Thursday, December 14, 2006

Getting a cold? The flu? Quick! Drink some matcha!

My good friend, Karen, started a green tea company a few months ago. The sort of tea she sells in the kind used in the japanese tea ceremony...and green tea ice cream. It's a very intensely vegetal tasting tea. You can cook with it, make a latte with it, or use it in the traditional japanese way - as a post-meal digestif.

Last week, I was pretty sure I was getting sick. Achy, sore throat, tired. So, I went to bed early and in the morning, I made a thermos of hot milk and matcha tea - like a big, warm latte. Now, one of the magical qualities of matcha is the sustained release of the intense caffeine and you digest the tea. Because matcha is created from ground up tea leaves dried and then mixed with water, not just those leaves immersed quickly in water like a regular black tea, it has a much more intense caffeine.

All I can say, is that I'm better. I had a totally productive work day, not feeling at all like I had been the day before. My conclusion: Matcha saved my life. I could have taken fatally ill.

So go buy lots of matcha. For yourself. Your loved ones. Your familial holiday obligations. Go on, do it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The No-Knead Obsession

Did you catch the New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe? I'm obsessed with it. And I've convened a posse of experimenters to try variations. I've made it now with whole wheat, with nuts and brown sugar, with Semolina flour, with boiled rice....what next? Charles' sister, Stephanie, made it in a clay pot and she said the results induced 'glee'. My friend Karen's been baking it with's only a matter of time before she throws some matcha into the mix.

My well-baked (and I mean that in a culinary-expertise way) pal Gom pointed out that it's not much different from a regular sponge method recipe. Ok, fine, true, but I'd never before seen a sponge method so audatious as to say "Kneading? Forget it. No point. Just skip that."

Call me lazy, but the liberation from the kneading is delightful...and somehow makes me feel like experiments with this recipe can be charted in a much more scientific and less random way than other bread recipes. I'd always wondered with failed loafs in the past: did I just not knead it enough? Or did I beat it up too much. Was it me? Is it my fault?

So far, I've made 8 loaves in about 3 weeks and experienced 100% success. (Ok, sure the semolina loaf was a little tough crusted...but it would have made an incredible italien bread soup.)

Try it. And send me news of your results and discoveries.