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Archive for the tag “vanilla”

Melitta Café Collection: Ready Set Joe!

Melitta‘s Café Collection is so beautiful, no?  Thanks to Jessica we’ve been able to try the Classique Supreme and Parisian Vanilla.  Both are very fine grinds with lots of flavor.  The vanilla scent wafted through our whole apartment!

Melitta also has this cute “Ready Set Joe” personal brewing apparatus.  We’ve switched to using this instead of our french press for days that we only want a small amount of coffee, or if we want to “brew” different kinds of coffee for different people.  So convenient- just pour in hot water from the tea kettle and it’s ready in a minute.

Cupcake Cafe: Works of Art

My colleagues surprised me on my birthday last spring with a cupcake party!

These little works of art come from Cupcake Cafe in Manhattan.

You could choose from chocolate cake with chocolate icing, vanilla cake with chocolate icing, vanilla cake with chocolate icing and vanilla cake with vanilla icing.  Most people don’t notice if a batch of cupcakes has one combination missing, but I do.  I feel a deep sense of calm with a complete set.

Maybe I should say frosting in place of icing?  I’m not really sure.  This stuff was really creamy, not sugary.

I’m glad I snapped a photo because let’s just say they didn’t live long.

VivAgave: Organic Agave Inulin Powder

VivAgave is a soluble fiber derived from the organic blue agave plant.  Add a tablespoon added in yogurt, oatmeal, milk, coffee or even mac n’ cheese and you’ve upped your fiber intake 40% of the recommended daily intake–in 40 calories.

VivAgave is available in 3 varieties: plain, vanilla and cocoa.  The flavor of both the plain and vanilla is very subtle (nearly tasteless, really), though the vanilla had a delicious scent.  I didn’t try to cocoa so I’m not sure about that one.

With agave’s connection to the sweet and syrupy agave nectar, I was expecting this to be sweet.  It’s not.  Which is fine, but don’t add it to a recipe as a sugar substitute or you’ll wonder why that banana bread tastes really different. 😉  You can, however, add it as an addition to said banana bread recipe for a healthy fiber boost.

Among other selling points of the product, it’s a Prebiotic can be used to aid in the growth of “good” intestinal bacteria, it has a minimal impact on blood sugar and will not raise triglycerides, and inulin helps the body absorb calcium and magnesium.

Thanks to Isabella for sending me some to sample!

Lifeway Kefir: For those of us who drank Yo-J and then grew up

There is a generation of us who grew up in the 1980s who happened to be the right age when Yo-J came out and was extremely popular for a brief time.  It was like milk and juice mixed together, yet somehow all of the flavors turned out extremely vibrantly hued… hot pink, blueish purple… and we loved it.

Fast forward a couple decades, and we now have an option to enjoy dairy and fruit fusion in a beverage- conveniently available at Whole Foods and Target, but with roots 2,000 years old from the Caucasus Mountains.

Kefir!  Lifeway has a delicious line of lowfat kefir which it describes as “cultured fruit smoothies.”  They have 10 strains of live probiotic cultures, known to enhance the immune system and aid in nutrient absorption.  I sampled the plain, vanilla and strawberry flavors.  They have pretty colors, but in comfortingly subdued hues.   I enjoyed them particularly mixed with granola and other cereals.  They have a sweet but tangy zip (but taste nothing like Miracle Whip, promise).

Thanks to Erin for sending me some to try, and be sure to check out Lifeway Kefir.

Tomato Soup with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

I have a new favorite vanilla.  It’s Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract.

I also have a new favorite recipe for tomato soup.  It comes from the cookbook pictured above: A Century of Flavor: Nielsen-Massey Vanillas.  Guess what it has in it?

The exact recipe title is Fresh Basil-Tomato Soup with Vanilla.  I made it on a drizzly night in late March, one of those nights when the apartment is chilly and you realize that your landlord has turned off the heat in your building since spring has technically arrived.

The kitchen filled with the smells of tomatoes, onions, basil, and italian seasoning.  And then, a hit of sweetness: vanilla!

A new and welcome combination.

Wedding Cake Test Run

My cousin is making my wedding cake in a few weeks and this is a trial run of the first two tiers.

She is not a professional baker, though she might as well be!

This cake contains: 30 whole eggs, 36 egg whites, 13 pounds of butter, half a gallon of milk, over 10 pounds of flour, 2/3 of a cup of vanilla and 2 cups of espresso. Total servings: 123. Total Weight: 44 pounds. Total Time: 15 hours (approx.)

I am a lucky, lucky girl.  And indebted to my cousin for the rest of my life!

Devoe Pear Custard Tart: Almost too pretty to eat

Gourmet Thanksgiving in Advance (described here) Recipe #7

I was worried this dessert was too pretty to eat until two of us ate the whole thing in one night. Luckily I got a photograph.

Devoe Pear Custard Tart

What I changed (reflected below) and why: Baked a pie crust I’d assembled and frozen previously; Substituted sweet vermouth for dry white wine because it’s what I had on hand; Didn’t strain juice from Bartlett pear shreds because that seemed cumbersome, and everything turned out fine; Substituted succanat for sugar for nutrition and molasses flavor; Devoe pears because I could find Seckel pears and Devoe were the next smallest; Omitted poire William because it seemed hard to find and would have been expensive.

1 pastry/pie crust of your choice, circular or rectangular, baked
1 cup sweet vermouth
2 ripe Bartlett pears
3/4 cup succanat
2 lb Devoe pears (about 10)
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope)

1. Put wine in a wide 4-qt pot. Finely grate Bartlett pears (including skin) into wine. Transfer wine mixture to a 2-cup measure and add enough water, if necessary, to bring total to 2 cups liquid, then return to pan and stir in sugar/succanat.

2. Carefully peel Devoe pears, leaving stems intact, then core through bottom with tip of vegetable peeler or a small knife to remove seeds.

3. Bring wine mixture to a boil, stirring until succanat/sugar has dissolved, then add pears, in 1 layer if possible. Simmer, tightly covered, turning occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. Carefully transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a rack set over a 4-sided sheet pan to drain and cool, standing them upright. Transfer pear syrup to cleaned 2-cup measure, adding any juices from sheet pan under pears (you will have 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups syrup), and reserve for custard and glaze.

4. Whisk together egg yolks and cornstarch in a small bowl, then whisk in 1 cup pear syrup. Transfer to a small heavy saucepan and scrape in seeds from vanilla bean, reserving pod for another use. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking, then cook, whisking, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 Tbsp pear syrup (leftover from Step 3) and butter. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely, its surface covered.

5. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tbsp water in a very small bowl and let stand 1 minute. Bring remaining pear syrup to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan, then boil, if necessary, until reduced to about 1/3 cup. Stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove from heat.

6. Set out baked pastry/pie crust. Whisk cooled pastry cream to loosen, then spread in shell. Stand pears upright on pastry cream, arranging decoratively. When glaze has cooled and thickened slightly (to speed cooling, set pan in an ice bath), brush it on pears. (If glaze gels in pan, reheat very briefly.) Cut and serve!

Tea: Vanilla Caramel Truffle

Tea seems to be getting fancier all the time.

Lipton Pyramid Teas are not ordinary flat teabags but rather three dimensional, with larger tea pieces inside.  I bought the Vanilla Caramel Truffle flavor and really like the flavor.  I can taste both the vanilla and caramel while the traditional black tea flavor remains.  It tastes a bit sweet even without anything added.

It’s a good tea to have on hand at work for around 3pm when I get sluggish.  It’s around this time that I have been known to convince myself that vending machine-type fare is a good idea (I’ve gone as far as thinking neon-green Pop Tarts sounded palatable).

With this tea around, I can have my truffle and drink it too.

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