02 May 2008

Spring has sprung!

Finally. The weather is still very finnicky here, but we got what I think is the last snow of the season last week. In Turkish, my teacher asked me when summer comes in Iowa and I said "hiƧ bir zaman gelmiyor" (It never comes). I am still in tea paradise, though the birthday tea sample I got with my order is less than impressive. Pictured is the first glass of sweet tea of the year. Hurrah! My foolproof sweet tea recipe is this. Dump about four to six inches of sugar in a pitcher. You kind of have to eyeball it. Heat three cups of water, or so. Stir into pitcher with wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Add two Lipton's Iced Tea Brew teabags. Let sit five or six minutes. Remove bags and fill pitcher with cold water. Refrigerate several hours. Serve over ice.

As I said, I'm completely impressed with the cinnamon tea from Adagio, but I just realised today that it's the same cinnamon tea I'm obsessed with from House of Aromas. Good to know, since they charge nearly two dollars for a cup of it, and it's much much cheaper than that if you just buy a tin and make your own. I also got a cup of apricot tea today and it was less than impressive. It was bitter, and I suspect they brewed it too long. Speaking of unimpressive things, always check labels before buying for the ubiquitous phrase "cheesefood." This cheese with caraway seeds is horribly processed-tasting. The caraway is the only good thing.

It was tolerable as pictured, melted on potato pancakes. Then again, at the end of Passover, you start getting desperate. One of my Passover plans was to make squash casserole, and that didn't happen so much. I had picked a recipe, but I didn't realise that you have to steam the squash and then bake it. It was pretty warm that week, and I did not want to heat up my kitchen nearly that much. But still, I had five yellow squash on my hands and needed to do something with them.

So, I decided to improvise. This goat cheese is from France and it's amazing. Delicious taste and a creamy texture, as goat cheese should be. I decided that I would roast the squash in the oven without pre-steaming, along with some chopped green onion, and then I would dot it with goat cheese when it came out. I was a little worried, though, that the squash would be too dry if I didn't steam in advance.

Thankfully, I was wrong. Yellow squash has so much water in it that it made no difference. It browned a bit on the outside but remained very moist on the inside. The green onion wasn't the best idea, or at least, I should've added it towards the end of the roasting time. Half an hour in a hot oven made the onion dry and brown, and killed a lot of the flavour. Oops.

The goat cheese did pair well with the squash, although maybe I would've put it with a drier vegetable if I was thinking a bit more clearly. I did think the seed pattern in this squash was pretty excellent. It makes me think of this famous tree... is it the boddhisatva? Anyone know? There's some sort of a tree that looks like this, in any event.

So, to break the Passover week, I decided to do a roast asparagus recipe that called for cornstarch. It was a good way to use up the orange and lemons that I bought and hadn't used yet, and I figured roasting again would heat up the kitchen less than some other methods. I used the recipe found here, but I had a little less orange juice and a little more lemon. It was quite tart, but I enjoyed the combination. I served it on top of (sadly not homemade) mashed potatoes with almonds on top. Yum!

Finally, I have one more cheese review for you. This is an Appenzeller cheese, which Wikipedia tells me comes from northeast Switzerland and is cured with an herbal brine. The cheese is very strong, and I wouldn't recommend it if you're on a date or something, but I love it. It has a sort of nutty flavour, and is very distinctive. I didn't try it with anything else; just ate slices straight off the block. Sometimes, that's the best!


Agnes said...

My family uses 14 tea bags and only 1 cup of sugar per gallon. We like our tea STRONG.


Carver said...

I like all your food shots but the asparagus photograph has me craving asparagus.