Friday, September 28, 2012

A Friday Night Cocktail Party!


cocktail party!

    I have been perusing my cookbooks, and have come up with a few ideas for appetizers and cocktails, that when paired together, would make for as great Friday night cocktail party! You know, those things that adults in TV-Land host every few episodes, with cute dresses and shoes, martini glasses, and men with combed-back hair? The cocktail parties of the good-old days that have been slowly replaced with gatherings of beer-pong players and take-out...Much to my chagrin. So, instead of ordering the keg and downloading some pirated music and dancing gangnam style while everyone funnels beer and cold pizza, maybe some of us could try doing our hair, mixing a few drinks, and serving some appetizers while reconnecting with our friends. (Hey, you can still gangnam-it-up if you want while sipping a Cosmo, I am not judging!) But, seriously, a trip down to the good old days when you could party classy and still enjoy yourself, that is a little something 2012 could use.

Three Appetizers:

1) Tapenade with Crostini (serves 12, feel free to multiply quantities to suit your party!)

For the Crostini:


  • 24 slices of crusty Italian OR French Bread, cut about 1/2 inch thick

  • Melted Butter


  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F

  2. Place bread on baking sheets

  3. Brush with butter

  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden

  5. Top with Tapenade, serve immediately

For the Tapenade:


  • 1/2 cup green olives with pimentos
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (remove pits)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup seeded tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs sliced green onion


  1. Combine olives, oil, mustard, vinegar, and garlic in a blender.

  2. Process until almost smooth

  3. Stir in tomato and green onion

  4. Spread on crostini

  5. Serve immediately

2) Apple and Brie Quesadillas (serves 8)


  • 2 thinly sliced Granny Smith Apples

  • olive oil

  • 8 8-inch tortillas

  • 16 oz brie cheese, sliced, rind removed

  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard

  • 2 tbs maple syrup

  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled


  1. Preheat pan to medium-high
  2. Toss apples with 4 tsp olive oil, cook until tender (3-4 mins)
  3. Separate apples and cheese into 8 servings
  4. Cover half of each tortilla with one serving of apples and cheese, fold the other half over to make quesadilla
  5. Heat 2 tps of olive oil in a large skillet (nonstick), and cook over medium heat
  6. Cook quesadillas about 2 mins on each side, until melty and golden
  7. Combine mustard and syrup in a bowl
  8. Drizzle quesadillas with syrup, sprinkle with bacon

Note: For a vegetarian version, cut out mustard-maple syrup and bacon, replace with a warm drizzle of caramel sauce!

3) Charred Pineapple Rings (serves six-eight...make two or three for a larger crowd!)


  • 1 large pineapple
  • olive oil


1) Cut pineapple into rings

2) Brush each ring on both sides lightly with olive oil

3) Heat a ridged grill pan to medium high on the stovetop

4) Grill, turning once, until each side is lightly charred, about three mins per side

Three Cocktails:

1) Florida Skies (makes 1)


  • ice cubes, cracked

  • 1 measure white rum

  • 1/4 measure lime juice

  • 1/2 measure pineapple juice

  • soda water (to top up)

  • thinly sliced cucumber


  1. Put cracked ice in a tall glass

  2. Put rum and juices in a shaker, shake lightly

  3. Strain into glass

  4. Top up with soda water

  5. Garnish with cucumber slices

2) Purple Haze (1 Drink)


  • Ice

  • 1 measure vodka

  • 1 dash Cointreau

  • 1 dash lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)

  • 1 dash raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord


  1. In a shaker, combine vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice. Briefly shake

  2. Strain into shot glass

  3. Slowly add a dash of Chambord, it should settle prettily to the bottom

3) Loving Cup (serves 12)


  • 8 sugar cubes

  • 2 lemons

  • 1/2 bottle sweet sherry

  • 1/4 bottle brandy

  • 1 bottle sparkling dry white wine


  1. Rub sugar cubes over lemons, to absorb zest's oils

  2. Peel lemons, remove pith

  3. Slice lemons thinly, set aside

  4. Put sherry, brandy, sugar cubes and lemon zest in a pitcher until sugar dissolves

  5. Cover and chill, 30 mins

  6. When ready to serve, add wine to the pitcher, and float the lemon slices on top

I hope this inspires someone to host a cocktail party! Also, feel free to comment with your favorite appetizer or cocktail recipes! Enjoy :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

What Makes My Kitchen…MINE ^_^


   Since I have been out on my own, I have gathered a number of objects that have really spoken to me. I believe that your space should represent your personality…and your kitchen is no exception! So, today, I am celebrating a few of my favorite kitchen things, the things that make my kitchen, well… MY KITCHEN. I know I haven’t had as much time to personalize my space as some of you, being relatively young to most people who have their own homes, but I have enjoyed every moment of it! I have had homes in Monterey, California, Pearl City, Hawaii, and now Saugerties, New York. My things reflect these places, and as I travel and live in other places, my kitchen is sure to evolve to reflect the changes :)

1) Bunny Salt and Pepper Shakers

Not my first pair, nor my last, but most definitely my favorite, these bunny salt and pepper shakers were obtained at a boutique in Tannersville, New York. The salt shaker is female, and pepper male, and they look at each other as if they are in love. The pastel colors and the fact that they are rabbits (I am currently the proud bunny-mummy to Poppy (2 years) and Sophie (3 months), and had a bunny Bruce, who passed away a year ago this past July 4th) are why I loved them when I saw them, and the fact that my husband, Christopher, bought them for me the second I turned my back makes me love them even more!


2) Floral Piggy Bank

I love this Piggy Bank for a few reasons. Firstly, it is a PIG, and if you keep reading this article, you will see that along with owls and hares, I LOVE PIGS. Secondly, growing up, my mom had a piggy bank in her kitchen, a big fat pig we named Daisy, for the flowers on her flank. She was a ceramic piggy bank procured at a yard sale, and whenever anyone had pocket change, they would feed it to Daisy. She went through a couple of paint jobs, but always has the same cute eyelashes and curling smile! So, I knew I also needed a kitchen pig, and when I found this one, I knew she was the one for me. The third reason why I picked this specific pig is the pastel floral print. Even since I saw the Greek Mythology segment from Disney’s Fantasia when I was a child, I have been in love with bright pastel colors. 


For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, watch this video :

My favorite FANTASIA segment…where I learned to love BRIGHT PASTEL colors

And so, when I found the adorable floral piggy bank at the Target in Sand City, California, I KNEW I had to have it! And so, Daisy II has been collecting change on my various kitchen counters ever since!

3) Guy in the Stocks Jar

One of my latest kitchen additions, and perhaps one of the quirkiest, my “Van Rossem’s Toebaek” tobacco jar is one of my favorite cooking spoon jars! I got it at a yard sale somewhere between Saugerties, NY and Cooperstown, NY on the way home from a week-long Cooperstown vacation with my husband.

cute kitchen 3

front view


back view

I Googled the words on the back of the jar recently, and apparently a whole bunch of them were made in the 1930’s as tobacco humidors. There are many available on online auction sites, but none are available quite as cheaply as I obtained mine! I fell for this jar because of the quirky picture of the villager in the stocks…enjoying his tobacco!

4) Samurai Lion Seppuku Jar

When I first saw this jar, at a Goodwill in Honolulu, HI, I just thought it was a cute lion I could put my spoons in. On closer observation, this lion is a samurai (he has the hairstyle in the back!) committing Seppuku, a Japanese suicide ritual. Seppuku means “stomach-cutting”, and that is exactly what my little lion is doing! You can see the hilt of his sword sticking out of his stomach. This is a very interesting piece, and according to the bottom of the jar, was made in Okinawa.



5) Crowley, the Crown-Tailed Betta


I bought Crowley to be a pet and a decoration when Christopher and I moved into our Saugerties, NY apartment this past February. His underside is bright red, and the rest of him blue, green and purple. An exceptionally easy-to-care-for pet, and an exceptional beauty, this little guy is my cooking-buddy.

6) The Green Lady and the Forest Painting


I fell in love with this ceramic relief of the green lady (Google green man/green lady from Celtic mythology, or read this Wikipedia page if you need to brush up As a lover of everything IRISH, I immediately fell in love with the smiling face sticking out from the flowers and leaves. Christopher and I bought her while passing through Cherry Valley, New York, at a Celtic shop there. Everything there was amazing, but the Green Lady was my favorite. Hand-made by the owner of the shop, she hung there for twenty years before I came along!  The forest painting next to it is an acrylic on plastic painting, made by Christopher’s father, Joseph Martiello. He gave it to us when he came to visit, and when I saw how well the greens in it went with both my kitchen and the Green Lady, I decided to hang it beside her!


7) Piggy Kitchen Gadgets

Above my stove is my collection on Piggy Kitchen Gadgets. I have been slowly collecting the set since 2009, when my mum sent me the whisk and the rubber spatula. The spoons, tongs, and finally, egg-timer followed, and I completed the set in early 2012. There may be more out there, and if there are, I will find them!


This collection is made by Joie, and is called the Piggy Wiggy kitchen set, in case anyone wants them too!


8) Owl Teapot/Cup for One

This was a Christmas present in 2011 from my sister, and I love it! It is a teapot for one, sitting on top of a mug. The set also includes a teabag holder, which I forgot to photograph. I really love owls, and I love tea, so this was a perfect gift for me!


9) Vintage Mickey and Minnie Cookie Jars

Perched atop my refrigerator are these adorable, vintage Mickey and Minnie cookie jars, from the 1940s. My husband found them in mint condition at an antique store in Saugerties, and bought them for me this past Valentine’s Day. Whimsical and romantic, I feel lucky to have them ^_^


10) Magnets from Places We’ve Been

My husband started collecting magnets from places the two of us have been, including Las Vegas, Hawaii, and San Francisco, to name a few. While the collection isn’t enormous yet, there is plenty of room for growth, and we look forward to adding to it. I love the personal touch it gives the kitchen, and now, when we travel, we look for unique magnets to add to our collection.


11) Precious Piggy Calendar

Yes, I do LOVE pigs, especially in my kitchen! That is why, this past December, when I saw the 2012 Precious Piggy Calendar by David McEnery in Barnes and Noble, I had to have it. Each month features a new pig, in an adorable black and white photo that has one spot of color. As you can see, September features an adorable piglet in a basket with a bright yellow sunflower. There is a 2013 edition, here:

I must get the new one before the new year!


12) Wooden Wizard

My husband, Christopher, found this wooden wizard/cloaked wanderer statue at a yard sale in Monterey, California. I immediately likened it to a Lord of the Rings sort of decoration, and have loved it ever since! Presiding over my knives, this wizard is sort of like the guy from the Led Zeppelin Album, or could have been an interpretation of Gandalf. Either way, the geek in me loves having him around!



Feel free to share with us what makes your kitchen, well…YOUR KITCHEN, in the comment box, or via Facebook! Like Pink Forsythia on Facebook at .

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hong Kong Pineapple Buns


  I received a postcard recently from Hong Kong, written by a sixteen-year old girl who said that she likes to cook. I asked her if there were any recipes that I, as a foodie and lover of international cuisine, should try. She sent me a recipe for Hong Kong Pineapple Buns, which have no pineapple in them, and are named for the way they look after they are baked.

  The pineapple buns are popular in many areas in Asia, and in Cantonese, are called bo lo baau. The word bo lo means pineapple, and baau refers to something similar to a bun in Chinese cuisine. They consists of two parts, a bread-like bottom layer, and a sugar-cookiesque top layer.

To make the pineapple buns, you have to mix a batch of sweet bread dough, let it rise twice, and then mix up the topping. After the two parts are layered together, they are baked, and come out beautifully. Or at least, they are supposed to!

Step One: Form the Sweet Bread Dough


Step Two: Rise and Punch, Rise and Punch


Step Three: Make Toppinghkpr3

Step Four: Knead Topping, Chill One Hour


Step Five: Form Buns (12), Divide Topping, Top Buns, Score Surface, Brush on Egg White hkpr5

Step Six: Bake Ten to Fifteen Minutes


Step Seven: Serve!


My buns aren’t as pretty as I’d have liked…but I guess practice will make perfect! The professional ones really DO look like little round pineapples :)

These are the links I was given to use:

for the sweet bread dough:

for the pineapple topping:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Now on Facebook!

I have created a Facebook page for my blog and Etsy shop! Please visit me at and like the page! This would mean a lot to me as I try and build something here. My blog updates will be posted on that page, as well as information about my line of jewelry and accessories. I am hoping to build a larger audience this way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My First Craft Fair!!!

This past Saturday, I, for the first time, publicly peddled my wares, at my first Craft Fair! Saturday, September 15th was the Apple Festival, Craft Fair, and Car Show at Golden Hill Health Care Center, in Kingston, New York, where my husband and business partner, Christopher, works.

It was a beautiful day for a beginner like me (I had no canopy or tent ^_^), sunny, breezy, and altogether lovely. I had a notion of what I was in for, and came well-prepared. I took my time setting up my table (color-coordinated to match my Pink Forsythia colors: shades of pink, black, and white), because display, I believe, is one of the most important parts of sales. You have to LURE in the customers with your image. The second important thing is the quality and interest of the items that you have displayed. If your items do not individually speak to the customers as much as the display did as a whole, you aren't going to sell anything. That was the philosophy I went into this with, and all in all, it served me pretty well!

I made a sign on foam-core poster board, with Sharpies in light pink and black. I love Sharpies, so simple, so versatile, so incredibly indispensible! Propping it up on my collapsible easel, it was the perfect advertisement. I covered two 12-can soda boxes with bright pink wrapping paper to contrast with my light pink table cloth, and used them as an extra tier on my table. A couple on mannequin necks, and a cute jewelry holder in a sassy pink skirt added visual interest to the mix, and once my product was all set out, the table really looked complete. My little hand-written pink and black tags labeled everything, and I felt good about the set up.

My jewelry and cute ceramic coasters were the biggest hit at my table! I sold more than I thought I would, and met so many great people who appreciated the art in my work. I feel so lucky and blessed to have had such a lovely day, full of sales, conversation, and smiles. Also, having my dear mum's booth directly across the way was wonderful, I could pass much of the time making faces at her and yelling over snippets of conversation.

I earned enough money to buy this computer, which is allowing me smoother access to the internet, and thus my blog. So, I guess you could say that because of this craft-fair, I will be able to keep all of you far more updated than I had previously been able to. Thanks to my sister-in-law, I have another craft fair next month, in Long Island, on Saturday, October 13th. If it goes anything like this one, I should be able to get a new camera for still shots :) My video camera is great for video, but it lacks a lot in the photo-taking department!

My booth at Golden Hill's 2012 Apple Festival!

Photo courtesy of Mum’s Phone

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Restaurant Review: Violette


   Last night, thanks to a great deal we found online, my husband and I decided to dine at Violette, Restaurant and Wine Bar, located in the village of Woodstock, New York.  Violette is a charming establishment, listed online as serving French and New American cuisine, with seasonal menus that serve fresh, local ingredients as often as is possible. According the website (, the restaurant is run by Chef Daniel Rabiner, and his mother, Gladys, and has been open since 2003.

  Converted from an old house, the restaurant itself has a bar area, a lovely, romantically lit dining room, and an out-door patio option. The French Deco posters, the chairs of mismatched colors, restored hardwood floors, and exposed wooden beams added to the charm of the place, and from the time we were seated, we found ourselves satisfied to be immersed in this clean, comfortable environment.

  We were seated promptly (we had reservations, this helped as tables for two ran out quickly), and given menus by the chef himself. Our server brought us ice water and an interesting cone-shaped dish filled with crisp handmade potato chips, and took our drink orders. As Violette is also a wine bar, I chose a glass of Riesling, and was not disappointed by the house selection.

  Pursuing the menu (which was, as advertised, seasonal) we found our biggest problem was which entree to select. Everything was a viable option, everything looked delicious. My husband, noticing the large and varied seafood selection, decided upon a Trout Amandine, served with potato puree and sauteed spinach, and I chose an Entree off the "Special Entree" list, which I found is not listed on their current online menu, Pork Loin Siciliano. We decided to share a dish off the tapas menu for an appetizer, Chinese Spring Rolls with Spicy Mustard. Upon taking our order, our server brought us a warm bread basket with whipped, very spreadable butter.

  When our appetizer arrived, it was very fresh, and very hot. Four pieces were arranged on a fresh salad made of baby greens and sliced almonds, and I was pleased to see that it was indeed, a large enough appetizer for two people. I noticed that in addition the the Spicy Mustard, the Spring Rolls were also served with a delicious fruit sauce, to counterbalance the pungent heat of the mustard. Being unadvertised on the menu, it was a lovely surprise, and I believe the most successful part of the altogether satisfying dish. I later learned that the sauce was a puree of apple, mango, and orange. The Spring Rolls themselves were much crisper than West Coast Spring Rolls, and I believe this worked in their favor. The crisp outer shell complemented the fresh, tender vegetable filling, and when accompanied with both sauces, made for the perfect bite. 

  Our entrees arrived at the same time, which is an important feature of a good restaurant. My husband's trout was stuffed with almonds, cooked in a delicious butter-based sauce, and garnished liberally on top with piped potato puree. The sauteed spinach was served on the side of the dish. It was quite attractive, and I wish our camera-phone could have done the the photo better justice. The only flaw in this dish is was easily fixed at the table : the potato puree needed salt and pepper.

   The Pork Loin Siciliano consisted of two pieces of pork loin cooked in a great tomato sauce with spinach and fresh mozzarella sandwiched between. Everything was fresh, delicious, and perfectly complementary, and needed no extra seasoning. 

 Altogether our experience was relaxing, delicious, and worth-while. The service was prompt and polite, and the atmosphere was pleasant. The food was full of simple, fresh ingredients combined to make the most of the flavors, and was not disappointing. I would suggest that you log onto, and order a discounted Violette gift certificate, and try it for yourself!