Fine Art and Florals - Seeing Alaska in a Different Light

I'm always striving to challenge myself.  Move out of my comfort zone artistically and take a few risks.  Not only is it good for the soul, it's great for the learning process and keeping my mind fresh and always thinking of new ways to make our clients feel that their wedding is unique.  We teamed up with a group of talented women, and had some fun seeing Alaska in a different way for this shoot.  Our landscapes are magical, but there's also beauty in the rugged and industrial core of Anchorage.  It definitely has a certain grit to it that's almost like a reflection of living here.  It's harsh and wonderful all at the same time. This was all about the details and artistry, and it made my heart so very happy!

Photography - Anne Marie Moran

Florals - Blomma Designs and Bloomsbury Blooms

Gowns - Bateau Bridal Boutique - Truvelle Bridal - Theia Couture

HMUA - Mary Alice from Ebb Flo Hair Boutique

Models - Meghan Kim and Risha Toci

Mural - Justin Parsons

Venue - Blomma Designs Studio and Downtown Anchorage

Holiday Entertaining Part 2 - The Best (and easiest) hor d'oeuvre - Baked Brie

This Holiday season we're determined to bring entertaining back home!  In part 2 of our Holiday Entertaining Series I'm sharing a favorite - Baked Brie.  Whether you're hosting, or you have to bring something to share for a holiday event, baked brie is my go-to choice.  It's as easy as it is delicious!  There are a plethora of variations, and it's really hard to mess this up short of baking it too long.  The best part is that it is decadent and always one of the first dishes to go at any gathering I've shared it with others.  I'm going to share with you my two favorite ways of creating this dish.

#1 Baked Brie with Blackberry Compote and Spiced Mixed Nuts:

Don't feel intimidated by the name!  In the kitchen this took me less than 45 minutes total, and if you want to cheat you can buy pre-made mixed nuts at the store to cut your time to almost nothing.  Find a nice platter or cake stand to plate it on and serve it with salty and crunchy crackers for a nice balance of sweet and savory.  

You will need:

  • 1 cup mixed nuts (I like to use pecans and pistachios)
  • ½ tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt or pink Himalayan sea salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (don't go overboard!)
  • 3 cups blackberries - set aside 1 cup for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 8 oz wheel of Brie cheese
  • Crackers for serving
  • Fresh Rosemary to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. If you're making your own mixed nuts, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place nuts on the sheet and toast for 12 minutes or until they smell toasty.
  3. While they are roasting, mix together the butter, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  4. Place the hot mixed nuts into the mixture and stir to evenly coat. Spread the nuts back onto the baking sheet on a single layer and bake for another 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  5. In a medium saucepan, heat the blackberries, lemon juice, honey, and vanilla on medium heat. Be sure to stir regularly. As you notice the berries liquify, turn the heat up to medium. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until it has the constancy of syrup.
  6. Carefully slice away the top of the Brie rind and discard it. Leave the sides intact. Bake for 15 minutes or until melted through and you can see it slightly bubbling.
  7. Top the baked Brie with blackberry compote and mixed nuts mixture.
  8. Garnish with the remaining blackberries and fresh rosemary.
  9. Serve immediately with crackers.
  10. You will have extra blackberry compote. I love to serve this over crepes and pancakes on the weekend with some fresh whipped cream!  The compote will keep for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 

#2 Baked Brie En Croute: 

This is THE easiest recipe in the world!  If you need something that is just as decadent but a little bit quicker, I would recommend this.  It's also easy to transport if you need something delicious to bring to your next holiday party.  To be honest, I rarely use a recipe for this and improvise with ingredients all the time as it's pretty fail safe.  Your filling can be salty or sweet and the type of Brie I use is whatever I find readily available at the grocery store.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8 oz wheel Brie cheese
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (package comes with 2 sheets)
  • Your filling of choice (here I re-used the blackberry compote)
  • crackers for serving

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Lay the puff pastry out on buttered or greased cookie sheet. Place the Brie in the center of the pastry. Spread your filling of choice on top of the Brie in a thick layer. Gather up the edges of the dough and evenly wrap around the Brie. Gently press down on the dough ends at the top to ensure that you have a solid seal.  I always do a full 360 view of the Brie to ensure there are no holes in the pastry as you don't want your filling to leak and burn in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

Other ideas for fillings are any jellies, preserves, nuts and fresh berries and I particularly know that my family favors a spicy hot pepper jelly that we buy at Costco.  It's the perfect combination of spicy, sweet and salty!

Whether you're a novice or a pro in the kitchen, both of these recipes are delightful.  We hope you're inspired to try one for your next gathering!  Happy holidays from Blomma Designs!

 

Photos - Erica Rose Photography

 

 

Holiday Entertaining Part 1 - The Charcuterie Display

I love the holidays.  I love entertaining.  That being said, we are in the busiest stage of our lives running small businesses and raising kids.  And I actually don't think I know anyone at the moment who isn't busy no matter what stage of life they are in!  That being said it seems like entertaining at home can be daunting and more and more we shy away from it and just opt to meet friends out.  But it's just not the same.  My favorite part about the Fall and Winter seasons is that we have holidays that bring us together, weather that calls for extra coziness and a time to reflect on the year and slow down a bit.  For that reason we have put together a series on entertaining at home that will hopefully help with ideas and encourage you to bring back gatherings at home as something of the present!

This week I'm discussing the ultimate "go to" for being the hostess with the mostest without the usual stress or much preparation needed.  I'm talking about a true love of mine, that charcuterie display.  Think cured meats, an array of cheeses, a few delightful sauces, crunchy vessels and you have yourself a total winner that will impress anyone coming to visit.  Add in complementary wines and you have yourself a party!  The best part about this is that it truly is so simple, but so beautiful at the same time.  

Step 1 - Start with Your Ingredients:

Blomma Designs - Charcuterie Display

I'm fairly certain the Fred Meyer cheese counter employees can spot me a mile away.  I approach and promptly begin to smell cheeses.  I'm usually looking for the stinkiest bleu I can find as it really makes me happy.  When I'm having guests over I'll head to one of our local grocery stores or specialty shops and pick out a variety of cured meats and cheeses as a base for the display.  And I usually taste about thirty options!  If you're tight on time I suggest selecting 2-3 cheese that vary such as some soft, some sharp and something user friendly like an approachable cheddar.  For meats you can't go wrong with a prosciutto and salami.

Step 2:  Build Your Base:

Blomma Designs - Holiday Entertaining

I like to start with placing my cheeses.  This gives me a map of how much room I'll have to fill in with the rest of the ingredients and they are typically the largest item.

Step 3 - Add In Your Meats

For this particular display I used a Prosciutto, dry sliced Salami and traditional Sorpressata.  Tuck them in with the cheeses, but keep in mind to leave room for the other items you're planning to display. 

Step 4 - Add In Your Sweet and Savory Elements:

Think salty, crunchy and sweet.  I like to add mixed or spiced nuts, something pickled like olives and then some sweeter items like dried cranberries, figs and grapes pictured here.  Use these to fill in all of the gaps and you're almost finished!

Step 5 - Garnish

Add in your garnishes.  I love to use herbs like rosemary to add in a little bit of color and it makes your display feel complete.  You can even throw in seasonal items such as clementines or persimmon to add in even more color.

Step 6 - Dress Up Your Vessels:

I prefer to set up a separate display for the vessels, meaning what the meats and cheeses will be paired with.  Baguette or a hearty grain bread and assorted crackers are easy to find and quick to set up.  I also mix in sauces.  Here you see a spicy garlic mustard and a fig jam.  Use leftover grapes, figs and a few clementines to fill in any gaps.  Having a separate board for the vessels means not everyone is grabbing in the same place and you have more girth to your display never leaving it feeling skimpy.  And if one needs replenishing there is still plenty of nosh for guests to pick at until you freshen it up.

And there you have it!  This whole setup takes about twenty minutes of shopping time and about ten minutes of setup at home.  I always keep stocked on cheeses, meats and crackers in the cold months so I can invite friends over on a whim and whip this up for the perfect gathering!

Enjoy!