Ginger + Vanilla

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. You can find our archive of ginger posts here and our previous featured ingredients here. Today we’re adding something sweet to the docket.

Get ready to start planning your next dinner party, because we have the perfect dessert : vanilla ice cream + ginger spread. This is such a simple combination, but the results are phenomenal. ginger_icecream

We used Talenti Vanilla Bean Gelato for the base, and topped it with a syrup made from Ginger People’s ginger spread. I scooped some paste into a ramekin, added almost an equal amount of water, and microwaved it for a few seconds until the syrup was warm but not hot. Then I gave the mixture a good stir and drizzled it over the gelato.

Can’t find ginger paste in your grocery store? Amazon delivers.

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And I’m not joking about the dinner party. Sometimes a fancy dessert is in order. Sometimes you can plan ahead and bake something the day before. But sometimes, a tub of ice cream is the way to go. This combination takes that easy dessert and dresses it up just enough to leave an impression.

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Plus, maybe it’s time that we make ginger the new flavor of fall! Pumpkin’s had its run. #outwithpumpkin #gingerishot #gingersarehot Wait. Am I doing this right?

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Midsummer Magic

It’s the middle of summer, food is at its freshest, and the livin’ is easy, or at least it should be.

There’s nothing we love more at this time of year than the intense flavors and colors of fresh fruits, and there’s no easier way to enjoy them than to just throw them in whatever you’re making. Need some ideas? That’s why we’re here.

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Last week I put some fresh raspberries and cherries in my mojito – smashing them up just a bit in the bottom of the glass before adding the rest of the ingredients.

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Serve cubed watermelon with mint for a refreshing treat on a hot day. If you like that combo, you’ll love our watermelon mojitos!

And if your garden’s still overflowing with mint, make some aqua frescas.

Add fresh figs and blueberries to your mocktails (or cocktails!).

Throw watermelon and blueberries in your smoothies with a tea-based twist.

What about watermelon in your gazpacho?!

Any ripe berry would go well in these yogurt-based popsicles. These lemon pops are another refreshing option.

Yesterday Alex asked to bake a cake (nothing makes my heart melt faster than his request to do something in the kitchen!). He wanted a cake with “a blue middle and red paint on the frosting”. I let him add some food coloring to our batter, but then transformed his idea for red paint into a splattering of berries and their juices across the top. This is a basic yellow cake with our favorite coconut milk buttercream (scroll down).

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Summer, and particularly July, is such a special time of year for us, and nothing tastes more like summer than perfectly ripe fruit; it’s pure midsummer magic. If you can get your hands on some, especially if you have the chance to get out there and pick berries, do two things : 1. eat as much as you can while picking, and 2. do something creative and special with the leftovers. You won’t regret it! xo

 

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DIY Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean, and some homemade perfumes with vanilla essential oils.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but today we’re finally hitting on the key ingredient in every kitchen – vanilla extract! Who doesn’t have a bottle of vanilla extract in their kitchen? It gets used in everything. In fact, yesterday the boys and I baked our favorite chocolate cake, and even that called for two teaspoons of vanilla extract. 

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My fist exposure with homemade vanilla extract was a few years ago when I received a bottle from my BFF for Christmas. It was amazing, and I cherished that bottle, wanting to use it but also keep it for ever because it was just so good. As you’ll see, DIYing your own extract is so easy that I probably should have reigned in my emotions a bit…

The key to make a quality vanilla extract comes down to two things : 1. quality beans and 2. time.

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How-to

For this bottle of extract I used 8 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans and 1 cup of vodka. Split each bean by slicing through it lengthwise, then place the beans in a jar, add the vodka (making sure that it covers the beans), and let sit for at least two months.

After that time, you don’t have to remove the beans. In fact, you can let the extract sit longer to get a richer flavor. And as you use the extract, you can top it off with more vodka to keep your batch going.

That’s it!

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For how simple this recipe is, there are many ways to personalize it. Try different vanilla beans for different flavors (for example, Ugandan beans are supposed to have a more smokey flavor). You can also use different alcohols. I used vodka because it’s flavorless, so I would really only taste the vanilla from my beans, but you can substitute rum or bourbon. Personally, now that I have this bottle, I’m excited to experiment with a few more bean/alcohol combinations.

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And if you just happen to have a big bottle of vodka sitting around, don’t forget that with a single vanilla bean and a few days, you can turn it into a smooth vanilla vodka! If you’ll remember, Calder made fun of my idea to make vanilla vodka, but the joke’s on him because that stuff was so good that it’s already gone and I’m thinking about making another batch (maybe with lime this time!).

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Banana Cream Pie!

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a double vanilla cake, and a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean.

Oh my goodness. We can’t stop with the banana cream pies! If you’re following our Instagram feed, you have all the proof you need (not one, but two pies in one week!)… and no joke, there are perfect bananas on the counter and plans for another pie (fortunately we have guests ready to dig in – we’re not that crazy).

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Double Vanilla Cake

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. We’re looking forward to a few months of both sweet and savory dishes using vanilla.

Right after Sarah and I picked vanilla as the ingredient of the season, this recipe for a double vanilla butter cake was published on A Cup of Jo, and I knew we had to try it! This cake is so delicious served plain, but we also enjoyed ours for breakfast with a side of berries and as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Calder said that it reminded him of cakes he was served in Germany… and while I don’t have a specific example in mind, as soon as he said that, I couldn’t agree more, and was immediately transported back to my time there, having a snack on a train or stopping in to a little cafe for breakfast.

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The original recipe called for both vanilla extract and vanilla paste, thus the double in its name. I didn’t have paste, and at first I wanted to make some, but after looking up a few different recipe and seeing that each one used different techniques, I felt unprepared to waste my precious beans on something I wasn’t sure about. Maybe I’ll do a bit more research and discuss vanilla bean paste in another post. Instead, I took the author’s advice and substituted vanilla extract for the paste, but then I used vanilla sugar (details at the end of the post) to dust the pan, keeping with the call for two types of vanilla.

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Malted Egg Milkshakes with Vanilla Vodka

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. We’re looking forward to a few months of both sweet and savory dishes using vanilla. Plus, we’re a huge fan of milkshakes, so if you like today’s post, you may want to check out our matcha tea milkshake and hazelnut liqueur shake!

I made a bottle of vanilla vodka last week, as you’ll see below, it’s super easy to do, and it’s even better than the store-bought vanilla varieties because this is made with 100% real vanilla, nothing artificial here… and then we added candy-coated malted eggs.

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Truth be told, vanilla vodka has never been on my radar, but since I’ve experimented with making the tea infused and rosemary infused vodkas, vanilla and vodka seemed like an obvious pairing. It wasn’t until after I made it that I wondered what to do with it. Calder said “throw it away”. Thanks. Then I did a Google search and came upon a comment board where multiple people recommended giving it away. What’s wrong with everyone?

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Black Sesame Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. If you like combining matcha with your desserts, check out this milkshake!

Lately I’ve come across so many dessert recipes that combine the flavors of black sesame and green tea, and I’ve been so intrigued. As you may know, I’m already a fan of having my matcha green tea as a dessert rather than as a hot tea, so extending that passion to cakes seemed like a no-brainer. And since we liked the chocolate chip cookies with tahini so much, I was excited to experiment with another sesame-flavored baked good. It only took me a week and an embarrassing number of hours to hem and haw over recipes before deciding on these black sesame cupcakes with matcha green tea frosting.

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In this post Molly Yeh provides a roundup of beautiful black sesame/green tea combinations (the subject of that post happens to be a green tea cake with black sesame frosting – the opposite of what we have going on here today!)… and if that weren’t enough, both of today’s recipes come from Molly’s site. What can we say, we’re fans.

Extending our search farther into the interwebs, the black sesame-matcha combination is nothing new.  From what I’ve learned it originates in Japanese cooking, where you’ll find many desserts that use flavors not extremely common to American treats, think beans, seeds like this sesame, and sweet potatoes.

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Earl Grey Tea Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. Check out the entire tea archive and all our Valentine DIYs here.

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Hey sweethearts! We’re baking with tea today. You can enjoy these earl grey tea cookies alone or with ice cream as a sandwich – that’s the route we’re taking.  The toasted tea adds a warm, sweet flavor to the buttery cookies.  They’re so simple you don’t even need a mixer.

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