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May 22, 2019

Summer Berry Cream Tart

For Mother's Day, Emma and I made a dessert that we sort of just made up.  I had a vision for creamy vanilla pastry cream, tart berries and toasted meringue.  Also, I wanted a thick shortbread crust.  It was beautiful!  It would work with any summer berries or bananas instead.  Our next idea is to make a s'mores version with a graham cracker crust and chocolate custard filling.  YUM!

We used one of my favorite baking essentials, a Metal Pastry Ring, $14, to create the pretty fluted edge.  They are so easy to bake in a makes such a lovely presentation.  The bottom comes out similar to a cheesecake pan, and the side just slides off creating a patisserie worthy effect.  You can find them in my online store, here >

Components (all recipes below): 

Shortbread Crust
Pastry Cream
Fresh Raspberries
Strawberry Jam
Swiss Meringue

Supplies : 

Shortbread Crust

3/4 " softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 3/4 cups of flour
1/4 tsp. salt

In a mixer, combine butter and sugar, then add flour and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Press into bottom and sides of a metal tart ring (or mini disposable tart pans).   

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until edges begin to turn gold.  Let cool

Pastry Cream Filling

5 egg yolks (save whites for meringue below)
3/4 cups of sugar
1/3 cup of cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of scalded milk*
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

In the bowl of a mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar for 4 minutes, then add cornstarch.  *Pour milk into a glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes until steaming.  With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the hot milk mixture a little at a time.  Transfer the milk and egg mixture to a saucepan and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes until the mixture thickens.  It should be bubbly and thick.  When it thickens, use a whisk to mix and cook for 2 more minutes while whisking.  Stir in the vanilla.

Pour it into the crust.  Let chill and then top with berries.  We also glazed the berries by heating up strawberry jam and brushing it on them.  This is an optional step and gives the berries a nice shine, but it made it a little too sweet in my opinion.  Next time we will leave the berries naked.

Swiss Meringue

5 egg whites
1 cup of sugar
1 pinch of cream of tarter

In the top bowl of a double boiler (glass bowl sitting on a sauce pan with simmering water), whisk together egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter.  Cook mixture in the double boiler over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved.  If you rub the mixture between your fingers, you should be able to tell if the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to your kitchen aid fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high for 7-10 minutes.  The mixture will cool and froth into a thick meringue as it whips. 

Transfer into piping bag.  Cut the end off - I like to cut it so the opening is large, to get these big pretty dollops.  Pipe generous dollops.  Toast with mini torch or put under broiler in the oven for 1-2 minutes.

Shop Baking Supplies : 

May 13, 2019

Mother's Day Dinner Menu | Rhubarb Margaritas, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Raspberry Cream Tart

Last night we hosted our families for Mother's Day Dinner.  We had a busy day already planned, so I planned around being able to make everything ahead of time.  Our holidays often tend revolve around sort of masculine fare - steaks, burgers, beef tenderloin, grilled brats, chocolate cakes, cheesy potatoes - so I wanted to serve a menu that was girly, complete with pink cocktails, flowers and linens.

I recently went to dinner with some girlfriend at True Foods Kitchen and had the most delicious Rhubarb Strawberry Margarita.  It was so fresh and not too sweet - so yummy.  I made the base without alcohol, so those could added tequila if they wanted.  Emma loved it (without the tequila!), too!  She was excited to sugar/salt everyones rim and garnish with mint and strawberries.  I'll share my recipe later this week.  

Emma and I made a Raspberry Cream Tart for our dessert.  We sort of created the recipe by combining a couple of different ideas.  She helped me make the entire thing on Saturday, and we piped and toasted the meringue on Sunday afternoon with my Mom's help.

I set the table with my favorite feminine floral linens and created a centerpiece out of peony, pink tulips (both from Whole Foods) and some garden roses from our yard.  Coral and Pink is one of my all-time favorite combinations.

Mother's Day Menu with Make Ahead Tips

Rhubarb & Strawberry Margarita (recipe coming soon!) : Make rhubarb and strawberry simple syrup the day before.  Set up make-yourself bar the day of.
Lobster Mac and Cheese* : Make ahead tips below.
Wilted Lettuce : I made the bacon dressing the day before, then just heated it up in the microwave before tossing on the lettuce the day of.
Roasted Asparagus : I had it ready to go into the oven on a baking sheet just before the party.  Easiest vegetable side dish ever.  Drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked it for 15 minutes.
Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes & Avocados with Lemon Juice, Olive Oil & Flaked Sea Salt : Assembled this just before the party.
Raspberry Cream Meringue Tart (recipe coming soon!) : We made this the day before, save the meringue.

Wilted Lettuce Recipe

Lobster Mac and Cheese Recipe

*Lobster Mac and Cheese Make Ahead Tip : I made the cheese sauce, cooked the pasta and cooked and shelled the lobster tails the day before, but waited to assemble everything until just before I cooked it.  My one complaint about homemade Mac and Cheese is that the sauce is absorbed into the noodles so much so that there isn't remaining creamy sauce.  After assembling, I baked it for 35 minutes at 350 which was just enough to make it hot and bubbly without taking it too far.  I LOVED how this improved the recipe.

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day :)

May 08, 2019

Lemon Cream Tartlets | Emma's 1st Baking Gig

Each year I volunteer to donate the desserts for the annual celebration dinner at The Sheffield Place, a facility that serves homeless mothers and their children.  (You can read about the past posts and desserts here.)  This year, since Emma has taken such an interest in baking, I decided to let her take the reins on this project.  We selected the menu together (I had to rein in some of her ambitions a bit... ) but I put her in charge of the baking, decorating and display.   

There were to be 40 guests at the dinner, so we decided to make 26 Lemon Tartlets and 26 Strawberry Macaron.  I'll save the Macaron recipe for another post - stay tuned for that.

For the tarts, we used store bought pie crust.  Emma would've preferred that we make "scratch" dough, but I wanted to make as little mess as possible in the kitchen since we were also tackling macaron in the same day.

All we did was roll it out a bit thinner than it came in the package, then cut it into circles that would fit into my Small Brown Paper Tart Pans.  We actually used a large ramekin as a cutter to cut out the circles and it worked great.  Then we pressed them into the pans and put them on a Large Baking Sheet, $10.  I should have lined the sheet with Parchment Paper, $10 because we had some drips of the filling on the pan that were a pain to scrape off.  I should know by know - always use parchment!

For the filling we used our favorite Creamy Lemon Pie filling - a recipe from my "Pops."   It is so easy and is just Sweetened Condensed Milk, Lemon Juice and Egg Yolks.  We baked them for about 25 minutes until the crusts were browned then let them cool.

We topped them with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, strawberries, mint and a pansy.

I couldn't resist taking photos of her desserts on these Enamelware Trays before we left - they make everything look sweet and pretty.

Resources : 
Disposable Tart Pans (we used the small, petite also available)

Here is a look at our strawberry macarons - we love making these, but are still working the kinks out!  I'll share my tips when I feel like we've mastered it.

Proud Emma with her display at the Sheffield House.  

May 02, 2019

Mother's Day Collection & Recipes

Mother's Day

It is such a special time of year.  Spring is really in full bloom, so much so that summer feels just around the corner.  And it is.  In just a couple of weeks, Emma will be out of school and we'll be spending our mornings on walks and our afternoons at the pool.  Between now and then, there will be graduations (Laurie's oldest is graduating from high school!), class picnics, elementary talent shows, Teacher Appreciation Week, and Mother's Day.  The Cherry Blossoms have come and gone, the lilacs are beginning to fade and the peonies are ready to burst in my garden (finally, after waiting about 5 years for a mature hedge to grow).  And I want it all to slow to a crawl so I can properly enjoy it.

I love these slow quiet days of working on my computer, creating gifts, baking or taking photos while listening to birds singing, all while I can smell the sweet scent of everything in bloom through open windows.  The air is crisp and the sun is cherished between spring rains.  It is similar to that feeling in the fall when everything just feels perfect - but with fall comes a sense of fading, spring comes with a feeling of life.

I like to dream of these perfect feeling days when planning Mother's Day celebrations and gifts.  What do we Moms really like?  For me, it is a quiet morning at home with something to plant or fuss over in the garden, a thoughtful gift  - something homemade, something that grows, or something small and pretty, or useful - and a cozy dinner someplace with candles.

I am finding that I don't want more _things_.  I don't really care to own more objects to sit on shelves or counters to clutter up our home, but love things that have a use and that come and go.  My new collection of bottled products is just that type of gift that my own Mom loves.  They are useful - soaps, lotions, linen sprays - and they make my everyday more lovely.  They are used and enjoyed, and then they go away without clutter or obligation - the perfect gift in my opinion.

Of course, hosting a nice dinner or lunch with a pretty dessert will always be my favorite way to love someone and to be loved by someone.  I've included in my post some of my favorite recipes and desserts for this time of year - lots of lemon, shrimp and mushrooms.  All of my favorite things : )

Emma's Cherry Tree

When I walk outside and see entire trees swathed in pale pink blooms, I'm overcome with gratitude.  In the matter of two weeks our yard has gone from sparse and faded to lush and vibrant.  Emma's cherry tree was our muse for the two weeks it was in bloom.

Our cafe lights and lanterns made it glow magically each morning and evening - and we relished in it as we knew it was fleeting.

The tree has finally gotten big enough for me to prune a couple of branches during blooming time without worry.

They are ethereal inside - their scale is so boisterous!  Did you know they have a soft, sweet scent?   And as with seasons, while the cherry tree's blossoms have been replaced by thick green leaves, the peony hedge is now bursting with buds about to flail open in all of their delicate, airy and wildly full glory.

Pretty Dresses

On my best days, I'm carefree in a pretty dress in my backyard with my Emma watching our garden grow.  This collection is about fully feeling the natural, simple beauty of the garden, breathing in soft scents of blossoms and fresh air, living more simply, more beautifully.

I've filled the collection with gifts to give and gifts for yourself.  This post also has links to favorite late Spring Recipes perfect for Mother's Day and special touches from years past (like these amazing lilac pewter bowl I created) to inspire your celebrations.  Happy Mother's Day

[_Shop The Mother's Day Collection >_](

Emma's Dress : A white cotton dress with a subtle stripe, embroidered with a light blue crewelwork at the neck.  Roller Rabbit.

My DressI love how easy and breezy I feel in this dress.  The color is so soft and pretty and perfect for a casual summer party or dinner.
*I am wearing a small and am typically a size 4 or 6 in J.Crew dresses.  It is pretty forgiving!

My friend introduced me to these earrings in college and they've been a staple in my wardrobe since.  I get endless compliments on them - most people think they are real ; )  They are perfectly understated, with just the right amount of heft to look like a stately family heirloom.

Here I've paired a heavy cuff with two delicate bangles.  Love this mix and match look that can feel very dressed up or very free and casual like it does here.  These have become staples for me and I wear them alone or mixed and matched almost every day.

I've created this new custom product line with a local partner.  They've been formulated and created as eco friendly as possible just for my store.  There are two scents this season, both perfectly suited to different areas of your home - Garden and Summer.  I spent a great deal of time designing the perfect JSH logo for this product collection, but then wondered, 'why would you want my monogram on the things in your home?'  So, I removed the monogram logo and left it clean and simple so your home will feel like your home without cluttered branded products.  I love how they turned out.  They are create

GARDEN : Light floral scent of jasmine, gardenia, lilac and lily of the valley.  I love this for hand soap, lotions and bath oil.  It is feminine and pretty and just slightly floral.

SUMMER : Soft sea salt air with fresh notes of tuberose, sweet herbs and summer breezes.  I love this for my linens and kitchen sink area - fresh and clean, with subtle scents.  

I put this basket together for a Mother's Day gift, but it would be perfectly suited for a friend's birthday, housewarming gift or teacher's gift.  It has all of the everyday luxuries that I love to give and receive. 

The packaging, so simple and classic will make your kitchen sink feel tidy and fresh.  The scent is clean and breezy, just as I like my home to smell in the summer time.

I'm open to anything that makes ironing more pleasurable : )  Just the lightest freshest scent for sheets, pillows, napkins and everything.

Dressing up your sink side in your powder room can be the easiest way to welcome guests.  These come in both scents, SUMMER and GARDEN.  I'm crazy for the garden lotion - a soft scent that lasts all day on my hands.

I'm a bath expert.  I've been known to take a long, soaking bath almost everyday... at least 4 times a week.  I also love lovely bath oils.  Going to bed with warm, softened skin is the ultimate luxury.   I'll be bringing this as hostess gifts for my bath-loving friends.   The foaming bath is available in both GARDEN and SUMMER scents.

A bundle of peonies wrapped in Kraft paper and tied with a satin ribbon complete the gift.  I also included a set of Watering Can Tablets.  I think we'll recreate this same basket for Emma's teacher next week for Teacher Appreciation Week. 

All of my tablets are made on a creamy cardstock - a little luxury in everyday.  They are great for making lists that don't get crumpled when you take them off of the pad.

Robin's Egg Blue Enamelware, $18-28

Five years ago I first released this Robin's Egg Blue Enamelware   It is always a personal favorite of mine to bring out during warm weather months.  Here, I used it for a help-yourself-bar (my favorite kind) for a moms' night at our house.  I served make-your-own lemonade, vodka and sodas, white wine, rose and prosecco.   It was the perfect bar for everyone - everyone could make their own spritz with prosecco, lemonade and soda, pour a glass of wine, or just a lemonade or soda they weren't drinking.

The Italian sodas in Lemon and Blood Orange from Whole Foods made them special and really yummy.

I set out two types of glasses to be used for everything from a glass of wine to a glass of water.

See how the enamelware just makes this bar?  The fun pops of color make it cheerful and friendly, while helping me organize the space.

I use this large bowl for everything from big salads to bottles of iced beers.  I keep 2-3 of them at home - I love them lined up with pasta salads, potatoes salads and green salads for parties.

Lilacs bloom just after the cherry blossoms and just before the peonies - if you are lucky, you get a little of both at the same time.  A long time ago when Emma was a baby, I made this Lilac Centerpiece on our porch (which was transformed into my little photo studio) in Concord.  It is still one of my favorites of all time.  I remember going out and hunting these lilacs in areas that I thought no one would mind my poaching : )  Lilac Bowl Centerpiece >

I've also simplified our home lately by removing all patterns and going back to my love for solids.  These 100% linen light blue pillows just make our home feel pretty.  

This is another new hanging basket that I'm crazy for.  I've been keeping it by our mudroom door to stash outgoing papers - signed permission slips, letters that need mailing, etc.  I'm also going to put some in my office to use for office organizing.  

This little layer cake was made in my 6" cake pan - surprisingly one of my favorite sizes.  I usually make two out of one recipe (or mix... ; ) ) and then put the other in the freezer.  This is the perfect size for 6 or 8 people for dessert, especially when layered with lemon curd, whipped cream and berries like this.  Make the cake (so simple), buy the lemon curd and make the whipped cream, then pile high.  So simple and so impressive for a dessert - a favorite for Mother's Day.  Here is the recipe link

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