Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Friday Flotsam: Fake-Out Watch Bracelet, Wooden Book Blocks, Watermelonade, Gingham, and a Sailor’s Wallpaper

In Fashion, Feathering the Nest, Flotsam, Food on May 28, 2010 at 9:26 am

Friday Flotsam: wherein I share all the best that’s floated my way this week, courtesy of brilliant blogs.

Since some have asked, flotsam refers to anything that accidentally falls overboard, whereas jetsam is anything cast overboard deliberately.  Ah, the delights of nautical terminology.

Before we get to the flotsam, I’d like to thank all the new readers.  I couldn’t be more thrilled to have you.  I’d love to know what you like (and dislike, really) about 5thjoy, so email me (admin@5thjoy.com), message me on Twitter, or leave comments below.

Now, let’s kick of the summer with something shiny, shall we?

1. Tom Binns bracelet.

2. Leanne Shapton’s reimagines classic novels as wooden blocks, available at John Derian. Via The Neo-Traditionalist.

3. Watermelonade: perhaps the perfect summer drink.  Via food52.

4.  This gingham bakeware is begging to take a field trip on a floral picnic blanket.   Via thekitchn.


5.  Fine Little Day ship wallpaper, so apropos in your kid’s living quarters.  Via Poppytalk.

Shrimp & Asparagus Barley “Risotto”

In Food on May 27, 2010 at 10:19 am


It’s been a food-heavy week here on 5thjoy, but I’ve got to get this recipe out to you before we see the last of spring.  And I may have already missed that mark.

Who isn’t a fan of risotto?  It’s warm, silky, and sops up cheese like nobody’s business.  That said, it’s a bear to cook at home.

Now, it’s not so bad if it’s the main dish and you’re cooking for four people.  The problem being that I usually cook for eight or more, and no one wants to sit down to a plate of rice for dinner these days.  Except my husband.  I love you, you crazy carb-huffing freak.  The rest of the family, including me, appreciates a bit of protein and a load of vegetables with their risotto, which rules out the vigilance required for ceaseless stirring.  The other dishes stubbornly refuse to cook themselves.

The answer is to make “risotto” from barley.  I’m not saying it’s exactly like the real deal, but it’s in the same comfort food arena with two key benefits:  one can make it for a crowd, and there’s more nutritional bang for your buck in barley.

My favorite part of this recipe?  No asparagus waste!  It’s such brilliance to use the asparagus water to flavor the barley, and to puree the tough stalks with lemon zest to further flavor the end product.

I borrowed from Gourmet and Epicurious to create the following, and I tripled it.  If you’re doubling or tripling the barley will take longer to cook (10-20 mins).  Do not skimp on the lemon.  I was a little short on lemon zest, and it could have used the additional zing.  I only had a pound of asparagus, and it was fine even when everything else was tripled, though it would be better with more.

Also, I used frozen shrimp from Trader Joe’s.  If you use fresh, give them 2-3 minutes to cook through.

Shrimp & Asparagus Barley Risotto

Makes 4 servings. Can easily be doubled or tripled.

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1/2 cup) plus additional for serving.  I subbed Pecorino Romano.
  • 1/2 lb frozen shrimp, thawed and shelled
  • Cut top third of each asparagus stalk diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Set aside, then coarsely chop the remaining tough stems. Bring water (5 1/2 cups) and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan (if you’re doubling or tripling use a stock pot.)  Add chopped asparagus and cook, uncovered, until very tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, add the lemon zest and garlic, and pulse with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth.  Set aside.

    Add reserved asparagus tips and slices to boiling water and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Reserve cooking liquid.  Rinse asparagus under cold water to stop cooking if you like – I didn’t bother.   Drain well and reserve in another bowl.

    Cook onion with pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot (If you’re doubling or tripling, just wipe the  stock pot with a paper towel before re-heating ad adding oil) over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add barley and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

    Add wine and boil, stirring, until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

    Add reserved asparagus-cooking liquid and bring to a boil, covered, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender (it should be chewy) and mixture thickens to a stewlike consistency, 35 to 40 minutes.  When tripled, this took more like 50 minutes.

    Take this time to throw together a salad, grill or roast additional vegetables and meat, or just breathe deeply and appreciate the absence of stirring.

    When barley is cooked, stir in asparagus purée, asparagus-tip mixture, and enough additional water to thin to desired consistency and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Add shrimp and stir until warmed through, about 1 minute.  Stir in cheese, then season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional cheese on the side.

    Scallops with Miso Sauce, Press Love for 5thjoy, and My First Cooking Video

    In Food on May 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    As promised, here’s that delicious scallop dish my brother made for Mother’s Day.  Since he stuck to the recipe, I’ll send you on over to Epicurious for it.  Yes, that’s Parmesan you see on top of those miso-glazed beauties.  Parmesan and miso –  it works!  Don’t ask me how.

    In other food news, The Gloucester Daily Times ran an article about 5thjoy today, and I couldn’t be more honored.  But it doesn’t stop there: the delightful Heather Atwood and I made a cooking video on pesto di parma prosciutto.  Be kind, it was my first ever.  Oh, the hair.  Oh, the humanity.

    Heather is a cracker-jack food writer with a nose for quality ingredients and a knack for style.  I highly suggest keeping up with her on Twitter.

    Though I’ve thanked him elsewhere, I’d be remiss to not to also thank Joey Ciarmataro and his blog Good Morning Gloucester for their glowing coverage of 5thjoy, and for posting a direct link to the prosciutto video, here.  Joey’s an old friend whose blog about everything Cape Ann does our local community a huge service.  If you live here, love it here, or miss it, GMG is a must-read every day.  Joey’s at the Twitter party too, so jump on over and follow him.

    A big welcome to new readers from GMG and the GDT!  Comment below, shoot me an email at admin@5thjoy.com, or follow 5thjoy – guess where? – on Twitter.

    Mad for Maillots

    In Fashion on May 25, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Submerged watercolor maillot, $298 at Anthropologie

    It should hit 79 degrees today, which puts yours truly in a swimmy state of mind. One pieces look awfully stylish this year. (That is the sound of someone getting older.) I gravitate more towards the screen goddess shapes than the eighties side cut-outs. Here are some I’m loving.

    Don’t miss the vintage Etsy options at the bottom.

    Daybreak Maillot, $148 at Anthropologie

    Zimmermann orchid twist swimsuit, $245 at netaporter.com

    Zimmermann thorn corset swimsuit, $230 at netaporter.com

    Vogie one piece, $88 at Urban Outfitters

    Vogue one piece, back. $88 at Urban outfitters.

    Accomodating maillot, $188 at Anthropologie

    Vintage Rose Marie maillot, $42 from LivingDollVintage on etsy.com

    Vintage ruffle swimsuit, $64 from allencompanyinc on etsy.com

    Vintage navy polka dot swimsuit, $29 from pineapplemint on etsy.com

    Vintage pink and black chevron swimsuit, $32 from shopREiNViNTAGE on etsy.com

    Vintage black and white blousy swimsuit, $28 from piratesb00ty on etsy.com

    Vintage Bill Blass one-shouldered swimsuit, $48 from shopREiNViNTAGE on etsy.com

    Parmesan-Thyme Crackers for Grown Ups

    In Food on May 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

    As promised, I made MaryAnn McCormick’s crackers this weekend, and they did not disappoint.   If you’ve ever tasted a Cheez-It or Kraft mac and cheese and wondered where the heck the cheese was (the worst is going back for a second bite, as if the real cheese flavor will magically reveal itself), this is the cracker for you.  This is what I wish Cheez-Its tasted like, with added interest from the thyme.

    A couple notes: I substituted Pecorino Romano (that’s what I had on hand) for Parmesan.  From the looks of the browning on mine, I cooked them a tad longer than she did, and while they didn’t taste burnt they did kind of pulverize instantly in your mouth.   Next time I might cut them a bit thicker and cook them a 19 minutes instead of 20. And I’d kick up the cayenne, too.  Watch MaryAnn make these crackers here.

    You can buy MaryAnn’s lovely “cookies for grown ups” (read: spicy, surprising, sophisticated) online, or locally at Duckworth Beach Gourmet and Lula’s Pantry.

    In other goings on: last year my husband’s aunt brought us cuttings from his grandmother’s irises.  He planted them and promptly forgot where, so we were delighted to see them bloom.  You can tell we haven’t attacked the landscaping by the scraggly wasteland behind them, but when we get around to it these will find a new and permanent home.

    Friday Flotsam: Parm-Thyme Crackers, Ballet Leggings, Stripes & More

    In Fashion, Feathering the Nest, Flotsam, Food on May 21, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Remember these lamps and how I was stumped on what to put in them?

    Well, I step out my door one morning to find a delivery from the driftwood fairy:  a gorgeous knotty bunch, tangled with seaweed and tied in salvaged rope.  Thanks, Mom.  Can’t think of a better way to set off the marble top and silver candlesticks.

    Now, onto Friday Flotsam.  Lots of stripes, and don’t expect them to let up anytime soon.  I can’t seem to get enough.

    1. I’m making Mary Ann McCormick’s parmesan and thyme crackers this weekend. Via the ever-relevant Heather Atwood.

    2. This hat packs a lot of style for $50. Via Mrs. Lilien.

    3. Get your little ones connect-the-dot thank you notes. Via Black Eiffel.

    4. One cannot have too many sources for affordable art. Welcome Art Muse, via Apartment Therapy.

    5. These leggings are fun. Via High Street Market.

    6. The New Brahmin wants to bring back the off-white dinner jacket. Huzzah!

    7. French Connection’s sunrise weave clutch, via Who What Wear.

    8. This crazy-good-looking Vineyard home in Elle Decor may have made me a Meg Ryan convert.

    How to Make Matcha Tea

    In Food on May 20, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Sixth months ago my sister-in-law sent me toddling off to their guest casita with a mug of steamy, frothy, green matcha tea, just the type of unexpected culinary experience one comes to expect from Los Angeles. The flavor was beguiling: vegetal, bitter, a little sweet at the finish.  It’s not the type of flavor one loves immediately; it’s the kind one tastes and says, “I would like to learn to love you.”

    If you’re looking for a reason to learn to love it, they abound.  Matcha is made of pulverized green tea leaves, so you’re actually consuming the plant matter, not just steeping it in water.  Every cup has ten times the antioxidants of regular green tea.  We know regular green tea is great for your skin, so increasing the antioxidants by the tenth power can’t hurt.  Matcha’s high chlorophyll content helps rid your body of toxins, it’s crammed with cancer-fighting catechins, and mood enhancing amino-acids (which incidentally contribute to its umami creaminess).  Read more about the growing process and health benefits.

    Another benefit to ingesting the leaf itself is the steady caffeine drip once it’s in your system.  I never feel shaky, sweaty or amped up after a cup.  The mild, prolonged energy boost leaves me feeling bright and ready to focus.

    So that’s WHY you might want to drink matcha.  What about the how?

    First, look for Japanese organic, shade-grown matcha.  I tried three teas:  DoMatcha (you may have seen that one at WholeFoods), O-Cha’s Organic Matcha Kaoru Supreme, and Yuuki-Cha’s Organic Uji Matcha Tenkei Tori.  I prefer the Yuuki-Cha (to me it tastes grassy and clean), but I happily drink all of them.

    You’ll need the tea, a bowl, a small scoop, a sifter, and a bamboo whisk, known as a chasen:

    The chasen is critical to getting the  right froth.  If you’re buying the tea it’s worth buying the chasen.  This one comes with a handy bamboo scoop.

    1. Using the bamboo scooper, scoop 1 1/2 scoops (about 1 tsp) onto the sifter over the bowl.

    2. After shaking the sifter back and forth, small pebbles of tea will remain.  Break these gently with the back of the bamboo scoop until they’re small enough to pass through the sifter.

    3. Add a small amount of hot water, just enough to make a paste with the sifted tea.  (It should not be boiling.  Boil it and then allow it to cool a bit.)

    4. Once the matcha is mostly dissolved, add water to about 2/3 the bowl’s capacity.  You’ll need plenty of space for whisking.

    5. Briskly whisk, making M or W shapes in the bowl.  It’s helpful not to drag the whisk across the bottom; you’ll be able to whisk faster if you’re just agitating the liquid.  Whisk until you have an even covering of small bubbles.

    Need to see the whisking in action? See video here.

    Although it’s not at all traditional, you can add milk or soy milk and use an electric frother to make a latte.  I add a few drops of agave syrup, which would also be frowned upon by traditionalists.  But hey, it’s tasty.

    Enjoy your matcha and if you get serious consider Yukka-Cha’s beautiful bowls.  Winter bowls have vertical sides to retain heat, while summer bowls have sloped sides for cooling.

    Crowd Pleaser: Roasted Halibut Puttanesca on Large Garlic Croutons

    In Food on May 18, 2010 at 9:25 am

    The only thing better than cooking a festive, healthy meal for your family? When one of them comes to your house and does it for you.

    On Mother’s Day, my brother Jon showed up with five pounds of halibut, three pounds of scallops and the will to turn both into a feast for 12 (plus kiddies).

    The halibut, stacked on a base of toasted garlic bread and topped with a sauce reminiscent of puttanesca, is a great dish for a crowd.  The fish takes only 12-15 mins to cook  – and that’s if you’re cooking one huge fillet.  Smaller 8 oz fillets would take only 8 minutes.  The sauce could be prepped and assembled the morning of or the night before and stored in the fridge.  I’d still save the cooking for right before, so as to serve everything warm, but getting the chopping done early means you’d actually have time to taste that delicious cheese you bought for your guests.

    What of the scallops?  Miso-glazed, delicious and deserving of their own post.  Stay tuned.

    Roasted Halibut Puttanesca on Large Garlic Croutons

    • 3 pounds plum tomatoes, cored, diced
    • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
    • 15 anchovy fillets, minced, or 6 tsp anchovy paste
    • 1 cup whole pitted kalamata olives
    • 1/2 cup capers
    • 9 large garlic cloves (6 minced, 3 halved)
    • 5 lbs halibut, filleted in one piece
    • 15 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 12 1/2-inch-thick slices country bread, white or wheat
    • 1 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

    The Look of Enamel, All Grown Up in Porcelain

    In Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    The Marie Antoinetta porcelain bowl, $219 at Greta.  Spotted on Handmade Charlotte.

    When I spied these bowls over on Handmade Charlotte, I thought immediately of the Picasso sketches I’d seen last week in New York (the Met and MoMA both have Picaso retrospectives through August):

    I also thought of the enamelware we used as kids, both to eat from and bang on, usually out of doors.

    These are not enamel; they are hand-painted porcelain, and the designer, Marta Giardini, was inspired by 18th century hairstyles.

    I’d love to see the bowl  overflowing with hydrangeas or peonies.  For casual dinners, I’d mix it with La Chamba oven-to-table cookware.

    The Marie Antoinetta bowls coordinate with the larger Louis collection pictured below.

    Friday Flotsam: A Giant’s Pocketwatch and 4 Modes of Storage

    In Fashion, Feathering the Nest, Flotsam on May 14, 2010 at 5:30 am


    1. Design*Sponge’s DIY pocket watch wall clock.

    2. This coffee sack basket is perfect for flip flops or magazines.  Via sfgirlbybay.

    3. Ilemi bags, via Seesaw.

    4. Lock & Co.’s hat box, via quintessentially b.

    5. The only backpack I’ll ever wear.  Here’s hoping it comes back in stock.  The only place I’ll wear it as a backpack:  my bike.  Via {frolic}.