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Archive for July 13, 2014

PRODUCT: Tea-rrific, Tea Flavored Ice Cream

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Ice cream for tea lovers. Photo courtesy
Tea-rrific Ice Cream.

 

Why a line of tea-flavored ice creams? Because there wasn’t one!

One day, the tea-loving founder of Tea-rrific Ice Cream made a batch of ice cream from Earl Grey teas, and saw the eyes of friends and family light up when they tasted the complex and unexpected flavors.

Soon, a line of special flavors emerged, and now, the biggest challenge is getting retail freezer space in the burgeoning category of artisan ice creams.

The all-natural premium ice cream line uses rBGH/rBST-free cream from local New England farms and is sweetened with either organic evaporated cane juice or locally sourced honey. The base is infused with top-quality blends of loose leaf teas. There are no stabilizers, gums, corn syrup, preservatives or artificial colors and flavors.

The taste is refreshingly light. The recipes err on the side of subtle, and perhaps that’s a good thing: You don’t have to be a tea fan to enjoy these flavors.

We’d have been willing to have more of a wallop of tea intensity, and one of these days, we may just try infusing our own.

 
The Tea-rrific choices include:

  • Chamomile: notes of apple and honey from Egyptian chamomile flowers.
  • Chunky London Mist: Earl Grey tea with a hint of vanilla, semi-sweet Belgian chocolate flakes and buttery roasted pecan chunks. This is London Mist flavor with inclusions, and we prefer it.
  • Ginger Matcha: fresh ginger with matcha green tea—a great combination and the perfect end to an Asian-cuisine dinner.
  • London Mist: Citrussy Earl Grey tea with a hint of vanilla.
  • Masala Chai: Assam black and rooibos teas with sweet aromatic and peppery spices. We turned this into a nifty chai milkshake.
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    There’s a store locator on the company website. Discover more at TearrificIceCream.com.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Smoked Salmon Potato Salad

    Summer means potato salad, and you can never have too many good potato salad recipes.

    This one, from Tiffany Ludwig of Zabar’s, uses the stores famous smoked salmon to excellent effect. “With capers, dill and smoked salmon,” says Tiffany, “this simple summer dish transforms brunch or lunch into a spectacular meal.”

    Tiffany urges that the key to a great-tasting potato salad is to eat it right away, before refrigerating. Yes, refrigerate any leftovers, but enjoy it first as a fresh dish. You’ll appreciate it even more after you compare the refrigerated version.

    RECIPE: SMOKED SALMON POTATO SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ½ cup smoked salmon, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • ¼ cup quality mayonnaise
  • Coarse salt for the water (about 1 tablespoon)
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    Smoked salmon potato salad. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. BOIL a large pot of well salted water. While the water is boiling, wash and dice the potatoes. You can leave the skins on, since they add color and nutrition. Dice into ½ inch cubes, add to the boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked through and are a little “fluffy” on the outside.

    2. DRAIN the potatoes in a colander. Don’t rinse, or you’ll remove the starch coating that lets other ingredients adhere. Cool to room temperature; don’t refrigerate.

    3. MIX in the mayonnaise to thoroughly coat the potatoes.

    4. ADD the red onion, capers, smoked salmon and dill and stir until evenly mixed. Plate and enjoy.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Rubik’s Battenberg Cake

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    Eat the Rubik’s Cube! Photo courtesy
    Stasty.com.

      For those who loved the Mondrian Cake, here’s a another piece of edible art, which celebrates the birthday of Erno Rubik.

    Rubik, born July 13, 1944, is a Hungarian inventor, architect and professor of architecture. But his immortality lies in the 1974 invention of the Rubik’s Cube, one of the mechanical puzzles he loved to create.

    Today he is focusing on video game development and architectural topics, and is still leading Rubik Stúdió in Hungary.

    His Wikipedia bio says that “He is known to be an introvert, barely accessible and hard to contact or to get hold of for autographs.”

    However, just two days after this recipe was posted (on his birthday in 2011) on Stasty.com, Vicky, the blog author and cake creator, received an email from Rubik himself saying that he liked her cake:

    “Thanks for the nice birthday surprise which sweetens the bitterness of passing time.” “I guess the world is really a very small place,” Vicky notes.

     

    WHAT IS A BATTENBERG CAKE?

    The Battenberg cake was created to celebrate the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Alice, to Prince Louis of Battenberg.

    It is constructed of rectangular pieces of alternatively colored Victoria sponge cake, sandwiched together by jam and held together with walls of marzipan. The construction creates a checkerboard effect.

    Vicky and her co-baker friend decided that different pieces of cake could by tinted the traditional six colors of the Rubik’s cube: blue, green, orange, red, yellow and white. They also used three different cake flavors, deciding that six would create too many conflicting tastes.

    Then, to make the cake “work” like a Rubik’s Cube, they decided to have each slice of the cake reveal a different combination of colored squares. Read the original article to see how they engineered this.

    If you’re as adventurous as Vicki (and Erno Rubik), bake the recipe. It will thrill on anyone’s birthday—not just Rubik’s.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sea Urchin

    Today’s tip is sea urchin: beyond the sushi bar. It was inspired by a story in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine.

    At the sushi bar, we always order an uni sushi or two. If they were less pricey, we would toss down half a dozen.

    Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin, an ancient shellfish, found worldwide. In the U.S., sea urchins are harvested in the oceans off California, Florida and Maine. They’re expensive to gather, and the price is passed along.

    More than a few of the world’s sea urchin sites have been overfished. But in the waters off of Norway lie a king’s ransom of sea urchin.

    Evidently, Norwegians are not as fond of sea urchin as we are, and until Roderick Sloan began to develop a trade among Europe’s fine restaurants, they had no market. Once cursed as a pest by lobstermen, they were routinely smashed with hammers and tossed overboard.

    Sloan, a 44-year-old émigré Scot, lives 88 miles north of the Arctic Circle, outside the town of Nordskot (population 55). It’s one of Norway’s darkest, bleakest, most remote coastal villages. He is the only full-time sea urchin diver in Norway, with one employee to tend the boat.

    Sloan dons scuba equipment and swims down to depths of 50 feet, diving among treacherous waves and gutsy squalls. The local species, called Norwegian greens (for the hue of the shell—the binomial name is Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), are at their prime from November to the end of February (imagine how cold the water is!).

       

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    Sea urchin, fresh from the sea. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

     

    More than 100,000 tons of the delicacy are consumed a year worldwide. France and Japan are big consumers; the Japanese exchange urchins as gifts during New Year celebrations.

    In the center of the hard shell is a row of five roe or coral (sometimes called tongues), which are the gonads of both males and females. Exotic, briny and grainy, the meat has nuances of iodine and metal and a custardlike, pillowy consistency. Uni is a love-it-or-hate-it food.

    Of the 800 species of sea urchin, some are much more palatable than others. As a sea urchin lover, we are chagrined that the flavor of expensive sushi bar uni can be wildly inconsistent. It is based on gender, season, terroir and even the particular seaweed the animal eats.

    When all the factors are united, uni are celestial. At other times, they are as are as bland and disappointing as a mealy apple.

     

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    Sea urchins brought up from the floor of the
    ocean. Photo by Karoline O.A. Pettersen |
    Smithsonian.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY SEA URCHIN

    Here are culinary ideas from around the world for how to enjoy sea urchin:

  • Raw in New Zealand; with a squeeze of lemon in the Mediterranean; and with lemon, onions and olive oil in Chile.
  • In pasta sauce in Italy.
  • In omelets and scrambled eggs, mayonnaise, béchamel and Hollandaise sauces and the boullie (egg foam) for a soufflé in France.
  • As sashimi or sushi, with soy sauce and wasabi, in Japan; or in a donburi (rice bowl) with ikura and shiso leaf.
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    It’s up to the cook to decide how to use them in recipes. Think baked, ceviche, chowder/soup, croquettes, custard, grilled fish, mousse, oyster stew, pasta, sauce and tempura.

    Here’s an interesting surf and turf: raw sea urchin wrapped in roast beef. Just as it sounds, wrap a thin slice of roast beef around a raw sea urchin or two; lay on a bed of boiled spinach and serve with ponzu (a combination of soy sauce, vinegar and citrus juice).

     

    For a delightful hors d’oeuvre or first course, make uni toast: Spread crostini with quality unsalted butter and uni, garnished with scallions and a sprinkling of sea salt.

    Uni burrata combines creamy burrata cheese with with the briny flavor of uni, then sides it with button mushrooms and yuzu for balance.

    Here are some sea urchin recipes.
     
    ABOUT SEA URCHINS

    Sea urchins, sometimes called sea hedgehogs (for their protruding spiny needles) and krakebolle, “crow’s balls,” in Norwegian, are among the earliest known forms of life. The fossil record dates back some 450 million years. The creatures can be found in almost every major marine habitat from the poles to the Equator, and from shallow inlets to ocean depths of more than 17,000 feet.

    Sea urchins “look like squash balls encased in pine thistles” according to Franz Lidz, who wrote the Smithsonian article (you can read it in full here).

    The shell is round and spiny, typically from 1.2 to 3.9 inches in diameter. The colors vary: black, blue, brown, green, olive, purple, red. The animals lack brains.

    Sea urchins have hundreds of adhesive tube feet and move slowly over the sandy sea floor pursuing a diet of kelp. They are members of the botanical class Echinoidea, and are cousins of sand dollars (there are some 950 species of echinoids, and 800 species of sea urchins).

    And the pricey critters will no doubt get pricier. The French and Irish exhausted their resident stocks of sea urchin years ago. In Maine, Nova Scotia and Japan, urchin populations have been drastically reduced by overfishing and disease.

    They are not always welcome: The colonies can be destructive. Off the coasts of California and Tasmania, overfishing of the animal’s natural predators and large-scale change in ocean circulation (believed to be an effect of climate change) have turned vast stretches of the sea floor into moonscape-like “urchin barrens.” The urchins multiply, chew down the kelp and devastate marine ecosystems.

    No doubt, those species are not among the tasty species, or divers would appear to reap the wealth on the ocean floor.

      

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