“Fashion is more usually a gentle progression of revisited ideas” –British fashion designer Bruce Oldfield

Innovative Design. Iconic Styling. Inspired Dishes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

POUNCE ON THIS...Part 1 of Leopard Series

Leopard print has always been synonymous with edgy fashion, whether gracing an antique Bergère or draped as a stole.  Its chic quality creates a tension unparallel to any other fabric design.  It remains forever a classic, yet always feels fresh and contemporary.  Sophisticated but saucy, this irresistible print is perpetually desirable and au currant.  Fashion houses including Valentino, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Roberto Cavalli and most famously Dolce and Gabbana, have courted the print and continue to reinvent its presentation, keeping it a runway constant.   Interior designers have equally been beguiled and fabrics emulating the spotted print abound, but none quite as famously as the Brunschwig et Fils silk velvet leopard print fabric.  Introduced in 1956, it has been selling consistently for over 50 years.   Produced by hand on a loom in France at the rate of only 11” a day, the looped threads are hand cut with a special tool to produce  the unmistakable luxurious pile.  The subtle nuisances of color and the sheen of the silk give the velvet the look  and feel of an actual pelt.  At nearly $6000 a yard retail cost, it’s no wonder this legendary fabric has landed in the homes of the world’s rich and famous, including Givenchy’s Grand Salon in Paris, Oscar de la Renta’s New York City apartment and Valentino’s London flat.   Showcased on a settee in the most recent issue of
Veranda magazine, we pounced on the chance to take a look at this coveted print and sink our claws into it.  Seeing it in the context of this unique pastel color palette shows how versatile and grounding a leopard print can be in a setting, adding depth and sumptuousness.

[1] MADE GOODS thano mirror
[2] BRUNSCHWIG & FILS fabric on sofa in Veranda Magazine
[4] DOLCE AND GABBANA miss sicily handbag
[5] HOUSE OF L custom chair (contact House of L)
[7] DONGHIA luna chandelier
[8] VIETRI lastra collection spring 2012 (contact House of L)
[9] SURYA decadent rug (available at Marshall Carpet)
[10] GUERLAIN eyeshadow

        Loom in France                                     Velvet Swatch at the Ohio Design Center

We Can Dish It, If You Can Take It

Mushroom Risotto

Home cooks often hesitate to tackle a dish like risotto because the results can often be disappointing. A chef in Italy once told me that good risotto always has an “onda” or wave, which was his way of describing what the end result should be: creamy with enough liquid to give movement and body to the rice. The best results come from frequent stirring, as it helps break down the starch in the grain. Adding liquid gradually ensures a perfect al dente bite.  The rice has a tendency to absorb liquid at a rapid pace so it’s easy to overcook it, resulting in a clumpy mess.  Keep some teaspoons next to the cook top to taste for doneness as well. I prefer to use nano valone or carnaroli imported Italian rice over arborio which can be found in Italian import stores such as Gallucci’s in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side  
2 cups nano valone or carnaroli rice
2 tsp unsalted butter
4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped finely
3-4 cloves of garlic, left whole
2 cups good white wine Pinot Grigio (open to drink and throw some in!)
4 cups chicken stock (added gradually)
¾ lb mixed mushrooms such as Bella or Cremini
1 pack dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 1 cup boiling water (approximately 1/2 an hour) to extract liquid
1 TBSP heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Coarse kosher salt
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Add olive oil and butter to pan and melt at medium high heat, reserving one tsp of olive oil for mushrooms. Sautee onions in a deeper pan (preferably with sides that slope-this helps the liquid reduce quicker).  Toss in the garlic cloves with onions (for a more pungent garlic taste, crush garlic but use caution as it scorches easily).  Add rice and sautee with onions for about 2 minutes to coat the rice.  Start by adding wine first and then stock, one cup at a time and stir frequently.  Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in a frying pan and add mushrooms and cook until golden brown at high heat.  The rice will take approximately 20 minutes to cook from start to finish.  Once the grain has only a slight “bite” to it, finish by adding the ½ c mushroom liquid from dried porcinis,1 TBSP of heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste, parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano.  Stir ingredients thoroughly together and serve immediately.


Tiramisu is the Italian’s version of the classic English trifle dish.  Its literal interpretation means “pick me up” which probably has some reference to all that strong espresso in the dessert!  It can be made in a rectangular 9 x 12” baking pan or for a prettier presentation, use a footed glass bow.  It is a snap to pull together and usually a big hit.

Serves 8-10 
4 packs of ladyfinger cookies  
Cook’s Note:  these are typically available in a crisp variety, but they are also available soft as well, which resemble a very thin sponge cake.  If using the crisper variety dip cookies quickly on both side in espresso; if using the thinner, layer in dessert and brush espresso only on top, otherwise they will disintegrate in the coffee)
6 yolks
½ c sugar
½ c freshly brewed espresso coffee, chilled
2 TBSP coffee flavored liquor such as Kahlua
1 lb mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese, available at most grocery stores)
½ pint heavy whipping cream
8 oz block of milk chocolate, preferably Callebaut (to create shavings for top)

Brew espresso coffee and put in a shallow glass pan with liquor.  Separate eggs and place in a small heatproof bowl.  Cream egg yolks, adding sugar gradually, so that yolks are not scorched.  The mixture should become thick and pale yellow, forming ribbons when the mixer is pulled out.  Set over a pot of simmering water. Add a dash of liquor and continue to mix until double in volume, creating a zabaglione.  Next, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form, adding vanilla and a TBSP of sugar just as the whisk starts to form “tracks” in the cream.  Using a large spatula, fold the whipped cream into the zabaglione mixture.  Begin to quickly dip the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture and layer in container of choice so that they are close together. 
Spoon enough of the zabaglione mixture to completely cover the ladyfinger cookies and add another layer.  Continue to do this, ending with a layer of the zabaglione.  Using a vegetable peeler, create “curls” with the chocolate to sprinkle on the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dancing into the New Year

Pantone, one of the leading color authorities in the design community, announced their 2012 color of the year last week: Tangerine Tango.  Delicious, sexy and bold, this vibrant persimmon hue guarantees to raise the temperature and get emotions stirring.  Midwestern horizons may continue to be bleak for awhile longer, but the House of L is taking a different approach and finding inspiration in this radiant shade of color.
Whether combined with a crisp white for a clean burst of color, a bit of noir for a naughty yet nice smolder or a smattering of some soft corals and greens for a refreshing and classic combo, this shade is versatile in how it can be interpreted.  So after seeing this undeniable attraction there’s only one thing left to ask-Are you ready to dance? 

[1] WIRED CUSTOM LIGHTING bordeaux ceiling fixture
[2] HOUSE OF L residential formal powder room
[3] CB2 hive orange storage unit
[4] DWELL STUDIO vintage blossom persimmon pillow
[5] DWELL STUDIO labyrinth persimmon pillow
[6] ALCHEMY GLASS  lava cienga (contact Edelman Plumbing)
[7] KARA ROSS faceted coral pendant
[8] F SCHUMACHER imperial trellis in ivory/mandarin
[9] BUNGALOW5 charlotte mirror
[10] CHANEL nail polish in orange fizz
[11] CB2 club atomic orange sofa
[12] BOTTEGA VENETA 2012 collection
[13] GLOBAL VIEWS chips bulb vase in citronelle
[14] BOBBI BROWN atomic orange lip stick
[15] WALKER ZANGER contessa damask, paprika on cream
[16] KARA ROSS coral accented glitter lizard skin inlaid bangle bracelet
[17] BLISS LIVING nirvana coral euro pillow
[18] BUNGALOW5 cellini lamp
[19] QUADRILLE new shrimp
[20] REED KRAKOFF soft boxer tote in coral
[21] FROMENTAL lotus and carp wall covering
[22] MAC COSMETICS knockout lipglass
[23] MAC COSMETICS entertain me lip liner
[25] TORY BURCH eddie ballet flat
[26] IPPOLITA 5 stone ring
[27]  JAY AHR contrast trim stretch crepe gown
[28] PORTA ROMANA glass blob lamp in ruby
[29] LA PERLA arianne net lace thong
[30] HOUSE OF L custom chair
[31] WOVEN NEW YORK jakub rug
[32] VIVIENNE WESTWOOD classic orb purse music

we can dish it out, if you can take it

Tomato-Fennel Soup

Country Living recipe courtesy of Lori Reed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2  cups (about 1/2 bulb) chopped fennel
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cans (28-ounce) peeled whole tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1         teaspoon fresh thyme
1/3 cup heavy cream

Pour oil in a large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened. Add the fennel and onions and cook until onions are translucent (about 5 more minutes). Add the tomatoes, zest, rosemary, and pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the reserved tomato liquid, 2 cups of water, sugar, and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until fennel is very tender, about 45 minutes.

Transfer the soup (in small batches) to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Add the parsley and thyme to the last batch and purée until smooth. Return the soup to the Dutch oven and stir in the heavy cream. Ladle hot soup into bowls and serve immediately.

Grilled Gouda Sandwiches
Country Living recipe courtesy of Lori Reed
Local Clevelander Quick Tip: On The Rise Bakery, Cleveland Hts, OH
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoons ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoons) fresh-ground black pepper
8 slices (1/2-inch-thick) rustic bread
1 clove garlic, halved
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
8 ounces Gouda, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Assemble the sandwiches: Combine the butter and peppers in a small bowl and set aside. Rub one side of each slice of bread with garlic and place 4 slices, garlic-rubbed side down, on a work surface. Spread the top of each of the 4 slices with 1 teaspoon of the mustard and 2 ounces of the Gouda. Place the remaining slices of bread, garlic-rubbed side up, on sandwich bottoms and set aside.

Grill the sandwiches: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using a pastry brush, coat one side of the sandwiches with the butter mixture. Place the sandwiches, buttered side down, in the hot skillet and cook until golden -- about 2 minutes. Brush the tops of the sandwiches with the remaining butter mixture, turn the sandwiches over, and cook for 2 more minutes. Place the skillet in a 400 degree oven and bake until the cheese is completely melted -- about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Time for some sweets...

Blood Orange Cheesecake

Recipe by Martha Stewart
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
¾ cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
4 large egg yolks
½ cup + 2 tbsp milk
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of ½ an orange
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup heavy cream, whipped
Candied blood orange slices (recipe follows)
Blood orange glaze (recipe follows)

  1. Place ricotta in a sieve lined with cheesecloth, place in refrigerator, and let the ricotta drain for several hours or overnight
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fit a parchment circle into the bottom of a 7-inch spring form pan. Make crust: Combine graham-cracker crumbs and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Stir in melted butter with a fork until crumbs are moistened. Press into bottom of pan, and bake for 10 minutes
  3. Place lemon juice in a small bowl, and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Set aside for 10 minutes to soften.
  4. In a small, heavy saucepan, beat egg yolks until smooth. Whisk in milk. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Add salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Transfer to a bowl, and stir.
  5. Stir in softened gelatin, orange zest, and vanilla, mixing until gelatin is completely dissolved. Set custard aside.
  6. Place drained ricotta in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add cream cheese and process again until smooth. With machine running, add warm custard and process just long enough to combine.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and fold in whipped cream. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, cover, and chill overnight
  8. Place a candied orange slice in center of cake. Pour glaze over top, tipping cake pan to cover completely. Chill for 1 hour, or until glaze is set.
  9. To unmold, wrap a hot towel around sides of pan to help release cake, and run a thin knife around the inside of the pan. Carefully remove outside of pan. Slide onto a serving plate, and chill until ready to serve.
Candied Blood Orange Slices
1 blood orange, scrubbed
¾ cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tbsp light corn syrup

Cut orange into 1/8-inch slices. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, water, and syrup. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until clear and no crystals cling to sides of pan, about 3 minutes. Add orange slices in 1 layer; simmer until transparent, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Blood Orange Glaze
¾ tsp unflavored gelatin
7 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice, strained (1-2 oranges)
¼ tsp cornstarch

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons of the juice; let stand until soft, about 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and 4 tablespoons juice to a boil. Combine remaining tablespoon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir until dissolved; whisk into boiling orange juice. Remove from heat. Stir in softened gelatin. Cool to lukewarm and pour over cake.