Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

This house on “the Forest Hill” was packed with energy and festive events last week. I had the five year olds for Grand and GrandDad Camp, a childhood friend here from Shaker Heights, and the Queen Peggy’s 95th celebration of life! And in the midst of it all, the children managed to create a wonderful bread concoction! It’s play time, so follow the trail below…

16 oz round sourdough bread
Stick of butter
2  t minced garlic
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning (or equal parts of dried basil, parsley, and oregano)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbs chopped parsley, divided

Preheat the oven to 375°.
Place the bread on non stick sheet pan.
Cut a grid on the bread by creating vertical cuts, stopping before you hit the bottom crust. Repeat the cuts in a horizontal manner.
Place butter, garlic, seasoning, and half of parsley in small sauce pan.
Heat until butter is melted.
Drizzle butter into crevices of bread.
Gently stuff cheese deep into crevices of bread, and sprinkle of top.
Wrap bread in foil to cover.
Bake 10 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 12 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.

Bread by Lucy, Parker, and Peg. Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer.

Introducing Clark…My First Ever Guest Editor/Contributor

Hellodie from the great ENC…I want to introduce the older son of my dear lifelong friend Michѐle. I trust that you will learn more about him as the blog expands and he contributes more often with a more contemporary (read that as younger!) offering. This Friday heads up gives you time to study his recipes for two French Toasts, grab the ingredients, and bake it all up this weekend. Prep it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner…Home Grown and Orchestrated like a Beautiful Symphony…That’s our Clark! And Now…

In his words: Hey I’m Clark – I’m 23 and live in Washington DC. Food has played an important role throughout my life whether eating out or cooking at home. Now that I have my own kitchen, I’ve been focused on developing new recipes and flavors as I cook to sustain and entertain.

I feel like the potential of French Toast often gets overlooked as an exciting dish because most restaurants don’t offer much variety around it. From my experience, most places that serve French toast don’t do it justice and I think that can be attributed to a few things. For one, assuming it’s a breakfast place, they are probably putting out high volume of orders. Often times this can result in thinner slices and drier toast, understandably due to the need to conserve portions and put out orders quickly. Another reason might be because better restaurants often only serve French toast as a breakfast item, allowing it to get overlooked as a featured dish. Whatever the case may be, I definitely prefer making it at home because you can control all the flavors and variables that go into the dish.

French toast can be so much better if you just take the time to soak the bread enough to yield a soft fluffy result instead of a chewy dry texture. Here are two recipes that can help you step up your French toast and get creative with the flavors.

Cardamom French toast (sweet)

Custard dip
Coconut milk – 1-2 cans
2 egg yolks
Mirin (can replace with sugar or honey)
Cardamom – 1-3 tablespoons
Cinnamon – 1 tablespoon
Freshly ground nutmeg
Vanilla extract – a few drops
Coconut extract – a few drops (optional)

Loaf of challah or brioche
Sliced almonds or other crush nuts
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
Citrus zest (optional)
Mint (optional)

Step 1:
Combine all the custard ingredients to until they are mixed well. Adding the miring or sweetener to the custard will help the toast to caramelize when cooking
Step 2:
Cut bread into 1.5 inch slices (you need thick slices up to 2 in. If you want)
Step 3:
Soak bread in custard; make sure it gets fully coated on both sides and soaks up the liquid
Step 4: (medium to high heat, 5-7)
Add a knob of butter to a nonstick pan and let it get hot – the butter should be bubbling before you put the toast in
Step 5:
Set the toast in the pan and let it sit until the bottom starts to brown and crisp up, then flip and let the same happen to the other side.

Syrup/custard reduction:
Take the remaining custard and put it into a small pot on the stove and bring to a simmer. Add in more mirin (or other sweetener) and let it simmer uncovered so it reduces into a thick paste. Add more nutmeg/cardamom to taste. Once the custard is at the desired consistency, turn off the heat and mix in the nuts.

Plate the toast and top with your syrup reduction, citrus zest, poppy seeds and mint (or whatever else you would like)

Garlic & onion French toast (savory)

Savory custard dip
Coconut milk – 1-2 cans
2 egg yolks
Garlic cloves (a couple)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Any other herb/spice mixes (thyme, oregano, etc…)

Loaf of challah or brioche
Herb yogurt sauce

Caramelized Topping
Step 1:
Slice onions and zucchini into thin pieces
Step 2:
Add sliced onions and zucchini to a sauce pan with some oil and salt to taste
Step 3:
On medium heat, cover with a lid and let them cook down, stirring once in a while until they caramelize (add a little butter or deglaze if needed)
Step 4: (Optional)
You can add different flavors to the caramelized onions like curry powder or paprika

Prep steps:
Mince garlic
Combine all the custard ingredients and mix well.
(Optional but better) Heat custard to a brief simmer to bloom the garlic & herbs, then let cool in the fridge until room temp again

Step 1:
Cut bread into 1.5 inch slices (you need thick slices up to 2 in. If you want)
Step 2:
Soak bread in custard; make sure it gets fully coated on both sides and soaks up the liquid
Step 3: (medium to high heat, 5-7)
Add a knob of butter to a nonstick pan and let it get hot – the butter should be bubbling before you put the toast in
Step 4:
Set the toast in the pan and let it sit until the bottom starts to brown and crisp up, then flip and let the same happen to the other side.
Step 5:
Lay down some type of sauce, plate the toast and top with the caramelized onions and zucchini

This dish is great paired with a light salad or mixed greens
You can use cream too; I just prefer coconut milk
In the picture I used leftover beef that I had from lunch but to keep it simple, I just used caramelized onions for the recipe
You can customize most of the herbs, seasonings and flavors that go into this to make it your own

Caesar Crostini

Hello Hello and Happy “FRInally” to One and All! This is a post to make you, your taste buds, and your tummy smile. I bet you have all of this right at your fingertips. So go create a simple little weekend appetizer guaranteed to delight.

…Not to sound all broken record blah blah but please remember to wash your hands, wear your mask, and put your energy where it will multiply, not where it will be drained. You’re welcome for that little life hack! 😉
Appetizer Caesar Crostini II

French Baguette, sliced 1/2” thick
Olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup Caesar salad dressing, divided
Romaine, chopped
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.
Place baguette slices on parchment lined baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil lightly.
Brush generously with Caesar dressing.
Toast 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Toss lettuce with remaining dressing.
Pile gently on each slice.
Top with shaved Parmesan.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Serve immediately.
Makes 12 thin appetizer slices.

Family Party Time!!!
Appetizer Caesar Crostini I

Sculpture, Lilies, Silver

Just a little post to enjoy until I can share the AMAZING floral arrangements we have been enjoying in Bangkok. Orchids. Orchids. Everywhere. AND, Karen and I are headed to a private three hour class with the chef here at Anantara in just a few minutes. More to come! Until then…lilies-in-silver-service-ii

Recently I was yearning for a low, wide look for a few lilies I had on hand. All of my containers were too bulky for the task; so wandering around the house in search of something anything, it suddenly clicked as I entered my dining room. I borrowed pieces from my silver service and took them right into the sun-room and plopped them beside the sculpture by Jeff Kiefer. Set your silver free and use it all around the house!

Napa and Broccoli Slaw


Our Casual Post-Game Kitchen Buffet

Aww Lawdy. We had a VERY large time at the ECU/NCSU game and associated festivities this past Saturday at Ficklen Stadium….Yep, I’m Old School; it will ALWAYS be Ficklen Stadium to me, as My Sweet Dad purchased those 50 yard line tickets when it opened in 1963, and we are still enjoying them. Oh Yea! It was a fantastic game with lots of post-game food, games, and antics…shhhh…can’t share everything! Kicking off a slaw recipe perfect for any tailgating, post game, BBQ, or fried chicken dinner. Heck, this is perfect for any ole time. Go on…make yourself special and WOW your family and/or guests!


1 lb broccoli
1 cup mayonnaise*
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 t salt
1 t lemon zest
1/4 t ground red pepper
1 medium sized Napa cabbage, thinly sliced*
1/2 cup golden raisins

Cut broccoli florets into small pieces.
In large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, onions, sugar, vinegar, salt, and lemon zest.
Add cabbage, raisins, and broccoli.
Stir to coat.
Cover and chill 1 hour.

*I used Light Canola Mayo.

*May substitute 16 oz package coleslaw mixture if you are in a real rush!
Serves 6 as a light side with pulled pork entree, or 12 on sliders.


Slaw on a Slider

Chilled Corn Soup

Happy “After Labor Day”…which means fall IS coming and this heat will finally go away! As an appetizer feature at Peggy’s Mae Lew Farm Jubilee we served this yummy soup shooter! There is pure magic in these details. The rooster reminded us that we were on a farm, albeit, one glorious farm! Go grab some fresh white corn while it’s still available and make this great soup. It’s excellent for a light lunch as well. Use it people!

Soup Chilled Corn Chowder Shooters1 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 green onions, white and tender green parts, chopped and separated
3/4 t ground coriander
3/4 t ground cumin
3/4 t chipotle chili powder
3 cups fresh corn kernels (if not available, use frozen white shoepeg corn, thawed)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 t salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat.
Cook garlic, white parts of onion, coriander, cumin, and chili powder.
Stir until garlic and onions are tender, about 3 minutes.
Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes.
Transfer mixture to blender.
Add buttermilk, water, and salt.
Purée until smooth.
Chill at least 1 hour.
Serve chilled, garnished with green parts of onion and cilantro.

Makes 6 – 8 lunch serving sized bowls.
Or 20 soup shooters.Soup Chilled Corn Chowder II

Cheese Please!

I adore cheese…and if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. So grab a mixture of sheep, cow, and goat cheese offerings. Serve it up with fresh seasonal fruits, dried apricots and cranberries, and a ginger snap or two. Crossing borders here with Humboldt Fog, a California goat milk cheese, followed up with Port Salut which is a semi-soft French cow’s milk cheese. Also served here is Brenton’s favorite, the semi-hard Manchego, made from the milk of sheep in the La Mancha region of her beloved Spain. For this particular tray, I rounded it out with a Dutch yellow cow’s milk Gouda. Rather spectacular. This presentation was for the umpteenth* one of my Mother’s 90th (XC) Birthday Jubilee Celebrations. Appetizer Cheese Tray

  • Umpteenth literally means an indefinitely large number in succession. And that’s precisely how she celebrated this special birthday, party after party. Kudos to her…and us for the endless prepping of said parties! Self patting self on back…yep, that’s what my dear sister-in-law Su-Su and I are doing now that, after three full months, the celebrations are complete. Flowers and more yummies later! And that’s a promise, ’cause I’m gonna improve your future outcomes!

Decorating with Cacti

1 Living Room IINeed a really quick arrangement for a bare spot in your home for the Holidays. Tomorrow is Rush Rush Rush Day… So, stop by your garden center or floral shop and snag a cacti. Plop it in a ceramic, glass, or silver container…and voila! You better not watch, You better not cry, You better not pout, I’m telling you why…cacti, that’s why.  Easy Breezy! See you on the other side of Christmas you all.

Ho Ho Ho! Hope you are a jolly ole soul!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


IMG_6173“Don’t cry because it’s over…Smile because it happened”! Dr. Seuss, attributed. We danced through a busy, fun filled, love filled, and laughter filled Thanksgiving week. I hope you and your families had a blast and overate as well! See ya later Gobble Gobble. Santa, see you in a short 24 days.

First time getting teeth cleaned.

First time getting teeth cleaned.

We made a gingerbread house.

Making a gingerbread house.

We made homemade gummy worms.

Homemade gummy worms.

We made Mickey Mouse pancakes.

Making Mickey Mouse pancakes.

Loving with Bonny.

Loving with Bonny.

Flipping with Tony.

Flipping with Tony.

We learned about Elf on the Shelf.

Learning about Elf on the Shelf.

Caught a ride on GrandDad's shoulders.

Catching a ride on GrandDad’s shoulders.

Painting ornaments.

Painting ornaments.

Flower Arranging in Hotel Rooms, part one

From Phone 929Warning…I’ve done this a time or two…and a LOT this particular past spring and summer, all for joyous family celebrations. Jump along and take a gander. This was Brenton’s 30th birthday in DC. You may be wondering why I put myself through this exercise; the truth is that when traveling to these bashes I like the way my arrangements turn out a bit better than those of an unfamiliar florist. Now don’t give me that you crazy person look! Pic on the left is of one of my work buckets in the loo of our room at the fab Hotel Monaco. Request from the birthday gal…peonies and hydrangeas, also my favorites!

Another work bucket and 2 completed arrangements on the bench in background.

Another work bucket and 2 completed arrangements on the bench in background.

IMG_4815And here are a couple of the completed arrangements placed in the lovely courtyard of the divine Co Co. Sala, venue for the celebration.

The bar!IMG_4822IMG_4835