Thursday, October 29, 2009

Food For Thought Thursdays: Honey & Vanilla Chai Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

I have to thank Richmond's own, Veronica Perez of Petites Bouchees for introducing me to macarons. The chewy texture, the melt in your mouth creamy filling...truly exquisite ingredients make them so special. I came across Ellie's blog, Almost Bourdain and fell in love with her Honey & Vanilla Chai Macarons. While I'm no pastry chef, amateur or not, maybe I can talk Veronica into trying a new flavor. Hmmm....

Honey & Vanilla Chai Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup PURE Honey and Vanilla Chai
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Choosing A Color Palette - Kuler

Do you love color but can't decide which colors to use for your wedding? Choosing the right color palette for your wedding can be a daunting task. There are so many shades and variations from which to choose not to mention finding the perfect complimentary colors. I've found an amazing tool that will allow you to play with all the colors in the rainbow and create your own color story. Kuler by Adobe is a free site (we love that!) where you are able to dabble and let your creative juices flow or browse color themes created by other users. Kuler also allows you to pull colors from a favorite photo to find the perfect match.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday's Escape: The Ritz London

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you've had a productive week and are ready for a little R&R. This week we're heading to the Ritz London. What I love most about this hotel is it's old-school glamour and luxury. The hotel adheres to a strict formal dress code in all the public areas of the hotel. I can just imagine taking afternoon tea in the Palm Court. Civility at its best.
You can get a feeling for the grandness of the property even from the outside.
This room reminds of something from a 19th century novel.
The suite's sitting room
The restaurant. I wonder if cocktail attire is required here as well. I do so enjoy dressing up!
The hotel's cocktail bar. Do you see those leopard print chairs?
The famous Palm Court where reservations for afternoon tea are made up to 12 weeks in advance.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Food For Thought Thursdays: Challah

When I saw this recipe I immediately thought of my girlfriend, Jill. Now, Jill and I have been friends since 1st grade and she has always been a terrible cook. We wouldn't even let her make rice krispy treats...Kool Aid she could do quite nicely. (I'm gonna pay for that later, I know.) Fast forward 10 years and one husband later and Jill has fully channeled her inner Martha Stewart. I visited her about a month ago and she made the best french toast I'd had in a long time. Her bread of choice? Challah. Enjoy!

courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins per challah, plumped in hot water and drained (optional)
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. To make a 6-braid challah follow the instructions on this video for the braiding process (I personally did not have success following the written instructions from Smitten Kitchen).

Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.

If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New York Bridal Market - The Short of it all

I'm wrapping up this week's coverage of New York's Bridal Market shows with my favorite short dresses. If you've been following up til now, you know my affinity for short wedding dresses. A perfect choice whether you're ceremony is at the beach, your grandmother's carefully tended garden or you want to spice things up at the reception.
I love this dress from Lela Rose. The crystal beadwork is amazing.
This Marina K beaded mini is a perfect dancing dress. If you've got the gams, no need to hide them. Show them off!
This beaded coat by Melissa Sweet reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. Love it!
Swingy and flirty at Priscilla of Boston Platinum. This gown is perfect.
Now I know this last gown is far from a shortie but the train is too incredible to ignore. Romona Keveza's detailing on this gown is nothing short of amazing. It's like an unexpected burst of excitement!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New York Bridal Market - Part Deux

Continuing with a few of my favorite designs from New York Bridal Market shows, quite a few designers pulled out all the stops. We saw lots of embellished skirts and great detailing, really one of a kind pieces. Enjoy!
What I love most about this gown from Douglas Hannant was the feather appliques. If it's your desire to make a statement with going too far over the edge, this gown is sheer perfection.
Can we talk about this incredible Anne Barge design? There is beading and lots and lots of ruffles without being overpowering. The gown retains its shape and silhouette so the model is wearing it and not the other way around. Exactly what you want for your wedding day.
Refined. Elegant. Sophisticated. This gown by designer Junko Yoshioka is all of that and more. I can just picture the movement of this gown as the model walked. Take notice of how her hair and necklace echo the lines of the dress.
Ladies, I need you to take a deep breath and exhales very, very slowly. Ines Di Santo is known for creating glamorous, sexy gowns for the confident bride. This incredible dress is no exception. Definitely not for the shrinking violet. In this gown, you know your groom will not be looking anywhere else but at you the entire night. LOVE it!

**Images courtesy of Brides and Mark Ingram

Monday, October 19, 2009

New York Bridal Market - Christos

Happy Monday, Everyone! I hope your week is off to an amazing start. This weekend was all about New York's Bridal Market and the fashion shows. Though I did not make it to the shows, I was kept in the loop, quite brilliantly I might add, by the team over at Saturday evening was the live streaming of Priscilla of Boston's stunning show. It was almost as good as being in the front row! This week I'll be posting a few of my favorite designers offerings. First up is Christos.
Lace bodice with tiered tulle ballgown. Can't you just imagine the movement?
I love the button detailing on the back of this dress. Skims your curves perfectly.
Really feeling the understated elegance of this gown. Real flower power in the accent.
The ribboned waist sets the delicate beading off perfectly.
This gown is my favorite. I love the shimmering gold floral pattern. Imagine how divine it would look at a candlelight ceremony. Fabulous!

**Photos courtesy of Brides
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