Friday, August 07, 2009

afternoon snacks: espresso brownies and meyer lemon bars...

We conclude our review of recently created "retreat treats" with a look at the afternoon snack offerings-- a bit of sugar to revive the tired retreaters...

For the occasion, we created two delightfully distinct treats-- chocolate espresso brownies and Meyer lemon bars. The chocolate brownies began with 80% bittersweet Belgian cocoa powder. Nearly black in appearance, this cocoa is the deepest, richest cocoa powder to be found, and the results are incredible! Further adding to the depth of flavor, fine Italian espresso was added to the brownie mix. Moist and firm, not gooey, these brownies were topped with Bittersweet chocolate ganache, white chocolate shavings, and toasted cocoa nibs for texture and earthy sweetness. We were amazed how quickly these brownies disappeared!

The second of our afternoon treats was a light and refreshing lemon bar made with Meyer lemon juice. Of course, we had to put an orenji twist on the classic lemon bar, and set up to balance the flavors of the lemony tartness. To accomplish this, we infused the lemon juice with both Hawaiian lavender and French thyme. The floral high notes and herbal undertones added a complexity and balance to the lemon bars which made them nearly irresistible (in our opinion!).

All in all, a very successful retreat! We hope our contributions added to the importance of the day, and helped create a space where the attendees could flourish!
Where to turn our attention to next? You'll have to check back to find out!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

bacon biscuits and cinnamon sugar palmiers...

We continue our blogs regarding recently completed breakfast "retreat treats" with a look at two interesting offerings-- one savory, one classic French with an orenji ingredient twist!

To provide those retreat attendees who weren't so interested in sweets early in the morning (imagine that!), we opted to provide a more savory option. Of course, our thoughts went immediately to bacon! We started with a light and fluffy buttermilk biscuit to which we added crisp applewood smoked bacon, freshly cut wild sage, sharp farmhouse Cheddar cheese, fresh ground black pepper, and sea salt. Topped with a sprinkle of cheese, these biscuits were rich, flavorful, but not too filling! In our opinion, the perfect way to highlight one of life's most perfect ingredients-- bacon!

The second offering was a palmier (pictured above, right)-- a classic French preparation involving butter-rich puff pastry and sweeteners. Different theories exist on the origin of the palmier shape-- our favorite is one similar to the pretzel, that the palmier represents hands folded in prayer. Of course, palmiers are also frequently referred to as "elephant ears!"

For our palmiers, we rolled them prior to baking in some interesting ingredients-- Sri Lankan cinnamon, which is both spicier and more balanced than the more commonly utilized Mexican cinnamon, and demerara sugar, an unprocessed pure cane sugar from Guyana. The deep, almost molasses-like taste of the sugar, paired with the slightly spicy and earthy cinnamon was a treat for the taste buds, carried in a flaky pastry vehicle!

In our next post, a final look at the "retreat treats"-- some rich chocolaty brownies and light, refreshing lemon bars. See you then!

Monday, August 03, 2009

a trio of scones...

For the same retreat we prepared the organic "farmer's market" fruit skewers and yogurt dip (discussed in our previous post), we also created a delightful assortment of baked goods, beginning with a trio of scones.

Our scones are moist and delicious, lightly sweetened, and overflowing with fresh fruits and flavors-- perhaps more so than a "traditional" scone. They certainly make for a great start to the day paired with tea or coffee...

The first of our three scones began with butter and heavy cream, organic flour, freshly squeezed Valencia orange juice, toasted almonds and Belgian bittersweet chocolate. The bittersweet chocolate, acidity of the orange, and nuttiness of the almonds created a well-balanced sweet-- drizzled with "extra" chocolate, these were perfect for the chocolate-lover in attendance at the retreat...

Our second, and favorite, of the scones we created here at orenji were apricot cream scones-- packed with juicy locally-produced apricots. These scones were so moist and delicious, we couldn't stop eating them ourselves! With undertones of vanilla, and crunchy chunks of sugar glistening on their tops, these scones seemed right out of a culinary fairytale!

The last of our trio was the most "traditional" of the scones we created for the dedicated retreat-goers: Tahitian vanilla and brandy-macerated black currants flavored this simple and sweet cream scones. Light and crumbly, a slight added sweetness was provided by a drizzle of confectioners icing across their tops.

All in all, a bountiful tray of scones!

In our next post, a savory offering, and a French treat with a twist! Come back soon...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

"farmer's market" fruit skewers...

Here at orenji, we love fresh, locally grown produce... so, when we were commissioned to provide "breakfast refreshments" for a morning retreat, we jumped at the opportunity to visit the local farmer's market! The result: organic "farmer's market" fruit skewers.

Being the height of summer, the selection of fresh fruits was almost overwhelming (almost...), and the opportunity to sample the delectable assortment of tree and vine ripened produce was incredibly fun. In the end, we settled on five fruits of summer-- all organic, and all locally produced-- cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, white peaches, and green Calimyrna figs. The white-fleshed peaches and green-fleshed figs were both succulent, juicy, and sweet-- the surprise hit of the retreat!

Accompanying the fruit skewers, we created an organic yogurt dip infused with locally-produced wildflower honey, Meyer lemon, Tahitian vanilla, and rosewater. Slightly sweet and floral, the yogurt maintained the tang of active cultures and lemon, the perfect accompaniment to such sweet and juicy fruit!
In our next post, some of the scones and baked goods we prepared for the retreat. If you're a breakfast lover, you won't want to miss it!