The Morning After: Downton Abbey Brunch

Setting the table in Downton Abbey style was lots of fun. Hearing from so many of you was wonderful. Having my husband shout at the television last night, saying, “They’re measuring the silverware just like you said!” was even more fun.

GotMyReservations Downton Abbey Tablescape Intro

And so was actually eating at the table.

I will admit that I took down the big candlelabra and replaced it with a five-candle silver candlelabra so that we could actually see each other. Unlike what happened in Downton Abbey last night — remember when they “turned the table”? — my guests were allowed to talk across the brunch table. It’s just not that big.

We removed all the dishes from the staged table in order to serve the brunch plated. Since there were only five of us, it was easy to plate at my kitchen island and serve directly to the table. My husband made a wonderful footman and we had a relaxed couple of hours. We even broke every Downton Abbey rule by keeping the kitchen television on (muted, of course), so Music Man could keep track of the football games. Continue reading

Market Fresh: Creamed Swiss Chard


A bunch of fresh rainbow swiss chard, straight from the Farmers’ Market, is a rare thing of beauty (even if the photo is a little out of focus — sorry).

My new trainer told me that I had to eat even more veggies and much less fruit than I have been, so off to the Farmers’ Market I went, ready to try new greens.

I grabbed this bunch of beautiful rainbow swiss chard and a huge bunch of kale and stuffed them into my oh-s0-green-unbleached canvas market bags. When I got them home, they practically engulfed my kitchen island.

So what’s to do with rainbow swiss chard? After searching my extensive recipe files 🙂 the internet I found a nice recipe from Martha Stewart. I rarely cook from Martha’s recipes anymore after I read the tell-all book, Martha Stewart: Just Desserts, and learned that her recipes often have missing or incorrect ingredients. But maybe that was before she became an internet maven…

The first thing that I did was clean the chard; I trimmed the bad ends from the stalks and washed the leaves thoroughly. Then, following directions from the recipe, I cut all the stalks into small pieces and started sauteeing them with the onions and garlic.

Then I cut the leaves into strips, which was really fun. When you roll up a chard leaf, it’s easy to make clean strips of beautiful green. My huge bunch of chard filled a colander to overflowing, but when you cook it down, it becomes just enough for four servings of creamy deliciousness.

I made the white sauce — VERY EASY, ladies — and grated in lots of fresh nutmeg. Since I was only using one bunch of chard, I altered the white sauce recipe to serve four rather than twelve, and I used skim milk. No problem with the sauce thickening up, and it tastes just fine.

I am cooking for the empty nest, so I poured the finished product into four ramekins and topped them with a few pinenuts for crunch. I never met a pinenut I didn’t like, by the way.

Served with a sliced tomato and a white cheddar cheese log, also fresh from the market, we had an easy and delicious light lunch on a busy Saturday.

I have no reservations about recommending Martha Stewart’s recipe for Creamed Swiss Chard!

I’m linking up today to On the Menu Monday at Stonegable — be sure to stop by to see what other bloggers have to share today.



Provence Week: Anthony Bourdain in Provence

Provence “looks like the inside of Martha Stewart’s head.”

Thus says Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations. Although I had totally forgotten that I had seen this before, I got all excited about an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations that was filmed in Provence. My brother even texted me to tell me it was airing, I’m that obviously hooked on both Tony and Provence.

This episode actually makes Bourdain seem normal and almost humble.

As Tony learns to make aioli from an elderly Provencal woman, he is respectful of both her process and her experience.

It’s very gentle, the process…You gotta be careful.  You have to keep your voice down.  Show a little respect for the process…

It makes me want to learn how to make aioli.

Sorry, I had to delete the video because it’s no longer available. 🙁

There are lots of good scenes in this episode.

Tony and friends do a wine and charcuterie tasting.

He tours a winery.

His friends tell him that if you ask for Ricard instead of pastis, the locals know you know what they drink.

It’s really funny to see the usually brash Tony worrying about cooking for his Provencal friends.

Apparently I’m not the only person who’s dreaming of Provence; this remains my top post of all time because of the beautiful photo of Provence I used. I guess it’s time to use it again!

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20 Days of Christmas 2011: Martha Stewart’s Holiday Planning List

If you’ve ever read Martha Stewart Living, you will be familiar with the calendar she posts in each monthly magazine. I don’t know how any human being could actually do what she says she does, but at this point, we all know she has lots of help.

When one is perfect in every way, it’s hard to avoid being parodied. This list is copyrighted and has dire warnings on the site, so I’ll just give you the link. It’s pretty funny.

Martha, I still love you. Don’t they say that imitation (or parody) is the highest form of flattery?

If you’re still looking for Christmas decorations, you can buy branded Martha Stewart forest creatures at Grandin Road.

Image via

I already hooked you up with Martha Stewart’s Home for the Holidays album. The Martha Stewart machine has also published Classical Favorites for the Holidays and Jazz for the Holidays. Here’s the cover art for Traditional Songs for the Holidays which has NO customer reviews on Probably not a good sign, but the one reviewer really liked the jazz album.

It’s kind of hard to imagine on this warm night that last year at this time we were talking about snow. Here’s my 20 Days of Christmas 2010 post. See you tomorrow!

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