Impressions of spring
Sweet Sunday: crème caramel
Today I am starting a new series of posts totally and utterly dedicated to cooking or, to be more precise, desserts.
Some of you probably remember that cooking is one of the things I absolutely adore. I love reading cook books, am happy to spend hours in a kitchen and, of course, I like to taste what I make.
Desserts are my little passion. Not only I have a sweet tooth, but also because these delicious delights look absolutely beautiful.
My first Sweet Sunday recipe is for crème caramel. This is my husband’s favourite dessert and I do make it quite often. It’s simple, delicious and always impressive.
I use Rick Steine’s recipe from his BBC series called French Odyssey that was then published in Good Food magazine in April 2005. The best thing about the Good Food mag is that recipes always work and as long as you follow instructions 100% you will never fail. I also added a few notes here and there, you may find them useful.
Serves 5-6. Can be made up to 2 days ahead
FOR THE CREME PART
500ml / 18fl oz organic full-cream milk
7.5 cm cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod, split open, lengthways
1 green cardamom pod, cracked open
100g / 4oz white caster sugar
3 large organic eggs
2 large organic egg yolks
FOR THE CARAMEL
175g / 5oz white caster sugar
YOU WILL ALSO NEED
1.5 litre shallow oval baking dish, measuring 35x15cm across the base or 5 small individual ramekins about 3cm deep and measuring about 5-6cm across the base
Deep roasting tin
- For the custard, put the milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla pod, cardamom and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave for 1 hour for the flavours to infuse the milk.
- For the caramel, put the sugar and 180ml water into a heavy-based pan and leave over a low heat until completely clear, this should take around 10 minutes. Do not stir. The bring the syrup to the boil and leave to boil rapidly without stirring, until it turns an amber colour. Remove from the heat and quickly pour into the baking dish or ramekins. Set aside to cool.
- Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas mark 3. Put the eggs and yolks into a bowl and whisk to combine. Strain in the milk mixture, then strain again to remove all the bits. Pour into the baking dish or ramekins (the easiest way is to use a small ladle or, when straining, use a large Pyrex measuring jug). The mixture should be about 2.5cm deep.
- Put the dish (or ramekins) into a roasting tin. Pour enough hot water from a kettle into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the dish/ramekins. Bake for 40-50 minutes for the dish or 30-35 minutes for the ramekins until just set, but still wobbly in the centre. It will continue to firm up after it comes out of the oven.
- Remove the roasting tin with the dish/ramekins from the oven, then remove the disk/ramekins from the tin. Personally I find that the easiest way is to use a ladle to remove hot water from the tin first and then lift the dish/ramekins out. Remember not to put ramekins/dish on cold survaces – it may crack. I put a kitchen towel on a wood chopping board and use this “construction” to put my ramekins on. Leave to cool, then cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
- To serve, carefully run a round-bladed knife around the edge of the dish, shake gently to make sure it is freed all around the edge, and quickly invert onto a flat serving dish.
One of the things I’ve learnt about life is that it never quite goes according to the plan and thus, you need to enjoy it here and now while you can.
This lesson made me rethink one of my habits acquired long time ago – saving the best for special occasions. In other words, a pair of shoes that, according to the rule, can only be worn for a special event, or a dress that is carefully preserved waiting for a magical moment, or, as silly as it sounds, a hand-knitted blanket that needs to be used with great care or a tea set that would only come out once a year or so.
Suddenly I asked myself: “Why"? Why keeping all these things away if, in fact, these are the ones that make me feel special and happy. The Cinderella moment may never come, the invitation to a ball may get lost in the post and I may catch a cold because I’d rather not use the precious blanket… And so from that moment I decided to use my little beautiful belongings to create special moments when I want/need them to happen.
Alright, it may be a bit extreme to go grocery shopping in an evening floor length ball gown, but I can certainly wear my favourite coat when I run outside with my dog, or pair my sparkly shoes with a pair of jeans and, for the Love of God, use my cosy blanket while curling up on a sofa and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and a movie. Have a bath with the best essential oils you can get and pumper your skin with the most delicious moisturiser afterwards – you really deserve it…
I think you’ve got an idea by now… Create special moments. Live your life here and now. Love yourself – not in a vain way, but in a nurturing and caring one. And yes, put your best outfit on and enjoy weekend feeling like a beautiful Princess on date with her life!
Fulvio Bonavia: delicious fashions
I first heard of Fulvio Bonavia back in 2008 when his first book, A Matter of Taste, was released. The book contained photos of gorgeous fashion creations made of edible elements.
Truly, Michelin Star worth delicious Haute Couture! Literally and emotionally. The images tease your taste buds and fashion sense by showing a new dimension of culinary art. You develop a craving for foods you thought you would never try (like broccoli, for example). Well, Fulvio artfully proves that if you don't eat it, you can wear it. At least, in an imaginary world.
The latest addition called Scent of Flower was an exciting surprise, equally creative and gorgeous.
So, what's on the menu? Aubergine ballerinas, pasta shoes, candy pumps, rice boots and lentil flip-flops, broccoli, raspberry, parmeggiano, pistachio and blueberry bags, artichoke and leek hats, kiwi watch, fruity and cheese necklaces, sage, salad and marmalade bracelets, chocolate earrings, seafood rings and sardines belt. Just need a dress made of some petals or cabbage leaves and a tasteful outfit is ready!
LFW Fall 2011: Burberry Prorsum, the one and only
Call me names, but Burberry Prorsum is the only collection that kept me excited about London Fashion Week. You see, I am more a Milan/Paris/Michael Kors kinda girl. I like things classy, chic, simple and sexy. I just don’t do any of this hip-hop-rock-chic-funk style extravaganza.
The Burberry Prorsum, on the other hand, was beautiful. The collection influenced by Jean Shrimpton and early 60s, was sweet, adorable, chic, well-crafted and offered plenty of choice. I fell in love with the tangerine coats, incredibly feminine navy-blue jacket and gorgeous white trench with a black bow. I must admit, the black belt bow did remind me a bit of Giambattista Valli’s Spring 2007 and, talking of bows, the other ones looked painfully similar to the Miu Miu’s Fall 2010 ones, but who cares…
Because when the show is beautiful, the music is a real treat and you get a real snow fall at the end, everything feels a little bit like magic.
Nadège Du Bospertus: forgotten supermodel
She walked miles of runaways. Her smile shone from pages of Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire. She was a face of Chanel, Escada, Fendi, Strenesse, Levi’s and Missoni, just to name a few. Unique beauty, with dark skin and short hair, she was one of the supermodels, Gianni Versace’s and Giorgio Armani’s muse, and yet not many remember her name these days.
Nadège Du Bospertus was discovered in 1988, in Paris by a young photographer who sent her pictures to a modeling agency. She was 21. The offer was so tempting that she decided to stop studying economics for a year and try modelling instead.
“If it works, I’ll stay and if not, I’ll go back to school”, she said. The school was soon forgotten as just four months later the French Greek girl found herself in LA shooting a shampoo ad campaign.
Her first magazine editorial was for the cover of the July 1989 issue of 20 ANS, photographed by Barbro Anderson.
One day she came to Milan for a fashion week. The driver turned out to be a charming Italian. So charming that she ended up spending an entire weekend with him. They fell in love and decided to stay together. Three months later Nadège realised that she was pregnant and 9 months later gave birth to their first son (they now have three, Luigi,Daniel,and Mathias).
Her wedding was a fairy-tale dream. Carla Bruni was her made of honour and Christian Lacroix made the wedding dress.
“I’ve never dreamed of being a model or an actress, but always – of being a mum, having kids and family” was her answer to a question why she decided to leave the world of fashion.
Nadège lives in Milan, with her beautiful family. She didn’t quit modelling, though. Apart from being a judge on Italia’s Next Top model, she also opened and closed the spring-summer 2009 Dsquared2 show in Milan.
Photo sources: Vogue US November 1992, Vogue US June 1992, Vogue Italia January 1992, TFS
"It’s hard to go with a trend. As soon as it’s out, everyone picks it up. It’s important to stay true to yourself. Have fun with fashion instead of letting it dictate."
Photo source: DKNY Spring 2011 Campaign
NYFW Fall 2011: the best of them all
Last year I wrote… “I want to wear Michael Kors”. This was after I saw his collection for Fall 2010, which stole my heart and took my breath away.
I’ve loved Michael Kors for years now. He never disappoints. His clothes are an example of incredibly quality, timeless and chic design, class and luxury.
Needless to say that my desire to wear Michael Kors became even stronger. And how could anyone remain indifferent to this stunning glamorous collection? Impeccable cut, sensational colour palette made of charcoal grey and silver, black and white, caramels, nudes and soft dusty rose tones with a splash of classic red, the sensual and luxurious combination of cashmere, silk, fur and exciting sparkling crystals… Everything was beyond any expectations and totally unforgettable.
Yes… I want to wear Michael Kors… Always…
Photo source: ELLE.COM
Impressions of spring
Just a few more weeks and this is what the world is going to look like over here. I can’t wait… I can feel the spring in the air. Now I need some visuals… and a little bit of sunshine… and a bit more… and a bit more…
Spring is my favourite season. It inspires me and makes me fall in love with life over and over again.
7 things about me
I’ve recently received a Stylish Blogger award from Allie of Desire*Design*Delight – thank you so much for thinking of me, darling! This is, actually, a very special award because it was created by Evi who I adore to pieces.
According to the authorities, the "rules" are to:
- Link back to the person who awarded you
- Share 7 things about yourself
- Award 10 great bloggers
- Contact those bloggers and tell them about the award
And so it’s time for me to share 7 little facts about myself…
Chic in Paris
Chic in Paris: Style Secrets and Best Addresses has been on my wish list for ages and one day I decided to buy it. It's a very beautiful edition that’s you can’t wait to touch, open and discover a few secrets. The deep red crocodile-embossed hard cover hides some precious fashion, style and beauty tips given by very chic Parisiennes. The author, Susan Tabak, is a very stylish New Yorker who runs The Paris Personal Shopper company and has gained entrée to Paris secrets known to only select few.
The book consists of several interviews with beautiful Georgina Brandolini (Valentino's muse, press attaché and a Parisian boutique owner), Loulou de la Falaise (a former Vogue model, a fabric designer for Halston and boutique owner), Inès de la Fressange (style icon, face of Coco perfume by Chanel from 1983 to 1989, an owner of her fashion and fragrance label and Ambassador of Roger Vivier), Mina d'Ornano (actress, screen writer, designer and boutique owner), Marie-Hélène de Taillac (jewellery designer), Spela Lenarcic (assistant in Vogue Paris and freelance stylist for Lancome, Swarowski and Hogan to name a few, consultant at Celine), Carole Rochas (jewellery designer) and Nathalie Rykiel (daughter of Sonia Rykiel and owner of Rykiel Woman boutique).
Each of these women posses her own unique style and shares views and philosophy on fashion and accessories, beauty and lifestyle. It's not something I'd call a book for reading, but it is more of a reference guide that can inspire and help you discover things about yourself you wouldn't probably know you've had. The amount of information is very precise and essential, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
To start you off, a few style quotes from the book that I like very much because they reflect my own believes and “style rules”:
"Wear what you feel good in, even if it is not the latest fashion" Georgina Brandolini
"Poor taste is simply a lack of imagination" Loulou de la Falaise
"French style implies not being afraid to wear clothes from past seasons and sometimes ignoring what fashion dictates" Inès de la Fressange
"Poor taste is a woman who no longer tries or dares to express her personal style. She has lost her curiosity and no longer cares about herself or others. On the other hand, good taste is all about charm, because beauty can also be vulgar." Spela Lenarcic
"Bad taste is wanting to look like someone you are not." Carole Rochas
"The French woman is not afraid of being different from the others. French style is about having a personal attitude that mixes self-confidence and allure, as well as individuality. It is also about seduction and sensuality without ostentation." Nathalie Rykiel
Available via Amazon
Spring 2011: loves, wants and the best of the best
Be my Valentine: love is in the air
And so my story fashioned by love is almost over. Just one more time we are going to talk outfits and romance and then… only cupid knows.
Fashioned by Love Rule #3: keep it simple. Remember, men are not really good when it comes to buttons, hooks and complicated footwear. A chic dress that shows off your beautiful curves and has one zip or button is perfect.
Classic pumps will elongate your silhouette, make your legs look even longer, shape up your bottom and can be easily taken off whenever necessary. And yes, men do like it when a woman wears high heel shoes and can walk in them beautifully (at least, from your door to the taxi).
Fashioned by Love Rule #4: when a dress is gorgeous, keep your accessories to a necessary minimum, just to highlight the beauty of the dress, not to overpower it.
Fashioned by Love Rule #5: your outfit must be comfortable (and so should be your underwear). You don’t want to spend time concentrating on your breathing techniques, holding your stomach in or trying to adjust a bra strap. Always try the entire ensemble on in a comfort of your own home, see if you can walk, breath and sit without any discomfort. If something doesn’t work – change it now before it’s too late.
And now… Pièce de résistance of today’s post – the outfit. Truly for a Princess. I didn’t go for cliché black or red and chose romantic dusty pinks, nudes and silver (partially, because I love this shade of pink…) It will be all about you – a gorgeous girl in beautiful clothes that don’t overshadow you, but rather work as canvas.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Photo source: Glamour France 1991
Massimo Dutti Spring 2011 Campaign
Massimo Dutti is one of those shops that is definitely worth to pay a visit to, especially if you are looking for stylish, well-made and affordable clothes. At least, that’s what I am going to do in a few weeks. I have a feeling, some of these beautiful clothes are destined to find a place in my wardrobe. And I just love this soft caramel-coloured yummy and roomy bag!
Photo source: Massimo Dutti campaign Spring/Summer 2011
Introducing: Leila Kashanipour
WHO: Leila Kashanipour AKA LeiVanKash. Stunning girl, talented jewellery designer and incredibly warm and friendly person, Leila has worked with such big names as Suzanne Syz, Eskandar, Asprey and Stephen Webster and now has her own jewellery brand.
WHAT: gorgeous contemporary jewellery collections
WHY: craftsmanship, elegant unique pieces that combine modern touch with centuries inspired Middle Eastern history
LOOK FOR: statement rings, delicate bracelets and classic Heart Me collection
Can you tell a little about yourself and how you got into jewellery business?
I am pretty international I would say, I am from Iranian parents born in the USA and living here in London now for almost 8 years!
I actually did not know I want to do jewellery design as my BA in Saint Martins and had a passion for Chemistry and fine art. I thought I would major in chemistry and minor in fine arts in the US as I wanted to pursue conservation and restoration of paintings! Then didn’t end up going to the states and applied to CSM and took the artsy root which I so don’t regret... during my foundation year at central saint martins I realized I really did not want to be taught how to paint so I took a jewellery course and fell in love.
I loved creating symbolic catwalk pieces and my tutor suggested I should definitely apply for jewellery design and so I did! Ever since my first year I have been hand making and selling my pieces!
You've mentioned creating jewellery pieces for catwalk shows... Have you worked with fashion designers and would you consider working with fashion houses in the future?
Well it all started with me wanting to do big theatrical even controversial catwalk pieces of jewellery. My degree collection was based on female suppression and the entire collection was made from glass and nails.
I surely would love to do a collaboration with a fashion designer that relates to my feel of jewellery... All in its right time!
I have been working with Eskandar (fashion designer) for 4 years now and my collections of rings and necklaces are represented and retailed at his flagship stores in London, Paris, Milan and New York.
Are there any other jewellers you admire?
Yes, I love jewellery. For fine jewellery I admire Dior and the line Wendy Yue does for Annoushka. They are magical!
Where do you find inspiration for your beautiful collection?
I love vintage jewellery, and take a lot of inspiration from the stones i use in my pieces and design around them. Also I refer a lot to my culture. most of the time I make pieces depending on how I feel.
What are your favourite materials and gem stones to work with?
Silver and yellow gold are what most of my pieces are made in. I like brass in some cases as it has that antique looking finish and feel.
For gemstones I can never get enough of diamonds and that why I pursued Diamond grading at GIA (Gemological Institute of America) in London. Semi-precious stones, I would say, labradorite, lapis and turquoise are my best friends.
What kind of woman wears your jewellery, you think?
The kind that wants to stand out and make a statement.
Which celebrities would you like to wear your jewellery and why?
I am so happy Olivia Palermo is already a big LeiVanKash fan (and I have named my rose ring after her). I believe my pieces are quite empowering and whoever wears them will feel like a celeb.
Do you wear your pieces yourself? Is there a favourite one you enjoy wearing the most?
Yes, I do, the skull bracelet never comes off. I love the Labradorite eye ring and my Olivia rose ring very much! But then again each piece has a personality of its own and I enjoy wearing them in a different way.
What other things in life do you enjoy apart from creating beautiful jewellery?
Traveling, eating chocolate, spending quality time with my amazing friends and of course shopping.
Where do you see yourself in, say, 5 years from now?
Hopefully being very happy running my business on a much bigger scale. One step at a time...
5 things about Leila:
Favourite dessert: Chocolate Fondant, Chocolate cake, Chocolate brownie, Chocolate Crepe, Chocolate chocolate chocolate! I was given a "Chocolate Queen" award at my prom so should explain it all!
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you find yourself? Taha'a in the French Polynesia...
Most favourite item in your wardrobe right now? My Celine bags and Rag & bone sunglasses (shame they won’t be much of use in this British weather!!!)
Shoes or bags? Oh no no no! this one is way too difficult... its like asking who's your favourite parent!
One of your guilty pleasures? Having sweets over a proper meal.
You can view all pieces at boticca.com