2010 starts with a BANG!

The house gets published~

2010 promises to be an exciting year and it has already started off with a big bang.

Our house has been published in the 2010 February “Makeovers” issue of House Beautiful magazine on news stands now. Yes, House Beautiful has already sent the February issue to its subscribers and some of our friends have already found it on sale in stores. Please check your favorite local store—whether it is a grocery store, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Borders, or convenient store. If you cannot find it, ask the store when the 2010 February issue of House Beautiful will be appearing on their racks. Once you find it, buy it! There is no way to view the magazine on line and we’d love for our issue to sell out.

The article is entitled “Reimagining a Grande Dame” and appears on pages 66 through 75. Mimi Read (http://www.mimiread.com) wrote the article and insightfully brought to life the interviews that she did with each of us separately—I was in Hilton Head Island while Richard was home in Montgomery. William Abranowicz (http://www.williamabranowicz.com/HOME.html) photographed the house and it was thrilling to watch him work the natural light that floods our house. Peter Frank (http://peterfrank.com/) cleverly styled the house, arranging flowers and using items that we already had throughout the house. House Beautiful’s Design Director Scot Schy originally “scouted” our house and started the ball rolling, plus he is a genius with an iron. The architecture firm that Richard works for (www.mcalpinetankersley.com) repeatedly has their work featured in House Beautiful, both architecture and interior design.

For the photo shoot I made an Heirloom Tomato and Onion Tart and it can be seen on the kitchen island, page 71. I have included the recipe for it below (*). This is not the most opportune time of year to make a tomato tart, but we can all read it and dream of a warm summer and the taste of tomatoes. If you do happen to find delicious tomatoes now, make this recipe and enjoy a bit of summer in winter.

Enjoy our house and the rest of the articles in the 2010 February issue. If you’d like to write to House Beautiful and let them know how much you enjoyed the article on our house and this February issue, they can be reached at: readerservices@housebeautiful.com.

Thanks for indulging me on this slight diversion from the blog’s usual content. With the New Year, I have also slightly altered the blog’s format, which now includes a “Tags” section. This is a glossary of previous entries categorized by topics. The “Tags” appear on the right side of the blog below my bio. You can still scroll down and read beyond the most recent entry, but with the addition of the “Tags” listings, the blog can now be searched for common subjects between all the entries.

Ciao e a presto~


*Here is the recipe:

Heirloom Tomato and Onion Tart with Pancetta, Basil, and Mint

by Mark Leslie

3 large heirloom tomatoes (2 ¼ – 2 ½ pounds)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 slices (approximately 5 ounces) ¼-inch-thick cut pancetta, cut into ¼-inch-thick cubes

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced into half-rounds

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

¼ cup chiffonade of fresh mint

2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs, divided

¼ cup chiffonade of fresh basil

1 (8 ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into seven ¼-inch-thick slices

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Deseed each tomato by slicing across just under the stem end, and using your finger or the handle of a spoon, remove the seeds from the tomato’s cavities, leaving the firm flesh walls of the tomato intact, and discarding the seeds and any of the tomato’s juices. Cut each tomato into ¼-inch-thick slices, liberally salt and pepper both sides of each slice, and place on three layers of paper towels to weep.

3. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and cook until lightly golden, about 6 minutes. Add the onions and cook with the pancetta until the onions are soft and start to turn a light golden brown, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the vinegar until well combined. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan.

4. Lightly butter a non-stick 10-inch tart pan with removable rim. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out until it is large enough to fill the tart pan. Fit it into the tart pan and trim off any overhanging pieces of pastry. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.

5. To assemble the tart, spoon the cooled onion mixture onto the chilled pastry, evenly distributing the onions and pancetta. Scatter the mint over the onion mixture. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon bread crumbs over the top. Overlap the tomato slices in a circular pattern, using the smaller slices to fill in the center of the tart. Scatter the basil over the tomatoes and evenly space the mozzarella slices on top of the basil. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon bread crumbs over the entire tart, followed by the Parmigiano. Drizzle with olive oil.

6. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until the crust’s edge and mozzarella are golden brown. (Place a baking sheet on the rack below if the tart starts to drip while baking.) Remove the outer rim and let the tart cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before slicing, and serving warm. The tart may also be left to cool completely before slicing and serving at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.

About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

  1. ennistbpennistbp01-08-2010

    Gorgeous, inviting house. I did write kudos to HB per your suggestion. Would love to see a sketch of the floorplan if you are willing to share. I’m always fascinated by how people live. For example, love your idea of the large dining table in your living area, but since it seems to be sandwiched between the foyer and library, where is your beautiful kitchen located in relation to the dining area? Also, where is your fireplace? Ennis (mom who loves architecture) in VA .

  2. Mark LeslieMark Leslie01-10-2010

    Ennis, thanks for the interest in the house and the blog. I don’t have a visual sketch of the house to share, but I think I can describe it well enough with the aid of the photos in the article. When you walk in the front door, the French jardiniere is directly in front of you, the Gothic panel with the statue of St Denis is to your left and to the right is the view through the dining area into the library. You will notice in the small photo of the jardiniere that there is an alcove to the right of it–the kitchen is through that alcove. If you walk in the front door, turn right, and walk into the main living area, the room (which measures about 17′ x 35′) is divided into thirds. The front third is the dining area with the table. The middle third has the piano with the pulpit sounding board (shell) on one side and the fireplace on the wall directly opposite. The back third is the living room with the sofa and screens. Between the piano and the red high-back chair in the living room is a doorway that leads into the kitchen. The straight on view of the sink was taken from that doorway. The kitchen can be accessed via the alcove (which is to the left of the stove on the kitchen side) from the foyer or through that doorway in the living room.Some people might think that the dining room is too far away from the kitchen, but in reality it isn’t. The elliptical marble counter/table in the kitchen is used as the “breakfast” table in the morning, otherwise we walk through the living room to serve and eat dinner. It is nice because we actually eat dinner at the table and not on the sofa in the library gazing at the TV. There is no TV in the main living area. There is a small one in the niche of the kitchen and then one in the library. We both grew up in households where the TV was not the center of the evening meal, which is nice. Don’t get me wrong, we do on occasion eat in the kitchen at the counter watching TV or at a small table in the library watching its TV, but as a rule, we turn on the stereo and use the dining table, because it is a focus in the house and not some stuffy room abandoned from the daily life of the house by only being used for formal gatherings. The bedrooms are up on the second floor. I hope this gives you an idea of the house and I hope you continue to read the blog.Currently, I am waiting to hear back from literary agents about book material that was submitted in early December. I hope to hear somthing toward the end of this month.Again, thanks for the interest, the question, and the complement.Arrivederci-Ciao,Mark

  3. ennistbpennistbp01-11-2010

    Delightful! Thank you for sharing, and best wishes on your book.

  4. hbgordonhbgordon01-14-2010

    I found your blog post through decorno, I had to run and get my HB and look at your feature story again. I think your kitchen is beautiful and unexpected, which is the best kind of decorating! Weather or not it is functional is only something you can verify (and did!). I love the mirror over the stove reflecting the windows! Genius! :)Heidi

  5. Mark LeslieMark Leslie01-15-2010

    Heidi, thanks for the complement. We love our kitchen too and it still surprises me at times that it is our kitchen that I am walking into. I find it a little unexpected, too–in a really great way.Also, thanks for subscribing to my blog. I hope you’ll take a moment to read through the entries and find them useful, humorous, and interesting. Ciao e buon appettito!

  6. acountryfarmhouseacountryfarmhouse01-19-2010

    Greetings from the magic of the blog world – I found you through your comment on The Newlywed Diaries! Your house is so very beautiful. I absolutely love that each and every room is its own work of art. It’s wonderfully inspiring. And congratulations on the “House Beautiful” feature – I’m sure that they were thrilled beyond belief to have a home as beautiful as yours, grace the pages of their magazine. Ciao! Trina http://acountryfarmhouse.blogspot.com

  7. Mark LeslieMark Leslie01-20-2010

    Trina, Thanks for the complements. Everyone at House Beautiful was wonderful at the photo shoot and we were so fortunate to have the photographer, stylist, and writer that we did. They really understood and liked the house, too. Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope you find it entertaining, informative, and intriguing enough to come back and visit it often! Pass the link along if you think others would enjoy it. Buona giornata~ Mark

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.