Archive - December 2011

Flavor profiles of tea

Tea-at-Table

If you’re looking to get into the world of tea, you’ve made a great decision. I’m a huge tea lover (HUGE)! The caffeine high is slower and steadier (at least that is how it feels to me). Tea has tons of antioxidants and the flavor possibilities are endless. I’ve put together a small guide to help you start your tea collection. Hope it helps.

Black Tea Flavor Profiles

Assam: It hails from Northeast India and has a lovely reddish hue. It is usually full bodied with a hint of malt. This is a wonderful breakfast tea.

Ceylon: This tea from Sri Lanka is also pretty full flavored but its color is more golden and the nose is a bit more elegant. I particularly like this for iced tea since it does not cloud up when iced.

Darjeeling: This is what you want if you feel like getting fancy. It hails from the foothills of the Himalayas (Northeast India). As most black teas, this one is also full bodied, but it has more muscat-like flavors.

Earl Grey: This one is my favorite. The Earl is made by blending various black teas (including Darjeeling) and then it is flavored with Bergamot. Most people think of this as a great afternoon tea, but I love this as a way to start my mornings.

English Breakfast: This is a tea made of Sri Lankan and Indian black teas. By a rule it is brawny with powerful flavors and floral notes. While I am not a fan of milk, this tea lends itself nicely to it.

Keemum: This black Chinese tea is a bit sneaky. It has a pretty potent nose, but the mouth is more gentle than one would expect. If you’re a fan of iced teas, this is a great one to experiment with since it’s a bit more fruity than the others.

Lapsang Souchong: This one is named after its appellation in China (the Lapsang district). The leaves in this tea should be larger. On the mouth it tends to be smokier and sometimes has a minty element to it as well. I recommend that you spend a little more on this type of tea. When they are cheap, they can be brash and too smoky. The good ones are delightful and make for a great afternoon treat.

Green Tea Flavor Profiles

Gunpowder: This Chinese green tea is easily recognizable by its green-gray curly leaves. The tea’s color is more of a straw yellow-green.  The flavors can be a bit nutty and pungent.

Sencha: This Japanese tea is one of my favorites in summer. The color is light and on the nose and mouth it is fresh and lively. It reminds me of freshly cut grass on a summer day and fresh veggies.

White: Think of white tea as the baby of the family. It is made from new buds that are picked before they even open. They are allowed to wither (removing moisture). This tea is subtle and elegant.

Teas vs. Tisanes

chamomile

I always thought my love for tea started with…tea. I recently learned I was wrong. A tisane is actually an infusion of dried flowers, fresh flowers, herbs, roots or seeds. This includes you chamomile, ginseng, and lemon teas. Who knew?

 

Scotch Egg Recipe

Scotch-Egg

After becoming addicted to the scotch eggs at Sweet Revenge, I knew I had to learn to make them. These delicious morsels are great for a fancy brunch, but work well as a to go snack. I know they are deep fried and completely unhealthy, but we can indulge once in a while. And if you want to get fancy, try them out with eggs other than chicken. I see Cornish hen Scotch eggs making an appearance at my next dinner party.

Ingredients

8 oz sausage (your favorite)
1 tsp of a mixture of sage and thyme (chopped)
Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
All purpose flour
4 peeled hard boiled eggs
1 egg (beaten)
Breadcrumbs

Method

Mix the sausage, herbs, Worcestershire and salt and pepper.
Lightly flour your hands.
Separate the sausage mix into four parts and then flatten them into four patties.
Sprinkle the hard boiled eggs with flour.
Wrap the hard boiled eggs in the sausage mixture.
Dip the sausage covered eggs in beaten egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs.
Deep fry for about 7 minutes at 350 F.

Serve & enjoy.
Breadcrumbs

(Almost) All About Tea

Tea-Pot-and-Cup

Everyone is shocked when they learn I am not a coffee drinker. I think that my Colombian heritage does not help much with the shock. It is not that I don’t enjoy coffee, but I am simply quite enamored by tea. When I was a little girl, my Abuelita used to make me tea (actually a “tisane” from chamomile flowers she would buy at the galeria. There was something so special about a beverage made with flowers and sweetened by honey. Now, I am a complete tea addict. I go from inexpensive commercial teas to some pricey ones when I’m feeling indulgent. Either way, there are few pleasures as nice as having a cup of tea to close up an evening. If you’re not a fan of tea, give them a try. I think once you find the flavor profile that fits your palate you will become as much of a fan as I am.

Types

Black: I hate to give genders to my teas, but many people tend to describe black teas as “manly”. I prefer to call them bold and powerful. The leaves of black teas are fermented. In black teas, larger leaves take longer to brew; which is the reason why you very frequently see smaller leaves.

Souchong: Large leaves

Pekoe: Medium leaves

Orange Pekoe: Small leaves (nothing to do with orange taste)

Broken: The smallest and strongest brew. This is the most common.

Flavored/Blends: Blended teas can be flavored with oils, flowers and herbs. This includes your cinnamon teas and even the ever popular (and one of my favorites) Earl Grey (which also happens to fit into the black tea category).

Green: While it’s called green, I’ve noticed the majority are closer to yellow. Unlike black, the leaves are not fermented here. The flavor of green tea is laced with a pleasant bitterness. There are also names for the sizes of the leaves here:

Hyson: Large leaves

Imperial: Medium leaves

Gunpowder: Smallest leaves

Oolong: This one fits right in between black and green tea. The leaves are only partially fermented. Jasmine is a common flavor in Oolong teas.  While these are also named by leaf size; just like wine, Oolong teas are marked by appellation (place of origin). Places of origin include Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling.

Tea Terms

If you’re going to talk about tea, you will need to learn and understand some basic terms. Let’s get started:

Aroma: The simplest of the terms, think of this as the tea’s smell.

Astringency: This is often confused for bitterness. This is more of a feeling of dryness which can be pleasant and refreshing.

Body: How does the tea feel on your tongue. Is it light or silky?

Tomorrow’s post will be on tea flavor profiles…stay tuned.

Tzatziki Recipe

tzatziki

This is an incredibly easy (and healthy) recipe. I learned this recipe from my (now ex) step dad who is from Lefkada in Greece. Try it out over the holidays, it will be a hit.

Ingredients

1 pint of plain yogurt
1 cucumber chopped but not peeled
1 garlic clove (chopped)
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp salt
Cilantro

Preparation

Mix the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a food processor.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Enjoy!

Cheater’s Cannellini Salad

Cannellini-Salad---Herbs-and-Cheese

I am usually a homemade kinda girl; but tonight I was in a bind. I took a few shortcuts to create a super tasty side dish inspired by my trip to Tuscany. If you want to make this a more serious dish, just use dried beans (follow cooking directions on the bag – or cook in a pressure cooker). This recipe took me less than 30 minutes to put together and was a complete success.

Ingredients

15 oz can c Cannellini beans
1 cup chicken stock
Salt
1 celery rib chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half
1/2 onion (with a clove stuck in the middle)
2 juniper berries
Olive oil
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tsp each minced fresh rosemary and sage (I have a “garden” on my windowsill)
1/8 c shredded Parmesan
freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the beans in a saucier with the stock. Sprinkle with salt. Add the celery, carrot, onion, and juniper.  Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to its lowest possible level. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the veggies (I fed all except the onion & berries to the dog).

In a frying pan, heat the olive and garlic on medium. Add the beans, herbs and liquid. Bring to a boil and while stirring sprinkle with cheese. Reduce until the sauce is thick.  Serve.

You can also put the beans into your food processor to make a great bread spread…just another fun idea for you to try.

Hair of the Dog: Coffee

Simple-Spiked-Coffee

Many of us will start the New Year with a hangover. You could try one of our tips on preventing a hangover, but if you happen to have skipped that one; you use one of our hangover cures or could start your day with a little “hair of the dog”. What exactly do I mean? A bit of caffeine spiked with just a little alcohol to lessen the pain of the morning after:

Bucacafe: 1 oz sambuca, 1 cup espresso, 3 coffee beans. Put the sambuca in a snifter and add the three coffee beans. Prepare the espresso. Take a sip of your espresso and then one of your buca. Chew on the coffee beans throughout the process.

Cafe a L’orange: 1 oz Grand Marnier (or triple sec), 1 cup of coffee and whipped cream, milk chocolate orange. Mix the hot chocolate and Grand Marnier together. Top with whipped cream. Serve with milk chocolate orange slice on the side.

Coffee Stinger: This one is incredibly festive. 1 oz dark creme de cacao, 1/2 oz peppermint schnapps, 2 oz hot chocolate, 3 oz hot coffee & green sugar for garnish. Mix the creme de cacao and schnapps, add the hot chocolate & coffee and mix together. Sprinkle with colored green sugar. 

Irish Coffee: You will need 1 1/2 oz of Irish Whiskey, 1 tsp brown sugar, 5 oz hot coffee & whipped cream. Mix the sugar into the whiskey. Then incorporate the coffee (the stronger the better). Top with whipped cream.

Jamaican Coffee: 1 oz Jamaican rum, 1 oz coffee liqueur (Tia Maria is Jamaican), 6 oz of hot coffee, whipped cream and allspice. Stir together the rum, liqueur and coffee. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle a little all spice for garnish.

Mexican Coffee: You will need 1/2 oz gold tequila, 3/4 oz of coffee liqueur (Kahlua is Mexican), 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 cup of coffee & whipped cream. Mix the liquors together with the sugar. Add the coffee & stir until the sugar is dissolved. Top with whipped cream.

Simple Spiked Coffee: For this one you will need 1/2 oz of creme de cacao, 1/2 oz vodka, 1 tsp brown sugar and a cup of espresso. Mix the creme de cacao and vodka. Add the sugar and coffee and mix until well blended.

**As always, drink moderately and if you are under age, DON’T Drink.

More Champagne Cocktails

Twinkling-Pineapple-Cocktail

Each year we come up with a list of Champagne cocktails for you to try in the new year. This year we have an even bigger list. Keep in mind that while these are “Champagne” cocktails, you can always substitute with less expensive options such as prosecco or cava. And as a rule, your Champagne (and your glass) should be chilled for all these libations.

To chill your glasses, simply fill them with ice and water and let them sit for about 5 minutes.

If you want to check out previous years; here are 2009 & 2010.

Aphrodite: 1/2 oz white peach juice, 1/2 oz raspberry puree, 3 oz Champagne, fresh raspberries. Pour all the ingredients (except the bubbly) into your flute. Top with Champagne. Dress with 3 fresh raspberries.

Black Velvet: 3 oz Guiness & 3 oz Champagne (both chilled). Pour Guiness into a chilled flute. Top with Champagne.

Cartagena: 1 oz dark rum, 1 oz banana puree, 1 oz mango puree, 1 oz pineapple puree, 3 oz Champagne. Put all ingredients (except bubbly) into a shaker with ice. Shake & strain into a flute and top with Champagne.

Jumping Jelly Bean: 1 oz blanco tequila, 1 oz triple sec, 1 oz fresh lemon juice, 3 oz Champagne. Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice (except the Champagne). Strain into a martini glass and top with Champagne.

Lady Macbeth: 3 oz Champagne, 1 oz ruby port, twist of lemon. Pour the bubbly into your flute. Slowly incorporate the port. Do not blend. Rub the lemon peel on the rim, drop into the drink.

Lover’s Kiss: 3/4 oz strawberry puree, 3/4 oz triple sec, 3 oz Champagne. Shake the puree and triple sec in a shaker with ice.  Strain into a flute and top with Champagne.

Mango Madness: 1 oz vodka, 1 oz mango puree, splash apricot liqueur, 3 oz Champagne. Put all ingredients (minus the bubbly) in a shaker with ice. Shake.  Strain into a chilled flute and top with bubbly.

Meyer Lemon: 2 tbsp softened lemon sorbet, 1/2 oz Cointreau, 3 oz Champagne. Combine the sorbet with the Cointreau in a Champagne flute  and slowly top with Champagne.

Mexican Fizz: 1 oz Blanco tequila, 1 oz creme de cassis, 1 oz Champagne. Pour the tequila and creme into a highball glass. Add the Champagne slowly and stir gently to merely incorporate the ingredients.

Twinkling Pinneaple: 1 oz vodka, 1 oz Champagne, 1/4 oz pineapple juice. Stir the vodka and Champagne in a martini glass. Top with Champagne and dress with edible flowers (if you can get them). 

How to Make Skordalia

Skordalia-–-a-Greek-Potato-and-Almond-Dip-(Image-via-thedailyspud.com)

When my mom married into a Greek family, I had no ideas about their culture. I was about to become a teenager and basically all I knew was that Greece was the birthplace of democracy and that they once believed in Zeus and Hera. As I got to know the family I learned quite a lot. Perhaps my favorite thing to learn was how much I loved Greek food. My step-dad was once a cook on a merchant marine boat. He cooked on weekends and made some pretty good dishes. His skordalia (garlic dip) quickly became one of my favorites.

Ingredients

1 head of garlic
10 sliced of Greek white bread (you can sub with Italian bread)
1 cup olive oil (Greek, of course)
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water

Preparation

Peel and chop the garlic.
Remove the crust from the bread and put into a container.
Dress with chopped garlic, olive oil and white vinegar.
Let it sit for one hour.
Put bread mixture in the blender and mix until soft.
Add the lemon juice.
Add the water gradually while the blender mixes until you get a nice creamy consistency.

Ring in the New York New Year in Style 2011

Spice-Market-New-York

In my younger days, I looked forward to nights of crazy partying on New Year’s Eve. Now that I’m (gasp) older and wiser; I look forward to ringing in the New Year with an amazing meal. If you’re still trying to figure out where to go, I may be able to give you a few ideas:

Bite Club: If you’re in for something totally exclusive, this is the place for you. NY’s secret dining society will be crafting an incredibly luxurious menu; there are hints about caviar, foie gras and pork belly. The event starts at 9pm and the location will be secret until a few days before the event. We’ve loved them since they launched and this is a perfect opportunity to get acquainted with Bite Club. To request a reservation, please send an email to info@nybiteclub.com

Kyotofu: How does a 3 course dinner with Sake pairings at $75 per person sound to you? This goes on from 6:30 – 9pm.  Maybe you’re more into decadence? Then their $100 open bar with dessert and cheese station may be up your alley (10p – 4am).  What? You want both? You can get both for $150. Email NYE@kyotofu-nyc.com for reservations.

Madison & Vine at the Library:  Their celebration includes a 5 course dinner, champagne toast, guest DJ and party favors.  The first seating is from 5:30-8:30 pm, $100 per person.  Second seating is at 9 pm, $120 per person. Call 212-983-4500 for reservations.

Palo Santo: How does a  seven course, seasonally inspired menu sound? Chef Gautier will be featuring wild seafood, sustainably raised meats, tropical fruit and greenmarket vegetables in his special New Year menu. Each dish will be paired with a wine selected from Chef’s cellar. To top it all off, a tasting of sweets and a champagne toast at midnight. The tasting starts at 9:30pm and costs $145 per person. Call to make reservations  718-636-6311.

Saravana Bhavan: This Upper West Side eatery will be heaven for vegetarians who want to bring in the New Year in style. Their $40 three course prix fixe menu will feature North and South Indian specialties like vegetable bonda and rava kesari. And since it could not be New Year’s without a toast, a glass of sparkling wine or a pint of beer will be included with your meal. New Years Eve dinner hours are 5–10:30pm.  Call 212-721-7755 for reservations.

Spice Market New York: They will be offering a special prix fixe menu which will include signature dishes such as lobster rolls, shrimp tod mon pla, crispy brussels sprouts and coconut cake. If you’re into more of a party than I am, you can stay and dance (and burn off the calories from dinner) and enjoy a performance from The Golden Hindu Deity Dancers. Ticket prices are $125 per person for bar guests and $148 per person for dining room guests. Party runs from 9pm to 1am. Call 212-675-2322 for details.

5th Annual New York Wine Expo

5th-Annual-New-York-Wine-Expo

You all know I am a sucker for wine. The 2012 NY Wine Expo will take place March 2-4 (right around my birthday). If you’re new to wine, this is a great way to learn about it. Over 760 wines from nearly 200 winemakers from around the globe will be shown. There will also be some educational seminars for wine lovers of all levels.

What I recommend – if you’re new – pick a theme. Taste only Chardonnays, or only whites, or only Chilean Chardonnays. This is the best way to become a connoisseur in one area. I promise that after a day of tasting only one type of wine you will recognize it for the rest of your life.

The event will take place at the Jacob Javits Center Friday March 2 from 6-10pm ($75) and Saturday March 3 from 2-6pm ($85). You can buy your tickets here.