Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Merchants Trading Company’

Learn About Scones With Pacific Merchants

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

January is National Hot Tea Month, and while there’s plenty to be said about tea on its own, we thought that now would be the perfect time to explore tea’s favorite sidekick: scones.

The Origin of the Scone

According to many reputable sources, scones most likely originated from Scotland. Made from the best white flour, scones began in a large round shape, as opposed to the triangular shape that many are formed in today. When it became time to serve the scone, it was sliced up in to quarters to be served to tea guests. There are three potential origins for the word “scone”: the Dutch, schoonbrot, and the German, sconbrot, both meaning “fine bread,” or the Gaelic, sgon, which means “large mouthful”.

Bake Your own Scones

Pacific Merchants’ own Mason Cash line has their own brand of scone mix! Available exclusively on our website, this scone mix is easy to use and delicious, and the perfect thing to make in our Mason Cash mixing bowls. We have three varieties available: original scone mix, currant scone mix, and cranberry orange scone mix, all of which are very popular.

Have A Spot of Tea with Price & Kensington

When your scones are finished baking, make sure you have your Price & Kensington tea set ready to go! Available in two-cup and four-cup sizes, our tea sets come securely packaged. Our two person tea set includes a 16 ounce tea pot, two 10-ounce mugs and two tea caddies, while our four person tea set includes a 40 ounce tea pot, four tea mugs and four tea caddies. For more information on our Mason Cash scone mix or our Price & Kensington line of tea accessories, head over to pacificmerchants.com

Bake Gigi’s ‘Tarte Aux Pommes de ma Maman’

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Tarte Aux Pommes de ma Maman

If you’ve ever called our offices and been greeted by a happy French accent, you’ve ‘met’ Gigi, on of our Account Executives. Originally from Paris and Dijon, France (respectively), Gigi has been with us since early 2010.

Since January is National Apple Month, Gigi has supplied us with her recipe for “Tarte Aux Pommes de ma Maman,” or “Mum’s Apple Tart.” “It’s super easy to make and it’s so delicious,” she said. “I grew up with it; my mum would bake it for me on Sundays or if I would get a good grade on my mathematics test.” We hope you enjoy this tarte as much as Gigi and her family do!

For the Dough:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup of Flour
  • ½ of cup of Butter (and 2 extra tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon of Sugar
  • 1 Egg

Directions:

  • Mix Flour with Butter and Sugar, until it looks like bread crumbs (we recommend using our Mason Cash Size 18 Mixing Bowl-currently on sale!)
  • Add Egg, mix with a fork
  • Mix with your hands to form a dough
  • Roll it, pierce holes all over it with a fork
  • Sprinkle another 2 tablespoon of Sugar

For the Tarte:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Golden Apples
  • 1 cup of Cream

Directions:

  • Cut and peel Apples, slice them in thin quarters
  • Lie them in a circle on the dough
  • Add cream, be careful NOT to overflow (can be less than a cup)
  • Add I small tablespoon of butter on the top of it (French people LOVE butter!)

Bake at 350, between 35 and 40 minutes (depending on your oven) until the tarte is golden brown, as seen in the above picture.

VOILA!

The Intricacies of British Tea Time

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Price & Kensington's Cobalt Teapot

In honor of January, America’s “National Hot Tea Month,” we at Pacific Merchants would like to take an opportunity to educate our readers with a little history lesson centered around the background of England’s love affair with “tea time.”

Before the British began taking ‘tea’ in the afternoon, they really had only two meals daily- breakfast and a very heavy dinner. While we in America often refer to an afternoon teatime as “high tea,” that is actually an incorrect usage of the term. High tea, also known as “meat tea,” is actually dinner. An afternoon tea is widely known as “low tea,” due to the fact that it is often served in a sitting room, around low tables (tables that most people would call coffee tables).

Tea can be served in three different sizes- the lightest meal being “cream tea,” which includes tea and scones, “light tea,” which offers just a little more with tea, scones, and sweets, and “full tea,” which is essentially an entire meal and includes tea, savories (little sandwiches or appetizers), scones, and sweets.

A few historical events contributed largely to the development of tea culture within England. First, in 1600, Queen Elizabeth the First granted permission to the John Company to develop trade routes with India, the Far East, and Asia. Although tea trade didn’t become very large until 1670, it was the development of these trade routes that eventually helped build up England’s consumption of tea.

Secondly, in 1662 King Charles the II married Infanta Catherine de Braganza. While most modern people may not know this, Catherine came with the largest dowry on record, giving King Charles (and England) posession of Tangiers, Morocco, and Bombay, as well as use of all Portuguese ports worldwide. Use of the Portuguese ports opened up England’s trading abilities unlike ever before.

It also didn’t hurt that both Charles and Catherine were tea lovers; bringing this “foreign” tradition to England had a direct effect on the upper classes, as everyone strived to be as much like royalty as possible.

When Queen Anne chose tea as her breakfast accompaniment (rather than ale), the public took notice, again causing interest in tea to skyrocket. The creation of an afternoon tea time, however, would be credited to one of Queen Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, Anna Maria Stanhope. Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford, began taking tea in the afternoon (around four o’clock) as she had experienced a “sinking feeling” in her stomach. Initially, she had her servants sneak a pot of tea along with small amounts of food to her, but over time, she began to invite friends to partake in this very “European” approach to tea.

Over time, this afternoon tea time would become a well-loved custom, one that still stands to this date with many Brits. Pacific Merchants’ Price & Kensington line of Tea Pots, tea (and coffee) mugs and cups, and other tea accessories are the perfect addition to any tea time– morning or afternoon. Stop by our e-store and check it out for yourself!

Warm Yourself with our Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Pacific Merchants' Mason Cash Large Rectangle Baker

It’s freezing cold in most places north of the equator right now, the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up under a blanket and hide until March. We can think of no better way of heating yourself up a little than with some good old fashioned comfort food!

Warm yourself up by making some fantastic baked Macaroni and Cheese in our 11.5 x 8.5 Mason Cash Cane Rectangle Baker (which holds about one and a half quarts). This casserole dish, along with the rest of our Mason Cash Cane Bakeware, is dishwasher, microwave, freezer and even oven safe (up to 400 degrees farenheit).

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups Elbow Macaroni or Rotini Pasta Noodles
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter
  • 3 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Dash of Pepper
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Bring 6-8 cups of water to a rapid boil, and add salt. We recommend using Kosher salt for this portion, and you shouldn’t add the salt until the water is at a boil so that you avoid damaging your pots. Once the salt is added, your water should somewhat resemble sea water. Add pasta and cook until tender; drain.

In a seperate pot, melt your butter and blend in flour, then mix in 2 cups whole milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until ingredients are blended. Add 1/2 teaspoon table salt, pepper to taste, and cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Mix sauce with your pasta, and then transfer to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned on top.

Recipe adapted from cooks.com

Make Your own Pesto With Mortar and Pestle!

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Here at Pacific Merchants, we’re really big on doing things the right way when it comes to cooking. Whether it be hand-kneading your own pizza dough or making your own pasta sauces out of fresh tomatoes and basil from your garden, we know hard work in the kitchen makes for the most delicious meals. With that in mind, we’re excited to share our very favorite pesto recipe with you, as long as it’s made by hand, of course.

Pacific Merchants’ Favorite Pesto

Pesto is a great ingredient to have on-hand for those instances when you don’t have much time for cooking. Since pesto can last for quite some time, we recommend always having a jar of it in your fridge ready to go; it can definitely come in handy on those nights when you’re starving but just don’t know what to make. Add pesto to any pasta or throw it on some pizza dough with fresh mozarella and tomato slices and you’ll be eating dinner in no time!

While many cooks of late have been cutting corners (so to speak) by using a food processor in order to save time while making their pesto, we highly recommend that our readers use a mortar and pestle in order to keep the mixture from becoming discolored or over worked. Simply put, pesto should be somewhat coarse, rather than pulvarized into a liquid; by using a mortar and pestle, cooks will be able to have better control over the consistency.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 heaping cup of fresh basil leaves (about 9 ounces)
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Toast pine nuts in clean, dry pan, and allow to cool. Lightly crush along with a pinch of salt using your Mason Cash Mortar & Pestle. Working quickly, add and crush the basil leaves a few at a time until you have a semi-thick paste. Add parmesan and oil, while keeping a little oil to the side. Transfer mixture to a jar, covering the top with the remaining oil. Refrigerate until use.

Finding the Mortar and Pestle of Your Dreams

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Mason Cash's Mortar and Pestle Set

Mortar and Pestle sets have long been used to help chefs, gourmands and foodies alike create the recipes of their dreams! Whether creating guacamole for your next fiesta or perhaps the perfect pesto for a night of pasta with friends, a good mortar and pestle has many practical applications in any kitchen.

Keeping that in mind, we at Pacific Merchants have looked far and wide for the best mortar and pestle. We scoured every cooking store, trade show, and manufacturer and one day, we finally found it!  Mason Cash is known for mixing bowls, pudding basins and bakeware… but the real gourmet cook knows that they make the finest (and we do mean THE FINEST) mortar and pestle in the world.

Mason Cash’s mortar and pestle were not available in the United States for years, but we at Pacific Merchants knew we had to bring it back to the States one we came across it. Sure, there are a lot of mortar and pestle collectors out there, and perhaps they have a few varieties to their name, but we feel that no collection is complete without a set from Mason Cash. Durable, made of the highest quality stoneware, and including a pouring lip and glazed external finish, the Mason Cash mortar and pestle is perfect to add to your collection.

Get to Know the Chez Panisse Foundation

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The Chez Panisse Foundation was founded in 1996 by Alice Waters in celebration of the 25th anniversary of her famous Berkley, California restaurant, Chez Panisse. CPF supports educational programs that “nurture, educate, and empower youth” through food. Additionally, the foundation is very involved in the school lunch reform movement, specifically in the Berkley Unified School District.

Chez Panisse also works through the Edible Schoolyard project at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, which consists of a one-acre organic garden on the school grounds as well as a fully functioning kitchen classroom. All students in the school participate in the program and learn the importance of healthy diets, hard work, and the plant life cycle. In 2008, King Middle School’s new lunch room, the Dining Commons, opened. Here, students are able to learn about and utilize composting and recycling, as well as real table settings, allowing children to make the connection from garden, to kitchen, to dining room.

The Chez Panisse Foundation also helped found an affiliate program in 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the Samuel J. Green Charter School. Since then, CPF has also partnered with the Boys and Girls Club at the Willie Mays Clubhouse in the Hunter’s Point area of San Francisco, The Greensboro Children’s Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, and recently broke ground on The Edible Schoolyard New York!

Throughout the month of November, Pacific Merchants Trading Company is pleased to offer a $25 gift certificate to those who donate $25 or more to the Chez Panisse Foundation! Simply email proof of donation by November 30th to [email protected] and get a $25 coupon toward your purchase!

Learn About Tea with Price & Kensington

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Get ready for your next tea party!

Most people don’t know their pekoe from their earl grey—the average person just knows their opinion of hot tea. If you’ve never found the tea that floats your boat, but would like to give it a try, take a trip with Price & Kensington and Pacific Merchants and learn what you need to know in order to find the right tea for your teapot!

Tea is made from the dried processed leaves of camellia sinensis. Chinese teas are smaller leaves that tend to grow at higher altitudes, while Indian teas usually have larger leaves and grow at lower altitudes. There are four types of tea: black, white, green, and oolong, and they differ due to the techniques used in processing.

White teas, the latest trend in tea, are not oxidized during production, so they are fired as quickly as possible in order to prevent the opportunity for oxidization. These leaves are not rolled, broken, or bruised in order to ensure a premium product, and often times you will still find tiny silver hairs of new growth present on the buds, which has led to them being dubbed “silver needle” teas. A 2004 study found that white tea can help your immune system and it is also purported that white tea has the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea variety, giving it the highest cancer-fighting power.

Black teas are leaves that are fully oxidized. Typically, these leaves are rolled and left out for up to a day in order to allow all of the moisture from within the leaves to evaporate. Often, the most caffeine is found within black teas. Black teas are known for their power in preventing strokes as they help promote high-functioning arteries, as well as their excellent anti-inflammatory properties.

Green tea leaves are not allowed to oxidize, much like white teas. The leaves are often laid out to allow for evaporation, but are then immediately steamed or pan fried in order to neutralize enzymes. The leaves are then rolled in preparation for their final drying, and then packaged. Green tea is high in antioxidants and has been found to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, green tea has been found to aid in weight loss in many studies.

Finally, oolong tea is a bruised leaf that is partially oxidized, and then steamed in order to end the oxidization process and neutralize enzymes. Some oolong teas are more like black teas, while some are more toward a green tea. Oxidization rates range from 10-70%. Some of the noted benefits of oolong tea include possible reduction in cholesterol and many people have claimed that it aids in treating digestive disorders.

No matter what type of tea you choose, or what benefits you are seeking to receive from your tea (even if it’s just a moment of relaxation), Pacific Merchants has a full variety of teapots, tea sets, and tea cups perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re having a spot of tea by yourself, or having a full-fledged tea party, take a look at Pacific Merchants wide selection of traditional Price & Kensington tea items.

Christmas is Coming… and Guess Who’s Getting Fat?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The Royal Christmas Pudding Basin by Mason Cash

The British Royal Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding is a big deal in Great Britain, even for the British Royal Household. For the past several years, Queen Elizabeth II has gifted hundreds of her loyal subjects, family and friends with Christmas Puddings prepared and presented in none other than Mason Cash pudding basins! We are proud to offer a brief and fascinating history of Christmas Pudding in the English tradition, and a tremendously long and deliciously overwrought recipe for same.

Happy Holidays!

Family recipes for Christmas Pudding are often closely guarded secrets, handed down from generation to generation. Many are based on the Royal family’s Sandringham recipe – rich with dried fruit and spices, some include nuts, grated apple or carrot – harking back to years when sugar was scarce.

The first Sunday in December is ‘Stir-up’ Sunday, the day when the best puddings are begun. It’s already time to roll up your sleeves and think about making the Christmas pudding. Some cooks go so far as to prepare it six months to a year in advance. In the old days, it was traditional for everyone in the house to come into the kitchen and give the batter a stir while making a wish. The puddings are cooked, cooled and tucked away in a dry place to wait for their final steaming on Christmas Day when they will be turned out onto a handsome dish, decorated with a sprig of holly and wreathed in blue flames from a generous dousing of warmed spirit.

It seems as if all of Fortnum and Mason’s stock goes into the recipe: currants, raisins, sultanas, almonds, candied fruit, ginger…. There may also be cherries and citron, or one of the two, or neither, depending on the recipe. Some chefs add to the mixture a diced russet apple and a grated carrot.

Tradition dictates that six objects be found in the pudding: two rings to bring love, a sixpence as a sign of prosperity, a trouser button for the bachelor, a thimble for the spinster, and a little pig who will determine the glutton at the table. The tradition of hiding silver coins in the pudding is a link to earlier days in English and Scottish courts when the leader of the Christmas revels was chosen on Twelfth Night by finding a bean hidden in the pudding

At the end of Christmas Day, after having listened to the Queen’s Christmas Message, the plum pudding is brought out to be enjoyed for tea on the stroke of five, as one raises a drop of port to toast the Queen!

The presentation is a festive affair. Dickens describes the arrival of the Christmas pudding in “A Christmas Carol”:

“Mrs. Cratchit entered, her face crimson, but smiling proudly, with the pudding resembling a cannon ball, all speckled, very firm, sprinkled with brandy in flames, and decorated with a sprig of holly stuck in the centre. Oh! The marvelous pudding!”

All guests receive a slice with a little dancing flame so that they can make a wish before it goes out.

Countrywide, brandy butter is served with the pudding alongside cream or custard, it’s a tradition that originated in Cumbria – where the best brandy butter is still made today, a delicious blend of butter, sugar and spirit with a hint of spice.

Ingredients

– 250 g (9 oz.) sultanas
– 250 g (9 oz.) seedless raisins
– 250 g (9 oz.) currants
– 10 g (2 tsp.) candied lemon zest
– 10 g (2 tsp.) candied grapefruit zest
– 20 g (4 tsp.) candied orange zest
– 20 g (4 tsp.) candied citron
– 125 g (4 oz.) candied cherries
– 60 g (2 oz.) blanched almonds
– 60 g (2 oz.) chopped almonds
– 500 g (18 oz.) chopped suet
– 250 g (8 oz.) rye bread crumbs
– 125 g (4 oz.) brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp. ginger
– A pinch of salt
– 4 tbsp. brandy
– 250 ml (1 cup) milk
– 30 g (2 tbsp.) butter
– 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
– 125 g (4 oz.) flour
– 2 tbsp. baking powder

Brandy butter

– 250 g (9 oz.) unsalted butter
– 250 g (9 oz.) icing sugar
– 50 ml (2 oz.) brandy
– Grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

Method

Quick method (only 7 hours!)
1. Chop the raisins, currants, cherries, candied fruit and peel;
2. Place all the dry ingredients into a large non-reactive bowl and combine; add the other ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended;
3. Line a Mason Cash pudding basin with a large piece of cloth that has been buttered and floured on each side; pour the mixture into the basin and enclose by folding in the four corners of the cloth; top with a piece of buttered parchment; cover;
4. Place the pudding in the oven in a pan half-filled with water or in a steamer on the stove top; cook for 6 hours at a bare simmer, checking the water level from time to time;
5. Remove the pudding from the pan and let cool;
6. Cover with a fresh cloth and parchment; replace the cover or wrap in aluminum foil and let ripen in a cool spot (not refrigerated) for at least one month. It will be even better if it ages longer!
7. On Christmas Day, return the pudding to the oven or steamer (as described in step 4) for 3 to 4 hours; unmould;
8. Flambé with brandy or cognac and serve hot with brandy butter.

Longer method… 216 hours! (7 days macerating time)

1. Chop the raisins, currants, cherries, candied fruit and peel; pour 1 litre (4 c.) of rum over top and let sit for 48 hours; drain, reserving the rum;
2. Combine all the ingredients except the eggs; add 200 ml (generous 3/4 cup) of the reserved macerating rum and the juice of an orange and a lemon; cover the bowl with a cloth moistened with rum and let sit 7 days. Stir the batter once a day, adding a little rum if necessary to keep the batter soft;
3. If the batter becomes too stiff, thin it with a small glass of old ale; if the batter is too thin, add a little flour and mix gently; continue with the recipe (above). As adapted from worldwidegourmet.com


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