Homing

Meat Pie Recipe

Homing refers to an animal’s ability to return to a place after traveling far away from it. While I know Keith loves living in the United States (he’s been here over 40 years for heaven’s sakes!) there will always be an England in his heart.  So it was brilliant to pop over the pond and soak up some real ale, visit with the relatives, and just be in that special British kind of groove for a couple of weeks this fall.First stop was in Surrey where we met up with Keith’s Auntie Pat.  No proper English home is without a garden and Pat always has one of the best. Love her hanging basket and bold use of color, so warm and welcoming.Next stop was arguably one of the most famous gardens in the United Kingdom: Sissinghurst, in nearby Kent. Originally owned by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson and now the National Trust, it is a must stop for garden lovers and English lit majors the world over. Vita was a Bloomsbury Group original, lover of Virginia Woolf, and gardener extraordinaire.

In her own words: “My liking for gardens to be lavish is an inherent part of my garden philosophy. I like generosity wherever I find it, whether in gardens or elsewhere. I hate to see things scrimp and scrubby. Even the smallest garden can be prodigal within its own limitations… Always exaggerate rather than stint. Masses are more effective than mingies.” Trust me there are no mingies at Sissinghurst!

It wasn’t huge, as English gardens go, but with allees and walls and hedges and borders, vistas, large and small abound. And the totally famous White Garden, even in fall, was a masterpiece of design with a lush fullness and texture that belied its ostensible lack of color. Green is a color after all. There was not a corner left untended–or unplanted and every turn brought another awesome vignette.I probably took two hundred more photos; everywhere I looked there was a better shot.  But, eventually cocktail hour approached and we were meeting a cousin at a fabulous pub and B & B in Tonbridge  so it was time to get a move on.

And time for a pint.Next we headed to Bognor Regis, a classic and classy seaside resort made famous by King George the V, and our home for the next few days while we enjoyed our niece Chantal’s wedding festivities.Between the seaside and the architecture Bognor Regis is a great place to stay so if you go to that part of the English coast give Brighton, the better known city just to the east, a miss–overcrowded and over-rated in my opinion–and stay in beautiful Bognor.  The wedding was a civil ceremony in the town hall in nearby Chichester. Here we are with Keith’s brother and his partner. (I decided against the fascinator; tempting as it was I felt it best to leave that look to the natives).  The reception was a double decker bus ride away at the groom’s parents nursery and garden center just outside of town.Sadly all good things must pass, even weddings with six surfboard salutes; it was time for us to get to work. First stop, Christies Auction House in London to see how master U.S. designer Michael S. Smith curated that week’s sale. The brief was to show how antiques can be incorporated into everyday design–a no brainer except it seems for everyone under 40 these days.For probably around $10,000. (if the auction estimates were to be believed) you could furnish a living room–and dining room! Granted they were not period antiques, but who cares? Everything in the salesroom, whether antique or merely vintage, was well made, decorative and well worth the cost. We would have and probably should have and may well do in the future.The other designer setting up the exhibition was Martin Brudnizki and his styling was to die for.Check this out.And this:There was just a mad assortment of things old and new and what a great treat to see how these two design Ninjas put this with that and altogether came up with a whole room you just wanted to take home. Kudos to Christie’s for coming up with the idea to show objects in situ.

Our next foray was to Kings Road. Home to iconic shop after iconic shop, it is a little bit of heaven for anyone with a penchant for interior design. Osborne and Little were showing Nina Campbell’s new line.The latest from George Smith was on display.Timothy Oulton (familiar to Americans through his RH connection) had just opened a new store called Bluebird. And clearly was channeling Michael S. Smith’s Christies vibe.Then we spent a long time at Trowbridge Galleries, the leading purveyors of art photography in England, and a vendor we are considering for the store.Next stop was the London  Design Centre,Chelsea Harbour .They were madly putting the finishing touches on many of the showrooms in preparation for the London Design Week. Loved the color of these sofas; clearly you can’t go wrong with pumpkin this fall.  It was a great way to wind up our trip and a fabulous opportunity to see the latest in home decor from a whole slew of world-class designers and renowned retailers.  But eventually all good things must end; it was time for us to go home.

Meat Pie

But I couldn’t stop thinking about the meal we had at Chantal’s wedding. Everyone was served a meat pie and then gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots were placed on the tables family style. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!So I googled meat pies until I figured out how to do it.  Here’s the Nelson Family version.

Meat Pie

First make your favorite beef stew.  I delegated this to Keith and he made  a Beef Bourguignon, using his favorite recipe from The James Beard Cookbook.  The first night we had this in classic stew form, the next night we made meat pies.  All you need to do is buy some puff pastry–it comes in your freezer section and thaws in the microwave if you forget, like I did, to take it out of your own freezer.

Using an inverted glass, cut circles out of the dough and place in greased cupcake tins.  Fill with stew–a good trick I read and followed–is keep the filling on the dry side.  Next top with a pastry lid, using a fork to press the dough around the edges to seal the pies shut. Cut two small slits in the top, and brush on some egg white. Cook in a pre-heated 390 degree for 30 minutes.

Not bad for a first try–easy as pie! Keith was happy to have a taste of home and now you can too.

11:43:33

In the Works

Italian Sausage and Peppers Recipe

June swept by me and now July promises to do the same. However, right now I have a quiet moment so I can get to a few updates.

Let’s start at The Monmouth Museum – From June 1 to September 3 they have a timely exhibit for all of us home decor addicts. They are showing artwork with sofas and while the official stance is the art stands alone, the sofa is secondary, personally, I like it when it all matches. Here is what they paired with our British Cottage entry. Nice huh? Try to get there. The museum is in Lincroft on the Brookdale Community College Campus and there is a great children’s wing so maybe pop in on a rainy day.

Meanwhile, we are assisting with a mixed bag of design projects that showcase the variety of living situations in our two rivers area.  First, there is the Alderbrook update, where a very young at heart senior is curating a lifetime of possessions into a thoroughly up-to-date transitional interior. Then there is the Atlantic Highlands petite chateau where the owners have reclaimed their second story from their young son.  And are in the process of transforming it from a playground into a sophisticated master bedroom suite and home office for the work at home most days professional mom. This is the before. You are not going to believe the after but because this is a work in progress we all have to wait for the wallpaper to arrive…

Keep your fingers crossed. We’re counting on fabulous wallpaper from Thibaut and a to die for bed from Century to make this transformation a success.

Meanwhile who wouldn’t welcome an excuse to hang out at this updated Shingle Style home in Fair Haven, literally steps away from the Navesink River, where almost empty nesters are creating a sophisticated coastal haven?  Think the first-class berth on the QE2, no starfish and fishing nets here!

While we are not designers, after thirty years of shifting furniture around we’ve developed pretty good eyes and are usually happy to weigh in if asked.  At the store we marry the new with the old, casual with chic, and farmhouse with modern every single day so we are well aware of the challenges you face.  It is all about showing the things you love to their best advantage whether you are just starting out, or easing into retirement.

Speaking of taking things you love and mixing them up; try doing that with green, red. orange and yellow peppers. Add some hot Italian sausage and you have a fabulous, fresh dinner that tastes like summer.

The Wall Street Journal sometimes skews a little too right for my taste but their weekend features section is totally on the mark and my new recipe go to source.  This is from their “Slow Food Fast” column.

Comfort-Food Classic: Italian Sausage and Peppers

(Recipe by Chef Mashama Bailey of the Grey, in Savannah, Ga.)

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds sweet Italian sausages
  • 2 pounds hot Italian sausages
  • 6 bell peppers, a mix of red, yellow, orange and green, cored, seeded and julienned
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Crusty bread, for serving

1. Swirl 2 tablespoons olive oil into a heavy pot over medium heat. Add sausages, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove sausages from pot and set aside.

2. To the same pot, add peppers, onions and garlic. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 15 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, remaining oil and vinegar. Return sausages to pot and turn gently to coat. Braise until tomatoes reduce to a sauce that cloaks peppers, about 10 minutes, adding splashes of water if pot looks dry. Serve with crusty bread.

Spring 2017 High Point Furniture Market

Bourbon-Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars Recipe

Lillian August for Hickory White at the Spring High Point Furniture Market 2017
Lillian August for Hickory White

Spring is always a busy time at British Cottage.  Besides the usual comings and goings on at the store, there is the spring furniture market in High Point, North Carolina to look forward to.  This year’s offerings did not disappoint.

We started out on Thursday afternoon at the Currey and Company preview party with a Bourbon with Bunny theme (as in Bunny Williams, designer extraordinaire).  We did not partake of the former, nor espy the latter, but we did see a fabulous array of chandeliers.  And you can see them soon, in person, at British Cottage!

Currey and Company Chandelier

Currey and Company ChandelierCurrey and Cmpany ChandelierCurrey and Company ChandelierNext up was the hunt for tables.  While we build a lot of our own product at our factory in Hungary, High Point Market gives us the opportunity to augment our inventory with some of the latest designs on the market.

42" Round Table with Bluestone top
Pedestal Table with a Bluestone top

Exhibit A:  we picked up this 41″ round table with a bluestone top.  It’s transitional, rustic, and beachy, and would be a winner just about everywhere.

7' table in whitewashed finish
Whitewashed 84″ table

Speaking of beachy, we thought this table was rather fun for those of us who live at the shore.  And at 84″ long by 36″ deep, it’s big, but not too big to fit into a banquette area.  Needless to say, you will be seeing it soon at British Cottage.

Oval dining table in white paint
Swedish style dining table

The Gustavian style is near and dear to our hearts, so we just had to buy this 9′ long table in that fabulous Swedish style.  Once again, it is as perfect at the shore as it is in town, and makes a change from the typical muted driftwood hues you see everywhere these days.

Long dining table with a trestle base, French Country Dining Table
Country French Dining Table

We loved the warm tones of this beautiful table made with vintage oak parquet and a bold trestle support; we even bought the faded rose-colored upholstered side chairs for a fin de siecle kind of vibe.

Next up was upholstery.  For the past several years we’ve been working with Hickory White, a family-owned company in North Carolina that makes fabulous sofas and chairs with hardwood frames and custom spring down cushions–in the United States!  Our visit to their showroom did not disappoint.

Oftentimes we will snap up the pieces made especially for the show, and in this case, Keith was not going to leave until we bought the chairs and couch you can see in these photos.  I even have a lead on the rug!

Hickory White Armchair
Keith at the Hickory White Showroom
Chesterfield Sofa, Velvet Sofa, Hickory White Upholstery
Velvet Chesterfield

Upholstered in an ecru colored velvet (actually, a fabric blend that wears like steel) this Chesterfield sofa exudes class and comfort.

Best upholstered Hickory White armchair
Tailored Armchair with Nailheads

The final piece in our Hickory White trilogy, this upholstered armchair in a tweedy fabric completes the ensemble.  Love the nailheads up top and along the perimeter.

Of course, this is just a taste of what we bought!  Stay tuned for updates on all these items, and more, on our New Arrivals page or on Facebook.

But wait–as usual, we have a recipe to share!  In honor of Bunny Williams (and bourbon), here’s one of our favorite recipes, just in time for this weekend’s Kentucky Derby.  Recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker‘s fabulous cookbook “Homemade Decadence”.

Bourbon-Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars (AKA Derby Pie Bars)

Shortbread Crust:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Filling:
1/4th cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (toasted if desired)
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (I used semisweet chocolate chips as I didn’t have dark chocolate)

Put a rack in the upper third of he oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter or pam spray.

For the crust, in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, confectioners sugar, butter, and salt. Beat the mixture until combined but crumbly, about 4 minutes. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and use your fingers to press the dough evenly across the bottom.

Bake the crust until lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool but leave the oven on.

For the filling, mix the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, salt and bourbon together. Once well mixed, add the pecan pieces and chocolate chips. Pour all the mixture evenly over the baked crust and bake again until set, about 25-30 minutes. The bars will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days if in the fridge.