Monday, August 19, 2013

The Crooked House of Windsor...

High Street, Windsor
The above is a photo I took of the Market Cross House a few weeks ago...

a special historical perspective...
Located just outside of Windsor Castle, the Market Cross House was built in 1592,
serving to compliment the outdoor market in the town cross,
where a statue of Queen Victoria stands today

in 1687, the council wanted to build a Guildhall on the property,
(which still stands, and its close proximity to
 the Crooked House can be seen in my photos)
 the house was demolished... disputes over the land followed, 
and the council was ordered to rebuild & just trim down the size of the Guildhall! 

What makes it crooked you ask?
Well, it seems they used unseasoned green oak!

There have been shops of several varieties inhabiting this little house, 
(butcher, jeweler, brewery, antique shop, gift shop, & currently houses a tea room)

The Changing of the Guard
The Crooked House in the background!

~Secrets of The Crooked House~
Downstairs, the basement keeps many secrets...

Dating back centuries, there have been scandalous affairs
 and hidden lovers kept by kings and other royals.  

There is a secret passageway in the basement leading directly to Windsor Castle, 
and was originally intended to serve as a means for getting supplies to the castle kitchen, 
but the creative lovers found this as a very useful way to carry on secret trysts!

The passageway is now sealed...

some of the lovely ladies who met with King Charles II...

Louise de Kerouaille
Nell Gwyn's rival
mother of Charles Lennox (illegitimate son of Charles II)
spy for the French
ancestress of both wives of The Prince of Wales
(Diana, Princess of Wales, & Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall)

Nell Gwyn

Barbara Villiers, the Duchess of Portsmouth
Barbara Palmer (Villiers), 1st Duchess of Cleveland, Countess of Castlemaine 
Children:  Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton, and
Louise Renée de Penancoët de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, mother of Charles Lennox (1st Duke of Richmond)

Barbara was beautiful, intelligent, sensual and dangerous...
and one of King Charles II’s many mistresses
Renowned for her intelligence, charm, ferocity & luminous beauty, 
she shagged her way to the top with both male and female lovers, 
but remained ‘The Lady’ to the end

King Charles II

If ever you happen to find yourself in Windsor,
the Crooked house is an absolute must see,
but hold on to your teacups!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Summer Magic...

End of summer... 

I cannot even describe the excitement building as autumn approaches!

As always, the end of August just makes me all giddy... 

To celebrate this special time,
I believe the best way to truly embrace this moment is to have a 'Simmer Party'.

What's a Simmer Party?
Simply put, Summer & Dinner & the whole 'simmering' down of the season!

My favorite decor is boho/gypsy/romantic.

One must share this lil soiree amidst nature, beneath the starry skies,
with close friends & some good food and wine on hand...

~ Appetizer ~
~ avocado phyllo baskets ~

you'll need about 30 mini phyllo baskets for this one!

2 avocados, 1 mango, 1 tomato, red onion, a lime, olive oil, fresh cilantro, black pepper

slice mango into small cubes, add to bowl
slice avo into cubes, add to mango
chop tomato & add
thinly slice 1/2 of onion & add
chop fresh cilantro & add
ground black pepper

lime juice & 1 tbsp olive oil on top

lightly toss & spoon mix into phyllo baskets!

~ Watermelon Salad ~

extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, hot sauce
seedless watermelon, small red onion
fresh parsley
pitted Moroccan olives

dressing:  whisk 1/2 cup olive oil with 3 tbspn lemon juice, 1 tspn hot sauce, salt & pepper

slice 3 lbs. watermelon 1/4 inch thick, rind removed & arrange on serving dish

top with thinly sliced red onion, chopped parsley, chopped olives, & about a cup of crumbled feta

drizzle with dressing on top & serve!

~ Summer Hummus ~
serve with toasted pita wedges

2 cans drained chick peas (reserve liquid)
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 tblspn extra virgin olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 tspn ginger
1/2 tspn cumin
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
2 finely chopped & seeded plum tomatoes
4 thinly sliced scallions
salt & pepper

food processor:  
beans, reserved liquid, tahini, lemon juice, 1 tblspn oil, garlic, ginger, cumin
puree til smooth

transfer to serving dish
stir in cilantro, tomato & scallions
season with salt & pepper
drizzle 2 tblspns oil on top
garnish with cilantro leaves to make pretty!

~ Baguettes ~

~ Corn Soup with Tomato ~

fresh corn kernels off the cobs
a few cups of cherry tomatoes
few cloves of garlic roughly chopped

the above ingredients to baking sheet
drizzle with a lil olive oil,
salt & pepper

Bake 15 min @ 400 degrees

Meanwhile, on the stove, 
sauté a diced onion in a lil olive oil for a few minutes til tender
add:  jarred roasted red bell peppers, chicken broth (about 6 cups),
paprika, chipotle chili powder, & a lil salt & fresh black pepper

add corn & tomatoes to stock pot
simmer & cover

in bowls, garnish with a few corn kernels, some chopped herbs, & a sprinkle of paprika!

~ Summer Braised Chicken & Vegetables ~

~ chicken thighs ~
seasoning for chicken:
Creole from Emeril, find in the spice section
1.  season the thighs
2. lightly dust thighs in flour
3.  olive oil in a pan, add thighs & 
cook til golden!
4. parsley, sage, rosemary, & thyme 
to add garnish to serving dish 

 ~ asparagus ~
drizzle for asparagus:
juice from 2 lemons
splash white wine vinegar
tspn honey
tblspn dijon mustard
4 tblspn olive oil

~ Pomegranate Sorbet ~

syrup - a cup of sugar, 1/2 cup water, cup of fresh mint leaves
into saucepan, medium heat
bring to boil, reduce heat & simmer for a few min & stir
remove from heat & cool for 20 min, strain

in pitcher, combine:
prepared syrup
a couple cups Pom Wonderful
a cup orange juice

pour mix into ice cream maker & freeze

garnish with fresh mint

~ Cherry Tomatoes filled with Goat Cheese ~

combine goat cheese with a couple tspn milk
add chopped basil & chopped chives
salt & pepper

spoon the herbed goat cheese into a couple dozen cherry tomatoes
tip:  use small melon baller to prep tomatoes

~ The Late Summer Outdoor Evening Party ~

~ magical dinner party ~
acoustic guitar, fairy lights, flowers, leaves,
delicious yet simple food, wine, wonderful friends

Dance in the moonlight!

There is something magical about a warm, summer evening

Be still my gypsy heart!


Evening Magic!

So many incredible things may be accomplished with lights!

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” 
John KeatsBright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne

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