April 23, 2017

The Starlings of Spring...

A good friend sent me this video, and I was simply fascinated with it. Just take a look at this clip, and see what I mean. It's only about 4 minutes long, but it will stay with you in a good way. 

You have to love the British take on these Starlings, "the long distance daily commuters of the bird-world", as the narrator puts it.  These birds are so amazing...truly.  How on earth do they pull this off?  Bravo to capturing it on film for all of us to enjoy...

April 18, 2017

The Great Dixter Cookbook

New on the shelf...The Great Dixter Cookbook has arrived just in time for spring.
This cookbook features seventy simple and delicious seasonal recipes from the kitchen garden at Great Dixter, the historic house and garden located on the borders of Kent and Sussex. Dishes included range from English classics such as chicken and leek pie, apple crumble, and beetroot chutney, to contemporary recipes like crispy kale with sea salt and shakshuka. Dixter was home to the revered and highly influential gardener and writer, Christopher Lloyd, and a number of this book's recipes have been taken from the Lloyd family's personal kitchen notebooks.

As we head into the season of farmer's markets and finally begin to plant our own little garden patches, this is a perfect guide to refresh us on just how useful the bounty of the season truly is.  The beautiful photos are also a powerful enticement to get in the kitchen and start creating...

Spring rhubarb is wonderfully pink and tender, so you can dispense with the poaching step and put it straight into a pastry case (shell) with a little brown sugar before putting it in the oven. The sugar caramelizes to give an almost toffeelike flavour. Make it the day before so that the flavours have a chance to soak into the pastry, or eat it immediately. Either way, it goes well with cream, custard or ice-cream. —Aaron Bertelsen

Rhubarb Tart

  • ACTIVE: 
Gather the goods:
Butter, for greasing
1 quantity of your favorite shortcrust pastry or pie dough recipe, chilled [a recipe for Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Basic Sweet Pie Dough) can be found in the book on page 186]
Flour, for dusting
1 kilogram/2 1/4 pounds rhubarb, chopped into 5-centimeter/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons demerara (turbinado) sugar
120 grams/4 ounces (1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5, placing an oven rack in the lower part of it. Butter a 25-cm/10-inch loose-bottom tart pan.

Roll out the pastry (dough) thinly on a lightly floured work surface and use to line the prepared pan.

If using spring rhubarb, arrange it in the pastry case (shell) and sprinkle with the demerara (turbinado) sugar. If not using spring rhubarb, put the caster (superfine) sugar and 200 ml/7 fl oz (3/4 cup) water into a pan and stir together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil, then add the chopped rhubarb and simmer for 1 minute – you don’t want it to lose its shape. Drain the rhubarb, then arrange inside the pastry case.

Place the filled case on a baking sheet and bake on a low oven rack for 40 minutes. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully slip off the outer ring, leaving the tart sitting on the base. Return to the oven on the baking sheet for another 5–10 minutes so that the sides get really crisp.

Slide the tart onto a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar, if desired. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Certainly with Mother's Day approaching this would make an excellent gift--perhaps, accompanied with a solemn pledge to make the meal of Mama's choosing!

January 27, 2017

Time for Tea...

When the weather is teasing us a bit, deciding to be cold and then colder, a definite antidote is a good cup of tea.  The British have known this for 100's of years, and endless reruns of Downton Abbey have only further engraved it upon my mind.  I don't know what's taken me so long, but I have finally discovered the joy of tea!  So, it's rather convenient, I suppose, that we are now carrying the amazing line, Tea Forté.  (If you've ever treated yourself to lunch at Neiman Marcus, this is the tea you would have been served.)  The ubiquitous "tea bag" has been replaced with the rather impressive triangle shaped tea infuser with a signature little leaf attached to the string.  However, this isn't just a case of putting lipstick on a pig--this is some seriously flavorful tea.  

I'm currently  working my way through the Tea Tasting Assortment Collection, which they describe as: "The perfect introduction to the Tea Forté experience. Beautifully packaged and always appreciated, this curated tea collections are a most welcome presentation of the world’s most extraordinary teas."

Truly, I've enjoyed every one of them so far.  I have a Keurig coffee brewing system the I generally use to have a cup of coffee while I wait for my real coffee to brew each morning.  But, if you don't put in one of the little pods, it makes hot water for the perfect quick cup of tea just as easily!
The other fun thing I've been learning about are loose teas.  Tea Forté makes the perfect packet of loose tea that you put into a little brew basket that steeps the perfect cup.  It really couldn't be easier!  

The "Warming Joy" collection is a limited edition grouping of teas that are particularly good in the colder months.  Just tear open a packet, pop it into the little mesh basket, add hot water and there you go!  Really tasty, aromatic, bone warming, life giving tea!  
For those of you battling the late-winter doldrums, desperate to feel the warmth of the sun, try some of this tea--the Brits are really on to something!

January 10, 2017

S is for SOUR...

Now that January has a firm grip on us, and the winds come howling up from the north, it's a good time of year to have few friends over for an afternoon visit, a cup of tea, and a spot of cake.  Here's one that we're looking forward to trying very soon.

Gather the Goods:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12.5-ounce) jar Stonewall Kitchen Sour Cherry Jam
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until lumps from the flour are eliminated and the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer can be used). Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix on low speed until uniform. Scrape down sides as needed.
Add the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough comes together into a ball. Do not over mix.
Form the dough into a round flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap, or wax paper, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch spring form pan. Grate the dough using the large holes on a hand grater. Place half of the grated dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, pat down gently. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Top with remaining grated dough. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Remove the spring form rim and slide the cake off of the bottom of the pan onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.

As much as I love a tipple, this is a tea kind of cake.  Serve slightly warm from the oven with a good black tea on a chilly late-afternoon for maximum pleasure....

And, how very handy, the Sour Cherry Jam is available in our Pantry Department CLICK HERE for details...

October 11, 2016

She's back....Ina's New Cookbook is (Almost) here!

Ina’s most personal cookbook yet, Cooking for Jeffrey is filled with the recipes Jeffrey and their friends request most often as well as charming stories from Ina and Jeffrey’s many years together. There are traditional dishes that she’s updated, such as Brisket with Onions and Leeks, and Tsimmes, a vegetable stew with carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and prunes, and new favorites, like Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken and Roasted Salmon Tacos. You’ll also find wonderful new salads, including Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad and Kale Salad with Pancetta and Pecorino. 

Desserts range from simple Apple Pie Bars (see below) to showstoppers like Vanilla Rum Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel. For the first time, Ina has included a chapter devoted to bread and cheese, with recipes and tips for creating the perfect cheese course. With options like Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschettas and Challah with Saffron, there’s something everyone will enjoy.

From satisfying lunches to elegant dinners, here are the recipes Ina has tested over and over again, so you too can serve them with confidence to the people you love.

Ina's Apple Pie Bars

For the Crust
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Apple Filling1½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
1½ pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust, place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined. Scatter two-thirds of the dough in clumps in a 9 × 13-inch baking pan and press it lightly with floured hands on the bottom and ½ inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the mixing bowl with the remaining dough back on the mixer, add the walnuts and cinnamon, and mix on low speed to combine. Set aside.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling, combine the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples and lemon juice in a very large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch-diameter) pot, add the apples, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a ½-inch border.

Pinch medium pieces of the remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly on top of the apples (they will not be covered). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is browned. Cool completely and cut into bars.  Makes 12 bars.

Cooking for Jeffrey will be available on October 25th, 2016.  You may reserve your copy by phoning us at 708-246-5050, or place your order online {CLICK HERE} 

July 20, 2016

On the Rocks

Just over a year ago, Down East Magazine photographed my Mom's house for an article about Maine cottages.  It's in the July 2016 issue, and I thought I'd share a bit with all of you...
The amazing photographer, Cait Bourgault, spent the day with us in New Harbor; and we did what ever the opposite of a rain dance is, to coax the sun out for the first time in over a week.  I think we had about 42 minutes of sunlight.

Muddy dogs (Gracie & Lily) were running around inside and out, joined by their local buddies in mud, Hanna and Jeffery.  I had no sooner removed paw prints from one area, and they were destroying another! We managed to corral everyone, and Cait got right to work.

Our exceedingly clever friend, and expert gardener, Kahren got all the flowerbeds ship-shape...she knows everything about what can survive (and thrive) at the edge of the ocean.  Kahren has developed the gardens into a paradise of delight with colorful flowers all season long.  By mid-summer they are bursting with hundreds of blue hydrangeas, and the bees delight in all she provides them to pollinate.  The "Green Man" watches over all...

It was such a fun day!  Afterward we had a lovely party with friends and enjoyed all of the bountiful food and wine that had been brought in to style the shoot.  A few seagulls even dropped in to celebrate with us!

To see the full article, click the link: http://bit.ly/29oLr1u  

If you ever have the chance to visit "The Pine Tree State", DO IT!!!  Maine is an absolutely magical place that will make you marvel at the diversity of nature, the power of the sea, and your love of this amazing country.  Our website has a guide to Maine with some of my favorite places to visit on the Mid-coast.  Check it out here: http://bit.ly/29Hsz3B

July 11, 2016

This & That...

We've got a whole new line up from KATE SPADE!

New items are arriving from Kate Spade, and they sell out quickly, so please be sure to scoot on in and pick up whatever you need while we have it!  Think graduation, back to school, summer hostess gifts and on and on.  It's always nice that they do a summer release, as many designers hold everything back until fall.  Not Kate!

Speaking of summer, I've spend a few hours surfing around on Pinterest lately for warm-weather inspiration, and always find so many ideas and images. Don't you find that time moves in warp speed when you're meandering through the virtual world?  I look up shocked to realize it's 2 in the morning when, only moments before, it was just midnight!!!  Here's a taste from the Clever Girl board called Shades of Yellow...check us out next time you're wandering the web.
While we're at it, I'll mention the other rabbit hole out there. Its name is Instagram, and whatever time Pinterest doesn't eat up, Instagram happily will.  Designed more for use on a phone or tablet, Instagram is a visual repository that always leaves me in awe.  There are so may beautiful photos and creatively staged images.  The gardens and interiors are what I'm particularly drawn to, but there's something for every interest.  Be sure to follow along with Clever Girl as you explore..

July 2, 2016

Happy Fourth of July...

"Ours is the only country deliberately founded on a good idea."

– John Gunther

We will be closed Monday, July 4th in observation of the holiday.  Happy Fourth of July to everyone...

June 28, 2016

The Farmhouse Cookbook

There's a new cookbook on our shelves... The Farmhouse Cookbook has arrived, and it's terrific!  This collection of over 100 mouthwatering recipes inspired by the traditions of the farmhouse kitchen—with a modern twist—captures the true taste of today's country cooking and brings the fresh ingredients and seasonal flavors of a farmhouse kitchen into your own home. Stuffed full of details on selecting the best ingredients, eating seasonally, and foraging, this book is an invaluable source of information as well as a celebration of modern country living and how to get involved with the land and the food you eat.

From soups and pâtés to casseroles, roasts, salads and pies, and from tarts and crumbles to puddings, cakes, breads, jams and chutneys, produce from the farm and surrounding countryside is imaginatively combined to produce a wonderful range of heartwarming, seasonal dishes for all the family. Recipes such as Cheddar Farls Stuffed with Fried Eggs and Crispy Bacon, Broad Bean Hummus Toasts, Somerset Scrumpy Cake and Eton Mess Semifreddo bring the fresh ingredients and seasonal flavors of a farmhouse kitchen into your own home.

Here's a recipe to try that's perfect for lunch or dinner, any time of the year...


Serves 4-6
Gather the Goods:
2 ripe but firm dessert pears
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 small heads green chicory,
broken into separate leaves
2 small heads red chicory,
broken into separate leaves
40g watercress sprigs
50g radicchio leaves (optional)
100g de-rinded blue cheese, such as Devon Blue or Colston Basset, thinly sliced
The seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate

For the caramelized walnuts:
100g walnut halves
2 tbsp clear honey

For the dressing:
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp clear honey
1 tsp walnut oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the caramelized walnuts, preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Scatter the walnuts over a lined baking tray, drizzle with the honey and roast for 8-10 mins until toasted and caramelized. Leave to cool, then break into small pieces.
For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and honey, then gradually whisk in the oils. Season well with salt and black pepper.
Slice the pears away from the core, toss with the lemon juice and set to one side.
Toss the salad leaves with 2 tbsp of the dressing and divide between plates. Tuck the slices of pear and cheese in bet ween the leaves and scatter over the walnut s and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle a little more dressing over and around each plate and serve straight away.

You'll find this, along with a great variety of other delicious cookbook on our website: shopclevergirl.com Click here for the link, and happy cooking!

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