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
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


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



My latest obsession has been the

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
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. 

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!