Friday, January 30, 2009

Le Palais Gourmet

I've been drinking lots of tea lately, mostly Rooibos "roy-boss" aka red bush tea. Rooibos isn't really a tea, it comes from the Rooibos bush. It has a lot of health benefits, is naturally caffeine-free, less bitter than other teas, and tastes great. But not all Rooibos teas are the same. I've tried tea from many different places and you can tell the places that may try to use an inferior product. But I did find a place where every tea is incredible! Black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, rooibos tea--they are all amazing.

Le Palais Gourmet (formerly Le Palais du Thes--this is still around but in France) is located in Beverly Hills. You can smell every tea and that is the most fun part of the trip. The employees are very helpful and knowledgeable. They offer both loose teas and bagged teas--I prefer the loose tea. The price for the loose tea averages around $14 for 3.5 ounces but it lasts a long time. And if you have the proper container for storage the tea can last for about 1 year.

These are great teas to drink and also to infuse into chocolate truffles, the flavors are so unique and they really pair well with good chocolate panache. I've made truffles with their coconut black tea and the truffles are my moms favorite. I went there recently and tried three different teas and I am addicted!

The first is Cote d'Azur Rooibos. Flavors: Peach, safflower blossoms and marigold petals. This is pleasantly fruity, delicious hot or cold and my husbands favorite.

My absolute favorite is Lemoncello Rooibos. When I first smelled this tea I immediately thought of lemon meringue pie. Flavors: Lemongrass, marigold flowers. I made lemon and pine nut biscotti and that is the perfect pairing for this tea. I drink this at least once a day, sometimes twice!

I also tried Organic Coco De Menthe. Flavors: Green tea, peppermint, chocolate. This is good and is definitely very minty! Very soothing for an upset stomach. I plan to try this with some chocolate truffles, think it would be great.

I just remembered that they gave me a few free samples that I still need to try!

And a few more on my list to try for next time are:
Brioche (black tea): Almonds, cinnamon, safflower blossoms
The des Esprits (black tea): Apple, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla bean
The des Esprits Rouge (rooibos): Apple, cinnamon, rose
Saint Tropez-Green Rooibos Berry: Red currant, blue mallow blossoms, wild berries

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Few Favorite Cookbooks

I love cookbooks. I did a count awhile ago and have around 150 cookbooks and there are 5 pages on my wish list with even more! I love reading them, and re-reading them, imagining what the recipes will taste like and I get so excited when I get a new one. The problem is I have so many that I can't figure out which ones to cook out of first! I think about going through 1 book per month but then get another book and want to use that one. Then I go to the Library and find even more wonderful books! It's a problem but I love them and someday I'll be able to cook out of all of them!

Here are a few cookbooks that are fairly new and they are beautiful and have incredible (sounding) recipes:
Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden

This cookbook is one that has something that sounds incredible on every page, the recipes are easy, simple yet incredibly flavorful. Soups, sandwiches, roasts, desserts--they are all wonderful. In addition to recipes, the author talks about how to grow a vegetable garden and raise backyard chickens--I have the garden, but I'm not ready to commit to the chickens yet :)

Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, The Art of Eating

Happy in the Kitchen makes me happy. I have only made 1 recipe from this book--vanilla bean and chocolate ganache macaroons--but I aspire to make so many others. The recipes are long, some are very complicated, but they sound amazing! Michel takes basic recipes but creates something unique, with a twist. Chicken faux gras, potato spuddies (aka homemade tater tots!), kit kat dessert, the list goes on and on. dineLA is taking place this week and next and I am so excited to have a 3-course dinner at Michel's restaurant Citrus at Social next week. I can't wait to taste his incredible food!

Making Artisan Chocolates

Once I found out how easy it is to make truffles at home, I've been saving quite a lot of money. And this cookbook will improve my truffle making abilities even more. I read this cover to cover one evening and I can't wait to try these new techniques.

I hope to keep adding to my collection and that I make an effort to cook more out of these wonderful books, instead of just leaving them on my coffee table!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kumquat Fruit Jellies

Kumquats are a small, slightly tart citrus fruit that can be eaten rind and all (minus the seeds). My neighbor brought me a large basket of fresh kumquats the other night. I said I would make a dessert with them and promised to share with her.

I found a recipe for a kumquat and orange brandy which is sitting in the kitchen blending the wonderful flavors of citrus, brandy and cinnamon and will be ready to taste in about 1 week. Looking forward to trying that!

The other recipe I came across was for fruit pate (or jelly). I love gummy candies so thought this would be perfect. Very simple process. Boil the kumquats, puree with skin and seeds. Strain. Mix with a simple syrup and add lots of pectin. Let it sit, cut and toss in sugar. Delicious! I shared with my neighbors and they devoured half the candies while standing in the front yard.

Since I still have a lot of fruits left over I'm going to make a few other dishes--shortbread cookies with candied kumquats, roasted duck with kumquat chutney and kumquat sorbet. Hopefully I'll find a few more people who love kumquat's so I can share!


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