29 April 2011

Other Wedding Notes


We got the dress right. Sarah Burton did indeed design the dress. During the coverage there was much talk about missing Diana, but I missed Lee McQueen and more than that, I missed Isabella Blow.


We loved posting about the 22-page Etiquette booklet sent out by the Palace for the wedding. As one might expect, David Beckham failed to read his copy as we predicted. He wore his Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal on the wrong side. By the end of the day, there will no doubt be a 22-booklet of David Beckham blunders (he hasn't had to eat anything yet!). Still, he look nice in his undies.


And speaking of cake...


Did we forget to mention the cakes? At Cookbook Of The Day we have both the Wedding Cake baker and the Groom's Cake recipe.

And the winner is...

The Scroll/The Cartier Halo/The 1936 Halo/The Halo

Like Kate who is now Catherine or the Duchess of Cambridge, this tiara seems to be getting a name makeover.

The Scroll was purchased from Cartier by the Duke of York for his wife in 1936. Three weeks later he would become King George VI. His wife, Elizabeth (who would eventually become the Queen Mother), gave it to her daughter, Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) when the Princess turned 18, but there is no evidence she ever wore it. The Scroll was considered to be a "starter" tiara.

It fell to Princess Margaret who wore it quite often.


Princess Anne also wore it quite a bit after Margaret upgraded.

28 April 2011

Tiara Time


I, like most everyone else, is growing weary of "Royal Wedding" coverage. Basically, I am weary because there is just nothing to report, so one finds oneself watching news reporters interviewing each other. I find it highly improbable that Sarah Burton is going to push past Anderson Cooper and Meridith Vieira at the bar at The Claridge and tell the bartender that she needs a pint to celebrate because she just finished the final alterations on Kate Middleton's gown. It is not going to happen. I want to see the dress when she exits the Rolls and I want everyone to leave it alone until 6 a.m.!!

Still, the wedding allows one (me specifically) to discuss one of my favorite things -- tiaras. And spending most of my time in West Virginia digging in the garden in my uniform of tattered men's shirts and a baseball cap, I for one am thrilled. This week a gambler placed a 6,000 pound bet at 12-1 odds that Kate will wear the tiara that Queen Elizabeth wore at her wedding. This is thought to be the largest gamble made on the wedding so far and the gambler stands to win 72,000 pounds. Ladbrokes, who took the bet, has stopped taking bets on Middleton’s head piece.



George III Tiara

The tiara in question is the George III Tiara. (It is sometimes known as the Russian Fringe Tiara not to be confused with the Kokoshnik Tiara which is also sometimes known as the Russian Fringe Tiara.) The diamond fringe tiara forms a gradual circle of vertical rows of diamonds. It looks a bit like an inverted necklace because in 1830 it was a necklace made of brilliant cut stones that belonged to King George III. It was made into a tiara and was worn to the opera in 1839 by Queen Victoria.

It was inherited by Queen Mary when she became Queen Consort in 1910, and she in turn gave it to her daughter in law, Queen Elizabeth in 1937 (not to be confused with Queen Elizabeth II, we will get to that later). The Queen Mother (Elizabeth) loaned it to her daughter Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) as “something borrowed” for her wedding in 1947. She (The Queen Mother (Elizabeth)) loaned it again to her granddaughter (Princess Anne) in 1973 for her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips.

The current Queen inherited it from the other queen and now she is set to lend it to Kate Middleton (whose middle name is Elizabeth as is mine...but I digress.)

Here are just a few tiara's from the Queen's closet. Seriously, she has more tiara's than Miss Alabama and Miss Mississippi combined! I am sooooo jealous.



Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara

In 1913, Queen Mary commissioned the Crown Jewelers Messrs. Garrard & Co. to construct a tiara based on the design of the Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara, that was once owned by her maternal grandmother Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, the Duchess of Cambridge. This new lovers knot tiara, also came to be known as the Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara, because of the resemblance of its design to the original Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara, and consisted of 19 arches, and 38 drop-shaped pearls, 19 hanging as pendants and 19 rising up as spikes. The 19 pearls that rose up as spikes could also be dismantled.


The tiara was willed to her granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II. She gave the Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara as a wedding gift to Princess Diana who returned it after her divorce. (And frankly, if you are no longer a Princess or Miss Alabama do you really need it? Well, yes, and I would have kept it!)




The Oriental-Circlet-Tiara

The Oriental-Circlet-Tiara with rubies and diamonds. This also called Indian-Ruby-Tiara was one of the favorite tiaras of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.






Vladimir Tiara with Pearls

This tiara was made for the Grand Duchess Vladimir, the aunt of Tsar Nicholas II. Smuggled out of Russia during the Revolution by a British diplomat, it was sold to Queen Mary in 1921.



Vladimir Tiara with Emeralds

She adapted the tiara to take fifteen of the celebrated Cambridge emeralds as an alternative to the original pearls. The tiara was inherited by The Queen from her grandmother Queen Mary in 1953.





Kokoshnik Tiara


King Edward VII's
queen, Alexandra, commissioned Garrard's to create a tiara similar to one worn by her sister, Empress Marie of Russia. This tiara is meant to replicate a Russian peasant girl's headdress. The Kokoshnik is composed of sixty-one platinum bars and filled with 488 diamonds. (Just like every other Russian peasant girl wears.)






Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara
or
The Lucinda Tiara


This is one of my personal favorites (and if I were marrying Prince William, I would have requested this particular tiara -- and I would have looked exceedingly glamorous in it!) as it is laden with my birthstone -- aquamarine. Originally made in 1957 and mounted on a simple platinum band, it consisted of the three upright rectangular stones which are detachable for use as brooches. The large central stone came from a pendant given to Queen Elizabeth by the President and People of Brazil in 1953 as a Coronation present. In 1971 the tiara was adapted again to take four scroll ornaments from an aquamarine and diamond jewel given to Queen Elizabeth by the Governor of São Paulo in 1968. (Clearly the Queen wants all her aquamarines in one place. Dear Heads of State and General Subjects: Please don't give the Queen anymore aquamarine jewelery or she will simply not be able to hold her head up.)

Since this is my favorite or "favourite" and since it does not have a nifty name, I am henceforth calling it The Lucinda Tiara.

Grab a nap this afternoon, 4 a. m. will be here before you know it!

27 April 2011

Easter Sausage

For Easter dinner to go along with the rack of lamb, I decided to make lamb sausage.


I made a few links...

and a couple of wheels.

I am not going to give you all the ins and outs of making your own sausage because there are whole books written about it, but I will give you the recipe, so after you have read one of those books you can make your own.

Lucinda's Lamb Sausage

2 pounds ground lamb
1 pound ground pork shoulder
1/2 pound ground pork fat
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons quatre épices
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon King Arthur Flour Soft Diced Ginger (I don't know of anyone else who makes this product. you can always add ground ginger but it won't have the texture.)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (my guests are opposed to real spicy, if I had it to do over, I would have added a good bit more.)
3/4 cup white wine

hog casings for stuffing

Both the rack of lamb and the sausage hit the grill.


They rested on my cutting board. And then we dug in.

24 April 2011

Happy Easter

This Sunday take some time to smell the flowers.

21 April 2011

Whole Potato Salad


In preparation for Easter guests, I was working on a menu. I bought some beautiful long beef ribs to slowly braise. I wanted a potato salad to serve with them, but given the substantial ribs I wanted a substantial potato salad. Quail eggs are one of my favorite ingredients and when I looked at them, I thought they would be nice whole in a salad. I decided on a traditional potato salad using whole ingredients.




I bought some baby potatoes and some pearl onions. I felt leaving the onion raw would make them too strong for this preparation, so I pickled the onions for 24 hours. A nice serving is about three or four small potatoes for each onion and quail egg.

I like celery in my potato salad, but I didn't want chunks of celery to detract from my whole ingredients so I finely chopped the celery to add to mayonnaise and a touch of mustard. Unfortunately, I forgot (or just failed to pay attention) to the amount of liquid given off by the chopped celery. When I put it in the mayonnaise, it made the sauce too watery and I was forced to start over!!

After assembling the salad, I found that the individual ingredients got a bit lost and I thought I would try plating the celery/mayo as a real "sauce" and placing the individual ingredients on top of the sauce so they were pronounced.



In this picture the potatoes appear to be baking russets, but I assure you they are not quite as big as they look. They are sitting on a tiny cup saucer and not a dinner plate. This plating, however, does allow one to use slightly larger potatoes which can be cut on a plate. (I suppose that had I plated it on long narrow plates I would have swished the sauce in a boldly abstract form and placed the whole item in order of size, clearly I have watched one too many Top Chef episodes.)

In the end, I decided to leave it mix into a nice bowl.



Per serving I use the following as a rule of thumb. A lot of it will depend on the size of the potatoes. Size does matter! 3 to 4 new or small potatoes; 1 quail egg; 1 pickled onion.

Whole Potato Salad

6 pearl onions
1/2 cup vinegar
24 small whole potatoes
6 quail eggs
2 stalks celery
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
salt and pepper to taste


Peel and trim the onions. In a small air-tight container or small jar, submerge the onions in the vinegar and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

In a saucepan, cover the whole potatoes, bring to a boil and cook till tender, about 10 minutes. allow to cool.

In another pan, cover the quail eggs with water and bring to a boil. Boil one minute and submerge in cold water. Peel the eggs. (There is no easy way to peel quail eggs!)

Finely chop the celery and drain on a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Add the celery to the mayonnaise and mustard and stir till smooth.

Drain the pickled onions and add the onions, potatoes and eggs to the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

As they say on Top Chef: Got Big or Go Home!

19 April 2011

PeepShow


I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Lucindaville it is stormy and dreary and we are need of jolt of the jolly. As Easter is approaching we thought we would share one our favorite spring things. For the past five years the Washington Post has a Peep Show. They hold a contest asking their readers to make a diorama using that iconic Easter confection the Peep.


This years winner was crated by Mary Jo Ondrejka from Reston; Bryn Metzdorf from Fairfax; and Margaret Hartka from Parkton, Md. and was entitled: "Chilean CoPeepapo Mine Rescue" The rescue diorama included such pertinent details as miner Ariel Ticona meeting his newborn daughter for the first time and Peep Johnny Barrios Rojas being greeted by both his wife and mistress.


Some other entrants that I liked.

"Vincent Van Peep's Starry Night" by MaryLea Harris from Fairfax


"Split Peep Soup Company" by Patsy Helmetag and Jean McCoy from Annapolis




To see all the winners past and present check out the Washington Post Peep Show.

13 April 2011

Etiquette Wednesday -- William & Kate


How could we possibly resist an Etiquette Wednesday with William & Kate after hearing that Buckingham Palace has mailed a 22-page booklet on etiquette to all of the guests invited to the wedding? Some people have found this to be an entertaining, if not laughable gesture. I am not one of them.

While I am sure that Princess Anne knows how to deal with a royal wedding, we must remember that Kate is a commoner and some of William and Kate’s guests are commoner still. So a few tips of the trade are surely welcome and the Palace simply couldn’t send out the list to just a few people, say the Beckhams, so everyone from kings and princesses to the scum of the earth received their 22 pages (provided, of course, that they were invited to the wedding.)

There seemed to be a lot of attention given to protocol surrounding the Queen. She is still quite entrenched in the monarchy of old, so hugs and kisses or high-fives are definitely verboten. Here are some tips:

GREETING & MEETING

How should a man greet the Queen?

A man should give a swift bow of the head, not a bow from the waist when meeting the Queen. Men should also briefly lower their eyes during their greeting, and bow again when the Royal family member leaves.

How should a Woman greet the Queen?

A woman should give a small, dignified curtsey upon meeting the Queen. The move should create a distinct bobbing movement, with the upper body kept straight and should be repeated when the member of the Royal family leaves.


How do you address the Queen?

1. When you meet the Queen, she puts her hand out first and you address her as Your Majesty. In conversation you address her as Ma’am, to rhyme with jam or ham, not palm.”

2. In conversation substitute ‘Your Majesty’ for ‘you’. (As Wendy Williams would say, “How Your Majesty doin’?)

3. Wait for the Queen to initiate conversation and never speak first or ask any personal questions. (Like, “so, your Majesty, how much do you weigh?)

4. Always give the queen space. The sight of anyone apparently touching the Queen with anything more than a limp handshake is enough to send the British (or traditionalists in the old Commonwealth) twittering. (Not in the “tweeting sense, but in talking behind your back sense.)


So, you have a date or a friend by your side, how do you introduce them to The Queen?

Suppose a friend was introducing you, he would simply state your name using the following phrasing: “May I present [substitute date/friend's name here], Your Majesty?”

AT THE WEDDING


How do you enter and leave the Abbey in style?

The Queen is always supposed to enter the abbey last and be the first to depart, so make sure a) you arrive early b) you don’t rush out of the abbey before the Queen.

Guests are asked to arrive at least 20 minutes before the ceremony begins.

As the Queen enters Westminster Abbey, everybody has to acknowledge her arrival with a curtsey or bow as she walks through. The same must happen as she leaves.

DRESSING FOR THE WEDDING


The invitation states the dress code, which must be strictly adhered to if you want to fit in like a pro. In the case of Prince William and Kate’s wedding, the invitation states a traditional wedding dress code called “morning dress.”



Wearing the right hat and not overdoing it is important.

Wearing cream or white is not appropriate. That must be left to the bride.

Men in the Armed Forces should wear uniform and male civilians a lounge or morning suit. A top hat should be carried, not worn, inside the church.



EATING

There will be champagne flowing and you’ve got to hold the glass properly, by the stem.

With teacups, lift the cup not the saucer and hold it very gently with your index finger and thumb, returning the cup to the saucer after every sip.


The BBC has offered up some advice of its own. (And included a place setting diagram that we just love!)

Cutlery Dilemma (Will they use Francis I? Kate’s not Southern!)

It's quite simple - start at the outside and work in as the meal progresses. The soup spoon will always be on the extreme right if soup is the first course. It will be second from the right if served as a second course. Dessert cutlery will always be at the top of the place setting with the fork facing right and the spoon above it facing left.

Drinks Order (Gin and Tonic? No, Which Glass is Which)

Glasses are also placed in the order in which they are used. So, for example, water, champagne, white wine, red wine, dessert wine. A napkin might be placed on the plate or to the left of the forks.


How to eat... (I am not sure asparagus and oysters are on the menu, but just in case…)

Some dishes require their own etiquette.
Bread rolls: don't cut with a knife - break with fingers.
Soup: tip the bowl and scoop the spoon away from you; sip, don't slurp.
Asparagus: eaten with fingers, start with the head.
Oysters: use an oyster fork to detach the oyster from its shell. Hold the shell between thumb and first two fingers, place against lower lip and slide the oyster and its juice out of the half shell. Don't swallow it whole. Chew slowly and savour.



OK, Between Buckingham Palace, the BBC and Me, you are good to go – to the Royal Wedding. And what if you didn’t get invited? Well I suggest you get into your mourning clothes (for you that would be your jammies as the wedding coverage begins at 5:30 AM. As you watch, you can offer up your own etiquette critique to all your friends. And while you are drinking champagne, remember to hold the class by the stem and you will be fine.

P.S. I am beginning to think that everyone who presides over a house be they mom or chatelaine -- should produce their own etiquette booklet for those visitors who might not know how to eat oysters or other things.

08 April 2011

Cheese Safe -- 20 Things You Don't Need In a Kitchen...


When Martha Stewart began her new show many years ago, she did a series of shows featuring the 20 things every kitchen needed. One was a spatula. She asked the audience if they owned spatulas and about half of the audience raised their hands. Only half? Seriously, the audience was full of women screaming about how much they loved Martha and they didn't own spatulas? You can't make fish sticks and tater tots without a spatula. In the end, Martha gave everyone a spatula (which was a good thing for all those poseurs who said they loved Martha and yet failed to find time to buy a spatula. Remember when Oprah gave everyone in her audience cars? Well I must say, Martha's audience was just as excited to get a spatula, but I digress...)

I felt that the better show would have been the 20 things no kitchen needs but are really cool to have. Here is one of the items I would feature -- a cheese safe. Back in the day, before those nifty pre-grated, pre-measured bags, cheese came in a wheel. Cheese, being a living organism, needed a bio dynamic environment to stay fresh and -- safe. Not to mention cheese is a prized food item for the rodent population. So you kept your cheese in a cheese safe. The bottom of the glass has ridges to allow for airflow around the cheese. A bit of vinegar and water in the bottom keeps the cheese fresh and moist.

I own a cheese safe or two, but rarely do I get a nice wheel of cheese. This Christmas, however, I received a lovely wheel of Vermont Cheddar from my friend Catherine. I was excited about the cheese but even more excited that I would get to use my cheese safe. I set it out and proudly admired it.




Over at Cookbook Of The Day, I wrote about another of my Christmas presents, a new 9 X 13 pan. So I managed to combine these two Christmas presents into this lovely item. In this 9 X 13 the cheese was not safe! Not at all. It was, however, delicious.

05 April 2011

Nancy Cunard in Bangles

I was moving gigantic piles of "stuff" and this postcard fell out. So I just sat down and thought of Nancy Cunard and Man Ray, who shot this photograph. All those bangle would drive me crazy... but then Nancy was a bit crazy, maybe it was the bangles.

01 April 2011

Famous Food Friday -- Gwyneth Paltrow


How could we resist Gwyneth for a FFF. There are a lot of people out there who love to bash Gwyneth but let's give her some credit. Seriously, look at her sorted life. Born to two beautiful parents who loved her unconditionally, raised on the Upper West Side, not the best student at The Spence School, so she asked her godfather, Steven Spielberg about the movies and lo and behold, she had a part. She was engaged to Brad Pitt, won an Oscar, and wears designer clothes. Did I mention she is tall, blonde and skinny? She has a web site called Goop which has been known to get her into trouble.

Look at her background. It's not that she means to offend the poor folks, it's just that she has really never known any poor folks. So when she says the best thing a new mother can do after giving birth is to get a personal trainer and a new stylist, she means it. Not in that Marie Antoinette way but in that, "I don't really know any better," way. So when she gives advice on “finding a good balance between having a career and being a mom,” she offers up a venture capitalist and Stella McCartney, not a single secretary with no day care.

Most of this snarkiness is clearly jealously, and if you had to be jealous of someone, it might as well be Gwyneth.

So when she decided to write a cookbook, she did what all aspiring cookbook writers do -- she hired a cookbook writer. While the actual writer if her cookbook, Julia Turshen, does get a mention (and a picture with Gwyneth). And speaking of jobs to be jealous of, spending a year in London hanging out in Gwyneth's kitchen cooking is not the worst gig in the world. Besides, you show me someone with 10 or 12 cookbooks and I'll show you someone who has a writer coming up with those recipes, even Sandra Lee didn't think up that Kwanzaa Cake on her own.




So Gwyneth's cookbook is entitled My Father's Daughter. It is in the end a kind tribute to her father who died in 2002. The ever snarky Jeffery Steingartner wrote about Gwyneth for Vogue and to say he was smitten would be a gracious understatement.

"Only after an hour had passed did I notice the sharpness of her knives. I was impressed. Gwyneth sharpens her knives by hand, using a MinoSharp, a contraption that you fill with water before pulling the blade between two submerged ceramic wedges. I've never gotten the hang of that little device. Later she told me about her outdoor pizza ovens, one in each of her backyards in London and on Long Island, and I took her ownership of two of them as the mark of her seriousness as a cook... Gwyneth and Chris own two adjoining houses and three backyards. They bought the first house from Kate Winslet; it has the kitchen and the backyard where the wood-burning oven stands. (Later they bought the house to the left, and finally the ground floor of the house to the right, which earned them the garden. They seem to believe that extra backyards make good neighbors.)"
For those of you keeping score we have five houses and two wood burning pizza ovens, oh yes, and sharp knives.


The cookbook is a lovely, beautifully produced book. There is no liquid nitrogen, no squid foam, just nice family recipes that you (or your personal chef) could whip up without ever breaking a nail. I must say, I was expecting it to be bit more veggie and I was pleasantly surprised, thought there is no red meat. Here is a nice chili sans red meat or white meat for that matter.

Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons extra virgin
olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 large red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1/2 cup de Puy lentils (small, dark French lentils that hold their shape well), rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 –14-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Big pinch coarse salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste


Heat the olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and black pepper. Cook, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the chipotle and stir to combine.
Turn the heat up to high, add the tomatoes and their juice, crushing them a bit with your wooden spoon, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the lentils and beans. Fill one 14-ounce can with water and add it to the pot, along with the salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the flavors are melded.


In the realm of "celebrity" cookbooks, this one is pretty good. I am sure it will sell many copies and if it does, there is talk of a Gwyneth food magazine. Oh my...


April Fools Day


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