February 4, 2018


A banquette by definition is an upholstered bench along a wall, especially in a restaurant or bar.  What I’d like to add is a banquette isn’t really a window seat or vice-versa unless of course your window seat was built at the correct height to dine at and you have a table and auxiliary chairs on hand to support dining at said window seat (technically now a banquette).  In a nut shell if dining or drinking isn’t intended, it’s a window seat or a built-in bench.


I’m not sure this counts but if one were to have a late night supper at this tiny table you cold argue this pretty alcove bench is a banquette.  It has a chair to pull in and a stool (easy perch) for the host(ess) but I’m afraid this just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s pretty though, best part for me is the drapery framing the opening.  If you hadn’t guessed yet banquettes are on my mind these days.  We moving a few things around at our place so I’ve been zeroing in on certain details… today: BANQUETTES. and guess what, Size matters!


Once you have identified where you want a banquette, triple check you have the space to accommodate the scale of your built-in and that it will hold the number of people you expect it to.  Expect your banquette to be a minimum of 20″ deep (this accommodates for a small amount of pitch on the back rest, or a straight back and room for a pillow or two) and an 18″ seat height.  See diagrams at the bottom of this post for more details.


I personally prefer the look of a straight back with lots of pillows, because I like pillows. But! don’t be fooled into thinking deeper is better. You have to provide a back rest of some sort, pillow or upholstered or pitched back.  Trust me, no one wants to sit through a meal with their core engaged the entire time.  The paneled detail on the banquette in the image above is very pretty.

img_1529.pngUltimately I think this style with upholstered “arms” that hold you just a bit is really the best of all worlds, sofa like but proportioned to allow you to work, draw or blog at a table (30″ high) and dine of course.  The world is going crazy for banquettes right now so I’m filing this blog post under Trend Alerts, yeah… they have been around a long time but they are very HOT right now.





So, I made a cake.

February 1, 2018

img_2028For me it’s all fun, choosing a recipe, mixing, baking, whipping, but I confess more than enjoying the finished product I enjoy the visual production of asembeling a cake.  I have been slightly addicted to a Caramel Corn recipe after making it for the first time a few weeks ago. So when I needed to make a dessert for a dinner party I knew I had to work it in somehow.  I couldn’t serve a bowl of Carmel Corn and just putting it over ice cream sounded good, but lazy… so I made a cake. img_2025I started with my favorite chocolate cake recipe (it might have been out of a box). Follow directions and let cool. If you are a frosting whore, slice these layers into two layers each and end up with a four layer cake!  I highly recommend you make this cake wearing slippers and if you’re up for it… make your cake from scratch. Box cakes are really just ok  and have things in them you and your loved ones really don’t need to consume.


In a mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
Add vanilla and mix until it is combined.
Add the powdered sugar and mix. Slowly at first until the powdered is combined into the butter and sugar mixture. …
Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you have the frosting at the desired consistency.    click here for full recipe img_2024

Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. …
Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. …
Boil 5 minutes without stirring. …
Pour syrup over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. …
Cool; break apart. click here for full recipe img_2027I used some of the cake crumbles from leveling the cakes to mix into the carmel corn to suggest the chocolate flavor within.  I’m telling you, if you like these flavors this cake is a winner.  I’m not a big fan of salted caramel, but if you are you could use a tiny bit of kosher salt flakes on the carmel corn or light sprinkled over the top of the cake.  I might add peanuts to the carmel corn next time, I miss them when they aren’t waiting for me at the bottom of the bag.  Frost as you typically would (I skipped a crumb layer this time) and pile the carmel corn on top!!  yummy.


These clowns thought they were going to get a slice. They didn’t get any… Everyone knows chocolate is bad for dogs!


Happy Easter!

March 27, 2016

imageEaster for me is a time for Bunnies, Chicks, Eggs, Easter Baskets and of course Egg Decorating…  However you choose to spend the day, I hope you and your loved ones are together, sharing food, prayer, or your Easter Baskets.  I chose to spend the morning peeping some eggs and this year I thought why not try the natural approach to coloring.  I decided to try  coffee, turmeric, chili powder, and spinach (because I really wanted green).

The  colors  are subtle, some more successful than others, and some didn’t really work at all.  The big surprise  is that I like the coffee the best!  Turmeric worked well too, but  chili powder and spinach were a bust… so I broke out the food coloring.  I was carful to not over dye the eggs, because I wanted a soft natural palette this year.   I’m not sure  where this technique of wrapping the egg with mesh or a piece of nylon stocking came from (or I’d give credit) but I think it’s a great way to add visual interest, while keeping it natural.  imageimageimageimageHere are the results.  I’m pleased with how they turned out, there were one or two I’m not showing you but for the most part the method is easy, and produces good results.      I love the flower , I used hellebore because it’s really the only thing blooming in my yard right now.  I foraged some bamboo leaves, some evergreens and a small fernlike plant that I’m pretty sure is a weed… but a pretty leaved weed.  Hey, on March 26th in the garden you can afford to be too picky.  Note: choose soft non-woody plant materials and avoid thin spindly plants, they don’t work well.    I added vinegar to both the traditional dyes and my “spice dyes” , i have to be honest I don’t really know what is does, but we did it when I was a kid, and you add it to PAAS so I added it.  Good luck if you’re dying eggs today.image



January 25, 2015


I follow FOOD52 on instagram and they recently posted this dreamy looking cake shared by Amanda Hesser.  Her note about this cake read: “My mother has many specialties, but her Chocolate Dump-It Cake is most beloved in my family. She kept this cake in the fridge, and it is sublime even when cold. I wrote about this cake in my second book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, but wanted to celebrate it here on food52”.  Well that was enough for me to try it for a family dinner party – My Father-in -law Loves chocolate cake so it’s apropos.  These images are all mine, I have to say it was pretty easy to make but I’m a tad disappointed that the melted chocolate froze up a bit when I added the sour cream for the frosting.  So be warned, make sure your sour cream is room temp and your chocolate isn’t too cool when you add the melted semi-sweet chips.  Also, the dinner party is in a few hours from now so i can’t tell you how sublime this cake is… just yet.  : )  Serves 10. And it looks pretty, love the simplicity.  Thanks Amanda!


2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes. Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan. (If you prefer, you can grease it, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary, but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.) When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions and without overmixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice, to blend. Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky – if someone is around, enlist them to help. Place a ring of wax paper on top of the cake so you have something to grab onto when turning it out.) Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then let cool to room temperature. It is very important that the chocolate and sour cream be the same temperature, otherwise the icing will be lumpy or grainy. (Test it by stirring a little of the sour cream and chocolate together in a bowl; if it mixes smoothly, it’s ready.) Stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Taste some! It’s good. When the cake is cool, you may frost it as is or cut it in half so that you have two layers (when I do this, I use 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups sour cream). My mother uses any leftover icing to make flowers on top. She dabs small rosettes, or buttons, on top, then uses toasted almond slices as the petals, pushing them in around the base of the rosette.IMG_7661


photo 5

I do ok in the kitchen.  What I mean is I’m not a trained chef or baker but I get around a kitchen or recipe pretty well, provided I have the right tools and ingredients.  For Mothers Day I wanted to do something fun and whimsical and wanted to avoid the lemon, berry,whipped creme trappings that are so prolific around this spring holiday, so I decided to make home-made Ding-Dongs.  I followed a recipe from The Bean Town Baker and have to say they tasted even better than the real thing.  The Bean Town Baker implies that there is a lot of work in these but that’s putting it mildly. I doubled the recipe, so it was double the work… trust me on this, that probably didn’t help.  they are in her words a labor of love.  Instead of posting the recipe (you can find that by clicking the link to the Beantown Baker page) I’m going to give you the inside scoop on this recipe.

So, First things first… if you are astute you’re probably scratching your head thinking “he said Ding Dong but the picture up top is a Hostess Cupcake, what gives?”  well, here is the lowdown on that…

photo 4photo 1 copy 3photo 2 copy 2

The ‘from scratch recipe for the cake used in the recipe suggests you use 9 or 10″ round pans.  After baking mini-cakes are made with a cookie cutter, filled and glazed.  There is a great deal of cake waste with this method, but you do get the iconic straight sided shape.   Actually there is so much batter that the recipe suggests a bit of the batter be reserved and used for cup cakes – this way the round cakes don’t bake up too thick.  (I was happy to imagine having extra cupcakes laying around the house, heck summer won’t be here til June 21st right?) Anyway, it wasn’t until I was well into my second batch that I realized the cupcakes would make perfect replicas of the famous Hostess cupcake, and the left over whipped filling and ganache were just enough to dress up a dozen or so of the “extra” cupcakes.  I baked what I could in cupcake papers and the rest I just put in a well greased cupcake pan and both ways worked well.  I liked not serving cupcakes with paper on them to my guests.  And frankly, the cupcakes were easier, cuter.



 And, I now have a Tupperware tub filled with chocolate cake bits – I’ll come up with something yummy to use them for – maybe mixed into malted ice-cream? or a trifle might be good… but I guess the moral of the story is, go for the cupcakes! They are easier to make, they don’t waste unused cake, they are easier to eat and they present better and more professional that their cousin the Ding-Dong and it’s all about presentation right?      photo 3 copy 4


My Day Off

May 13, 2013



I am especially lucky to have Mondays off from my typical work day.  The Interior Design business; paperwork, installations and the balance of client/office time morphs into something completely different, something more personally creative, almost introspective on a day off.  And eventhough I snuck in a tiny bit of client time most of the day was spent alone, arranging shelves, gardening, induldging and maybe a tiny bit of napping!  So, as I start to unwind tonight I thought I’d send out what a typical day off looks like for me.

KLR It started with a commute (about 15 minutes) to a Clients for a quick rug install.  We flipped a few rugs around the house to freshen up other rooms while updating the living room “off the kitchen” (vs the living room” off of the front foyer”, through the “tween” room and bar.  Shes a great lady and I have fun with her, we debate and collaborate to find common ground between us and when we find it, we buy what ever it is we are in agreement on.  The Ascot rug from Asmara Rugs in Waltham, MA is a beautiful addition to the relaxed space that’s affords comfortable reading spots, coffee cozy spots and a snuggle up spot.  We agreed on this rug after she had the chance to have it brought into the home.  This Asmara Rug was definitely love at first sight.


Not going to lie… I had cake for lunch, torte actually.  It was Mother’s Day leftovers, it was calling my name, I had to taste it.  I made a semi-sweet torte with pecan and cookie crust for Mothers Day and I was so happy that there was actually a bit of it left over for today.  It is SO rich that one 9 ich spring-form pan ( and 2 lbs. of chocolate) produces enough torte to serve 20 people.  I served it with homemade (of course) carmel sauce.  Here is the link I used…


If I had known I was going to post this topic today when I was planting rose cuttings in the hopes of propagating them.  A client gave me these after I had complimented her healthy rose-bush, so vital in the ocean air, and pretty too.  A small pink rose covers the canopy, Cecile Brunner? If I don’t kill them I will plant them to climb the columns on the front porch.

mewithcakeAnd one of me proudly presenting my torte to the family.


photo copy 12

 Ok so first, I owe you all an apology.  Did I realize the Easter cake recipe was in metric measurements?  NO, did I try to make it anyway? YES.  Did it turn out?  Well, yeah… I gotta say it was unique and a perfect complement to the beautiful lamb dinner and it fit in perfectly with the deserts others brought along.  Would I make it again? Hmmm… Maybe.  I think I’d like it better with and orange marmalade layer and zest of an orange and skip the rose-water.  It was pretty and assembly was fun and pretty easy so for that I got a big return for my investment.  If any of you have tried it, let me know how it worked out and if decide to try it, I say skip the rose-water and add orange zest and marmalade or brush the sponge cake with liquor of some sort and fold berry juice into the whipped cream instead.

photo copy 10

Now you probably know by now that for me it’s all in the construction and execution of cake making that gets me excited.  I am so far from this level, and frankly know myself well enough to know I don’t have the time or the patience to pull one of these cakes off, but just look at these…

mini_birkin_by_sliceofcake-d3802hf Orange_Blossom_by_Sliceofcake sweet_bows_by_sliceofcake-d2z4dd0 a0bdc06100b0e51408a106e5b0f8e827 ysl_muse_by_sliceofcake-d2zztf0 b2e293db2026893d23bab2b0587a8556 The_Jewel_Box_by_Sliceofcake hermes_violet_birkin_cake_by_sliceofcake-d2y2b9nWhat really gets me is the FLAWLESS execution of these edible masterpieces!!!  I mean seriously, look for a flaw… have these images been photo-shopped?  We are taking PER-FEC-TION.  Most of these images were found here