Monday, February 16, 2009

Here are a few of my favorite things…

This post is dedicated to my delicious food discoveries that I have made. I hope to share a few of them with you every month. Feel free to send me an email with your recommendations.

Jasmine Pearl Tea

Jasmine pearl is a fragrant but light green tea. Each grey/green leaf is left in tact, and rolled into a little ball, looking like a cocoon of a moth. Actually it is supposed to look like little pearls. In hot water, the leaves unwind from their ball and release their full aroma. This tea is a perfect afternoon treat, mellow, perfumed and sweet.

These tea leaves are plucked from the Fuding Da Bai Cha plant, processed like green tea and then scented with jasmine flower. They are hand rolled into pearls. For that reason, this tea is a bit pricier but worth it.

I purchased my tea at the Imperial Tea Court at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. You can also purchase it online at many websites.

Whole Foods Organic Seeduction Bread

Maybe this could be a great Valentine’s day loaf? I mean the bread is called “seeduction.” But I have my own theory. Once you get one bite, you will become seduced by all the seeds and you won’t be able to stop. Good, since its chock full of seeds and whole wheat.
Did you know birds don’t really have a sense of taste, they like the tactile experience of food, that is why they like crunchy things, like seeds. I am not saying this loaf would be good for a bird, but to be honest, it does have a lot of the same seeds you might feed to one: millet, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds.

This is definitely a bread for the seed lover, if not, you might be surprised that you were (again not trying to say you are a bird.) It is nutty, dense but not too dense, makes you feel a bit healthier , and has a subtle sweetness.

What it taste great with: honey and bananas, farmers cheese with fresh herbs, shallots, a little olive oil and vinegar, or some high quality butter.

Want to try to make this loaf yourself: check out this recipe.

Pickled Eggs

Who would have thought this southern specialty (and an English bar food) would be so immensely delicious. These pickled eggs are pickled with beet juice (the water the beets were cooked in), apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaves, thyme, onions and garlic. The hard boiled eggs taste pre-seasoned, and with their unusual color it make them an oddity that would be the talk of your next party. Or you can make some for your acidic hungry boyfriend ( like I did.)
Check out this pickled egg chow hound post to get inspired to make your own:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Brown Sugar Pound Cake Cupcakes with a Brown Butter Glaze

I am kind a sick of all these cupcakes. That’s why I chose to make more of them. I am a girl of many contradictions. But these cupcakes are such that in my mind they don’t necessarily qualify as one, ( honestly anything in a cupcake shape is a cupcake. If it looks like a cupcake, it is.) Yet, the pound cake texture makes them less of a cupcake more of a dense brown sugary individual pound cake, glazed with a brown butter glaze. I loved the nutty roasted flavor of the brown butter; it really complemented the brown sugar pound cake, making the flavors a bit more intriguing.
You can find the recipe for these delicious cupcakes at Martha Stewart's website (the cupcake queen. She is even coming out with a cupcake book!) Click here for the recipe.

Perhaps you don’t know what it is, or perhaps you think it is simply burnt butter. It is not and learning how to make it will prove very fruitful:
1. You can make this cupcakes.
2. Brown butter or beurre noisette in French makes such a nice accompaniment to many other things: gnocchi, pasta, winter squash, sautéed sole and much more.

How to properly brown butter:
First you need to realize what your outcome should be: Burnt will taste well, burnt, acrid and highly disagreeable. Browned butter will taste highly aromatic, nutty and roasted. Browning butter is simply caramelizing the solid milk fats. Harold McGee says:” Their flavor is deepened by heating the butter to about 250F until its water boils off and the molecules in the white residue, milk sugar and protein, react with each other to form brown pigments and new aromas.” I think the best way is to slowly heat it. This way you have much more control. You can see the colors start to slowly change. I would take it off the heat right before it hits that deeper nutty color, due to carryover cooking.
For instance, in this recipe, the butter needs to cool. By cooling it you can easily pour off the brown butter and not the milk solids floating at the top.
To see pictures and a step-by-step tutorial, check out Michael Rhulman’s blog.