Apr 30, 2009


hello lovely readers, to celebrate the 100th post and 6 month blogiversary, c&t is giving away this lovely cookbook "Beyond The Great Wall, recipes and travels in the other China" by the amazing and adventurous jeffery alford and naomi duguid. i love their work and their photographs are the best. visuals. anywhere. great reading, seeing, and cooking all in one. you can read more about them and their book here and here. for me cooking really is an adventure. 

anyway. all you have to do is leave a comment in the comments section of this post by sunday May 3 at midnight new york time. one lucky winner will be chosen by the random number generator. that's all just leave one comment. i will ship the book locally, nationally, or internationally or to any place that it isn't too terribly much trouble to send (not the international space station, for example). check back next week to see if you've won and we'll arrange shipping address etc via email. good luck and thanks for reading, it means the world to me.

Apr 28, 2009

chocolate pots de creme

when one of the best things in the world is also one of the simplest easiest things in the world, i am especially thrilled. and so it is with chocolate pots de creme. i like it better than chocolate mousse. texture i think. cooked custard is sublime in my book. takes no time at all to prepare, but there is the baking and the refrigerating that span some time. but mostly, easy peasy. also, 100th post right here. feels good to have created this little blog. a small space for beauty in the too frequently mundane stream of life. thanks for stopping by and reading a few words or maybe even just looking at the pictures!

chocolate pots de creme
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
6 oz of the best bittersweet or semisweet chocolate you can lay your hands on, finely chopped
1/2 cup fine sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  bring cream/milk mixture to a nice simmer. remove from heat. add chopped chocolate and fine sugar. stir once. cover. allow to stand off the heat for 5 minutes. meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks, the vanilla and just the tiniest pinch of salt. at this point, check on the chocolate. it should be melted. give it a gentle stir (dont want to mix vigorously or chocolate can separate). now, gradually stir in the yolk mixture. i add a bit of the chocolate to the yolk mixture and then incorporate that mixture into the rest of the chocolate. pour the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer or sieve, into a pitcher.  

ready your ramekins. or pots de creme pots with their cute little lids if you have them (i don't). this makes 9 pots for us, which is all that fit in our baking pan. as pictured above. fill all the cups you have an equallish amount and place in rectangular pan. pour your bain marie, or hot water bath. fill up the pan about halfway. careful not to slosh on your way to the oven.

into the oven they go. bake for approximately 25 -30 minutes. the centers should still jiggle a bit, but not look like pure liquid. allow to cool on the counter for 5 minutes or so. then remove them from the bain marie and allow to cool on the counter another 10 to 20. then it is off to the refrigerator for them. cover with foil and refrigerate for about 2 hours. they will solidify quite a bit more during all this cooling and refrigerating. simply lovely. enjoy with a bit of fresh whipped cream if you like. 

Apr 27, 2009

seedling update and vinegar rhapsody

what a beautiful day. sunny. birds chirping like mad. trees greening up, sprouting leaves. bulbs blooming everywhere. gorgeous. spent the weekend going to the beach. a bit of leisurely gardening. relaxing. eating. lovely. 

first i must tell you that our seedlings are doing well. we planted them way way later than we planned, but in this case our procrastination seems to have worked in our favor as it is still, as of last week, in the 30s at night. we want to be able to plant them outside when conditions are just right. these are the cherry tomato plants. we are going to be planting them in pots on the deck. peas and radishes dont require early starting so we'll plant those when it warms up for good. so far so good. fingers crossed.

second i must tell you that i am in love. in love with distilled white vinegar. i could go on and on and on about it. i'll spare you the worst and just say that it is a fabulous weed killer. and boy do we have weeds to test it out on. it is amazing. just pour it on, being careful not to slosh it on anything you don't want to kill. non toxic to pets and kids of course. also, it is an excellent toilet bowl cleaner. better than any commercial toilet bowl cleaner i've used. really. just pour it on the ring and scrub and swish a bit with the brush. and that's not all, it also is an excellent natural fabric softener, just pour it in to the old washing machine in the same spot as you would any other fabric softener, it has the added benefit of breaking down the laundry detergent proteins for those with super sensitive skin. apparently it also cleans showers quite well. have yet to try this. and we have always cleaned our wood floors with white vinegar and hot hot water. it really is wonderful to be using a product to do all these things that you can actually eat. imagine the carbon and pollution savings if we could quit manufacturing all those other products...a girl can dream. 

also, next post will be my 100th here at cup and table and this week also marks my 6 month blogiversary. yippee! to celebrate i will be offering a giveaway. a thank you to all you lovely people that stop in and read cup and table from time to time. more news on that in a day or two. happy monday.

Apr 24, 2009

friday photo

weekend luncheon, spring 2009

have a great weekend. gorgeous weather predicted. 70s and 80s. lucky we are.

Apr 23, 2009

royal china club and royal china on baker street

i love royal china and royal china club on baker street in mayfair in london. the food is simply the best chinese food i have ever eaten. 

now, i have lived in some places. new york city, los angeles, tokyo, washington d.c., san francisco. none of the excellent chinese restaurants i tried in any of these places can compare with royal china. the incomparable dim sum. the lobster noodles. and the best thing of all, the crispy duck. plenty of cucumbers, not too many scallions, exactly the right number of pancakes. incredible! fabulous! you are thinking, you go to london in the midst of a culinary renaissance, and eat something ubiquitous like chinese food? yes. i went there twice on this last trip and at least twice on the trip before. yes. because this is extraordinary. and it has the right balance of casual/formal for a hungry group of street-weary travelers. comforting, familiar, tasty beyond compare. 

royal china inspires this kind of ridiculous devotion. my dear friend shirley told me about it. shirley is an excellent cook and really knows her food, and just so happens to be expert on london. thanks shirley!

Apr 22, 2009

organic kumquats and reusable shopping bags

so today is earth day here in the u.s. do you have earth day elsewhere? i wonder. anyway, since i am still going on and on about london and waitrose, and it is a day to honor a cleaner earth, i thought i would feature these fabulous reusable grocery bags from waitrose, made of lovely natural burlap or something with a fabulous soft grippable, ergonomic even, handle, for only 99 pence. love them. bought one last year while overloaded with shopping bags on way to hotel hoping to make a more elegant entrance. loved the bag so much and it has held up so well after much uses, this time, had to buy four more. the bright blue are from whole foods, which they gave me for free two years ago and i bought another one to match. add that to my handsome canvas bag from the botanical garden membership drive, and now, i have what amounts to a whole wardrobe of reusable bags.

whole foods gives me 10 cents off per bag that i bring in, whether it is their bag or any other brand. i usually bring 7 even if i don't think i will need so many. as i always without fail buy more than i plan on buying, as i have a weakness for any fresh and delicious looking produce. that is when i remember to bring the bags at all, of course. this earth day is different in that everyone is using reusable grocery bags now. by my rather unscientific survey, i'd say 60% of shoppers are bringing their own bags, last year it was only about 3% i think. that means we are collectively saving tons of landfill and creating less pollution from manufacturing each week. wonderful progress. it is a small thing, but an important thing none the less. oh yes and these organic kumquats are fantastic this week, haven't seen them in ages, tart, sweet, juicy, delicious. highly addictive. 

Apr 21, 2009

uk herb and veg

wish list: bags of lovely veg good for soups, stews, roasting, side dishes, and perhaps one part of a mirepoix, fresh and wonderful, bagged and ready to go for a perfectly reasonable price. also gorgeous, lush and lovely, fresh herb pots of all different varieties that will last a good long while, looking quite gorgeous and being quite useful in the kitchen, available in the local grocery. beauty and utility. i heart you waitrose. please come to america. 

Apr 17, 2009

friday photo

kew royal botanic gardens, april 2009
it's over as of right now, this long cold gloomy winter, finally put to bed. just this morning i think i heard a collective sigh of relief. forecast for today and tomorrow: 70 and sunny. have a gorgeous weekend and see you next week. 

Apr 16, 2009

streets of london

i love the art galleries on cork street in mayfair. i generally walk in the galleries from one end to the other. the shops of old bond street are nice, and i love marylebone high street, thayer street, moxon street and around there. really nice for a walk. you can stop in and see the wallace collection or pick up a picnic at my favorite waitrose and park yourself on a bench in one of several lovely squares or eat at the incomparable la fromagerie or one of a dozen other charming restaurants or cafes. or take in an antiques fair if you are up to it. or maybe pick up some rather snazzy and stylish socks at paul smith. we had a marvelous time wandering about. and it was so bright and sunny we wished we had worn sunglasses, entirely unexpected.

Apr 14, 2009

room service brown's hotel london

i love room service. room service for breakfast. room service for breakfast with a really good cup of tea. not that awful american sort of room service tea that is served in the same pots as coffee and so tastes strongly of old coffee water sort of tea. but proper tea, you know, perfect, delicious tea. we had breakfast in our room often this last trip. and we were well taken care of at brown's. a good bowl of scottish milk porridge, a fruit plate, a bit of pastry (pear/pistachio in this case), some icy cold hildon spring water, fresh squeezed orange juice. and good english tea. eggs once or twice. beautiful linen pillows. simply brilliant.

Apr 13, 2009

great day out london

had a really great time in london. lots of amazing art, great food and an all around lively time. especially memorable was a lovely sunny day at kew gardens surrounded by gorgeous shrubberies, blooms, greenhouses and vistas. meanwhile, trying to catch up on a mountain of laundry, bill paying and taxes. more to come.

Apr 5, 2009


london view april 2009

spring break in london. having a marvelous time. goals are to eat lots of custard, drink lots of tea, see art, shop, go to bookstores, spend more time in marylebone, and take lots and lots of pictures. so far, meeting goals on all fronts. have a great week. xo, g

Apr 2, 2009

pasta with lemon garlic sauce

we eat what has come to seem like an endless string of pasta dinners. once a week usually. sometimes more at certain times of year (when tomatoes are in season for example, or now when there isn't much exciting going on in the produce aisle in new england). but i don't mind, and i never seem to tire of it. one thing that keeps it interesting is to vary the sauces and types of noodles. lemon garlic sauce is one of our favorites. and really it is no trouble at all. a great pantry dinner staple.

pasta with lemon garlic sauce
1 lb pasta 
angel hair or capellini works well with this one since the sauce is rather thin, but so does spaghetti (pictured above) or linguine. 
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin or minced
3 cups good quality chicken stock
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup parmesan cheese plus more to serve at table
optional are a cup of cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
and or a handful of chopped parsley (this particular night i used neither)

first off, i make the salad. i know there isnt even salad in this recipe, but it goes awfully well with it. a nice caesar salad would be good here, or a garden salad. then i ask the kids to set the table. then i slice the garlic. set the chicken stock in a sauce pan to boil, add the garlic to the pot and let boil rapidly for a good long while, 15 minutes or more, until the stock is reduced by half. as soon as the garlic is in the stock, i set a large pan of water to boil for the pasta.

i am from the school of thought that advocates adding a goodly amount of salt and olive oil to the pasta water to add essential flavor to the pasta. but i don't add it in until just before i add the pasta, after the water is at a full boil.

as soon as the sauce is reduced by half, add in the juice from the lemons, i use 1 and a half to 2 lemons here depending on how juicy they are. keep the sauce simmering away until the pasta is done cooking, it will continue to reduce, about a cup of sauce at the end is great, give or take. 

cook the pasta according to package directions. a great tip is to add the noodles in slowly, so that the water continues to boil all the while. when al dente, drain. return the pasta to the pan and pour in the lemon garlic sauce. put the heat on medium and stir around for a minute or two so the pasta absorbs a bit of the sauce. add the tomatoes and or parsley now, if you are using. turn off the heat. add in the 1/4 freshly grated paremsan cheese and serve. my family loves this and it is light, refereshing and noodley.

Apr 1, 2009

puff lovers

r, my lovely husband, brought home a surprise birthday week treat from the city last night. fresh beard papa fresh'n natural cream puffs. they are so delicious! those of you in new york city or a few lucky places around the globe, may know beard papas. founded in osaka, japan in 1999. their mission is simple "to pursue uncompromising quality in serving the world's best cream puffs." they are expanding all over the world. and the custard is so light and fluffy. they may be coming soon to a town near you.

at cafe zaiya in midtown, where r picked these up, they fill the vanilla to order right in front of you. freshness! custard! i can't really even describe how delicious they are. but here in, i am starting a new feature, item of the week. to highlight good food stuffs mostly. you know, the staples and treats that get us through the week. with quality and perhaps a bit of verve. this week it is beard papa's vanilla cream puffs. naturally made with things like milk, cream, eggs, etc. no artificial flavors, additives, preservatives, etc. 

we are all puff lovers in my household, and have a well documented love of homemade profiteroles as well. more on this in future posts.