Sunday, December 8, 2013

Afternoon Tea - January 30th

Join us on Thursday, January 30th at 2pm for our very first Afternoon Tea service.  Fabulous homemade food, friendly faces, and a beautiful view of the Intracoastal waterway complete this lovely afternoon.  Tell your girlfriends and join us at the Night Swan.... feel free to bring your cards and stay a while longer.

 Here is what we will be serving up in January:

Finger Sandwiches
Cranberry Citrus Chicken Salad on Challah Knots
Parmesan and Asparagus Tart
Roasted Beet, Cucumber and Goat Cheese Open Faced Sandwiches

Ginger Scones
Lavender Scones
White Cheddar and Chive Scones
Served with Blueberry Preserves and Clotted Cream

Mini Desserts
Chiffon Tea Cakes with Meyer Lemon Curd
Gingercake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Buttercream

With a few extra surprises, this is an event you won't want to miss.  Seating is limited, so RSVP today.  $24.95 plus tax/person.  386.423.4940.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Elite Exposures Pop Up Photo Studio - Holiday Portraits

We are excited to announce that we have joined forces with Ryan Ellis and Aaron Pelling of Elite Exposures to offer our guests, and locals alike, an opportunity to have an individualized photo shoot at the Night Swan Bed and Breakfast.

Elite Exposures is offering an incredible deal on Saturday, November 23, 2013 -- for only $100, these amazing photographers are including:
  • a 30-minute portrait session featuring several beautiful on-site locations, including a special holiday themed portrait
  • a multi-Pose package with 4 specially enhanced portraits
  • all images from session archived on digital disc*.
  • additional image enhancements may be purchased separately for a special discounted rate - 50% off!
Appointments are available throughout the day, 10am to 4pm.  Reserve your spot now!!

We are PET FRIENDLY! Let the Pawparazzi give your pet superstar portraits!

Contact Ryan Ellis 407.920.0113 or to reserve your spot today!

*Full resolution images provided at no additional fee. (Studios charge hundreds of dollars for this disc!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thanksgiving at the Night Swan B&B

Thanksgiving is a great time of year. The weather has just started to cool down a bit, the kids are out of school, and the house is hopping with visiting friends and family. The aromas wafting through the house tease our stomachs as we prepare for THE big meal.

It's a lot of work, all that cooking, cleaning, and entertaining. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just sit back and relax, enjoy what the holiday has to offer, but not mess with all the work that comes with it? If this sounds like your kinda holiday, bring your family and join us as we celebrate Thanksgiving at the Night Swan. While you relax on the front porch, or throw around the football in the courtyard, we'll do all the slaving in the kitchen for you.

Here's what we're serving up for the special day:

Apple Pomegranate Sparkling Cider
Artisan Cheese Board
Mixed Green Salad
Herb Roasted Turkey and Applewood Smoked Turkey with Pan and Giblet Gravy
Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Herb Stuffing
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pecans
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Sauteed Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Garlic
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie

We are now opening up reservations to the public, but we have limited seating, so call today!!  Dinner is $34.95 a person plus tax and gratuity and will be at 3pm. We hope you and your family will join us for this special meal.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ginger Scones

Scones sometimes have the tendency to be dry and rather flavorless, but not these.  This amazing recipe hails from the Nancy Silverton at the La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles and is courtesy of my favorite website for recipes,  These scones also happen to be a favorite treat around the bed and breakfast.  I like to make them into small squares, just for buffet purposes, but can be cut with a three-inch round cutter as suggested, or into the traditional triangle scone shape.

2.25c unbleached pastry flour of all-purpose flour
1/3c granuated sugar
1T baking powder
1t fine chopped lemon zest
1.5 sticks (6oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and frozen
4.5oz candied ginger, finely chopped into 1/4 pieces to equal 2/3 cup
3/4c heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder, and pulse to incorporate.  Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse on and off, until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger.  Make a well in the cetner and pour in the cream.  Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  4. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball.  Roll or pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick (or rectangle if cutting squares or triangles).  Cut out the circles (or shape of your choice), cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact.
  5. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough.  Place the scones 1 inch apart of a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Brush the tops with the remaining cream.
  7. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.
  8. Try to allow them to cool before you eat them, but try as we might, we haven't quite mastered that.
  9. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Muffins

Vegans are always the most difficult dietary constraint for us to accommodate.  We don't want to give them oatmeal, nor do we want to give them a plate of fruit -- we want to "wow" all of our guests, especially the ones who typically have some issues eating out. 

We've come up with a few treats that tend to go over well -- fruit and nut quinoa, anyone?  But a new favorite is a simple vegan chocolate cupcake recipe that I've recently found on (you can find the original posting here).  Without frosting, they appear to be your standard chocolate muffin, minus the eggs and butter.  Now, for those die-hard vegans out there, this recipe does contain granulated sugar, so all in all it's not a "true" vegan recipe, and I do share that with my guests before serving these muffins.

For everyone else -- vegans and non vegans alike -- this chocolate muffin/cupcake will soon become your new favorite.  People like it so much that I think I just might make these to replace our "normal" chocolate muffin.

1c soy milk (I prefer coconut milk)
1t apple cider vinegar (use white distilled if you don't have apple cider)
3/4c granulated sugar
1/3c canola oil
1 1/2t vanilla extract
1c all purpose flour
1/3c cocoa powder (I prefer dark cocoa powder)
3/4t baking soda
1/2t baking powder
1/4t salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper lines.
2.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
3.  Whisk together the "milk" and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to allow it to curdle.
4.  In a separate bowl add together the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract.
5.  Combine the sugar mixture with the "milk" mixture and beat until foamy.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until no large lumps remains.
7.  Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way.
8.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9.  Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool complete.
10.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pet Friendly New Smyrna

Pet Friendly Accommodations

If the idea of leaving your pet behind while you are out and about enjoying your vacation just doesn't sit right with you, know that New Smyrna Beach is a great place for you and your pet!  There are a number of pet friendly restaurants, shops, parks, and beaches in the area, and of course, pet friendly accommodations at the Night Swan Bed and Breakfast.

We've always been a pet-friendly bed and breakfast, but new owners Besty and Matt Baker have taken it an extra step with a pet station equipped with a hose, doggie trash bags, and a water bowl.  They have also opened up a few of our first floor rooms in the Cygnet House as pet friendly for small, well-behaved animals.  We still have the Guest Cottage as pet friendly and do prefer the larger breeds in there as the rooms aren't as delicate and a bit more spacious to allow dogs to do what they do best.  We do not charge a pet fee (unless there is damage to the room), nor do we impose breed or weight restrictions.  All we ask is that the animals be well-behaved, and that we have the ability to contact you in case your dog is letting all of our guests know how lonely he is while you are out and about. 

Pet Friendly Outdoor Activities

Smyrna Beach Dunes Park -- Doggie Beach!!
This beach is my favorite, whether or not I bring my dog with me.  This beach is at the north end of the inlet on the Intracoastal side of the waterway, which means only small waves from wakes of boats hit the shore.  There is about a mile and a half boardwalk that goes around the park, but please note that doggies are only allowed on the boardwalk before 10am and for just the hour prior to sunset -- there are plenty of sandy paths to get down to the water.  The park is beautiful with lots of activity -- dolphins, manatee, turtles, birds -- you can see it all here.  And the best part -- this beach is much less traveled that the main strip by Flagler Avenue.

New Smyrna Beach Dog Park
This one-acre dog park is located off Glenco Road, next to the Humane Society.  There is a large fenced in area for your pup to run and play, and a smaller fenced in area for smaller pups who are a little intimated by larger breeds.  There is also shelter with doggie and people water fountains.  

Pet Friendly Restaurants
There are a number of pet friendly restaurants in the area.  Some are on my recommended list -- see that blog post here -- and some are not, but all will allow your furry friend to join you on their patio.
Pet Friendly Stores
Silly Willies is a little boutique pet store on Flagler Avenue.  This is a super cute shop, with lots of goodies for your dog.  Pets are welcome here, but please keep in mind that the store is rather small -- I think my pup could knock the whole place over with one swoop of her tail!

If big box stores are more your thing, a Pet Supermarket just opened recently on State Road 44.

In Case of an Emergency
We never want it to happen, but some things are just out of our control.  If while visiting the area, you have a pet emergency, there are a few places that will take your call and make arrangements for treatment of your animal.  Glencoe Veterinary Hospital is within a few minutes from the bed and breakfast and the Volusia Animal Emergency Clinic is located in Daytona Beach about 30 minutes away.

Hopefully this information helps in planning your next pet friendly trip to the New Smyrna Beach area.  See you and your furry friend soon!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Perfect Pie Crust

When I first started working at the bed and breakfast we used prepackaged pie dough.  It's easy.  It's convenient.  And the product really isn't that bad.  But it's a little expensive, so I decided to start making my own.  I didn't realize what a huge difference there is both texture and taste, and I will never, ever go back to the convenience prepackaged dough.  It's a little tricky at first to get that wonderful, buttery flakiness, but with some helpful hints and a little technique (read practice), it's actually quite easy and WELL worth the effort.

Below is the recipe and technique (with pictures) on how to make an amazing, buttery, flaky pie dough.  I'm going to break it down into three steps for you: making the dough, preparing the shell, and blind baking the shell.

For savory pies (like quiche):
1 stick of butter, cut into 1/2" cubes and chilled in the freezer
1.5c flour
1t salt
ice cold water (about 5T)

For sweet pies (like fruit pies):
All the above ingredients, plus
3T sugar

Step 1:  Making the Dough

Gather all of your ingredients and equipment (called mis en place).  In addition to the ingredients, you will also need a food processor. Note that the butter and water should be ICE COLD.

Measure out the flour and salt.  Place in the food process and pulse a few times just to combine. 

Add the butter as shown above and pulse (about 15-20 times)until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

With the processor turned on, quickly add ice water, tablespoon by tablespoon.  The amount of water typically varies daily depending on the weather, but typically I turn off the processor at 5 tablespoons and begin to pulse.  The dough should start to come together.  If it doesn't, add another tablespoon of water.  The goal is for the dough to start to form, but not be sticky or wet.  Finding the right consistency will take a bit of practice.

Gather the dough and wrap in cellophane.  Press into a disc and place in the fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.  This allows the dough (and gluten) to relax and keeps the butter nice and cold.  And allows you to take a little break.

Step 2: Preparing the Shell

Gather mis en place.  Flour, for dusting, Pam or some other nonstick spray, kitchen shears, rolling pin, pie plate (I prefer glass), fork, and chilled pie dough.  Remember to clean and sanitize your work surface prior to beginning.

Lightly flour the work surface and roll out dough.  Rolling the dough will take some amount of practice.  Remember to use plenty of flour to prevent the dough from sticking, but not too much flour.  It's a delicate balance.

Roll out a little bit, from the center up, pick up the pin and put it back in the center and roll down.  Turn the dough about a quarter turn and repeat.  Occasionally, I flip the dough over, dust with flour and continue.
I typically roll to about a 13-15" circle, but it doesn't have to be exact, and about 1/8" in thickness.

Grease the pie pan with the non stick cooking spray.  Carefully pick up the pie dough and place in the pa, allowing the dough to drape over the sides.

While turning the pan pan, lift up the dough on the edge and encourage as much as the dough as you can to the bottom of the pan.   You aren't really pushing on the dough, but feeding it down to the bottom.  This ensures that the dough will not sink on the edges during the baking process.

Trim the sides to about 1/2" all the way around with kitchen shears.

Fold the edges under and crimp.
Using the fork, dock the dough (making lots of little holes) to allow the steam to escape during baking.  Place prepared pie shell in the freezer, allowing the shell to harden (and gives you a little time to relax).  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Step 3: Blind Baking the Shell

Gather mis en place: parchment paper, pie weights (uncooked rice or dried beans works just fine), chilled pie shell, and non stick cooking spray.

Blind baking refers to the process by which the crust is baked prior to adding the filling.  By using pie weights (or rice in my case), it allows the dough to bake without bubbling with steam, resulting in a nice crispy layer of dough.

Lightly spray the chilled pie shell with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Fill with pie weights, uncooked rice, or dried beans.  Whatever you can use can be reused over and over again, so keep it for next time.  I store them the rice in a mason jar and use the rice only for my pie dough.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Allow pie shell to cool. Add appropriate pie filling and follow instructions on whatever recipe you choose to use.