Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall and Halloween Decorations

Over the past few weeks I have been busily trying to get out all my Fall decorations and a few Halloween decorations. I now limit my Halloween decorations but I have a collection of some really special pieces that I have collected over the years that I feel need to be enjoyed. My Fall decorations remain out until after Thanksgiving.

This is at my front entrance, this scary pumpkin I use to put my trick o treat candy in on Halloween evening. It is part of a collection I have that are made of paper mache'.

This scary guy is another of the paper mache' collection and sits at the end of my island in the kitchen. He sets the mood in the room that I spend most of my day.
This witch is very special to me since she was handmade by a very dear lady and friend. She is also in my kitchen sitting right next to my favorite tea set, a handmade set by an American potter, Frances Palmer. My witch that I named Glynda watches over all of my kitchen activities.

In the Reading Room/Breakfast Room I have a newly acquired piece, I went to my Garden Circle meeting last week and our guest speaker made this for demonstration purposes. As she talked about how she put it together I signaled to her that I wanted to buy that piece. I didn't want anyone else to walk away with it since I had a perfect spot for it.

The wreath hung on the mirror I have had for a long time and it has held up well. It is made from corn husks and dyed. Below is the new piece that I bought and worked so well in the center of my mantle.
I just loved the little birds coming out of the gourd and the loosely woven natural ribbon worked so well with this whole piece. I also finessed my French Guinea Hens on the mantle too, they tied in the color of the candle holders that I recently ordered from Pottery Barn.
My Breakfast Room table, a Fitz and Floyd soup tureen.

A few others all through the house.

Another pumpkin sitting on my antique French Pastry Table at the end of my kitchen.
At my back entrance where guests are best and I always try to have a welcoming entrance.
These on this table are part of a Lizzie High collection.
A few more in our Family Room.

This is another piece from my Lizzie High collection.

And most often this time of year there is a soup or stew bubbling away on my stove. I like to think they taste better when made in my Pumpkin Staub pot.

I hope you have enjoyed some of my Fall and Halloween decorations. I am sharing this post at Marty's blogging party, Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll thru Life. For more decorating inspiration you can click HERE.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New York Style Cheesecake

Several weeks ago I was cruising a few of my favorite blogs and found this recipe for New York Style Cheesecake. Unfortunately I forgot where I found this and would really like to give credit where credit is due.

I have been making my own cheesecake for as long as I can remember and it is a crustless cheesecake but this one is absolutely amazing. I loved the addition of the orange zest, lemon zest and bourbon. This BTW put it over the top in my opinion.

New York Style Cheesecake

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 1/2 cups
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved
1 teaspoon bourbon or brandy
Strawberry sauce, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan, In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and mix well. Press onto bottom of spring form pan and bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. When completely cooled, butter the sides of the pan.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

In a larage mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups sugar, zests and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour, then the eggs and yolks 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean seeds and bourbon or brandy and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Wrap the pan in foil and place in a roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer cake to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate cake overnight before serving. Cut into wedges and top with strawberry sauce.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Strawberry Sauce

2 pints fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Reserved vanilla bean
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons kirsch or brandy

Combine berries, sugar, water, reserved vanilla bean and zest and cook until berries are soft and the liquid is thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the kirsch or brandy and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and let cool. Spoon on top of the cheesecake and serve.

It sounds like a really boozy cheesecake but it really isn't. It is quite simpley DELICIOUS!!!! Often I serve cheesecake with Ina Garten's Raspberry Sauce which is also excellent. For the holidays I will definitely be making this cheesecake again with Ina's Raspberry Sauce.

It's Friday and I am shring my post on Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum.

Have a great weekend to all and with the holidays coming up WOW your guests with this delightful cheesecake.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tarragon Chicken

A blogging friend had shared with me that she was enjoying Laura Caulder's program, French Food at Home which comes on the TV every day about 12:30 EST. Since I am not usually home at that time I have begun taping the program and watching in the evening when there is absolutely nothing of interest on the TV which is quite often. I too have come to really enjoy Laura's program and purchased one of her books by the same name as the program, French Food at Home.

Like many of us I am always looking for new and different ways of preparing chicken and this book had a wonderful recipe for Tarragon Chicken, typically French but oh so easy to prepare. This book was published in 2003 and I believe she has since published another book by the same name which follows her program. This was the first of Laura's books that I have bought and it is an excellent book.

Tarragon Chicken
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chicken (about 3 pounds/1.4 kg), cut into 8 pieces
Salt and pepper
About 3/4 cup/175 ml white wine
1 shallot, finely chopped
About 1 cup/250 ml heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Lemon juice to taste
Melt the butter with the oil in a large skillet over quite high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and fry in batches until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Put all the chicken back in the pan, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.
Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up the good bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add the shallot, and boil until the wine has reduced with the cooking juices to make a thickish sauce, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and half the tarragon. Boil down again to thick sauce consistency, 3 to 5 minutes.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Squeeze in lemon juice to taste. Put the chicken pieces back in and turn to coat, then transfer to a platter, scraping the sauce over the chicken. Scatter over the remaining tarragon, and serve.
In her book, Laura says, that "this is certainly a bistro dish in it's simple execution and appearance, but somehow tarragon, with it's refreshing anise scent, raises the whole thing to a higher level". This is certainly true and since I do grow tarragon in my herb garden and I dearly love this herb it was a perfect dish for me. I did use only 1 whole chicken breast, halved which was perfect for my husband and myself but did make the same amount of sauce. I chose to serve it over a bed of fettuccine and the sauce was amazing. The addition of the lemon juice gave it an added freshness along with the fresh sprinkling of tarragon.
I used this Le Crueset which has a tight fitting cover and this is a perfect size that I use often. You gotta love Le Crueset, I don't know what I ever did without them.

This is a recipe that I will make over and over again, a REAL keeper that was absolutely delicious and the sauce was heavenly. If you try this dish you will not be disappointed and I pared it with a simple garden salad.

French food does not have to be difficult or time consuming. It's a Good Thing. It's Friday and once again I am sharing this recipe at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday, a weekly recipe exchange. There are some excellent recipes shared and you can access them by clicking HERE.