Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taking A Sick Day

I am reporting from bed with a steaming cup of my all time favorite tea, Organic Golden Monkey , placed by my keyboard, and my faithful cat, Little One, curled up at my feet. Just one more week, and I would have made it through an entire year without a sinus infection. Of course, there have been hints of one surfacing here and there, but I dodged the bullet each time. Then, wham, bam, thank you, M’am- nasty sinus infection and raging headache enters the picture smack during the holidays. I knew it was too good to be true to make it through 2009 without incident! We trudged through our plans anyways with a getaway trip to San Francisco, hoping that the fresh ocean air and Union Square shopping would help clear my head. When all else failed, we got cozy with Manhattans at the Clock Bar, and then treated ourselves to a well-deserved mid-afternoon nap.

It is important to note here that the Tea Drinker was officially anointed a Saint this holiday season(pictured left). He took great care of me. Providing piles of Kleenex at a moment’s notice, throat lozenges at will, and even made a Christmas Eve run to the pharmacy at 11:30pm, so that I could get a restful night’s sleep. As soon as my eyes popped open each morning, I heard the kettle on, and eagerly awaited his remedy: a flavorful cup of loose leaf tea. And, when my whining got to be too much, he poured me a glass of bubbles and then took me out for spicy food. A true dear. Snotty nose and all, I am so grateful to have spent this holiday with my loving husband(who has access to copious amounts of tea).

Thank you, Honey! My cup is empty, and I need a spot more….

Have a joyful and healthy New Year! May your cup always be full and runneth over.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Caramelized Onion Tart

This savory caramelized onion tart is a winner each holiday season. And the best part is that the Tea Drinker makes it from scratch, and it’s “his baby”. There is nothing better than being the recipient of a delicious homemade meal. I prefer to enjoy a slice while sitting by the fire, holiday music blaring in the background, glass of Chardonnay in hand; feeling grateful and thankful for my husband who likes to cook, and is good at it.

Before we get started, it should be noted that in our home, pouring yourself a glass of wine is always the first ingredient. Optional, of course.

What's up Dough?
- 1 ½ cups Flour
• ½ cup + 1 TBSP Chilled Butter
• 1 tsp Salt
• 2-3 TBSP Cold Water
In a food processor, cut butter into the flour and salt mixture until consistency of cornmeal. This can also be done by hand. Add water a little bit at a time until mixture just comes together. Form into a ball, and put into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

The Goods
• 4 Yellow Onions, Medium. Julienned.
• 3 TBSP Butter
• 2 TBSP Flour
• 2 Eggs, slightly beaten
• ¼ cup of Heavy Cream
• Crumbled bleu cheese, such as Gorgonzola
Heat a large pan, add butter and onions. Sauté over medium heat until onions are caramelized. They will turn brown, and smell wonderful. At this point, deglaze the pan with a couple tablespoons of water, continue to cook until liquid is evaporated, and onions are brown again. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper- stir in eggs and flour. Set aside.

Please note: now put away the wine, and start drinking loose leaf tea.
We speak from experience.

Dough Ready?
• Need a 8-10 inch tart pan( the one w/ removable bottom works best)
• Rolling Pin
• Flour
• Butter
Pre-heat oven to 350. Roll out chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 12” circle. Butter the tart pan. Line the tart pan with the dough circle, pushing the dough all the way up the sides, and trimming the edges. Gently poke holes in dough w/ fork.

Ready, Set, Fork
Spread the onion mixture into the tart. Pour in the cream, and crumble bleu cheese on top. Put the tart in the oven and bake until crust is cooked through, and slightly browned. About 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Enjoy!

Please note: go back to pouring wine for friends, and family, or the holiday spirit will dissipate into thin air- again, we speak from experience.

For us, we are now off to join friends for another holiday past time—dining at the very festive Bistro Jeanty. I see cassoulet in my husband’s future.

** recipe adapted from Chef Maria Helm Sinskey.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Tis the Season! Naughty or Nice?

It’s not too late. Don’t fret, there is still time to find the perfect gift idea for family and friends. Below, I have listed some of my favorite coveted things. Yes, most of them seem to revolve around comfort: tea, books, and sweets. It’s the holidays, after all. If you feel the need to forward my holiday wish list(clearly marked below) onto the Tea Drinker, by all means, please do. Hey, at least I should receive credit for creativity. Last year, I put my wish list ‘eye level’ on the refrigerator. It’s always worthwhile to try another approach.

Cozy Tea & A Great Book-
Check out Drink the Leaf’s new eye-catching tin selection. I have tried all of the below ‘tea & book’ pairings; your loved ones will not be disappointed.

My Wish List: The ultimate 2009 favorite tea: Organic Golden Monkey & A Man walks into the Room, by Nicole Krauss. True bliss.

Tasty Teas & Botanical Bakery Tea Cookies-This Napa based bakery chose Drink the Leaf to be a part of their holiday gift items this year! Just click and order, and your holiday shopping will be complete. These tea cookies are delicious, and hand-crafted. The owners state on their website: Authentic. Distinctive. unapologetic. Is it you... or the tea cookie?
My Wish List-
Well since you asked…it’s the cookie, of course. Peppermint Cocoa Nibs & Ceylon Black Tea, for me, please.

Baker’s Dozen- For the cookie monster in your life, feed them these unbelievable delicious decadent cookies crafted by Chef Annie Baker( yes, this is her real name). Annie is probably the most exuberant person I have ever met. You can’t resist her or her passion for cookies. I am happy to spread the good word. If you love cookie dough, you will devour these tasty bites. They are made from scratch, and you will become addicted. Beware.
My Wish List: Peanut Butter Cookie with mini peanut butter cups or Toffee Milk Chocolate chip.

Napa Valley Toffee- Not into cookies? Really? What’s wrong with you? Be nice, its the holidays. Share this all natural English Toffee offered in both milk and dark chocolate flavors with your friends. Hand-crafted and made in small batches, always fresh. Just plain yummy. It will make you want to celebrate the holidays all year long.
My Wish List: I love to nibble on the Dark Chocolate variety while sipping on a steaming cup of Golden Pu-erh.

Tiffany’s- Doesn't everyone yearn to see that little blue box under the Christmas Tree? I told you I was going to be creative this year…Now, that I have your attention:
My Wish List- I imagine drinking Organic Chic Chai while sitting at my desk chatting with co-workers about the holiday break. Then they exclaim in unison, “ Are those new earrings? Did you get them for Christmas? They are absolutely gorgeous! Your husband is such a doll”.

Happy Holidays everyone! Remember to cherish each day. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aloha & Mahalo!

Aloha! What can I say? After three months of travelling, I find myself in Kapalua, Maui. Hey, a girl has to get a base tan for the winter. I am taking a few days off after a week of island hopping spreading the good word about wine. The Tea Drinker joined me on Friday. From what I have read-- jumping off the merry-go-round of life can do one some good. I guess I will need to report back to you about this theory, but for now we are just focusing on beach, pool, beach, pool, and good eats & tropical drinks.

For those of you in chilly parts of the world, steep yourself a flavorful, and cozy cup of Drink the Leaf Assam Mokalbari Estate. My kettle will just have to wait until Tuesday...