Friday, August 31, 2012

Foodie Friday 8.31.12

Summer… I hardly knew ye…

As the first day of the long Labor Day weekend, today reminds me that the end of summer is drawing near. A summer, which for me, passed in the blink of an eye (or rather a graduate school-induced stupor). Where did my   sun-filled, lazy days go? My gritty-sand beach excursions, my patio soirees, my drinks on Rittenhouse Square? True, being in school, they’ve been sporadic at best for the past few years. But this summer has definitely been the worst. So, today’s Foodie Friday is an ode to summer; not a memorial for days gone by, but a celebration and an invitation to embrace the warm days that remain...

Ditch Plains Clambake

Whether it's a full-sized spread for ten, or an individual bowl of my own, the combination of seafood, corn and potatoes always reminds me of endless beach days, sunsets, family and friends.

One-Pot Clambake

Summer is the season for tomatoes, and I find I tend to make every tomato-centric dish I can get my hands on during this time. A favorite is Tomato Bread Salad with Herbs (a panzanella of sorts), but this Chorizo and Tomato Salad looks pretty delicious, too.

Chorizo and Tomato Salad

Another summertime flavor I drool over is grilled or roasted fruit, and this recipe from Martha Stewart is fantastic. Definitely add the goat cheese, as suggested.

Roasted Peaches with Rosemary

And where would summer be without ice cream... ooey-gooey, creamy, ice cream? There are so many flavors to love. Strawberry may be the gold standard of the season, but I think this coffee-hazelnut sounds to-die-for!

Coffee Hazelnut Ice Cream

Lastly, I give you the icon of summer camp and campfires everywhere - the s'more. And while I love the classic version, with its crunchy graham crackers, melted chocolate and toasty marshmallows, I will admit that this peanut-butter one has me entertaining traitorous thoughts... 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter S'mores

What are your favorite summer flavors? Are you mourning the season's end like I am??

Images: 1, 2-7 as linked above

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday's Word 8.29.12

I tend to be a glass-half-full kind of girl. I usually look on the bright side and see the silver lining in most situations. This is not to say that I don’t have my occasional cynical moments. (I can get down in the dumps with the best of them!) But in general, I’m a fairly hopeful person. Does this mean I’m a micawber? Well, eternity is a pretty long time...but, if I had to pick a camp to align myself with until the end of time, it would definitely be the optimists over the pessimists.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pizzeria Stella

Restaurateur Stephen Starr is known for his high concept restaurants. Yet, it's one of his “low-concept” eateries that I frequent the most. I’m talking about Pizzeria Stella, which because it’s one block from my house, is a frequently-called contact on my iPhone. Seriously, how lucky am I that Stella is actually the closest pizza place to my house?? That’s right, when we order take-out, we order Stella. In fact, I’ve actually only eaten at the restaurant itself a handful of times. Yet, every time I do, I ask myself, “why don’t we come here more often??”

Dining Room

Pizza oven

It probably goes without saying that the pizza is fantastic, but it really is. My personal favorite is the tartufo - black truffle, fontina, and parmesan, with an over easy egg that is broken and smeared across the top when it’s served (sounds kind of weird, but it’s delicious). 

Tartufo pizza

A close second is the San Daniele - prosciutto, smoked mozzarella and arugula (I admit, it makes me feel like I’m being healthier when there’s almost enough arugula for a salad on top of my pizza). Yum!

A door now leads through this wall to a recently added bar. 

However, if you only ordered pizza at Pizzeria Stella, you’d be missing out, as the antipasti and insalate are also quite good. They change a little bit seasonally, but some of my favorites are the arancini (risotto balls drenched in marinara), the grilled octopus (with potatoes and fennel), and the shrimp and corn salad (off the menu for the moment, but I’m crossing my fingers for its return). 

Communal table

It’s also worth noting that Stella has $5 glasses of house wine, as well as a good assortment of additional wines, Italian beers and a small selection of “Italian sodas” (i.e. cocktails). Dessert options are limited to a rotating selection of house-made gelati, but they’re best known for their olive oil gelato, which they serve year-round (although, I’ll be honest, last time I went, I skipped the gelato in favor of the sgroppino Italian soda - lemon sorbet, vodka, and prosecco. I highly recommend it!)

House-made gelato

If you live in Philadelphia, and haven’t been to Pizzeria Stella, I strongly suggest you go. And if you’re visiting Philly anytime soon, you’ll want to add it to your list of places to visit. It’s the true dining trifecta - approachable, affordable, and tastebud-tingling good. 

Images: 1-34, 5-7

Monday, August 27, 2012

Like many of you, I’ve definitely been feeling gold lately! Here are a few of the goodies on my radar this week…

Images as linked above

Foodie Friday 8.27.12

Ok, so today isn’t technically Friday. But as I wasn’t able to post a “Foodie Friday” post last week, so I’m posting one today. (Hey, it’s my blog… I can do what I want.)

The star of today’s post is avocado toast. Have you ever tried it? I just made some this morning, and man, I forgot how good it is! First of all, I grew up in California, so it pretty much goes without saying that I love avocados. (Seriously, love.) But multi grain toast smothered with that rich creamy goodness, grape tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime for brightness? A-ma-zing. 

Really, try it!  Recipe here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday's Word 8.22.12

Somewhat akin to wonder, today’s word describes my favorite kind of happenstance. Too few, too far in between, selcouth moments need to be treasured and celebrated when they appear.

Here’s wishing you a lifetime full of them…

A Pinner’s Tale - KETTNER’s

I like to think of Pinterest as a big ball made up of bits of yarn, and me, a bird on a mission. With each encounter, I pick up a loose end, and pull, trying to get to the other. Some pieces are short and willing, and some are long and meandering, with a delightful revelation at the end.  (If you’re on Pinterest, you know what I mean. If you’re not, I apologize; I probably sound like a crazy person.)

Such was the case with the above image. First, I “liked” it. Then I moved on, scrolling down my page a bit. Then, I went back to it. Something was sticking with me about this image.  I enlarged it. There wasn’t much of a description, but the teal blue velvet, the fringe, the tiny chandelier… the moody “nookiness” of it… was just fantastic. So, I pinned it.

A little later, the talented folks at Yatzer commented on my pin. Apparently, my image is from KETTNER’s, a renovation project by studioilse, and they wrote a piece on it. They added a link, and down the rabbit hole I went… 

KETTNER’s, it turns out is quite the rabbit warren itself. A London landmark of sorts, it opened in 1867 and occupies four five-story interconnected Georgian townhouses. Popular with theater-goers, it has a secret passageway to the Palace Theatre (love that!) and has entertained the likes of Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie and Bing Crosby.

From the Brasserie, to the Pudding Bar, to the Champagne Bar, to the Boudoir, to (one of my favorites) the Apartment, KETTNER’s is fanciful, cobbled collection of inviting public and private spaces. 

                                                             The Brasserie 

                          The Pudding Bar

                                                             The Champagne Bar

                                                             The Boudoir

The layers of texture and detail in these spaces are amazing.  Moldings, paneling and ceiling roses contrast in varying degrees with weathered wooden floors, antique rugs, modern furniture and elegant candlesticks. Each room is designed to make guests feel as if they've been invited to dine and relax in the elite home of...someone. (Someone they only wish they knew.)

                                                             The Apartment

KETTNER’s genius is in its modern re-design and its calculated flexibility.  Located on the first floor, the Brasserie, Pudding Bar, Champagne Bar and Boudoir are public spaces. While the second and third floors, house a variety of rooms available for private parties.  Suitable for gatherings of all sizes, these rooms can often be combined to create the exact size, flow or separation desired for each individual occasion.

                                                             Cabinet Particuliers

Wouldn't you love to throw a party here?

Needless to say, this is one of those times, I’m glad I followed my bit of Pinterest string to its end. KETTNER’s redesign is gorgeous. And it’s definitely going on my list of places to visit in London...

For more images and a great article on this project, visit Yatzer | KETTNER's by studioilse: Reinventing a Legend

(Seriously, check it out. I'll be waiting in the Champagne Bar while you do...)

Images: 1, 2, 3-9

Friday, August 17, 2012

Foodie Friday 8.17.12

You might have noticed that to right under the title “On My Nightstand,” is a book called Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons. It’s a beautiful book, one with tons of pictures of fabulous looking salads, and one that my sweetheart and I immediately flagged recipes in as soon as I received it. And you know what? I have yet to make a single recipe. Until tonight. Tonight my sweetheart gets home from a two week long trip, and to celebrate, I've decided to make one of the salads he flagged (yes, we marked our favorites with color-coded post-its). I also happen to have shrimp on hand, which is a bonus.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Peppers (serves 4)

1 lb. lg shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
8 oz. mixed mini bell peppers
8 c. baby spinach leaves
2 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced into rounds
½ sm. Red onion, thinly sliced
Mediterranean Lemon Dressing (see below)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges
Pita crisps, pita bread, or Garlic Naan Crisps (below)

Combine the shrimp, olive oil and garlic in a bowl. Cover and chill 1 hr. or overnight. 

Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Add peppers to the shrimp and stir to coat with olive oil. Grill the shrimp and peppers until browned and tender, turning once or twice, about 6 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and peppers to a plate.

In a very large bowl, combine the spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion with the Mediterranean Lemon Dressing and toss to coat. Add the warm shrimp and peppers and toss lightly. Divide the salad among plates. Sprinkle the salads with feta cheese and oregano leaves. Garnish the salads with lemon wedges and Pita Crisps and serve.

(Let the record show that I will be using large grape tomatoes instead of cherry ones, as Whole Foods was out of cherry tomatoes. Let the chips fall where they may.)

Mediterranean Lemon Dressing (makes about 2/3 cup)

1 T. tahini
2 lg. garlic cloves, pressed
½ t. kosher salt
¼ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Combine the tahini, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl.  Gradually whisk in the lemon juive, then the oild oil.

Naan Garlic Crisps

3 T. butter
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 T. finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 pcs. Naan or pita bread

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat; stir in the garlic and cilantro. Brush the breads evenly with the melted butter mixture. Cut the bread into 1 ½ -inch-thick slices and arrange on a heavy large baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely.

Sounds delicious, don't you think? (Fingers crossed, I pull it off.)

UPDATE: I’m happy to report that all went well and that the salad on the whole was quite tasty. The roasted peppers were especially delicious. I halved the recipe, but forgot I was doing so when marinating the shrimp, so they were probably a little more garlicky than the author intended. (Luckily, we like garlic, so it wasn’t an issue!) I’m a little on the fence about the tahini in the dressing. I didn’t dislike it, but I might try omitting it next time for a dressing that's a little cleaner and brighter in flavor. I’m also thinking of making a variation that incorporates cannellini beans…

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paris Blues, and beyond...

Last week, I stumbled upon a midday screening of Paris Blues on TCM. Have you seen it? A young Paul Newman (gorgeous), Joanne Woodward (delightful), Sidney Poitier (debonair) and Diahann Carroll (beautiful!) all shot in glorious black and white in Paris, the City of Light. I was charmed. The jazz, the budding romances, the social undercurrents - it was a truly unexpected and delightful surprise.  

I’ve always been a fan of Paul Newman’s (especially the searingly handsome young Newman) and I love seeing him and Joanne Woodward together.  And the fact that I’d never seen this particular movie, made me wonder, what other early films of his haven’t I seen? 

Turns out, there’s a bunch. And so without further ado, I am embarking upon a “Paul Newman - the Early Years" marathon. On the agenda, Torn Curtain (1966), The Young Philadelphians (1959), From the Terrace (1960), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), A New Kind of Love (1963) and Harper (1966).

I realize there’s a chance that not one of these films will offer up the same viewing satisfaction for me that Paris Blues did. But with Newman as the lead, they can’t be all bad, right?

Have you seen many of the actor's early films? Which one is your favorite?

Images: 1, 2, 3

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday's Word 8.15.12

Yesterday on Twitter, Shaun Usher of Letters of Note was campaigning for the resurgence of the word, “overmorrow.” I too think it’s a lovely word and worthy of immediate revival. Therefore, even though I have many other words that I’m dying to share, I thought I'd make overmorrow the inaugural word of the Wednesday’s Word column.

Adieu, until tomorrow. (Overmorrow at the latest.)

Travel Bikes

I don’t really bike. Somehow, a childhood experience I had when I was speeding out of control down a winding hill while dodging cars and being chased by a rabid dog kind of took the fun out it for me. But I do have friends that bike, and I think that bicycles themselves can be downright beautiful at times. So, when I saw Joanna’s post on Spinlister (a sort of airbnb for bikes), I totally got what a fabulous idea it is. Renting bikes from their owners to explore a city for the day… on the cheap? Awesome.  

(Maybe even awesome enough to get me on one again, someday. Maybe.)

Image via Pinterest

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Three days ago, I graduated from grad school. Soon, I will need to put my hard-earned education to work and find a real job. Soon, the hours spent in front of the computer working on class projects will become hours spent in front of the computer working on real projects. But today is mine. Today, I will entertain myself with visions of all that I’ve missed over the last three plus years and make grand plans for the future - plans to live the life I’ve imagined, to create my own destiny and chart my own course. This year will undoubtedly bring changes…new jobs and possibly even a new city. But today? Today is a blank canvas. Today, I am determined to enjoy to the good life.  An engrossing book, a great meal, inspiring design. Time spent with friends, family, my sweetheart and myself. These are the things that sustain me, and I will embrace them, with each wondrous step ahead...

Care to join me?