Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Merchants’

Christmas is Coming, Guess Who’s Feeling Warm Inside!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Royal Mason Cash Pudding BasinThe 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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Pacific Merchants’ Mason Cash Pudding Basin and Acaciaware® Products Featured in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Here at Pacific Merchants we’ve always known that the Mason Cash and Acaciaware® line of products are nothing short of newsworthy, but we’re still over the moon to see some of our most popular and beautiful housewares in print.

Our signature Mason Cash pudding basins and bakeware, and our hand carved Acaciaware® round plate were given the nod by the queen of hospitality herself, Martha Stewart, in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Now on newsstands, the magazine features a beautiful spread, which pictures a collection of stunning photographs showcasing a delectable arrangement of pot pies baked in traditional, white Mason Cash pudding basins and a cane rectangle baking dish crafted from high-quality stoneware that easily moves from the oven to the freezer to the microwave and on to the dishwasher. The article is capped off with a picture of a beautiful Acacia wood plate.

To see more, pick up your own copy of the magazine at your local retailer, and visit our website, www.pacificmerchants.com to purchase these and even more beautiful housewares for your home or next gift purchase.

A Kitchen Isn’t Complete Without Mason Cash Bakeware and Pudding Basins

Mason Cash handcrafted ceramics can be traced back to Derbyshire, England, circa 1800. The nostalgic feel of the white and cane glazed earthenware gives a special flavor to whatever you’re whipping up in the kitchen. Cooking icons like Martha Stewart and Julia Child have regularly used the brand for years. Even the Queen of England relies on Mason Cash pudding basins for traditional Christmas puddings.

While Mason Cash products may offer a sweetly nostalgic remembrance of your grandmother’s favorite piece, the line is anything but old-fashioned. Simplicity of design gives Mason Cash bowls and basins an eternal beauty that is as at home in an upscale dining room as it is in a country kitchen.

Fall Is in the Air and the Holidays Are on the Horizon

As the long, hot summer days give way to cooler days and the changing colors of Mother Nature, our sights are set on the holidays and the flavorful foods of the season. Holiday entertaining and gift giving are high on our priority list as we’re sure they are on yours.

Simplistically beautiful and yet perfectly functional, use your Mason Cash servingware to prepare your holiday meal and set a festive table reminiscent of the photographs featured in the Martha Stewart Living spread.

A set of pudding basins also makes the perfect holiday gift for the “chef” in your life or those just starting out in their own homes. The elegant basins are designed to resist chipping, cracking and signs of wear.

So the next time you’re in the kitchen, do as Martha does and bring out your Mason Cash and Acaciaware® pieces to create and display a feast for the appetite and the eyes.

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Enter This Week’s Tea Set Giveaway Contest!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Freebies and contests can be lots of fun for those who enter, and even more fun for those who win. This week, Pacific Merchants is going to give away another of our beautiful Price & Kensington five piece tea sets to one lucky winner!

You could win this tea set (or one like it)!

Win a Tea Set!

This week, we’re asking our facebook fans to write on our wall and let us know how they like their tea: iced or hot? Earl Grey, Green, or another variety entirely? Do you add any sweetener, or do you prefer your tea ‘au natural?’

About the Tea Set

Our winner will get to pick any color of our five piece Price & Kensington tea sets. Each of these tea sets include one 16 ounce (two cup) teapot, two tea mugs, and two over sized teapot-shaped tea caddies. There are eight colors to choose from: cobalt blue, white, yellow, orange, red, blue, purple and green.

We’ll choose our winner on Friday, April 8th, so be sure to get your entry in so that you can win, and watch our Facebook wall for the announcement of our selection!

Bake Hot Cross Buns this Easter!

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Hot Cross Buns have traditionally been eaten at Easter by Anglo Saxons for hundreds of years. Although the first recorded use of the term “Hot Cross Buns” dates back to 1733, many believe that the buns actually pre-date Christianity.

The Saxons, Eostre and Hot Cross Buns

While Easter is synonymous with the coming of Spring, baby animals, and (everyone’s favorite) egg hunts, Easter actually gets its name and from the German Goddess Eostre. Historians believe that Eostre was the German goddess of the dawn, and in some cases, was considered a “Spring-like fertility goddess.” Traditionally, Germans would celebrate Eostre by feasting throughout the month we now know as April. It is believed that Saxons ate Hot Cross Buns during these feasts, which were meant to symbolize the four quarters of the moon.

Eventually, the buns became highly popular throughout England, specifically during the Easter season. Protestant monarchs attempted to ban them due to an alleged tie to the Catholic church, but were unsuccessful due to their incredible popularity.

Superstitions Surrounding Hot Cross Buns

There are many superstitions that surround Hot Cross Buns. An English superstition states that buns that are baked and served on Good Friday won’t spoil or become moldy during the coming year, while another states that giving a bun to someone who is sick will help them to get better.

Legend also has it that by sharing a hot cross bun, two friends will be ensured friendship in the coming year as long as they say “Half for you, half for me, between us two shall goodwill be” while consuming the bun. Ships that carry Hot Cross Buns are supposed to ensure safety against shipwreck when carried on a boat, and kitchens that have a Hot Cross Bun hanging within them are supposedly protected against fires and ensured a perfect result when breads are baked (the hanging bun is supposed to be replaced annually).

Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Bun Ingredients:

  • 2 Tsp. Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup 2% Milk (110-115º Fahrenheit)
  • 1 Tbsp Softened Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 Tsp. Sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. Dried Currants
  • 1/4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • A dash of ground Allspice
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 Tbsp. Water

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1/8 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Tsp. 2% Milk

Directions:

  • In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Stir in softened butter, egg, sugar and salt. Combine 3/4 cup of flour, currants, raisins, allspice and cinnamon; add to the yeast mixture and mix well. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about four to six minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once in order to grease the top. Cover and let dough rise in a warm space until doubled– about one hour.
  • Punch dough down; shape into six two inch balls. Place balls two inches apart on a baking sheet coasted with nonstick cooking spray. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on top of each bun. Cover and allow to rise until doubled– about 30 minutes.
  • Beat egg yolk and water; brush over buns. Bake buns at 375° Fahrenheit for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Combine icing ingredients and pipe over buns.

Win A Mason Cash Romantic Heart Mixing Bowl!

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Mason Cash Romantic Hearts Mixing Bowl

Win A Mason Cash Mixing Bowl!

How would you like to win a Mason Cash Romantic Heart Mixing Bowl from Pacific Merchants this Valentine’s Day?

How To Enter:

Winning is EASY! Just head on over to our Mason Cash Facebook Fan Page, become a fan, and then write on our wall! Tell us who your “sweetie” is (mom, boyfriend, brother, dog, etc.) and what you would use this Mason Cash Mixing Bowl to make for them.

Want to get creative in your entry and post a video or picture telling us about your sweetie and what you want to make for them? Feel free! On February 7th, we’ll pick a winner, and they’ll receive our Mason Cash Romantic Heart Mixing Bowl for free, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Contest Rules:

Sorry, employees of Pacific Merchants or their family members are not eligible to win (we’ve got to keep things fair), and there is only one entry per person for this contest. This prize cannot be redeemed for cash or substituted for any other items. Sorry, but retailers of Pacific Merchants or Mason Cash products are not eligible.

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!

Make Our Broccoli Casserole this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

This Christmas, make yourself a delicious side dish that’s sure to delight your tastebuds. A family tradition, our Account Executive Jill’s aunt has been making her Broccoli Casserole for years, and has graciously shared it with us for our blog!

This recipe is just the perfect size for our 9×9 square cane baker, which is sure to look great on any Christmas dinner table.

Ingredients

  • 1 small package frozen Broccoli
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 well beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. chopped onion
  • 15 Butter Crackers
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Farenheit). Bring a pot of water to a boil, cook broccoli for two minutes and then drain. Mix all ingredients, save crackers and butter, together. Transfer mix to casserole dish.

Place crackers in a sealed plastic bag, and gently smash them, making sure not to break them up too much. Sprinkle mixture on top of casserole dish, and place small pieces of butter around the top as well. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, do not cover dish.

We hope you enjoy this Broccoli Casserole Recipe as much as Jill has over the years!

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

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.


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