Mar 062013

Raymond Blanc is one of my favourite chefs to watch. I am dying to go to his restaurant in Le Manoir in  Oxfordshire.  I recently came across his tips to making cocktails on a recent trip on the Eurostar in Eurostar Magazine.

He spoke how the cocktail has  changed from 20 years with swizzle sticks and bright paper Umbrellas now the cocktail is having a revolution and I would say more of a bespoke experience.  Here are some of his tips for the next time you are making a cocktail.

- That just like great dishes that are based on contrast, created by a build up of flavours. The same applies to cocktails.

- Follow the 3 S rule for cocktails

1) Strength, or the alcohol base, you should never blend to spirits

2) Sour,usually a fruit or a fruit juice.  You should only stir a cocktail when it does not contain fruit juice, lemon juice is the exception

3) Sweet, which is liqueur or something sugary and fizzy.

He uses the classic gin and tonic as an example- the gin the strength, the tonic the sweet, and the the slice of lemon or lime the sour.

I hope this helps next time you are coming up with a cocktail concoction. I think it is important to sometimes go back to basic principals.



Feb 182013

My sister is in town visiting from Boston. She wanted to go to Brussels for the day, which in theory seemed to be a good idea but ended up being one of those days where everything kind of did not go our way.What we learned- Don’t go to Brussels on Monday. Pretty much everything is closed.

Although in the end despite nothing going how we had planned when we arrived back to London tonight we all said what a great day.  We did accomplish what we wanted: Ate a waffle, Fries, and had some beer. I highly recommend trying   cherry fruit beer.


Waffles at Le Funambule

Waffles at Le Funambule

Right next to the Manneken Pis- The fountain statue of the little boy going to the bathroom who is only about 1 foot tall!

Funambule Waffles

Funambule Waffles- You might want an extra fork! Our forks kept breaking

Mary's Chocolate

Mary’s Chocolate-According to Neil’s Belgium Co-worker the best chocolate in Belgium

Beer in the Grand Place

Beer in the Grand Place

Perle Sugar

Perle Sugar

I did buy some Perle Sugar at a mini market to make Belgium waffles at home!!! Neil, though just wants to eat the sugar straight from the box. Good thing I bought 3 boxes.

A note about the Eurostar- It is all about booking in advance. Tickets go on sale 4 months in advance and unlike  airline tickets where rates can vary and sometimes you can get a last minute deal, not the case with the Eurostar. They are always cheapest  buying further out and continue to get more expensive the closer to your departure time.




Nov 232010

Safety First!

photo (1)

This past weekend, a friend of mine learned the horrible lesson, even if an appliances is off it needs to be unplugged. She was making a ricotta spread and got a clump stuck in the blade.  While getting something out of the blade of the Emulsion Blender, the blade activated.  This lead to the two of us spending the evening at the ER instead of indulging in the ricotta spread. Luckily, only five stitches were needed!

Just a reminder to always unplug electronics, especially when there are blades involved!

 Posted by at 10:35 pm
Nov 032009

I realize I usually write about cooking, entertaining, tips, and ideas, but I think this is still somewhat relevant as it has affected my home.

Some friends said don’t write about it, because there still is, that stigma attached to having bed bugs. But I say, I would rather have everyone know and become a little more educated and know that it easily could happened to you. Although, I will say, I hope it never does. Even if you live in a nice area are super clean and have no clutter don’t be fooled and think you are safe from it. Bed Bugs are an epidemic that has hit New York City like wildfire over the past two years and is up 47% since last year. Only 1/3 of people react to the bites, lucky for me I have a severe allergic reaction to them!  They are very hard to find. They can hide in walls, move through pipes, live in almost anything. They bite until the hit a capillary, and they don’t need to feed every night. I have had a lot of conflicting information on the life span but most say it is 400 days and a female bug can lay 5 eggs a day. You can’t just bomb your apartment, everything needs to be packed up.  And you can’t just move, you have to make sure the problem is cleaned up where you currently live or you will just bring it with you to your next home.

For the past three weeks, I have been living a nightmare. One that cannot be completely explained but anyone who has gone through it would know just how horrible it is. I am living out of trash bags, putting my clothing in the refrigerator because I am paranoid, am on antibiotics, have had to stay in hotels, sore from all of my bites, and had many sleepless nights with fear of being eaten/bitten. Now, I always try and look at the glass as half full and there have been some positives, I have cleaned out my apartment, will have super clean clothing, I am turning my apartment into a craft studio. Before I detail the situation I am very grateful to those who have been supportive to me throughout this ordeal. Thank you.

Clothing in Fridge

Day 1- I noticed I was bitten and thought it must have been some random mosquito

Day 2- I was bitten again and realized it was too cold for mosquitoes

Day 3- Marked my body with permanent marker to track if I was getting new bites

Day 4- Went to a dermatologist to have a doctor examine my bites- ruled out all other kinds of bug and spider bites, 95% sure I have bed bugs. I decide to grab dinner by myself to try and decompress.

Day 5- Get a new bite and realize this must be bed bugs and call my management company. That day Roberta my “fairy god mother to bed bugs” came to my apartment to inspect. Could not find anything but my bites were classic bed bug bites and recommended that I have a trained beagle come into my apartment. Spent the evening washing and bagging clothing in a laundry mat. I decide I would not stay in my apartment anymore until the situation was resolved.

Day 10-  The first appointment available appointment for the trained beagle to sniff the apartment. Roscoe barked and pointed his nose in three spots in my apartment: the bed, sofa, and hamper. Now, I wanted not to believe this little beagle but he is 98% accurate and I had bites to prove it. It was just  frustrating because no one thus far was able to find one of these little bugs that was tormenting me.  I spent the rest of the day starting the cleaning and packing process. Now I have been in this apartment for five years and every article of clothing needed to be washed or dry cleaned, every book vacuumed and all packed up into trash bags and knotted. I was working until 3 am since I had little time and they were coming to fumigate my apartment in less than 48 hours. By the time I went to bed, all I had left was a t-shirt and it was cold. I had no more blankets or pillows. I sprayed myself with rubbing alcohol (supposedly they don’t like the scent) and got into a trash bag myself to prevent being bitten and to try and stay warm. Yes, a hotel might have been a better option but I was trying to process so much that nothing made sense to me and the costs of everything just seemed overwhelming to me.

Day 11- Went to work and spent the evening packing and cleaning. I did go to a hotel that night arrived with my infamous trash bags at midnight.

Bathroom Bugs

Day 12- I received no wake-up call, so was a little frantic as I was now running an hour behind. Like all moves you think you have made so much progress and don’t have that much to do but then there is always so much more. They arrived at 2 pm sprayed my apartment and I was left with a sense of relief that my apartment was safe again. Now another two people still could not find the little buggers. At 4:30 I had my sofa removed to take no chances and then had to run and get another mattress cover and pillow covers. I was excited to think I had control again. I picked up some laundry that had my sheets and went to go buy new pillows and a blanket. I got home and when I was working in my apartment was wearing the same dirty clothing, I was so excited to take a shower. I cleared all the trash bags out of my bathroom. I had been advised to put them in there. Since that area was deemed safe and it would be easy to spray/freeze the rest of the apartment. By the time I moved about 15 trash bags into my living room…there on the bottom of the tub I found them, TWO LIVING BED BUGS! They really did exist in my apartment. I almost lost it, but called Roberta, my bed bug fairy godmother. Not good, that the bug had moved from my living space into the bathroom which was considered a safe zone. She informed all the clothing would have to be re-washed and packaged. At this point I had a meltdown, I was exhausted in pain, overwhelmed, and the thought of doing it all over again was too much. It is funny when I first met Roberta she said I could call her whenever I needed something or had a question, I didn’t think I was going to be that person who called at 930pm on a Friday night, but I was. It was another night in a hotel…

Two Bugs

Day 13- I decided forget about doing my laundry again, I couldn’t handle it and just sent it all out to be done. Something I wish I had just done in the first place. I was just having such a hard time wrapping my head around it since I had just brought all of my dry cleaning to the cleaners and that cost was overwhelming. I decided I would not stay in my apartment over the weekend and stayed with a friend.

Day 14- No Change

Day 15- they came again to my apartment to spray my bathroom. I thought it might be over. I was bitten that night

Day 16- was up all night and was bitten again.

Day 17- Went to Doctor because my shoulder was aggravated and became infected from carrying so many trash bags back and forth from the laundry mat. Pretty much passed out at the doctor’s office just overwhelmed by everything.  I went on antibiotics. Again moved out of my apartment and had another meltdown.

Day 18- No Change

Day 19- Moved all dry cleaning into a storage unit. I did not want to take a chance of taking anything into my apartment.  I am really excited to now have two storage units in NYC. Thank you Manhattan Mini Storage.

Day 20- Slept again in my apartment did not get bitten.

Day 21- Don’t think I was bitten previous bites super itchy and slept with TV and Lights on.

Now I am waiting for day 24 when they come again to freeze/spray. I figure, I will not unpack until December it is now November 3rd and I will always have that thought will they come back and are they really all gone. Maybe next Halloween I will go as a bed bug victim  but this year it was too close to home.

Aug 272009

Mexican Sour Gherkins

Last weekend I was at the farmer’s market, in Union Square buying some blueberries because I wanted to make the August cover of Gourmet. Lemon Blueberry Ice Cream Bars- they turned out great and think they would be perfect to serve at a summer BBQ. While I was walking through the market I discovered Mexican Sour Gherkins. They look like mini watermelons about 1 inch in size but taste like a cucumber. It is now days later and I am still fascinated by these little guys. Now I just wish I had a garden and could grow them myself.

Maybe others have seen these before and I am just completely behind the times. I think they are amazing the only problem was they were rather expensive so I have been enjoying eating then one by one…although they would be completely awesome in a salad.


May 202009




I was speaking to my Aunt, that knows every household trick. I was telling her how last year there was clearly a party in my clothing, that I was very upset not to have been invited too. All of my sweater, plants, dresses were eaten by moths. I thought I had been so cautious the year before cleaning, buying all the moth balls, packing in air tight containers etc. Well, this year I am going about it a little different. I am using a trick that my Aunt told me is how my grandmother would get rid of months. She would FREEZE her clothing in order to kill all the eggs before packing away. I found this was a great way to clean out my freezer too. I also will be getting some of the air tight bags, along with placing moth balls, peppercorn (another supposed trick to prevent) and have everything cleaned beforehand. I’ll inform in the fall how this all worked out. I have high hopes this year!

Please let me know if you have any tricks in prevention

Apr 292009


Blueberry Maple Muffins/Cupcakes
I was making a dessert for a friend’s birthday and I told her I would come up with something original. She told me don’t go crazy’ I guess people who know me, know I have a tendency to be slightly over the top. Anyway while I was trying to come up with something new I started looking at the ingredients that I had available that might be fun. I had two jars of Maple syrup. This lead me to think about pancakes and blueberry pancakes well then why can’t I do the same with a blueberry muffin. So I tried it. I used my Blueberry muffin recipe and added ½ cup of Maple syrup. I was so pleased with them I quickly called home as I always think of my mom when making Blueberry Muffins.
Well, that was not enough. Since the cupcake has taken over the country/world I had to make a frosting. I decided to go with a Maple Buttercream. It would be too much and for me to say that, it must be too much if the icing was globed on like a traditional cupcake. I just piped a little out on top of the muffin and topped it off with a blueberry. Now I had blueberry pancake cupcakes!

Maple Frosting
1/2 Cup of Maple Syrup (Can add more if desire more maple flavor)
1 Stick of Butter Softened
1 Box of Powdered Sugar (1 pound)
3 Tablespoons of Milk

Whip all ingredient together until light. fluffy, and smooth.
Place a dolop on each now cupcake.

Jan 042009

Okay so this subject is not a normal pantry entry but I think relevant to readers. I realize it is my age as I am in the wedding period of my life. I think about things that have never crossed my mind. A dear friend of mine is getting married this summer and can’t figure out the registry. Something that would seem to be a lot of fun is actually quite stressful. But I feel she is not alone from talking to other brides, grooms, parents of brides & grooms, and friends. Everyone has his or her opinion.

Should they get want they want? Is price a concern? What are practical things you received? Or that impractical gift that you loved? What are things you wish you registered for? Places that were great with registry? Places that were not? Your favorite gift to give? Or any fun story, comment, or thought that might be helpful to other engaged couples.

Thank you for your help! Click Here to Comment

 Posted by at 7:51 pm
Dec 162008


The Holiday season is one of the times of year when Candy Thermometers are often used. I have actually given one as a hostess gift before. I feel it is that random item everyone should have. Also if you are getting one, the digital ones are awesome.

I asked this question to a professional recently and felt so silly when I heard the response. Candy as some may know is tricky because the temperature is so critical 10 degrees off can make all the difference. I had been making a lot of marshmallows recently and noticed that my thermometer had not been rising above 200 degrees and it seemed odd. I put in another thermometer and sure enough it was already at 260 and it only needed to go to 240. In the end it just made a massively sticky mess.
So here is the little trick water boils at 212 degrees. Place the thermometer in a pot of water and when the water boils see what the thermometer reads. If it reads 220 then adjust your recipes 8 degrees.

Dec 162008

I love taking cooking classes at the Culinary Institute in New York City. You name it they have a class on it. It is perfect, classes are held in the evenings and on the weekends. Recently, I took a class on petite fours- small ovens. One of the petite fours I was made was a cashew turtle, which involved making a caramel. Well, I had a faulty candy Thermometer and my caramel burned. (Even though I had just learned the trick on testing thermometers.) So if you burn your caramel quickly pour the caramel through a strain and whisk in chocolate. It will take away the burnt flavor. I guess every fault really is a fashion. Personally I think our caramels tasted that must better with the over load of chocolate!