30 April 2008

Cookies and Tea, Black

If you know me at all- that is, if you're one of the three people I've ordered to read this blog- you know that I fall into the green-tea camp. (And if you think green tea is bitter and disgusting, then you haven't had it brewed properly. Trust me.)

Every so often, though, I will bust out the black. It's always at the back of the tea pile in my refrigerator, but after I have a few cups and get cruising on H.M.S. Caffeine, I wonder why I've forgotten about it for so long.

So for this morning's brew (three cups and counting), it's the house blend from French purveyor Hediard. According to the venerable company's web site, the founder opened his first shop in 1854 at the ripe age of 13. Mon dieu. I was far too busy learning how to ride a bike sans training wheels at that age to be une entrepreneur extraordinaire.

Regardless, even the truly unambitious can appreciate the rich, full, deep flavor of this tea, or at the very least, the satisfying red squareness of the tin. It doesn't even need milk or sugar (trust me again), especially if you've got some, say, almond-butter cookies alongside.

What's that? They're also gluten-free? Sacre farine.

Almond-Butter Cookies
Makes: about 16.

1 cup almond butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
Whole natural almonds or about 1/4 cup jam, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix almond butter and sugar until well blended. Add egg and baking powder, and mix until smooth.

Roll small balls of dough and place on baking sheet. You can press an almond into the top, or make a thumbprint in each. Bake for about 10 minutes, until just set. Let rest on sheet for five minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.

If desired, remake the indentations and spoon a bit of jam (I used raspberry and apricot) into the abyss.

Then try to save at least two for your friend who really can't eat gluten, the poor soul.

28 April 2008

Calling the Kettle

As my grandmother never tired of telling me, you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many teapots. (She was always little off; clearly, it runs in the family.)

These lovely ones, then, are what I'll be dreaming about wrapping my fingers around each spring morning when I wake up. It's allegedly time for the season here in New York, but it really doesn't feel like it. That's fine with me, though. I never did prefer the iced-tea months which will be upon us soon enough.

First up, this sleek, brilliant red, Aladdinlike pot and four-cup set from Judith Weber.

I first spotted it in the gift shop Museum of Arts and Design (I paid attention to the exhibit, too, I promise, whatever it was) and fell for it, hard.

It then reappeared on a gift-buying trip to a housewares store in Soho -- it was fate, yes, but then I turned around quickly to voice my delight throughout the store and nearly broke $3,000 worth of ceramic vases, so I had to leave before anyone could pin anything on me.

And now, in the May issue of Martha Stewart, it's back again. And it's only $190, a small price to pay when you could possible get a genie to appear out of this thing. You just have to know how to rub it (another nugget from grandmother, God rest her inappropriate soul).

Next up, a more traditional but still stunning Japanese production from Takada Kenzo that was also featured in the Martha Stewart article.

OK, so this one is a bit over $200 (and that doesn't include those breathtaking matching cups), but it practically screams (if it were socially acceptable to do so in Japan) SAKURA with that cherry-blossom blush. And hai, the double-wire handles just take it over the top. How gorgeous would a perfectly brewed, emerald-hued Uji look sitting in that gentle pink, a few delicate green leaves drifting their way to nestle in the plum-rose bottom?

The blue-brown gradient is a pretty combination, too. Buy that one so the pink is left for me.