lemon tart


My mom just celebrated a very big birthday and my sister, father, and I threw her a dinner party at my house. For dessert I decided to make a lemon tart. Since I knew we had a lot of cooking to do for the dinner I wanted to make something easy but delicious, and I had to be able to make it a day in advance. Mom loves fruit tarts but baking a bunch of tart shells can be pretty labor intensive so I decided to make a ginger snap crust.


I found Anna's Ginger Thins at the local deli and ground them in the food processor until they were almost a powder. I mixed in enough melted butter that the mixture looked moist but not soggy. (I was making 3 tarts but 1 5.25 ounce box plus about half of a second box (15 more ginger thins) and 7 tablespoons of butter makes crust for one 8 or 9 inch tart.) Pour the crumb mixture into a tart pan with a removable bottom and spread it fairly evenly in the center with more crumbs around the rim. Use a rubber spatula to press the bottom into a nice flat base, working from the center towards the edges. Once you are ready to do the edge, use your fingers to press the crumbs into the corners and up the sides of the pan. Do not worry if it extends up a little past the rim - this gives the crust a pretty rustic appearance (first photo below). Once it is all pressed into place put the pan in the refrigerator to chill while making the filling. 


For the filling I used my favorite lemon curd recipe from the Book of Tarts by Maury Rubin. I love his technique for making lemon curd - rather than the traditional french method of whisking the butter in one piece at a time at the end, you whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan and cook it, whisking constantly, until it just barely comes to a boil. Then you strain it immediately after cooking (see photos below). Since lemon curd is a little soft for a tart filling that needs to be sliced I added an extra egg yolk to the recipe to thicken it a little more. 


Pour the lemon curd into the chilled tart shell and refrigerate it overnight. 


We served our lemon tarts with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries that were tossed with a little lemon juice and sugar. I also made this almond macaroon torte from smitten kitchen which was very popular too.





style: page marchese norman


My friend Page has the kind of home style that I envy - not only is she amazing at arranging things in an inspiring way, but she sees as much potential for a still life in things that are functional as she does in the totally obscure. I always notice the unusual objects that are featured throughout her house...most of us would never think to hang a skein of wool roving in the living room!


When I asked her how she would describe her style here is what she said:

"Basically I am inspired by things from nature, hand made objects, textiles, organic forms, etc. (fibers, wood, ceramics, linens, muslin, paper, baskets, simple line drawings, glass, etc) the more basic and simple and unfinished, the better.  I don't decorate...rather I just make still lives of things I love.  I love the juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and modern.  I love mixing shades of grey from warm to cool together with muslin-y neutrals.  I also love all these washed out greys and neutrals with a good pop of a neon color, yellow, tomato red, black or silver."


couscous with mushrooms and cranberries


Israeli couscous is much larger than the more common North African couscous. I really like it as the base for a salad so am happy to see it popping up in more and more supermarkets. It is also sometimes called "pearl couscous" or Lebanese couscous. This recipe is a great side dish year round. It can be served warm or room temperature, and goes as well with roasted salmon as it does with poultry or red meat. I also love the leftovers when I am looking for a quick lunch or snack. This recipe is also great for a crowd and can easily be doubled or tripled.


1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 box israeli couscous (6.3 ounces, about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 small onion, finely chopped

6 ounces portobello or crimini mushrooms, coarse stems removed, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat oven to 350°. Place almonds on a sheet pan in a single layer and toast until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside.


Place cranberries and red wine vinegar in a small bowl and stir so all cranberries are moistened. Set aside.


Heat half the olive oil in medium pot set over high heat and add the cous cous. Cook, stiring constantly, until couscous is golden brown. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until all liquid has been absorbed and couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.


While the couscous is simmering, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until nicely browned. Remove from heat and stir into the cooked couscous. Add almonds, cranberries and their liquid, and parsley and stir to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.




print making


When my friend Pilar posted about these kits on momfilter I ordered them right away…I love prints but have never done any print making myself. The kits have really clear directions and everything you need comes in the can. Once you learn the process you can easily make more with supplies you probably already have at home. Bea decided to make one collage of me, and one self portrait. The first print we made was not as good as I had hoped but once we realized that we just needed more paint the results were great! 


I ordered the wax painting kit and the ink drawing kit as well. Hopefully the boys and I will be able to try them soon…I'll post an update when we do.





grapefruit and avocado salad


Grapefruit and avocado is one of my all time favorite combinations. Years ago, before I had a family to feed, a sliced avocado and a carefully segmented grapefruit with a little sea salt sprinkled on top could pass for dinner. No one else in the house would find that satisfactory these days, so now it becomes part of a tossed salad with a little sliced cucumber thrown in as well. I collect the grapefruit juice while segmenting the fruit and use it with a little olive oil and salt and pepper to make the dressing.


lemony roasted salmon


This is probably my very easiest recipe and yet it is the one friends ask for over and over again. The tangy lemon zest is the perfect counterpoint to the richness of the salmon. I buy 1 fillet of wild salmon with the skin left on, about 5-6 ounces per person. Place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Grate the zest of a lemon over the fillet and sprinkle it with a generous amount of sea salt. (Occasionally I also add a little freshly chopped dill.) Roast it in a 450º oven for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. You can tell the fish is done when you press it gently with your finger and it flakes and is no longer springy. In warmer weather this also works really well on the grill. 


agnes et agnes kids furniture

I just downloaded the latest issue of the online magazine lmnop and fell in LOVE with this:



block print linens


I love Indian block print textiles for all their contradictions - somehow they manage to feel simultaneously old fashioned and modern, graphic yet feminine, simple and ornate. I was so delighted when I saw this new line in the current West Elm catalogue that I ordered quite a few pieces: the grey quilt and pillowcases for our guest room (above), and twin quilts and pillowcases for our boys' room. The boys' quilts have not arrived yet but the pillowcases are a nice tomato red and the quilts are reversible so you can have either the leaf motif or the diamond print facing up (photo below). So far I love everything, and the prices are great.



photography class

This fall I took a photography class at ICP (Photography I: Digital) with a good friend. We had to do a final project at the end of the class and my theme ended up being portraits of my children. Maybe because they are normally such active kids I found these quiet moments really special.




painted guitars


Every time I am at my friend Jodi's house I admire these super cute child sized guitars...and Jodi says her boys play with them all the time!  The yellow one was made by her oldest son in school. The blue one was made by talented friends for her second son. I'll have to ask for a rock concert the next time I visit!