Tag Archives: tea

Mornings Just Got Better (and some great coffee reading while you sip)

Sigh. So cozy.

Red Rocket on the Danforth is open.  There is excitement about the foam on the lattes and the crema on the espresso.

Chairs were still being tucked under tables and the kitchen is not running yet but it was a warm welcome–on both ends.

And if you love coffee you must read Chris Nuttall-Smith’s “How to Make the Best Coffee of Your Life” piece from yesterday’s Globe.  Even if you dislike coffee, it’s a great read and offers much fodder for scowling and taunting the coffee obsessed.

And as a coffee amateur I also really appreciated this piece from Coffeestork  (which Chris tweeted later)  about the importance of fresh coffee beans.

And for the tea lovers, Red Rocket makes a London Fog –earl grey, vanilla and steamed milk.

And now I am going to SHUT UP about this place.

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Iced Iced Tea Baby

My Tea-na Colada

I went on an iced tea mission for Mother’s Day.  I was buying black tea at The Tea Emporium last week and I had my son with me.  I mentioned that he liked tea– well a decaf, watered down, Red Rose version of black tea– with a bit of honey.  Feeling obvious pity for his bungled tea initiation the saleswoman gently suggested I could make him iced fruit teas.

I’m not really a fruit tea person.  Or at least not as a hot tea.  But iced!  I am a convert.  We smelled a few fruit-forward  combinations (aromas almost as glorious as Fruit Stripe Gum) and took home a blend called African Queen: Hibiscus, rosehip, dried apple and strawberry.

I remembered I had some of my Ginger Simple Syrup left from my Ginger-Melon salad.  So I used that a sweetener.  And I was off and running.

I went a little iced tea crazy.  Yesterday I made a batch of Sunburst Raspberry (apple raspberry blend) and for Mother’s Day I have made myself a pitcher of Pina Colada iced tea with the Ginger syrup.  (Pineapple, coconut, apple, hibiscus and rosehip).

Tomorrow I try the Green Kombucha Lime (a Japanese green citrus blend).  It apparently acts as a purifier for your blood and organs.   A perfect pairing with vodka soup.

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That’s “Duchess Commoner” to you

Serenity at 4 am.

Until midnight last night I was determined not to care too much about the Royal wedding.  I set my alarm for 5am which seemed much more reasonable than 4am (and surely there was only so much footage of sentimental crowds in Union Jack T-shirts that one could make fun of).

Within one minute of my head hitting the pillow I had turned the light back on and re-set the alarm to 4am. Then double checked it.  A total sucker.  Dammit.

At 4 o’clock I  steeped myself a cup of tea using my wedding china (I just gave up all resistance) and curled up on the couch.  It was quiet and dark and insect-like fascinators were buzzing all around Westminster Abbey in HD glory.  It was like Alice in Wonderland had landed on everyone’s head.

I watched, I ate scones.  I ate all the bacon.  (Sorry family.)

I texted my friend Nic to ask if she also thought David Beckham looked hot. (she did)

My soft-boiled egg long forgotten.

I overcooked my soft-boiled eggs during the walk down the aisle. (Here’s the dress and check out Pippa!)

During the vows I used a paring knife to carve the likeness of the new Duchess of Cambridge out of a cantaloupe.

OK, I ate a ginger-cantaloupe salad (recipe below).

Essentially, I was one happy commoner.  Wills and Kate 4-Ever! T.I.D. T.I.N.D.

GINGER-MELON SALAD (adapted from the Rose Bakery Cook Book)

This is a very simple, do-ahead recipe. I think this syrup would be a nice boost when your melon (dare I say it?) might not be quite in season and less sweet.  Or try adding the ginger syrup to real iced tea.

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

4 cm piece fresh ginger (peeled and grated*)

juice of 1 lemon

1 cantaloupe, cut into bite-size chunks

1 honeydew, cut into bite-size chunks

Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and simmer until sugar dissolves.

Add the grated ginger, set syrup aside to cool.

Strain syrup and add lemon juice.

Pour the syrup over the melon an hour before serving. Toss and chill.

*the original recipe suggests slicing the ginger but I think grating it infuses more flavour (since you’re straining it anyway).


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Ready or Not Here I Scone

I plan to eat a scone every 10 minutes as tribute.

CBC’s Jian Ghomesi tried to squelch my media-hyped Royal wedding anticipation on Q this morning by implying/saying straight out that there were more important things in the world than Kate and Will.  Well, too late Jian, that was my stance until last weekend but now the scones are ready to go.  (Couldn’t resist dropping the fact that you born in London though, could you? Well, so what, I’ve been to London too and took a highly informative double decker bus tour. That’s right.)

So, without further ado-my eats Friday, April 29, 2011, 4 am

Soft-boiled egg  (with Maldon sea salt of course)

Bacon and a breakfast sausage (why choose when there will be hours of wedding bonanaza)

Scone-with raisins and candied orange (it covers the “wedding fruitcake” theme)

The Duchy Original Damson preserves  (have been consuming them like crazy all week, you rock the preserves Prince Charles)

Melon salad with ginger-lemon dressing (the fruit component which makes this a healthy breakfast)

Royal Early Grey tea (seems only right)

Will post pictures at breaking dawn.  Or a lot later.

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I need a smoke (pt2)

Smoked salmon, lemon mayo and limey-minty-cucumbery salad

So it’s not wild salmon season yet.  Right.  I was so excited about the smoking portion of the experiment that I did not think of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get wild salmon at this time of year (what goodness is there in life before May?).  I wanted the rich flavour you get from wild salmon so ended up with frozen (sustainably caught) sockeye  filets.

In the end I couldn’t get the smoking done Friday as I was already squeezed for time (which now  included defrosting).  Since I’d already built up anticipation levels previously reserved for Momofuku‘s arrival in Toronto it seemed best not to rush.  Do it right.  Or screw it up with plenty of time.

So here’s how it went down:

Earl Grey tea, muscovado and caster sugar smoking mixture


8:00 am: mixed the muscovado (dark brown) sugar, caster sugar and Earl Gray tea together.  Handily constructed two little trays from tin foil and divided up the mixture between them.  My estimate of what was “7-8 cm” wide was actually more like 13 cm.  Luckily tin foil is very squashable.

8:43 am  so many things could go wrong. Like that aside from no extractor hood, I don’t have a “tight-fitting lid” for my smoking dish.  Am going with the heavy-duty tinfoil.  Like duct tape in the cooking world, right?

Sockeye Salmon ready for a smoke

8:45  unplugged smoke detector and opened all the windows.  Put salmon on rack in roasting pan.  Covered the roasting pan and put it across two burners over med-high.  Stood there watching it.  Nothing happened.

8:55 10 minutes later the smell of caramelizing sugar and bergamot from the tea was wafting through the kitchen.  It was really lovely and mellow–I almost closed the windows to seal it in. (I could totally see “tea-smoked ” as a Body Shop perfume)

8:58  Conundrum. The recipe is broken into two parts: the general “how to” tea smoke section and then the recipe for the salmon specifically. In the salmon recipe it says to leave the salmon smoking for 3 minutes with the heat on and then turn off the heat and leave it another 3-4 minutes. Yet, as the “how to” instructions mentioned, it took about 10 minutes for the smoke to get going and begin infusing the fish.  So I was a bit confused–do the 3 minutes start after the 10 minutes?

I ended up doing two batches so as not to crowd the pan.  The first one which I left the initial 10 minutes (then 3 minutes on heat, 3 minutes off) was a bit overdone for my taste and I kicked myself for not checking it sooner.  The second round I actually put in right after I took out the first batch, heat was off, I quickly put the cover (foil) back on and left it five minutes.  Checked it and let it cook a little more, til tender and flaky.  Much better results.

Salmon under smoke tent-Round 2

The “being smoked out of house and home”  I was so prepared for never transpired.  In fact, all went very smoothly.  I admit, slightly disappointing.   I thought this post would be more dramatic with at least one neighbor coming over to see if we were OK.

I removed the salmon and let it cool.  The smoky tea flavour was there,  subtle and delicate–the wild salmon itself was amazing.

I will do this again and next time I think I will try letting the smoking pan heat up for 10 minutes before I add the salmon so that the fish is really being “smoked” rather than just cooked from the initial  trapped heat.

I served the salmon flaked and made lemon mayonnaise to go with it and an amazingly fresh, lime/mint/cilantro cucumber salad (Skye Gyngell’s recipe again).  Plus baguette.

(I kept a piece of salmon whole for the top photo.)

***Next time I promise kitchen disaster it will be bad, very bad.  I will make up for this.

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Prepare to be smoked, Mr. Salmon

Smokin' Earl Grey-hoping not to inhale

Dinner Party this Saturday, April 2.

Have decided to tea-smoke salmon.  Partly because I have been dying to try it for years.  And partly because saying to my guests, “Oh, the salmon?  I just tea-smoked it.” seems so satisfying.  Even as I  say it to myself in my head it sounds good.  I imagine myself replying, “My you’re a talented cook!” Then I wink at myself, “Also,  your hair has great volume!”

Anyway, the recipe is from Skye Gyngell’s first cookbook “A Year in my Kitchen”.  And tea smoking is a technique the chef likes to use for oily fish (like trout, mackerel or wild salmon).  Essentially you need a baking vessel with a lid, a cooling rack, some ramekins (to balance the rack on) and a few tinfoil cups to put the tea –which you mix with sugar– in.  Then you place your fish on the rack, tea underneath, cover the fish and heat the whole thing over med-high on top of the stove, over two burners.

Not so hard, right?  But wait…more than once the words “extractor fan” are mentioned in this process.  I have no stove hood, no extractor fan but I do have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, though I am not sure how that helps me if I’m dying of smoke inhalation.  At least when the firemen check the house they’ll be able to say, “yep, she had a fire extinguisher, too bad there wasn’t a fire–also, the salmon’s ready.”

Ah well, I’m being pessimistic, I can’t say for sure there won’t be a fire.

I’ll keep you posted.  I’m going to smoke the salmon Friday.  That way the dinner guests can make other plans if things should go awry.  No one can say I’m not a thoughtful hostess.


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