Rizzoli News

May 13, 2015

Tips for Spring & Summer: In the Garden

“This is the [time] that I relish the most, when everything is new and fresh. The glistening lime greens, yellows and oranges of oaks and beeches fade so fast that every moment has to be savoured. The fleeting pink of unfurling copper beeches has a magic of its own, as does the short-lived blue and yellow partnership between the camassias and massed buttercups in the Meadow. The apple trees are in blossom, the bees are once again in the garden and it is a time to give thanks for the miracle of creation in all its glory.’
—H. R.H. The Prince of Wales, from Highgrove: An English Country Garden

Flowers and Bouquets:

From Charlotte Moss, author of Charlotte Moss: Garden Inspirations

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“I think about making a flower arrangement the same way I consider a room, creating a composition that will equal the sum of its parts. Color, texture, scale, and location of an arrangement are as important as doing a floor plan in decoration.

Bouquets represent what you did right all year long, plotting and planning your garden. The little nosegays, the large voluptuous bouquets, they all signify that moment when whatever is at its peak gets plucked and somehow all comes together to tell a story.”

Single Flower Arrangements:

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When I have given talks in the past I have always said that an arrangement containing a single type of flower can make anyone look like a flower arranging genius. There is no anxiety about what goes with what, a total confidence booster. Single flower arrangements are about simplicity, and, of course, the vessel that holds them takes on greater appearance. As in anything, practice and experimenting are essential.

Edibles & Arrangements:

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Of course I love cooking with the herbs I grow, but many also make great companions in my floral arrangements, like scented geranium, tomato leaves, mint, parsley, and lemon verbena. Small pots of herbs are a beautiful notion at each place setting, while a centerpiece of pots of varying heights wafting their gentle fragrance will enhance any meal.

Wildflower Arrangements:

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Wildflowers were my first encounter with selecting, collecting, and arranging. They introduced me to a world with no boundaries and no rules. They taught me that what there is, there is, and make the most of it, even if a single blossom is the bounty of the day… I learned to appreciate beauty in its natural habitat. In the wild, not a soul around, far from the street vendors selling flowers and the florist shops oozing with the exotic and the spectacular, I learned, and only later in life realized, that the simple things can be the most sublime.

White Arrangements:

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Of all the exciting color schemes I have experimented with, enjoyed, and recreated over the years, I always come back to white and green. The clarity, calm, purity, and fragile elegance of white flowers make them a luxurious garden treasure.

Flowers in the home:

From Rachel Ashwell, author of The World of Shabby Chic

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“Flowers are the soul of my aesthetic and design work. They are a constant source of inspiration for their color, abundance, and simplicity. The cycle of life of flowers and nature is a constant reminder to me to embrace the imperfect, to celebrate newness, however fleeting, and to accept the inevitable. For me, every stage of a flower’s life has its beauty, from the first little bud to the blossom and falling petals. I celebrate each stage, often with different vases that compliment the process, from a bud vase to a large vintage vase and ending with some petals in a discarded saucer.

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A vase of fresh-cut flowers, however small, shows recent attention and love—a virtually empty room will not feel abandoned if there are flowers. The process of preparing fresh-cut flowers is a Zen moment for me. My garden, and working with flowers, gives me endless joy, inspiration, and peace.”

Tips for Spring & Summer: Vegetables We Love

“[P]lant-based recipes aren’t just enticing and flavorful; these are anti-inflammatory, alkaline foods that balance hormones, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Simple to prepare yet effective, this is hydrating food, rich in the emollient oils that are so good for your skin, nervous system, and brain. They are designed to help relax tired muscles, soothe stress, and comfort you.

In general, most fresh produce has the maximum nutrients in it the moment it is picked. If you’ve tried freshly picked fruits or vegetables, you’ll have experienced just how superior the flavor and texture of this produce is over store-bought. It’s incomparable. The fresher the produce, the better.”

—From The Ranch at Live Oak Cookbook: Delicious Dishes from California’s Legendary Wellness Spa

The Benefits of Fresh Vegetables:


Asparagus: Asparagus spears contain more antioxidants than broccoli—but only if they’re freshly harvested (you might want to try growing your own). Even one day after they’ve been picked, asparagus contains just a quarter of the original nutrients. It’s sometimes tempting to use white asparagus spears for aesthetic reasons, but blanched asparagus lacks many of the phytonutrients that make regular green asparagus so good for you.

Eggplants: These contain a type of anthocyanin compound called nasunin, which is believed to protect brain cells; nasunin may have the potential to rebuild brain cells and slow down the brain’s aging process. Eggplants also contain antioxidant phenolics with the potential to protect against free radicals, and therefore protect against degenerative diseases like cancer and coronary diseases. To gain the benefits of these powerful phytonutrients, it’s essential to eat the whole vegetable.

Greens such as spinach, romaine, arugula, and dandelion leaves are some of the healthiest vegetables, especially when eaten raw. For greens, choose varieties with the darkest leaf color; these have more lutein, a phytonutrient with antiaging properties that helps the eyes, nerve endings, and the brain. For lettuces, the darker the red, the more anthocyanins they contain, plus dark red lettuces can have more lutein. (more…)

Tips for Spring & Summer: Entertaining

“Summertime is picnic time, and the table on my terrace in the country has replaced the picnic tables of my childhood but not the memories. Eating outdoors has always felt festive because of those childhood memories of cooking on the grill, having large family gatherings outdoors, or enjoying a simple backyard meal. A small lunch with a few girls, our annual family weeklong reunion, a celebration for a friend, or simply our weekend meals—we dine outside every chance, weather permitting. Some will swear that the food tastes better. I enjoy being amidst the trees, shaded by an umbrella, hearing the ocean and the birds and my dogs snoozing nearby. Setting the table each meal with a tablecloth, flowers from the garden, and a mix of china makes every meal beautiful and enjoyable.”


Experiment. Try something new as a centerpiece . Follow the golden rules on height (all guests should be able to see each other) and no fragrance at the table. But after that, the table is yours to design.

Place cards make it easy for everyone—no decisions to be made. Your guests should not have to work or agonize about where to sit.

Give placement a lot of thought. Mix people up; don’t put two people together who know each other really well, unless that is the case all around. Give your guests a chance to get to know someone better. It shows that you thought about them.

Make a toast to welcome your guests. Plan it in advance and add humor—and brevity is always appreciated.

If it is a special occasion, make a commemorative photo book to send to guests afterward. It is so easy to do today with apps and websites like iBooks Author, blurb.com, and artifactuprising.com.

Use what you have in new and interesting ways. What do I mean? Look around at what you own—how can you use objects and accessories on the table? Be creative . . . but be beautiful.

Linens: beautiful, of course, and crisp, clean, and neatly ironed. Good housekeeping is the foundation to everything. Everyone should have a set of large white linen napkins. They go with everything and are perfect for buffet dinners.

When it comes to food, don’t use your guests as guinea pigs. Try every recipe before you serve it to others. Who needs that anxiety?

Take all the time you need to get ready for your own party; you will feel better and be more relaxed.

And, lastly, PRACTICE. Here we go again, you might say, but yes, practice works. Setting the table is everyday decorating, I have said it before and will continue the refrain. How do you expect to have successful dinner parties, luncheons, or tailgate picnics if you are not doing it every day for yourself and your family? You must first be hospitable to yourself.

—Charlotte Moss, from Charlotte Moss: Garden Inspirations

Tips for Spring & Summer: Utilizing Nature’s Bounty

“I was brought up to follow a very simple style of cookery. In a composed menu, I want to recognize the ingredients on the plate. I want to know, what end of which season it is and where I am. Am I in the north, the south, in the mountains, or on the coast? I want flavor to flower and stimulate, and taste to lie subtle and clean. An ingredient harvested at the peak of its ripeness will impart aromas and flavors that stimulate the senses as you bite it. And, as whatever you are chewing divulges itself to nose, teeth, and tongue, your palate will be the judge of the product’s freshness and vitality.”
— Daniel de la Falaise, from Nature’s Larder: Cooking with the Senses

The following recipes are from The Ranch at Live Oak Cookbook: Delicious Dishes from California’s Legendary Wellness Spa:


Quinoa Salad with Spring Vegetables and Herbs

This lemony quinoa salad features the best of spring—asparagus, snap peas, radishes, mint, dill, green onion, and green garlic, which is mild, tender young garlic.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)
2 cups sugar snap or snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced on an angle
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and sliced (reserve tops for garnish)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced green (spring) garlic, or 1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup radish tops or wild arugula leaves, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Nasturtium flowers and leaves, for garnish (optional)

In a heavy medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and let stand until cooled to room temperature.

Fill a large skillet with 1 inch of salted water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the asparagus, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain the asparagus and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Cut the asparagus on an angle into 1-inch pieces and add to the quinoa along with the peas, radishes, mint, scallion, dill, and garlic.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to blend. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine.
(The salad can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) (more…)

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