Earl Gray and Honey Blossom Ice Cream

Friday, May 29, 2015

When I took my first sip of London Fog at Le Marche St Georges a few years ago, I instantly fell in love with Earl Gray tea. Since then I’ve been drinking it on a regular basis and you’ll find my pantry fully stocked with Earl Gray tea at any time.  A few weeks ago, my friend asked for a batch of Earl Gray ice cream, and I jumped at the opportunity to turn one of my favorite drinks into an ice cream.  I asked why Earl Gray considering there are endless flavors but she thought it sounded lovely as an ice cream.  Darn right! 

I love playing with flavors and decided to combine Earl Gray and honey blossom to see what I could coax out of those ingredients.  It was a hit when tested on some unsuspecting guests at a birthday party.  I think people were surprised that a tea could make such a good ice cream flavor.  

Bergamot-scented Earl Gray tea and honey blossom create a sophisticated and complex flavor that is subtly sweet with slight bitter undertone.  This is my fourth batch and I can’t get enough of it!  

Earl Gray Ice Cream (makes 1 pint)
1 cup of organic heavy cream
1 cup of organic 2% milk
¼ cup of honey blossom
3 tbsp Earl Gray loose tea leaves (my favorite brand is from the Tea Guys)
2 tbsp of sugar
2 large organic egg yolks

1. In a heavy saucepan, combine cream, milk, and honey.
2. Put the pan over medium heat and let the mixture boil gently to bubbling just around the edges (gentle simmer).  Remove from heat.
3. Add the Earl Gray tea leaves and let it steep for 7-8 minutes until the cream has taken on the tea flavor, stirring occasionally and tasting to make sure it’s not too bitter.
4. While waiting for the tea to steep, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up and whisk in sugar.  Set aside.
5. Put the saucepan back on the stove over low heat and let it warm up for 2 minutes.
6. Carefully measure out ½ cup of hot cream mixture.  
7. While whisking the eggs constantly, whisk the hot cream mixture into the eggs until smooth.  Continue tempering the eggs by adding another ½ cup of hot cream to the bowl with the yolks.
8. Pour the cream-egg mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of a spatula, about 5 minutes.
9. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container.
10. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziplock freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in an ice bath until cold, about 30 minutes.  Refrigerate the ice cream base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
11. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
12. Spin until thick and creamy about 25-30 minutes.
13. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Cherry Compote

Monday, May 25, 2015

We love it when cherries are in season but sometimes end up buying way too much.  For the leftover cherries, we turn them into a simple, delicious, and versatile compote.  

It can be served with roast lamb or duck, a wide range of cheese from ricotta to Humboldt Fog, or as a beautiful topping for cheesecake, pancakes, ice cream, and yogurt.

Cherry compote
2 cups of cherry, pitted
¼ cup of sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
2. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the cherries and let them simmer just until they are slightly soft, about 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the compote to a sterilized glass jar and let it cool to room temperature.  The compote will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

Cookbook Review: Simply Ancient Grains Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I was really excited to dive into Simply Ancient Grains because it’s a topic I’m completely unfamiliar with. Quinoa, buckwheat, corn/grits/polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa, and spelt are stocked in my pantry and cooked on a regular basis but amaranth, barley, bulgur, einkorn, emmer, faro, fonio, frekeh, kamut, millet, rye, sorghum, and teff are grains that I have never heard of. The author included a nice guide on how to prepare the grains and a table for cooking time depending on the method. With a variety of recipes for breakfast, salads, sides, soups, stews, pasta, entrees, and desserts, there’s something for everyone.

My favorite recipes come from the breakfast section. We really enjoyed the saffron millet with toasted almonds and cardamom and cardamom-infused black rice porridge with blueberries and pistachios. If you don’t like cardamom, you can try cinnamon instead. Cardamom can be a bit strong for some people. With Maria’s recipes, you have so much flexibility to change the ingredients depending on the seasons and what’s available in your pantry. You can use berries in the spring, stone fruits in the summer, apples and pears in the fall, or even persimmons in winter. Even though it’s not squash season, I had to try the oatmeal butternut pancakes. I don’t like nuts with my pancakes so I skipped it altogether and ate it with maple syrup and whip cream. The pancakes tasted so good! A bit nutty, sweet, and satisfying! Another favorite is the dark chocolate spelt waffle with warm raspberry sauce. I’m going to try these waffles with cherry compote next time. I secretly love breakfast recipes that straddle the fine line of desserts and breakfast

Simply Ancient Grains is a very resourceful book that opens the readers to a whole new world of ancient grains. I love Maria’s combination of textures and unique flavor to showcase these ancient grains for the modern kitchen. The photography by Erin Kunkel is gorgeous but left me wanting more. If you’re looking for a cookbook to incorporate more ancient grains into your diet, Simply Ancient Grains is the perfect starting place.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Chicken kara-age or Japanese Fried Chicken

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My friend Gail and I have talked about throwing a dinner party for the longest time. Figuring out what to serve is not the easiest thing. Finally, we decided on a Japanese tapas party, bringing many dishes to life from our favorite Japanese cookbook, Japanese Soul Cooking. Of course, no Japanese tapas party would be completed without chicken kara-age. 

Chicken kara-age is the Japanese version of fried chicken but marinated in a mix of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, and mirin, then dredged in potato starch and deep fried to a morsel of perfection. Using potato starch creates a light and crispy coating similar to the rice flour that I used for the Vietnamese sticky wings. Chicken kara-age makes a perfect appetizer before digging your chopsticks in a nice bowl of ramen but they are also delicious on their own for a snack.  And don't forget your Sapporo!

Chicken kara-age (Japanese fried chicken) adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking
2 lbs of chicken thighs (about 4-6 pieces depending on size)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
1 knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
⅓ cup of sake
⅓ cup of mirin
⅓ cup of soy sauce (Maggi brand)
vegetable oil for frying
1 cup of katakuriko (potato starch)
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of baking powder
white rice (optional)
lemon wedge and fried green chiles (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, combine garlic, ginger, sake, mirin, and soy sauce to make the marinate.
2. Cut the chicken into 1-1 ½ inch pieces and add to the marinate. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
3. When ready to fry, drain the chicken pieces using a colander.
4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together potato starch, salt, and baking powder.
5. Dredge each piece of chicken in the potato starch mixture and shake off excess flour.
6. In a large pot over medium heat, fill the pot to about 2 inches of oil and bring it to 350 degrees F (if you don't have a thermometer, leave it on medium heat).
7. Fry the chicken for about 5-6 minutes, 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
8. Transfer the fried pieces to a tray lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil.
9. When ready to eat, serve with white rice, a wedge of lemon, and fried green chiles.

Cook's note: I use chicken thigh because it creates the most juicy and flavorful chicken kara-age.