I should never have apologized for those 10 days. Becuase in the grand scheme of things, grand being the nearly one MONTH of silence, 10 days seems like nothing. Silly, Cortney. I'm not one to make excuses (for the most part) and I promise these apologetic intros won't be a theme around here. That said, I'm sorry (again), let's catch up, shall we?
I'm still in Los Angeles. It's still unbelievably hot now that summer is full blown. I still don't have air conditioning and spend most of my weekends lying in a t-shirt on the floor willing the air from my open windows and a few fans to help me breathe—I know dramatic. I'm still cooking and baking (even for a few special guests), listening to music, trying out new looks—Jaclyn Hill's palette is more than I could've hoped for—and well, not documenting any of it, at least not here. Ha. This [blog] is going well, huh? But, focusing on a full—yet seemingly invisible to you—glass, let me tell you about Bedouine, a lovely brunch I hosted, and some other goodies that have kept my hands working and my mouth salivating this month—I'd like to think forgiveness is inevitable once I do.
Bedouine is a breath of fresh air. A promising up and coming singer-songwriter whose strong yet dreamy vocals, simply rich strumming and poignant lyrics serve as the most delightful time machine, instantly transporting you back to a time where sixties folk and seventies country-funk reigned. Although a 90s baby, that era is one that I have always adimred—through legends like Odetta, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, John Denver, and Leonard Cohen—particulaly because that was a time when storytelling and therefore songwriting was at its finest. From "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" to "Jolene," it's hard to keep track of how many timeless hits were created in those genres, during that time period. Don't even get me started on the Motown, Funk, and R&B I grew up on—same time, different genres, different legends. And, while there's something so charmingly nostalgic about Bedouine and her music—even the long, sky-blue, floral dress with billowy bell sleeves she wore to her album release show at the Bootleg felt like it belonged at Woodstock—nothing about her seems old. In an age where auto-tune, uninspired beats and riffs, and hardly compelling lyrics are the standard, Beoudine's songs like "One of These Days," "Back to You," and "Dusty Eyes" make me feel like I'm being [re]introduced to good, worthy music that evokes all emotions.
So, that's (basically) what I've been doing all this time. Listening to Bedouine's self-titled debut incessantly — while getting dressed, at work, driving on Mulholland, reading in my boiling room, and during brunch. Full disclosure: whenever I'm particularly stoked about an artist, I feel it's my duty to share them with those around me, you know, preach until everyone I know and love is converted. Upon hearing "Solitary Daughter," my mom was an instant fan of Bedouine. Success. And, not too long ago, I attempted to do the same with one of my best friends from college, Morgan, and her boyfriend, Matt, during their visit from New York.
Living across the country from your nearest and dearest friends isn't easy. Despite the convenience and regularity of FaceTime, Skype, email chains and text messaging, nothing compares to being able to hear their advice and laughs, witness their facial expressions and give them hugs in person. Therefore, any time the opportunity arrives, it's one to be celebrated. Morgan and Matt were spending most of their LA trip in the Valley, and wanted to get out for a bit, and I am always looking for a reason to entertain and try new recipes, so it was decided: Sunday Brunch at my place.
That morning I followed my typical non-singing Sunday morning schedule: 7:30 am wake up, Farmer's Market haul at 8 am, and off to church for 11 am service at 10:30. I didn't necessarily have to go to the market that morning, it probably would've saved me some time and self-induced stress, but to me, there's nothing better than cooking with the freshest ingredients. Plus, I whipped up Deb Perlman's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies late Friday night, and Yossy Arefi's Creme Scones on Saturday night, popped them in the freezer (a little tip from my friend Ina), so I was already at least one-step ahead.
I wanted brunch to be eerily similar to what Morgan and I would regularly have in the city: fresh, fun, equal parts sweet and savory, boozy, and full of laughs. Once I decided upon scones (with a light lemon curd), the fruit was inevitable. And, considering it's summer, I figured I couldn't go wrong with berries and Cotton Candy grapes. Can you ever go wrong with berries and Cotton Candy grapes? There needed to be a salad of some sort as well, but nothing too heavy or messy—after all, eating this feast in a hot apartment would require a great deal of energy to begin with. "Grapefruit & Avocado with Chives and a Citrus Champagne Vinaigrette it is," I thought! As for protein, eggs are always a great bet, and baked eggs are easy, and adorable in their individual ramekins. Oh, and a charcuterie board, for several reasons, but the main being Morgan loves cheese unless it's melted. Yes, you read that correctly, she HATES melted cheese, but a nice cool goat or feta, she's good to go! Lastly, mimosas—which never need an explanation—always mimosas.
Everything turned out great. Mogan and Matt were pleasantly surprised by the spread, but most importantly, they enjoyed themselves and I, their company. If you couldn't tell by now, Sundays are my favorite. Between church, the market, quiet time spent reading and listening music, and a few leisure hours of cooking and baking, I love how my day before an often crazy week is spent. And, when it includes quality time with friends, well, that's just perfect.
A Sunday Brunch
FOR THE OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1 1/12 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional, I omitted these).
FOR THE CREAM SCONES:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbs granulated sugar, plus more for spinkling
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional - but was a no brainer for me)
NOTE: I had this delightful Meyer Lemon Curd waiting to be used in my pantry, so it saved me a big step and some eggs. I promise you won't regret it.
FOR THE GRAPEFRUIT & AVOCADO SALAD
- 2 large ripe grapefruits
- 2 medium ripe haas avocados
- 2 tbs of chives, diced
- 4 tbs (really good) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs citrus champagne vinegar
- Sea salt flakes (like Maldon) and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
FOR THE BAKED EGGS
- 1tbs plus 2 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 lb. baby spinach, large stems removed
- 4 eggs
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 tsp heavy cream
Really embellishing on the 'break' here. Please follow Yossy and Deb's instructions to the T, they have yet to steer me wrong. Just pop the scones (on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper) in the freezer, and follow baking directions, although they may need an extra 5-10 minutes (mine needed 5). Follow this easy recipe for the eggs—and no I'm not sponsored by anyone, especially not William Sonoma...yet :).
As for the fruit bowl and Charcuterie Plate, do your thing, have fun here! I suggest going with whatever's local and in-season when it comes to the fruit and veggies (if you choose to use them) on the Charcuterie Plate. From there, pick your (or your friend's) favorite cheeses, meats, and crackers.
FOR THE GRAPEFRUIT & AVOCADO SALAD
- Using a sharp paring knife, cut the skin and white pith off of the grapefruits. Cut in between the membranes to release the sections (it's best to work over a bowl or sink here).
- Slice the avocado and place in bowl with grapefruit.
- Drizzle avocado and grapefruit with olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper, and chives.