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Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb
Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland

On Love

Love Gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

-Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Powerscourt Gardens, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread

12 Feb

I wouldn’t usually bake banana bread in February. It belongs to autumn, when the air smells like peat and burning leaves. Just as Truman Capote’s Aunt Sookie knew fruitcake weather, I know banana bread weather.

But this is one of my honey’s and my puppy’s favorites. So I turned on some Simon & Garfunkel and Cat Stevens- my quintessential autumn soundtrack- got my bake on and got lost in nostalgia.

This recipe comes from fellow Vancouver blogger, Vancity Allie. Check out her blog, it’s excellent and totally captures life on the West Coast!

Ingredients:

  • Butter, 1/2 cup
  • Brown Sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Sugar,1/2 cup
  • Eggs, 2, large
  • Bananas, 4, ripe
  • Lemon Juice, 2 tablespoons, freshly squeezed
  • Vanilla, 2 teaspoons
  • Cake Flour, 1.5 cups, seived
  • Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon
  • Salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Walnuts, 3/4 cup, chopped and toasted (walnuts are a super food!)
  • Dark Chocolate, 1 cup, small pieces (optional)

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread:

  • Toast walnuts at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Set out 4 large bowls.
  • First Bowl: Mix butter and sugars in an electric mixer. Then, mix in eggs, 1 at a time.
  • Second Bowl: mash bananas and add lemon juice and vanilla.
  • Add the contents of Bowl 2 to Bowl 1 and mix.
  • Third Bowl: mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • Fourth Bowl: mix toasted walnuts and chocolate.
  • Add the contents of Bowl 3 to Bowl 1 and mix.
  • Add the contents of Bowl 4 to Bowl 1 and mix.
  • Add mixture to a generously buttered bread pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Rosemary-Walnut Shortbread Heart Cookies

11 Feb


Rosemary represents love, romance, and remembrance. As the tragic lover Ophelia said, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember…”

I’ll always remember that balmy night in Potrero- a tiny hamlet in Guancaste full of Italian expats with a coast that resembled a Japanese woodblock print- when we shared the most delicious rosemary focaccia over dos Imperials. With visions of amaretto and limoncello dancing in our heads, we had traveled more than a day to visit the renowned gelateria of a true maestro- he’d perfected his craft in fair Verona over the course of 20 years and made gelato so exquisite it is watched over by armed guards. We ended up staying for a week, delighting in lazy walks along the Monkey Trail, day trips to Playa Conchal on our rented beach cruisers, and of course the delicious food.

Like Proust’s episode of the madeleine, I am instantly transported back to this wondrous place every time I encounter the scent of rosemary.

What triggers your involuntary memories?

(Recipe from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • Flour, 1 1/4 cups
  • Walnuts, 1/2 cup, finely ground
  • Rosemary, 1 1/2 teaspoons, fresh and finely chopped
  • Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Unsalted Butter, 1/2 cup
  • Brown Sugar, 1/4 cup
  • Sugar, 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla, 1 teaspoon

Rosemary-Walnut Shortbread Heart Cookies:

  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, walnuts, rosemary, and salt together and set aside.
  • Mix butter and sugars together.
  • Mix in vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture and and mix until dough comes together.
  • Roll dough out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Using various sized heart cookie cutters, cut out cookies and put on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 18 minutes.

Pink Grapefruit & Sanguinello Meringue Hearts

10 Feb


Is there any confection more delightful than meringue? I think not! Meringue makes everything more whimsical and enchanting. Meringue makes me feel like Marie Antoinette- Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette- escaping to the Petit Triannon at Versaille to indifferently snack on colorful petit fours.


Ingredients:

  • Egg Whites, 5 large
  • Brown Sugar, 1 1/4 cups
  • Vanilla, 3/4 teaspoon
  • Pink Grapefruit Zest, 1 1/2 teaspoon (grapefruit scent is a powerful aphrodisiac!)
  • Sanguinello Zest, 1 1/2 teaspoon
  • Pink Food Coloring

Meringue:

  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  • Whisk egg whites and sugar in a bowl over simmering water until sugar dissolves.
  • Beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Beat in Vanilla.
  • Divide meringue in half.
  • Add grapefruit zest and pink food coloring to one half.
  • Add sanguinello zest to the other half.
  • Using a cookie cutter, make meringue hearts on a parchment lined baking sheet, placed 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 2 1/2 hours.


Pear & Raspberry Heart Pie

10 Feb


My honey has a recurring dream of feasting on the perfect pastry at a Parisian
pâtisserie. He lives a life of complete devotion to finding that beguiling brioche, and he has quite the calling for it. Within mere hours of arriving on Martha’s Vineyard for my sister’s wedding, he’d sussed out an after hours backdoor doughnut operation.

It is such a pleasure to bake for someone who has such a profound appreciation for the art. This Valentine’s, I’m bringing the boulangerie to my baby. This one’s for you, with all my heart! (From Martha Stewart)

More recipes to come throughout the week!

Ingredients:

  • All Purpose Flour, 2 1/2 cups + more for dusting
  • Salt, 1 1/4 teaspoons
  • Sugar, 1 teaspoon + 1/2 cup + more for sprinkling
  • Unsalted Butter, 9 ounces
  • Water, 9 tablespoons
  • Cornstarch, 3 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pears, 6 for baking, Bosc or Bartlett, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • Raspberries, 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon Juice, 2 tablespoons
  • Egg Yolk, 1 Large

Pate Brisee:

  • Combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a mixer.
  • Mix in 8 ounces butter.
  • Add 8 tablespoons water and let the mixture come together.
  • Divide dough in half, shaping into a half moon.
  • Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Pear & Raspberry Filling:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cornstarch, and cinnamon.
  • Add pears, raspberries, and lemon juice (I also added a dash of Grand Marnier).
  • Toss mixture.

Pear & Raspberry Heart Pie

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • On a floured surface, roll out dough 1 into a 13-inch circle.
  • Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish and trim edges so there is a small overhang.
  • Refrigerate.
  • On a floured surface, roll out dough 2.
  • With a small heart cookie-cutter, cut out 45-50 dough hearts.
  • Transfer the dough hearts to a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Refrigerate until firm.
  • Add the Pear & Raspberry mixture to the pie dish, piling high in the center.
  • Add 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces.
  • Tuck small overhang under dough and brush with water.
  • Arrange dough hearts around edge of pie, overlapping and alternating direction.
  • Repeat with a second layer.
  • Repeat with a third and final layer, with the points pointing in, creating a star shape.
  • In a small bowl, whisk yolk and 1 tablespoon water.
  • Brush pie crust with this mixture and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes, rotating half way through.


Coulter Curated Gifts: Valentine’s Day

4 Feb
For Him:

  • Hankey Bannister Aged 40 Years Scotch Blended Whiskey
  • Tom Ford Tuxedo
  • Snowshoes and Fondue
  • Creed Cologne in Green Irish Tweed
  • Bose Noise Canceling Headphones
  • Omega Seamaster Watch
  • Home Cooked Dinner
  • Valhrona Chocolates
  • Brooks Brothers Pajamas
  • Storm Watching in Tofino at the Wickaninnish Inn

For Her:

  • Romantic Hot Air Balloon Ride with a Bottle of 1959 Chateau Lafite
  • Batavus Old Dutch Bicycle
  • Louis Vuitton Heart Coin Purse
  • Peter Beard Taschen Deluxe Diary
  • Jo Malone Grapefruit Cologne
  • Stella McCartney Days of the Week Knicker Box Set
  • Sony Digital Camera
  • Guerlain Meteorites Miniature Powders
  • Orchids
  • Yves Saint Laurent Muse II Bag

Looking Forward to in February

1 Feb
Photo: Style.com
11 February: Fashion Week

Fashion week kicks off in New York- then on to London, Milan, and Paris!

Photo courtesy of Tim in Sydney
12-28 February: Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

I fell in love with the Nagano Winter Olympics (devotees will recall my Johnny Moseley impression)! There’s something so Nancy Drew meets James Bond about it all! Living in Vancouver for the past couple years, it’s been so exciting feeling the anticipation for 2010 build! If I’m incommunicado during the games, it’s because I’ve either set up camp at LiveCity, am enjoying the craic at Irish House, or trying to track down Stephen Colbert! T-11 days and counting!

14 February: Valentine’s Day

15 February: Pup’s birthday

Bowie turns 2! Hopefully she won’t become an angstful teen!

19 February: Shutter Island

Scorsese and DiCaprio are such class acts for making such first rate films- The Departed is my all time favorite! Paramount, not so much for pushing back the release date. As if Martin and Leo weren’t enough of a draw, Denis Lehane’s brilliant homage to classic Gothic literature is storytelling at its absolute best. Tom Stechshulte reads it wonderfully.

28 February: Hyannis Marathon

I’ll be cheering my sister on as she runs her first marathon. Go Doone! I’ve already been promised the exclusive interview, so stay tuned!

February: Road Trips

To the North: The Sea to Sky Highway. To the South: The Pacific Coast Highway. It doesn’t get more beautiful than this! Cue the wide shots and Wagner in the spirit of James Bond zipping along the corniche. Well…more like Canned Heat in the spirit of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty going up the country in their old jalopy.

This one goes out to Skinz:

Doone, is that Audrey Griswold at :22 seconds?!