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My Favorite Things Today

My Favorite Things Today is an assortment of goods that have arrived while I have been away. The WK family is super on top of keeping me up to date on new arrivals and products in shop vignettes. I might be at Hawthorne, but a part of me is always planning & thinking about Watson Kennedy. Whether near or far, it is close to my heart, and I feel so fortunate that when we are away, it is all looked after in the most loving way and in the very best hands. Here are some of the images sent my way that are now sent your way!



 

 

Risotto with Fresh Asparagus & Peas

Fresh asparagus has been popping up at tons of places we have been shopping this last week. I grabbed the best looking bundle from the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store the other day, as a hankering for risotto had set in. Little did I know that the day I was going to make It world be close to 90 degrees. The process of stirring was a bit like being in a sauna, but by the time the sun set, the back screened porch had started to cool down and we enjoyed our meal out there while the crickets serenaded us. Was not finding fresh peas yet, so went with my old stand-by of a really high quality frozen bag. Opt for the larger, non-petit size. They really work pretty wonderfully in risotto. If you can find fresh, by all means use them. For the asparagus, chose the thicker the better. They hold up nicely when mixed into the hot rice. I cut them up first and roasted on a sheet pan at 400 degrees mixed with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Pull out while still a bit firm, as they will continue to cook later in the risotto. I took out all the tops and reserved in a separate bowl, as they look nice on top of the individual risotto servings at the very end.

Heat up the 8 cups of stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process. Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of Arborio rice. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook through, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly.

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable.

Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there.

Now add the bag of peas. It does not need to be completely unfrozen as the peas will defrost the moment they hit the hot rice. Stir. Now add the waiting asparagus pieces on the waiting sheet pan. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add another cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done. Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir, adding a bit more stock so it is nice and creamy. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add the asparagus tops to each bowl and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite.



 

 

The Table Is Set

A busy week awaits with a mix of family & friends, dinners and graduation party. Getting the table set in the morning when the house is quiet always helps relax me and takes the stress away from having to do it later in the day when the task list is longer and we are scurrying around before guests arrive. This table is layered with new treats from this stay. CoCo in Portland sent the most glorious majolica plates as a ‘just because’ gift the other day that set the tone right out the gate. The faux bois planter the latest find from my Trade Secrets outing in CT last week-end, and a French green ceramic candlestick from KRB when we were in the city helps light the way. Little pots of scented geranium with the sweetest pink blooms dropped into buckets added a bit of contrasting color. Ferns, Italian parsley and mint add a bit more natural green. Then all that is needed to complete the table before the first knock on the door is to light the candles and away we go.



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 151

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkling with extra virgin olive oil. Cut small tomatoes in half, lining them all up. Sprinkle salt over the lot as well as more olive oil. Add a few cut cloves of garlic here and there, as well as a few sprigs of thyme. Bake at 400 until the tomatoes begin to release some of their juices. Toss with pasta for an easy meal or top mixture to baguette slices for a quick snack.



 

 

An Early Sunday Morning Happy Thought



 

 

French Bath Mitts at WK

I soooooo love these, Just In, French bath mitts. An old vendor of ours stopped carrying them and we were without for awhile, which had me so bummed as we have carried mitts since we first opened our doors. Le Jacquard Francais, the famed linen company in France to the rescue! Used in place of a washcloth, they have become a Watson Kennedy classic. Paired with a bar of soap, they make a chic & useful gift–a combo I quite like. Happy to have them once again grace our shelves and vignettes.






 

 

Poetic Peonies 

Flower Friday brings us these sublime peonies on the breakfast table of our friend Elizabeth’s lovely, lovely home in Rye. They greeted me as I sat for homemade biscuits with jam on Sunday morning before I headed into the city to walk the National Stationery Show. She knew I needed to be well-fed for my busy day ahead. The peonies feeding my soul all along the way, too. Thought you would all enjoy their magic…



 

 

7 Years of the TKW Daily Blog Posts

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the beginning of my daily blog posts. What began as a simple idea to share thoughts & ideas has become over the years one of the more meaningful parts of my day. The folks it has connected me to around the globe is like nothing I could have imagined on that first day when I typed “Here we go!” as the heading for my post. My main idea then as it is now, is to share ideas from my day so that it sparks creativity in yours, which in turn gets my creativity churning. I have written in the past about it being like a circle, a circle that feeds us all. I am often thanked by way of conversations, e-mails and notes for the posts, but it is as much about me thanking you. Thank YOU for following along as that is a gift to me–when I hear from you about stopping to smell a bloom, or setting a stylish table, or trying a recipe, or just taking a moment to take it all in and see the glorious details that fill all of our lives, each and every day. Sending you much, much love & gratitude from the Hudson Valley, Ted



 

 

2014 Château Bel-Air Lussac Saint-Emilion 

Wine Wednesday brings us this 2014 Château Bel-Air Lussac Saint-Emilion brought in to the US from my friends at Peloton Imports in Seattle & Napa. We had this bottle with our first supper back to Hawthorne last week along with food from one of our favorite places in the hood, Local 111. Being in the country, by the time it takes us to drive to pick the food up, our order is ready. This wine drinks like a much more expensive version. The folks at Peloton do this so well, finding producers who create exceptional wines at exceptional value. Plus, they ship! You don’t have to buy 6 bottles, but if you do, shipping is only a penny for 6 or more bottles. They are one of my go-to sources for when we are planning a party up here and I want wine delivered. 

Now about this amazing wine: Château Bel-Air is in the heart of the Lussac Saint-Emilion appellation. The 50-acre estate has been in the Roi family for more than a century, and it is today run by Jean-Noël Roi. The estate makes several Merlot-based wines, and the flagship wine is the Cuvée Jean Gabriel, made from vines that are an average of 30 years old. Cuvée Jean Gabriel is a relatively new wine for the estate, debuting with the 1998 vintage. It is 50 percent Merlot and 50 percent Cabernet Franc and it is an homage to one of the past patriarchs of the family, Jean Gabriel Roi. It was made with help from consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt. About 12,000 bottles of Cuvée Jean Gabriel are made annually. 

Click Peloton Imports to check out this bottle and oh so many more. Happy Wednesday from the Hudson Valley!



 

 

On the Menu, a Heavy Dose of Greens, Please

Each Hawthorne visit, a few new goodies from the shop make their way into our suitcase. That helps add that layered ‘collected over time’ look & feel we both like so much. This trip it was the trellis placemats and the large gingham napkins I kept eyeing every time I walked by the display at the First & Spring shop.

The green ribbon orb a gift from our friend, the artist Denise Fiedler, also made its way cross country in our bag. White lilacs from caretaker Bill’s property that he brought over the day after we arrived as he knows how much I like them. Then a variety of other green things pulled from the cabinets and dinner for two was served.