Once Upon A...Royal Wedding Viewing Party

Set that alarm Ladies in Waiting!  It's almost time for the much anticipated Royal nuptuals of Miss Catherine Middleton and Prince William, set to air live on April 29th at 6:00 AM EST.  And to get you in the spirit (not that it's possible to get anymore excited), I have a Royal Wedding Viewing Party that will have your guests ready to rise and shine for a seriously chic get-together to view all the glitz and glam that is sure to ensue at Westminster Abbey...

The Menu:  Traditional English Breakfast [Madeover]
Treat your friends to a stylish English brunch full of champagne cocktails, refreshing Pimm's cup and traditional British favorites. Keeping things simple with a little sophistication is the perfect combo for an early morning event that is honoring such a high-end occasion.  The key is making things ahead [noted below] in order to eliminate a 'crack-of-dawn' panic attack. Making a frittata is a great way to prepare a brunch main dish without having to slave at the store. Throw the eggs and other ingredients into a pan and pop in the oven...that's it! Puffy, golden deliciousness in less than 30 minutes. Cut into small wedges or squares and its the perfect breakfast dish without the fuss (and easy for guests to eat standing). Prepare your other menu items while its bakes. Follow this chic menu with a few tips and your guests will feel like Queens, indeed!

Lavender Champagne (photo): Martha Stewart. Scones with Jam + Devonshire Cream. Strawberries with Lemon-Lavender Syrup. English Breakfast Fritatta: Delicious Magazine. English Roses via The Paris Apartment. Smoked Salmon canapes (photo): Country Living. Smoked Salmon Recipe at bottom of post. Pimm's cup (photo and recipe): Martha Stewart. Homemade Orange Marmalade (photo): Martha Stewart. British cookies and biscuits (photo): Matthew Mead. Collage created by In Good Taste.

Menu designed by In Good Taste [Laura Boyd].

*Make-Ahead Timesavers:
1. For the Pimm's, slice all fruits the night before and store in air-tight plastic bags, so all you have to do is throw them in the pitcher and mix everything up before the guests arrive.  You'd be surprised how long this little step to prepare a garnish takes!
2. Make the scones the night before as well. Store in air-tight containers or plastic bags. Buy store-bought clotted cream, jams, lemon curd and marmalade to eliminate prep time. Dish into small bowls the night before and store with plastic wrap so all you have to do is remove from the fridge and serve!
3. Make the lemon-lavender syrup the night before. Slice the strawberries and cover with plastic wrap that night as well. Store in the fridge and mix with the syrup just before serving. Again, slicing takes more time than you think!
4. If you don't have time to make your own cookies (and totally not necessary since they are really just an accessory to the coffee and tea), go ahead and buy store bought shortbreads and tea cookies (Walkers are classic and a great alternative to homemade). Chances are most guests will be full off of the main menu items anyway.
5. Be sure to cook the potatoes for the fritatta the night before as well. Reheat before using in fritatta.

Smoked Salmon + English Cucumber Canapes

Photo courtesy of Country Living. Recipe by Laura Boyd, In Good Taste.

[quantities dependent on guest count - adjust accordingly]

Loaf of black bread
Boursin herbed cheese spread
(found in specialty cheese section in small white box)
English cucumber (these are the long seedless ones)
Smoked salmon
Salt + Pepper
Dill and lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Thinly slice the black bread (or use French bagette) and place on sheet pan. Toast at 350 degrees until slightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Thinly slice English cucumbers and set aside. Thirty minutes before serving, spread the toast points with a substantial layer of Boursin and top with a slice or two of the cucumber. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season the cucumber. Finish layering with a couple slices of smoked salmon (you can top with another slice of cucumber, if desired). Garnish the top of the canape with a small sprig of dill (optional).  Serve immediately on a platter with bunches of fresh dill and lemon wedges. Enjoy!

champagne wishes + caviar dreams...

I've always had an affinity for champagne, but after coming across these 2011 Moet & Chandon ads, starring Scarlett Johansson, my love for the bubbly instantly went straight to my head.  There is nothing more simple, yet elegantly delightful than a sparkly glass of champagne...unless of course, you pair it with a dime-sized indulgence of caviar.  For your next cocktail gathering, consider serving the celebratory drink with equally exquisite Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Dilled Creme Fraiche and Caviar (they sound complicated, but they're really very simple).  Bon Appetit [tres chic]!

Image courtesy of Food & Wine. Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck.

GOOD TASTE TIP: Not in the mood to light the stove?  Whip up the creme fraiche the night before and layer the smoked salmon and caviar* atop simple black bread, toasted french bread (sliced thinly) or small, substantial crackers.  For a less extravagant night in, serve this delicious hors d'oeuvre paired with a nice Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio. 

*Caviar may be replaced with a simple sprig of dill for those less-inclined to this delicacy.

Recipes from "A Leftover Makeover"


Roasted Turkey, Avocado, Bacon, Onion Relish & Aioli on Ciabatta

Recipe courtesy of Tom Colicchio's eatery, "Witchcraft" in NYC
[Makes 4 sandwiches] 

For Onion Relish:
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
For Aioli:
1 egg yolk
1/2 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 ounce white-wine vinegar
4 ounces grape seed oil
1 ounce olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon pepperoncini or cayenne pepper
For Sandwiches:  
1 pound roasted turkey breast, sliced
4 ciabatta rolls
12 slices bacon
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced

Make Onion Relish:
In a medium pot, combine onions and enough water to cover and bring to boil, then strain. Return onions to pot and add sugar, red-wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Place over moderate heat and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until onions are completely tender and have no bite left (about 1.5 hours). The liquid should be syrupy and coat the onions. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Make Aioli:
In a food processor or blender, puree yolk, garlic, mustard and vinegar until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Combine oils, then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle into processor until completely emulsified, about 2 minutes (if aioli gets too thick, add a small amount of warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time). Sprinkle in salt, pepper and pepperoncini/cayenne, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook Bacon:
In a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat, cook 6 slices of bacon, turning occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with tongs to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining 6 slices.
Assemble Sandwiches:
Slice each ciabatta in half and place on large baking sheet. Place 4 ounces of turkey on each of four ciabatta bottoms, then spread onion relish over meat. Lay 3 slices of bacon on each of four ciabatta tops. Transfer baking sheet to oven and toast until bacon is crispy and the edges of the ciabatta turn light golden brown, about 5 minutes (the turkey does not have to get hot). Remove from oven and transfer bacon to the other side of the ciabatta, laying on top of the onion relish. Divide avocado slices between sandwiches, placing on top of bacon. Spread aioli evenly across each ciabatta top, close sandwiches, slice in half and serve.

Turkey Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Recipe courtesy of Ruth Cousineau (Gourmet)
[Makes 8 servings]

For Stock:
Carcass and skin from 12-14 pound roast turkey
10 cups of water
[reduced-sodium chicken stock may be substituted for the homemade turkey stock]
For Filling:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large parsnip (peeled), cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups roast turkey meat, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (10 oz.) package frozen baby peas, thawed
For Biscuit Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk

Make Stock:
Separate parts of carcass and put, along with skin, in an 8-quart pot. Cover bones with water and simmer until liquid is reduced by one third, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Set aside 3 1/2 cups stock (reserve remainder for another use).
Make Filling:
Cook onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and thyme in butter with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 12-inch-wide shallow pot (3-to-4-quart), covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, uncovered, stirring until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in stock (3 1/2 cups), scraping up any brown bits, and bring to a boil, stirring, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in turkey, peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Reheat over low heat just before topping with biscuit crust.

Preheat oven to 400 degress Fahrenheit with rack in the middle.

Make Biscuit Crust & Bake:
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add cheeses and toss to coat. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir just until a dough forms. Drop biscuits onto filling in 8 large mounds, leaving spaces between biscuits. Bake until biscuits are puffed and golden brown and filling is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Cheddar & Mashed Potato Gratin

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
[Makes 8 servings] 

4 bacon slices, chopped
1 cup sliced shallots
6 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh parsley, thyme, and chives
1/4 cup (or more) whole milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook bacon and shallots in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until bacon is crisp, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir in mashed potatoes and herbs. Mix in 1/4 cup milk, adding more milk if mixture is dry. Season potato mixture with salt and pepper. Transfer to 2-quart gratin dish (or individual gratin dishes). Sprinkle cheese over and bake until cheese is beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.

Pork Chops with Cranberry, Port & Rosemary Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
[Makes 4 servings] 

4 1-inch-thick pork rib chops
2 3/4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup tawny Port
1 cup leftover cranberry sauce

Sprinkle pork chops with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon rosemary. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown. Add pork chops and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to platter; cover to keep warm. Add broth, Port, and remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons rosemary to same skillet and boil until liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Add cranberry sauce; bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 7 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over pork chops and serve.

Porcini & Stuffing Strata
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
[Makes 6-8 servings] 

3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups leftover bread stuffing [Note: do not use cornbread stuffing with this recipe]
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Working in batches, finely grind porcini in spice grinder. Whisk milk and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Stir in stuffing and ground porcini, breaking up any clumps. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over stuffing mixture. Bake until puffed in center and cheese is brown in spots, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. 

Petite Seasonal Treats!

Once Starbucks comes out with their infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte, I can't help but get excited for all of the fall goodies to come!  As we all know, the cupcake craze is literally out of control, and the flavors are equally amazing. I stumbled across my new favorite cupcake blog, Ming Makes Cupcakes, which offers great flavor ideas...definitely check it out! And I couldn't resist including ideas from a local favorite, Georgetown Cupcakes, famous for their perfect, pint-size creations.  Here is just a sampling of what a few boutique bakeries are offering this season...and a recipe or two for you to try your own versions!

Pumpkin Cupcake
Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnished with Candied Ginger
Courtesy of Ming Makes Cupcakes

Cinnamon Cupcake
Cinnamon Cupcake with 
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
Courtesy of Georgetown Cupcakes

Maple Cupcake
Maple Cupcake with 
Maple-infused Cream Cheese Frosting
Courtesy of Georgetown Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Cupcake
Caramel Cupcake with Salted Caramel-infused Buttercream Frosting
Topped with a Caramel Drizzle
Courtesy of Georgetown Cupcakes

These Carrot Cupcakes are from my absolute favorite spot in London, Hummingbird Bakery. It's a dream-like bakery located in Portobello Road (and they just added new shops in South Ken & Soho!). Check out their great new cookbook so you can make all their treats at home - I've spotted it at Anthropology or its available on  

Carrot Cupcake
Carrot Cupcake with Fresh Carrot, Walnuts, Cinnamon & Nutmeg
Topped with Cream Cheese Frosting & Dusted with Cinnamon
Courtesy of Hummingbird Bakery

Courtesy of Hummingbird Bakery

And a few seasonal recipes from Ming Make Cupcakes to try yourself! Enjoy!!

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