Truly FRESH Herbal Infusions…Made Tableside Just For You!

The FRESHEST herbal tea…made to order, table side -- to your liking ---

The FRESHEST herbal tea…made to order, table side — to your liking —

 

The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento offered this unique herbal infusion menu…made with fresh herbs to order.

The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento offered this unique herbal infusion menu…made with fresh herbs to order.

IMG_0633One of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had was at The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento.  I’ll share more about the meal in a future post – Dinner was an “event” which included a unique tea service where we were offered a menu of special blends featuring a basket of fresh herbs.

As the chefs plated the dessert course, we ordered our hot beverages.   I’d never seen anything like this…fresh herbs, clipped to order and steeped at your place setting.

I opted for their green tea…but next time will go for the herbal infusion.

Tetsubin iron teapot service at The Kitchen...

Tetsubin iron teapot service at The Kitchen…

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Valentine For A Friend…Heart-Shaped Scones From White Lily Flour

Happy Valentine’s Day…

My good buddy and “sounding board”, Hils,  loves my biscuit scones.  She is quite a disciplined eater, but will indulge when it’s worth it.  These scones are worth it…top with a tart lemon curd and you’ve got the perfect, decadent pairing.  I made heart-shapes and used White Lily Flour …which we discovered at Surfas.  The signage claimed that this soft winter wheat, light flour is what makes Southern biscuits and Southern baking sooooo wonderful.  The flour is really fine..feels a bit like cornstarch and certainly made an outstanding scone.  I love using this product.  We baked a batch  with all-purpose flour too and tasted them against the ones made with White Lily…both were excellent, the Southern scone was lighter and a bit flakier, very nice.  There was a bit more texture to the ones made with my general, all-purpose flour (which my husband actually preferred…and he’s the Southern one ?!*#  🙂 ).   We will bake with the White Lily a few more times and let you know our findings.

Heart-shaped scones made with White Lily flour…a Southern favorite

Heart-shaped scones made with White Lily flour…a Southern favorite

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Packaged and ready to deliver to Hils…

O.K…all she needs is a nice cup of tea with these …

I still have some old Martha Stewart gift boxes w/ wrapping that we got 5 years ago when in New York and at her t.v. show…makes great Valentine gift wrapping.

I still have some old Martha Stewart gift boxes w/ wrapping that we got 5 years ago when in New York and at her t.v. show…makes great Valentine gift wrapping.

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Recipe: Marbled Tea Eggs … in Celebration of the Chinese Spring Festival

My mother, Betty, celebrated as many cultural festival days as she knew about…she did this before we had such enormous access to information via the world wide web.  She attempted foods from other cultures often – and quite successfully…she had a knack and intuition about what went together to make a dish shine.  We celebrated Bastille, St. Valentine, St. Patrick, Cinco de Mayo, all U.S. holidays (including cherry pie on Washington’s birthday) and at least a dozen family days with special menus from her.  She loved Chinese foods and, if alive today, she’d be preparing something to celebrate China’s Spring Festival later this week.

The Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year) of 2014 falls on January 31. The public holiday starts from January 31 to February 6. It is the Year of the Horse.  This festival is considered the most important of the year.   Below is the step-by-step process for making China’s famous marbled tea eggs…I just finished consuming my last one from the batch I prepared last week.  The sweet scent and flavor from the star anise and cinnamon stick balance beautifully with the savory soy and Chinese black tea…the yin and yang are in sync.

Marbled Tea Egg Recipe (From Tea With Betty: A Tea Manual):

Marbled Tea Eggs..nesting in a clear Steuben bowl...

Marbled Tea Eggs..nesting in a clear Steuben bowl…

Makes 12 eggs.

PREP TIME:  20 minutes TOTAL TIME:  8 hours 20 minutes (includes soaking time)

12 large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt

3 tablespoons loose Chinese black tea or other black tea (Earl Grey or smoky Russian Caravan)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

Boil eggs 15 minutes over low heat.  Cool in the cooking water.  Drain the eggs and tap shells all over with the back of a spoon until each shell is covered with a web of cracks.

Return eggs to the pan, cover with cold water, add salt, soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon sticks, tea.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer very slowly for approximately 2 hours.

Remove from heat, let cool in the pan with the liquid, then cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, remove eggs from liquid, peel, cut eggs crosswise, and serve.

They will be beautifully marbled looking.

Serve chilled, with small bowls of the cooking liquid and coarse salt or slice and serve on soft white bread with mayonnaise.

Ingredients in their place (mise en place) for steeping "cracked" hard boiled eggs…

Ingredients in their place (mise en place) for steeping “cracked” hard boiled eggs…top left, cinnamon sticks and star anise: top right, Adagio black dragon pearls Chinese Yunnan tea, soy sauce, coarse salt

 

After hard boiling your eggs, discard water, crack eggs with the back of a spoon, place back in pan with cold water and the ingredients…slow steep for 2 hours

After hard boiling your eggs, discard water, crack eggs with the back of a spoon, place back in pan with cold water and the ingredients…slow steep for 2 hours

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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

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

Making these marbled eggs is truly as easy as boiling water…the fragrance wafting through the house when they are slowly simmering is delightful.  The end result is a healthy, beautiful product.  Enjoy with a cup of green tea or an oolong.

 

Drink tea!  It’s good for you 🙂

 

 

Tasty Bites For Book Club…Time For The Crispy Wonton

Our book group meets every six to eight weeks to discuss what we’ve read…we are a small group (on purpose).  Each of us have been members of other book groups…yet opted out of those for various reasons.  One being that we just want to discuss books, not make a major meal out of our time together.  We decided to make our meeting time the early afternoon and serve a few snacks to go along with our discussion… I hosted last month and threw together the little bites in the photos below.  We keep it simple, yet thoughtful and tasty.  I went at bitter, sweet, salty, &  sour tastes, and ensured there was satisfying crunch too…yet light on the calories and carbs … (yes, I still watch my carb intake).

One of my favorite “go to” holders of fillings (whether savory or sweet) is the crispy wonton…they are inexpensive,  low on carbs, quick to crisp into a little cup using a mini muffin tin, and easy to fill…everyone loves them.  Brush each raw wonton wrapper with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, push into each muffin tin spot and bake at 375 degrees for about seven minutes.  That’s it.  Either freeze for future use…or fill with your favorite savory or sweet filling and serve.  This time I filled them with creamy goat cheese topped with minced organic chives from my garden.  The book discussion was excellent…we discussed The Husband’s Secret by Moriarty…we all recommend it.

Wonton wrappers…crisped into a crunchy cup..filled with creamy goat cheese and chives, endive leaves ready for olive tapenade, organic grapes, dark chocolate enrobed almonds…a taste for everyone…and of course we had a cup of tea

Wonton wrappers…crisped into a crunchy cup..filled with creamy goat cheese and chives, endive leaves ready for olive tapenade, fresh grapes, dark chocolate enrobed almonds…a taste for everyone…and of course we had a cup of tea

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Tiramisu … Pick Me Up

I had a request to make Tiramisu from my nephew.  We researched recipes together and made a beautiful dessert. We even had enough to make two individual sized portions (for taste testing later).  Quality control is important :-).

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert…and  means “pick me up” or “lift me up”.  It’s made with ladyfinger cookies (Italian: Savoiardi) dipped in espresso that may or may not include a shot of your favorite liquor (we added Marsala).  Mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, egg whites, sugar (not that much really) are used, then dusted with powdered chocolate.  With the coffee and liquor, it is more of an adult dessert.

I got this recipe from cookingwithrosie@blogspot.com.  Everyone loved the dish.   Her recipe is below the photos.  We doubled it for our big crowd.

The making of our Tiramisu...Italian Mascarpone is the key ingredient...along with Ladyfinger cookies...no baking needed...whipped egg whites, mixing the mascarpone, eggs and sugar in my husbands 35 year old Kitchen Aide mixer....(built to last) and dipping and layering into a luscious, creamy mature dessert.

The making of our Tiramisu…Italian Mascarpone is the key ingredient…along with Ladyfinger cookies…no baking needed…whipped egg whites, mixing the mascarpone, eggs and sugar in my husbands 35 year old Kitchen Aide mixer….(built to last) and dipping and layering into a luscious, creamy mature dessert was a fun project for my nephew and me.  Using quality ingredients matters…we used fresh organic eggs, Dean & Deluca’s dutch processed cocoa and Italian products from Claros Italian store…

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Ingredients

625 ml (2-2½ cups) strong espresso, cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs or 5 small/medium eggs, separated
4-5 tbsp sugar (one tablespoon per egg) I use a regular spoon to measure – if you use a measuring spoon it will taste sweeter (personal preference).
500 g (16 oz) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 200-250 g (7-9 oz) pkg Savoiardi or Pavesini (lady fingers) These are known as Löffelbiscuits in Germany.
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (or to taste) Again, I use a regular spoon but a measuring spoon will also work.

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixture till stiff peaks form but not dry; set aside. 2. In another medium bowl, Beat the egg yolks with sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. If not beaten well, then the filling will have an egg-y taste. Then add mascarpone cheese and mix until there are no more lumps. . 3. Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon. 4. Dip the cookies in espresso (you can add a shot of your favourite liquer to the espresso, like rum, amaretto, brandy, Frangelico, marsala, etc.) and lay them into a 9×14 rectangular glass pan (or you may use another container/pan). You can leave 3-4 mm (1/4 inch) or a finger’s width between each cookie for the filling, or you can place them close/next to each other so there is no filling between the lady fingers (personal preference). Pour half the mascarpone mixture onto the cookies and spread evenly across the top. 5. Repeat step 4 with the next layer but alternate the cookies perpendicular (or just follow the same pattern as in the first layer) to the ones in the first layer. 6. Refrigerate for over night for best results. If you really must, then refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours before serving but it might still be runny. Sprinkle with cocoa. Makes 12 large pieces or 16 smaller pieces.

from cookingwithrosie@blogspot.com

I have this thought…that just like the “tea affogato(see post here)… maybe, just maybe, converting this traditional espresso laden dish into one with tea soaked biscuits might be an interesting version.  We’ll see.  I might give it a try with a rich Assam and a light sherry.  Or maybe not…maybe this is best left alone. It was pretty awesome tasting.

But still, drink tea….it’s good for you 🙂

 

The Incredible Egg … The Main Ingredient For These Individual Quiche Pies

The egg is literally my favorite ingredient.  It’s versatility is vast.  It’s widely available and, like water, often an ingredient that is  a bit taken for granted, under appreciated.  I am fascinated by how it reacts when separated and whipped into fluffy pillows with the whites, or when yolks are spun into a golden ribbon when beaten with sugar.  The texture of a tender, slightly jiggly custard is a thing I relish.  The egg makes a meal unto itself, or, is happy to be a team player and serve as a binder for meatballs or can emulsify with oil into a luscious spread.  It’s a satisfying protein and a humble thing.

Recently, at Chef Katie Averill’s Eat Street Culinary Cooking School, in Anaheim, we held a hands-on cooking class using several recipes from my Tea With Betty Book.  One of my favorites is the egg cream filling for making individual egg tarts (or petite quiche).

 

Quiche made with my favorite egg cream...and fresh herbs

Quiche made with my favorite egg cream…and fresh herbs

Fresh organic herbs and tomatoes from my garden, along with bacon (mmmmm bacon) and fontina cheese...ready to go into the egg cream mixture in your blind baked pastry shell..for quiche

Fresh organic herbs and tomatoes from my garden, and, pictured below, crispy bacon (mmmmm bacon) and fontina cheese…ready to go into the egg cream mixture in your blind baked pastry shell..for quiche

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This recipe I most enjoy using for mini quiche is so easy to make… add your favorite inclusions to your pre-baked pastry shell, then your egg mixture and voila…quiche.   I don’t always add cheese as I just love the egginess to be like a custard, but feel free to pull anything you want from your refrigerator and garden to create your own tasty little pie.  On this day, Chef Katie had found these darling, individual sized disposable tart pans for use in class.  They worked well as a vehicle for students to carry home their extra cooked product.  She found these at Home Goods.

Recipe:

Blind Baked Basic Pastry Shells (either store bought or homemade).

Egg Cream Mixture

Enough for 12 (2 ½” x 2 ½”) square tarts.

Preheat oven to 350º F.

¾ cup cream and ¾ cup milk (total 1 ½ cups milk product)

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

Pinch of salt and pepper

Pinch of grated nutmeg

Using a fork, beat all the ingredients together in a bowl until well mixed.

Fill blind baked tart shells with various ingredients. Suggestions include:

A large pinch of shredded cheddar cheese, two roasted cherry tomatoes (skin removed), and a torn basil leaf placed in the bottom of the blind baked pastry shell. Then fill with cream mixture, carefully, just to the top of the shell. Bake about 20 minutes until cream mixture is set.

A large pinch of shredded mozzarella placed in bottom of blind baked tart shell and minced basil, parsley, thyme, and chives.  Fill with cream mixture and bake approximately 20 minutes.

Note: Always use fresh eggs…check the dates.  When possible, I use organic eggs.  One day soon I plan on testing recipes with different eggs as there is a whole world of variety out there coming from our friend the chicken … a subject I am looking forward to researching…I can see a few “egg”  test kitchen tasting experiments in my future.