Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I don't know if it's sneaked up on you like it's sneaked up on me, but - did you realize that this weekend is Independence Day? (At least for those of us in the USA!) Holy man. It seems like only moments ago I was lamenting the short days and frigid temperatures of a New York winter, and now we're coming up on summer's defining holiday. (Again, for those of us in the States - France, Bastille Day will be here soon!)

I'm going to be spending the Fourth up in Rhode Island with my aunt, uncle and a couple of my cousins, so I plan to be more of a helper in the kitchen, as opposed to a planner. For those of you who are on the hook for some good eats this weekend, may I humbly suggest the following?

First up, drinks. (C'mon, you know my priorities.) First of all, I highly recommend rosé, especially those from the South of France. (It may not be le Quartoze Juillet quite yet, but there's no reason not to toast our allies in the War for Independence.) I'm especially fond of Paul Jaboulet's Parallèle 45 Rosé - as eminently affordable as it is quaffable.

If cocktails are more your fancy, how about a gin gimlet? Or perhaps you're in the market for something non-alcoholic, in which case I'd recommend some iced coffee or a spritzer made with rhubarb simple syrup, seltzer and lime juice.

Now, for the eats. I'm just going to list some suggestions here; loyal readers will no doubt recognize many of my warm-weather favorites. Drumroll, please...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, my darlings! My best friend Louisa is flying in from Austin this afternoon, and I'm looking forward to a couple of days of girl time. We're having dinner tonight at Lyon, a new French bistro in the West Village, and I'm seriously excited to head downtown and catch a little Pride Weekend action. In the meantime, here are some Treasury delights for your enjoyment!
First up, this amazing cuff by Naomi Klein. I love how it's simultaneously luxurious and earthy. I can't help but think how well it would go with basically everything I own, especially my bathing suit and cover-up. After all, it's almost the Fourth.

Speaking of jewelry, I'm always looking for ways to store mine in ways that are accessible, but also pretty. I find if I can't see what I have, I don't wear it. But I haven't found a way to keep it out in the open without things being cluttered. Then I saw what Live Creating Yourself blogger Alaina does: organizes her jewelry in antique teacups. It's gorgeous and organized and just lovely.

Finally, Matchbook Magazine's blog highlighted these fantastic, summery New Yorker covers a couple of weeks ago, and I just love them. I have a few antique Vogue covers hanging in my living room, and I love having that bit of publishing history around.

Teacup photo by Maia Harms for Live Creating Yourself.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I am full to the brim with pride for my adopted home state right now. (My original home state of Connecticut was ahead of us, but we still have Broadway, so now we're winning the awesome contest again.)

Marriage equality is a watershed issue in the fight for LGBT rights, and I'm overjoyed to see New York take this step.

I'll be celebrating this Sunday at the Pride parade, and with a trip to my beloved Marie's Crisis. (I'll be getting there early, to make sure I get a prize spot near the piano.)

And, if you're now in the market for a wedding designer, might I recommend You+ME*?

Shameless, I know. But they are stupendous.

Photo by the Amateur Gourmet, taken outside of the Stonewall Inn earlier tonight.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chill out.

Summer is here, people! New York is fully immersed in the season, right down to the thunderstorms, torrential flash floods and fluctuating mugginess. There's good stuff, too, like free outdoor movies, striped shirts and even sunny days!

High up on my list of good stuff, as you already know, sits that caffeinated seasonal wonder: iced coffee. I've figured out my perfect formula for iced coffee at home (your mileage may, no doubt, vary), so I thought I'd share a recipe of sorts with you. It's mostly proportionate, since everyone has differently-sized coffee makers. I do recommend going with French press or pour-over coffee (like that made with a Chemex), since it will be both richer and less bitter.

And don't forget the coffee ice cubes! I typically make an extra pot of the same-strength coffee and freeze it in a designated tray, then pop the cubes out individually when it comes time to drink and enjoy. And if you like your coffee sweet, you'll want to scroll on down to the simple syrup recipe. Granulated sinks to the bottom, but syrup mixes right in.

Queenie's Homemade Iced Coffee

Your favorite coffee beans, ground
Half and half, if you wish
Simple syrup (recipe follows)

This isn't really so much a recipe as a method. Make a pot of coffee with about 25% more coffee beans than you normally would. (For example, to make a full pot in my little French press, I use four scoops. To make my iced coffee and iced coffee cubes, I use five.)

Pour the coffee into a mason jar and allow to cool on the counter. Once it's a reasonable temperature (not too steamy), close up the jar and place it in the fridge to chill.

Pour into a glass (leave room for ice) and doctor as you wish with half and half and simple syrup. Add ice (or coffee ice cubes) and enjoy the caffeinated refreshment.

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar (either granulated or Turbinado)
1 cup water

In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar and water with a wooden spoon. Turn on the heat to medium-low and gently cook the sugar into the water, stirring occasionally until it is completely dissolved. Allow to cool and pour into a container. Store in the fridge for up to two months.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crunchy and creamy.

I don't buy watermelon terribly often. If I buy it already cut, it's insipid and soggy. If I manage to find a baby melon, it's a miracle. And a full-sized one is just...huge. It's six or seven pounds of deliciousness, but six or seven pounds of anything is a lot for one person.

But last week? Last week I gave in to temptation. It was hot as Hades (okay, only 99 degrees, but still), and all I could think about was watermelon. Cool, refreshing, lightly sweet watermelon. I ordered one from FreshDirect, knowing full well it would be ridiculously massive.

It was.

The first night, I cut off a slab and chopped it up to keep in the fridge, just like my mom used to do when we were little. I chopped off maybe a third, and it took me five days to eat. FIVE DAYS. So much watermelon.

So this weekend, I started thinking about other things I could do with the bounty. I've always had a thing for taking melon to a savory place (I think this fits in well with my love of cucumbers), and, especially, to a spicy place. I'll take pretty much anything to a spicy place, come to think of it. (Unintentional innuendo, for the record.)

I mixed up a light dressing, half olive oil and half sherry vinegar, and added several glugs of Sriracha for heat. I chopped up some red onion and basil, cubed some watermelon, and added a sliced avocado for good measure. I mixed the whole lot a few times with a giant spoon and some salt. The watermlon released a healthy amount of juice, which mixed beautifully with the dressing, taking the edge off of the vinegar's tartness and leaving a depth and complexity I hadn't expected.

Between the distinctively different crunches of the onion and watermelon and the creaminess of the avocado, I was pretty much in heaven. And it was dang pretty, too.

Spicy Watermelon & Avocado Salad

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Sriracha (adjust to your liking)
2 cups watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup lightly packed basil leaves, finely chopped
Kosher salt

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and Sriracha. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the salt) to a medium bowl and gently mix together. Taste for seasoning and add salt and Sriracha as needed.

Serve immediately.

Serves two as a side.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dinner with friends.

On Saturday night, my friends Caroline and Brian had a bunch of us over for dinner. Dark & Stormies, oysters, barbecue and dominoes.

And there were brownies, too, made by my friend Sam and gone so quickly that I couldn't even snap a pic. She used the Thomas Keller recipe, and they were fab-u-lous.

Dominoes: addictive. I need some. Preferably day-glo.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, my lovelies! It's been a busy week in these parts - work and movies and work and...well, that's pretty much it. But a lot of both. It's a bit gloomy here in New York today, so here's a bit of cheery Treasury goodness to help brighten things up.

Lonny blogged about Samantha French's paintings this week, and I am completely obsessed. I especially love her depictions of swimmers. She captures the fractured quality of light streaming through water, and the effect is one of cool, calm, wistful summeriness. (Not really a word, but you know what I mean, don't you? See?) She has an Etsy print store, too!

Herriott Grace creates unique, beautiful goods from all different kinds of wood, and are probably most well-known for their stunning cake pedestals. While those creations can run to more than $300, their kitchen towels are just as lovely, and in much closer financial reach. I think my kitchen might like a little treat, and these seem like the perfect thing to layer under a cooling summer fruit pie.

Last, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to direct your attention to this fabulous Serious Eats piece about stocking your bar - with bourbon. (What else do you need, really, except for maybe a bottle of gin?) I am loving all these recommendations, especially the ones for tasty, complex bourbons that don't break the bank. (And, of course, for the ones that do, but are totally worth it.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Coffee & donuts.

I am normally staunchly opposed to stuff in my ice cream. Ben & Jerry's has never been my favorite, in large part because they tend to add a whole slew of stuff to their flavors. For most, this is a prime attraction. All I see, though, are pint-sized minefields of over-frozen pretzels and chunks of chocolate, all chilled for far too long and at far too high a temperature to actually taste like anything. Bleh.

But. But, but, but. At Shake Shack, the special flavors that have, well, stuff in them are different. For starters, the custard is soft-serve, and so the added bits and pieces are in no danger of freezing to the point of tooth-cracking stiffness. And since everything is made fresh, the add-ins have just enough time to integrate, but not enough time to assimilate. In short, you can chew on and taste everything, as opposed to eating around chunks of chocolate hard enough to shatter your enamel.

I like.

And I especially like this month's special flavor for Saturdays: Coffee & Donuts. The coffee custard is rich, creamy and just a little bit salty, in the way that all of the most delicious sweet things are. The donuts are a light cake, and have a slightly maple flavor to them. They're soaked in the custard, but are a bit spongy instead of just soggy - kind of like (you guessed it) a donut that you've dunked in really good coffee.

Go forth and enjoy, free from the fear of the deeply frozen pretzel.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Queenie's Treasury

It's the first Treasury in a while, kids. I apologize for being so neglectful, but hopefully what I'm about to share will make up for my absence. Here goes!

First of all, I'm loving this house tour from the always-resourceful Copycat Chic. Reichel (and her readers) find cheaper versions of high-end pieces for the home, and their finds are seriously impressive. An especially great resource for anyone looking for a just-right piece. But anyway, back to the house in question, which belongs to a blogger named Luisa, who is apparently a freaking genius at paying the very least amount of money for some seriously cool stuff. I am dying for her little brass nesting tables in particular, and the bookshelves are gorgeously styled, and the bedroom - oh, the bedroom! Brava!

Design*Sponge always finds great stuff, and these food paintings by Joël Penkman are no exception. I can't decide on a favorite, though the warm weather gives the popsicles a bit of an advantage, you know?

Speaking of popsicles, Smitten Kitchen posted some delicious-looking fudge specimens this week. I think it might be time for there to be a popsicle mold investment around these parts. Yes, indeedy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Home again, home again.

Thanks to my reunion, it's been a couple of crazy days around these parts, kids.

Aside from marveling at how everyone looks exactly the same as they did at graduation ten years ago, we spent most of the weekend eating Dining Services' cooking and drinking, well, anything and everything. (And that's all I have to say about that.)

As a result, I was craving some simple, basic, homemade food on Monday. I kicked off the morning with a simple scramble (eggs, red pepper and scallions) and followed that up with a lunch of delightfully spicy shrimp cooked in a quick, easy tomato and basil sauce. (The basil is courtesy of my windowsill garden, which is thriving marvelously this season.)

It took about fifteen minutes, start to finish, and it was the perfect thing to eat on the couch, from a bowl, before enjoying a big glass of iced coffee (Stumptown, of course) and a few episodes of Twin Peaks.

And as much as I hankered for a simpler, collegiate life this weekend, it sure was nice to be home, alone, in my very own grown-up apartment.

Spicy Shrimp with Tomatoes and Basil

2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. medium or large shrimp, shelled, deveined, rinsed and dried
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tbs. dry vermouth
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
5-6 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt

In a medium skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the shrimp in one layer (cook them in separate batches if necessary) and leave them be for a couple of minutes, until their bottoms start to turn pink. Using silicone tongs, turn the shrimp over and cook until they are just barely cooked through (pink and opaque throughout). Remove to a plate and set aside.

If you need to, add a bit more oil to the pan, followed by the garlic. Saute for a minute, until fragrant but not starting to brown, then add the tomatoes and basil. Continue to cook for a few minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down just a bit. Add the vermouth and scrape up any little shrimpy bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes, until most of the vermouth has evaporated.

Return the shrimp and any juices to the pan, and cook for a minute or two, until the shrimp are warmed through and evenly mixed with the tomatoes. Taste for seasoning (you'll definitely want salt) and serve immediately.

Serves 2 as a main course.
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