Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!

 Gingerbread for Santa

Because Santa deserves the very best...
 we went to Tartine Bakery in San Francisco yesterday
to pick up our holiday order of
Soft Glazed Gingerbread Tiles.

 Gingerbread Tiles

Years ago,
I saw Pastry Chef, Elizabeth Prueitt
(when her bakery was in Marin County)
on the  Martha Stewart show

They looked like a wonderful holiday treat and
I even purchased the Springerle Rolling Pin
she uses to decorate them
so I could make them at home. 

Well, I've never made them at home
partly because I've always wanted to taste Elizabeth's first.

 In Line for
Santa's Cookies

For years, I have tried to buy Tartine's
Soft Glazed Gingerbread Tiles
during the Christmas season but they're always sold out.

So this year,
I was a smart Santa's Helper and placed a holiday pre-order for
my Gingerbread Tiles to avoid disappointment.
For holiday pre-orders at Tartine you must pick them up
on Christmas Eve...
 so off to San Francisco we went yesterday.

 Croque Monsieurs

We made it to Tartine at 2:00 PM.

Every time we've been to Tartine,
there is always a line out the door.  It was no different on Christmas Eve
only this day there were two lines...
one for customers of the day
and one for holiday pre-order pick ups. 

We ended up standing in both lines and even managed to snag an outdoor table
to enjoy a late lunch at Tartine, too. 
It was our first time finally getting a table
for lunch at Tartine.

Lunch at Tartine
is the next best thing to a table for two
at a cafe in Paris!

Union Square
San Francisco

I think we've started a new Christmas tradition...
going to San Francisco on
Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas to you
and
savor every moment with your family and loved ones!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mince Pies

 Mince Pies

More mince pies, please!

One of the best days of my England trip this year
was spending the day at the Emma Bridgewater factory
 in Stoke-on-Trent. 

Thanks to my shopping trip at the factory,
I became an Emma Bridgewater Collectors Club member this year. 
The Collectors Club has special privileges including special pieces
made exclusively for club members. 

This holiday season,
the Collectors Club Mince Pie plates from the Joy range were a smash!
The factory had a tough time keeping up with demand for these adorable plates
and I managed to snag two of them.  

 Mincemeat Tarts

I was hoping to make mini mincemeat pies for Christmas
 to serve on my cute mince pie plates
but it seems that I have run out of time. 

Thankfully, there are Walkers Scottish mincemeat tarts available in America.
  I picked some up last night at my local Cost Plus World Market

Dusted with powdered sugar,
 they are a perfect holiday treat on Emma's Mince Pies plates.

For my tea break today,
I'll be enjoying them with a "cuppa"

Emma's Mince Pies Plates

If you ever get to the potteries (Stoke-on-Trent),
I highly recommend taking the Emma Bridgewater factory tour

The nicest people work at Emma Bridgewater. 
I loved seeing that each employee
had their own personalized Emma Bridewater mug
in their work station where they can drink tea all day long. 
 How neat is that?!

I hope you get to take a break during the busy holiday season
and enjoy a tea break
with some mincemeat tarts or home-made treats!




(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Mince Pies plates from the Joy range.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tea Time

Christmas Tea

'Tis the season for Christmas tea...

For the holidays, I'm drinking
Spice Imperial that I picked up in England earlier this year. 
I love its holiday flavors of
cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and orange peel. 

I'll let you in on a secret...
Spice Imperial is the same blend that Whittard's packages
 as their Christmas Tea this time of year. 

I would love to know
what holiday tea are you drinking?


(In the photos:  Spode Blue & White china and
 Emma Bridgewater Blue Toast Mug & Joy Mince Pie Plate.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Marmelo Glaze

 Marmelo Jam

When life gives you lemons...
you make lemonade.

When life gives you thick marmelo jam...
you make marmelo glaze.

Batch #1 of my marmelo (quince) jam
was, too, thick from cooking it too long.

So I turned it into a delicious Marmelo Glaze!

Enjoy my recipe!

Marmelo Glaze

Marmelo Glaze

1 Cup Quince Jam
4 T. dry sherry
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 t. fresh chopped rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan
and heat over medium heat.

Continue stirring to blend the the ingredients
and to thin the jam mixture. 

Brush and baste over your favorite meat
while cooking or grilling.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Orchard Quince Jam

 Petite Dejeuner

This fall,
 we've been enjoying the fruits of my labor...
thanks to my new French jam book

 Marmelo

Christine says it best
in her jam book's introduction...
"With time and practice, you will refine your own technique."

She says, "Remind yourself that no two jams are ever the same. 
From one year to another,
one batch to another, a little thinner, a little thicker, each is different."

So recently, I made my first batch of her
Andree's Orchard Jam and it turned out quite thick,
probably from over cooking. 
It seemed more like marmalade than jam to me.

Well, no wonder...
I did a little research and it turns out the term "marmalade"
originally meant quince jam
and derives from the Portuguese word "marmelo"
which means quince.

No worries,
I turned my very thick marmelo
into a delicious glaze for pork tenderloin. 

Orchard Quince Jam

Batch # 2 of my Andree's Orchard Quince Jam
turned out perfect!

Since I had to cook Batch # 1 so long to soften up the quince,
I decided for Batch # 2 to pre-cook my quince for two hours
before I turned it into jam.

Pre-cooking the quince, produced wonderful results
and a very spreadable jam.

It's delicious for a "petite dejeuner"
on a croissant!

 More Quince

My husband and I love my quince jam.

Quince jam is sweet and fruity and
reminds us a bit like applesauce.
The recipe yielded a small batch
so I set out to find more quince
for fall canning.

This time I found larger quince
grown locally at another foothill farm
and decided to experiment with a few other quince recipes.

 Quince Preserves

I canned quince slices and
used Martha Stewart's recipe for
Spicy Quince Preserves
in her book

We haven't tried them yet.
I'm planning to use them with
a pork tenderloin or pork roast.

Paradise Chutney

My last quince project was chutney.

When I read the recipe for Paradise Chutney
I knew I had to make it.

Nigella was inspired by an old recipe using
apples, quince and cranberries.
She turned the old jelly recipe into a chutney for the modern kitchen.

I love the recipe but do find it a bit tart.
The next time I make it,
I am going to use less vinegar.

The Paradise Chutney is a great accompaniment on
turkey sandwiches and
I can't wait to use it with Christmas leftovers!

So now, you have an idea where I have been the last month or so.
I've been busy in my kitchen and ,of course,
 busy knitting,too.

I still have a few pounds of quince left...
so I'm off to make more jam.
This time I am going to make Christine's
Quince Jam with Christmas Flavors! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Quince

Quince

My latest obsession has been the
quince. 

You haven't seen me for awhile
because I've been busy in my kitchen.

Otow Orchard

My Dad suggested a trip to visit a local farm Otow Orchard
and so began my obsession with the quince.

Before our visit to Otow Orchard I started researching the quince. 

I found out that quince is an old fashioned fruit related to the apple and pear. 
It used to be a popular tree found in many backyards and farms. 

Quince is not edible raw. 
It is hard and very sour. 
It is mainly used in jams, jellies and puddings.

Quince also have a fuzz on them
that you rub off with a towel to remove
 before you peel them for cooking.

Farm Fresh

My parents and I had a wonderful visit at Otow Orchard.

Owner Tosh Kuratomi gave us a tour of the orchard
and showed us what quince trees look like. 
He told us that it hadn't been a good year for quince
and they had a very low yield.

I purchased the few pounds of organic quince they had left
so I could experiment making quince jam. 

Let's Make Jam

Making jam and canning remind me of my Grandma Margaret.
My Grandma Margaret did a lot of canning
on the 100 acre family farm in Pennsylvania. 
My Dad says,
"The cellar was always full".

I am lucky to have my Grandma's blue farm bowl
and her Hardware store cookbook from the 1930's. 
I'm thinking there may have been quince trees on the farm
because there are sure a lot of splatters
on the page for apple or quince jelly in her cookbook!

 Andree's Orchard Quince Jam

It's been over 10 years since I've made jam
but I still had all the necessary supplies for canning.

I did update my supplies though and splurged
 on a French copper confiture (jam) pan
that the "jam queens"
 Christine Ferber from France
and
Rachel Saunders from The Blue Chair Fruit Co.
of California use.

For my first attempts at quince jam,
 I followed Christine's recipe in Mes Confitures for
Andree's Orchard Quince Jam. 

So...
I've been busy the last month or so
in my kitchen
 practicing making quince jam and other quince goodies.

I'll be sharing the results in my next post.
One thing is for sure...
quince is a delicious fall fruit with a sweet floral and fruity taste.

I'm hooked on this old fashioned fall fruit!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mes Confitures

  Christine's Confitures

She's French.
She's the daughter of fourth-generation bakers and pastry makers
and she knows a thing or two about jams and jellies.

She is...
jam maker extraordinaire Christine Ferber
and her book Mes Confitures
has inspired me to make jam at home again.

 La Grande Epicerie Paris

On my visit to Paris in May,
 I was on the look out for Christine's jams and jellies.

If you're a foodie...
there is nothing like stepping into
I am like a kid in a candy store every time I visit and
Christine's jams in their pretty red packaging were easy to spot.

I wanted to bring home some of Christine's jams but didn't chance it
due to the TSA 3oz guideline for carry on liquids.

 More Jam, S'il Vous PlaĆ®t

The next time I go to Paris though,
I am going to buy Christine's jams when I first arrive and savor them
on croissants from Boulangerie Malineau.

In the meantime,
I am inspired by her book and her unique flavor combinations. 
 Her book is divided by the seasons.  I like that.
Since it's fall, I'm experimenting with her recipe called
Andree`s Orchard Quince Jam.

Instructions are a bit brief in the book, so I do recommend
reading up on jam making, if you need to. 
Christine even advises in the book,
"With time and practice, you will refine your own technique."

 Orange Sanguines

Christine also says,
"A batch of jam is always an act of creation!"

I can't wait to create more of her recipes like:
Orange with Earl Grey Tea,
Pear with Pinot Noir and Cinnamon
and
Vineyard Peach and Pear with Grand Marnier.

Dehillerin
18-20 rue Coquilliere, Paris

And of course,
if you buy her book,
you'll probably want to buy "the pan"...
a French copper confiture pan
like Christine always uses.
I did.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Halloween Brew

Trick or Treat!

Here's a twist on tea for fall...

Brew up your favorite ginger or spice tea
 in "piping" hot apple cider instead of water. 

Steep for 4 minutes and serve with a cinnamon stick.

Perfect for a chilly evening or
 bring it in your thermos when you go apple picking!

Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pix

 Pix Patisserie

Pix Patisserie is a kitschy-cute kind of place
with a Parisian cafe vibe.

On our recent trip to Portland, after an afternoon of shopping,
we stopped into Pix for a tea break
and what I like to call "macaron research"!

 Macarons

Pix is known for macarons. 

On our visit, my husband and I tried three flavors of macarons:
Bourbon, Fleur de Sel and Coconut Rum. 
Hands down, their Fleur de Sel was the best we've ever had!

As for macaron research...
Pix is always a fun stop for unusual macaron flavors. 

Pastry Chef/Owner, Cheryl Wakerhauser (a.k.a. Pix) and her team
create traditional French macarons only...
they kick them up a notch! 

They make unique macaron flavors such as:
Tawny Port, Chestnut Whiskey, Sesame Matcha,
Peanut Butter and Jelly and Apple Pie..
just to name a few.

Market Spice Tea

As for tea at Pix,
I was impressed with the tea quality
and table service.

Pix proudly serves Townshend's Tea Co. teas.  
 I enjoyed their Market Spice delivered to our table
 in an Art Deco silver tea pot.

My tea server raved about their teas
and told me  Earl Grey is their most popular tea. 
Naturally due to popularity it was out of stock. 

Pix Patisserie

There are two Pix locations in Portland.
We always visit the original Pix location.
It's a bit off the beaten path..
not touristy
and worth the effort to get there. 

Pix Patisserie
3402 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 232-4407

I can't wait to go back and have a pot of Earl Grey tea
and do some more macaron research!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Mad Tea Party

 Alice

I just returned from a Portland, Oregon get-away.

Portland is a groovy city. 
I expected to see a few yarn bombings...
but instead I found a wonderful wall mural of
A Mad Tea Party!

A Mad Tea Party

A Mad Tea Party wall mural on the side of:

1401 SE Division Street
Portland,  Oregon  97202

And yes,
Longfellows is a groovy used book store. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Teance

The Tea Bar

I finally had tea at a tea bar...
Teance
in Berekely, California. 

Teance is located in one of my favorite shopping areas,

On a recent trip to Berkeley, instead of shopping all day,
I treated myself to a relaxing afternoon of tea tasting
and learning more about Asian teas at Teance.

 On my visit, Co-Manager, Darius Moghaddam was tending bar.
I was so impressed with his knowledge of tea. 
Turns out,  he has been on 5 tea buying trips all over the world. 
So yes, he does know a thing or two about tea
and graciously shares his knowledge.

Darius and I decided that I should try a tea tasting of their
Flight of Three Teas. 

Flight of Three Teas

 Silver Needle Tea

My first flight was Silver Needle (Yin Zhen), a white tea. 
This prized tea is from Fuding, Fujan, China.

Waking up the Tea Leaves

To enjoy this tea,
you first must first "wake up" the tea leaves
by pouring hot water on them and removing the water immediately.

 Steeping

Next, the tea was steeped for 1 1/2 minutes in a Gaiwan

Darius told me "a Gaiwan is an ancient tea making tool". 
I had never seen one before.

 Tranquility

Silver Needle tea is very delicate and subtle in taste
with a pale color.  A tranquil, cup indeed.

 Flower Bouquet

My second flight was Flower Bouquet, a green tea. 

This tea is hand-tied into a heart bundle. 
It is also from Fuding, Fujan, China.

 Flowering Tea

Flower Bouquet tea is steeped in a glass tea pot. 
As it steeps, the leaves unfold and
a beautiful red hibiscus flower is revealed. 
It's magical!

It had a light Jasmin note and I enjoyed it.

 Mochi

Besides tea, Teance also has wonderful treats,
 like Japanese Mochi handmade locally.

I enjoyed a Pumpkin & Lima Bean Mochi along with my tea tasting.
It was beautiful with its edible flowers and
so much better than store bought Mochi. 

 Matcha

My third flight was Matcha.

Teance's Matcha is from Uji, Japan from Koyama En,
the most prestigious matcha company in Japan.

I was most excited to try Matcha green powdered tea
since I had never tried it before. 

 Tea Ceremony Whisk

Matcha is considered to be the healthiest of teas
because you are drinking all the leaves
 which are milled into a fine powder.

Matcha is prepared with a bamboo tea whisk.

I loved watching Darius make my cup. 

 Matcha

Matcha is like no other tea I have ever tasted. 

It is thick and frothy.  Matcha has a stronger green tea flavor and
I think one probably has to acquire a taste for it. 
I plan on doing just that so I can enjoy the health benefits of drinking Matcha.

The Great Wall of Tea

I'm so glad I took a break from shopping around Fourth Street
and enjoyed a break at the Tea Bar at Teance. 

It was a wonderful and relaxing experience. 
Thank you Darius for teaching me more about the world of tea.

I highly recommend Teance Fine Teas

If you can't get to Berkeley,
 they have an online store and Tea Subscriptions, too!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Only at Macy's

 Karl Lagerfeld for Impulse

I love designer collaborations with main street department stores. 

I think designer extraordinaire Karl Lagerfeld's
collaboration with Macy's is probably the best one yet!

Karl Lagerfeld is one of the world's greatest fashion legends. 

Today, he is probably best known as
Chief Designer at the house of Chanel
but he wears many hats!

 A Little Black Dress

If you've ever wanted to own a little black dress by Chanel...
here's your chance.  While this is not a Chanel dress,
I just can't help but see Coco's influence in this design by Karl. 

This chic black dress is available in-store and online in the
Karl Lagerfeld for Impulse collection at Macy's. 
It's a limited edition collection.

I saw Karl's collection at my local Macy's a few days ago
and the racks still have good stock. 
Surprisingly, I don't think many fashionistas know about this collection yet. 

While the dress looks nice on the rack,
it's gorgeous on a beautiful model...

 What Would Coco Think?

Ooh,la,la...

I can't help but wonder...
what would Coco think?


(Model photograph from Macy's)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Truly Great Scones

 Tea & Scone, please!

  I've been searching for a truly great scone recipe...
like the scones I've had in England. 

British Style Scones

Whether at a fancy hotel tea or an adorable tea and cake shop...
scones always taste better in England. 

Some scones are dense and some are lighter. 
One thing is certain...
load them up with clotted cream and jam and
they're always delicious!

 Proper Scone Height

On my trip to England in May,
I had some of the best scones I've ever had. 
Ever since that trip,  I've been on a mission to find a truly great scone recipe
to make British-style scones at home. 

I'm happy to report that I've found a truly great scone recipe from, Delia Smith.  
Delia is the UK"s best-selling cookery author so I knew her scone recipe would be good. 

The best tip I learned from Delia is to roll the scone dough out to 1 inch thickness. 
 According to Delia "this is the secret of well-risen scones.  Measure it if you're not sure." 

So I followed Delia's recipe (to a tee), measured my dough and ended up
with truly great scones!

Truly Great Scones

I love Delia's recipe
taken from her book Delia's How to Cook,  Book Two (1999).
 Luckily for you, you can find it on her website Delia Online

I just call them Truly Great Scones! 


(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Union Jack tea pot, plate, mug and comport.  Sabre Toile spreader.)