Summertime And the "Living" Is Easy

I've been enjoying the July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living, which has been on newsstands for a couple weeks now. My preference is always for the fall/winter issues of the magazine but I've been gently training myself to linger a little longer on the pages of the summer issues. I've already decided to make the pasta salad recipe featured in the Everyday Food section of the magazine for a big family BBQ in August (I will likely double the recipe) and those gorgeous looking brownies on page 60 of the magazine (Fudgy Turtle Brownies - hello!) will be made for a summer potluck later this month.
What I'm enjoying about the summer issues is the simplicity of the recipes; there is an ease to them that I find appealing and yet the editors are still aiming for complex and layered flavours. Like summer itself, the food presented in the issue is down-to-earth, lending itself to alfresco dining with just that little touch of elegance that keeps it from being paper-plate fare.

Speaking of paper plates, the lean towards a greener life in the magazine is something I've really taken to. I'm enjoying the overt and subtle ways the magazine is steering the content towards a more eco-conscious track: more making, a little less buying; raising awareness through the "Change-Maker" column and always including a garden feature to make the reader stop and think about the earth and its bounty. This magazine is still my favourite.

This will be my last post for awhile. I'll see you when the September issue hits the stands. Happy Summer!


Martha's Coffee Available on Amazon

When Martha Stewart first opened her cafe in New York City (at her company's headquarters in the Starrett Lehigh Building on West 26th Street) a kind American friend of mine sent me a small care package containing some of the best the small cafe had to offer: Martha's favourite breakfast tea blend, her favourite coffee blend as well as a beautiful apron.

The cafe's online store, where you could once order these products and more, is no longer in operation. Happily, however, the consumer can now find an assortment of Martha's coffee blends at Amazon.com - a recent addition to the Martha Stewart Shop, the company's online shopping hub of its product lines.
The coffees were all produced in partnership with Barrie House Coffee Roasters, a New York based company founded in 1934. All of Martha's coffees are Certified USDA Organic (grown without pesticides or herbicides and harvested in a sustainable way) and are certified Fair Trade, meaning the farmers who grow and harvest the beans are not exploited. Martha's Blend is described as smooth and mellow, sweet and balanced, complex in flavour and never bitter or burnt. Each of the 10 ounce bags shown above is $10, or $1 per ounce. Martha's Blend is available in whole bean, whole bean espresso, whole bean decaf, ground and ground decaf.
Also available are boxes of single-serve capsules: each box contains 22 individual servings. You can purchase one package or a grouping of up to four boxes, amounting to 88 capsules. (I personally don't recommend single-serve packages of any product because of the waste they produce).

These coffees are currently only available for shipping within the United States.  Click here to shop.


The June Issue: Sheet Cake Surprise

The arrival of the June issue of Martha Stewart Living always imparts a sense of excitement in me. While it is true that the fall/winter issues of the magazine are my favourites, the delivery of the June issue brings with it that childlike anticipation of the longer, warmer days ahead; caution is thrown to the wind and as many hours as possible are spent outdoors enjoying the best of summer.
The best feature in this issue is the cover story: six delicious sheet cakes to get you through a myriad of summer occasions, from family picnics to gatherings at the cottage with friends. The cover photograph is a beautiful tribute to these easy summer treats. Shown here is a strawberry shortcake sheet cake, topped with mounds of whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Inside the issue are five other sheet cakes you'll want to add to your repertoire of summer entertaining recipes: easy as can be and perfect for a crowd. (There is something nostalgic about sheet cakes, too. They make me think of my grandmother and the wide, icing-laden versions she would make when we would visit her at the cottage).
Dennis Landon, a member of the Martha Moments Facebook group, tried his hand at making the cover's confection in the breakroom at his office! In a pinch, he used a standard cake pan instead of a sheet pan and a toaster oven instead of a standard oven, but says the recipe held up perfectly. Since his colleagues were eagerly awaiting their slices, he topped each piece individually with whipped cream and fruit and served it immediately, rather than decorate it as shown on the cover. Dennis says this will now be his "go to" shortcake recipe because of its delicious flavour and its ability to adapt to his whims of improvisation! (I can't wait to try it, myself!)


Martha In the News

Martha has been in the news lately with several new ventures underway and the surprising sale of her company to new owners, Marquee Brands. I thought I would outline some of the developments in this post. First is the news of the sale (or rather, re-sale) of Martha's company; it was purchased by Sequential Brands in 2015 and Sequential has now sold her company to Marquee, which owns and manages global brands across numerous consumer channels and markets. Marquee controls brands such as Body Glove, Ben Sherman and BCBGMAXAZRIA - primarily apparel - and will now add Martha Stewart to its roster. This will be the first house & home brand for Marquee, although Martha's recent forays into apparel via QVC broadens her scope. From the consumer's perspective, little will change. Martha's products will still be accessible through familiar channels, such as Macy's, QVC, Michael's and online through Amazon and the Martha Stewart Shop at marthastewart.com. Martha's magazine, Martha Stewart Living, is still controlled by Meredith Corp. and her publishing partnerships with Clarkson Potter and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt remain intact.
Martha has also recently partnered with two Canadian companies: one which specializes in seafood and the other in cannabis production! In February it was announced that Martha would partner with Canadian seafood giant Cooke's True North to develop a line of seafood entrees, including Atlantic and sockeye salmon, Alaska pollock and a seafood medley, all sold with Martha Stewart spices and recipes. The line was showcased this spring in Boston and will be available on QVC starting this month. You can watch Martha discussing the fish on QVC by clicking here.
Meanwhile, also in Canada, Martha's expertise will be used to help develop products made with cannabis with a company called Canopy Growth. She will act as an advisor to help the company create new products for pets and people alike. Martha came on board when her friend and television co-host, Snoop Dogg, referred Martha to the company. "As soon as you hear the name Martha, you know exactly who we're talking about," said Canopy Growth co-CEO Bruce Linton. "Martha is one of a kind and I am so excited to be able to work alongside this icon to sharpen our CBD product offerings." (CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis).
Martha has also recently partnered with MSC Cruises to curate on-board menus and shore excursions tailored to her tastes. Restaurants on board the ships will feature Martha Stewart menu options and activities on board will feature Martha Stewart events, such as crafting classes and cooking lessons. Martha traveled with MSC Cruises to also develop curated shore excursion itineraries: places Martha enjoyed seeing and activities she recommends. Guests on board the ship can tailor their cruise to include one Martha Moment after another!  Click here to watch a short promo clip.
Martha also has a new cookie book on the way! In October, you can purchase Martha Stewart's Cookie Perfection, which features 100+ recipes for the very best cookies. The book is hardcover with 256 pages. It will be published on October 15, but you can preorder it here. Here is the description of the book from the publisher, Clarkson Potter.

The editors of Martha Stewart Living present a new, fun source for anyone looking to make their go-to cookies even better and bolder. These recipes make ordinary cookies absolutely extraordinary--all the familiar favorites you love, but taken up a notch in variety, flavor, and creativity. Classic recipes discover new life with unexpected twists such as Lemony Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies and Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies. Go over-the-top in super-sized fashion with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies; get inspired by cultures around the globe with Brazilian Wedding Cookies and Stroopwaffels; and celebrate with beautifully decorated holiday treats, such as Easter Egg Puzzle Cookies and Snowball Truffles. Whether for a special celebration or a sweet anytime-treat, you'll be sure to find inspiration to trade in your everyday cookies for versions far more special--and especially delicious.


A Simple Dessert: Martha's Lime Pudding Cups

I took advantage of today's April showers by staying indoors and cooking up a little something sweet. The word "cooking" may be a bit of an exaggeration, actually, since the recipe I used required just ten minutes of stove-top time! I made Martha's lime pudding cups, which are featured in the May issue of Martha Stewart Living on page 30 in the Good Things section: I highly recommend it.  With just six ingredients and the promise of a silky pudding texture with the delicious bite of lime, I was enticed to give it a try.
The dessert is based on a British dessert called posset, which is a simple mixture of cream, sugar and citrus juice (lemon or lime) often served with shortbread. In this recipe, the addition of crumbled graham crackers on top replaces the shortbread and adds a nice crunch, conjuring taste memories of citrus tarts; a pleasant texture contrast.  The lack of gelatin or eggs was another appealing factor for me; the chemical reaction that occurs between the acidity of the citrus juice and the mellowness of the hot cream creates a pudding-like texture without the use of additional ingredients or prolonged cooking time. Neat! I was smitten and very pleased with the results. I'll be making these again!
Here is the recipe:

In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of heavy cream, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of finely-grated lime zest and a pinch of kosher salt to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until reduced to 2 cups, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat: stir in 1/3 cup of freshly-squeezed lime juice. Let cool for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve in a liquid measuring cup, discarding any solids. Divide evenly among six glasses. Refrigerate until set, at least two hours. Top the cups with sweetened whipped cream, crumbled graham crackers and more grated lime zest; serve.


Martha Moments Readers Share Their Easter Photos

It's been one week since Good Friday, but I couldn't resist sharing some of the wonderful photos that have come in from Martha Moments readers depicting their recent Easter celebrations. As always, Martha's fans are keen to make their celebrations festive, decorative, delicious and most of all memorable. Many of the recipes used for their celebrations were Martha's recipes; many of the products used to decorate their tables and serve their meals were Martha's products. And many of the ideas were inspired by Martha's projects and personal sensibilities. I hope you enjoy these Martha Moments!
Ramona Barry made the gorgeous cookies that were featured on the cover of the April issue using Martha's "four Ds" method: dip, drip, decorate and dry. They turned out very nice! You can watch Martha make the cookies here.
Alirio Pirela showcased his decorated Easter eggs in a ceramic egg tray. The colours are splendid!
Anna Darina Bredenberg in Germany sent in this photo of some of her Easter cookies, which were inspired by the ones shown on the cover of the April issue.
Hayden Regina went all out with colour this year for his Easter table. I love the very graphic table cloth, the fresh flowers and all that lustrous Jadeite!
Jeremy Lambertson showcased some of his McCoy pottery alongside hand-dyed Easter eggs and some lovely rabbit decorations. Very Martha!
Jeremy also used Martha's carrot cake recipe for his Easter dessert. It is displayed on a Martha by Mail cake stand.
This delicious looking version of Deviled Eggs by Bernie Wong was made all the more beautiful with the delicate application of a flower decoration on each serving.
Easter lilies at Bernie's house - and some very pretty bunny dishes.
This is a mix of goose and chicken eggs that Bernie has blown out. He left them white and I love the simplicity.
Anthony Picozzi set a gorgeous Easter table using some of Martha's faux-chocolate bunnies from her QVC holiday line.
Anthony also served Martha's classic devilled eggs. He gilded the lily by decorating the beautiful platter with quail eggs in a nest of dill.
Here is a closer look at one of Martha's QVC bunnies that Anthony had on display on his fireplace mantel. It really does look like chocolate!
Christopher Lewis-Long also displayed Martha's bunnies in his kitchen. (Jadeite really was a big theme this year for everyone!)
Melina Barbone-Leone made Martha's blueberry ricotta tart from her "New Way to Bake" book. You can get the recipe here. Looks delicious!
Melina also made Martha's flourless chocolate walnut torte, also from "A New Way to Bake." You can get the recipe here.
And here is Melina's very springlike centerpiece. Lovely!
Onana Pena made a blueberry bundt cake and decorated it gorgeously with a giant peony blossom. Looks so elegant!
Cindy Hamel's table looks absolutely beautiful and so welcoming! (Notice the eggs hanging from the chandelier?)
Paul S. Neumann made Martha's spring garden cake this year for Easter. He did a wonderful job! You can get the recipe here.
Sean Frederic Edgecombe made these delicious-looking scallops for his Easter meal. I love the dinnerware!
Sean also made Martha's recipe for vegetarian matzo ball soup. You can get the recipe here.
This antique buffet in the home of James Richmond is festooned with Easter decorations. A Martha Stewart Collection cake stand plays host to two nesting bunnies.


The Martha Stewart Shop + Easter Offerings

Martha always celebrates Easter in style. It is little wonder, then, that she is offering several Easter decor items for the season, most notably through Macy's and QVC. At QVC, there is a selection of Peter Rabbit decorations that are personal favourites of mine; the rabbits are designed to look exactly like chocolate Easter bunnies but are in fact made of a sturdy resin. There are two styles available in two different sizes: a standing rabbit, which is 16" tall and a seated rabbit, which is 10" high. Both styles are tied with a pretty green gingham ribbon, which can be changed for your own ribbon if you desire. Placed along the center of a table or on a buffet or a sideboard these bunnies would add whimsical charm with their trompe-l'oeil effect. Click here to see more of these cute little guys! I really love them.

These are the resin bunnies that Martha has at her home in Bedford. She based the QVC rabbits on these designs.

Meanwhile at Macy's, Martha has a selection of Easter offerings as well, including this set of four ceramic cocottes and a flower-shaped casserole dish that I'm quite in love with. Click here to see more of Martha's Easter offerings at Macy's.

Martha shoppers will be glad to hear that marthastewart.com has now created a Martha Stewart Shop where all of Martha's products can be viewed through one simple portal. From lighting to rugs, garden supplies to clothing, home decor to books, wine and pet supplies, the Martha Stewart Shop is your one-stop location to see everything Martha!