all-time favorite bartenders, Erick Castro. For a twist on a bourbon buck, Erick adds a strawberry and couple dashes of Angostura bitters. File this away under the category of simple, but devilishly delicious. Just because the Kentucky Derby has come and gone, doesn’t mean I have to put away that bottle of bourbon. In fact, with the weather heating up, I think I’ll keep it out right on the kitchen counter!
I think this is the world’s easiest breakfast recipe. Oatmeal magically overnight and NO cooking involved! Simply combine whatever milk you like (I love almond milk here) with the oats in a jar and the oats absorb the liquid overnight. All you have to do is top with your favorite oatmeal toppings. I never thought I’d enjoy a cold oatmeal, but it is so incredibly refreshing. Frozen blueberries work perfect with this and for a little texture, I added crunchy buckwheat groats, sliced almonds and coconut flakes. I drizzle extra honey on top which gets cold from the frozen blueberries and, combined with the other crunchy toppings, turns into an almost-granola. So fantastic, especially for hot summer mornings!
Tomorrow is Derby Day, and it’s taken quite a bit of willpower to save my julep consumption for the weekend. As you know, we’re big Derby fans in my house. There’s no better reason to sip minty-sweet bourbon from a frosty glass like a slurpee. It’s an American tradition!! Now, I know that a Spicy Thai Mint Julep doesn’t sound very American, but hear me out. First, sweet and spicy is a classic combo that never fails. Second, the Thai basil adds an aromatic complexity that perfectly compliments the mint. Third, it’s a delicious cocktail and that’s all that matters, am I right?! I teamed up with Sarah for this shoot. Well, technically she had her own shoot (recipe coming soon), as she’s not a big cocktail gal. We both tried our hand at creating a cinemagraph (skip to the last photo), essentially a photograph that has a bit of subtle movement within an otherwise still photo. I’ve attempted a few others over the years (here, here), and needless to say it’s still a pretty difficult process to execute. If you want to see some stunning examples, checkout cinemagraph pioneers Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg. Maybe I’ll elaborate sometime on the whole cinemagraph process, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a few Kentucky Derby picks. At 3-1 odds, Nyquist is the easy pick to win, however, I’m going with Mor Spirit . . . for obvious reasons. And for my long shot pick, I’m going with Suddenbreakingnews at 16-1. You’re welcome.
Mother’s Day in our family is always celebrated with a homemade breakfast. That’s been the tradition since I’ve been old enough to make scrambled eggs. Every year, I try to create something new and unique and this Mother’s Day I’ve decided to do a Cinco de Mayo inspired breakfast and give chilaquiles a try. Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish of fried tortillas covered in chile sauce. They’re often topped with eggs and queso fresco (one of my favorite cheeses) and Mexican creama. There are so many different varieties and if you want the low-down on all the different types check Yes, More Please’s recipe (which I used here, slightly adapted). Chilaquiles are so simple and delicious but take quite a bit of prep work to make the red and green sauce and fry the tortillas. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t go through so much work for breakfast but for a special occasion like Mother’s Day this is the perfect dish. You can prep the sauces the night before as well and heat them up so that all you need to do is fry the tortillas and eggs in the morning. Serve these immediately after saucing for the perfect tortilla texture. If you wait too long, the tortillas will get too soggy.
I get the most joy out of setting the table whenever I entertain at home. The thought that I needed fancy tableware and expensive linens to successfully dress a table was quickly turned around once I learned how to get creative with items I already owned. Inspired by the brilliant combinations of unexpected ingredients of Curate snack bars, I’ve created place settings under four different themes. For instance, layering plates doesn’t have to look uptight and formal, mixing and matching glassware can look completely chic and intentional, and throwing the rules out when it comes to “proper” flatware is totally okay. Oh, and don’t forget the flowers! They are the key to pulling the elements of your tablescape together. No vase? Just put them in a water glass, like I do! See? It’s all about being resourceful!
Indulgent: There’s nothing more indulgent than pure whites, bright golds and dark colors like black and brown. I’m also a big believer in mixing metals so I love the unexpected addition of silver in the flatware. And if you’re looking to add a bit of extra richness to the mix, stick to a single color when choosing your flowers.