Enjoy these tasty strawberry napoleons.
Food stylist and recipe developer Tanya Eng creates a fruity, flaky pastry treat that calls to the lighter fare and delicate flavours of spring.
The first signs of spring are shyly starting to show themselves, and after the rich and hearty desserts of winter, we're craving something a little lighter and fruitier. The napoleon (or mille feuille in French, which translates to thousand leaves) can take on a whole host of flavours between its fluffy pastry layers, from vanilla custard to creamy caramel. With our sights set on warm-weather walks and patio meals, we took a casual approach to our version and filled it with fresh strawberries, smooth Greek yogurt, toasted hazelnuts and a touch of cool mint.
Stack yours with as little or as much of each ingredient as you desire - it's just as fun to build them as it is to eat them!
Makes 4 napoleons.
1 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board, bunching it to lightly crinkle. Brush with some of the butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Repeat with the remaining 2 sheets, layering them on top. Cut 12 3"-round circles out of the dough. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake on the centre rack of the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown; let cool.
2 In a bowl, combine the strawberries, icewine and mint. Spread the mixture evenly onto 8 of the phyllo rounds. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the Greek yogurt and 1⁄2 tablespoon of the hazelnuts.
3 To assemble, stack 2 of the filled layers together and top them off with 1 of the remaining plain phyllo rounds. Repeat the process to make a total of 4 two-layer napoleons.
4 Serve the napoleons garnished with a whole strawberry and a few sprigs of mint and lightly dusted with the icing sugar.
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Image by: Ashley Capp
Girlie girls may love pink, but their bedrooms don’t have to be saccharine. This design blogger created a little lady’s room that’s as mature and glamorous as it is sweet.
When design blogger Christine Dovey of the popular site Bijou & Boheme took on the challenge of turning an above-the-garage family room into a bedroom for her eight-year-old daughter, Scarlett, the mission was clear: Create a fun and glam space that caters to a tutu-wearing girlie girl without falling victim to a childish princess look that would be down-right embarrassing by middle school. Because, despite her passion for design, says the busy mom of four: “There’s no way I’d take the time and money to do it all over again in a few years. No way!” So the style, while youthfully pretty in pink, also had to be timeless and mature.
Eight-year-old Scarlett Dovey was allowed to make some choices when it came to decorating her room – out of the pre-approved options, of course. She selected the gold floral wallpaper design (out of five) because she thought it looked like the inside of a jewellery box. “We had two finalists, but I’m glad she went with this one because the other one was too colourful and more expensive,” says her mom, homeowner Christine Dovey.
Christine just happened to attach this flower – made from dyed coffee filters, pipe cleaners and lace – to the bedpost on a whim one day and it’s lived there ever since.
The bright pink settee was scored for a song – as is – on Kijiji (lucky find), while standard big-box store drapery was custom pleated and embellished with pompom fringe trim for a delicate luxe look.
The lady of the room happily lounges on her pink settee.
A little high-gloss pink spray paint makes an inexpensive dressing table (which Scarlett uses as a desk) extra special. It sits by the window overlooking the backyard, making homework slightly more bearable.
A rolling garment rack, spray-painted gold for that glitzy effect, is perfect for dress-up parties. “It looks like it’s from a fashion studio!” enthuses Scarlett.
“Every few weeks, we go to the antiques market and I let the kids each pick out something that’s $5,” says Christine, noting that Scarlett gravitates to porcelain trinkets and pretty figurines.
When Christine and Scarlett saw the antique cabinet, it was love at first sight. But getting it inside and upstairs wasn’t easy. “At one point, we discussed hiring a crane! My husband turned blue,” says Christine. They eventually had the stair railing removed and found success.
Scarlett’s collection of stuffed animals is neatly coralled atop the antique cabinet.
Contemporary clean lines gives this bathroom its timeless look and spa-like feel.
A soothing palette gives this master bathroom its spa-like feel.
"Balance" was the operative word when Sophie Burke and Jennifer Millar created the master bathroom in this new-build Vancouver house. The homeowners wanted the space to emulate an airy retreat – something spa-like but not too fussy. So the designers injected the room with traditional character and contemporary clean lines – a timeless combination showcased throughout the home, which the duo designed as well. They also incorporated equal amounts of sleek and textural elements and functional and decorative features for an interesting yet well-balanced result.
The vanity’s open shelves and extra counter space provide spots to place decorative items and bath-time essentials.
The free-standing bathtub is a sculptural, contemporary element. “It’s large enough to relax and bathe in, but it’s not so big that it overwhelms the space,” says one of the homeowners. The simple linen café curtains offer privacy while keeping the tops of the windows uncovered, allowing for pretty treetop views.
Steel-framed mirrors and simple sconces, which are actually picture lights, inject a retro-industrial vibe.
In lieu of the usual two sinks, designers Sophie Burke and Jennifer Millar used one oversized basin with two wall-mounted faucets. “The sink is shallow enough so that the top drawers of the vanity actually open,” says one of the homeowners. Wainscotting, created out of ceramic subway tiles that continue from the shower, offers texture and character. “We used dark grout and added a chair rail detail throughout, which contribute to the space’s vintage look.”
Forgoing a curb in the glass-enclosed shower, made possible by sloping the floor toward the drain, creates a streamlined feel. “We were able to do that because the house is a new construction,” says Sophie. This application also lets the herringbone marble-tiled floor run right through without being interrupted. “It’s a really nice detail,” she adds.