Let's talk about the real star of the show when it comes to iced tea.
Although often underwhelming, the ice plays an important role... It's why I love grabbing iced tea to-go from Green Sage Café here in Asheville (crushed ice perfection). It's why I monitor the amount of ice used so the tea isn't watered down or (GASP) not cold enough. And now I'm ready to upgrade my ice to fancy up my usual morning tea.
I'm looking at these gorgeous, fancy ice balls and cubes as an easy way to infuse your tea. Hear me out...
You will need ice trays that create oversized ice cubes or balls, these are often used for alcoholic drinks. Fill 1/4 of the way up with filtered water. Add in your favorite herbs such as mint, basil, rosemary, lavender. When adding herbs, put a lot! A small sprig won't cut it. Fill up with water to 3/4 full.
Ice will form over night then gently remove from the tray. Plop ice in your favorite glass/jar/mug/pitcher. Pour tea over (pick your favorite variety for an herbal infusion) and let sit over ice for an hour. A tea brewed a bit stronger works well here.
Once an hour has passed, the herbs have sunk their teeth into your tea and it's time to enjoy! So refreshing.
Got a sunny day coming up? Let's make some good ol' fashioned sun tea. It is summer, after all.
How does sun tea work exactly?
Tea will release flavors into any water, warm or cool. Hot water simply speeds up the process. So you're just taking the long road to a delicious pitcher of tea and avoiding turning on your stove on a hot day.
Fill a clear glass pitcher or dispenser with filtered water. Add 7-9 tea bags per gallon of water. I'm a fan of black tea, the flavors evolve nicely in the sun and you can add just about anything to it.
Set your pitcher out in the sun, unsweetened, for 2-3 hours of direct light.
Adjust the amount of tea bags added based on how strong you like your tea. Adjust the amount of time you leave in sun based on how dark you like your tea (and the strength of the sun).
Bring your pitcher indoors and sweeten as you like. I'd start with 1/8 cup of sugar/honey/agave because I'm conservative with how sweet I take my drinks. In fact, I drink my tea unsweetened but I know it's the south! Lemons or mint are also tasty additions.
From what I hear, sun tea won't last long so drink up with friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Please know that there may be some images in this post unsuitable for those under 18.
Creating portraits with someone is such an interesting process. You get together and throw concepts around that suit both of you. The final images should represent the person in a beautiful light. Showing them when they're enjoying themselves and relaxed. Showing them when they feel confident in front of the camera or when they don't even notice it.
I love the idea of my clients looking back and being really happy to remember themselves in that moment.
Tristin and I had a blast shooting in the river. It was a hot evening and the water was the perfect temperature, although she could have done without the slimy rocks under her toes.
We'd be laughing and joking one minute then get into photo-mode the next and end up with a very serious image. I did manage to catch her cracking a smile a few times though.
A personal goal of mine was to capture movement with her dress(es) as the breeze blew by.
We found a little alcove to take some final shots before the sun set. They were final shots because she was about to be soaking wet too! It's always fun to stretch boundaries and get creative with portraits. No rules.
Thank you Tristin for having fun with me in the river and for just being yourself in these photos.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in a portrait session.
This one is easy guys. Grab your favorite ice cream, see mine above!
I was craving popsicles likes none other this month and so happy to share these! My sister gifted the molds to me (easy find at TJ MAxx or BB&B), delicious strawberries are in season and Philip whipped up a beautifully simple recipe!
Plus it's the first day of summer? Perfect.
Happy summer to you all!
It starts with a strawberry. Smack in the middle of strawberry season.
I'm always drawn more to a fruit-filled dessert than a chocolatey one and strawberry shortcake is no exception.
It's simple to make at home which is wonderful since I've yet to experience any phenomenal restaurant versions.
Join me each week this June to indulge in favorite summer sweets, most will be southern and locally inspired.
Recipe by Philip Bollhoefer...
The biscuits (yields 12):
Cake flour 2cup
All purpose flour 2cup
Kosher salt 1tbsp
Baking powder 1tbsp
Baking soda 1tsp
Butter (cold) 2 sticks cut into 1/4inch cubes
Sift dry ingredients together. Mix sifted dry ingredients and butter. In 4 batches, pulse the butter flour mixture in food processor until butter is the size of small peas.
Transfer butter and flour mixture into a large mixing bowl and create a well in the middle. Using your hands combine buttermilk until incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX. The dough should just come together and look ragged.
On a floured work surface roll dough out and fold over itself. Repeat 3 times. Once layers have been formed roll dough out approximately 1 inch thick. Cut into 2.5" rings.
Brush tops of biscuits with buttermilk. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes/until lightly browned.
Quartered strawberries 2cups
Sugar in the raw 2tbsp
Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur 1tbsp
Lemon juice 1tsp
Mix all ingredients together. Let strawberry mixture sit overnight or at least while biscuits bake.
Let biscuits cool then open them up. Scoop vanilla ice cream and place on bottom half of biscuits and top with strawberries and garnish with powdered sugar.
Chocolate is usually one of the last types of dessert that I order or bake. I reach for the blueberry filled crumbles, chocolate chip cookies or plain jane treats like shortbread.
That being said, these simple chocolate tarts are killer.
Philip created these with inspiration from his stacks of cookbooks and added his own touches, including a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
The tart dough:
All purpose flour 2cup + 3tbsp
Kosher salt 3tsp
Cold unsalted butter 8oz cut into ¼ in cubes
Ice water 1/4cup
Combine 1 cup of flour and the salt. Add flour and salt mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment for approx. while adding the butter in 4 additions. Stir until well combined, approx. 1 minute. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add ice water and mix just until the dough comes together. There should be no visible pieces of butter left. Flatten the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough chill for at least 2 hours.
Unwrap the dough a place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin pound the top of the dough to get the rolling process started. Roll the dough out to approximately 1/8 inch thick and cut for the desired tart mold (can us a muffin pan). Place tart dough into desired mold. Use parchment paper or a coffee filter to cover the tart dough once in the mold. Fill the coffee filter/parchment with raw rice. This will keep the dough from rising while the tart bakes.
Bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes until the shells are golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove from mold and reserve.
55-65% cocoa dark chocolate 8oz
Heavy cream 8oz
Cold butter 1tsp
Place chocolate in a hear resistant mixing bowl. Heat cream in medium sauce pan over high heat. Once the cream bowls poor over chocolate and mix until completely melted. Add cold butter and stir.
While the gnache is still warm poor into tart shells. Finish with a pinch of fluer de see on top!
Every Monday during the month of May I'm sharing my favorite salads, most are easy to pack for work lunch and they all highlight ingredients local to WNC.
Using strawberries in salads during the summer is very common at our house. This year, we're enjoying our first CSA and using ingredients in new ways helps you use up all we get each week without waste.
Combine the following for a simple tossed salad:
Spinach (locally available as early as spring)
Strawberries (begin fruiting in May in WNC)
Goat cheese (again, gotta love Three Graces Dairy!)
Chopped pecans (plenty of NC pecan growers if you don't already have some in your pantry leftover from fall pie making!)
Your favorite balsamic dressing
Catch you next week veg lovers.
Second salad of the month, this one may be tougher to pack to-go. Still, it's great to create at home and still simple!
Local ingredients: arugula, sweet potatoes & cheese!
Roast small pieces of sweet potato (tossed in olive oil and salt & pepper) at 350 until tender, about 20-30 min.
Coat your arugula in lemon, olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.
After sweet potato has been cooked, toss in arugula.
Top with thinly shaved slices of Goldie's Gouda from Three Graces.
This is a great spring salad when these ingredients specifically are available in our area before all the fun summer items arrive.
Man, I love arugula.
Part II, less talk and more color.
Let's just admire how wonderful all the shades of green are.
Look one was a gorgeous LWD Couture emerald gown with embellishments to highlight the waist. The cloud coverage was strong and the fog was rolling in. We were on this mountain bald at a lucky time of year when the grass was getting green yet the trees were still bare. It felt like we were in Ireland.
We really got to show off the Susie Saltzman ring and Floressence Flowers bouquet in Look 2. The second gown by LWD Couture was a hue somewhere between purple and grey, a smokey color that was so flattering. The bouquet was full of peach and green with hints of purple, the whole look flowed so well.
Then the sun set quickly, we took advantage and just kept snapping.
Invited by the best Asheville duo, Jameykay & Arlie, to this styled shoot, I could not have been more thrilled! Jameykay and Arlie are friends of mine and continuously rocking out their own styled shoots; I was so honored to be asked along to this one!
First off I'm sharing my favorite black and whites. Kendra modeled and she became the perfect accentuation with the mountaintop setting. The sun set fast and the breeze blew in but you'd never know by what pro Kendra is.
Each gown was created by Liz White Couture, another incredible local talent. Her gowns wow me each time I see them in person. In part two of this this post, I'll share the color photos to enjoy the detail of each dress.
I'm all about brides going for an alternative look and I can really see some brides-to-be embracing a style like this.
We can't forget the other details here. The floral crown was created by Florescence Flowers and what I've enjoyed about their work is how they can run with a concept. When J&A set this up, they provided minimal direction and Floresscence just gets it.
And the ring. It complements the gown so well and is another touch of an alternative bride.
You'll likely see Susie Saltzsman work all over Instagram, tucked into every beautiful wedding.
Pt. II will show off the shades of green, peach, and purple-grey, stay tuned.
I found just the right time to make your Cinco de Mayo plans.
A real crowd pleaser, the margarita. On the rocks.
I love a good frozen margarita too. I'm also happy to share a pitcher. As long as the ingredients are real (see below), I'm good to go.
Fresh & simple recipe from Serious Eats:
Lime wedge, plus 2 lime wheels for garnish
1 tablespoon coarse salt, for glass rims
4 ounces high quality blanco tequila (see note above)
2 ounces Cointreau
1 1/2 ounces fresh juice from 2 limes
Run lime wedge around the outer rims of two rocks glasses and dip rims in salt. Set aside. In cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Fill with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled, about 15 seconds (the bottom of a metal shaker should frost over). Fill glasses with fresh ice and strain margarita into both glasses. Garnish with lime wheels and serve.
And just like that, April is over! What a fantastic start to a beautiful summer here in WNC. Cheers to 5 gorgeous cocktails we shared each Friday of this month.
Let's see what kind of summer series I'll cook up for May...
A Pimm's Cup. Incredibly refreshing and easy to drink. Citrus, mint and cucumber always garnish my Pimm's.
Since this is my favorite of all 5 cocktails I'll be sharing with you this month, it makes sense that I post it on my birthday, cheers!
Great story plus recipe found here on Eater:
1.5 ounces Pimm’s No.1
½ ounce Hendrick’s Gin
½ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Fever Tree ginger beer
Juice from 1 lemon wedge
Build above ingredients over ice. Top with Fever Tree ginger beer. Garnish frivolously with fresh fruits of the season and some form of greenery. Cucumber, however, is a must.