Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rosemary, Honey and Sea Salt Shortbread

It is without question that tea's best friend, lover and soulmate is shortbread.

At first glance, it may seem bizarre. Rosemary, honey and sea salt? Oh, but doubt me not! It is ethereal; each little nibble crumbling and melting in your mouth, leaving you with a curious and intriguing aftertaste. Fresh rosemary brings such fragrance to this buttery shortbread, and the sea salt sprinkled before baking elevates this beautifully. You know how there are certain things in life that fill you with plump satisfaction, yet, even after, you find yourself yearning for just a little bit more? This is exactly that.

I discovered three things after starting the recipe:-

a) I don't own any cookie cutters. None, zilch, zero.
b) My neighbourhood grocery store, Potash Brothers, does not have cookie cutters in stock until the holiday season.
c) Champagne flute glasses make marvelous cookie cutters if you're in a bit of a rut, as I was.

Mmm, and need I remind you that it is perfect for the coming tea season? For me, it was partnered with a slightly oversteeped cup of chai, no sugar. Delectable. Look at how darling these are, little butter-white circles playfully speckled with fresh rosemary!

Recipe: from Epicurious. I found it easier to chill the dough for a few minutes before rolling it out and putting my champagne flutes to work. Also, I highly recommend a light dusting of coarse sea salt just before you pop it in the oven.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Say Hello to Autumn

I am waiting in great anticipation for the leaves to change, to see both trees and the ground swathed in a flurry of strong reds and oranges. This is my favourite time of the year! Tights the colour of a ruby port, pumpkin spice, and just enough nip in the air to require a soft cardigan, but not quite a wool coat.

My boyfriend and I decided to usher fall in by going to the Lincoln Square Apple Fest. Fresh locally harvested produce, pastries, cider, and buckets of apples, apples, and apples, of course. We bought some concord grapes and I've been wanting to make something out of them (jam, perhaps?), but they are so incredibly robust and flavourful on their own that I am unsure they will last even a few more days in my fridge!

I was sad that we missed out on the legendary apple pie (word on the street is that people dream about these at night!), but there's always next year.

On our way back home, we stumbled upon Lawrence Fish Market. Try to visualise the most unassuming hole-in-the-wall EVER where they serve up fresh and affordable sushi, and you have LFM. $2.95 maki rolls and $1 generously portioned nigiri? Unheard of in Chicago, but not at this dinky little fish shop. You will see a worn and tattered carseat in the store, and you may think twice... but don't. Just do it.

Enjoy the weather, everyone. Especially if you're in Chicago, because we know the ugly days will soon be upon us. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Caramelised Figs and Cream

If you feel like your life may need just a smidgen of heaven, make these. Drizzle ripe figs with honey, pop in oven, whip cream, and say hello to the great beyond. I think this may be one of the most seductive and simple desserts ever.

Friday, September 24, 2010


It seems that I hardly write about my schoolwork, which is funny, because as a full-time student... school is my life! Some background information: I attended the University of Virginia with the intent of being an English and Economics major... and then I switched to fashion school. Yes, really. And believe me, it was as crazy a transition as one would expect, maybe even crazier, and a transition I am still getting used to even as a junior in the fashion program.

But I love it! It is costly and the hours are long and arduous, but few things in life are more satisfying than seeing your model walk down the runway wearing something that existed only as a pencilled sketch a few months before. Really, nothing quite like it.

A few pictures of my two-piece look from last spring's runway show, held in The Modern Wing of our Museum. Only the one-shouldered look is mine.

The semester has started getting busy, and pretty soon I know I will be by the trusty industrial machines in the studio, belting out some BSB with my classmates as we work towards getting our garments finished!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weeknight Dinner

Just a simple dinner that takes less than 40 minutes from stove to dining table. Pork chop a in palm sugar-garlic-soy sauce-sesame-oil glaze, brown rice, and lots and lots of greens. I bought a nice fistful of organic fresh spinach (with roots and bits of soil and everything) and I think it's safe to say that my days of bagged spinach are over.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


Oh, pavlova. Even its name ignites thoughts of a clandestine lover of some sort. Making this dessert was an almost emotional experience, because it was only something I had at picnics and dinner parties with my Australian girl friends back in beautiful Mount Eliza. Pavlova, to me, is synonymous with weekends spent on their farms and homes, playing out in the garden or floating on a tube in a pond and coming back to a meal, and of course, dessert--- all lovingly prepared by their mothers.

It has been 5 years since I have seen any of my dear old friends, and 5 years since my tongue last tasted pavlova. I miss Australia and boarding school all the time, but making this allowed me to have a slice of Australia back.

I remember the first time I had it, a whimsical symphony of crisp meringue with a cloudlike soft centre, topped with an avalanche of fresh cream and finally... seasonal fruit. Raspberries, I think, are divine with this, as the tartness perfectly counterbalances the sweetness of the meringue. You can use whatever you may have on hand.

I made more than my boyfriend and I could possibly eat (out of any regard for our waistlines), so I gave a generous serving to my favourite doorman. He looked amused, and I trust he enjoyed it.

It is one of my favourite desserts, for the reasons mentioned above. You absolutely must make it! Recipe here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall 2010

It's been a while since my last update. School has been busybusybusy and I have settled back into the swing of things. My apartment is an absolute mess and already I am planning trips to the fabric store and trying to figure out model casting for my first project. I even transformed one of my closets into a makeshift pattern rack... it's sad. But really, it's nice to have so much to occupy myself with.

My friend Derek just moved to Chicago from my past school, University of Virginia, so we had some Arnold Palmers at Bourgeois Pig. I have always loved that cafe! Good place to cozy up with some solid reading or an old friend.

Here are pictures of two things that make me very happy: chirashi, and mango with sticky rice. Yum.