Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Goats cheese with peaches & an Earl Grey vinaigrette

Now here's the thing...goats cheese is a strong flavored cheese, of that we all agree, and sometimes it can be a little sharp for many folks. But, what if you paired it with some sweet Georgia peaches, micro greens and topped it all off with a wonderfully mellow vinaigrette flavored with Earl Grey tea, huh? Yes, now you get the picture...sharp, but yet soft. Strong, and yet mellow. Tangy, yet sweet. Ladies and gentlemen, this week I'm introducing you to this wonderful starter that will make your mouth water, and impress even your most grumpy of friends. Just add a swill of cold chardonnay to the mix, and we have it!

So, for my recipe I'm going to pull a portion out from this recipe and lay it all out for all of you to see..how to make the 'Earl Grey' vinaigrette.

Now, what is 'Earl Grey' you may ask? Simply, it's a blended black tea that is infused with oil of bergamot, a small Mediterranean citrus fruit. The flavor of this tea is legendary and the story goes that the dear old Earl was given this 'secret' recipe by a grateful 'mandarin' subject after he saved his life. The Earl was the British prime minister at the time, and made great use of this fantastic tea on his return to London. Clever marketer no doubt, as Earl Grey is now the worlds most popular tea. He ended making tons of cash, and retired to a respectable castle in Dublin, Ireland to end his days sipping his tea in absolute splendor!

So, there you have it! Now, follow this recipe and you too will enjoy the high life. This goes great with a range of salad options, but will go particularly well with my lovely wee goats cheese delight!

Judith the Irish Foodie

Earl Grey Tea Vinaigrette:

• ½ cup sherry vinegar
• 3 Punjana Earl Grey tea bags
• 2 small shallots (finely minced)
• zest and juice of one small orange
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tsp sugar
• 1 Tbsp honey
• 1 cup oil (1/2 canola and ½ olive oil)
• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare vinaigrette by bringing sherry vinegar to boiling point and pour over the Earl Grey tea bag to steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard.
Allow infused vinegar to cool.
Combine vinegar, orange juice and zest, shallots, honey, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in oils until incorporated.
Taste to adjust seasoning.

Have fun (darlings...)

Monday, May 10, 2010

White butter, yellow butter?

I wonder if you ever realized that this difference even existed. Surely butter is just butter, right? Cows are just cows, milk is just milk, no difference right?...uh oh, wrong I'm afraid. In my pursuit of the best ingredients for my food I've done a lot of research and a lot of tasting of various products and have been shocked by the results that I found in many basic ingredient categories. Check this out...

Take butter for example...a staple ingredient used every day in every kitchen, and a world of difference exists between 'great' butter and average butter. See the photo above? Did you realize how 'white' everyday processed butter is? Compare it with the other stick of butter which is a 'Kerrygold' product. Do you know what makes the color difference? And why should you care?

The white butter comes from corn (force) fed cattle, whilst the yellow butter comes from hormone free 'grass' fed cattle, and the secret to the color difference is a thing called "beta-carotene". When cattle are allowed to roam free in the open air and eat grass, as they were created to do, their milk is rich in Omega-3 and beta-carotene. This is the same stuff that creates the strong color in carrots and pumpkins, etc. A wonderful source of vitamin-A and a strong anti-oxidant. However, when cattle are stuffed inside windowless enclosures and are force-fed corn, which they were never intended to eat, then their milk is devoid of all the 'good' unsaturated fats and anti-oxidants. This is why white butter is so hard to spread, even at room temperature, whilst this wonderful yellow butter spreads right from the fridge...(which comes in 'handy' !)

So, if you take just a little extra time to find grass-fed dairy products you will do your family a world of good, I personally found that Kerrygold products work for me, but keep your eyes open...you'll be glad you did! (And remember; always go for 'colorful' foods. The color is evidence of goodness!)

judith, the Irish Foodie.