Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Color Flavor: Porcelain Berry

In my youthful explorations, I learned a lot about wildflowers, plants, and topography. I can instantly identify a number of native flora and fauna and know where you're likely to find them. A few years ago, I saw something I'd not seen before, a porcelain berry. A plant native to Asia, this climbing foliage is considered an invasive species in this country. It is quickly spreading across from the eastern states and must be controlled as it can choke out native vegetation.

The porcelain berry has grape-like leaves. It's a trailing bush, growing up to 15 feet tall, with drooping branches. Perhaps the most striking thing about this plant are the berries. The berries are small and opaque with tiny flecked spots. They range in color from magenta purple, cloudy sea blue, to pale earthy green, most of the time in the same fruit bunch.

Dusty magenta isn't an easy color to incorporate into designs of any kind, at least not quietly. It is almost certainly going to be seen as feminine. Keep this in mind. This color would work well as an accent for a women's boutique or salon. It would also be appropriate for a bakery since it mimics closely the color of many berries used in baking.

In interior design, these hues work well in rooms that tread the line between warm and cool. Bedrooms and bathrooms benefit from the relaxing blues and imaginative magenta. Add a spring-like yellow green for interest. Above, Behr's Peru (UL100-19) is the accent wall color paired with Bayside (510F-5) and Waterfall Mist (W-D-510).

 Patterns featured above can be found here, here, and here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kentucky Bourbon Pie

The dew hangs loosely on the petals of the red roses. Golden sun slips over the famous spires, casting a long shadow on the track. Energetic thoroughbreds in hues of golden pecan, dark chocolate, and cream are wound ready like springs. Ice tangos with mint leaves and amber bourbon. It's the first Saturday in May and something special is happening.

Every year, the world turns its eyes to Louisville, Kentucky and the most exciting 2 minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby. At Derby time, the parties are historic, the hats amazing, and the horses spectacular. Louisville knows how to celebrate a horse race and what party would be complete without the perfect dessert. 

In 1950 the Kerns at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky created a pastry that is now synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, the Derby Pie (© Kern's Kitchen), a chocolate and walnut tart. Though the Kern's pie is quite tasty with a dollop of whipped cream, I prefer the version of a chocolate nut pie I make myself. I use pecans, dark chocolate, and a shot of quality bourbon. This pie is great for any occasion, but especially on that first weekend in May.

The pie before baking, yum!
Kentucky Bourbon Pie

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 shot bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 unbaked pie shell or 1 roll of crust

Notes: I use Woodford Reserve in my pies. If you choose to omit the bourbon, use 1 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I usually use chocolate with a cacao content of 60% or higher. If you wish to use 75% or higher, use in combination with milder chocolate unless you're looking for a stronger chocolate flavor.

Combine sugar and flour well; add eggs and melted butter. Add chopped nuts, chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon, mixing well. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or for an extra fun treat, bourbon whipped cream, recipe here at Food & Wine.

This year, why not try a slice of a new tradition. Mix up a julep, pick your pony, and enjoy some Kentucky Bourbon Pie. A dessert this decadent is a sure bet!

Disclaimer: My recipe is in no way intended as an infringement on the copyright held by Kern's Kitchen.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Idea Seeds: Dogwood

With spring comes a lot of inspiration. Everything's waking up after a winter's nap; there are colors and textures everywhere. One of my favorite things about spring is the dogwood tree. Dogwoods are pretty trees most of the year, but their blooms are something special. That's why I've chosen dogwood as this Idea Seed.

Viewed by some as a religious symbol and prized by landscapers for its foliage, the dogwood comes in both tree and shrub varieties. The blooms can range from a chartreuse shade of white to light and dark pink and have four petals with a distinct dark spot on the tip. These blooms are showy in spring and give way to simple leaves for summer. Eventually, they produce bright berries.

Sun Salutation

©Rachael Sinclair

If you have a dogwood tree in your yard or know where you can inspect one, take a good look. Does the shape inspire you? How about the color? What textures do you see? Sit under a dogwood and let your mind drift. You never know what magic you'll find!

These PMS colors and CMYK breakdowns were sampled directly from the bloom of a dogwood tree