Thursday, July 31, 2008

Coeur a la Crème--Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe

In addition to posting two of Ina Garten's recipes a month, on the second and fourth Thursdays, Barefoot Bloggers creator Tara from Smells Like Home, gave us a bonus "challenge." Each month, the BB whose site "refers" the most hits to the Barefoot Blogger's site (which is here--hint, hint!) gets to pick a bonus recipe that members have the option of making and posting on the last Thursday of the month. The first challenge winner was Becke of Columbus Foodie, who had over 200 hits from her site to the BB site. (Congrats Becke!) Becke chose an intriguing recipe, Coeur a la Crème, from Ina's Barefoot in Paris book (page 189) or on the Food Network site (here).

My favorite food resource, Food Lover's Companion defines Coeur a la Crème as: "[kewr ah la krehm] French for "heart with cream," this classic dessert is made in a special heart-shaped wicker basket or mold with holes in it. Cream cheese is mixed with sour cream or whipping cream (and sometimes sugar) and placed into the cheesecloth-lined mold or basket. The dessert is then refrigerated overnight, during which time the whey (liquid) drains out through the basket or perforated mold. To serve, the dessert is unmolded and garnished with fresh berries or other fruit"). I had heard of and even tried Coeur a la Crème but I had never tried making one (Partly because I had thought that you needed a heart-shaped mold and I did not need another gadget in my kitchen and partly because I assumed it would be "fussy" to make) so I was very interested in trying this recipe.

Ina suggests using a sieve with cheesecloth if you don't have a mold so after deciding to halve the recipe, I chose to put it in my small strainer. I also found I did not have any Grand Marnier and didn't want to purchase any, so I decided to use some nice Framboise (raspberry liquor) that I happened to have in the sauce instead, figuring the extra raspberry couldn't hurt. I thought I was being original but when I looked up the sauce recipe in the book, Ina uses framboise in that one too. That Ina is always one step ahead!
Coeur a la Crème with Raspberries and Grand Marnier Sauce

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce, recipe follows
2 half-pints fresh raspberries

Place the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.

Line a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, discard the liquid, Unmold the cream onto a plate, Drizzle Raspberry Sauce around the base. Serve with fresh raspberries and extra sauce.

Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce

1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Place raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and orange liqueur into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill. Yield: 2 cups

Results: Very good! I had used a double layer of cheesecloth and the sieve is a fine mesh, so I don't know if I was able to extract all the liquid I could have during the draining process. There was only about a tablespoon of liquid in the bottom of the bowl I put the sieve over after about 20 hours in the refrigerator but it did not seem to effect the texture much. My Coeur a la Crème turned out creamy and delicious and was so simple to make. I don't know what the Grand Mariner did to the flavor of the sauce but I really liked the added raspberry flavor of the framboise. This was an easy, low effort dessert that has a big "wow factor" even if it is not heart-shaped. I would definitely make it again.

Thanks Becke for a great recipe choice! You can check out the list with the other Barefoot Blogger's and see who did the bonus recipe here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Tale of Two Bloggers

With just a little over 3 months of blogging under my belt (and a few extra pounds under there too--thank you very much), I have had the opportunity to get to know some of you truly wonderful people out there. With some of you its an occasional post back and forth, with others it is a daily check in comment, with a few it has graduated to some back and forth "off the blog emailing". Last night I crossed the final frontier and person.... my first fellow blogger, Michelle from The Accidental Scientist. Michelle has been out there representing the Oregon foodies for a few years and lucky for me, she and her husband moved to Hawaii a couple of months ago. She left a post on my blog a few weeks ago and according to her has been "stalking" me ever since--for which I feel very honored!

I had planned to write a really clever post about our evening together; the anxiety leading up to meeting someone new and wondering if they will like you, the excitement of finding you do have things in common (food of course but other likes and dislikes as well), our dinner in an exotic Moroccan Restaurant and the things that made us giggle--but she did it first! And she did it so perfectly, cleverly capturing every moment of a fun evening, so humorously and in such great detail that I will just have to lead you over to her site to read her write up. (Here it is)

After you read it you will understand why the evening was so great--Michelle is as smart, witty and fun in person as she is on her blog. Which is good because as much as I was looking forward to meeting her, I have to admit I was a bit nervous--probably due to the fact that I am not a huge fan of blind dates and although not one in the traditional sense--meeting someone you have been "chatting" with on line and in a few emails for dinner is a bit like a blind date. My friend Julie at work (one of the few people that know about "THE BLOG") didn't help. (The following is a transcript of our conversation yesterday before the dinner as close as I can recall it but pretty accurate I think).

Julie: "What are you doing tonight?"

Me: "Going to dinner."

Julie: "Who are you going with?"

Me: "Um..well..." (in a low mumble) "another blogger who I have been emailing with and stuff. Her name is Michelle and she and her husband moved here from Oregon a few months ago."

Julie: "Hmm... Are you sure it's legit? I mean you are sure it isn't like an old pervert guy or something pretending to be a female so they can meet you and do something to you?"

Me: "Well she has had a blog for awhile and I doubt an old pervert guy would go to the trouble to set up a blog pretending to be a female, cook recipes and post them for months so they could meet me in a restaurant and hack me to pieces or something but I guess you never know..."

Julie: "Well, I am just asking because I don't want to see you get hacked to pieces or anything!"

Me: "Me neither...Um..thanks for caring!?"

I can happily say that I had fun, met a new friend that I look forward to hanging out with and came home in one piece! Although we might be kicked out of the Food Blog World because (gasp!) WE DIDN'T TAKE PICTURES OF DINNER! We didn't discuss our reasons until mid-way through our entrees: she because her camera was too big and she didn't want to look like a dork, me because she didn't have a camera with her and being a newbie to all this I didn't want to look like a dork. (See how much we have in common!)

Michelle, thanks for a wonderful evening and I look forward to being your fellow "food dork" here in Hawaii!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I May Have Found Ice Cream Heaven!

You may have picked up on a few things I like if you visit me here regularly: chocolate, ice cream, more chocolate, chocolate paired with salt... Well unfortunately for both my pocketbook and my waistline, I may have found ice cream heaven.

I will admit I was perusing the ice cream case at the grocery store and I had a mission. I saw a picture in a magazine of Ben & Jerry's Baked Alaska Ice Cream (Vanilla Ice Cream with Marshmallow Swirls and White Chocolate Polar Bears--how fun is that!?) Unfortunately, it was "Olive" Magazine from the UK so I pretty much assumed we would never have it here in Hawaii. (You can check it out here in the fridge on Ben & Jerry's UK site--left side second shelf down on the far left).

Having no luck with B&J, my gaze traveled over to Haagen-Dazs and the dark blue label of their "Reserve" line, (translated that means "we can charge you about $1.50 or so more per pint" line). There are six flavors (see them here) but one flavor caught my eye like a neon sign: Fleur de sel Caramel (doesn't it just sound like poetry?!). You can see the details here. The package states that Fleur del sel Caramel is: "Fleur de Sel caramels covered in a chocolaty coating blended into caramel ice cream with caramel ribbons and French sea salt accents. Crisp, salty nuances harmonize with rich, creamy caramel for the ultimate combination of sweet and salty."

Well it fell into my cart--once again purely for research, and I trotted home with it. Did it live up to the writing on the package? YES! It may be just about perfect--the caramel ice cream is caramelly without being annoying, the little fleur del sel caramel inside are tiny, 1/4"ish, adorable, little chocolates that are soft and biteable. The ribbons of caramel and salt are just the right touch. It just may be as they say--the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I have a serious ice cream crush maybe even ice cream love! I think that it is funny that for tasting notes it says: "After a bucketful of fresh salty oysters, take the empty shells and scoop on dollops of Fleur de Sel Caramel ice cream." I say forget the oysters--just give me the pint and a spoon!"

I would tell you to go out and try it today but you may be better off not trying it--I can't stop thinking about it. I want more. Now as a matter of fact. It weighs in at 1,120 calories a pint, with translates into 280 calories for 1/2 cup serving. I am proud to say that I managed to eat the pint in 3 servings (that's 373.33 calories each) rather than eating the whole thing but I can't be doing that very often. Plus it was about $7.00 or so--yikes!

Still, you never forget a first love and I'll always have the memory of when our glances met over the frosty shelves of the ice cream case and that first time I tasted the salty-sweet perfection in that little blue pint...

Monday, July 28, 2008

An El Premio Arte y Pico Award

I really feel lucky and special to receive the El Premio Arte y Pico Award from Teresa at Mexican-American Border Cooking. If you don't know Teresa and her terrific site, I encourage you to go visit as she has incredible recipes and pictures on her blog. In Hawaii it is difficult to find really good, authentic Mexican food so I like to check out Teresa's site to quell my cravings. I am so touched that Teresa recognized my Blog with this award. The fact that people even read it is amazing to me and getting an award like this is like icing on a delicious cake.
It is now my responsibility to pass this award on to 5 more bloggers who I feel deserve it for their creativity and design. (There is so much love out here in Food Blog Land--I can't believe it!) This is difficult for me because there are so many great blogs out there but here are 5 Blogs I truly enjoy and that inspire me. I leave it in their capable hands to pass on the award to 5 Blogs of their choosing.

The first award goes to Michelle at The Accidental Scientist. Michelle has been blogging for a while now and moved to Hawaii a few months ago. It has been fun getting to know her. Her incredible pictures, recipes and posts about life in Hawaii re-inspire me about this great place we get to call home.

Next we have Andrea at Nummy Kitchen. I am just starting to get acquainted with this wonderful site. I am not a vegetarian, although I often feel like I should be, but Andrea's recipes make me ready to convert. She made her Smoked Salmon Spread for Barefoot Bloggers hot and made it with corn and cheese instead of salmon--how cool is that?
Heather from Randomosity and The Girl. I have gotten to know this site through the Barefoot Bloggers as well. Love the name, the recipes and the great pictures, including lots of step by step ones, which I usually lack the patience to take. Plus there is Charlie, her cute shih-tzu, taste-tester and an adorable ham for the camera.

Another find from Barefoot Bloggers is Kim from My Plate, My World. With a site full of great writing, wonderful recipes and beautiful photos, I get hungry whenever I visit. Plus I love her Barefoot Bloggers "badge", with her artfully designed toes!

And finally last but certainly not least, my hero, Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness. I am sure Stephanie has more awards than she has room for on her blog, but since reading her site and seeing all the fun things that were going on in the Blogosphere is what motivated me to finally start my own Blog, I would be remiss in not presenting her with this award. Blog Party, Blogging By Mail, and everything else she does, she is incredible and her site is one I visit and get inspired by frequently.
If you have not read some of these blogs, definitely go visit them and see what I am talking about. Don't forget to congratulate them--they deserve it!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Greek Salad with Israeli Couscous--A Salad for Sunday & Lunch for Monday

I have the most attractive "farmer's tan" or rather "farmer's burn" today. I walked down to the boat launch near my house to meet some friends and watch another friend paddle in from Molokai in a race (32 miles of paddling on a board, although he did it alternating, as a pair but still that's 16 miles!). I usually apply sunscreen, especially on the weekend, but for some reason I guess I skipped it because after a couple of hours in the sun I have red arms up to the tee-shirt line, a nice collar of red and a bright red nose. I am a bit sore at the moment. Lucky for me I pretty much had dinner taken care of before I left the house because I threw together this easy and hearty salad this morning before I left.
I have not cooked a lot with Israeli Couscous but I really like it and bought a few bags when I found it in the specialty section of a grocery store here. If you are not familiar with Israeli Couscous, it is about twice the size of regular couscous and has a more pasta like texture. I used it in this salad that I made from Everyday Food, a couple of months ago. It was pretty good but I thought the couscous would be even better with some crunchy vegetables and feta cheese in a Greek Salad.

Greek Salad with Israeli Couscous
1 package Israeli Couscous (about an 8 oz package)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded if desired, and quartered
12 grape tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Greek Salad Dressing (recipe below)
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan, add couscous and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned. Add water, bring to a boil, cover pan and turn down heat, and simmer couscous for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cooked couscous from heat, place in colander and run cool water over it to cool couscous down. Drain couscous and mix it with cucumber, tomatoes, onion, pepper, celery and parsley until combined. Gently mix in dressing, recipe below and add feta cheese before serving.

Greek Salad Dressing
2 cloves garlic, diced finely
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried oregano
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Mix gently with salad ingredients.
Results: The salad was delicious--cool and crunchy with some creaminess from the feta cheese and the pasta. You could switch out ingredients according to your tastes. (I think artichoke hearts and olives might be a nice addition, or maybe some summer squash or zucchini). Since I was craving meat, I threw a flank steak on the grill pan and sliced it to top my pasta salad for dinner. I will probably eat it the same way for lunch tomorrow too.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lemon Posset

I really like the recipes and ideas of Jill Dupleix, an Australian chef and cookbook writer who now lives in London. I have three of her cookbooks and she has lots of quick and easy recipes. (here is an easy one for Lime & Coconut Macaroons) She also writes for 'delicious' magazine and has taken the photographs for several of her many cookbooks.

I was in the mood for something creamy and lemony and remembered I had this recipe for Lemon Posset marked in her Very Simple Food cookbook. Jill writes about possets: "In medieval England, a posset was a sweetened, lightly curdled milk drink." (Doesn't sound that inviting does it?!) "The modern posset is made from cream and sugar, acidulated with lemon juice. It is just like a rich gooey lemon curd, without all that mucking around with egg yolks."

Lemon Posset
from Very Simple Food, Jill Dupleix

2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and bubble for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, without letting the cream boil over.

Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, stirring well. Taste and add a little more lemon juice if you so desire. Let the posset cool for 10 minutes, then stir once more and pour in four 4-oz ramekins, Chinese tea cups or espresso coffee cups. Cool, then refrigerate for a few hours before serving, with a tiny spoon.
Serves 4.

Just three ingredients, less than 5 minutes of stove time and a few hours in the fridge made a cool, delicious, creamy treat that is perfect for summer. Its kind of a cross between a mousse and a pudding and sweet and tangy at the same time. I halved the recipe and made two servings worth, adding about another tablespoon of lemon juice as I like a lot of lemon flavor. I served it in a small coffee/espresso cup and garnished it with some lemon zest (and even a "tiny spoon" as stated in the recipe). It would be nice served with a lemon cookie too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Phoebe's Rosemary-Mint Iced Tea with Lemon for The Memory Keeper's Daughter

In May, I joined a Blog Book Club that I was really excited about. A book was chosen for everyone to read and then we were to make a dish that was inspired by the story or its characters. (If you look here you can see my posting for Book 1 and here for Book 2). I was really excited about the book club idea as I love to read as much as I love to cook and I like sharing about both with others. Trouble is I may have been the only one excited about it. Three books were listed, one for each month, our first round up was posted but the second round up for June has not been posted yet, there is no book listed for August and I have a feeling there might not be a posting for the third book that is due tomorrow. Why am I going ahead and posting it my thoughts on the book and my recipe then? Well basically I went to the effort of buying a second copy of the book as I had read it a couple of years ago and then had passed it on to someone else. I read it again and was reminded of how much I like this book so I am going ahead and having my little book club moment anyway! ;-)

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, is the story about an event that changes many lives. During a snowstorm in the 1960's unable to get through to the hospital, a young doctor, David Henry delivers his own twin babies, aided by his nurse, Caroline. When he realizes his baby daughter has Down Syndrome, he asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and tells his wife Norah, that the baby girl died at birth. In love with David, Caroline can't give Phoebe, the baby away and instead takes her away to raise her. David's decision impacts all of them as his guilt damages his marriage and his relationship with his wife and son Paul, Norah never stops mourning her daughter and Paul feels distant from his father. Caroline has her own guilt and struggles as she raises a daughter with special needs in a time when that was not an accepted thing to do. The book traces their paths for the next 25 years as they all live within the shadow of David's and Caroline's decisions. This is a beautifully written book. At times it can move a bit slow but I found myself deeply engrossed in the lives of these people.

I wasn't sure what to make to represent the story best. Lately I have been studying tea as well as herbal infusions and was looking through a book that talked about different herbs and their meanings. I noticed that rosemary most often represents memory or remembrance, immortalizing those we have lost. Spearmint represents warmth of sentiments--feelings and emotions. The book has these two themes throughout, the memories, feelings and emotions of all of the characters drive the story. I thought about iced tea, which Phoebe makes and decided to add the herbs to an iced black tea, sweetened with honey. It tasted good, but seemed to be missing something so I added some lemonade and some lemon slices because lemon symbolizes zest which seemed fitting when I think of Phoebe and the pleasure she gets from living and the things and people she loves.

Phoebe's Rosemary-Mint Iced Tea with Lemon
1 quart water
6 good quality black tea bags (I used Mighty Leaf Organic Breakfast tea)
1 bunch mint
6 rosemary springs
1/2 cup honey
2 quarts lemonade (your favorite recipe or frozen "country style" concentrate
lemon slices to garnish
In a large pot bring the water to a boil. Remove the pot from heat, add the tea bags, 1/2 the mint and 4 springs of rosemary, cover with a lid, and allow the tea to steep in the water for about 15 minutes. Remove tea bags and place pot in refrigerator (or pour tea into large jug) and cool in refrigerator for about 1 hour. Meanwhile take a large pitcher and pour the honey into the pitcher then add about 1/2 cup hot tap water. Stir the honey around to dissolve. Strain tea to remove mint and rosemary. Pour the tea into the pitcher with the dissolved honey, stir well. Fill the pitcher with cold lemonade to make about 3 quarts and stir.
To serve, pour each glass of tea and garnish with a slice of lemon, small sprig of rosemary and a few mint leaves.

The tea tasted refreshing and bright, you could taste the rosemary and mint but it didn't over power it. Nice for a warm summer day!
And there it is--my tale of book club woe! Have you read the book and did you enjoy it? Any comments or insights on it you want to share? Does anyone know of another blogging book club or want to join one? Let me know!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Smoked Salmon Spread--Barefoot Bloggers

Its Barefoot Bloggers time again! (If you haven't heard about the Barefoot Bloggers yet you can read more about us here). July's second BB recipe was chosen by Ashley of The Spicy Skillet and is the Smoked Salmon Spread from Barefoot Contessa Family Style (pg 35) or you can also find it here on the Food Network site. One note--when you look at the Food Network site, the program this spread was made on was called "Sunshine Foods" and the description says: "Sunshine food means food that's lighter with great color and flavor." I won't argue the flavor and color but lighter in what way? No offense Ina, you know I love you, but there are both sour cream and cream cheese in this baby--its not that light!

That being said, I have made this recipe a couple of times, once for a family function and once for work with great success and rave reviews so I was happy to make it again...until it all went wrong! "Wrong, you say? Deb, how can you possibly mess up this recipe?" Well I did! Not that it was really bad or uneatable, but it wasn't the glorious, delicious dip I so fondly remembered. I think it may have started with the lower fat cream cheese and sour cream I used, it just seemed a bit thinner than when I had made it with the full fat version. I had a little argument with Ina in my head of course--once again pointing out that none of us really need the extra fat and calories. (I don't think it was very sporting of her to point out the pint of decadent ice cream in my freezer that I am going to Blog about very soon. After all, cutting the calories here gives me more to work with for things like ice cream!)
In any case, I usually use lower fat dairy items with no problem so ultimately I think it was more the salmon's fault. Ina recommends Norwegian Smoked Salmon but I had some nice "Nova-Style Lox" in the freezer that seemed pretty similar and was going to go with that until I remembered the nice chunk of "Hot Smoked Yukon King Salmon" from the same company also sitting in the freezer. Wouldn't that be even better? I opened it and oh the smokey aroma and buttery flavor--PERFECT! Until I gently mixed it into my spread mixture and it basically "melted" into the dip turning it a lovely shade of bright pink. Because it melted into almost nothing it made the texture of the spread a bit strange, it wasn't just creamy and yet it didn't have the nice chunky little bits I was looking for, it was just sort of "mushy" for lack of a better word. I tried throwing in another few ounces of the Nova-Style salmon for some texture and that helped a bit but still it wasn't quite "right".

At this point I had a good amount invested in this dip and was going to eat it and enjoy it no matter what. So I tried it on crackers and it was OK. I thought maybe it would be better with cucumbers so I used a melon baller to scoop out the centers of some small chunks of Japanese cucumbers and that was OK too.

Finally I threw some capers in and used it for a spread on bagels, which I think may have been its true calling as that upgraded it to pretty good. Still it didn't make my "take the leftovers to work cut" because I have my pride and could not handle someone saying--"it's OK but the last one you made was better." I definitely don't blame Ina--her recipe is fab and next time I will stick closer to that recipe and not try to be so adventurous with my salmon choices.

Thanks to Ashley for picking the recipe--it is a good one. I am sure everyones' spreads turned out well. You can check out the other BBs' Smoked Salmon Spreads here. Can you believe there are 94 of us so far!?! Next week we will be posting the bonus recipe for July, Coeur a la Creme. (which by the way, for that recipe mine actually did turn out lovely and delicious!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sake Drops & Japanese Themed Pupu Platter -- Blog Party #36

July marks 3 years of Blog Parties and my third entry in this fun monthly event. Conceived by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness, Blog Party (read about it here) is a virtual party that has a theme each month and guests "bring" an appetizer and a beverage that represent that theme. For this special anniversary party, Stephanie opened it up to be "Blogger's Choice", making our favorite drinks and pupus. Normally, I start with the theme, conceive the appetizer first and then madly scramble to figure out a drink that complements the dish. This month I am changing that up a bit by starting with the drink and letting the food and theme come from that.

Several years ago, I attended a annual conference in Seattle for one of the companies we worked with. Typically we ended up in the same hotel downtown and usually at the same nearby bar, The Dragonfish Asian Cafe, hanging out. Just across the street from the hotel, the Dragonfish was open late, had a late evening happy hour with cheap sushi rolls and pupus and a delicious drink they called the Sake Drop. (What more could you ask for?) The Sake Drop was a mixture of Sake, Lemonade and Grenadine, slightly sweet and very refreshing, it quickly became a favorite for me and my co-workers. When I threw a Birthday party for my friend and co-worker Susan, she requested it and we started making them regularly. It even replaced the Cosmo as the drink of choice at our Sex & The City Final Season Parties. I have not made them in a couple of years (not sure why!?) and they seemed like a great summer drink to revisit.

What to do for food? Sake Drops make me think of Japanese flavors and style, sushi and seafood. The fact that it is definitely summer means I wanted pupus that were low effort, don't require much time in front of a stove or oven and taste really good. The following three appetizers (what we would call a "pupu platter" here) that I threw together fit that criteria. Seared Sesame Ahi on Shiso, Wasabi Shrimp Cucumber Bites, and Spicy Oishi Edamame have great flavors, take minimal time and effort and require just a little time in front of the stove to boil some edamame (they can actually be done in the microwave if you want) and a mere two minutes searing some ahi (30 seconds per side). Perfect for summer entertaining including a Blog Party! They are also healthy and delicious, giving you a good excuse to have a small dessert, (see below) purchased at the store for even more summertime ease.

Sake Drop
Dragonfish Asian Cafe

2/3 lemonade (make your own or use frozen "country style" concentrate)
1/3 sake (Dragonfish used Momokawa Silver Sake but any good, crisp, fruity sake will do)
a small pour of Grenadine to garnish (about 1/2 ounce)
Mix lemonade and sake together with ice in a cocktail shaker (or you can make up a larger quantity ahead of time in a pitcher). Pour into tall glass and pour about 1/2 oz of grenadine into drink before serving, garnish with a lemon slice.

Seared Sesame Ahi on Shiso
about 16 pieces--depending on size of ahi block
1 "block" sushi grade ahi
salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
16 green shiso leaves, rinsed and dried (you can substitute small lettuce leaves for shiso)
maccha salt to garnish (recipe here)
1 or 2 limes cut into wedges for serving
Heat pan over medium high to high heat . Meanwhile, salt and pepper ahi block, place sesame seeds on a plate and roll ahi block in sesame seeds to coat.
Put olive oil in pan and sear ahi on all four sides about 30 seconds per side so ahi is still raw in center.

Set aside to cool and slice with a sharp knife into thin (about 1/4" slices).
Place an ahi slice on each shiso leaf and sprinkle a little maccha salt . Serve with lime wedges. (Guests can squeeze a bit of lime over ahi before eating).

Wasabi Shrimp Cucumber Bites
makes about 20-25 (depending on size of shrimp and cucumber)
about 1/2 -3/4 lb small or medium cooked shrimp (you want the shrimp about the same size as diameter of cucumber)
1-2 Japanese or 1 small English cucumber
1/2 cup cream cheese (or yogurt cheese if you prefer)
1 Tbsp wasabi powder or paste
maccha salt to garnish (recipe here)
Wash cucumber well, pat dry and cut into thin 1/4" slices. (if you prefer you can peel cucumber first but it isn't necessary). Combine cream cheese with wasabi powder until thoroughly mixed together. Spread wasabi cream cheese on cucumber slices and top each slice with one shrimp. Sprinkle lightly with maccha salt and serve.

Spicy Oishi Edamame
(Oishi means "delicious" in Japanese)

1 bag frozen edamame in shells
a couple of pinches of salt
2 Tbsp Ponzu Sauce (or juice from 1 lemon)
2 Tbsp Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbsp spicy sea salt mixture of your choice. (I either use a spicy Hawaiian salt mixture or a Caribbean one with garlic, habenaro chili, etc.)
In salted water, boil edamame on stove or cook in microwave according to package instructions. Run under cold water and drain. Put drained edamame in a bowl and add ponzu, soy sauce, sesame seeds and salt mixture. Mix together well and serve.

My tasters enjoyed everything. The flavors went together well and the a bit of a kick from the wasabi in the cream cheese and the spices on the edamame were great with the Sake Drop.
Notes: All the pupus are things I just threw together so recipes are a bit approximate--you can easily add more or less of things depending on your preferences for level of spice, etc. If raw fish isn't your thing (the ahi is partially cooked though!) you could use a piece of chicken, beef or marinated tofu on a shiso, mint or small lettuce leaf instead. The shrimp is cooked but if you aren't into seafood you could top the cucumber-wasabi cream cheese with a cherry tomato. The maccha salt from The Breakaway Cook, by Eric Gower is a great complement to the seafood and quick and easy to make but you could use regular sea salt instead.

Since I brought pretty healthy choices I am bringing along some bite size desserts for everyone; Mochi Ice Cream to fit our Japanese theme. If you have never had it, Mochi Ice Cream are little bites of ice cream wrapped in Mochi (rice paste). This one is a lilikoi flavor (passion fruit) and is made in Hawaii.
Three pupus and a great drink but it couldn't be simpler or quicker--about 35 minutes, all in. This gives me plenty of time to hang out at the Blog Party and see and sample what Stephanie and everyone else brought! Let's have a toast to Stephanie: "Congrats on 3 years of hosting such a great event Here's to many more!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Have Been Tagged--My First Meme

There are many milestones in the world of Food Blogs; your first post, your first comment from someone who actually reads your blog, your first Blog Award etc. Apparently I have hit another milestone and have been tagged for my very first meme from Melissa at It's Melissa's Kitchen. So being a good sport (at least most of the time) and being totally uninspired by work today and looking for a little "brain break" this afternoon, I took some time to complete it and think about who I wanted to send it to. Here are my answers and my lucky chosen bloggers below.

1. Last Movie I Saw In A Movie Theater?
Sex and the City (in New York even so I should get extra points I think!)

2. What Book Are You Reading?
About 3--I never read them individually as I think I have ADD. Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe, Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris and The Balanced Plate by Renee Loux

3. Favorite Board Game?
I like a little Yahtzee and some Scrabble now and again and I kick butt at Trivial Pursuit.

4. Favorite Magazine?
Hard to nail that down but if i had to pick one it is Donna Hay--expensive to subscribe but it is true Food Porn at its very best!

5. Favorite Smells?
Coconut, the ocean, vanilla, fresh, ripe mango

6. Favorite Sounds?
Max's purr, ocean waves, wind chimes, hard rain

7. Worst Feeling In The World?
I think feeling like I have disappointed someone or myself.

8. First Thing You Think of When You Wake?
Do I have to?!?!

9. Favorite Fast Food Place?
Burgerville in Oregon and Southern Washington. Fast food with local ingredients. I try to get a Tillamook Cheese Pepper Bacon Burger when I visit my family and if my timing is perfect a fresh, real ice cream Blackberry Milkshake.

10. Future Child’s Name?
Probably not going to happen at this point!

11. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money,"
I would travel all over all of the time and eat. (then hire a personal trainer to help work it off)

12. Do You Drive Fast?
Sometimes on the freeway.

13. Do You Sleep With a Stuffed Animal?
No need, I have a live one on his blanket on the bottom corner on my bed--when he isn't sleeping in the sink.

14. Storms—cool or scary?
Way cool--unless there is super high wind. We don't get to see too much lightning here, so give me that and some heavy rain occasionally.

15. What Was Your First Car?
A used Honda Civic

16. Favorite Drink?
Tea -- all kinds, hot and iced. Hint flavored water in Cucumber and Mango-Grapefruit

17. Finish This Statement—“If I Had the Time, I Would…"
Travel, read and cook more

18. Do You Eat the Stems on Broccoli?
Not a big broccoli fan--it's not a friend of my stomach so I actually don't eat much of it at all.

19. If You could Dye your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be?
Hmm... my hair is light brown with dyed blond highlights now. I have always thought red hair was cool but I don't think I could pull it off.

20. Name All the Different Cities In Which You Have Lived -
Yreka & Redding CA; Tigard, Beaverton & Portland, OR; Seattle WA; Honolulu, HI

21. Favorite Sport to Watch?
Besides Iron Chef?!? Probably hockey or basketball

22. One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You
She has a great blog with wonderful photos and recipes and is very nice (if you overlook the "bitterness" about me living in Hawaii! Just kidding Melissa!)

23. What’s Under Your Bed?
A small area rug for Max, he didn't like it so much when I took out the carpet.

24. Would You Like to Be Born As Yourself Again?
As opposed to what? Mostly yes, but we all have our days.

25. Morning Person or Night Owl?
A total Night Owl.

26. Over Easy or Sunny Side Up?
Over Easy if there is toast to dip in the yolk--I don't like "runny" egg whites!

27. Favorite Place to Relax?
On the beach with a good book or on my couch with a good movie

28. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
Vanilla, Chocolate Chip or Mango

29. Of All the People You Have Tagged, Who Is the Most Likely to Respond First?
I have no clue! Hopefully they will just respond!

OK, that was probably more about me than anyone ever wanted to know! I am tagging the following 4 bloggers who I hope will still come to my site anyway! ;-) I tried to pick people who have not done a meme recently.

Kat from Our Adventures in Japan--Expat from Hawaii, totally love her blog and want to learn more about her.

Michelle from the Accidental Scientist--long time blogger and new to Hawaii--yea! Since she is now "in the hood" I want get to know her better.

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies--OK she did a meme at the end of June but it was a really short one mind you and she is so creative with her food, she must have some interesting answers.

Jude from Apple Pie, Patis & Pate--Love the blog name, the delicious recipes and incredible photos on his site. He makes things I really want to eat!

If you don't know these bloggers, I encourage you to visit their wonderful blogs and see what they have going on. I won't hold it against any of them if they don't do the Meme--I promise!

The rules from Melissa's blog say: "If you get tagged, answer the questions in your blog, then tag 4 or 5 other food bloggers by listing their blogs on your own blog, then commenting on their blog to let them know they've been tagged! Be sure and let everybody know who tagged you"

Edamame Shiso Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette--Weekend Cookbook Challenge # 30: Farmers Markets

I missed last month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge which was salads, so I thought I should jump back on the wagon with this month's challenge: Weekend Cookbook Challenge #30: Farmers Markets, hosted by Michelle at Je Mange la Ville. The challenge is to visit your local Farmer's Market, gather some "interesting foodstuffs" and use them to make something from one of your cookbooks.

I have been thinking about the challenge as I toured the Saturday Farmer's Market at KCC the last two weeks. The KCC Farmer's Market (here is my last post on it with pictures) is the largest one in Hawaii and is local foods only, everything has to be grown or made in the Hawaiian Islands. Its a great place to find fresh and unusual ingredients at pretty good prices.

The first thing that caught my eye were some bags of Shiso leaves. Shiso, if you are not familiar is also known as Perilla (Shiso is the Japanese word for it) and and is a member of the mint family. It resembles a stinging nettle leaf, rounded with spiky edges and comes in both green and purple varieties. The taste is strong, kind of a cross between mint and fennel with a little cinnamon thrown in. You may have encountered it in sushi or Japanese restaurants as it is often eaten with sashimi, or used as a garnish in salads or other dishes. The seeds and essential oils are often used as well.

Purple Shiso

Green Shiso

I hadn't ever cooked with Shiso so I looked for a recipe that would combine it with some other local foods I could buy at the Farmer's Market. I ended up locating a great recipe in The Breakaway Cook by Eric Gower. This cookbook has a strong Japanese influence as of course did his earlier book, The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, and he uses lot of ingredients that are pretty common and easy to get here in Hawaii. The recipe, Edamame Shiso Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette sounded light and good and I could get the majority of the ingredients at the market, including fresh soybeans or edamame.

My only real challenge was the Yuzu, a citrus fruit that originated in Southeast Asia. The juice and zest are used a lot in Japanese cooking and you can sometimes find the bottled juice in Asian markets or speciality grocery stores here but I haven't seen the fruit very often. I checked at a couple of places and couldn't locate a bottle of the juice, but Gower states you can use other citrus juices. I have also read that combining lime and tangerine juice makes a close approximation of Yuzu and I had both from the Farmers Market.

Edamame Shiso Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette
from The Breakaway Cook, Eric Gower

3 cups cooked edamame (cook in boiling water about 5 minutes)
1 Tbsp yuzu or other citrus juice (I used tangerine and lime)
5 shiso leaves, sliced into chiffonade
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup (I used local honey instead)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon

Place the cooked edamame in your prettiest ceramic bowl that will hold them with plenty of room to spare. In a blender, mix the yuzu juice, half the shiso, the olive oil, vinegar, and maple syrup. Gently mix the vinaigrette into the edamame. Add the salt and pepper liberally and add the remaining shiso. Sprinkle the lemon zest on top.

Eric Gower notes: "Shelled edamame, usually sold frozen, taste every bit as good when cooked as the ones sold in the pod, which tend to be more expensive and require more time to prepare. The shiso, is set off beautifully by the floral yuzu and rice vinegar; the combo seems custom made for edamame." He mentions that if you can't find shiso you can substitute mint and a pinch of cinnamon in the dressing.

The salad turned out great, I really enjoyed the combination of flavors. It was bright and crisp and would make a great summer side dish. I used both green and purple shiso for more variation in color. Trying to get as many items from the Farmer's Market as possible, I substituted local honey for the maple syrup. That meant only the olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper were not from the Farmer's Market. I will make this salad again, however I will probably follow Eric's recommendation and use shelled edamame. I don't think there was a huge difference in the fresh soybeans in terms of flavor, (the organic shelled ones I normally buy are a bit darker in color and are a bit larger and more uniform) and they were a bit of a pain to shell. If I couldn't get shiso I would try the mint as I think the flavor would still be good.

You'll be able to check out the other entries on the Weekend Cookbook Challenge Round Up Page (here), sometime after the 27th.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maccha Salt and Maccha Poached Eggs

I bought Eric Gower's The Breakaway Cook when it came out last year but hadn't cooked from it much. I made the Maccha Salt, one of his "Five Flavored Salts", and used it quite a bit with fish and vegetables and then took the idea and made a curry salt that I use a lot. Other than that I really have not used this book or his The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, which I also purchased. (My name is Deb and I am a Cookbookoholic... Hi Deb!) That is about to change as I was reading them again looking for a recipe for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge: Farmer's Markets (which I'll post about later in the week) and realized that there are some great recipes in these books.

I tried the Maccha Poached Eggs this morning. I am usually a fruit and yogurt girl for breakfast but once in awhile I do like some eggs and this simple recipe using the maccha salt sounded yummy.

Maccha Poached Eggs
The Breakaway Cook, Eric Gower
Dab of unsalted butter for poaching cups or 1 Tbsp vinegar
4 large eggs, preferably organic
Generous sprinkling of Maccha Salt, (see recipe below)
Generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper
Butter the poaching cups if you're using a dedicated egg poacher (Eric's favored method). Or bring a pot of water to a simmer, add the vinegar, and carefully crack the eggs into the simmering water. Poach the eggs until the yolks are more or less halfway between liquid and solid, 4-5 minutes for both methods.

Gently turn them out on a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Roll them onto a warmed plate and add a few healthy pinches of maccha salt and black pepper. Eat them while still very hot.

In the book, Eric says "There is something almost celestial about the fusion of the green tea and the egg yolks: it's savory, sweet, and salty all at once." I think he is right, a few sprinkles of the maccha salt elevates the eggs to a whole different level, it complements then so well. I somehow ended up not having any vinegar other than some rice vinegar in the house so I poached the eggs in two little covered cups in the microwave. I served them on a couple of pieces of toasted multi-grain baguette, with some cherry tomatoes and as Eric suggests, a strong cup of green tea. A great light, easy breakfast for a Sunday morning. If you don't like poached eggs, I think the salt would be good on any egg--scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, etc. And how good would it be on top of a deviled egg!?

Maccha Flavored Salt from The Breakaway Cook

Combine 1/4 cup sel gris or other coarse sea salt and 1 tsp powdered maccha green tea. Whirl in the blender or food processor for a finer grind. Store in a bowl or small glass jar. (Note: Sometimes I just mix the maccha with a finer, kosher salt--using the same proportions).

I know I said I was going to work towards cooking one thing from each of my cookbooks but there will be more to come from this book and Breakaway Japanese Kitchen this week.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tea Seminar Part 5--Final Class on Oolongs and Some Lemongrass "Tea"

I am officially sad! This last Wednesday was my final class for the Tea Anyone? workshop I have been taking. No more long posts and tons of photos of wet tea leaves! Seriously this class was wonderful, I learned so much and I am going to miss it and all the people in it. It was well worth the money spent for the incredible quality teas we got to taste and the tips I learned for brewing; how to make it right and how to get multiple infusions when you invest in a quality tea.

Our last class was on Oolongs, probably the tea I knew least about and drank the least of going into the workshop. Dave, our instructor mentioned that many people are unimpressed by oolongs, probably because badly-brewed, watered down, poor quality oolongs are often the tea you get at the end of a dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Oolongs are traditional Chinese teas that are generally considered to be in the middle of the oxidation scale between green and black. What a lot of people (myself included before class) don't know is that the oxidation of Oolongs can vary hugely (from 10-70%) making oolongs incredibly different from each other in flavor (some, with less oxidation are more similar in flavor and appearance to green teas and others with more oxidation, are more like black teas). Oolong teas are usually processed in one of two ways; either rolled into long curling leaves or rolled and pressed into a ball-like or semi-ball shape.
When I arrived to class there was a long center table set up with about 9 different oolong teas brewed and strained into wine glasses so we could see the variances in the color and aroma of each tea. We didn't try all the teas--just five of them to get an idea of the variations. We also were given wine glasses and strainers so that we could brew our teas in our tea tasting sets but then strain and drink them out of the wine glasses to change it up a bit and to better appreciate the variations. (It would be a fun way to serve and drink good quality tea at home or a dinner party as well!). Dave also had several Yixing Clay Teapots for us to try using on one of our teas. These small pots, originating in China and dating back to the 15th century, are made from the clay produced in the region of the town of Yixing and are supposed to be the preferred way to brew tea, especially oolong, pu'erh and black teas due to the porous clay. I used to have one but it broke during my move to Hawaii and I never replaced it. (I think a trip to Chinatown is in order soon to buy a new one).

The first tea we tried was the Alishan Jin Xuan Cha from the Ah-Li Mountains in Taiwan. This partially oxidized tea comes from the high altitude tea gardens at the Alishan resort and nature preserve. It is described as having a "special" fragrance and a light creaminess. (That's helpful!) I found it to be somewhat milder in flavor and astringency than green tea but somewhat reminiscent of it. The taste was light and very "clean" not sure I get the "creaminess" out of it.

Our next tea was the Nai Xang Jin Xuan or "Milk Taste Oolong", also from Taiwan. This tea has tightly rolled leaves, a light yellow liquid and a "milk-like fragrance and taste". I made this tea in the Yixing Pot, before pouring it into my wine glass. In this tea, I really did pick up the creaminess, as it had almost no astringency to it. Very drinkable.

Our third tea was an oolong from China, Dan Cong Yu Lian Xiang Chan or "Phoenix" Oolong from the Guangdong Province. Coming from the Phoenix Mountains, the home of some of the oldest known tea bushes, this tea's leaves were very straight and long. The leaves were also darker, meaning that the oxidation level is higher and making the liquid a dark amber color. This tea is typically plucked in the winter and is supposed to have a "charming, sweet flowery fragrance and floral taste with honey notes". I really like this tea, I could pick up on the sweetness and floral notes and it was smooth with a lingering aftertaste, lightly fruity, I thought.
Next was the whimsically named Shui Xian Cha or "Fairies Tears" oolong, also from China. This tea is grown in the high mountains of Wuyishan and is also sometimes called "Rock Tea" due to the high quantity of rocks in the terrain. The rocky terrain is also supposed to give this tea a higher mineral content than those teas grown in the Southern Provinces. The leaf is dark and curly and is described as having characteristically "huge" tea leaves in comparison to other oolongs. (I didn't think they looked that much bigger). This tea, a dark amber is supposed to have a full body and strong taste, with a refreshing floral aftertaste. I found it to have a almost "toasty" aroma and be very full and smooth. I could pick up some of the floral and felt that it had an almost bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. Very drinkable.

Finally we tried the Gau Shan tea, a high mountain oolong from from Taiwan. In terms of the oxidation scale, this was out of order--it should have been the third tea we drank. This tea was also from the Alishan mountains of Taiwan, known for it's mist shrouded peaks. In this cool environment, the rolling cloud cover disperses the sun and the tea grows at a slower rate, giving the tea leaves more concentrated flavors and complexity and they tend to be more aromatic and less astringent. This tea is supposed to be "a smooth, medium bodied tea with fresh, semi-sweet, mold evergreen flavor and a floral aroma of wild orchid and clover honey". (Whew!) This tea was definitely more astringent than the last few teas we tried. It did have a clean, slightly "piney" fragrance. I didn't pick up any orchid but the aftertaste reminded me of chewing on a clover flower stem, (which I did as a child for some reason--usually while making clover flower "chains") it had that same kind of sweet taste.

A discussion on where to buy teas or get them online ended our class. Dave brought some of his favorite tea books to show us and gave us a course outline with the teas we drank on it and how they were brewed. One of the tea party ladies (mentioned in my second post), whose name I sadly forget, gave me a little package of the almond cookies that I raved so much about. (See what complimenting someone over and over will do!) They were in a little bag marked "Aunty C's Cookies" (I guess her name must start with a "C").
Again what a great experience this class was! I got bit by the tea bug and I plan on continuing my learning and continuing to taste and post about more teas. I am also going to do some more cooking with tea and I am going to blend some of my own teas and herbal tisanes (blends that don't contain actual tea in them), and post about that as well. Starting with the first below.
Lemon Grass "Tea"

Several years ago I had a particularly nasty case of food poisoning in Thailand. Since I traveled frequently through Asia for work and happily ate my way through many countries, I am lucky that this was the only time I ever got sick. Lucky is not how I felt however, flat on my back in a darkened Bangkok hotel room, (mostly on the bathroom floor) drinking strange medicines with the labels written in Thai, trusting that the people I worked with and the hotel doctor were not trying to kill me, and living on saltines and 7-Up for three days straight. My co-worker, who graciously took over the class we were co-facilitating, and I were scheduled for a quick weekend side trip to the island of Phuket and I was still feeling pretty weak and queasy as we arrived. Sitting on the lanai of the hotel lounge watching everyone order fun, fruity cocktails, I glumly ordered another 7-Up. The waiter, probably noticing my still green face and lack of enthusiasm asked if I was OK. Upon finding out about the food poisoning and my stomach issues he said "No 7-Up! I bring you my lemongrass tea and you feel better!" He then brought me a large tea pot filled with hot water and chopped lemongrass and I proceeded to drink it that night and again the next day and I did feel better! Now, part of it could have been the rest, the beach-side massage and the general island environment but I think the tea helped too and it was simple and delicious.
I have made the tea several times since but I had kind of forgotten about it until yesterday. I went to Borders, 30% off coupon in hand, to buy a book on tea and couldn't find the one I wanted. What I did find was this book: Drink To Your Health, Delicious Juices, Teas, Soups and Smoothies That Help You Look and Feel Great! by Anne McIntyre. All about the healing qualities of 25 ingredients from around the world and lots of recipes, it looked like fun to read and experiment with. It also made me think about my Lemongrass Tea and there on page 105, were instructions for making "West African Lemongrass Tea". Of course it was listed under the "Flatulence" section (hmm...maybe it wasn't my green face he noticed!). According to the book, lemongrass is a great remedy for flatulence and it stimulates digestion and relieves "tension" in the gut. Further reading from other sources states that lemon grass, also called citronella, has valuable anti-bacterial and anti-fungal tendencies. It is considered a mild insect repellent (that's why its in all those outdoor candles) and it is considered a stress reliever and is good for insomnia relief. It is also used as a detoxifier for skin and digestive track. Who knew our friend the lemongrass was so good for us?!

I decided to brew some up and bought a bag of about 8 stalks of lemongrass at the Farmers' Market today for $1.75. I made a larger quantity than the recipe given (I like to have healthy beverages in the fridge, on hand and ready to drink), brewing about 4 of the stalks, cleaned, chopped and bruised in my Coffee Press with about 48 oz of water.
I followed the instructions, letting it steep 20 minutes and then I enjoyed a cup of it warm, putting the rest in the refrigerator to cool down. Tonight, I put a glass on ice and it is very refreshing that way. I think it would also be good mixed with some green tea. Delicious, inexpensive (about 88 cents for this batch--I probably could have used less and still had a flavorful brew) and good for me too--a perfect summer beverage.

Instructions for West African Lemongrass Tea
Drink to Your Health, Anne McIntyre
1 ounce lemongrass, bruised
2 1/2 cups boiling water
Place the lemongrass in a teapot and pour boiling water over. Leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Drink hot after meals. Makes 2-3 servings (You can increase the quantities as I did, using about 1 stalk for about every 2 cups of water).

I really like this book and will be making other teas and things from it.