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Wheat Berry Stir Fry (c)2013 La Domestique

Hello there! I hope you had a fantastic weekend. We got 10 inches of snow here in Colorado! It was nice to be snowed in and the husband and I spent a lot of time working on projects around the house while little Minnie the dachshund slept by the fire. Today I would like to share a couple of updates with you. First, I’ve added a Portfolio tab at the top of the page so you can browse the best of La Domestique food photography and styling. Second, you can find me over at Food52 guest posting for their Halfway to Dinner column. I suggest preparing one big pot of slow-cooking grains (wheat berries) and give you 5 ideas for serving them in suppers throughout the week. Pop on over and take a look by clicking on the Food52 icon below! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day…

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Learning From The Cleanse

Eat the rainbow of vegetables (c)2013 La Domestique

The husband and I made it through the cleanse, learning a lot in the process. It was challenging, but so rewarding. For one week we followed a meal plan inspired by the Whole Living Action Plan and Dr. Junger’s book, Clean: smoothie for breakfast, satisfying vegan meal for lunch, pureed vegetable soup for supper. We were hungry, but it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. I gave up caffeine, and was surprised to find that once I got through the first few days, I actually have more energy without it. I also feel more calm and focused during the day. More than just a week- long detox, the cleanse caused major upheaval in our physical and emotional lives. Planning meals and preparing all the fresh produce took a lot of time and effort. The first four days were the toughest, with us crashing into bed at 8:00 p.m. most nights and a nagging fatigue. Towards the end of the week energy returned with renewed vigor and we both felt a spring in our step. Here are five lessons I took away from cleansing:

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The Cleanse Begins

Winter Fruits (c)2013 La Domestique

Remember when I said the husband and I were going to do a cleanse? Well, today the cleanse begins! So many of you commented on my last post, showing your support and desire to follow along – I thought you might like to see what our first week looks like. As I mentioned before, we’ll be doing a combination of the Whole Living Action Plan and the cleanse from Dr. Junger’s book, Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself.

Why combine two plans? I like how the Whole Living Action Plan is vegan during the first week, and their meal plan provided a guide upon which I could personalize the cleanse. I think Dr. Junger’s Yes and No food lists in Clean might be good for helping me avoid reflux-causing foods and plan on incorporating some of the recipes from the book into our detox diet this week. Also, I’m going to try a few of Dr. Junger’s recommendations, like taking probiotics during the cleanse and drinking 2 tablespoons olive oil every evening. Dr. Junger suggests sauna and deep tissue massage to help the body get rid of toxins during the cleanse, and I’ll be making time for that too. This week is all about eating fresh, unprocessed foods and trying to avoid toxins (pesticides, artificial ingredients) so the body has a chance to heal. Two liquid meals a day and a more substantial lunch gives the digestive system a rest so energy can be put toward detoxifying. I won’t go into much detail here, but encourage you to check out Clean and the Whole Living Action Plan to learn more.

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Cleansing and a Recipe for Salmon Cooked in Parchment

Ingredients for Salmon Cooked in Parchment with Tarragon and Peas (c)2013 La Domestique

I’m stubborn. I don’t like to be told what to do. Try to push me and I’ll probably do exactly the opposite. Luckily, my husband finds this quality endearing. Was I born this way? Is it genetics, birth order (I’m the eldest), or ingrained in my Southern roots? Maybe my obstinate nature became stronger after I was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of nineteen. The chemo, the radiation, the doctors – I had to follow orders or die. I fell ill over the course of a weekend and was transported on an emergency jet from a tiny college town in Arkansas to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The next day I got a diagnosis of cancer and my first round of chemotherapy. Like a dog backed into a corner, I had no choice but to do what I was told. Months of chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant followed. The doctors handed down mandates. Because of the treatment, I would never be able to bear children. My chances of survival would be 20% at best. The treatment would destroy my body and cause lifelong side effects. If the treatment was successful, my body would heal and I would survive.

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Roast Chicken Legs with Mushroom Sauce

Roast Chicken Legs with Mushroom Sauce (c)2013 La Domestique

These photographs of Roast Chicken Legs with Mushroom Sauce were part of the series from my last post featuring Roasted Carrot Soup. I photographed this series  for a client and none of the recipes are my own. I cannot share the recipes here, but I thought you might enjoy the photos and a few tidbits I learned during the project. I don’t think I’ve ever bought chicken legs (meaning thigh and drumstick all in one piece), and I was pleasantly surprised by them. First, chicken legs are cheap – even cheaper per pound than buying a whole bird. Second, there’s a lot of meat on those bones. Third, the meat is quite tasty.

For this recipe, the chicken legs were simply roasted in a pan with onion wedges, a drizzle of oil, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Once cooked through and golden brown, I set the chicken and onions aside and made a quick pan sauce. Sautéed onions and mushrooms simmered in a mixture of pan juices, red wine, milk, and flour until the sauce thickened. While the sauce simmered my husband and I nibbled at the roast onion wedges, which were the best part of the dish! Following the recipe, I served the roast chicken on a platter with a generous handful of fresh parsley and mushroom sauce on the side. After cooking this recipe, I think I’ll be using chicken legs more often, especially in braised or stewed dishes that call for a whole bird broken down into 8 pieces.

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Roasted Carrot Soup

Roasted Carrot Soup (c)2013 La Domestique

A few weeks ago I photographed this Roasted Carrot Soup recipe for a client and I’ve been on a pureed vegetable soup kick ever since. Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and squash add a pop of color to the soup bowl that’s most welcome during the grey days of winter. Try potato, celery root, or cauliflower for an elegant bowl of silky cream-colored soup. For years I’ve used the base recipe for How to Make Pureed Vegetable Soups from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School cookbook. Martha’s method involves three steps: sauté the aromatics (like onion and garlic), add the base vegetable and simmer in stock, puree the soup. The technique is simple and open to endless variations. You can use homemade vegetable or chicken stock in the soup, but I find water works just fine and lets the pure vegetable flavor shine. I can’t share the Roasted Carrot Soup recipe here, but I can tell you that the technique for slicing the carrots and roasting them in the oven (along with a head of garlic wrapped in foil) really pumped up the flavor. To make the puree I placed the roasted garlic cloves in a blender with the carrot, sautéed shallots and fresh ginger, and water. You can always thin a pureed vegetable soup if it’s too thick, so be judicious with the liquids until you’ve got the right consistency. The beauty of pureed vegetable soups is their ability to be rich and velvety without any cream or added thickeners. Finish the soup with a garnish of fresh herbs, good olive oil, or a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.  

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Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper (c)2013 La Domestique

Hello there! We’re halfway through January, can you believe it? To be honest, the past couple of weeks have been a blur for me. Has it been that way for you too? After taking a little time to relax and enjoy the holidays, I’ve been completely overwhelmed getting back in the swing of things. It’s a good overwhelmed, though. I’ve been blessed with a lot of freelance photography and writing work, but as these things go I’m sure things will slow down come February. The freelance life is feast or famine. It’s been bitterly cold here in Colorado (daytime temperatures have hit a high of 5°F!), and I’ve been working from home trying to keep from getting the flu. How are you coping with the winter blues? I’ve seen a lot of bloggers organizing their pantries and whipping up brightly colored juices to boost the immune system. This time of year I kind of enjoy the challenge of cooking from the pantry (while the garden hibernates). One can only eat so much citrus, and so I try to find creative ways to infuse my meals with healthy produce. Today I’ve got a pantry meal for you that’s based on hearty, filling grains and relies on roasted red bell peppers from the jar for color and nutrition. Bon appétit!

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Winter Salad with Grapefruit and Seared Scallops

Winter Salad with Grapefruit and Seared Scallops (c)2013 La Domestique

I love a fresh start. A clean slate. A chance to begin anew. I don’t make resolutions for the New Year, but I do become quieter and more thoughtful. After all the holiday parties and visiting, it’s nice to retreat to my nest with the husband. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ve been and where I’m headed in the next year (haven’t we all?). 2012 was my first year earning an income as a freelance writer and photographer, and it’s been a tough (but rewarding) learning curve. I leapt before I looked most of the time, which made for many unique experiences that helped me grow quickly, maybe even too quickly. Because of this I can see I need to go back and attend to the details. I’ve got to slow down and focus on the quality of my work, rather than the quantity. That’s ok, though. I wake up with bright eyes and an open heart, because I still have SO MUCH TO LEARN. My thirst for life cannot be quenched.

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Favorite Recipes of 2012

RoseAndMussels-long

Thank you all for following La Domestique the past year. I’m so excited about 2013 I could burst!

Before our fresh start tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some favorite recipes from 2012.

Spring

Rosé-Steamed Mussels

Rhubarb Clafoutis

Spring Pea and Herb Salad

Summer

Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil

Lettuce Wraps with Quinoa, Avocado, Mushrooms and Tahini

Autumn

Italian Prune Plum and Cardamom Conserve

Chocolate Pear Tart

Grilled Plum Salad with Purple Basil, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Winter

Rose Water Scented Couscous with Citrus, Yogurt, and Almonds

Election Day Chicken Drumsticks

Pear, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Tart

Chicken That Fancies Itself Spanish

I would love to hear your favorite recipe from your own repertoire that you’ve cooked this year. Please do share a link in the comments section. Click Here.

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Christmas Cookies

Peppermint Meringues (c)2012 La Domestique

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on our troubles will be out of sight…

{words by Ralph Blane}

Valentine’s Day is marked by chocolate, Easter is sweet bread, the Fourth of July is ice cream, Halloween is candy, Thanksgiving is pie, and Christmas is cookies. Whether store-bought or home-baked, a tin of assorted cookies on the kitchen table makes each day leading up to Christmas feel festive. If you can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit, put on some Christmas music and bake a batch of cookies (by the time you finish licking the spoon clean you’ll feel like a kid again). With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to lose your joy. A dozen cookies baking in the oven slows time down just enough so you can savor the season as the house fills with the aroma of caramelizing butter, sugar, and spices. Tis the season for giving, so bake a few extra to give away – and just like the Grinch – your heart will grow three sizes in one day!

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About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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