My darling husband has claimed that the best gift I ever got him was his Nespresso coffee machine. The second best, his soda stream for creating his own sparkling water – yay, no more lugging home cases of Pelligrino from Costco. However; he says my latest gift to him ranks right up there too… our new Breville citrus juicer. He is just in love with it and is “citrus” juicing up a storm…meyer lemons primarily. Breville products are outstanding in function and design. This juicer is much larger in size than we expected, but boy, does it get the juices flowing. It’s addicting. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.
Our new Breville Citrus Juicer…beautiful design, stainless steel, easy to clean..a bit large for the counter—actually rather “giant”
Last week, he juiced more lemons than needed, so I snagged a cup and made my infamous, tart, lemon curd, the recipe is here. It’s quick to prepare…don’t sweat the seeds or lumps, as you will strain the end product to come out with a smooth, luscious curd.
Silky, smooth lemon curd…straining out any lumps, seeds, or bumps.
This prompted me to fulfill a few requests from friends for scones…so I threw together a batch (takes all of 10 minutes) and I had instant gifts for two of my scone and lemon curd-loving friends (after I taste tested a few, of course). Note: my favorite little biscuit scone (recipe here). Chunks of butter show and the dough is light and fluffy (not rolled or flattened), this makes for a delightfully light texture in your scone.
Of course, this curd and scone is lovely with a cup of tea…in particular a Jasmine Pearl green tea. Enjoy.
My favorite biscuit scone…note the chunks of butter …these make for a nice texture…and the dough is light, fluffy (not rolled down)…again, makes for a finished product that splits apart easily to take on your curds, creams, and jams…
No…this is not a typo. But I thought it was when I saw “Friands” as the chapter heading in a sweet little tea book I found at the Huntington Gardens and Library this week. As you can imagine, I have many books about tea and tea time experiences. The photos in this one are strikingly clean and beautiful. I picked it up to purchase, flipped to the table of contents, and was taken aback by the apparent misspelling of their chapter titled Friands. My mind’s paradigm immediately assumed that tea with friends was a fitting chapter for an afternoon tea book. I even read a blog titled Tea With Friends. Wondering how an editor missed this blatant typo, I flipped to page 32 and saw it again….but this time, realized there was no error…I learned something new…about a baked good called Friands.
Table of Contents from the book The Afternoon Tea Collection by Sterling publishing
Friands is the real name for a growing food trend in pastry for afternoon tea partakers and petite pastry fans. It’s also simple to prepare as a gluten free product as less than 6% of the ingredients is flour.
Friands…featured in The Afternoon Tea Collection…by Sterling
A tiny cake primarily made from almond flour, egg whites and sugar…easy to adapt for a gluten free treat
Friands originated in France (no surprise 🙂 ) May also be called a financier. It is popular in Australia and New Zealand.
The main ingredients include egg whites, almond flour (or ground almonds), sugar, butter and flavoring of your choice and is baked in small molds, often oval in shape.
Lemon Friand…dainty little cake – from Karen Kennedy of The Friand Cake Company, U.K.
From Karen Kennedy of The Friand Cake Company in Scotland...”Having icing sugar and egg whites instead of whole eggs and very little flour, makes them dreamily light, while the ground almonds keep them beautifully chewy and moist. Moreover, my Friands are all made using gluten and wheat free flour. To this basic recipe, I add an elaborate range of fillings, drizzles and toppings to produce a delicious and delicate tea or dessert cake in the true patisserie genre.
The French word friand broadly translated means “dainty or a gourmet who delights in delicate tastes” Literally it is translated as “partial to or fond of “ which is very appropriate for a Friand because most people are! ” Pictured here are a few photos of The Friand Cake Company’s gorgeous delicate little cakes.
Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea 🙂
Friands from Karen Kennedy, The Friand Cake Company
You might have heard the phrase, “you eat with your eyes first.” Those who know me, know I love to eat. I love food. It’s as simple as that.
I also love foods that look good. The older I get, the less I seem to be able to consume and keep healthy…so, smaller portions are in order. This fits perfectly with my passion for afternoon tea menus. Beautiful petite bites are what I seek at tea time. Often I prepare my own, and while I thoroughly enjoy cooking, I am not very good at the detail work of decorating – so, when I want that little something to make my dish yield an extra smile that warms the heart, I use garnishes. Innovative packaging, serving pieces, cutters, and papers simplify my work and can take an ordinary dish to being something special. With little effort, let your garnish reflect the beauty, whimsy, or rustic appeal you desire. For my most important events, when I need things to look really awesome with a “wow” factor, I call on my niece, Sammycakes…she is masterful at creating spectacular looking (and tasting) desserts. Knowing my interest in creating compelling, unique small bites; my sister-in-law and niece sent me a link to a site they thought interesting called Think Garnish. I believe they saw the site in Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Check it out, there are clever ideas awaiting you there.
Think Garnish describes what garnish is all about this way…”Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between something special and spectacular? It’s the Garnish…that little something extra that brings a sparkle to the eye and a giggle to the heart.
A few of my latest favorite festive garnishes are below:
Ricotta cheesecake baked and served in these festive cups…normally this special family recipe Easter pie is not very attractive as a whole pie…these cups dressed them up nicely…topped with a little heavy cream…gorgeous
Shot glass sized dessert cups…just about guilt free in size…these were at the St. Regis Tea and Tinis buffet
Sometimes garnish with parchment paper and a square mold are the look you want…this photo from la Cucina Italiana…it is a mini lapsang souchong tea cake
From Think Garnish…this cute small tulip cup is available from their site…these are just up my alley.
Pinterest offers an enormous amount of ideas for beautiful and clever garnishes…these tea bag cookies take a little extra time cutting and are so cute —
Think Garnish says that “products are blank canvases just waiting for your expression. Totally customizable, they offer infinite possibilities. Take this opportunity to let your personality shine through… and make every occasion a special occasion. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to bring simple sophistication to everyday life. Garnish provides all the ingredients and ideas you need to create an experience that everyone will remember. Remember, there is no one perfect moment to add a little Garnish…every moment deserves to be Garnished.”
I encourage you to express yourself through adding a little garnish…Valentine’s Day is coming…the perfect opportunity to create a new memory through food. Food is Life…it may as well be interesting.
Yesterday was book group discussion day at my house…and, sorry to you guys who live in cold country, but it was 80 degrees here in sunny, drought-ridden, So. California….which called for a summery menu of tidbits to snack on while discussing the seriously good writing of Maggie O’Farrell in her recent novel, Instructions for a Heatwave.
We highly recommend this book…family dynamics are expertly portrayed
My original thought for small bites to serve when hosting this month’s discussion included scones and hot tea (as the book is set in England and Ireland), but, alas, the weather forced me to rethink what to serve. Ironically, the unusually hot weather we are experiencing in California paralleled the strangely hot weather setting O’Farrell had London experiencing in her novel. Still, in the story, there was A LOT of preparing of hot tea going on. Actually, the Irish are known to drink more tea per capita than any other nation. Well, I decided on iced tea and prepared one of my favorites, Jasmine Pearl Green tea…it is light, refreshing, and fragrant. I also had been desiring my fragrant marbled tea egg (hard-boiled eggs, steeped in tea, cinnamon stick, star anise, and a bit of soy). They are unique and tasty served sliced onto a little biscuit, of which I had a few put away in the freezer just for this occasion. These, along with a raw coconut tea cookie (much like a shortbread, with coconut) would be the primary fare. Some fresh organic California grown juicy raspberries made it to the discussion too.
Marbled Tea Eggs, stunning looking, fragrant with spices, yolks perfectly centered..eat alone or slice and put on bread/biscuit with a little mayo..mmmmm
I’m not sure why my mind went this Asian route with the menu for our English/Irish story, but we had fun, ate it all up, and continue to be moved by how our small group discussions seem to soothe our souls in a special way. I will post the recipe for the marbled tea eggs in a few days. They are easy to prepare, yet just gorgeous and unusual. It’s as easy as boiling water, but looks like you painted them. Same for the coconut cookie, easy as pie (but it’s a tea cookie 🙂 )
Coconut Tea Biscuits…I make them with Bob’s Red Mill raw, unsweetened coconut…even cut some into teapot shapes…not too sweet, perfect paired with green tea
Our discussion brought us closer together as we shared our own history as related to the book…and all over a cup of tea…amazing the revelations tea brings about.
As you might be noticing, with the holidays behind us, marketing efforts have turned to focus on healthy offerings. Green tea ads have been populating my inbox, touting the high anti-oxidants and amino acids contained in tea leaves. While I enjoy several green teas, I just love a good oolong. And contrary to popular belief, most varieties of quality leaf teas offer health benefits (not just green tea)…it’s just that most of the studies about tea have been done on the green leaf varieties…but suffice it to say, “quality, pure, leaf teas are good for you whether green, semi-fermented (oolong), black or white varieties.”
I like oolongs for several reasons. I posted about oolongs last year here. Most often, when I serve tea after dinner, I go to an oolong. It pairs well with almost any food …similar to how a pinot noir wine complements food… so, when in doubt of which tea to serve with food, I go to a pure oolong. There also is a bit of mystery and/or ritual surrounding these teas. I use a little old Yixing clay pot for steeping my oolong (pictured below). It is the only tea I use in that pot…I can actually just put hot water in the pot and the fragrance of this semi-fermented tea exudes. The gaiwan, lidded cup (also pictured below) is a traditional Chinese brewing vehicle for leaf teas..and an oolong is perfect for multiple infusions. Each infusion brings out nuanced flavors and lends to a feeling of old world custom and ritual each time you steep your leaves.
What is oolong tea? Oolong teas are partially oxidized, as opposed to black teas which undergo a longer oxidation period, to achieve a sweet, floral-fruit flavor. They are in between a green and black tea in color, flavor, and caffeine levels.
Oolong Tea…dried whole leaf…unfurled into a full, beautiful, pliable leaf below…the white lidded cup is a sleek looking Gaiwan cup traditionally used in China for tea preparation.
I currently am working through a pound of Mighty Leaf’s Tiequanyin-jade Oolong. It is from China’s Anxi province, is competition grade, and lightly oxidized with a complex, orchid like taste…just a teeny bit floral. Very nice indeed.
This tea is a medium bodied tea…light in color and not grassy.
Enjoy…Here’s to a healthy 2014…Drink quality, leaf teas and feel good about it 🙂
The French Laundry served a Ben Shan Oolong the last time I was there from a gorgeous silver teapot
Yixing Teapot…the one I use solely for brewing Oolong teas — the small Bodum cup above is one of my favorite small cups…the silicon band surrounding the cup keeps your tender fingers safe from the heat of the tea when first poured
The past month has been a bit crazy … I suppose it has been for most of you; however, I complicated things by throwing in a couple vacations, as well as, caught some kind of cold / virus that seems to want to fake me out…it comes and goes…then comes back just when I think I am better. So…I got a little behind on my writing, but I think I am BACK now 🙂
2013 is gone. While I don’t want to spend much time looking back, it was a year of interesting experiences inspired by tea for me. I moved from my Tea With Betty blog to Eat Be Tea so I can expand the writing and experiences to include more about what I love…small bites of foods, paired with tea, experienced in numerous ways in various settings that often changes one’s life…one cup at a time, one bite at a time, one conversation at a time, one moment of reflection while waiting for the steep to finish.
I say goodbye to 2013 with this brief journey back. I was blessed to have so many wonderful experiences over tea and food that I’ve had to break this into two posts…Below are photos for the first half 2013 of tea and food experiences that inspired and brought me joy – beginning with tea with my family at the Mission Inn, Riverside, Ca. last January 2…and ending with savoring a cup of Marriage Freres Darjeeling up in the Napa Valley while relaxing with a book. In between, there were several garden tours that motivated us to redo our herb and vegetable beds (thanks to my sister’s invites and my husband’s hard work) and additional tea time items that touched me.
January – June 2013
Year in review of my tea and favorite food experiences
1. Teatime at The Mission Inn with two darling little boys 🙂
2. Gonfu tea service…a favorite of mine enjoyed at several locations
3. Kusmi teas…a gift from my sister-in-law from their trip to France, their chocolate tea is as good as eating a piece of quality chocolate…seriously
4. Chocolates and confectionery my daughter and I made while at an Eat Street Culinary class with Chef Katie Averill in Anaheim…can’t believe we made these, from scratch.
5. Surfas opens in Costa Mesa, Ca…yay…lots of food and cooking supplies
6, 7, 8, 9. Napa Valley in February…the mustard in bloom as a cover crop for the grapevines, tea items at Dean & Deluca fine food purveyors…and they carried one of my favorite tea pots, featured on the cover of my tea book…the Betty pot and The French Laundry garden hot house.
10. Japanese tea house located in the bucolic Descanso Gardens L.A.
11. My Life Is Good “Tea Shirt”…a gift from my best friend.
12, 13, 14 Gorgeous tea foods prepared with the significant help from our friend Clive (the 5 layered tea sandwich he used to make at the Savoy, London and stunning lemon meringue tarts prepared by my niece Sammycakes. Also, my petite favorite biscuit scones.
15. Teapot with tea warmer at our dear friend Eugenie’s.
16. We discover pastry chef Kevin Montoya…owner of Carley Cakes. yum.
17 – 23. Out of the blue…I get asked to do a tea tasting for 100 and launch Eat Be Tea at this time….more Tea With Betty books are ordered, tables set in this gorgeous, rustic outdoor setting in the historic area of San Juan Capistrano – my husband and Chef Kevin plate the food for the pairing with several organic teas from Mighty Leaf.
24. Chef Kevin decides to name my biscuit scone…the Jones Scone and offer it in his pastry case with my fragrant and flavorful vanilla, cinnamon butter…at Hidden House Cafe on Los Rios Street in SJC.
Finally, we are up to June…back in Napa at the culinary institute where they claim “food is life”…so true…
Finally, I sit down to a fragrant darjeeling packaged in a darling cotton sack.
Happy New Year! Relax and drink tea!