Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Magnolia bakery

The blog is about inspiration. Inspiration to cook and bake. I wrote about three amazing chefs who inspired me to cook and now its the first blog about inspiration for baking.
I love baking and sweets. My favorite treat these days is french macrons and one day I will dedicate a blog to these amazing pieces of heaven.

So back to baking and magnolia bakery. I wasn't a big fan of cupcakes, I like the concept but the ones I tried were always too dry. So I decided to take this challenge and try and make moist cupcakes after I heard so many good things about Magnolia's. I read a lot about cupcakes (and there is a lot to read :) ), visited some blogs and at the end of the day i have decided to try the famous magnolia bakery cupcakes recipe. I was very pleased with the results.
In the picture you can see the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes but I recommend you to try their vanilla recipe

Recipe can be found here. 

The key to success is to take the cupcakes out before you think they are ready. 18-20 minutes in my oven.
Find out more about Magnolia bakery  - www.magnoliabakery.com

The next one I am going to try are probably the one from "Baked by Melissa" - if you didnt try the irresistable mini cupcakes yet - its a must!

Have a sweet day,
Lady V.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chef Thomas Keller

Its an honor to write about chef Thomas Keller, the legendary American chef. 

A bit about chef Thomas Keller:
Thomas Keller (born October 14, 1955) is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards.

In 2005, he was awarded the three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se, and in 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area for The French Laundry. He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.

More about chef Keller can be found:

I ate in Per-Se and it was a great experience. Yes, it was expensive. How was the food people ask me, do you know how much you paid for every bite? Its hard to enjoy a meal if you think this way. Even if you eat a burger for $10 you dont want to pay 50 cents for every bite you take. 
The dinner in Per-Se was perfect which is a good and not so good thing. Everything was done perfectly but there were no real surprises. As I wrote, perfect or maybe too perfect?

But there is no doubt chef Thomas Keller is an amazing chef and a food icon.
I enjoyed finding out about his part in the movie Ratatouille and decided to try his recipe.

More details to come...
By the way, the word legendary makes me smile thinking about HIMYM :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chef Jaime Oliver

The reason I wanted to write about Chef Oliver who is known for his deep belief in healthy food - is there is one fundamental thing I 100% agree with him. If you cook a dish, you know what’s in it. You know how much butter was used, if the vegetables are frozen ones, from a can or were bought locally. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and everything with butter does taste so much better. I enjoy eating in restaurants and sampling food in different stores but on a day to day basis we cook healthy food and eat at home.

James Trevor "Jamie" Oliver, MBE (born 27 May 1975) is an English chef, restaurateur and media personality, known for his food-focused television shows, cookbooks and more recently his campaign against the use of processed foods in national schools. He strives to improve unhealthy diets and poor cooking habits in the United Kingdom and the United States. Jamie Oliver's specialty is Italian cuisine, although he has a broad international repertoire.

If you want to read more, Chef Jaime Oliver shares some interesting details on his website. You can find list of awards, TV shows he hosted and his way of becoming one of the most influencing chefs when it comes to cooking and eating healthy.


The recipe I choose to make was homemade pasta. Why? Cause I love pasta and Jaime was so encouraging when he described his recipe that I couldn’t resist. And as he promised, it was simple and good.


• 600g/1lb 6oz Tipo ‘00’ flour [Lady V:] I used a regular flour
• 6 large free-range or organic eggs or 12 yolks [Lady V:] I used 6 eggs

  1. Make your dough in a food processor if you’ve got one (if you don’t, don’t worry, click the link and get the full instructions). Just bung everything in, whiz until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to your work surface and bring the dough together into one lump, using your hands. 
  2. Knead the dough until smooth and silky (takes few good minutes) 
  3. Let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes 
  4. Cut the dough into four pieces and work on each piece at a time. Make sure the rest of your dough and the past you made are covered so they won’t get dry. Using your pasta machine roll the dough and roll the past and cut it as you wish. I used the kitchen-aid attachment that works great.  
  5. Cook the pasta in boiling water al-dente or Dry the pasta for later usage.
    [Lady V:]I added some corn flour so the pasta wont stick while I am making the other batches.

Full recipe and some additional information in the link below:

Questions or comments are welcome!
Have fun,
Lady V.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chef Daniel Boulud

I have decided to start with Chef Daniel Boulud as dining at "Daniel restaurant" was my first dining experience in NYC. It wasn’t the first restaurant I went to, but the first time I could define it as an experience.
The food, the details, the service, a tour in the kitchen and meeting chef Daniel Boulud face-to-face made it an experience I will never forget.

A little bit about chef Daniel Boulud:
Daniel Boulud (born March 25, 1955 in Saint-Pierre de Chandieu, France) is a French chef and restaurateur with restaurants in New York City, Palm Beach, Miami, Montreal, Beijing, and Singapore. He is best known for Daniel, his eponymous, Michelin 3-star restaurant in New York City.

While raised on a farm outside of Lyon and trained by renowned French chefs, Boulud made his reputation in New York, first as a chef and most recently a restaurateur. His management company, The Dinex Group, currently includes six restaurants and Feast & Fêtes Catering. His restaurants include Daniel, Café Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, Bar Boulud, DBGB Kitchen & Bar, and Boulud Sud in New York City. He has also created Café Boulud in Palm Beach and the Michelin-star Daniel Boulud Brasserie in Las Vegas (now closed)

Some more information can be found:

Now for the recipe -
I really like this recipe, try it and I think you'll like it too!

Baking requires precious steps. When baking a soufflé for example you need to make sure you take it out of the oven the second its ready and serve it right away. Cooking in some way is more relaxed (I know this is a general statement that is not always true but for the most part it is). When cooking this recipe you can be more flexible and even change it a bit. Forgetting it in the oven for 20 minutes wont hurt as long as there is enough liquid. Another great thing about this recipe is that you can make it a day in advance and some will say it even tastes better.
When I bake I stick to instructions, when I cook I usually follow the recipe the first time and if I like it I try it again and then make some changes. I made this recipe few times – in the final version I used only 2 bottles of wine and one container of beef stock. I served it with homemade pasta the original recipe calls for celery duo.

One last comment before the actual recipe – when you chose the wine, chose one you would drink, it doesn’t have to be a super expensive one but something you like. You will feel the difference when cooking with wine you like vs. a non drinkable one.

Recipe is taken from the great web-site www.epicurious.com

Lets start!
Chef Boulud says that the success of this dish rests on browning the short ribs well at the beginning of cooking the dish to get the best flavors into the sauce. This recipe also can be found in the Café Boulud Cookbook, by Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan.
Yield: Makes 8 servings

3 bottles dry red wine [Lady V:] I used two
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and crushed black peppercorns

Flour, for dredging
8 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, split, rinsed and dried
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 ribs of celery, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 medium-sized leek (white and light-green parts), coarsely chopped, washed and dried
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves and 2 thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 quarts unsalted beef broth [Lady V:] I used one container of beef broth
Freshly ground white pepper

1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When the wine is hot, carefully set it aflame. Let the flames die out, then increase the heat so that the wine boils; allow it to boil until it cooks down by half. Remove from the heat.
2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
3. Warm the oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and the crushed pepper. Dust half of the ribs with about 1 tablespoon flour. Then, when the oil is hot, slip the ribs into the pot and sear 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well-browned. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, lower the heat under the pot to medium and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the wine, ribs and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are very tender. Every 30 minutes, skim and discard fat from the surface. (It's best to make the recipe to this point, cool and chill the ribs and broth in the pan overnight; scrape off the fat the next day. Rewarm before continuing.)
5. Carefully transfer the meat to a platter; keep warm. Boil the pan liquid until it has reduced to 1 quart. Season with salt and white pepper and pass through a fine strainer; discard the solids. (The ribs and sauce can be combined and kept covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350°F oven.)
6. To serve place on each plate short rib. Pour the sauce onto the plate around the puree. (original recipe calls for celery duo)

Questions, comments and new challenges are welcome.
On my to-do list - get a better camera and learn how to take better pictures :)

Lady V.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This is the first time I am writing in a blog. Ever.

Working 24-7 while raising two kids and trying to maintain a reasonable relationship with my husband left me no time for myself.
I felt so empty that one day I have decided to quit, leave my job and focus on my family, me included.
Someone smart once told me that in order to have a happy family, I need to make sure that first of all I am happy. And I wasn't.
So this is me trying to find new ways to be happy - Trying to find more reasons to smile.

The thing I love the most after my family  (this is just in case my husband will find out about this blog :) ) is FOOD.
I love to eat, cook, bake, smell and buy food - I love everything about it.
I go to bed with 5 different cooking/baking books while trying to find some ideas and new recipes.

I used to work so hard and got addicted to the intensity and emails and all of a sudden I wake up in the morning to an empty inbox. I don't plan to go back to work right away but need sometimes a little push in order not to drown in to the day to day tasks. I need more action.

I am going to try every few days a recipe from a different chef/book. I will start with chefs that inspired me and I am very open to suggestions.

Write me, give me ideas to what to cook or bake. Send me links to recipes, references to books and I will share with you the trail and results from my new project - taking a break and starting to cook and bake.

Here. Didn't do much and I am already smiling and super excited.

Lady V