May 23, 2017

Drink Pink + Rosé Season! + Giveaway!

Drink Pink | The Naptime Chef

It’s rosé season! I’ve always been on board with sipping rosé in the summer months, but in recent years it’s become a real trend. Everywhere I go I see the #yeswayrosé hashtag, right along with #roséallday. While I don’t recommend downing a bottle a day, I do think rosé has a rightful place among the most refreshing wines of summer. I am still working hard on my WSET degree and part of that includes reading as much as about wine in my free time as possible. Thankfully, my rosé knowledge just got a huge boost from Victoria James’s delightful new book, Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé. Illustrated by Lyle Railsback, this fun book is informative and enlightening. It covers the entire history of rosé, since, despite its recent trendiness it has been around for centuries, and includes several delicious recipes.

Here is a recent chat I had with Victoria, and a chance to win her new book!

1) Rosé has experienced a huge boom in popularity in the past few years yet it’s been around for a long time! What motivated you to write this book now?

It is true, rosé has been around since the 8th century BCE! However, it has never been as relevant as it is today. In the United States it is the largest growing category in wine. Today producers are making rosé for the sake of making rosé, it is not simply a byproduct of red wine production or something made from rotten grapes or young vines. Since they now are able to command higher price points for rosé (20 years ago they could never charge $35+ for a bottle!) there is a lot of focus going into high-quality winemaking. This is happening all over the world.

DRINK PINK came out at a time when rosé is trending, in an effort to combat the low-quality swill that puts pink wine in jeopardy as a serious category. I wanted to write a book that celebrates exceptional producers and styles of rosé. Hopefully, people will start demanding the good stuff and put the “lifestyle brand” and large corporations to shame.

May 4, 2017

Bread Toast Crumbs with Alexandra Stafford + Giveaway

Bread Toast Crumbs | The Naptime Chef

I first met Ali Stafford several years ago at a gather in New York. Since then I’ve been following her wonderful blog, Alexandra Cooks, and was so excited when her first book was published last month. It is called Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loves and Meals to Savor Every Slice and is easily the best ever guide to bread baking I’ve ever read. The key? She starts off with a family no-knead bread recipe that is hands down amazing. From there is riffs on all kinds of breads with add-ins and flavors, all of which are easy to make. She also features a whole chapter on recipes featuring toasted bread and, finally, a chapter featuring bread crumbs. It is basically all you’ve ever wanted to know about bread and I couldn’t be happier to share the little chat we had:

1) This book is so inspired! It is clear that homemade bread has been a staple in your life forever. How did you come up with all the different variation on baked breads that are in this book?

Thank you! Yes, homemade bread has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. My mother seemed to always have a bowl of bread rising on the counter, and she always had a stash of sliced bread in the freezer, which we used for toast every morning. What’s funny in regard to your question about creating the variations of the peasant bread is that I didn’t make a single variation of my mother’s bread until I posted the recipe on my blog, which led to readers writing in sharing their own variations and asking questions about how to adapt the recipe in various ways.

So, the first goal in creating variations of the bread was to address the questions I had been asked over the years: How can I incorporate nuts and seeds? How can I add cheese? How can I add spices and herbs? How can I incorporate whole wheat flour or other flours into the bread? Can I use beer or milk in place of the water? Once I had recipes that demonstrated how to make these simple substitutions, I thought about the classics: brioche, cinnamon-swirl bread, anadama, white sandwich bread, whole wheat sandwich bread, hamburger buns, etc. Once those recipes were included, my editor suggested thinking about how we could push the simple peasant bread even further: monkey bread, pizza, pull-apart dinner rolls, focaccia, pissaladière, etc. My mother, with whom I wrote the book, loved working on the variations and still comes up with creative adaptations. A recent favorite of hers replaces ¼ cup of the liquid with fresh orange juice, and she adds fresh orange zest along with 1/3 cup of sesame seeds.

May 3, 2017

Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

Beautiful gemstone soap(Lief Shop, $6 each)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

Dinner Chez Moi, a delightful cookbook to inspire her summer cooking (Amazon, $16)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

A candle that smells like the south of France. (Food52 Shop, $48)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef Fun bon bon earrings for summer evenings with friends. (Tuckernuck, $78)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

A selection of rosé from Martha Stewart’s Wine Co. Because a recommendation from Martha is always good! (Martha Stewart Wine Co, starts at $90)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

The prettiest wreath for her door. (Terrain, $88)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

Organic Dark Chocolate Spread. Obviously. (Le Pain Quotidien, $11.25)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

A gift certificate for reflexology that will leave her feeling relaxed and reenergized. (Prices vary)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

A lightening bolt necklace because she moves so fast! (Shinola, $190)

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017 | The Naptime Chef

The cutest jewelry pouch for taking on travels! (Clare V, $75)

May 2, 2017

Lovely Bubbles for Mother’s Day (or Anytime!)

Prosecco

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to start stocking up on her (your) favorites. Prosecco is one of my favorite drinks this time of year. Each bubbly sip is light and refreshing, and it pairs so well with all kinds of foods. It is reminiscent of champagne, but with a slightly sweeter flavor. Prosecco comes from a specific region on northern Italy, similar to the way Champagne comes from Champagne, France. It is known for being less expensive than Champagne since it is cheaper to produce, and is an excellent base for popular cocktails like Bellini’s and spritzers.

Earlier this month I received two bottles of Prosecco that were absolutely delicious and I want to share them with you in case you are looking for some guidance at the liquor store!

Prosecco

The Piera Martellozzo D.O.C. Extra Dry. The light, fruity bubbles make it perfect for pairing with light fish, shellfish, or a seafood scallops. We also loved the bottle of Mionetta Prosecco Brut. It features flavors of golden apples, pears, and slight honey-like sweetness. It is perfect for mixing with a little St. Germaine or peach purée to make a terrific Bellini. You can even enjoy either of these as an apertif!

(Disclosure: I was sent this wine to try and we really enjoyed it. We hope you do too!)

April 24, 2017

Roots for a Brighter Future – Buy, Save, & Plant!

Earth Day and Arbor Day happen the same week this year and these holidays always give me a lot to think about. Spring has sprung in Connecticut and I’ve been so happy clipping daffodils and tulips for our vases, watching the rose bushes begin to flutter back to life, and seeing the hosta spring from the garden beds. There is so much to celebrate and be grateful for! When I think of these Earth-centered holidays I am reminded how much I want to protect our Earth and it’s resources despite the fact that we are just one small family on this big planet. How can I make a difference when I am clearly incapable of planting a forest on my own, or abandoning driving a car forevermore?

I know I am not the only person who wonders this daily and today I am thrilled to share that our friends at Unilever have thought of a few solutions for us. Helping the planet can be as easy as going to Stop & Shop. Since I shop their regularly I was thrilled to participate in their Buy, Save, Plant program for Arbor Day 2017.

April 18, 2017

Quick Lemony Cake for Spring

Quick Lemony Spring Cake

I almost called this an Easter cake but it really is so much more versatile than that. It is bright and cheery and perfect for spring. Yes, my children ate it for Easter, but it honestly could be served nearly any time of year. The best part is that the batter comes together in one bowl, which makes it convenient for anyone short on time or interest in doing dishes. I also was able to enlist the help of my 4 year old in making it to begin with – a fun project for both of us! Here is the recipe if you need a fun, quick recipe for this spring and summer. Enjoy!

April 7, 2017

Chocolate Avocado Chia Pudding

I’ve recently come around to breakfast puddings for several reasons, not the least of which is that they can be prepared the day before. Though I don’t mind cooking breakfast, there is really something so easy about having it ready the second I come downstairs! One of my favorite flavors of pudding is the chocolate avocado chia pudding. It takes just a few ingredients: grassfed milk, avocado, raw cocoa, and chia seeds, vanilla, and honey, and you are all set.