Friday, July 4, 2014
Several weeks ago, my husband Derek, our children and I attended our friend's, Jenny and Mike's, always fabulous “Annual St. Patty’s Day Party”. This is no ordinary party. Our friend Jenny, a “Culinary Expert,” never disappoints when it comes to “banging-out” delicious, mass quantities of seasonal delights.
Like me, Jenny takes a lot of pride when it comes down to detail therefore, I was delighted when asked to bring a meat, fruit and cheese platter to the party. I received a direct message from my husband, “Jenny and Mike want YOU to make the cheese platter because they know YOU will do a good job!” So, without hesitation, I made a beeline for Fresh Market.
As usual, I was on a mission to create something special and eye-catching. I started my venture by selecting a center piece of potted emerald colored shamrocks. Scanning the produce department, I unearthed unique, extra hardy, oversized lettuce leaves of heirloom varieties to line the round perimeter of my latest shopping find; a deep aged wooden pizza board that I purchased for this exact purpose. The first thing I knew my platter would require was eye-catching color. On that note, I stocked up on endive, baby carrots, ruby red grape tomatoes, extra large seedless purple grapes (though technically called red grapes) and one luscious looking green pear. I then proceeded to the deli counter for color coordinated cheeses. Oh and how can I leave out the specialty crackers to fill any void? I rushed home and assembled my massive platter which overflowed with appetizing delights.
My methods for design/embellishment embrace the same idea across the board, I call it the “the art of dimension and layering.” My number one rule: “A platter should always be lined” (unless of course the platter is special and you intend to show off its design). Second, start by placing your cheeses equidistant from one another. Next it’s time to fill in the blanks! Next to each cheese with color, place your coordinating fruit. For example, I found a cheese that had purple colored craisins in it therefore I placed my “purple” grapes right beside it. The idea is to sporadically fill in the blanks and balance the use of color throughout your platter. Add depth to your platter by adding small bowls and filling them in a creative way, such as slicing fresh mozzarella cheese and creating a “mozzarella rose” or using the same technique with sliced roasted red peppers or by using any food that is soft and flexible or simply filling them with olives, etc. I always add a tall glass with sesame breadsticks to add some extra height to my platter. From here, I sprinkle the platter with tiny grape tomatoes, crostini surrounding a round bowl or two, stack some crackers and scatter some slices of sopressatta and/or pepperoni.
The final step is to make it all look fresh and mouth watering. With a spray bottle full of spring water, spray your fruit. Drizzle, some extra virgin olive oil on your mozzarella rose with a dash of salt and pepper. For unique flavor and color, I drizzle maple syrup on certain cheeses, as well as on top of my pear, which I have sliced down into wedges. Voilá! Your basic cheese platter is now not only delightfully delicious but also the evening's topic of intriguing conversation.
The moral of my story is that food presentation should be viewed as an art, just as one would dress or decorate their home or parties. It is easy to stick a few blocks of cheese on a platter but it’s another thing to give it a “wow factor."
Friday, June 27, 2014
Okay all you "GLAMINISTAS," as you already know, I predict trends both before and as they happening and this time, it's the gizmo we all have been dreaming of!
How many times have you looked into the screen of your phone to check your lipstick or your hair or even your teeth, but struggled to get up close and personal? Well, that HD mirrored phone you have been dreaming of has finally arrived and not only does it show your reflection, but acts as a screen protector at the same time. It's simple to apply and is thin and flat so that it fits with any phone case. This is not the only product by glam screen but definitely one of my favorites.
Another product I absolutely love is the selfie ring. As a blogger, I am always photographing images, including my own. Often, I fumble to take the perfect "shot" and end up dropping my $600 iPhone. I am on my third iPhone 5s and according to my husband, my last! In general I'm clumsy when it comes to holding onto my phone, so not only do I like this gadget for a Selfie, but for the security of holding my phone in general. Selfie Ring to the rescue! Oh and remember what great gifts these make for birthday parties, favors, teachers' gifts, stocking stuffers and more!
Visit http://www.glamscreen.com/#!shop/c1nev and enter the code JAMIE10 to receive 10% off!
Now that summer has finally arrived and there are lots of parties and picnics to attend, what better way to celebrate the season than with sweet, delicious watermelon! As my loyal followers know, what would a watermelon be without my personal spin? This summer, I decided to bring back an old favorite, my very own, very simple and very affordable watermelon cake.
What You Will Need:
- 1 small watermelon (with or without seeds)
- 1 large sharp knife
- 1 offset spatula or knife for spreading frosting
- 1 cutting board
- 2 cans of frosting or homemade
- Fresh berries
- Fresh coconut flakes or sliced almonds
- 1 pedestal cake stand or dish
- Parchment paper
Line your cake stand or plate with 2 pieces of parchment paper, one on each side, overlapping in the middle.
On a cutting board, begin slicing two opposite ends off the watermelon (preferably the narrow ends). Cut them so that you have a flat even surface. Flip the watermelon into one of those newly cut ends.
Next, begin cutting off the rest of the watermelon rind (skin), slicing in a downward motion.
Once the watermelon has been skinned, sculpt it into your desired shape. You can make it square, round, oval or into any shape you desire.
With paper towels, begin blotting the moisture out of your watermelon. The dryer the watermelon, the more effectively your frosting will stick.
Using fresh or canned cake frosting, begin spreading a very generous amount with an offset spatula on top of your cake and work your way down the sides. Continue to pile on the frosting thickly. Cover the entire cake.
Next, begin adding berries of choice. I prefer organic berries. You can use blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, etc. With this project, I used what I already had in my refrigerator and pantry. Use any design in your imagination, as there is no right or wrong way to decorate this cake. Before adding the berries, very slowly and carefully remove your parchment paper. Tip: If you pull it too quickly, you will likely pull off the frosting with it.
If you are covering the sides with something such as coconut or chopped nuts, add it by pressing it to the sides.
With a moistened paper towel, clean up any excess frosting from the top of your dish or cake stand that appears messy.
Refrigerate or serve immediately.
Friday, June 20, 2014
A few months ago (Feb. 2014) while I was reading the NYT my husband pointed out there was an article he thought I'd really enjoy in the Express Times, Bridal Gown Vocab 101 by Jamie Gottschall, Indomitable Style. It turns out it was your debut as "STYLE" Columnist. I did recognize your name from Facebook and had 'liked' your page early on and appreciated your blog. My husband was right... I really enjoyed the article and it sparked an idea! As you know, you received a complimentary letter immediately as I am a big believer in giving positive feedback. Additionally, I liked your Style and wanted to be a potential resource for any future Communications you would share. Your immediate response and expression of appreciation was refreshing.
Twice a year I conduct a class for the Northampton Community College.. "The Business of Weddings and Social Events" which I am happy to say is part of the Certificate in Meeting & Event Planning at cbi (center for business & industry), part of the Hospitality & Tourism programs. The Business of Weddings and Social Events is from an entrepreneurial perspective and is actual work-life application. Typically I include a panel discussion or invite an industry related associate to share their stories. The "spark" from your article was to invite you to share your experiences and specifically speak to the how-tos for successful blogging. Well, the rest as they say is history. You came, they saw and we all were better for having the opportunity to meet and speak with you.
Thank you Jamie for generously giving of your time and sharing personal goals and dreams. Without question, you have new followers I am certain.
LUXE, The Wedding Event