Figs may be my favorite and, sadly, most fleeting summer fruit up here in Portland. Their juicy, jumbly bodies appear in the stores in late July and have become less and less available. I still buy them like a mad woman, squirreling some in the back of the fridge, eating other right out of hand, skin, stem and all. They are dripping with flavor and sensuality, I've loved them since first reading of their powers in Greek mythology as a little girl.

I've found figs do best at peak ripeness without much adornment. This raw cashew cream comes together in moments and is a velvety respite from the tang and sweetness of a perfectly jolly fig. In my fantasy life, I have a personal chef to make all vegan, raw foods to make me a super human. This dessert or snack is the closest I'll get to that idea, and it's the ideal ending to an early Autumn supper. Enjoy this simple pairing with any cup of tea. I've got rose petal infusion on the brain and have been sipping this type all day.

Figs & Cashew Cream
serves 4-6 for dessert 

10 ripe figs, cut in half
1 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 scant cup of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey or agave syrup
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup large coconut shreds
dark chocolate bar, shaved (optional)

Cover cashews in water and soak for 6 hours or overnight. When ready to make dessert, strain the soaked cashews. In a blender place cashews, scant one cup water, vanilla, salt, agave and coconut oil into the vessel. Blend for about 2 minutes at high speed, until completely smooth. Taste and add more sweetness or salt, if desired. Set aside.

Meanwhile, slice figs and toast coconut shreds in a medium, un-greased pan for about 4 minutes, until coconut is slightly brown and fragrant. Shave a chocolate bar or cut chocolate into very small pieces to garnish dish.

When serving, spread cashew cream onto base of a pretty platter, arrange fruit on top of cashew cream and finish with toasted coconut and chocolate. Serve chilled or room temperature.

A Cuppa with Emma Robertson

Image: Marissa Maharaj

image: Emma Dime
Emma Ann Robertson is a graphic designer, blogger and astounding knitter based in Los Angeles. I'm not sure how I found her work, but since first glimpse, I've been a fan. This gal has such a refined aesthetic -- she knows how to make simple look good, which is quite a feat in my mind! In many of her designs, Emma incorporates rubber stamps, another aspect of her I work I adore. I am honored to have Emma over here for a cuppa, I hope to do a real-life version and share a pot the next time I'm in SoCal.

What is your favorite type of tea and how do you take it? My favorite type of tea is black - Earl Grey really does it for me.  Today I am drinking a blend of Earl Grey with Italian bergamot oil.  This morning, I put in a tiny pinch of brown sugar!

How does tea punctuate your day? I'm not a morning person - the majority of the time I wake in a flurry instantly overwhelmed.  Taking the time to make tea in the morning allows me to slowly ( key word ) adjust and prepare for the day.

My tea accompaniment of choice is: This morning I made a banana smoothie - It's my favorite treat when I have a few bananas that are about to go bad.

I have a confession - lately I have been listening to nature sounds in the morning & before I hit the hay. You know... rain, the ocean, etc. haha! . . . is on when I'm having tea.

I first started drinking tea when . . .
I realized how delicious it is.

My dream tea party would include . . . Some sun brewed tea over ice with lemon, a view of the ocean, a beautiful blanket to sit on, and good company.

When I sip from my tea cup, I . . . Focus on the yummy flavors.


The devil's in the details, right? Most often, I act on big picture ideas and throw myself head first into projects, culinary and otherwise. But every once and awhile, I am able to remember to look out for the tiny, iddy biddy, sparkling and special things that make a dish (or a moment for that matter) truly special. Candied raspberries are just that. They are a tiny measure with a bold impact.

I first started to candy small things such as violets and small fruits after an early Martha Stewart covered the technique in one of her "Good Things" sections. To behold a menagerie of sugar-encrusted sweets on the glossy pages was akin to the magic of tooth fairies, Hans Christen Andersen story magic, princess dowries and other sugar-plum dotted dreams I had on my mind at 11 years old. So I set to work -- and I still do on occasion. When life hands you lemons, make some sparkling raspberries.

To Make Any Sugared Fruit, You'll Need:

- an egg white, beaten
- sanding/pearl sugar (like this)
- small paint brush
- parchment paper

Lightly brush washed and dry fruit, such as small apples, grapes or raspberries, with a light coating of egg white. Gently roll in a pile of sanding sugar. Place on a parchment-paper lined pan and let dry out for about an hour. Serve immediately atop a cake or alongside an afternoon cup of tea.

A Cuppa with Hannah Queen

Hannah Queen -- beautiful lady, photographer, maker and story teller joins us today for some tea. I'm pleased as punch to be highlighting this much-adored creative. I first became enamored with Hannah's blog about two years ago.  Her style of capturing painterly light and unfussy foods has always delighted and inspired me. Hannah is a warm soul who's depiction of nature, fresh produce and home cooked food will transport you to a happy place.

What is your favorite type of tea and how do you take it? In the morning, I love a good strong cup of black tea, usually Yorkshire or PG Tips. I take it with a bit of honey and a splash of milk.

How does tea punctuate your day? I like to start my day with a cup on my front porch, while listening to the birds sing & watching the sun rise. I’m a big fan of a late afternoon cup, too, usually sipped while I’m working at the computer. Something a little more exciting than my morning black tea, like black currant or Tazo’s wild sweet orange.

My tea accompaniment of choice is:
thick sliced toast with lots of butter, jam & a sprinkle of salt.

The Lumineers have been the soundtrack of my summer, but as we transition into Fall, it has to be The Civil Wars . . . is on when I'm having tea.

I first started drinking tea when . . . my childhood was filled with many, many glasses of sweet tea, southern style. Ice cold and cloyingly sweet.

My dream tea party would include . . . . makeshift wooden benches under an old oak tree, autumn leaves, an enamelware teapot, boiling over an open fire, cozy blankets, and little apple cakes to share.

When I sip from my tea cup, I . . . am content.


Do hear the swan song of the tea cake as you walk through the kitchen out the front door? Its sweet little whisper begging to be "evened out . . ." Heaven forbid there should be a cake with a scraggly edge in my house! Not that I'm fooling anyone (myself the least!) by sneaking small slips of sweetness as I move from point A to B. The way I see it, a touch of tea torte is not the worst problem to have.

I recommend having a snacking, not-too-sweet cake around most days. It brightens the quick morning tea (as seen in the video from over the weekend) and grounds the 4pm work break when we're feeling peckish. There's endless variation on style, shape and ingredients depending on what's lingering long in the pantry and what fruits are in season. For today, I wanted to celebrate Summer's last kiss and throw a bunch of juicy, gorgeous, gem-like blackberries into a batter rich with olive oil and ground hazelnuts. And oh Mama, no regrets on this winning combo! It's just the perfect thing to have a slice, no matter how big or small, as you pass through the hearth of the home.

And the Puerh tea -- Have you tried it? It's a strong, fermented tea that is rolled and dried into pearl shapes. It's an acquired taste, simultaneously full of body and lightness. I'm warming up to it. And Puerh makes an excellent pairing with the sweet cake, setting off the nutty tones and bright berry flavors. Puerh can be found in brick and loose leaf form and hails from the Yunnan province in China. How I'd love to visit this part of the world!

Hazelnut Blackberry Torte
makes one 9" cake

2 eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
scant 1 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum

a handful of blackberries (or whatever other fruit you like)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, or kitchen aid mixer, whisk the wet ingredients together until uniform. Fold the wet into the dry until just incorporated. Pour into prepared cake pan and plunk berries onto the surface in a random pattern. Bake for about 35 minutes, until cake is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Puerh Tea
I buy a lot of my specialty loose leaf, exciting teas from The Tao of Tea in SE Portland. They have an informed staff and will teach you proper technique for steeping the absolute best cup of tea. I bought my Puerh tea there and will be back again soon to sample some new sips.


Hope you had a lovely long weekend! We took Sunday off and headed to the book store, out for a long walk then to a heavenly BBQ hosted by my brother and his family. This epic, end-of-summer hoorah was of course kicked off with a tea breakfast on the porch.
Dave, my collaborator in life and art and all things really, helped bring this happy tea morning to light with a short video. Isn't he a peach? Enjoy!