Saturday, April 25, 2015

Anzac Biscuits

Yep, I made Anzac Biscuits

Today,  April 25th commemorates the 100 anniversary of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Gallipoli landings in 1915.

During the First World War, sweethearts, wives and mothers baked these biscuits to send to "the boys" overseas.  So I made a batch for my sweetheart with a recipe from Australia's  Donna Hay 

 Lyle's Golden Syrup

You'll need Lyle's Golden Syrup to make these cookies.  Lyle's Golden Syrup is thicker and sweeter than corn syrup.  Lyle's cane syrup gives the biscuits a chewy and sticky texture along with a wonderful richness.  Here in America, you can find it at World Market or a local British import shop if you have one. 

 Anzac Biscuits with Coconut

I just learned yesterday from my Australian friend Sally, that early recipes for these biscuits did not contain coconut.  We love coconut so I have always used recipes which contain coconut.  In previous years, I have baked Anzac biscuits with a recipe from Cooking Light.  

Anzac Biscuits

Here is the link for Donna Hay's Anzac biscuits recipe:
Anzac Biscuits.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Long Live the Queen!

Her Majesty The Queen Tea Party

Happy 89th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II. I think it's a perfect day to enjoy the great British tradition of afternoon tea!

I've read that Earl Grey is the tea of preference of Buckingham Palace.  And her Royal Highness does shop at Fortnum & Mason.  So you could break out the good china today and pop over to your local Williams-Sonoma and pick up some Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey Classic tea to celebrate.  After all, they've been suppliers of tea to the royal houses for over 300 years!

(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Union Jack and discontinued Diamond Jubilee pattern.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Celebrating Hanami

Fleur de Geisha tea

Celebrating the blooming of the cherry blossoms...

This is the final weekend of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown, San Francisco, California.   Since I'm not able to attend the festival, I'm celebrating spring and Hanami at home with Fleur de Geisha tea and sakuramochi.  

I've written about Fleur de Geisha tea before.  It's made by Le Palais des The`s, a French tea company that I discovered years ago in Paris.  The last time I was in Paris, I purchased the tea in this beautiful Washi paper caddy used in my photos.  It features a sakura (cherry blossom) motif that is traditionally found on geishas kimonos.  This washi tin is now discontinued and has been replaced with a more modern pink metal tin.   

 Cherry Blossom Tea Break

Fleur de Geisha tea is perfect to enjoy in spring and was actually inspired by the Japanese Hanami tradition of cherry blossom viewing.  This signature tea blend is a Japanese green tea with a very subtle cherry blossom flavor and aroma.  I've made it a tradition, to enjoy it every spring during cherry blossom season.   


For a Hanami tea break, I find sakuramochi are a perfect accompaniment to Fleur de Geisha tea.  

Sakuramochi are a Japanese sweet made of a sweet pink-colored mochi (rice cake) with a red bean paste center and and wrapped with a pickled cherry blossom leaf.  They are traditionally enjoyed during the spring season.  I find them every spring at Oto's Marketplace in Sacramento, California. 

La recette du the` glace
(Iced tea recipe)

This year, for the first time, I'm enjoying Fleur de Geisha iced.  Here's the recipe I used that is printed on the Fleur de Geisha box:

Fleur de Geisha Iced Tea Recipe

Infuse 20 grams of tea in 1 Liter of cold water for half an hour.  
Then keep refrigerated.  

Enjoy and be sure to take time for Hanami and the beauty of flowers. 

(In the photos:  Japanese blossom plate by Mino and washi tea tin caddy.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hot Cross Buns

 Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!  Hot cross buns!
One a penny two a penny - Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons
One a penny two a penny - Hot cross buns!

(From an old English nursery rhyme)

 American version ingredients

 Hot cross buns are those little British sweet fruit buns that pop-up at Easter time.  Traditionally they are decorated with a cross on top and eaten on Good Friday.  I've wanted to make them for the longest time. Even though I love to bake, I don't bake with yeast and that's why I've shied away from making them.

  This year though after watching Delia Smith's Cookery School Hot Cross Buns video, I decided to give them a go.  The trickiest part (for me) was determining which yeast to use for Delia's recipe here in America.   

Here are my American conversions for the recipe:
Strong flour =  Gold Medal all purpose flour
Mixed spice =  Pumpkin pie spice
Caster sugar = C & H Baker's Sugar
Easy Bake Yeast = Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Instant Yeast

 Look mom, no seams!

 To learn more about hot cross buns, I also watched a Martha Stewart video.  In Martha's video I learned an easy way to roll and shape the buns thanks to chef John Barricelli who is a third generation baker.  Check out his video with Martha for some great tips.  

 The Cross

In my American home kitchen, I baked my buns in a 375F oven for 15 minutes and ended up with excellent results.  I opted to forgo the traditional method of baking the cross on the buns and decorated my baked buns with an icing cross instead.  Here's my recipe:

Icing recipe
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Let stand 5 minutes to thicken and then ice your buns.

Happy Easter!

Traditionally hot cross buns are served with a spread of butter.  We loved them.  These will now be an Easter holiday tradition for us!