Tag-Archive for ◊ tea ◊

08 Mar 2014 Kipferls (Vanilla Hazelnut Butter Cookies)

kipferl2

I had never, ever heard of Kipferls before.  Then, in two weeks they came into my life twice!  First, my friend Priscilla made some in the Culinary School Pastry Arts program she is enrolled in. I didn’t try one because I don’t like nuts.  I dislike nuts so much that the name of the cookie didn’t even register.  Then I read “The Book Thief” and Kipferls are important in one chapter.  Since I was hosting book club this month and since the author had contributed his mother’s recipe for Kipferls to “The Book Club Cookbook” that my friend Kayte  gave me for my birthday last year, I decided to make the cookie. I had to do a Google image search to see what they looked like! Then came the hunt for Hazelnut Flour.  It’s out there. I found it at Sprouts.  I was shocked by the price.  I told the cashier that there must have been a mistake.  She said she doubted it.  I asked her to call for a manager for a price check.  YEP.  She was right.  There was no mistake.  It’s $16.95 for a 14 oz. packet of Hazelnut Flour (aka Hazelnut Meal). After creating such a fuss, and with my book club in less than seven hours, I bought the dangblasted expensive and pitifully small bag of Hazelnut Flour. BTW, you don’t have to buy this flour to make these cookies.

How to avoid using expensive Hazelnut Flour:

1. Make your own.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6 ounces (1 1/4 cups) of shelled hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the hazelnuts are fragrant and brown. Remove the nuts from the  oven and let cool slightly. While still warm, though, fold the nuts inside a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove their skins. Place skinned nuts in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade, and process until they are finely ground.

2. Substitute Almond Flour or Almond Meal for the Hazelnut Flour.  Almond Meal is about one-third the price of Hazelnut flour.  My German friend Karin said she always makes her Kipferls with Almond Meal, but her German relatives grind their own nuts.

To continue with my saga…Upon returning home with my $16.95 package of Hazelnut Flour, I got out the recipe and got started.  No! Two vanilla beans?  TWO?  For 36 cookies?  It is now clear to me that I am making World’s Most Expensive Cookie and I am thinking these better be good.  (They were, thank goodness. So good I might have to make them again, and again, and again…)

This recipe is based upon Markus Zusak’s recipe for Kipferls as published in The Book Club Cookbook.  I made some changes to the method and to the ingredients.  Mr. Zusak’s mother mixed her dough by hand, I tried it for a bit, then resorted to my electric mixer.  I split the use of the vanilla beans, putting one in the cookie and one in the powdered sugar, Mr. Zusak put both in the powdered sugar. I had to quadruple the amount of powdered sugar to cover all the cookies, and I covered the cookies with the powdered sugar while the cookies were still warm* so get a crackly, almost melted sugar coating on the cookies. (*Let the cookies cool a little, to firm up a bit.  If you toss hot cookies in powdered sugar, the cookie will break.)

Kipferls

Crisp German Vanilla Hazelnut Butter Cookies

For the cookies

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups Hazelnut Flour or Hazelnut Meal or alternative (see above)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split in half, and insides scraped off with a knife.  Discard the outside of the vanilla bean

For the vanilla sugar

  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (different preparation than above)
  1. Make the vanilla sugar first.  Place the powdered sugar with the chopped up vanilla bean in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process until the vanilla bean has been incorporated into the powdered sugar, several 10 second bursts.  Place a fine meshed sifter over a small bowl and sift the powdered sugar to remove the unblended pieces of vanilla bean.  Pour vanilla sugar into a large Ziploc bag. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  3. Combine all purpose flour, hazelnut flour/meal, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to flour mixture. Scrape the inside out of the split vanilla bean and add to bowl.  With an electric mixer, mix dough for 3-4 minutes or until a soft dough is formed.
  4. Pinch off small pieces of dough (1 T; 1/2 oz; 15 grams) and mold gently between your palms to form 3-inch ropes, thicker in the middle and tapered at the ends.   This took a bit of doing to master.  I rolled the dough to the length of my three middle fingers.  I rolled the dough a bit more firmly with my ring and index finger so the ends of the dough would be thinner. Fashion each piece of rolled dough into a crescent shape and place onto the prepared trays, see picture above.
  5. Bake in preheated 350º oven for 15-20 minutes or just until the cookies are beginning to turn brown.  Mr. Kusak says that once the Kipferls are brown, they are over cooked.
  6. Remove cookies from oven.  Cool just slightly and then toss into the Ziploc bag with the vanilla sugar–tossing the cookies while they are still hot creates a slightly melted-on, and truly special coating.  Toss  cookies in vanilla sugar.
  7. Remove cookie to a cooling tray and repeat with remaining cookies and vanilla sugar.  If you have vanilla sugar left over, you can re-coat the cookies.
  8. Let cool completely before eating. The cookies will crisp up as they cool.

 Yield: About 3 ½ dozen cookies

Kipferls1

I hope you enjoy the World’s Most Expensive Cookie!  They ARE good and worth the cost and the effort. Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

PS…I am making another batch of these cookies to take to a Tahoe retreat this weekend.  One bag of that dangblasted expensive Hazelnut Flour does make three batches of these cookies…AND, Costco sells vanilla beans now.  Note my friend Sally’s point, put the vanilla beans in the powdered sugar as soon as you get them.  Once you are ready to make the cookies, remove the beans and use as outlined above.  The benefit is that some of the essence of the vanilla beans will have soaked into the sugar…yummmmm.

18 Jan 2014 Russian Tea

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Are you old enough to remember the “Russian Tea” phase back in the 70’s?  I was a teenager then, a very young teenager, and our Moms and Grandmas were mixing up batches of Russian Tea like crazy and giving everyone little jars of the stuff.  I think the mix had instant tea, Tang (remember Tang? Astronauts drank it!), powdered lemonade, and some spices.  You opened up your gift jar, spooned some mix into a cup, added hot water, stirred it up and  you were drinking Russian Tea!  I liked it. It was a different hot drink.  I wasn’t into coffee yet, Hot Chocolate was too childish, English tea with milk was OK, but boring. Russian Tea was fun and different–and a bit exotic.

Fast forward to February 7th, 2014, Opening Ceremonies for The XXII Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia and I will be hosting a Russian Themed Winter Olympic Dinner.  What to have to drink after dinner? My daughter suggested Vodka shots off the tip of a sword.  Umm, no.  A citrus-y, sweet, slightly spicy version of Russian Tea is more up my alley — but not made of Tang, Country Time Lemonade and Nestea. So I hit the Internet.  First spoiler, the so-called “Russian Tea” of the 70’s isn’t Russian at all. It’s an American concoction! The only thing Russian about it is it’s name.  Shhhhhhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone!  Real Russian tea is “Russian Caravan” tea, because tea used to be imported to Russia from China, via a 16-18 month caravan, and it acquired a smokey flavor from all of the caravan campfires, according to Wikipedia.  So, I went to my local Russian grocery store, yes, we have one in San Jose, and I couldn’t find “Russian Caravan” tea anywhere (nor anyone to help me), but lots of Earl Grey.  I am not serving Earl Grey tea at my Russian Dinner.  Early Gray Tea is English and I don’t like it, it’s too smokey!

So now I am back to my original “Russian” Tea quest.  I found some recipes on the Internet, checked out their star ratings, and tried a few.  One was truly horrid; it involved extracting the juice from oranges and lemons, then boiling the  rinds in sugar and water then adding  the liquid to cold tea. I was skeptical, but the very attractive, very sincere lady on the YouTube video seemed nice, and she was raving over her tea! So I tried it.  She was not honest. Her tea was bitter and horrid.  Of COURSE it was.  Boiling all that pith then adding it to the tea? I should have known better. Why do people post bad recipes?

Eventually, I came up with this version for fresh Russian Tea.  I like it.  I really like it. I served it to five friends and two relatives, and they all said they liked it.  Then I served it to another relative, the daughter who suggested I serve vodka shots off the end of a sword, and she hated it.  I was SHOCKED.  I tied her down and make her try it again.  She STILL didn’t like it.  Harrumph.  She’s no longer my favorite child.  My son loved the tea.  He said, “That’s good.  That’s really, really good.”  He’s a good boy. He’s my favorite child now.

This “Russian” tea is in the same family as hot tea with lemon and honey, but with orange added, and some cinnamon, and a few cloves, it’s a bit more complex (there’s no honey in this tea though).  I’m going to serve it at my Russian themed Winter Olympic dinner, but I’ll brew a pot of Earl Grey, too… for the weirdos.

You all know I am not a photographer, right?  I thought I was being deliciously creative setting up a picture to look like hot, citrus-y, Russian tea in cold, stark, white snow.  Epic fail.  What I got looks like tea in bubbles, oh, not even that, it looks like tea in pillow stuffing, which it is.  Can you overlook that?  Can you just try this hot, citrus-y, slightly spiced, American-Russian tea?  I think you will be glad you did.  Just make the tea once, and put it in the refrigerator to reheat as needed. Ponyat’? Da?

I am really getting into the Olympic/Russian thing now. I made Pierogi for dinner last night, and I ordered a Pierogi press and a Pierogi cookbook written by a real babuska from Amazon.  I am trying to find a Russian outfit to wear. It seems I should go as a babushka.  I already have all the right clothes in my closet…and you know, Vodka shots from the end of a sword might not be too far fetched!

Russian Tea

  • 4 strong black tea bags
  • 1 quart (4 cups boiling water)
  • Zest of 1 1/2 oranges
  • Juice of 1 1/2 oranges (about 2/3 cup)
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 6 cloves (0k to double for spicier drink)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (ok to use 2 for spicier drink)
  • 1 cup sugar (might be ok to reduce to 3/4 cup for a less sweet drink)
  • 2 cups cold water 
  1. Make 1 quart of tea by pouring 1 quart of boiling water over 4 teabags and seep for 5 minutes.  Remove tea bags from hot tea and set tea aside.
  2. Zest the oranges and lemon. Put the zest in a small saucepan.
  3. Add 1 cup sugar and 2 cups cold water to the zest in the small saucepan.
  4. Bring water, sugar, and zest to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
  5. Juice the oranges and lemon. Pour the juice into the brewed tea.
  6. Strain the  boiled water, sugar, spices and zest mixture the add to tea and juice mixture.
  7. Stir well and serve or refrigerate mixture until ready to use. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.
  8. Enjoy the Olympics!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  BTW, I tried one more drink in my quest for my Olympic dinner, but I think that one qualifies as a dessert (and a gold medal)!  White Hot Chocolate.  Too, too, too decadent to post…I must keep my fans from sinning…I must…I must…OK, OK, I’ll post it soon!

08 Jun 2013 Peach Iced Tea

2 Peach Iced Tea Vert

I made a Peach Iced Tea! I am so excited that I have to share the recipe with you, even as I work to make it more natural (off to the farmer’s market tomorrow for my first try). I didn’t want you all to have to wait until I got the natural version perfected as this version works fine!  I know there are hot days and summer parties in your near future–graduations, Father’s Day, showers, birthday parties, July 4th celebrations, and BBQ’s, so I know you need this recipe now!

This tea, as is, is not too sweet, and definitely has a pronounced peach flavor; it’s like Snapple Peach Iced Tea, only better!  Make the big-batch peach base to keep in the freezer and you’ll be able to whip up a quart of Peach Iced Tea for yourself and a good book! Or make a gallon or two  for a  summer party in a flash.  I, for one, would love to go to a summer party where there’s something to drink other than bottles of beer, soda and water 🙂 (BTW, I have a recipe posted for Blueberry Lemonade, too, which is also very good!).

The peach part of the tea was inspired by a recipe I found in a “Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication” entitled , “Best Loved Reader Recipes; 125 Winners from 1930 to Today”.  The recipe in the magazine was for a “Sparkling Peach Punch”, where the base below is mixed with ginger ale or sparkling water.  I tried both versions. The ginger ale version was very sweet, the sparkling water version was given a thumbs up by my daughters, but the iced tea version created by yours truly was the star of the show.

Notes:

#1 Make the base and freeze it in three 1-quart batches or six 2-cup batches.  Each 1-quart peach base will mix with 2 quarts of strong tea to make 12 cups/3 quarts of  Peach Iced Tea, add ice and you have a party!  Each 2-cup peach base mixed with 6 cups of strong tea will make 8 cups/2 quarts of Peach Iced Tea, add ice and a friend and you have a cool and tasty summer drink with which you and  your friend can enjoy a little down time.

#2 Make the tea twice as strong as you would for regular hot tea!  I prefer English or Irish tea bags such as Barry’s Irish Gold, or Yorkshire Gold or PG tips.  Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast tea is also very good (but, oddly, the English Breakfast tea isn’t very good at all). I use 3 or 4 tea bags to each quart of boiling water.  If I had to use Lipton or Red Rose Tea, I’d use at least six tea bags to a quart of boiling water.  I haven’t experimented with green tea, as I am not a big fan, but I am sure green tea could substitute for the black tea, and of course, decaf tea could be used too, if that is your preference.

#3 I don’t know why there is gelatin in the base, that’s one of the things I am going to experiment with and try to remove, but, I think it probably does add to the overall peachiness of the drink. Yes, yes, yes, one of the first things I will experiment with is using fresh peaches in place of the canned peaches…but until that happens, make this version, it’s yummy!

Peach Iced Tea

For the Peach Base:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 13-ounce package peach-flavored gelatin
  • 1 29-ounce can peach slices in light syrup
  • 4 11 ounce cans peach nectar (find them on the shelves of the grocery store next to the bottled juices)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  1. Combine water, sugar, and gelatin in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the gelatin then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Place undrained peach slices in blender, and blend until smooth.
  3. In a 1 gallon capacity bowl, pan or pitcher combine gelatin mixture, pureed peaches, peach nectar, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  4. Divide peach mixture into three 1-quart batches or six 2-cup batches.  Use now (see steps below), or freeze until needed.  According to the original recipe, the base can be frozen for up to 3 months.

To Brew the Tea and Combine With the Peach Flavor:

  • Desired quantity of peach base (remove from freezer an hour or two before needing)
  • Tea bags (Make the tea twice as strong as you would for regular hot tea, see note #2 above)
  • Boiling water (You will need to make 2X the amount of water for the quantity of base you are using, see note #1 above)
  1. Pour the required amount of boiling water over the tea bags and let steep for 3-5 minutes.  Don’t let the tea steep for more than 5 minutes or it will start to get bitter.
  2. Fill a pitcher half full of  ice.  Pour the hot brewed tea over the ice. Discard the tea bags.
  3. Stir the peach base into the iced tea.
  4. Pour into glass and enjoy! ahhhhhhhh

It’s mercilessly HOT here, and I hate hot, but a glass of Peach Iced Tea, a day off, and a good book does make the summer somewhat enjoyable(!)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  I am going to try some more recipes from this magazine–Calypso Shrimp Skewers, Coconut Salmon Curry, Macaroni and Brie with Crab, Green Beans with Basil and Mint, so stay tuned!

BTW, if you have the magazine, I’ve already tried the “Bagel, Lox and Egg Strata” recipe… The picture looked great.  The make-ahead casserole wasn’t bad, but neither was it great, and I see no reason to make it again.

09 Dec 2012 Skibo Castle Crunch

This cookie is something you’ve never tasted before.  There’s no chocolate, no caramel, no peanut butter, no nuts, no oatmeal, no coffee, no mint, nor is there any jam in this cookie, so how can it be good?  I don’t know, but it is.  Damn good.  Two bites and you’ll be addicted and you won’t know why.

I don’t know why I made this cookie in the first place.  I found it in “The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe From Each Year 1941-2009” by Gourmet Magazine.  This was billed as the best cookie of 1999.  Maybe I made it because it was made famous in Scotland and I have a fondness for all things Scottish.  Maybe because it was a 15 minute bar cookie recipe and I had all the ingredients on hand.  Nevertheless, I made it, and this odd, crunchy ginger cookie has become one of my favorite all time cookies.

I had to change the recipe though.  The first year I made it, I loved it, but it was ODD, downright ugly and temperamental (no two batches turned out the same).  So I twiddled with it a bit and then , sadly, had to let it go as an “almost great” cookie.  This year,  I found the recipe again,  on Epicurious. com…, with twenty-five comments!  So I tried the recipe again and incorporated some of the suggestions.  Success!  This is the cookie I am taking to my Cookbook Club’s annual Christmas Cookie Exchange (my yoga group already gave it 10 thumbs up–and they got to taste both years’ versions).

The biggest change was doubling the recipe, but baking in the same size pan as the original recipe.  The second big change was using a food processor to make the base.  The third big change was cutting the cookie into squares before the cookie cooled. So here is the recipe for an odd, crunchy, ginger-y cookie that takes 15 minutes to bake and is totally addictive.

If you want more ginger flavor, add 1/2 cup minced candied ginger to either the shortbread base or sprinkled on top of the glaze.

Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch

For Shortbread Base:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces

For Glaze-like Topping:

1 1/2 cups butter
2 tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup (British cane sugar syrup-try World Market or an Indian Grocery or Amazon.com…or sub dark corn syrup)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F . Line  a 13″ by 9″ baking pan with parchment paper.

Make shortbread base:
Place the dry ingredients in a food processor and whirl to combine.  Add in and blend in butter  and whirl until mixture resembles coarse meal and just starts to hold together.  Pour mixture into parchment lined baking pan. With your fingers, press mixture evenly into bottom of pan.  Do this lightly.  If you press too hard the shortbread will suffer.  Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden and crisp around the edges, 25 to 30  minutes.  Keep  your eye on this.  The shortbread can go from perfectly done to over baked in a minute.

Just before shortbread is done, make the topping:
Five minutes before the shortbread is to be taken out of the oven, melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring, for one minute. Remove shortbread from oven and pour topping over, tilting pan to cover shortbread evenly.

Cool in pan on a rack for about 20 minutes, then cut the Skibo Crunch into small squares or rectangles.  Let the Skibo Crunch cool completely before removing from pan.  Then…WOW your guests with this seriously odd cookie.

Let me know if it becomes one of your favorites, too.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

 

26 Feb 2011 Chai Hot Chocolate

Snow in San Jose and San Francisco?  We all have our hopes up!  But even if it doesn’t snow, it’s going to be c-c-c-cold.  Freezing even.  On a weekend!  What great timing. Time to huddle in front of the fire with a good book, a quilt, and a cup of grown up hot chocolate, Chai Hot Chocolate.  I think you’ll like this. It’s familiar but different, and it’s a bit lighter than regular hot chocolate. A hot chocolate for grown ups! <sigh>  I enjoyed mine as I got started on my 2010 taxes…

This recipe is from my favorite Christmas Cookie Annual, Better Homes and Gardens “Christmas Cookies”, from the year 2000 (I have every issue since 1989!)

Chai Hot Chocolate

1 English tea bag
½ cup hot water
3 T. sugar
2 T. cocoa powder
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
optional: whipped cream for serving

Place tea bag in a small saucepan, pour boiling water over it, cover, and let stand for 3-5 minutes. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to blend. Heat to about 150 degrees, do not boil. Pour into 2 or 3 cups. Top with a bit of whipped cream, if desired. Sit down, relax, and enjoy!

Here’s hoping you fully enjoy your winter weekend!