Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tea Time-Buttermilk biscuits

One of the biggest baking debates in my family is biscuits. My grandmother's recipe (the current biscuit champion) can't be duplicated and she doesn't write any recipes down. I've been searching for the perfect recipe for years. I've tried every combination of ingredients- cake flour, white lily flour, butter, oil, milk, cream.
This recipe although nothing like my grandmothers has become my go to recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp butter cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients together.
Mix in butter with a pastry blender.
Add buttermilk. Mix until just blended.
Pat dough out until 2 inches thick. Fold in half. Repeat three more times.
Cut with a biscuit cutter. Makes approximately 7 biscuits.
Put on cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tea Time- Comfort Food

Sometimes there is nothing better than a warm cookie and a glass of milk.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups oats
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (roughly chopped)
1 stick softened unsalted butter *
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 lg egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper

Cream butter and sugar together- add egg and vanilla- mix
In separate bowl mix together dry ingredients
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix
Add chocolate and mix gently
Shape into 12 cookies and put 6 on each cookie sheet

Bake approximately 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown

* a note on the amount of butter in this recipe- Inspired by Cat trying to cut back on diet soda- I've been trying cut back on butter. Normally these cookies are made with a stick and a half of butter. Now I don't see the problem with 1 Tbsp of butter per cookie but since I'm trying to curb my butter addiction I thought I would make these cookies a little more healthy. (Both Jan and I agree that while they are good this way, they are better with more butter.) So however you choose to make them enjoy!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Trend is Our Friend - grab your popcorn (well, maybe we should skip the popcorn)

Movie and television hits (and sometimes misses) can turn into huge trends. So let's take a look at what will be hitting the big screen this spring and summer.

Water for Elephants was a wonderful book and with the Twilight actor in the lead of the movie that hits theaters in late April- you will certainly see anything with an elephant, circus theme or related to prohibition and depression era America trending big-time.

A new Pirates of the Caribbean movie comes out in May and this franchise has been huge for years so look for pirates to be hot again.

The final Harry Potter in July will have Potter fans out in droves and have anything wizardly trending

Cowboys and Aliens from Stephen Spielberg (who says Hollywood can only do remakes) also in July is almost certainly going to continue the western trend kicked off with True Grit.

The Smurfs 3D is set to introduce a whole new generation of kids to the little blue gang- not sure how this translates into a trend for us - but maybe smurf blue will be Pantone's color next year!

Some other summer movies that could be trending include : Bridesmaids, More Marvel Comics ie Green Lantern and Capt. America, Thor (lots of Viking/Nordic styles could get hot), Cars 2, The Hangover 2 (lots of 2's, 3's and 4's).

Also I should mention that the HBO gangster series Gangland beat out Mad Men at the Globes and could absolutely set off a gangster trend.

How these trends translate into out own work (if at all) is up to us, but they are maybe things to keep in mind this year.

1. marysgranddaughter
2. illuminated perfume
3. jude mcconkey
4. wool and water

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tea Time

Jan and I are both chocolate lovers. This week's recipe is sure to satisfy any chocolate craving.

Tipsy Truffles
12 oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick softened unsalted butter
2 Tbsp whiskey

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat cream in sauce pan on medium high making sure not to burn. Pour hot cream onto chocolate. Stir slowly to melt chocolate. If necessary put chocolate on double boiler or microwave 20 seconds to finish melting the chocolate. Add softened butter and stir in. Add whiskey.
Place mixture into fridge for 45 minutes to let it firm up.
Spoon into piping bag (or you can use a ziploc bag with the end cut off if you don't have a piping bag).

Pipe out 1 1/2" rounds onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Approximately 3 dozen. Place cookie sheets in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool truffles.

Mix together unsweetened cocoa and cinnamon in shallow bowl or pie plate. Coat your hands with a little cocoa and gently roll truffles between your hand to shape into a ball. Then place in cocoa mix and roll around to coat. (If you want to get fancy after you have coated approximately 1/3 of the truffles add half of the powdered sugar to the cocoa mixture and stir together. Coat another 1/3 then add remaining powdered sugar. This will give three different shades of truffles).
Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tea Time- Sourdough Starter

A few weeks ago we posted how to make sourdough doughnuts. One of the ingredients was a cup of sourdough starter. We thought it might be a good idea to come back to this ingredient and show how to make a sourdough starter because it can be used in so many recipes. There are typically three ways to get a starter. The easiest way is get a cup from someone who already has a starter. (This is great especially if you can get your hands on a really old starter which has a lovely flavor, I had a wonderfully old starter which I carefully tended until it exploded on a plane-but that's a whole other story). You can also take approximately 1 cup of the leftover water from boiled potatoes and put it in a glass jar. This starchy water will attract natural yeast that is floating around in the air. Feed the potato water a Tbsp of flour a day. Within a few days you'll see bubbles forming and smell that distinctive yeasty smell. (This is the most traditional method and if you have the time is fun way of getting a starter going). The third method is to take 2 tsp of yeast, 2 cups of flour, and 2 cups of water- mix them all together and wait overnight.
The next day you'll have a bubbling happy starter.

There are lots of different theories on how best to keep your starter going. Generally if you don't use it everyday it's best to keep it in the fridge and feed it 1/2 a cup of flour and 1/2 a cup of water once a week.

If you do keep it out on the counter it really should be fed twice a day. 1/4 a cup of flour/water in the morning and again at night. However this means you'll have to use 1 cup of starter up a day to not be over run with starter. So bread, doughnuts, pancakes, chocolate cake, english muffins, waffles,bagels, muffins, carrot cake cupcakes, pizza crust, etc.
Well I better get back to baking- Christina

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Trend is Our Friend Friday - something old, something new ...

In our last trend poll, we voted we were more likely to incorporate the figurative trend into our work than the neon/natural combo trend which the team was just not feeling (sniffle).

Trendspotting is about getting us inspired to innovate and one of my favorite sites for the latest innovating business ideas

(many are still in a beta testing phase)

is - some of their recent posts have included:

1. Belly armor for expectant mothers
2. Medical cottages that enable senior care at home
3. Buy one, give one $99.00 eyewear
4. Pop up stores
5. Review a website and get a website review in exchange

They definitely focus on the big picture trends of upcycling, technology and consumer driven business models - alot of what they feature is technology driven, but if you are not familiar with this site you might want to check it out.

This week's small picture trends are brought to us from's latest posts.

From the bib style neckwear whose popularity continues to be hot, the new honeysuckle (am I the only one not recognizing this pink shade as honeysuckle?) color that is being called the next turquoise (cobalt blue is also hot) to chickens in the city (the urban farmer and consumer's quest for a more sustainable lifestyle) and mad men inspired red lips and pencil skirts - some trends they are seeing include:

1. cobalt blue trend brought to us by Swept from the Sea
2. bib style neckwear brought to us by Quench Metalwork and Tickled Pink Knits
3. mad men 50's/60's inspiration brought to us by Deb Babcockand Half Pint Salvage
4. urban homsteading brought to us by Blackbird Tees and Uncorked
5. the color of 2011 brought to us by Amber Alexander

In this week's poll on the left we are asking which is your favorite new trend - urban farming, mad men or the color of the year!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tea Time: Chocolate Torte with Blackberry Coulis

This week's tea time features the Dark Chocolate Torte with Spiked Blackberry Coulis recipe from Bon Appetit/April 2006 (with a few changes). You'll want lots of friends around to share this rich, chocolate treat!

Coulis is a berry syrup made from berries, sugar and liquor (optional). The berry mixture is cooked until the berries are mushy, releasing the juices, and then strained to remove skins and seeds. You'll want to make the coulis first so it has time to cool before adding to the icing.

For this recipe, I frozen organic blackberries (about 1/2 cup), granulated sugar (about 2 Tbls), and a splash of merlot. Most coulis recipes make about 2 cups of syrup. I adjusted downward so the amount of syrup I got was just about what I needed for the icing later on.

Chocolate Torte Ingredients (These differ slightly from the Bon Apetit ingredients--try both ways!)

1 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder

5 large eggs
1 cup sugar

Melt semisweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup butter in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Whisk in cocoa and espresso. Cool 10 minutes.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl on high until thick, about 6 minutes.

Fold in melted butter, chocolate, cocoa, espresso mixture just until blended and pour into greased and parchment paper lined 9" spring form pan.

The torte is done when it is dry and cracked on top and a toothpick comes out slightly moist. About 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan about an hour. The center will fall, so use a knife or spatula to press the cake even. Invert onto a plate. Remove spring pan bottom; peel off paper, and allow the torte to finish cooling. (I was taking the torte to a friend's house for dinner, so I slid it back into the spring form pan).

For the glaze, melt the bittersweet chocolate and remaining butter in a small saucepan until smooth. Whisk in 2 tablespoons blackberry coulis. Cool glaze 15 minutes, then pour glaze into the center of the torte. Smooth the glaze over the top of the torte, allowing some of the it to drip over the sides.

Refrigerate uncovered until glaze is set. I added berries on top for a garnish.