December 2018

Sliced Citron Honey Tea Poached Pear with Toasted Pound Cake and orange served with yogurt on a white plate

To Poach A Pear

Sliced Citron Honey Tea Poached Pear with Toasted Pound Cake and orange served with yogurt on a white plate

Poaching is one of those things that seems to put fear in the heart of many. Maybe because it sounds so fancy. Who hasn’t had anxiety about poaching an egg? Or maybe a pear? Citron Honey Tea Poached pear is one of those things that I find to be delightful in the winter.

Poaching is one of my favorite cooking techniques. It requires patience because it is not the quickest option. However, poaching is an act of gentle love because it allows flavor to be impacted while maintaining the softness of the food. When a pear is well poached, it does not fall apart. Instead, it maintains its integrity while absorbing the flavor it has been bathed in. This citron honey tea poached pea definitely captures flavor well.

When I was thinking of poaching pears this winter, I really wanted to tap into unconventional flavors like citron. Citron, also known as Buddha’s hand, is one the most mysterious fruits. It is a citrus with a juice flesh. The Buddha’s hand despite is lack of juice is one of the most perfumed fruits or flowers I have encountered. The smell on this fruit is divine. The citron is best used to infuse food.

One of the first way I ever tasted citron was via the citron honey tea that I buy from the Asian food market in a massive jar. I love the citron honey tea because I can drink it on its own merit. Or, I can also use it make other types of tea. Since citron has not juice, it lacks the sour edge of a citrus. This means when I use it in tea recipes, it mostly adds an olfactory experience to the tea drinking.

Poaching the pear in a bath of citron honey tea was like capturing winter on a plate. I loved it. Especially since I served it with a toasted slice of a pound cake I made using King Arthur Flour recipe. I added in some orange oil and zest into that recipe to add another dimension. I often toast my pound cake on the stove to give it a crunch. The plate is rounded out with a dollop of unsweetened whole milk greek yogurt. I almost feel like I could have this citron honey tea poached pear plate for breakfast.

Care to join me?

Toasted Pound cake with a wedge of orange

Citron Honey Tea Poached Pear

D’Andjou Pears are poached in a bath of citron honey tea to capture some of the citrus scent of winter in this easy recipe.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Buddha’s Hand, Citron Honey Tea, Citrus, Pear, Poached Pear
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 Pears I used D’Anjou Pears
  • 1 Cup Citron Honey Tea If you can’t find citron honey tea, you substitute with a citrus marmalade.
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar optional
  • 1 Inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Orange Sliced

Instructions

  • Fit your unpeeled pear into a smaller sized pot to test which would hold the pears snuggly and allow the fluid to cover the pears mostly.
  • Peel and core the pears. If you prefer, you can also cut the pears into half lengthwise.
  • Once you have found a good sized pot, add the citron honey tea, cinnamon, orange slices, and water. If you are using the sugar, add it in now. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until honey and sugar dissolve.
  • My trick for getting the poaching bath to the right temperature is turn off the heat. Once it cools a bit, I put on the heat back on to a “barely there” level, then add in the pears. You don’t want to see any signs of boiling or simmering. It should be a very gentle heating process.
  • After 15 minutes, start checking at regular intervals is the pears are soft yet. The pears are ready if a clean toothpick inserted goes in without pressure.  
  • Retrieve the pears from the poaching bath. 
  • This step is optional: Strain out the poaching fluid and put it back on the heat. Reduce the poaching tea until it coats the back of a spoon. This citron honey syrup can be used to serve the poached pears or even to sweeten beverages and oats.
A loaf of knead bread with a slice beside it on a mesh rack

No-Knead Bread

A loaf of knead bread with a slice beside it on a mesh rack

There are few things in life that I find more comforting than bread. Especially the Agege bread that the hawkers used to carry around on top of their head in Lagos. That soft doughy white bread that was just the perfect vessel for all kinds of food. If you have never had Agege bread stuffed with the the fatty trims of suya, you haven’t eaten one of the best things. Or maybe you have never tried Agege bread with akara or the perfectly soft moinmoin. Missing Agege Bread led me to no-knead bread.

There are few things I miss about home like I miss bread. The way bread just seemed to be on every corner and you could always figure out a meal pronto. It might seem crazy that I miss bread in a country where the grocery stores have a million and one options for bread. There is every shape, every size and every ingredient bread in every store.

slice of noknead bread with mashed white beans and poached eggs

But in a land of plenty, when that one special one is missing, you begin to question if you even belong. Lately, I have been experimenting with making bread. I am not a good bread-maker. It is important that I admit my flaws up front. It is either I am too impatient or not attentive enough when making bread. There are bread makers whose artistry and language floor me. I am just trying to make something that could fill some of that void from not having my home bread with me.

For the past couple of years, the no-knead bread has been my companion. Originally presented to the world by Mark Bittman during his time at the New York Times, this recipe has travelled around the world of food blogs. It is a pantry staple that is versatile enough. The recipe is as unfinicky as a bread recipe can be. And the result makes me feel like I have created something special when really all I have done is let flour, water and yeast rest for a long period of time. If there is one recipe I can recommend as a good place to play, it is the no-knead recipe.

I look forward to sharing my different variations of this recipe on this blog.

Tomato Pesto Sauce on Fettucine

Tomatoes in the Winter

I get those moments when I become obsessive about a particular idea. The pass few weeks (yes weeks!) I have been obsessively thinking about how to eat tomatoes in the winter. The rabbit hole I entered led me to this wonderful creamy cheesy tomato pesto sauce.

Tomato runs in my blood. As a Yoruba woman, who was born and bred in Lagos for the entirety of my childhood, the tomato is a thing. It has taken a long time to not compulsively eat tomato sauce/stew with every meal. Growing in Lagos, we had really good tomatoes year round. I mean, there were times when there was scarcity and you wondered why the whole country had to subsist on tomatoes. However, more often than not, there was abundance. So many baskets of ripe and juicy tomatoes spilling over the woven basket. The market floor was often littered with rotten and underripe tomato tossed out carelessly by the traders.

I left that place of abundance to come to America, where tomatoes are mostly just passable. At first,I did not realize what I had given up because I lived in California. It seemed almost season-less. And I mean both the tomato and the state. Then I dragged my life over to Massachusett and suddenly, tomatoes have seasons. There is a very short window where I allow myself to eat tomatoes. it is usually from the middle of summer to late summer.

This short window of time is when the tomatoes are just about right to be eaten raw. A good tomato is juicy, almost like a ripe peach. When you bite into it, the juice oozes out uncontrollably. It should have a nice acidic edge that is only mellowed by its own sweetness. There is no way to write fully in words the magic that happens when you get a truly ripe tomato of good pedigree.

So, as you can imagine, given the frigidness I live with in New England, the magic of the tomato is one that is hard to lay my hands upon in the winter. I have had to come to terms with this. Come to terms means I don’t eat tomatoes in the winter, except it is canned. That is until I discovered a way to have cheesy tomato pesto sauce in the winter.

Tomato Pesto Sauce on Fettucine

Lately, I have discovered a new class of tomato products for the winter. It started with Divina tomatoes last year and this year has escalated to the marinated cherry tomatoes from Trader Joes. Goodness me! When I first tried the Divina Roasted Red Tomatoes, I knew it was a love that might not stand the test of time. I could not justify to myself, and my bank account, the wisdom of buying eight dollar jars of tomatoes. I knew it was something I would only ever be able to eat when it is on sale (trust me, I keep my eye on the price sticker at my grocery store).

The Trader Joes semi-dried and marinated Cherry tomatoes has been a perfect way to ease the hurt of not being able to afford the Divina tomatoes. If I am being honest, I also realize that the Trader Joes and Divina tomatoes are best for different purposes. The Trader Joes semi-dried tomatoes are best for cooking sauces. The Divina roasted tomatoes work best as a topping.

I have recently been using the Trader Joes semi-dried cherry tomatoes in this quick cheesy tomato pesto sauce. It requires no cooking and it is a reliable 15-25 minute meal provider. Most of that time is spent cooking pasta or prepping vegetables. The sauce comes about quickly in a blender and works so well went add to hot freshly cooked pasta.

The tomato pesto sauce is super easy to make. The ingredients mostly come out of a jar. Plus, the sauce does incredibly well in the fridge, on its own or mixed in with food.

Tomato Pesto Sauce

A quick and easy tomato sauce that creates goodness from roasted cherry tomatoes and a few other items from a jar.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Pasta, Pesto, Sauce, Tomato
Servings: 4
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Trader Joes Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Roasted Medium Red Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Pesto
  • 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese Optional
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Add all of the ingredients, except salt and cheese, in a food processor and pulse until it comes into a smooth consistency.
  • Taste the sauce after blending. Season with salt to taste.
  • Tomato Pesto Sauce tastes best when mixed into freshly boiled hot pasta. The heat from the pasta heats the sauce. A bit of pasta water can be added to loosen up the sauce to desired consistency.
  • Shred the gouda cheese and sprinkle on top of the pasta as desired.

Grapefruit and Tonic Drink

Let’s redefine the meaning of a G and T! It shall henceforth be known as Grapefruit and Tonic.

The other day I was shopping and I found that the Fevertree Indian Tonic water was on sale. Thinking about the tonic water took me back to my childhood in Nigeria. Back in those days, when you go buy a crate of soda ,the seller would want to mix the variety of the 24 bottles. It would be split between the ever popular cola drinks, then the orange soda as well as lemon and lime ones. The most unpopular flavor was always tonic water.

A jar of grapefruit and thyme syrup behind a cup containing a drink made with the syrup and tonic water.  A wedge of grapefruit sits on the edge of the glass cup.

Every party we held, the tonic water was always the last one to be consumed. A lot of people just could not stand the taste since it was just sugar laden like the other soda options. Eventually, someone desperate for a drink would grab the tonic water. The memory of the interesting flavor of the tonic water compelled me to buy a bottle of the Fevertree Indian Tonic. I figured I would eventually figure out how to use it. It was only while I was mixing myself a drink with the Grapefruit and Thyme Syrup that I realized that I should try the tonic.

Oh my goodness! It was so delicious; I knew I had to write down the recipe. So here is my non-alcoholic version of the G and T! This Grapefruit and Tonic drink is beyond words. It is not too sweet. It has the bitterness from the syrup but the freshness of the grapefruit juice. Of course, the subtle tingle of the tonic water and the grapefruit oil elevates the bubbles in this drink. The Grapefruit and Tonic is a mocktail for the adult palette.

Please let me know if you try it! Don’t forget to use #willeatthis when you post a picture on Instagram.

Grapefruit and Tonic Drink

G and T now mean Grapefruit and Tonic. Once you try this very delicious and refreshing mocktail, you would understand. The drink features the Grapefruit Thyme syrup.
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Grapefruit, mocktail, nonalcoholic
Servings: 1 Drink
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Grapefruit Juice
  • 1.5 oz Grapefruit and Thyme Syrup
  • 4 oz Tonic Water
  • 1/2 Cup Cocktail Ice

Instructions

  • In a glass cup, add in the grapefruit juice. Also,  pour in the grapefruit and thyme syrup. Stir
  • Add in the ice on top of syrup and juice mixture in the glass cup. Top it off with the tonic water.

Grapefruit and Thyme Syrup

A closed jar filled with slices of pink grapefruit and sprigs of thyme in syrup against a white background

There are days when I get really frustrated and the way I communicate is by text to my dearest saying, “Today is a good day to drink.” I will usually get a response reminding me that I don’t drink alcohol and that it is not a good time to try. We laugh over it and I move on. Mostly, I get annoyed about my teetotal status when I dine out and my options are severely limited.

Alcohol is such a big part of many cultures. Due to the prominence of alcohol, it is so normal to see many alcoholic options on the menu. Even private functions often have varied options for alcoholic drinks. Non-alcoholic drinks tend to be very few with mostly soda. Many times I have gone for food-centric events that featured different kind of wines and beers but nothing for the non-drinker. Bartenders in their kindness would often offer me a cup of soda for free. Sometimes I am stuck drinking water because I just don’t want to drink soda.

Even when there are non-alcoholic menus at the restaurant, it tends to be designed more to suit the palette of a child. Hence, the ubiquitousness of Shirley Temple and other color heavy drinks with an overpowering presence of sugar. I don’t have anything against sugar. I just believe that it is possible to drink non-alcoholic drinks that are not overly reliant on sugar. There is a whole world of non-alcoholic drinks that can be created with complex flavor profiles.

One of my favorite ways to create complex flavors in drinks is to play with citrus. Citrus fruit like orange would feature a juicy center, white pith, and the skin/zest. Each part of the citrus has a different flavor that can be played up in a drink. The often sweet and acidic center is often the most used part of the citrus fruit. For me, I find that because I love bitterness as a flavor, the pith of the citrus fruit is valuable. The zest of the fruit often contains the oil as well as the scent of the fruit. Smell is a huge part of the experience of having a drink. By using the zest of citrus fruit in a drink, it is possible to greater sensual experience in a single drink.

This thought process is what inspires me to create drink mixes like this grapefruit thyme syrup. The use of the whole grapefruit in this recipe creates a balance of flavors without any harshness. The final taste of the drink can be manipulated by adding in other flavors and textures.

The easiest way to use this syrup is to mix it with sparkling water. By playing with the ratio of grapefruit thyme syrup to sparkling water, the flavor intensity of the drink can be manipulated. The syrup can also be used to add flavor to baked goods, either by soaking the baked goods or using it to make icing.

For something a bit more fun than just sparkling water, check out the Grapefruit and Tonic Drink.

Grapefruit Thyme Syrup

As a non-alcoholic drink mixer, this syrup celebrating the wholeness of the grapefruit. the syrup features a bitterness that allows the delicate flavor of the grapefruit to shine through. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Resting Time12 hrs
Total Time15 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Grapefruit, Grapefruit Thyme
Servings: 10
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 2 Grapefruit
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Sprigs Thyme leaves

Instructions

  • Rinse and cut the whole grapefruit into thin slice. Transfer into a jar with the thyme leaves
  • In a saucepan, add in 1 cup of water and the 2 cups of sugar. Bring the sugar solution to gentle simmer into the sugar crystals have melted. You now have syrup. Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
  • Pour the syrup over the grapefruit and thyme. Cover the grapefruit mixture with a tight lid. Place in a fridge for at least 12 hours. Preferably about 48 hours. This allows the grapefruit and thyme to infuse properly into the syrup.