No Biscuits in that LU Pitcher, Water Only, Useful Souvenirs from Midica

No biscuits in that LU pitcher, water only

Lu pitcher

After seeing one on my mother's dining room table, I could not resist fetching one from Midica on Place Esquirol in Toulouse (20 Euros).

Along with this pitcher, I also took advantage of the July 'Soldes' to buy 10 wash gloves for 20 Euros.

Useful souvenirs, Summer 2015

Vegemite and Marmite Shoulder to Shoulder at Cost Plus World Market in Livingston

Just for the sake of sending it to Ms. Marmite Lover, I could not resist taking a picture of Vegemite (remember Men at Work 'Down Under') and Marmite shoulder to shoulder at Cost Plus World Market in Livingston.

Vegemite marmite

Even though this one and only location in New Jersey has been opened for about a year (according to staff member) I discovered the store while picking up an item for a client at Buy Buy Baby next door.

Store concept feels a bit like Anthropologie meets AC Moore (for DIY craft items) and Sur La Table for kitchenware and housewares with an international food section added on top.

Ms. Marmite Lover new book V is for Vegan happens to be published today (April 23, 2015) in the UK.

Sake Up Valentine's Day with Romantic Sake Cocktails Class, Japan Society, Feb.10

Sake Up your Valentine Day with Romantic Sake Cocktails Class at Japan Society in New York on February 10, 2015.

Creamy pink sake cocktail

"Stir your passion with this hands-on workshop led by certified sake sommelier Chris Johnson. Whether solo or with a date, you'll leave with the skills and recipes to shake up your Valentine's Day menu! Participants will learn about the varieties of sake that exist and how they can fit into any mixologists' cocktail-making repertoire, especially for this time of the year. Under Chris's guidance, each participant will mix and enjoy several Valentine's Day-themed sake cocktails and receive a cocktail-making kit to take home after the workshop."

Tickets: $69/$64 Japan Society members (ticket includes cocktails, snacks & cocktail-making kit)

Romance with Japanese Flair for Tokyo Thursdays #302

( * Illustration is Cloudy Cherry Sake from True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda Kefir & Kombucha at Home by Emma Christensen, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Paige Green © 2013)

Get full Cloudy Cherry Sake recipe Here...

Love is a New Year's Treat, Praline Hearts from 'Sweet Things' by Annie Rigg

Who said you had to wait until February?

Love is a New Year's Treat from Sweet Things, Chocolates, Candies, Caramels & Marshmallows to Make & Give (Kyle Books, October 2014) by Annie Rigg.

Praline Hearts

I like heart shapes and so for these truffles I set the praline ganache into a shallow pan and stamped out heart shapes in assorted sizes before coating in either milk or dark chocolate.

If you had plastic or silicone heart-shaped molds, you could use those—follow the instructions for creating a chocolate shell on page 51 for the Easter eggs and then fill with the ganache.

Or if you have no inclination to make heart shapes, simply chill the ganache and roll into balls following the instructions for making truffles on page 16.

Makes 20–25

3/4 cup blanched hazelnuts
1⁄3 cup superfine sugar
3 oz dark chocolate (64 percent cocoa solids), chopped
5 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt

To coat

5 oz milk chocolate,
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon crystallized
roses or sugar sprinkles


8 x 12-inch baking pan
heart-shaped cutters in assorted sizes
disposable piping bag



Preheat the oven to 325°F and line the baking sheet with nonstick parchment paper.

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 4 minutes until pale golden. Set aside.

Place the superfine sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with 1 tablespoon water. Melt the sugar over low heat without stirring and use a clean pastry brush dipped in hot water to dissolve any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan. Once the sugar has dissolved bring the syrup to a boil and cook steadily until it becomes an amber-colored caramel. Add the hazelnuts to the pan, stir to combine, and then turn out onto a sheet of nonstick parchment paper. Leave to cool completely.

Break the praline into chunks, chop in a food processor until finely ground, and then continue to blend until you have a slightly granular paste, almost like peanut butter. Set aside while you prepare the ganache.

Place the dark and milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and set it over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir frequently until the chocolate has melted into the cream and the ganache is silky smooth.

Remove from the pan and cool for a few minutes before folding in the hazelnut paste. Spoon the ganache into the prepared pan and spread level with an offset spatula. Leave to cool and then cover and chill until firm.

Turn the set ganache out of the pan and peel off the lining paper. Using the heart cutters, stamp out truffles in a variety of sizes and arrange on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Chill again while you prepare the chocolate for the coating.

Follow the instructions for tempering chocolate on page 24. Reserve 1 tablespoon of either the milk or dark chocolate for piping, then on the tines of a dipping or dinner fork, dip the hearts, one at a time, into either chocolate and allow any excess to drip back into the bowl. Carefully place the chocolate-coated hearts on clean parchment paper and decorate with crystallized roses or sprinkles.

Spoon the reserved chocolate into the piping bag, snip the end into a fine point, and pipe decorative lines, swirls, or dots over the hearts. Leave in a cool place until set.

Instructions for making truffles:
Using a teaspoon, scoop the ganache into cherry-sized balls and roll in your hands until smooth. Arrange on a parchment-covered tray and chill again for 15 minutes.

Tempering chocolate:
Put 3 ounces of the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Pop the tempering thermometer into the chocolate. Melt the chocolate, stirring until it is smooth and the chocolate reaches a temperature of 120°F. Remove the bowl from the pan, add the remaining chocolate, and stir to combine. Leave to cool to a temperature of 80°F, stirring frequently to speed up the cooling process.

Return the bowl to the pan of hot water and reheat the chocolate to 88°F. Please note these temperatures are for dark chocolate only.

Instructions for creating a chocolate shell:

Lay the mold on a large sheet of parchment paper and spoon two-thirds of the melted dark chocolate into the mold, filling all of the egg shapes. Tilt the mold from side to side so that the inside of each egg is evenly coated. Hold the mold over the bowl of melted chocolate and use an offset spatula or dough scraper to scrape the excess chocolate cleanly away and back into the bowl, then turn the mold upside down and leave to drain over the parchment paper, elevating slightly by resting the ends on wooden spoons. Allow the chocolate shells to set until completely solid.


Praline hearts will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight box between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from Sweet Things, Chocolates, Candies, Caramels & Marshmallows to Make & Give -Kyle Books, October 2014- by Annie Rigg)

Chocolate Salami, Portuguese, Italian DIY Gift Recipe from 'Sweet Things' by Annie Rigg

A salami even vegetarians can enjoy from Sweet Things, Chocolates, Candies, Caramels & Marshmallows to Make & Give (Kyle Books, October 2014) by Annie Rigg.

Chocolate Salami

This Chocolate Salami, also called Salame al Cioccolato or Salame de Chocolate, is traditionally either an Italian or Portuguese recipe, depending on where your allegiance lies. The fruit and nuts are interchangeable subject to your tastes and what treasures you have stashed in your pantry.

Makes 2 salami and serves 20

1⁄3 cup golden raisins
½ cup dried figs, chopped into raisin-sized pieces
2 tablespoons dark rum or amaretto
11/4 cups mixed nuts (pistachios, blanched almonds, and hazelnuts)
7oz dark chocolate, chopped
3oz unsalted butter
1⁄3 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
6oz plain cookies (such as amaretti or graham crackers)
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Chocolate Salami will keep for up to 1 week, well wrapped and in the fridge.


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the golden raisins and figs in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the rum or amaretto, mix well, and leave to soak while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Put all of the nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 4 minutes until lightly golden. Allow the nuts to cool slightly and then roughly chop.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a medium-sized heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of barely simmering water, taking care not to allow the bottom of the bowl to come into contact with the water. Stir until smooth. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together the superfine sugar, brown sugar, whole egg, and egg yolk until smooth and thoroughly combined. Add to the chocolate and butter mixture and mix well. Stirring frequently, continue to cook over the pan of water until the
sugar has dissolved, the mixture is silky smooth and hot to the touch, and the eggs are cooked—this will take about 4–5 minutes.

Meanwhile put the cookies in a freezer bag and crush using a rolling pin until the pieces are slightly larger than the golden raisins. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of rum. Add the nuts and cookies to the dried fruit. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir with a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine. Leave at room temperature to cool and thicken slightly.

Take two large sheets of parchment paper and divide the mixture evenly between them, spreading it into a log. Roll the paper up and over the mixture, twisting the ends to seal and to pack the mixture into a tight sausage shape. Chill overnight.

Remove the salami from the fridge and unwrap from the paper. Spread the confectioner’s sugar on a baking sheet and roll each salami in the sugar to coat completely. Using a sharp knife, cut the salami into slices to serve.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from Sweet Things, Chocolates, Candies, Caramels & Marshmallows to Make & Give -Kyle Books, October 2014- by Annie Rigg)

Tea Rooms and Zany Lofts from 'Japan, Lights and Shadows', Tokyo Thursdays # 300

Tradition and modernity co-exhist in Tokyo as a second look at Japan, Light and Shadows in the land of the Rising Sun (White Star Publishers, 2011) by Iago Corraza and Greta Ropa shows.

Zany lofts that 'purports to maintain an active mind' according to the book notes.


Tradition with tea houses whose street signs invite dwellers in.

Teahouse sign

Travel, culture and gift ideas for Tokyo Thursdays # 300

(* Excerpted from 'Japan, Light and Shadows in the land of the Rising Sun' by Iago Corraza and Greta Ropa- White Star Publishers, 2011)