Category Archives: style

What to Wear for a Casual Holiday Party

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I always found that dressing for a fancy, semi-formal holiday party was easier than dressing for a casual holiday party. Over the years, I amassed dresses with sparkly trim and shimmery fabric, red ones, black ones and even gold and silver ones. My challenge was with dressing for a casual event such as a kids’ holiday party or a small afternoon get-together. This was always the point where I tried on several outfits, left a pile of clothes on my bed and generally wasn’t happy with what I came up with. I always want to “put my festive on,” but also feel comfortable with people who are wearing jeans or a nice dress. I also want to be comfortable and warm (living in the far north and all). In the last few years I have developed a formula: sparkly shirt, comfortable stretchy pants (think ski chalet pants), a dangling necklace and shiny riding boots. I never feel out of place, I stay warm, my feet stay dry and I have just enough bling on to feel like I’m getting into the spirit of the holidays. So the next time you feel like you’re at a loss of what to wear to a casual holiday lunch or your child’s holiday party, try this combination – Sham Style

  1. Gold Michael Kors Sweater
  2. Silver Grey Autumn Cashmere Sequined Cardigan (you can find an equivalent here)
  3. Matsu Silver Necklace
  4. TwoA Silver and Grey Necklace
  5. Paige Denim Skinny Pants
  6. Aquatalia Riding Boots

I’m interested in hearing your biggest wardrobe dilemmas. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

 

Written on my Microsoft Surface RT with purple backlit keyboard

All pictures taken with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera Phone

Beef Wellington – Anything in Puff Pastry is Good

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Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that tends to intimidate most people. It is one of Gordon Ramsey’s signature dishes. These little beef Wellingtons are much easier to make than the large ones. They also look incredibly elegant and are perfect for a dinner party. They can be made ahead of time and then just baked in the oven before serving. I like to use President Choice Puff Pastry. It’s super convenient as it’s already rolled out so that it requires less work. The traditional Beef Wellington is made with liver paté, but given the many liver haters I know, I make these without. Feel free to add a tablespoon of liver paté with the duxelle (mushroom mixture), if you wish. Some people also choose to wrap the beef in prosciutto in order to ensure that the pastry does not become soggy, however I find that if you dry the beef before and after you sear it, the pastry does not get soggy. This is a dish that came to popularity in the sixties, so don your best black sheath, black pumps, pearls and enjoy Sham Style!

Serves 4

Ingredients

Duxelle:

12 cremini mushrooms, stems removed, very finely chopped (I chop mine in my Cuisinart mini food processor)

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp chopped, fresh thyme

1 shallot very finely chopped

For Wellingtons:

1 tbsp grape seed oil

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp. freshly ground pepper

4 tbsp Boursin (divided)

1 sheet puff pastry

4 beef tenderloins (1 ½ ” thick)

1 egg

1 tbsp water

Mushroom Sauce:

½ cup red wine

½ cup beef stock/broth (low sodium)

1 sprig of thyme

Instructions:

Removes the stems from the mushrooms and finely chop. I do mine in the food processor. Your mushrooms should look like this:

Squeeze the chopped mushrooms in a paper towel to remove any moisture. Add mushrooms, salt, thyme and shallots to a sauté pan. Sauté on medium-high until all of the moisture from the mushrooms has been evaporated – this really important as you want your puff pastry to be crispy, not soggy. Allow duxelle to cool.

Meanwhile, pat the filets until completely dry, rub beef filets with grape seed oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron pan on high until a drop of oil sizzles. Add filets and brown on all sides for no more than 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with the wine until it becomes syrupy. Add beef stock and any left-over duxelle. Add the sprig of thyme. Reduce the mixture on medium-low until much of the liquid has evaporated. Remove sprig of thyme before serving.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry sheet until it is 1/8″ thick. With knife remove excess pastry so that you have an even rectangle. Save scrap pieces. Divide into 4 squares. On each square put a heaping tsp of the duxelle (mushroom mixture). Top with a teaspoon full of boursin.

Remove string from beef (this is really important – I always forget to do this and am running around the table with scissors during dinner removing the string from my guests’ wellingtons), pat the beef dry again and place on top of the duxelle cheese mixture. Pull pastry around the beef and pinch pastry to ensure that it is completely sealed. Remove any excess pastry. Gently turn over and score with a sharp knife. Repeat with remaining filets and pastry squares.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Wisk egg in a small bowl and add the water. Wisk to combine. With a pastry brush, brush the beef wellingtons with the egg wash. Use any left-over puff pastry and cut out leaves, letters or whatever you want to use to decorate the wellingtons. Affix to the wellingtons and brush again with egg wash. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Refrigerate the wellingtons for 10 minutes. Roast in oven – 15 minutes for medium-rare, 18 minutes for medium and 22 minutes for medium-well. You can also use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. 120 degrees for medium-rare, 130 degrees for medium, 140 for medium-well.

To plate, put a little of the mushroom mixture on the plate in a circle. Top with beef wellington. Artfully arrange with sautéed beans and Parisian potatoes.

Written on my Microsoft Surface RT with purple backlit keyboard

All pictures taken with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera Phone

My Favourite Things

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I have lots of clothes…probably way too many clothes. There are lots of items in my closet that I only wear for business or only wear occasionally. But I do have my go-to items that I wear all the time – here are the things that I couldn’t live without.

Majestic T-Shirts

Made in France from soft cotton and linen, these are the lightest t-shirts you will ever buy. These are the t-shirts you will wear when it’s so hot, you really don’t feel like wearing anything at all.

Autumn Cashmere Sweaters

Cozy cashmere that never pills and wears terrifically. I have 6 year old Autumn Cashmere sweaters that I still wear and that still look brand new.

Black Sheath Dress

I have worn this to Office Christmas parties, funerals, weddings and work meetings. Dress it up with a well-tailored blazer or make it casual with a little cardigan. For a basic, inexpensive black sheath, check out Ann Taylor.

J Brand Super Skinny Black Jeans

So comfy, wearing these J Brand jeans is like wearing sweatpants. They look great dressed up with heals or tucked into riding boots with a cozy sweater.

Tilo Scarves

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall. I use these Tilo scarves for everything from a blanket on planes, to an evening wrap, to keeping the wind off my neck.

What are your favorite, “can’t live without” items?

If you’re interested in where you can purchase these fabulous brands, check out Carriage Trade in Toronto.

Written on my Microsoft Surface RT with purple backlit keyboard