Dim Sum Recipe # 9: Chicken Curry Puffs

Without a doubt, there are many subjects that my mother-in-law and I don’t see eye to eye on. Luckily, our mutual love of cooking is what usually leads us back to friendlier, more lighthearted territory. Just when our conversations start heating up, I default to asking her about which recipes she’s been working on or meaning to try. She’s a talented and passionate cook, so this method of diversion works every time, and my hubby (who’s breathing a huge sigh of relief at this point) fully encourages it.

One of the specialties that my mother-in-law is well-known for are Chicken Curry Puffs, a spicy baked dim sum treat. My husband grew up on these, and they are hands down his favorite food. Anytime he realizes that there’s a tray of these flavorful puff pastry pockets coming out of the oven, my usually reserved hubby instantly becomes unabashedly greedy, like a grabby little kid.

The most common places to find Chinese-style curry puffs are dim sum restaurants and bakeries. During a dim sum tea lunch, the baked triangles arrive on the same cart that other baked goods like char siu bao and dan tat come rolled in on. If you get caught up in the chaos of yelling out your dim sum order, you might accidentally skip over these simple-looking pockets not realizing that they have a yummy, savory curry filling tucked inside.

My mother-in-law has a secret non-Chinese ingredient that she uses to give these puffs an extra boost of vibrant curry flavor–Thai red curry paste. Thai red curry paste is more pungent and hotter than plain curry powder is, and adds fullness, moisture, and a tinge of orangey color to the flavorful ground chicken filling.

If you are in the mood for buns instead of turnovers, you can easily swap out this filling for the pork filling in my Honeyed BBQ Pork Bun recipe. As always, don’t overfill turnovers and buns. This way, the filling and flavor stays put in the center of the pocket, right where it should be.A traditional drink to enjoy with these Chicken Curry Puffs is a bold, rich cup of fermented black Pu-erh tea, a brew strong enough to stand up to all the big aromatic curry flavors here. Another option is to serve these golden turnovers with a chilly glass of Thai Iced Tea. If you love the combination of sweet and spicy, this is an incredibly satisfying tea and food pairing that you really shouldn’t miss!

Dim Sum Recipe #9:  Chicken Curry Puffs

Makes 18 puffs.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground chicken

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 brown onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp red curry paste

2 Tbsp Asian curry powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp rice wine or sherry

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

3 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced

1-1 lb package puff pastry, thawed

1 egg mixed with 1 tsp of water

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

Equipment:

large wok or skillet

large plate

work surface

2 large sheet pans fitted with parchment or silicone baking mats

1 Tbsp measure

pastry brush

Directions:

1.)  Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a large wok on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, and cook for a few minutes until the onions are slightly softened. Add the curry paste, curry powder, and salt and cook for another few minutes until the onions are soft. Increase the heat to high then add the ground chicken, and mix in with the onions until thoroughly incorporated.

2.)  While the chicken is still cooking, add the soy, sesame oil, sugar, and black pepper and stir those ingredients in. When the chicken has fully cooked and is no longer pink, add the rice wine and let it cook out. Turn off the heat and place the chicken filling mixture on a large plate to cool.

3.)  When the filling has cooled to room temperature, mix in the chopped cilantro and sliced green onion.

4.)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Unfold the puff pastry out into one layer on a work surface. Cut into 9 equal squares, each about 3″ x 3″. Fill each square with 1 Tbsp of the filling, being careful not to overfill. Lightly dab the inner edges of the pastry square with water, then fold one side of the square onto the other to create a turnover. Pinch the edges together firmly to seal them. Place the turnovers on a large baking sheet, about 1″ apart from one another. Repeat this process for all 18 turnovers, placing 9 on each tray.

5.)  Brush each turnover with egg wash (an egg mixed with 1 tsp water), then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake turnovers for 15 to 17 minutes or until pastries are puffed and golden brown.

Lemon Matcha Mints

A few years ago I came across green tea flavored mints. At the time, I remember thinking “Wow, how fancy!” Of course, I had to get a box, but after trying them I was disappointed…where was all that promised earthy green tea flavor? With some gumpaste leftover from my cake projects and good quality matcha on hand, I decided to take a shot at making some tea mints of my own today.

Why would you bother making mints at home? The simple answer is that these are a perfect treat for the matcha enthusiast. You’ll be able to use only the best quality tea here, and it’s an added bonus that these portable matcha mints make it easy for you to enjoy the refreshing taste of matcha anywhere you want!

Today I’m using Mizuba Tea’s Daily Matchaboth in these mints and also to coat them. It’s not the cheapest to use drinking quality matcha in a recipe, but because the matcha here is eaten straight up in a peppery mint, it’s flavor can be fully appreciated. The moment the mint hits your tongue, you’ll taste pure powdery matcha, just the ingredient you need to give your mints a clean, bright tea flavor.

The hardest part of this recipe is punching the mints out. Since you have to do this one at a time, the task can feel quite mechanical, but it’s also relaxing (and faster) once you get a good groove going. The best part of the mint-making process is dusting them with a small bowl of fresh matcha powder in the finishing step. No sifter needed here, just use your fingers to shake of any excess matcha from the mints…the more matcha that clings on to the candies, the better!

Once the mints have dried completely hard, you can place them in small metal tins. I found these round tins in the wedding favor section of my local craft store, where you’ll find many other shapes and sizes of tins choose from in addition to these. A tie of baker’s twine around a clear tin filled matcha mints creates an instantly charming and colorful little party favor.

Remember to make these Lemon Matcha Mints with only the best matcha you can find! When your taste buds need a bit of freshening during the course of the day, these mints deliver a bright and lively pop of pure tea flavor.

Lemon Matcha Mints

Makes 1 cup of mints.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. gumpaste

4 tsp matcha powder (I used Mizuba Tea’s Daily Matcha)

2 tsp lemon juice powder or a few drops of lemon oil

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Equipment:

small bowl

rolling-pin

mini fondant cutters or sharp knife

straw

work surface

parchment paper

Directions:

1.)  Knead 2 tsp of matcha and 2 tsp of lemon powder into the gumpaste. If the gumpaste is too stiff, put it in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften it. Knead until the powders are evenly incorporated into the gumpaste.

2.)  Add the extract to the gumpaste, then knead it in thoroughly. If the gumpaste gets too stiff, you can again place it in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften.

3.)  Roll the gumpaste out with the rolling-pin on a work surface lighty dusted with matcha. Roll the gumpaste to a thickness of 1/4″. Place the other 2 tsp of the matcha in a small bowl. Dust each cutter into the matcha. Punch out mints from the rolled gumpaste. If the mints stick to the cutters, use the end of a straw to push them out. You can also cut the mints out with a sharp knife into 1/4″ squares.

4.)  Place mints into the small bowl with the matcha and roll them around. Remove the mints from the bowl, shaking off any excess matcha back into the bowl. Place the mints on a sheet of parchment to dry until completely hardened, preferably for at least 12 hours or overnight before packing.

Chocolate Earl Grey Faux Soufflés

Chocolate Earl Grey Faux Soufflés are the dessert you need when you’ve spent way too much time focusing on dinner, and not enough time thinking about Part Deux. These cakes are easy-to-make, perfectly portioned, and most importantly…they’re delicious!

A few months ago, I shared a recipe for Matcha Mug Cake that showcased the earthy taste and beautiful green color of matcha. Today’s recipe uses another one of my favorite teas, Earl Grey, in a recipe that will transform your everyday chocolate mug cake into a dessert that’s sophisticated, homey, and deliciously unique.

The main flavoring that makes a good Earl Grey tea distinctive is bergamot. The bergamot citrus fruit is bright and fragrant like a sour orange is, although it’s not as sour as a lemon and not as sweet as an orange. Typically, the essential oils found in the rind of this fruit are extracted and then added to black tea leaves to give the steep it’s characteristic floral taste.

According to the Twinings site, the tea was given to the 2nd Earl Grey, the British Prime Minister, in the early 1800’s by “a Chinese mandarin.” Earl Grey loved the blend so much that he asked the tea maker, Twinings, to recreate what came to be known as “Earl Grey’s mixture,” a bergamot-infused black tea. As the blend’s popularity grew, it later became available to others and has since become one of Twinings’ best selling teas.

In this easy recipe, rich dark cocoa powder provides a base for the Earl Grey tea to shine. I create an infused tea milk in the first step so that the tea leaves soften and release more of their bergamot flavor. To enhance the same citrus taste, I also add fresh orange and lemon zest to these tender, chocolatey cakes. A few stirs and a quick spin in the microwave, and the cakes cook up light, fluffy, and incredibly moist.earl grey souffle_

Serve these Chocolate Earl Grey Faux Soufflés at the end of a meal as an after-dinner tea and dessert all wrapped up in one cute little package. If you love the fragrant combination of orange and chocolate, then you’ll love these cakes. What you’ll love even more is how fast this recipe comes together…seriously, 5 minutes and you’re in chocolate heaven!

For cakes this beautiful and tasty, it almost feels strange how simple this recipe is. So, if you prefer a fancier finish and have time to plan ahead, place a few of the same Earl Grey tea bags in with some heavy cream to cold-steep in the fridge overnight. Simply whip the cream to soft peaks right before serving, add a small mound over each cake, and you’ll have a yummy Earl Grey whipped cream to bring all the fragrant flavors together. Unadorned, these decadent cakes are amazingly delicious, but served warm with a dollop of Earl Grey whipped cream? Just incredible!

Chocolate Earl Grey Faux Soufflés

Makes 2 medium size ramekin cakes.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp milk

1 Earl Grey tea bag (I used Twinings)

3 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp orange zest

1/4 tsp lemon zest

1 egg

4 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

4 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

3 Tbsp chocolate chips

1/4 tsp confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Equipment:

large microwave safe liquid measuring cup

2 medium-sized ramekins

fork

zester

Directions:

1.)  Pour the milk into the measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Tear open tea bag and pour the tea leaves into the milk. Steep for 2 minutes, then add butter and mix in until it melts.

2.)  Add the vanilla, zests, and egg, then stir vigorously with a fork. Add all the dry ingredients, then mix them in until the batter is homogenous.

3.)  Evenly distribute the batter into the 2 ramekins. Cook 1 cake at a time in the microwave, for 1 minute each. For a decorative touch, dust with confectioners’ sugar right before serving or top with tea-infused whipped cream (see below).

***Optional: Make a tea-infused whip cream to go over cakes by soaking 1/4 cup heavy cream with 2 Earl Grey tea bags overnight. When ready to serve the cakes, discard the tea bags and place the cream in a large cold bowl. Add 1 tsp granulated sugar, then whip the cream with a whisk until you get soft peaks. Spoon a large dollop of whipped cream on each cake. Sprinkle the cream with small Earl Grey tea leaves, orange zest, or lemon zest to finish.

Teavana’s Oprah Chai, 3 Ways

A few years ago, I visited Harpo Studios in Chicago, and even stopped by Oprah’s gift shop there. While I remember stacks of self-improvement books and colorful pieces of Oprah’s worn clothing being sold, what I didn’t see available was tea.

It wasn’t until April of this year that Oprah expanded her empire to include a signature tea called Oprah Chai that’s now sold at Starbucks and Teavana. To my surprise, the tea was introduced right before Mother’s Day, when summer was around the corner and things were about to heat up. In addition to the tea itself, Starbucks and Teavana created a line of Oprah Chai-inspired gift sets and tea tins. Originally, all the proceeds from the tea and tea products were to go towards charities for youth education (if you watch this video, isn’t that what she says?).

I was disappointed to learn recently that, in fact, only a small fraction of the proceeds go towards these charities. Despite this, organizations like Pathways to College, the U.S. Dream Academy, Girls Inc., the National Cares Mentoring Movement, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy will benefit every time you buy Oprah Chai.When it comes to teas blended by large companies, I know that there are many skeptics out there. So, with the minimum 2 ounces of Oprah Chai I purchased at Teavana and some dedicated blogging time at Starbucks, I decided to taste this blend 3 ways and report back to you.

Oprah Chai Brew #1: Plain, Over Ice, Following Directions

I originally wanted to brew this tea just one way…over ice, without sugar, and in true Oprah style…with a stainless steel straw (does anyone remember the Lance Armstrong interview?). Teas purchased at Teavana typically have a label that indicates times and temperatures for steeping that particular tea. I brewed this batch of Oprah Chai for 2 1/2 minutes @ 200 degrees F, and the result was a very light tasting chai, perfect as a summer drink. After drinking this I realized why it made sense to launch this tea in the Springtime, as it wasn’t dark and rich like the other Teavana chai blends I’d tasted before. The brew had a lingering natural sweetness from the generous amounts of ginger and cinnamon added in, and was pleasant but not bold.

oprah chai icedOprah Chai Brew #2: Triple-Strength with Frothy Milk…The Oprah Way!

I didn’t think to brew Oprah Chai this way until I watched Oprah performing her morning tea-making ritual on OWN. First off, I should say that the way she brews her tea is not how Teavana’s packaging directions explain how to brew the tea. Lady O brews her tea with double/triple strength and for a longer period of time. She also tops off her brew with a healthy dose of frothy milk…”savory and strong” is how she describes her perfect cup of chai. Watch Oprah brew her signature blend here…it’s highly entertaining and will leave you wide-eyed and wired just like her chai will! This method produces a stronger tea–darker, but not actually more flavorful. How to Froth Milk (without a Frother): Fill a jam jar with milk until 1/3 full. Place lid on and shake vigorously until the milk doubles in volume. Remove lid and place jar in microwave for 30 seconds. Remove jar from microwave carefully, pour warmed milk into the chai tea, then top with froth.

Oprah Chai Brew #3: A Starbucks’ Iced Oprah Chai Latte

Ok, so I actually don’t go to Starbucks very often. I ended up here when I was out and about, looking for a place to write this very post. I stepped into the shop and voilà! there it was again…Oprah Chai, this time in the form of a latte! How naive of me, of course they would find a way to serve it at Starbucks! There couldn’t have been a better time to try it, and I must admit that I was really pleased with the taste. This latte was basically the love child of my 1st and 2nd brew methods, with an added light dose of sugar to bring all the spicy flavors together.

So what’s the verdict on the best way to enjoy Oprah Chai? Ironically, I like the iced methods better than Oprah’s signature way of brewing the tea. I find both cold versions to be light and refreshing, without any traces of bitterness. Her blend has a characteristic warmth and sweetness that makes sugar an entirely optional addition. The 2nd Oprah method of enjoying the tea might be tasty as we head into winter, but flavorwise I think the tea is best steeped as instructed on the package.

I do think this tea is a bit overpriced (especially since not all the proceeds are going to charity), so my suggestion is to try the blend out at Starbucks before committing. And if you are a true Oprah fan, you should check out Steep Your Soulthe site that she launched to go along with her tea brand. You’ll learn a thing or two about how Oprah created this blend, and maybe even delight in some “Ah-Ha!” moments on living a strongly steeped and tea-inspired life!

Tasting Notes for Teavana’s Oprah Chai Tea:

BREWING TIPS:  2-3 minutes @ 200 degrees F.

THE LEAF:  Chunky bits of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves blended with loose-leaf black tea and rooibos…watch Oprah create her tea blend here!

THE SCENT:  Heavy on the cinnamon and ginger…spicy, warm, and winter-like.

THE STEEP:  Brews to a golden amber. A medium-bodied tea with a mildly sweet and spicy essence.

GET IT:  The blend is available at Teavana and Amazon, and at Starbucks in brewed and gift package form.

Southern Style Chicken Tenders with Sweet Tea Dipping Sauce

Many people find it surprising when I tell them that I’ve spent time living in the South. In fact, I lived in South Carolina for 3 years while my hubby was finishing his studies there. After my first few meals in this iconic region of the U.S., I soon realized that 1.) large, amber jugs of South Carolina grown sweet tea are the drink of Southern Hospitality, and 2.) Southerners aren’t the least bit afraid of deep-frying. Fried grits, fried okra, fried green tomatoes…if it looks good, chances are you’ll find it fried in one form or another. And the king of all these fried foods? Well, that has to be fried chicken, of course!

My recipe for Southern Style Chicken Tenders with Sweet Tea Dipping Sauce is a much lighter and almost guiltless take on the classic combination of fried chicken and sweet tea…but it doesn’t look like it does it? That’s the beauty of this recipe–it’s quick, healthy, baked, and oh-so-delish! Crushed Melba toasts and some slightly gritty cornmeal give the chicken’s outer coating some crunch and texture, while the sauce packs concentrated sweet tea flavor with a kick. A quick dunk in flour, beaten eggs, and a zesty crumb mixture, and into the oven the tenders go!

If you’ve ever had fried chicken in the South, you know that it’s common to find plentiful little packets of honey and hot sauce that come with. The sweet and fiery liquids are typically drizzled over the chicken right before you dive in for a crunchy bite. In this dipping sauce recipe, both honey and hot sauce are mixed in with triple strength black tea. Together, the flavors are sweet and bright with a hint of citrus–a great way to complement the spicy chicken strips. The thick sauce can be served on the side or lightly poured over the tenders, just like you would with the real deal.

Just before placing the tenders in the oven, I hit them with some canola oil spray to help them bake up to a beautiful golden brown. There really isn’t much fat in this recipe, so if you are missing it, you can use some olive oil to drizzle over the top of each tender instead. One version is tasty and the other is even tastier.

The perfect drink to go along with these Southern Style Chicken Tenders has to be my Summertime Sun Teaunsweetened! When it comes to sun tea, lots of colorful fruit and herbs is the key to thirst-quenching satisfaction. These tenders are incredibly yummy, and with a Sweet Tea Sauce tasting like liquid gold, a chilly glass of sun tea is just the refreshment to wash everything down. Southern Style Chicken Tenders with Sweet Tea Dipping Sauce

Makes 15 chicken tenders.

Ingredients:

3 lb. large chicken tenders

{Crumb Coating}

20 Melba toasts

1/2 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp smoked paprika or regular paprika

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

non-stick canola oil spray or olive oil

dried parsley, for garnishing

{Flour Dredge}

1 1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

{Liquid Dredge}

4 eggs

1 tsp hot sauce

{Sweet Tea Sauce}

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup strongly steeped tea (I used Luzianne Tea, 3 tea bags in 1 cup of 212 degrees F water for 5 minutes)

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup cold water

2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp hot sauce

Equipment:

food processor

large baking sheet fitted with foil

3 large, shallow dishes

whisk or fork

paper towels

cooling rack

small pot

small bowl

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Process Melba toasts in food processor until you get crumbly, sandy texture. Place Melba crumbs into a large, shallow dish and add the cornmeal, parmesan, paprika, chili powder, black pepper, garlic and onion powder, and salt. Mix together thoroughly.

2.)  Crack eggs into another shallow dish and add hot sauce. Mix thoroughly with whisk or fork, and set aside. Add flour and salt into the last shallow dish, then also mix thoroughly.

3.)  Use paper towels to blot off excess moisture from the raw chicken tenders. Dip each tender completely into the flour dredge first, then the egg dredge, and then finally into the cornmeal coating.

4.)  Place fully dredged and coated tenders on a large baking sheet covered with foil and sprayed with non-stick oil spray. After you finish coating all the tenders, give each tender a heavy spray of oil spray or drizzle with olive oil before placing in the oven. Bake the tenders for 15-17 minutes, until golden brown. After taking them out of the oven, I like to place the tenders on a cooling rack to prevent them from becoming soggy and to stop the cooking process (like you would with cookies). Scatter the tenders with dried parsley as a garnish.

5.)  Place all the tea dipping sauce ingredients (except water and cornstarch) in a small pot. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup cold water and cornstarch into a slurry. Place pot on high heat, and then let the liquid come to a boil. When the liquid reaches a full boil, mix in the slurry, and then lower the heat to medium and let the mixture come back to a boil. Take the sauce off the heat and serve it with the hot chicken tenders. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yesterday was my sister’s birthday. Since I wasn’t able to see her in person, I decided to make her these ice cream sandwiches as a virtual “Happy Birthday” of sorts. It’s technically arriving one day late, but then again so is her birthday present…better late than never, right?For the longest time, my sister has wanted me to do a post on French Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches. I think she might have come across some of these tasty treats in a swanky part of Orange County somewhere. I’ve never tried one myself, but to me, an elegant, ice cream-filled French macaron certainly sounded like a recipe worth trying!

The key to making an attractive Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich is to use a cookie cutter not only as a piping guide for your macarons, but also as a tool to cut out thick wedges of ice cream. Big or small, round or square, choose a shape that has clean lines without intricate details. And just after piping the macarons, feel free to generously scatter the funfetti and sprinkles on! As far as I’m concerned, the more kid-like and festive you make these sammies, the better!

Matcha ice cream isn’t always easy to find, so I make my own. By simply using a food processor to blend frozen vanilla Greek yogurt with sifted matcha powder, you get a healthier version of matcha ice cream–a frozen yogurt ready for shaping and re-freezing. You can technically use any ice cream you like here, just choose one that pairs well with the flavor of the chocolate macaron shell.The easiest way to fill a macaron with frozen yogurt or ice cream is by first packing softened ice cream into a 9″ x 9″ baking pan. Allow the ice cream “cake” to freeze completely before cutting out wedges with your handy cookie cutter. After constructing the sandwiches, it’s important for them to be quickly placed in the freezer to harden completely. The cookie shells and ice cream need to be same ultra-cold temperature so that you can take a bite of the sandwich without all the ice cream oozing out the sides.

For easy serving, give the sandwiches a parchment sleeve and tie of twine. It’s also a good idea to take the treats out to thaw for about 2 minutes before indulging. The ice cream will have melded with the shell by then, and the macaron will take on a tender and slightly chewy texture. If you enjoy the results, you can thank my sister for them, and perhaps even wish her a belated Happy Birthday too!

French Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

10 sammies, each 1 1/4″ by  5″ (the # of sammies you get depends on the size of your cookie cutter)

Ingredients:

{Macaron Shells}

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1.5 quarts (1 tub) frozen vanilla Greek yogurt

3 Tbsp matcha, sifted

sprinkles and funfetti

Equipment:

edible marker or pencil

cookie cutter, smooth or straight-edged, preferably with sides at least 1″ thick ( I used 1 1/4″ by 5″ rectangle cutter)

sifter

food processor

9″ x 9″ baking pan, fitted with parchment on bottom of pan

rubber spatula

work surface

parchment pieces and twine

Directions:

1.)  Make the Macaron Shells. To make chocolate macaron shells, substitute cocoa powder for matcha in the shell recipe. Using an edible marker or pencil, trace impressions of your cookie cutter shape on one side of the 2 sheets of parchment paper. For my sized rectangle cutter, I was able to trace 10 rectangles on each parchment piece. Turn the parchment over, and pipe the macarons to fit inside of your traced outlines, then scatter generously with sprinkles. Adjust baking time according to how small or large your cutter size is. My rectangular macaron shells took about 16 minutes to bake. After baking, set macaron shells aside to cool, then place them in an airtight container, and then into the fridge.

2.)  Make an Ice Cream “Cake.” Let the frozen Greek yogurt sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes until slightly softened. Scoop out 1/3 of the tub (1/2 a quart) into a food processor, then add 1 Tbsp of the sifted matcha powder and process until the ice cream is smooth. Pour this into the prepared baking pan, then repeat this process 2 more times. The baking pan will fit the entire tub of processed matcha ice cream. Smooth the top of the ice cream with a rubber spatula, then place the baking pan in the freezer to chill for at least 4 hours.

3.)  Make the Sandwiches. Lay the macaron shells on a work surface. Use any unattractive shells to make the bottom of the sandwiches. Remove the ice cream from the freezer. Use your cookie cutter to cut out wedges of the ice cream. Run the cutter under warm water if the ice cream doesn’t cut easily. Dry off excess water drops on the cutter with a paper towel before cutting the ice cream cake with it. Place a cut wedge of ice cream on the “bottom” macaron shells, then top with another macaron shell to make a sandwich. Freeze sandwiches in a single layer in a closed container for 4-24 hours, until completely hardened.

4.)  Store the Sandwiches. After the sandwiches are completely hardened, make a small sleeve of parchment  for the sandwich, and secure it with a tied piece of twine. Wrap the sandwiches completely with small pieces of plastic wrap, then store them in the freezer in an airtight container. The sandwiches will last for 4-6 weeks in the freezer. Let the sandwiches thaw for 2 minutes before enjoying.

Happy Birthday Melissa!

Lamill Boutique in Silverlake

A few weeks ago I met the charming and vivacious force behind This Picture Book Life, Danielle Davis. I met Danielle at a blogging workshop back in June, and when I asked her what type of material she blogged about, she interestingly said…”picture books!” I was intrigued and actually didn’t really know what to expect, but after visiting her site that evening I wanted to know more. Not long after, Danielle and I decided to meet up at Lamill Coffee in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles to discuss life, tea, and of course…picture books!

If you have kids or simply love children’s books, you must check out This Picture Book Life. Every week, Danielle introduces readers to books that are not only beautifully illustrated, but also dynamic in meaning and purpose. These books aren’t your average children’s books. Her book recommendations are modern, artistic, and even a little dark at times. More often than not, they have a complex take-home message. The books are for the modern child living in a modern world.

There couldn’t be a better place to have met up with Danielle then Lamill. The shop is contemporary and refreshing, just like her blog is. Despite it’s trendy feel, it’s actually quite relaxing and peaceful once you are inside. If you need a few hours to study, blog, or to simply hide away from LA’s bustle, you should definitely stop by.

Lamill is well-known for their coffee, but they also have a large variety of specialty teas to choose from. I had a hard time choosing between Gossip Tea, a Organic Morrocan Mint Tea, and Nip and Tuck Tea, a Japanese Citron Green Tea. I decided on the latter because the tea sounded so quintessentially LA.

My only gripe about Lamill is that they oversteeped my green tea. It was definitely on the bitter side, and had me wondering if I should have ordered that Gossip Tea instead!

Danielle and I ended up chatting for almost 4 hours at Lamill. You can see from the flickering candle that our afternoon tea break was soon becoming an evening wind down. If you visit in the evening, Lamill also has some light snacks and desserts to enjoy. Anyone up for Brioche Ice Cream Puffs or Mocha Waffles?

If you can’t stop by, you can order Lamill’s teas online. They also have a small shop next door that sells unique gifts and tea accessories. The next time I head back, I think I’m going to try Creative Unblock, an Organic White Tangerine Tea. An extra dose of creativity could never hurt!

And with that, I’d like to extend a special thanks to my new friend and fellow blogger, Danielle, for allowing me to feature her charming and imaginative site on my blog today! This Picture Book Life…don’t miss it!!