Home About The Fame! Contact

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Review and Give-Away: Adagio Tea Sets

Freshly brewed gyokuro

I'm just going to say right now that even though it is out of focus, I love this photo. So pretty and green.

In keeping with my giving away 5 sets of Adagio tea (US website here - I am nothing if not internationally minded), I present to you the second of my three samples: the gyokuro.

You might ask me, 'Mr. P, whatever, pray tell, is this gyokuro of which you speak?', or indeed, you might simply ask, 'Gyoku-what... Eh?'

Gyokuro, my dears, is the Bruce Springsteen of the tea world, the ne plus ultra of Japanese greens. I am happy to drink pretty much any green tea at least once or twice, but I always come back to gyokuro. I love the colour of it (the characters used to write the word gyokuro mean 'jewel' and 'dew', which just gets my inner poet right off, let me tell you), and I love the more pronounced flavour it seems to have than, say, standard sencha, which makes up the bulk of the Japanese green teas you tend to find over here. And indeed there. Once when I was buying some in a department store in Nagoya, the lady who served me at the counter explained that what makes this tea special was not so much the way it is processed, but how it is grown; several weeks before picking, the tea bushes are shaded from the sun with special screens. This is supposed to make the leaves a darker green and probably explains the gorgeous colour of the brewed tea.

An aside, for those who are baffled: I studied Japanese at university and lived in Japan as a student and after graduating. I know I normally mostly focus on cakes and sugar, but I wasn't lying when I said I loved tea in my last post. Some of that stems from my host family, who took tea quite seriously, or so it seemed to me when I lived with them. But anyway, the point is, I'm totally on the Japan side of things when in comes to green tea. I once took a tea class in Singapore, with Mr. Other P, and I think I annoyed the guy running it who said the best stuff came from China. But to me, Japanese green is fresh, deep and complex; Chinese can be, in my experience, a little too woodsy and heavy.

But to each their own! Let's not start something we can't finish...

This actually leads me back to Adagio. When I saw they carried gyokuro, I was really excited. You never see it in tea shops in the UK, or at least I don't, and it had never occurred to me to try an online supplier.

I just wish I'd known sooner; this tea is delicious. It has that sharp, bitter note in the background that good green tea should always provide, and a sweet, rounded fragrance.

Based on this tea alone, I really can see myself being a regular Adagio customer when my stash runs out, and if you are at all curious about Japanese green tea, I can say without doubt that this would be a great place to start. It isn't actually the best I've ever had, but then, I'm brewing it in Cardiff and I never thought my P.G. Tips tasted the same as it does here when I was drinking it in Nishinomiya years ago.

I noticed in the comments on my Facebook page that some people think the ingenuiTEA pot that is part of the tea sets Adagio have provided me to give away looks a little odd. Maybe that's my pictures! Here's a nice stock photo for you to see better how it works.

Prettier than my hurriedly thrown together efforts, no?

Adagio are kindly giving away 5 starter sets comprising of 4 teas (details below), a glass mug and an ingenuiTEA teapot to 5 lucky readers. The teas that are up for grabs are:

If you do the maths, you can see this is a serious haul, equal to £50 per set. For your chance to win, here's what you need to do:
  • Leave a comment on this post letting me know which tea you'd most like to try and why. Don't think you need to write an essay. This is just fun! I like silly answers just as much as serious ones.
  • If you prefer, leave the comment on the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page. You can like us as well! That's fine too.
  • Comments will close at midnight on Monday 5 November 2012. Winners will be selected at random shortly after. 
  • Open to all people, everywhere.
  • Email entries not accepted. Nor are multiple entries. But you can ask friends or colleagues to enter on your behalf if you like.
I'll be posting about another tea later this week. See you back here for that!

Monday 29 October 2012

Review and Give-Away: Adagio Tea Sets

Earl Grey Bravo

I am something of a tea addict. It goes beyond being British, because although I know that, along with complaining, sipping the hot stuff is one of our national pastimes, few people I know have a whole cupboard dedicated to tea. Admittedly, I keep a few other dry goods in there, but it's mostly loose leaf teas. I should actually keep the rice elsewhere, because recently when I cooked some for a friend, it had bergamot topnotes. I kept quiet about it, and I don't think he noticed, but I suspect I have too many Earls hanging round in there.

Must act soon.

It had never occurred to me to buy tea online until I was contacted by someone from Adagio Teas who asked if I'd like to try some of their range. I suspect that's because I tend to buy speciality teas by weight, from tea shops, where I can see, smell and touch the tea leaves before deciding which ones to buy. My colleagues will attest to this: I have bored countless many of them to tears doing so. What can I say? I am picky.

As a result, my first instinct was to turn down the offer, but having had a snoop around the company website, I quickly realised that Adagio take tea even more seriously than I do. So I did the right thing and agreed to try some. The good news is that you are going to get to as well. I asked if Adagio would allow me to give some tea away to readers of Delicious Delicious Delicious, and they've only gone and given me 5 (5! Count them!) sets to offer you. We'll get to how you can win one later. For now, let's check out the tea!

Choosing which ones to try was quite difficult. Adagio carry a huge range, and each tea has its own story, descriptions and a cool review feature which gives feedback from people who have bought and drunk the variety in question. I asked to try out three teas - the Earl Grey Bravo is what we'll be brewing up today. Check back later in the week to find out about the rest.

I have to say up front, before we even put the kettle on, how much I am impressed by the way these teas are packaged. People of the Internet: how annoying are those traditional, paper lined cellophane packets you find most loose leaf teas in? I cannot stand them! Fortunately, help is here: the heavy duty bags that Adagio use are resealable, which means that I can use my clothes pegs for hanging out wet laundry and keep my tea super-fresh as well. It might sound odd to talk about packaging, but as a tea drinker, this was one of the first things I noticed. The people who run this company obviously care about the products they sell and have thought about the end user.

Each packet of tea is also printed with recommended brewing times and temperatures for the contents, though so much of that is about personal preference anyway that, ever the rebel, I didn't pay much attention.

Earl Grey always reminds me of my friend Rish and Lucy. They drink it like it's going out of fashion, and they have a preferred brand. I can't wait to see what they make of the Earl Grey Bravo you see here. Because, honestly, if you'll forgive the pun, this is truly a stand-up-and-clap-worthy cup of tea. It's not just that it tastes wonderful (fresh, light and with a real zing; I really wouldn't add milk) and smells great (you get a real aroma of tea as well as bergamot, which is the whole point after all), but it's beautiful too. The tea is littered with blue cornflowers and pieces of orange peel. This is why I love loose leaf - it's so much more exciting than dumping a bag into a mug and adding hot water is.

I know a lot of people will say that loose leaf tea is fiddly and time consuming to prepare, and I can't really argue with that if you only have delicate chinaware. But Adagio also sent me one of their award winning ingenuiTEA teapots (and will be giving 5 of them away as well!), and it has changed my perspective entirely.

Full disclosure: I expected this to be gimicky and ineffective. But honestly, I know people who are now going to get one for Christmas. I like it that much.

Hopefully my dreadful pictures will illustrate why. You simply take the tea pot and add tea. Then pour over boiling water and wait until the tea is brewed to your taste; the pot is transparent so the tea's strength can be judged easily. Next, and here's the magic, place the pot onto your mug of choice and watch the tea filter through the fine mesh bottom. The leaves are left behind, can be emptied quickly and easily, and then you just pop the pot into the dishwasher.

Honestly, this pot is amazing. I use it at home and I've even brought it with me to work in my suitcase. I never thought I'd be brewing leaf tea in hotel rooms, but that's what I've been doing. It would be ideal for the office too. Or for camping. Or anywhere.

I'm sensing you might also want one. Well, as I said, Adagio are kindly giving away 5 starter sets comprising of 4 teas (details below), a glass mug and an ingenuiTEA teapot. The teas that are up for grabs are:

(Yes, they have a tea called Ooooh Darjeeling!)

If you do the maths, you can see this is a serious haul. For your chance to win a set, here's what you need to do:

  • Leave a comment on this post letting me know which tea you'd most like to try and why. Don't think you need to write an essay. This is just fun! I like silly answers just as much as serious ones.
  • If you prefer, leave the comment on the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page. You can like us as well! That's fine too.
  • Comments will close at midnight on Monday 5 November 2012. Winners will be selected at random shortly after.
  • Email entries not accepted. 
Check back to see some of the other teas I tried out later in the week!

Saturday 27 October 2012

White Chocolate and Lemon Macarons

Eek. I have terrible jet lag (in Europe as well - this isn't supposed to happen!), and it has occurred to me that I haven't updated in a while. It's not that I've not been thinking about doing so - I've got something so sexy and exciting coming up next week that you're all going to be sick - but more that I've been without anything photographed. People want to see deliciousness, not just read about it.

So you get some macarons that I was never going to put up on here. Ha! Sloppy seconds.

Does it irk you that I don't even take my own blog seriously? I think that's my prerogative. Also, I think that having even made macarons in the first place shows that I must be taking something seriously. But that's just me.

Anyway, Newsnight has just finished (love the fact that we get the Beeb overseas too - what did we do before?), I'm feeling suitably annoyed by the panel, and it's time to get you a recipe for these previously deemed unworthy treats. A-here we go!

White Chocolate and Lemon Macarons

You will need:

110g icing sugar
50g ground almonds

finely grated zest of one lemon
2 egg whites (60g), aged for 24 hours (just leave them on the kitchen counter, uncovered)

40g caster sugar

small dab of yellow food colour gel

100g cream cheese

100g melted white chocolate
  1. Sift the 110g icing sugar into a large bowl, and mix in the almonds.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then slowly whisk in the caster sugar until you have soft peaking meringue. Add the dab of colour gel, and carry on whisking until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add the almond and sugar mixture, and fold in. You are supposed to do this in exactly 50 strokes, and turn the bowl 45° after every tenth stroke. I don't think it's of paramount importance - you should just have a smooth mixture.
  4. Put this mix into a piping bag with the end snipped off, and pipe circles about 2 inches in diameter and well spaced apart on a lined baking sheet. You should have between 28 and 30 blobs of mixture. Let's call it 29.
  5. Let them sit for 30 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom shelf. Cool completely on the sheet, and then remove using a pallet knife.
  7. For the filling, simply beat the ingredients together. You could simplify this and just use lemon curd instead of the cream cheese and white chocolate mixture, but I don't think it's a good idea. This filling is marvellous!

Thursday 11 October 2012

Chewy Coconut Brownies and Paul Hollywood

Hey kids, guess what? Word on the street is that Mr. Paul Hollywood (#1 Secret Crush of millions, though not me... Well, okay, just a little. But don't tell.) is giving away 50 recipes from his new book, How to Bake, in a special series over seven days in The Telegraph. Starting October 13. That's the day after tomorrow, fact fans. So consider yourselves informed!

I know everyone knows him as Mary Berry's partner in crime, but Hollywood's actually a really great baker and the book seems pretty top notch (I am one of those sit-and-read-without-buying types). Filled with great tips and finally, some common sense about cooking with chocolate (for God's sake people - it doesn't have to be 70% all the time!). I'll definitely be collecting the extracts.

Since I don't like posting without a recipe for you, here's what I'll do today. You can have a photograph of Paul, but with a recipe of mine. It seems like a fair proposition.

Have any of you read Paul's new book? What do you think of it?

Chewy Coconut Brownies

You will need:

1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
3 oz (75g) dark chocolate, broken into squares (I used Bourneville, and so would Hollywood!)
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
2/3 cup (95 g) plain flour
1/4 cup (30g) cocoa
2 eggs
1 cup (150g) dessicated coconut

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake until set. I gave mine 28 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan, and then cut into 16 squares.

Friday 5 October 2012

Nectarine Butter

3 jars of nectarine butter on my garden wall. Yes: I was too busy to take a nice picture!

Time to get that cake down off of the front page, it's been tempting me each and every time I log on here and there's not a single crumb of it left.

We're putting up again today folks. He's caught the bug, and you are going to be reading about it.

A bit of background detail before we begin. Last year, when we got married, we didn't really want to have a wedding list. I don't like the idea very much (in principle; in practice, it's wonderful, because as a guest, you don't need to put any thought into what you give), and was really at a loss as to what to put on one. How did I know how much people would want to spend?

12 chopped nectarines! 12 chopped nectarines!

Sometimes, when confronted with a gift registry card, I go daringly 'off list' and buy something else. It makes me feel coolly rebellious and quite, quite edgy. Some people did that to us, and all of them chose wonderful surprises that we never would have expected: a warm rug-blanket thing, a tea chest and hand made cake stands for instance. Percy's team (do I always have to call him Mr. Other P? My name is down the bottom there for all to see after all!) of colleagues even bought us a slow cooker.

I was elated. Or as elated as one can be with an appliance. I thought of all the amazing things we could make it it, with zero effort and no time spent in the kitchen. And then promptly did very little other than put it in the cupboard.

You see, I adore spending time in the kitchen. My job takes me away all the time, so whenever I can, I love to be at the stove. Perce slow cooks regularly, but I had, until recently, begun to feel increasingly disconnected from the little crock.

I decided it was time to do something about it.

Having decided to treat myself, in the middle of one wakeful night, to a copy of Marisa McClellan's book Food in Jars, from the blog of the same name (and to which I am hopelessly addicted - she makes me want to move to Philly and can my body weight in tomatoes and dilly beans), I noticed that she advocates the use of slow cookers when making fruit butters. They're like jam, only better. We've made fruit butter here before though, remember?

(God, I hated that old kitchen!!)

You see: even a man, can can! Or bottle: we're British here after all.

Anyway, I was in! Out came the pot, and away we went. And you know what? It was fantastic. I spent the whole day pottering around doing chores, even being able to run out to the shops, and the whole time, my slow cooker was silently and efficiently doing what I could not (i.e. spend two hours stirring a hot pan). In the evening, I filled and processed my jars (more on that below), and at the end of the day I had 3 500ml jars of beautiful nectarine butter to stash away for when the days are cold and I need to taste the Summer.

I thoroughly recommend the method, and the book. It does involve using a water bath and proper Kilner jars, but this is far less scary than it sounds. Have a go.

Do you make fruit butters or jams already? What's your favourite?

Nectarine Butter (method works for plums, peaches, apples, pears: you name it!)

You will need:

12 nectarines (to make 1.7kg of chopped fruit)
1 lemon
2 1/2 cups sugar (500g)

  1. Chop your nectarines, or whatever you have chosen to make butter with, and put them into your slow cooker. Cook on the 'low' setting for one hour.
  2. Stir the fruit, and carry on cooking. You can use a wooden spoon to prop open the slow cooker's lid to help speed the process of cooking down (more water will be able to evaporate), if you wish.
  3. Cook for a further 6 hours, checking the fruit every couple of hours or so. When the fruit is soft, push it though a sieve or, even better, use a stick blender to purée it directly in the slow cooker, which is what I did. You can also then switch to 'high' if you like.
  4. When the butter is thick and spreadable (bear in mind it will thicken as it cools), add the sugar, zest and juice of the lemon, stir well, and cook for one final hour.
  5. Now get your water bath ready: wash your jars (the kind with a lid and ring: in the UK we call these Kilner jars, and you can get them in any kitchen supply shop)  and place them in a tall stockpot with a tea towel in the bottom (my make-shift trivet!). Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
  6. Place the lids in a small pan of cold water, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Leave the lids in the hot water until ready to use.
  7. Remove the hot jars from the water, and fill them with the fruit butter, leaving 2cm of airspace at the top of the jar. This recipe should fill three 500ml jars exactly.
  8. Wipe the jar rims, apply the lids and screw bands, and lower the jars back into the hot water. Boil hard for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the jars and place on a wooden board or folded newspaper (cold surfaces could cause the hot jars to crack). You should hear the lids 'pop' pretty soon afterwards (meaning they have sealed). Marisa's book explains this process much more thoroughly, should you have any questions.
  10. Use within 8 months.

Related Posts with Thumbnails