10.04.14

APPLE GOAT CHEESE TART

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Fall is officially here. And while we try to cling on some more late summer days we are also looking forward to autumn produce, cozy cooking evenings and hefty food to warm the soul. Our favorite harbinger of fall have always been apples. Packed with vitamins to prepare our immune system for colder days this classic, yet delicious and juicy fruit is super versatile. You can use it in salads, soups, cakes, baked or fresh, in savory or sweet dishes.

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With their first appearance in the Garden Eden, apples have been cultivated since the beginning of time and became a fruit basket staple. One more reason to love apples is because of their pretty names; Golden Delicious , Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Gala & Honey Crips are only few. Check out Good Eggs for some crispy, sweet local apple deliciousness and varieties like Newton Pippin or Spitzenberg  you won’t easily find elsewhere.
To tune in for the season of apple picking and hot apple cider I’m sharing  an easy apple-goat cheese tart you can enjoy on a lazy Sunday morning or to bring to your next potluck brunch. Gala apples and goat cheese create the perfect sweet and savory mix with a hint of honey and thyme. This apple-goat cheese tart tart will make it easier to let summer go and dash into fall magic.

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APPLE GOAT CHEESE TART

Ingredients:
Dough
1 stick butter, soft and chopped
½ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup agave syrup
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda

Topping
4-5 gala apples ( you can use any other apples too)
8 oz soft goat cheese
3 tbsp cream cheese
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
honey to drizzle
2 springs fresh thyme
1 tbsp butter, melted

Directions:

To make the dough place the butter and the sugar in a bowl and beat with an eclectic mixer until the mixture is soft and creamy. About 5-7 minutes.

Add agave syrup, flour and baking soda and beat until the mixture starts to come together. Use your hands to make a smooth dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile combine goat cheese, cream cheese and mild and whisk to make a smooth cream. Set aside.

Preheat over to 325°. Lay baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash, core and cut apple into slices. apple-goat-cheese-tart-pair-2

Roll the dough out already on the baking sheet into about ½ thick circle. 
Spread the goat cheese mix evenly onto the dough leaving about 1” border.
Place apples on top, sprinkle with sugar, drizzle with a little bit honey and top with some thyme. Fold the edge, place in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. 

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Melt the butter and brush the tart while warm. Enjoy!  apple-goat-cheese-tart-6 apple-goat-cheese-tart-15




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09.30.14

AMPERSAND FLOWER SHOP – SAN FRANCISCO

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San Francisco has many flower shops, but the newest edition – Ampersand in the Mission – tops it all with charm and cuteness. Owned by the sweet couple, Benjamin & Emerson, {who just got engaged!} Ampersand is quickly becoming SF’s favorite when it comes to beautiful, locally sourced flowers. The couple creates stunning floral arrangements for weddings, parties or just for your mom. Everyone is welcome to stop by, smell the flowers, say hello, get a cup of tea, make flower bouquets on your own and just relax in this airy, bright space. Perfect for a date with your bestie.

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Calling Mission home for a while now, the couple not only wants to sell flowers but to create a space where neighbors and friends come together, chit-chat and connect in real. And they are doing a great job with this. While I had the pleasure to spent few hours with them, the shop was visited by so many just to see how the new business is doing and to get themselves something pretty. The space really calls for spending time in it. With lots of sweat, tears and buckets full of white paint Benjamin & Emerson transformed an old garage into a charming, vintage-y spot.
They were also so sweet to give me an interview, so read on friends and next time you need beautiful flowers – at Ampersand you will find them.

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You guys opened your cozy flower shop just recently in the Mission. Tell us a little bit about your background? What led you to open a flowershop?

Benjamin is originally from Ohio, and his dad is an electrician with an eye for design. Ben owned his own business a few years back, but has since been working at various animal hospitals & in customer care– none of which was too fulfilling.

I grew up in the rural woods of So-Cal & was raised in a very creative family. I studied poetry & theatre criticism in college and jumped from various artistic ventures, all while working various office jobs– also none of which were at all fulfilling.

We have been together for two years or so, are recently engaged as of this past June (!), & we really needed radical change in our vocation. We recklessly and passionately turned to flowers. Floral design is a way to live creatively, submerge ourselves into nature, & build community in our neighborhood. Every hood needs a cute flower shop around the corner! We also needed a work space in order to fulfill larger orders such as weddings and events.
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Describe us the idea of your store? What is so unique about it?
Our shop is centered around people & nature in harmony, a little place in the City you can find refuge, an urban oasis of sorts. Our hope is that the space becomes a community hub, which it is steadily becoming! The way the barn doors open up lends itself for invitation, there is no barrier between outside & in.

We attempt to build the shop by offering high design quality at an accessible price point. We think flowers should be transformed from a luxury item to an everyday pleasure. All of our flowers are priced out by the stem, so even if you only have $1, you can get some stem of loveliness.

Ampersand is also transforming itself into a creative space since we highly encourage our customers to get their hands into the bunches of flowers & build a bouquet of their liking! It’s been really lovely watching people light up with the opportunity to show off their inner floral designer.
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The flowers at Ampersand are California grown. Why is it so important for you to use local products?
This was a fairly easy decision for us in the realization of Ampersand. Flowers deserve the same attention as food sourcing. With all of the incredible abundance of California blooms, there is no reason to outsource and we love ours relationship with our growers

We are also really excited to find ourselves locked into the seasons of our environment. Again, this is the idea of creating a space where people are in harmony with nature.
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What do you keep in mind when sourcing the flowers?
We definitely are looking for interesting flora, anything that is unusual we are typically obsessed with. Working with various textures, colors, and size of the flowers allows for a lot of creative energy for us as designers. We also try to shy away from things are typically overused in our industry– the red rose & baby’s breath combination, for example, will probably never show up here. :)

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I’m bad, I cut my flowers with same scissors as I use for paper. Tell us, what should we have in our toolbox when it comes to flowers?
One thing we love about being florists is that there is always something to learn. I definitely don’t think we are scissor aficionados, but I would say as long as you use clean shears, you’re good to go. Perhaps a pair of Garden Shears dedicated to flowers or gardening will do, just be cautious of rusting–We’re open to suggestions too!

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Do you have any tips to keep cut flowers longer alive?
The best thing I can suggest is to change out the water everyday if possible, that way the water is super clean for the flowers! I recommend room temperature water as well.

. . . 

As every job, running own business has also pro and con. What do you love most about your job? What’s not so great?
A big adjustment for us as a couple has been working & living with one another everyday. We’re so excited for the challenges that exist in being both entrepreneur & fiancé for each other .

Benjamin is definitely super-duper at getting us connected with people, working out their needs for various orders and events– his people-person personality is really perfect for the shop. My passion is invested in the creative aspects, from buying exciting material to design. I’m also the lead social media guy– the digital community support is actually surprisingly refreshing!

It’s a lot of work to keep the shop at our high standard. Everything must be full of variety, clean, and well designed. We’re here pretty late every night closing up shop too, we haven’t gotten the closing procedures down to a quick format yet, but I’m sure we’ll get there.
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Have you any advice for somebody who would like to open own business?
1. Create a distinct plan for yourself well in advance; figure out the brand, the ethos, the pillars of things that you cannot compromise on and write it all down.

2. Be completely flexible– this will make the growing pains easier while in the startup process.
3. Believe in yourself! No one can understand your vision like yourself which can be very intimidating. If you have a good vision, it will be received.
4. Create something you will be proud of. This way when someone asks you the tough questions you can answer with confidence that you are doing something with integrity that alights with what you care about most.
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Owner’s dream?
I think in the future we would love to transform Ampersand into a nighttime event space as well. Daytime flower shop, nighttime poetry slam/cello concert/theatre space? We’ll keep you updated! :)

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Favorite flowers right now?
Strawflower. There babes have such a crazy papery texture and come in an array of colors to make any heart smile!

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Sunday 11am, where do you go for brunch?
The Pork Store on 16th Street in the Mission. It’s on the same block as our house and business– doesn’t get much better than that! Their coffee & mimosa deal is perfect for us.

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SF’s best kept secret?
Martuni’s– we’re not sure if this is a secret or not, but it is the cutest piano, dark, martini joint. Fun Fact: That’s where Ben & I had our first date :)

. . .

Favorite picnic spot?
Baker Beach. We love the silence and deafening sound of the sea, it’s very rejuvenating.

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I hope you guys guys enjoyed the interview with Ampersand as I did and now go be friends with this lovely two on facebook  & instagram .

ampersand-flower-shop-san-francisco Thanks, Benjamin & Emerson for this great interview and sharing with us your story! 




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09.26.14

GERMAN POTATO SALAD WITH RADISHES

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Friends, I’m so happy and excited to have a food post featured today on Rue Daily.
Rue was the first online magazine I discovered and it’s still my favorite. The gals behind RUE are doing an AWESOME job and I just love reading and following along.
In honor of Oktober Fest, I have created my favorite, super easy potato salad jazzed up with some radishes and mustard dressing. It’s great for spontaneous Oktober Fest celebration, picnic or as a side dish. So hope over to Rue Daily, get the recipe for the German Potato Salad with Radishes and enjoy!

Happy weekend! 

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