Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pet Love

If you're anything like all of us, you heart your pets. Some people we know (who shall remain nameless) post more pics of their pets on facebook than they do of their children. While other people we know, consider their pet to be their child. It's hard not to love those wet noses and adoring eyes, we swear they even smile!

The only downer to loving your pet that much is that many places aren't pet friendly. Not all of us can work in places where you can bring your pet to work.  And finding pet friendly hotels while on vacation is like finding a needle in a haystack...in other words: GOOD LUCK!!! At the end of the day, you simply can't take your pet everywhere you go. Lucky for us pet lovers, some enterprising person years ago invented the job of pet sitter. A good pet sitter is as valuable a commodity as gold if you ask us!

And like children, our pets come with a laundry list of needs, wants and vital info. Fido likes wet food not dry food, and he must be walked before bedtime. Fluffy needs her litter box emptied daily & Nemo needs his tank cleaned once a week. This is important info that should be readily visible to the petsitter and PlaceTile Designs has the perfect solution.....behold the PetSitter MessageTile, an erasable ceramic tile, that's just the right size to scrawl all of your pet's info.

Friday, February 12, 2010

No Reservations Needed, Valentine's Day Dinner for Two at Home

Booking a reservation for 2 at your favorite romantic restaurant on Valentine's Day is sometimes more challenging than scaling Mt. Everest.  Suddenly the booth in the corner that you can always get at the last minute, is booked all night and if you are lucky enough to get a table, you'll end up sharing your romantic dinner with a restaurant FULL of other couples, which isn't so romantic.

Instead of going out, stay home, and make a romantic, gourmet meal for two.  Set up a little bistro table by the fireplace and enjoy the company of your special someone.  Valentine's Day is on a Sunday this year, so you can spend the day preparing the meal and then once you're finished you can let the dishes wait until the morning!

To top off the special evening, pick up a PlaceTile Designs beaded vase , fill it with fresh flowers, and write a love letter to your sweetheart, right on the vase!

Chef Paternotte has created a Valentine's Day dinner menu that is sure to knock the socks off your special someone.  Trust us, if you take the time to make this mouth watering meal, your sweetheart will truly be yours forever!

First Course: Oyster Stew

You will need: a 3 quart sauce pan

•   2 Shallots
•   1 Leek
•   2 Cloves Garlic
•   1/2 Head Fennel, Chopped 
•   2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
•   1/4 cup Pernod (French Licorice Flavored Liqueur)
•   1 1/2  Cups Fish Stock (or Water)
•   1 Cup heavy Cream
•   3 Sprigs Italian Parsley
•   8-10 Freshly Shucked Oysters
•   Juice from oysters
•   1 Tsp Chives


Soup: Peel Shallots, trim all dark green from leek and rinse very well, trim stalks off of fennel (reserve a couple small choice fennel tops for garnish), and peel garlic.  Chop all vegetables into a small dice and saute in butter. Keep heat on low and do not brown. Once tender add Pernod, parsley (whole) and fish stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Return to heat and add strained oyster juice. Remove parsley sprigs and using a hand blender (if none available, use Cuisenart) blend soup until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and return to pot. Minutes before serving add oysters and lightly simmer, when edges of oyster curl, they are ready, do not over cook the oysters.

To Serve: Spoon soup into hot bowls with desired amount (4-5) of oysters, and garnish with chopped chives and a fennel top. 

Second Course: Rack of Lamb

You will need: either a Kitchen Aid or Beaters, Sharp Knife, Grill

•   2 Four bone cuts from rack of Lamb

•   2 Cups White Wine
•   4 tbsp dijon mustard
•   1/2 cup Olive oil
•   1 sprig fresh rosemary
•   1 sprig fresh oregano
•   1 tsp black pepper
•   1 tsp kosher salt

The sides:

•   4 LargeYukon Gold Potatoes
•   2 cups Heavy cream
•   4 tbsp unsalted butter
•   1 ounce White Truffle Oil
•   8 spears Asparagus
•   Olive Oil


With a sharp knife, split your lamb into 4 two bone racks or double chops.

Day before Marinade: In a food processor, combine the wine, mustard, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper. Blend until combined. While blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. This should create an emulsification, or harmonious mixture. Place lamb in a container that barely fits the size of the lamb and pour the marinade over. Let rest in refrigerator over night in the marinade.

Potatoes: Peel and leave whole and place in a pot with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender. Drain water and allow potatoes to steam off for a few minutes (do not let them get cold).  If you have a Kitchen Aid with a whisk attachment this is the best, but beaters will work just fine. Place potatoes in bowl and beat to break them up. Meanwhile heat the cream and butter together, do not boil. As the potatoes are mixing, add the cream and butter and whip for a minute. Drizzle in truffle oil. DO NOT over mix or they will be wallpaper paste. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Lamb: Remove form marinade and lightly shake off. Place on a hot grill and sear each side for 2 minuted each for a medium rare. There will be some flame up so keep an eye on the lamb while grilling.

Asparagus: Trim bottom 2 inches and discard, toss top portions in the olive oil and grill for about 5 minutes.

Serve two double chops per a person, resting them over truffle mash. Prop asparagus against chops and enjoy!

Third Course Dessert: Chocolate Ganache Tart

You will need: a Cuisenart mixer, 12” tart pan (removable bottom preferred), foil, 2 quart heavy bottom pot


1 1/4 sticks Unsalted Butter (room temp)
3/4 cup  Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup Finley ground Almonds
pinch of salt
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 XL egg (lightly beaten)
1 3/4 cups flour


1 1/4 heavy cream
12oz Bittersweet Chocolate (chopped)
1/4 cup dark rum

Caramel Sauce:

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tbsp Unsalted butter (small pieces)
1/2 heavy cream
1/3 cup rum

1 cup heavy cream, whipped, for garnish

Crust: place butter and sugar in a Cuisenart with the metal blade and beat until fluffy (5 min). Add in almonds, salt , vanilla and egg and pulse a few times. Add in flour and mix until a ball forms. Do not over mix dough, scrape down bowl and make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Remove and pat into a disc, dust with flour and wrap with plastic and refrigerate for an hour (overnight is fine too). Dust table with flour and roll out into 15” circle to cover a 12” tart pan. Gently pat into the pan and prick surface with a fork. Spray the foil with pam or oil and place the wet side down on the dough, pressing into the corners firmly. Refrigerate for 30 min.

Preheat oven to 350. Place dough in oven for 15 min covered with foil, remove and bake for 10 more. Let cool before adding the filling.

Filling: Bring the cream to a boil with the rum, place chocolate in a bowl and pour hot cream mixture over. Gently whisk together until smooth and homogenous. Let cool slightly to where ganache thickly coats a spoon. Evenly pour into tart shell and let stand.

Caramel Sauce: Put sugar and water and lemon together in heavy bottom sauce pot. bring to a rapid boil and make sure all sugar is dissolved. Let boil without stirring for 12-15 minutes, or until a nice amber color. Pull off the heat and stir in butter piece by piece, add cream and rum and mix throughly. set aside to cool.

Whip Heavy cream to stiff peaks (so it stands up on a spoon when held vertically).

To Serve: Cut a slice of the chilled tart, top with whipped cream, and drizzle the caramel sauce over both. Dive in!

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