Why not play with your food?
About a month ago I got a really delightful invitation. I received an email from natural perfumer Anya McCoy of Anya’s Garden letting me know that she’d just developed a line of essential oils for cooking and wondering if I’d like to be apart of a wonderful blogging event to release them. I jumped at the chance! Food and perfume? Absolutely and I couldn’t wait to get the bottle of Thai lime leaf that I said that I’d love to try. Shortly after that email a wonderful little package arrived with not just one bottle but 5. I was sent not only the Thai Lime leaf, but Cocoa, Chamomile, Dill and Yellow grapefruit! It was a luscious gift and I’ve been playing with them for the last few weeks and I must say that I love them. They are beautiful oils to work with, really fragrant and pure. The cocoa absolute all by itself is amazing and definitely could qualify as an aphrodisiac! This stuff makes one hell of a chocolate martini, and it’s the flavor that you always want from that cocktail but never seem to get! It’s really that good!
One of the most wonderful memories of my youth are the chocolate phosphates that I enjoyed as a child from our local deli . Using a drop of the cocoa absolute , coconut milk and some agave nectar I was able to make a wonderful drink that I put into my seltzer canister and made all fizzy! The resulting beverage was delicious and silky….a taste that I remembered as a child, a bit like an egg cream only without the burn. I added 2 drops of the cocoa to my favorite vegan pudding of avocado, cocoa powder, banana and agave nectar which I blended at high speed for about 2 minutes in my vitamix. It was wonderful and full of dense chocolate flavor. I served it with raspberries and a bit of rice whipped cream. Who would ever miss the dairy? Certainly not I!
Cooking with essential oils is bit like adding just the right amount of diamond pave’ to a cocktail ring or just the right touch of color to a painting. These oils elevate the taste of food to another level, not the other way around. Because of this they should be used sparingly because just one drop can turn a dish into something completely new and exquisite. Two drops can ruin it so it’s best to err on the side of caution!
So the first thing that I did with all of them was infuse a drop of each into some sparkling water. To me it was the best way to taste them, because on their own they’re a bit strong and it’s hard to taste the nuances. Once I tasted them this way they became easy to work with. I immediately knew that the dill would work beautifully with carrots and I made a lovely buttery sauce for some lightly steamed carrots using only one drop of the oil and then some of the dried herb. It was incredible and perfect blend of sweet and savory.
The same dill oil was used to make a vegan tzatziki sauce with vegannaise (you could easily substitute real mayonnaise and sour cream) and Tofutti sour cream. I blended it with onion and garlic , cucmbers and dill and just one drop of the essential oil. It was wonderful and more dill than dill generally has a right to be! Then I moved onto the Thai lime leaf oil which found its way into basil and coconut milk curries and a classic thai soup with coconut , mushrooms and chicken. It was divine. The same Thai lime leaf makes a refreshing mock mojito or real if you prefer! I infused the oil into a canister with some fresh mint and agave nectar and twisted a CO2 cartridge into it. It was cooling and wonderful and it’s your choice whether or not to add the rum because it certainly doesn’t need it!
The same with the grapefruit! I love the classic Salty Dog cocktail which is a yummy blend of pink grapefruit juice and vodka and served in a tall glass with a salted rim. One drop of the yellow grapefruit to the cocktail from the sublime to the ridiculous and it did the same for my shrimp and avocado ceviche. I love the savory blend of lime juice, tomato, onion , salt , pepper and avocado and I always add a few slices of fresh grapefruit! This time I added one drop of the grapefruit oil and the dish took off!
The chamomile is beautiful and makes the most relaxing tisane. I just add a drop or two to a mug of hot water and sweeten to taste. I’ve had problems recently sleeping and this does the trick. I’ve also put a drop of the chamomile with some lavender buds into a glaze for a honey cake and it is beautiful as well as fragrant and delicious. I’m still working with this one and I’ll let you know what else I discover.
These are really lovely oils and I’m enjoying using them. They are really fun, exotic and they are very easy to use once you get used to playing with them. You can try them for yourself by visiting http://anyasgarden.com/food-drink.htm where you’ll find the full listing and even more will be added soon!
Anya’s website is http://anyasgarden.com