• Summer Dessert | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Garden

    Simple summer dessert

    For the longest time I could not make this desert ‘properly’, not because of its complicated recipe, or ingredient list, but simply because I did not have the right vessel for it.  Custard glass cups from the supermarket just would not do it.  My lucky break came earlier this summer at a small yard sale north of the city.  I instantly scooped up a set of four. They remind me of much larger ones we had always used for desserts in my family. They still sit on the upper shelves in my parents’ pantry in my hometown in Poland.  They don’t make appearance all that often now, everyone seems to…

  • Strawberry dessert | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Garden

    Homemade strawberry dessert

    Once a year, when the strawberry season is in full swing, we head to Cape Ann in Massachusetts, to  our favorite pick-your-own farm. I confess, I only eat strawberries when in season, and when I pick them myself. The entire experience can sustain me for a year. I get the fix of all things strawberry by making the seasonal treats that childhood memories are made of: strawberry pierogies, strawberry sirup for winter tea, and this Polish dessert. Recipe below. The recipe: 3 eggs 3 tablespoon flour 500ml milk 300g powdered sugar 250g unsalted butter very ripe strawberries 2 packages ladyfinger cookies Boil milk and completely cool. Beat eggs with flour…

  • Red Velvet cake styling | totallybydesign.com

    Red Velvet Cake and winter mood

    My cake turned out to be like those late winter season snow storms. Messy, slushy, part exhilarating, part frustrating, part sentimental.  Both bring memories of happy and carefree childhood moments: the anticipation, the ‘free’ feeling, like you want to scream into the howling wind on the top of your lungs, and grab a slice of cake into palm of your hand, before anyone says you should use a plate and a fork. American-style cakes are certainly a culinary experiment for me, I am not fully sold on the taste, or the amount of sugar you have to use for baking! Sugary, white frosting, virtually unknown in Polish kitchen, being the…

  • Baking for carnival | totallybydesign.com

    Baking for carnival

    Carnival, or Mardi Gras, is a perfect occasion to test  a recipe for a “Yellow Birthday Cake” from Flour cookbook.  Just like the festivities, it is rich, exuberant, and a little bit on the showy side.  No less then 12 oz of chocolate go into the light, fluffy frosting.  These are the days to indulge, at least for some of us, in Italian zeppole, Polish chrusty and paczki, or…freshly baked yellow cake. The cake has been already heralded in this household as the best ever made. Thankfully, it freezes well is seems, so crisis averted as the carnival ends at midnight today, sharp!

  • Raspberry and Chocolate cake | totallybydesign.com

    Bittersweet melted chocolate and raspberries cake

    This Valentines’s day is all about chocolate and fresh raspberries, both rather rare in this household. Never been much into chocolate, with the exception maybe of a good Polish milk and whole hazelnuts chocolate from Wedel. Also, I never buy fruit out of season, raspberries usually make appearance in mid July, we stuff  ourselves with them for a couple of weeks and then we say goodbye for a year, except for the pick-your-own leftovers in the freezer.  But this year, since I ruthlessly pulled Marie Kondo on my home studio and that includes books, I was left with a handful of only favorites, and that included Sweet Paul’s Eat and…

  • Christmas sugar cookies | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Table Styling

    Christmas sugar cookies from family archives

    As much as anything “sugar” seems to be falling out of favor these days, and mostly for a good reason, I cannot let go into oblivion handful of my most cherished recipes. This particular one comes from my Grandmother Felicja. Simple sugar cookies, perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and flaky on the inside. It downed on me looking at the ingredient list how simple and accessible they where. Everything came from the farm: the eggs, butter, sour cream, even flour those days. The only thing she would have to get was vinegar and sugar, really just staples from the small village kiosk. This is the simplicity I am…

  • Holiday tea and cake | totallybydesign.com

    Tea and a cake break – for the holidays

    This is for any of the weary souls during the holiday season, tea and cake is good for you. If you light a candle because the days are already oh-so-short, and if you bake the cake yourself, it becomes this slow living ritual that unlocks the creativity, connect you with the person next to you, and allows you to take a deep breath. I see this recipe every time I rummage through my “best of” folder. I keep here all my Mom’s recipes she has been sending me in letters for years, those dictated to me we while I visit, those copied from fabulous 1960 and 70 Polish cookbooks. This…

  • Thanksgiving table setting | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Table Styling

    Setting Thanksgiving table (on the budget)

    I caught myself spending a bit too much time looking for a new set of plates recently.  You know the type: matte glaze, earthy colors, low rim…the list of goes on. Alter all, the Thanksgiving is just around the corner, would love to style with something new! Then, reality check: we are not hosting this year, I have absolutely no excuse to buy a new set of plates. Which reminded me, rewind two years back when we were, and my frantic shopping spree for something new. I ended up with plates, set of cutlery (once returned and replaced in a process, never used since), and a couple of random serving…

  • Midsummer gathering | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Garden

    Summer solstice gathering

    Every year when jasmine (Philadelphus or mock-orange) and peonies start to bloom, I can time days and hours to my favorite time of the year. The longest days, the still-crisp nights, and the heady, perfumed air. It is Midsummer time, which has nothing to do with middle of the summer, after all it is about to begin, but an old North and Central European celebrations of flowers, fire, and dance. June 24th, St. John’s Day, and the night leading to it, is the time to toss the handmade flower crowns in the streams and rivers, and to celebrate. This year, I was fortunate to have spent few days at my…