Trendspotting | The Oxford Shirt

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Paris, photographed by Tommy Ton for Jak & Jil.

This spring, the quintessential dress shirt is making a comeback. While the Oxford shirt has always been a classic, the reworked dress shirt — in whites and blues, with unconventional tailoring and accents — will be cropping up everywhere in the coming few months. At least in my book, this comes pretty close to perfection — white shirt worn casually, a chic skirt, and pointy pumps:

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Copenhagen Street Style by Diego Zuko for Harper’s Bazaar.

Although I don’t really “do” trends, this one I’m kind of excited about — mainly because I already wear Oxford shirts on a pretty regular basis. (You know, because I’m classy like that.) There are also so many ways to wear a dress shirt beyond the conventional norms — wear a stark white shirt alone, play with a contrast collar, or go for some jeweled accenting (all of which can be found at jcrew.com, it should be mentioned). I also like this trend (if you can even call it that) because its not going out of style anytime soon — so you know anything you purchase will be a worthwhile investment.

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Top row: photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue Japan. Second row, left to right: Dior s/s 14 (via Harper’s Bazaar), Tod’s s/s 14 (via Harper’s Bazaar), Alexander Wang s/s 14 (via style.com). Third row: Altuzarra s/s 14 (via style.com), Balenciaga s/s 14 (via Harper’s Bazaar), Giovanna Battaglia by Diego Zuko for Harper’s Bazaar. Fourth row: New York by Tommy Ton for Jak & Jil. Fifth row: Leandra Medine by Diego Zuko for Harper’s Bazaar, Kel Markey by Diego Zuko for Harper’s Bazaar.  

The return of the Oxford, contrary to its functionality as a dress shirt, marks a decided shift towards a more relaxed approach to style. While the shirt can be styled up or down, it is chic even in its most basic and unfussy incarnations (especially as it is worn in most of the above images). The dress shirt — whether starched and pressed, or crumpled and thrown casually over a skirt (or nothing at all) is part of a larger transition to a looser structural style that many designers appeared to favor for the spring season: slouchy blazers, a more casual approach to menswear for women, and large, floaty pants were also all on trend. The Oxford, however, is truly a wardrobe classic, and super accessible — which is why I’m such a big fan of its spring comeback.

Thoughts on this trend for spring?

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

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Turtles — although slightly misleading in name — have always been one of my favorite chocolates, but I haven’t had one in years. I’m a huge fan of caramel, chocolate, and pecans, and turtles have all of these wrapped in one delicious bite. So when I found this recipe for turtle thumbprint cookies on Handle the Heat (an AWESOME food blog — seriously, go check it out), I knew I had to try it.

Although there are a lot of steps in the recipe, it’s actually pretty easy: the cookies have a bunch of components, but all are super simple to make: the dough comes together fast, and the caramel filling uses pre-made caramels, so it’s just a matter of combing with cream and melting. The only change I would recommend is the method for piping the chocolate drizzle on top: you don’t need to use a pastry bag of any kind — just dip a fork in the melted chocolate and shake it over the cookies (on a parchment paper, of course). It sounds like a weird method on paper, but, trust me, it works.

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The result is delicious, and these disappeared right away. Despite having a lot of sweet components, the recipe is well-balanced and not overwhelming. The cookie is actually pretty neutral (in terms of sweetness), so it’s a good base for the gooey caramel and chocolate drizzle, as well as the crunchy pecans. If you’re a fan of turtles — or just plain awesome cookies — give these a try! If I can make them (and I’m terrible at baking cookies), these are pretty much foolproof.

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Here’s the recipe, slightly modified, via Handle the Heat:

Ingredients

For the Cookies:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped (NB: I found that I needed a little extra, so keep that in mind)

For the Caramel Thumbprint:

  • 16 unwrapped caramel squares
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • Fleur de sel, or other flaked sea salt, for sprinkling, optional

For the Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening

 

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Directions

For the cookies:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until well combined and fluffy. Add in the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract. Reserve the egg white in a separate container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, or until the dough is chilled and firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  4. Lightly beat the reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Dip each ball in the egg white, then roll in the pecans, pressing lightly to coat well. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down the center of each ball with your thumb.
  5. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until set. Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let cool until just warm.

For the caramel:

  1. While the cookies are baking, combine the caramel squares and cream in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.
  2. When the cookies are warm, press down the center of each cookie again with your thumb or the opposite end of a wooden spatula. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into each thumbprint. Sprinkle the caramel with Fleur de sel to taste. Let cool completely.

For the chocolate drizzle:

  1. In a small heat-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and oil in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Using a fork, dip the tips of the fork into the chocolate and shake the chocolate out over the cookies. Make sure to use a layer of parchment paper to catch the excess chocolate. Let the chocolate set before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Five 30-Second Summer Book Reviews

Seeing as the summer is drawing to a close (and I haven’t posted any book reviews in a while), I thought I’d summarize my thoughts on a few of the books I read this summer — and hopefully give some of my recommendations to add to your August reading lists. These were all great reads for me (I don’t say that lightly, by the way), and I highly recommend all of them, although the subject matter and writing styles differ a lot between the books. Anyway, let me know what you think, especially if you’ve read any of these yourself!

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1. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Admittedly, the fact that I read this on the beach in Italy probably makes it seem a lot better than it is. However, Tom Rachman’s debut novel is pretty wonderful, and I would read it again in a heartbeat (that is, if I didn’t already have a hundred books in my “read this now” queue). Tracking the lives of individuals involved with an English-language newspaper in Rome (from readers to publishers to copy editors), Rachman weaves a stunning narrative that doesn’t quite come together until the very end…which, of course, is what makes it so perfect. Each chapter reads like a little insight into the life of each individual, and explores their personal struggles as well as their relationship to the newspaper. Rachman is gifted at painting vivid, realistic, and raw characters, and even though each chapter is relatively short, his writing (which is very clear, by the way) packs a punch, as he pulls out distinct details from each character’s life. Bit by bit, the reader is also fed the story of how all these lives intertwine — both intentionally and unintentionally — which kept me hooked until the very end. Perfect beach reading, very fresh and original, and overall just fantastic writing.

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2. The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik, a novelist and writer for The New Yorker, is one of my hands-down favorite authors, and he particularly excels with his memoirs. I read one of his other memoirs, Paris to the Moon, a year or so ago, and fell in love with his writing style — it’s sharp, witty, intelligent, and yet decidedly unpretentious. The Table Comes First is less of a memoir than Paris to the Moon, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Although it’s a 300-page volume on one seemingly simple topic, food, there is never a dull moment in Gopnik’s writing. Incredibly cultured, his wealth of knowledge shines through as he weaves together food’s history, philosophy, and its criticisms alongside personal experiences on the topic. It’s really a brilliant read, and I highly recommend this for all a) foodies, and b) francophiles.

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3. Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary

If you’re looking for a good briefer on the history of Islam and the Middle East, look no further. (Okay, I know most of you probably weren’t looking for this. That being said, it’s totally relevant to the world today, and will seriously enhance your understanding of current events. So go read it!) Ansary’s book is widely regarded as one of the best histories of Islam out there, and his writing style is simple and understandable — this is not some stuffy book intended only for academics. What I love about Ansary’s writing is his humor, ability to synthesize, and that he doesn’t assume his readers have any prior knowledge of the topic. It reads like an engaging historical narrative, so if you’re into non-fiction/history, this is a good pick!

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4. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

This is the first novel I’ve read by Rushdie. It’s still banned in many parts of the world and can be controversial in many respects (the book is partly a re-telling of the life of Mohammed, and Rushdie includes narrative elements which run contrary to the Muslim faith), but that’s part of what makes it an interesting read — it’s equal parts entertaining and relevant to our understanding of society today. I’ll admit, though, this is a tough book to understand without a lot of background knowledge of religion (and not just Islam), as well as historical events. I would recommend reading some sort of analysis to better grasp the major themes. This reading guide is a good start (and doesn’t give away the plot — just use it as you go from chapter to chapter). However, it is still an entertaining narrative, and Rushdie is a phenomenal writer — so I’d recommend this for anyone that really appreciates more complex literary styles and long, intense novels (think Beloved).

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5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This is a classic. I’ve been reading The Alchemist every summer for the past six years — I’m currently on my seventh reading. Regardless of whether you’ve read it before, it’s always a great addition to your reading list, and I find that I learn something new every time I pick it up. It’s not so much that the book has changed as it is that my life and perspective shift from reading to reading — so that something new stands out to me each time. That being said, the novel (very short, by the way — you could read it in a few hours) is packed with wisdom, reading more like a fable than anything else. It tracks the life of a former shepherd, Santiago, who abandons his flock in search of his “Personal Legend” — looking for buried treasure at the Pyramids of Egypt. It’s a timeless book about following your dreams (yes, I know this sounds cheesy), but all of us could use a reminder like this once in a while. A great book for self-reflection, and perfect for pretty much any time, ever.

{Images: The Imperfectionists; The Table Comes First; Destiny Disrupted; The Satanic Verses; The Alchemist}

Momofuku Milk Bar’s “Crack Pie”

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For those of you who have never experienced Momofuku (literal meaning: “Lucky Peach”) in New York City, don’t miss out on it next time your in town. It’s one of my friend’s favorite restaurants (the restaurants are noodle bars but also serve lots of other goodies), so I inevitably stop there every time we spend time in Manhattan. And the only thing that’s better, really, than the noodle bar is their dessert shop — or, the Momofuku Milk Bar (fun fact: there’s also one in Toronto, along with six locations in New York).

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Everything they serve is literally addictive. (Hence, the name “Crack Pie” for one of their bestselling pies). They sell cookies, cakes, pies, and fro-yo, all in unconventional but AWESOME flavor combinations — this is not your typical bakery! Christina Tosi, the brilliant chef/mastermind behind Milk Bar is definitely doing something right.

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Milk Bar’s “Crack Pie” is difficult to describe: it is composed of an oat cookie crust and the filling is made with butter, brown sugar, and powdered milk — so it’s essentially a creamy, buttery filling, but doesn’t taste too caramelly. Take my word for it, though: it’s delicious, and very rich. It also stores well, aka it’s perfect for holidays. When I saw the recipe posted on Bon Appétit, I knew I had to try making it myself — and it was very easy! There’s a bit of wait time in the fridge (for the filling to firm up), but otherwise it’s a very simple and straightforward recipe with simple ingredients. Anyway, I’ve posted it below:

Ingredients

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt

Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Directions

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
  2. Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

Filling

  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
  2. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, PFB!

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Hello, lovely readers! Today marks the third — yes, third — birthday of Prada for Breakfast AND this will be my 100th post here!

I’m surprised I’ve been able to keep up with this blog for so long, and though I’ve enjoyed the ride so far, I still feel as though the best is yet to come. Blogging here has always been something I’ve enjoyed, even though it tends to fall by the wayside when I get overwhelmed with work (unfortunately). But I’ve always come back to this blog, which is significant considering that my other forays into the blogging world (all pre-PFB — and believe me, there were many) lasted less than a year.

I’m grateful to all of you who read this blog regularly, and those who just stop by every once and a while — every comment makes my day! And speaking of things that make my day, I thought now would be an appropriate time to share a couple blog awards I’ve received lately:

The Super Sweet Blogging Award, from the fabulous Standing Among Stars

As part of the award, I’m supposed to answer the following questions, so here goes…

  1. Cookies or Cake? Both? Both, obviously. But I’m probably a bigger cake fan as of late, or at least I prefer to bake cake — I find it a lot harder to mess up.
  2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate, duh.
  3. Favorite Sweet Treat? French macarons. There is an amazing food truck near my school that sells handmade French macarons…absolutely to die for.
  4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? Um, all the time.

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And second, the Very Inspiring Blogger Award from the lovely Stylish Heath (above)

I’m also supposed to share seven interesting facts about myself, so here’s a bit about what’s current in my life (in keeping with the nature of this post):

  1. Currently reading The Table Comes First, a food memoir (did you expect me to read anything else?!) by Adam Gopnik, one of my favorite authors. He has also written a fantastic memoir about his time in France called Paris to the Moon — I highly recommend it.
  2. Currently trying to keep up with my Italian through various iPad apps….not working as well as I had hoped.
  3. Just ordered these fabulous pumps from J. Crew — after many diligent months of online stalking.
  4. Finally acquired J. K. Rowling’s new book, The Cuckoo’s Calling (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) and can’t wait to get started reading it!
  5. Ordered a bunch of fonts (yes, you read that correctly) online because, well, I have my priorities.
  6. Newly obsessed with avocados – so good for you and so easy to incorporate into just about everything (need proof? look here)
  7. Working on more posts detailing my trip to Italy — get ready!

I think that about wraps it up. Thank you again to Standing Among Stars and Stylish Heath for the awards, and a huge thank you to everyone who has ever taken the time to read this blog! I can’t wait to see where PFB is a year from now.

{Image Source: Tumblr.}