london highlights: cream tea

Cream tea is a lighter afternoon tea, which is really more like a snack, consisting of a pot of tea and scones serve with clotted cream and jam. While in London, I got in the habit of having cream tea every afternoon. I would return to my hotel room from a thoroughly enjoyable, yet exhausting day of sightseeing, shopping, museum-going, and other touristy things, and I would treat myself to a cup of tea and a scone slathered with copious amounts of clotted cream and jam. It was a more restful break than having tea at a tearoom or café since I can take off my boots, put my feet up, (take a short nap), check emails (yeeah for free in-room wi-fi) and plan the rest of the evening’s activities in the comfort of my room. It was a nice, warm respite from the drizzly, gray London skies.

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chicken liver pâté


Liver, or any offal, for that matter, is a polarizing food – you either love it or you don’t. You may think of it as a gourmet delicacy or are completely turned off by it. As you can see, I am firmly in the LOVE IT camp. Today’s post is especially for those who are fans of chicken liver. If you’re not, come back in a couple of days and I’ll have an entirely organ-free recipe for you. As fans, you know that chicken liver, when prepared correctly, is quite delicious and tasty. And, although it is high in cholesterol, eaten in moderation it is nutritious as well, containing a lot of vitamins and minerals that are good for our teeth, bones, skin, and hair and nutrients that help support our immune systems. I’m not going to try to convince you to like liver; it isn’t for everyone. But for those of you who do, this is absolutely indulgent, so please try to practice moderation.

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Tomato Jam

A couple of days ago, I visited  the New York Times’ column The Minimalist by Mark Bittman to find some new recipes to try.  If you don’t know him, Mark Bittman is a food journalist, former editor of the Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and an author of several cookbooks, most notably How to Cook Everything.  He also collaborated with one of my favorite chefs, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, on two cookbooks, Simple to Spectacular and Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef.  He has been an advocate of the minimalist approach to cooking, preparing dishes that are simple, straightforward, and unfussy.  He’s definitely my kind of cook.  Anyway, I was looking for recipes with tomatoes since I had a good supply of them.  I ran across this article and accompanying recipe and was immediately intrigued.  The recipe was pretty straightforward and I had all of the ingredients in the pantry already.  Plus, the photo that accompanied the recipe was stunning – the deep red color of the homemade tomato jam made it irresistible.

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everything’s better with butter

Homemade butter

Homemade bread is good.  Homemade bread with homemade butter is even better!  Yes, you read it right. I made my own butter this morning!  As it turns out, butter is surprisingly easy and fun to make. Essentially, heavy cream is just whipped until it breaks and the fat separates from the liquid.  The fat is the butter and the liquid is buttermilk.  How easy is that?  I used a stand mixer, but a food processor works as well.  Shaking the fermented cream in a mason jar for about 20-30 minutes will supposedly work but I prefer to have my kitchen gadgets do the heavy work.

I followed this cultured butter recipe from the Seattle Times, which calls for culturing, or fermenting the cream, before churning.  I had no luck in finding a good quality, organic cream, so I settled for a pint of the Trader Joe’s brand.  The resulting butter is a pale yellow color and  creamy with a little bit of tang to it.  Better quality cream would have resulted in a deeper yellow color and a richer flavor.  Next time, I can experiment with adding different herbs and flavorings to make compound butter.

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