Martha's New Gourmet Food Items on QVC

Tomorrow, October 18th, Martha will debut her line of prepackaged Gourmet Food items on QVC. This is Martha's third food line: she did a small collection of prepackaged foods for Kirkland Foods at Costco in 2008 (a holiday turkey, a honey-glazed holiday ham, three kinds of soups, short ribs and several baked goods, among other items) and later, in 2013, developed a much more extensive food line called "Pantry" for JC Penney, which included items such as olive oil, baking mixes, spice rubs and various sauces.

Among the QVC offerings will be a Thanksgiving turkey breast (four pounds) complete with two holiday side dishes - perfect for a small Thanksgiving gathering. This will be the 'special value' option on tomorrow's show, which airs at 12 p.m. ET and again at 3 p.m. ET. Below is a list of some of the food items that will be on offer:
This special Thanksgiving dinner includes a ready-to-make meal with a four-pound turkey breast paired with two holiday side dishes. It’s perfect for those smaller intimate gatherings of up to eight people.
The mashed potatoes were based on a recipe by Martha's mom, Big Martha. They are made with Russet potatoes, whole milk, cream cheese, butter and heavy cream. Very rich and delicious!
This cherry stuffing is another big favourite. It is made with chunks of crusty white bread crumbs, blended with butter, chicken broth, freshly chopped onion and celery, lots of herbs, and sweet tart dried cherries.
This macaroni and cheese side dish is made with four different cheeses – sharp white cheddar, gruyere, fontina, and parmigiano, blended with real butter and milk, a hint of onion and cayenne pepper, all mixed with elbow macaroni noodles.
And this classic creamed spinach is something that was often served on Martha's family’s holiday menu growing up. It is made with chopped spinach, butter, whole milk, and sour cream, and topped with a panko bread crumb, butter, and gruyere cheese.
These savory tomato tarts are made with roasted tomatoes, garlic and fontina cheese and garnished with fresh basil.
This brie en croute is made with a puffed pastry, baked until all the cheese is deliciously melting and filled with dried fruits and nuts. Once it is cut open, it’s easy to see all the delicious, warm cheese inside. It comes ready to bake in this flaky puffed-pastry crust.
Three types of chocolates will be offered in festive gift boxes for holiday entertaining or gift giving. The chocolates include sea salt toffee bark, peppermint bark and pecan nut clusters.
Martha will offer more items on October 22nd, including pigs-in-a-blanket (sausage rolls) and cheese sticks.

Schedule of Martha's upcoming QVC appearances:
Sunday, October 22nd at 12pm - Gourmet Food
Monday, October 30th at 5pm and 10pm - Fashion
November 10th at 9pm ET - Skincare


The November Issue

The November issue is popping up on newsstands and arriving in mailboxes! As always, it is an ode to Thanksgiving with recipes and ideas that focus on the beginning of the holiday season. The cover is of a carved turkey, all arranged on a big platter that is ready to be brought to the table. When I first saw it, I was immediately reminded of the 2013 November issue, which has an almost identical cover, as you can see below. I think the latest cover, while virtually a carbon copy of the 2013 issue, is more beautifully styled and delicious-looking. What it lacks in originality it makes up for with improvements in style. Watch for it on newsstands!

Sneak Peak at Martha's Next Book!

My friend David Pantoja, who hosts the Good Things by David blog, recently received an advanced copy of Martha Stewart's next book, which is titled "Martha Stewart's Newlywed Kitchen" - out on November 7th. David shares some photos and insights about the book on his blog but he's agreed to let me share a few photos here as well.
Described as the "ultimate cookbook for the modern couple", the book focuses on recipes for weeknight dinners and easy, casual entertaining. Not just for newlyweds, the book is a couple's guide (any couple!) with plenty of recipes that are designed to feed just two people: a unique feature among cookbooks that always seem to cater to larger families or crowds. It's nice to have a cookbook meant for two! Below are some of David's photographs of the book:
A nice feature of the book is a guide to serving essentials with lists of must-have dinnerware, glassware, serving pieces, table linens and entertaining accessories that can help a couple starting out (or anyone who needs a good checklist!) gather the pieces they need to entertain small groups.
As mentioned above, many of the weeknight dinners cater to couples, with portions that are just right for two.
The book also has you covered when it comes to entertaining small groups or hosting family for the holidays. There are menus for a weekend brunch, a taco fiesta and a fondue dinner, among others. There is also a Thanksgiving Day menu and recipes for a holiday cocktail party!

As someone who still feels like a newlywed, ten years after saying "I do", I think this book will be a welcome addition to my home. There is just the two of us at home most of the time and how nice it will be to have a book that celebrates a loving twosome! You can pre-order the book now on Amazon. It will be in stores November 7th.


Season Eight of Martha Bakes Begins This Weekend!

Martha Bakes is in its eighth season and this time Martha will teach us all about ways to bake using more health-conscious ingredients and baking methods. Inspired by her latest baking book "A New Way to Bake", the show will also welcome a roster of guests who will join Martha in the kitchen to share their recipes and techniques for healthy baking. Among the recipes will be apple-cider cake, honey-wheat Parker House rolls, sweet and savory versions of Scottish hot oat cereal, healthier ways to make pie crusts and pastries, chocolate making and more! I'm looking forward to tuning in! Check your local PBS listings to find out when the show is airing in your region. (Oh, and if you love the kitchen where the show is filmed - on set at Martha's headquarters in Manhattan - you can get the look yourself at home with Martha's line of kitchen designs at The Home Depot. Click here to explore these designs.)
Guests this season will include Simo Kuusisto, owner of Nordic Breads in Long Island City in New York, Blair Marvin, co-owner of Elmore Mountain Bread in Elmore, Vermont, Nate Hodge, head chocolate maker at Raaka Chocolate, Jack Algiere, the farm director at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Tarrytown, New York, and many others. For a full list, click here.


Martha's New Book on Flowers

We will have to wait until February 13, 2018, but I'm already excited about this book. "Martha's Flowers" promises to be the ultimate Martha Stewart guide to planting, growing, harvesting and arranging flowers. Kevin Sharkey, the editorial director of decorating at MSL, partnered with Martha to create the book. Below is an image of the cover and a description of the book from the publisher:
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Martha Stewart's lifelong love of flowers began at a young age, as she dug in and planted alongside her father in their family garden, growing healthy, beautiful blooms, every year. The indispensable lessons she learned then--and those she has since picked up from master gardeners--form the best practices she applies to her voluminous flower gardens today. For the first time, she compiles the wisdom of a lifetime spent gardening into a practical yet inspired book. Learn how and when to plant, nurture, and at the perfect time, cut from your garden. With lush blooms in hand, discover how to build stunning arrangements. Accompanied by beautiful photographs of displays in Martha's home, bursting with ideas, and covering every step from seed to vase, Martha's Flowers is a must-have handbook for flower gardeners and enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Hardcover; Clarkson Potter; 288 pages


Ellen Morrissey Leaving MSL

I learned on Friday that Ellen Morrissey will be leaving MSL to pursue new career opportunities. Ellen was the editorial director of books and special projects at Martha Stewart, responsible for all those great special issues and books that we so ravenously collect. Ellen joined the company in 2001 as a books editor and oversaw the publication of eleven New York Times bestsellers, including Martha Stewart's Cookies, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, Everyday Food: Fresh, Flavor, Fast, Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts and Power Foods. She had previously worked at Gourmet magazine and at Harper Collins Publishers.
Ellen's primary function was to come up with ideas for books and special issues, either spearheading new content development or mining the vast library of previously-published content to collate into a new collection for a new book or special publication. She oversaw the creation of many of Martha's books, from start to finish, from design to publication, and was instrumental in the success of Martha's publishing ventures. I think it must have been such a fun job to be in charge of this department! I know I speak for everyone when I wish her all the best and say that she will certainly be missed! Good luck, Ellen! 


A Look Inside the Revamped October Issue

I received the October issue of Martha Stewart Living last Friday and I've been enjoying it ever since. As noted in a previous blog, the magazine has been redesigned with subtle changes to help improve its flow and visual appeal. Below I've highlighted some of the changes you will notice in the issue - all of which I'm very happy with, as a reader!
Let's start with the cover: I love it! Martha appears for the first time in a very long time. It's been almost two years since she's been on the cover and the last time she appeared it was in the form of a painted portrait for the December, 2015, issue. This is the first October cover she's graced since 1995 and I'm hopeful that her appearance signals the return of more Martha content in the issues to come. I notice, too, that the cover is not plastered with headlines, as some of the recent issues have been. A magazine cover that is crowded with competing headlines can look desperate: "Buy me! Look at me!" Letting the image speak for itself with a few artfully-worded teasers should be enough to lure a reader.
The Contents page feels bright and engaging. The highlights of the features well are all isolated on the first page in an easy-to-read fashion. The use of bold photography and large numerical font keeps it looking graphic.
Martha in Roy Lichtenstein pastiche for Halloween looks ravishing! Each of the front-of-book sections now has a large white block at the top of their respective title pages. A full-page photograph is arresting and engaging.
The same design techniques are used for the Good Things section as well, keeping the magazine flowing through a sense of visual consistency using repeated design cues.
First of all, I love this large, exaggerated pegboard idea! As you page through the magazine, I love that the introductory page to each section is clearly formatted using the same design template.
One of the new fonts developed for MSL is shown at the top of this page: "THE CREATIVE PROCESS." It is clean and linear. Lots of white space on the editorial pages makes for an easy read.
A bit of a different look for the Ask Martha section with its bold, capital Q. In previous issues the Ask Martha section felt a bit buried in the Good Living section. Oftentimes I would barely notice it. Now it stands on its own and is much more visible.
The Everyday Food section feels more elevated and noticeable in its new layout.
The back of the magazine is introduced, as it always has been, with a splash page that gives the reader pause as she ventures into the features section. Here, a lovely thought for the autumn season from poet Stanley Horowitz.
Big, beautiful photographs introduce the first feature about New Jersey apple growers and their annual harvest party. The photographs, by Mikkel Vang, are warm and sumptuous.
Halloween decorating is a MUST for Martha's October issue. Six full pages are devoted to the subject in this issue. The crafts do have a bit of a "seen it before" feel but the layout and design is so reminiscent of some of the really glorious past issues. Again, the photography (by Ted Cavanaugh) is appropriately moody and atmospheric.
Page to page, the content flows beautifully.
Breads - all kinds of breads! Another innovative and delicious-looking feature from the food department. Carrot-Asiago bread? Yes, please! With a side of Pumpkin-Orange on the side!
The editors are getting so much better at including at least one garden story per issue. This one, in California, is so simply serene.
And, of course, a decorating feature. This one is all about the creative use of tiles in areas of the home where you may not expect to find them: the living room, the bedroom and on tabletops.

Overall, the design changes bring a lightness to the magazine: a new sense of flow for a streamlined reading experience. By contrast, the photographs appear to be more intricate and lush, thoughtfully styled and composed, much like they were in past issues when Ayesha Patel was running the style department. They seem to have taken their cues from those really beautiful editorials and implemented them.

Let me know what you think of the issue once you receive it by leaving a comment!