Tuesday, January 31, 2012

{finding home}







we finally found our home, and oh how sweet it is.

dear plum street house, i knew you were ours the moment i saw you ... we can't wait to come home.
love,
alison, steve, and august

Thursday, January 26, 2012

{sweet potato pizza} with garlic, basil, gorgonzola, and hazelnuts








{sweet potato pizza} with garlic, basil, gorgonzola, and hazelnuts
recipe by me

1 medium-large sweet potato
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chicken stock
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/4 cup hazelnuts toasted and chopped
2-3 leaves basil, chiffonade
gorgonzola, to taste
1/2 cup parmesan
salt and cracked pepper to taste
pizza dough {i use my artisan bread recipe for neapolitan pizza dough} this crust was made with part whole wheat and flax seed meal.

preheat oven to 500 degrees
heat olive oil in a small saucepan; peel garlic cloves and cut into very thin slices, and add to the oil. cook garlic on low heat until fragrant and tender (around 10 minutes). peel sweet potato and cook in boiling water until tender. put in a bowl with chicken stock and maple syrup and a pinch of salt, and mash. set aside.

break off about 1/2 lb {around a softball sized ball} of dough from the artisan bread dough. you will be able to adjust this, depending on how you like your crust, or how big you want your pizza to be {if making a bigger pizza, break off grapefruit sized ball, and double toppings}.
on a floured surface, roll out dough, to desired thickness. don't be afraid to dust with flour in this process, this dough is a wet dough and can handle the flour... i also love the way it looks when it is baked and still has a dusting of flour on the crust. this particular pizza i rolled to about medium thickness, and slightly smaller than a dinner plate. but i've also rolled it very thin and once baked, it is wonderfully crisp.

here is more on rolling out the dough {neapolitan pizza dough recipe}
Flatten the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick round with your hands and a rolling pin on a wooden board. Dust with flour to keep the dough from sticking. (A little sticking can help overcome the dough’s re sis tance to stretching, though, so don’t overuse flour.) You also can let the partially rolled dough relax for a few minutes to allow further rolling. Stretching by hand may help, followed by additional rolling. Place the rolled- out dough onto a liberally cornmeal- covered pizza peel.

sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on a baking sheet and transfer pizza dough.

spread sweet potato over the crust as you would pizza sauce. top with garlic, drizzling some of the fragrant olive oil over the pizza. crumble gorgonzola, and sprinkle with parmesan. season with salt and cracked pepper. top with basil chiffonade and bake at 500 degrees for around 10 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden. slice and top with toasted hazelnuts, and a bit more parmesan.

*plate by kate fisher {my favorite local potter}.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

my birthday {according to instagram}














on january 23, i turned 33. every year, for the past 10 years i've been buying quince branches on my birthday. there is something about the contrast of pale pink blossoms against the winter landscape of january that gives me hope. my sweet little august was sick with a fever. we put an offer in on what we're hoping will be our first home. and, i started my birthday off recording new music... i can't wait to share it with you. it was quite a day.
xo,
alison rae

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

dear ina {shortbread cookies}













dear ina,
you never let me down. i made your shortbread cookie recipe with august this weekend, and they were divine. perfectly flaky, and just as you say "the quintessence of shortbread, and my all-time favorite cookie". we usually make the shortbread hearts for valentines day, but i couldn't wait that long. maybe someday we will make them together in your kitchen... a girl can dream.
sincerely,
alison rae

{shortbread cookies}
adapted from the barefoot contessa, ina garten

3/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

mix the butter and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. add the vanilla. in another bowl, sift together the flour and salt; add it to the butter and sugar. mix until dough just comes together. dump onto a floured board and shape into a flat disk. wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

preheat oven to 350 degrees

roll the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 3 inch round/or heart shaped fluted cutter. place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. i like to sprinkle them with sugar just as they come out of the oven. let cool to room temperature.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

{looking for home} part deux
















we are still looking for home... and after three failed house offers, we are a little worse for the wear. the town or country debate is still there, but not so important as it once seemed. i still dream of land, and open fields, and chickens, and a farmhouse with the screen door flung open in the summer time. friends gathered on the porch, my hands in the dirt, clothes on the line.
but, i am just a little weary, and it doesn't seem to matter so much where we find it... i just long for a place to call home.
so, just as i was starting to think that we should buy land and pitch a tent, a house came on the market. we saw it for the first time yesterday, and i fell in love. standing there on the front porch as we opened the front door, i was already fighting back tears of hope. this is the house i've been waiting for. i can see us there, building our first fire in the fireplace, dancing to a record, august taking a bath in the claw foot tub, that first smell of lilacs in may, swinging on the front porch swing, sunlight coming through the window in the early morning, planting my great grandmothers rose bush in the backyard, the piano waiting to be played.
i am so proud of steve and his beautiful work, i will never stop singing my heart out, and i have high hopes for my next record, and i love being a mother to my august. we don't have much money, but we will offer anyway. and, i am prepared to get down on my knees and beg for a miracle.
don't worry, i'll be ok if we don't get it. but, my heart is already there after all... i can't help it. i want to go home.


photo credits {1. homecoming by alica bock, 2.pendant by alicia bock,
3. everywhere, for a moment by kitty rogers, 4. retro love photography.}




Saturday, January 14, 2012

{girl put your records on}


i am in love with my vintage record player. i can't stop playing records and dancing... there is a lot of dancing going on around here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

{winter field}





steve took these photos on his way in to the shop this morning... driving through snowy fields.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thai Pumpkin Curry






{thai pumpkin curry}
my recipe
ingredients

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
1 small thai red pepper seeds removed {unless you like it really hot}
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3-4 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste {or to taste}
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar {optional, but helps in balancing the flavors}
1 small pumpkin peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized chunks
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
6-8 basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1/2 lime, freshly squeezed {plus lime wedges for serving}

in a large saucepan or casserole, heat vegetable oil over med-low heat. add garlic, red pepper, scallions, and ginger, and cook just until fragrant. add the curry paste and stir to incorporate. add coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce and brown sugar and bring to a boil. reduce heat to a simmer and add pumpkin, potatoes, and basil and cook uncovered until potatoes and pumpkin are tender, but not mushy{around 20 minutes}.
turn off heat and stir in freshly squeezed lime juice. taste to adjust seasonings... i usually end up adding a bit more fish sauce, but it's all about balancing flavors here {salty, sweet, acid, spice... don't be afraid to adjust}.
serve over rice. garnish with lime wedges and more basil.

*notes* butternut squash can be used in place of pumpkin. also, you can leave out the thai pepper if you want the dish to be more mild.


{sleep study}



Monday, January 9, 2012

{roasted butternut squash and garlic soup}





{roasted butternut squash and garlic soup}

ingredients
2 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
olive oil
6-8 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup
3-4 leaves fresh sage {or to taste}
salt and pepper to taste {white pepper can be used in place of black pepper}
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream

preheat oven to 350 degrees

brush squash with olive oil and place cut side down on baking sheet. place garlic on foil, drizzle with olive oil and seal up the foil. tuck garlic next to the squash and roast in the oven for 45 minutes - an hour, or until squash and garlic and tender. let cool.
scoop out squash into a large soup pot, and squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins. add chicken stock and sage and bring to a boil. reduce heat and add brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. remove from heat and using an immersion blender {one of my favorite kitchen appliances}, puree the soup. this can also be done in small batches in a blender, and returned to the pot. place pureed soup back on the stove top and over med-low heat add heavy cream. taste soup to adjust seasonings, and serve.
this freezes and re-heats beautifully. i will often add a bit more stock or cream when re-heating as this soup does tend to thicken when cooled.




Saturday, January 7, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

{pear and gorgonzola pizza with caramelized onion, roasted garlic, and balsamic}





{pear and gorgonzola pizza with caramelized onion, roasted garlic and
balsamic}

makes one medium neapolitan pizza
*recipe by me.

ingredients

1 small-med vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3,4 cloves roasted garlic
pizza dough {i use my artisan bread dough as neapolitan pizza dough}
2 pears (organic is best) slice thinly right before arranging on pizza
good balsamic vinegar to taste (around 1 Tablespoon)
gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbled to taste
salt and cracked pepper



{roasting garlic}
preheat oven to 350 degrees
cut top 1/4 inch off head of garlic, or simply cut the bulb in half . place cut side down in baking dish with olive oil and cover tightly with foil {wrapping the cloves in foil with olive oil also works well.} bake for about an hour or until skins are golden brown and cloves are tender. cool and squeeze cloves out of their skins, set aside. you will only be needing a few cloves of roasted garlic for this recipe, so you can roast just a few if you want. however, it is nice to have roasted garlic on hand, and i often roast a whole bulb at a time. you can set leftover garlic aside to make roasted butternut squash and garlic soup {recipe coming next}, or simply spread it on good crusty bread as an appetizer.

while the garlic is roasting, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil on the stove top and add thinly sliced onion. cook over medium heat, stirring often for around 10 minutes, add a heavy pinch of salt and pepper to taste, lower heat and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, or until onions are golden and sweet.

{both of of the above can be done ahead}

once garlic is roasted. preheat your oven to 500 degrees

break off about 1/2 lb {around a softball sized ball} of dough from the artisan bread dough. you will be able to adjust this, depending on how you like your crust, or how big you want your pizza to be {if making a bigger pizza, break off grapefruit sized ball, and double toppings}.
on a floured surface, roll out dough, to desired thickness. don't be afraid to dust with flour in this process, this dough is a wet dough and can handle the flour... i also love the way it looks when it is baked and still has a dusting of flour on the crust. this particular pizza i rolled to about medium thickness, and slightly smaller than a dinner plate. but i've also rolled it very thin and once baked, it is wonderfully crisp.

here is more on rolling out the dough {neapolitan pizza dough recipe}
Flatten the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick round with your hands and a rolling pin on a wooden board. Dust with flour to keep the dough from sticking. (A little sticking can help overcome the dough’s re sis tance to stretching, though, so don’t overuse flour.) You also can let the partially rolled dough relax for a few minutes to allow further rolling. Stretching by hand may help, followed by additional rolling. Place the rolled- out dough onto a liberally cornmeal- covered pizza peel.

sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on a baking sheet and transfer pizza dough.

top with caramelized onion, along with the fragrant oil it was cooked in, plus a drizzle more of olive oil if needed. layer gorgonzola over the onions. arrange pears however you like and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. crumble a bit more gorgonzola over the top of the pears, and freshly cracked pepper to taste.

bake at 500 degrees, for about 10 minutes or until top is nicely browned, and crust is crisp. allow to cool on cutting board or wire rack before serving. slice and serve.

i love to serve this with a simple arugula salad and a glass of wine.

cheers,
alison









Thursday, January 5, 2012

{chocolate sea salt cookies}











my friend ali turned me on to these cookies and i am forever grateful. they are the perfect blend of salty and sweet. perfection. i like to keep a log in the freezer to pull out and slice at a moments notice. because you never know when a friend might stop by for coffee, or when you're going to have a chocolate emergency.
also, thanks to my friend amanda for the pretty little wooden container.

{chocolate sea salt cookies}

{ingredients}
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped, or a generous 3/4 cup chips {i still like to roughly chop the chips}
1/2 tsp fleur de sel {or any course or flaked salt}, or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top {optional}


sift four, cocoa and baking soda together.
in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter until soft and creamy. add both sugars, the salt and vanilla and beat 2 minutes more.
pour dry ingredients and pulse mixer until flour is incorporated {scrape down bowl and pulse again}. don't overwork dough. toss in chocolate pieces and mix.
turn dough onto flour work surface press together and divide in half. don't freak out if the dough is crumbly, it is supposed to be that way. just press together and the heat of your hands will help it come together. shape into 1 1/2 inch diameter logs. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. i like to put one log straight into the freezer unless i am baking a big batch. if frozen, just slice and bake 1 minute longer.
bake at 325 for 12 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets, one sheet at a time {they will look they aren't quite done, but don't be tempted to bake them longer, they are perfect}... trust me. i like to sprinkle a dusting of sea salt on top of the cookies straight from the oven. let cool on cookie sheet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

{august's room}


















































toddler bed converted from crib built by my husband... he also painted the owl mural. birds of a feather mobile. "the three of us" fox family print. fox mask. bedding: dotty by ferm living. charlie harper ABC's. vintage embroidered ABC's by Steve's mom {she made is for his 1st birthday, and passed it onto me for august}. tea set by plan toys. owl dolls, bunnies and chicken made by me. knit owl dolls by blabla. sleepy fox plush fox.