Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Pearfect way to ring in the New Year: Tahitian Vanilla Pear Cocktail

The gifting season has been wonderfully fruitful this year, and to make good use of all of the delicious holiday pears we’ve received, we had to get a little creative! We've had pears in yogurt for breakfast, garnished a tasty spinach salad with them, used them in a relish for pork, and of course, made a pear pie. Today we’re sharing a Tahitian vanilla and pear cocktail recipe we’ve concocted just in time to ring in the New Year.

Tahitian Vanilla Pear Cocktail 
Makes 2 drinks.

8 oz pear juice – We simply sliced up 2 pears and gave them a good spin in the food processor. Then, we strained out the pulp with a fine sieve.
3 oz vodka
seeds scraped from 1” of a Tahitian vanilla bean
Tahitian vanilla sugar, for rim
pear slice for garnish
2 cups ice, divided

First, prep your glasses. Wet the rims with pear juice or water, and dip in homemade Tahitian vanilla sugarAdd ice to the empty glasses. 
Next, it’s mixin’ time! Combine pear juice and vodka in a shaker. 
With a sharp paring knife, split 1” of the vanilla bean lengthwise and with the back of the knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds, or caviar, into the shaker. 
Add 1 cup of ice, cap your shaker, and give it a hearty shake, then strain into cocktail glasses. 
Garnish with a thin slice of pear and serve.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

How to make Tahitian Vanilla Syrup

Time to break out that vintage cocktail shaker you picked up at the flea market! Another addition to our DIY lineup is Tahitian Vanilla Simple Syrup. If you’re in the mood for both mixology and makin’ you might want to check out our posts on how to craft your own Tahitian vanilla-infused spirits, homemade vanilla extract, homemade vanilla salt or sugar, homemade vanilla honey, and vanilla tea.

Simple syrup is so easy to make at home in just a few minutes. Because it has a decent shelf life, you can make up a big batch and use your Tahitian Vanilla Simple Syrup in cocktails, coffee, tea or in baked desserts. It also makes a great DIY gift for your favorite home mixologist. 

Tahitian Vanilla Simple Syrup
Makes about 1 ½ cups.


  • 1 cup (250 mL) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with the tip of a knife


  • Bring the sugar and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Add split vanilla bean and simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and let cool – the syrup will steep as it cools, intensifying in flavor.
  • Pour the syrup through a strainer or sieve* into a clean, airtight jar. We recommend that you sterilize your jar by boiling it in water first.
  • Store in the fridge for a up to 3 months.

*Option: leave the vanilla bean in the syrup for a more intense flavor. If you decide to take the spent vanilla bean pod out, here are 15 things to do with spent vanilla bean pods.


  • Use any quantity of sugar and water in equal amounts and add one vanilla bean per cup of sugar water.
  • Add honey, lavender, cinnamon, or other flavorings to the syrup. Experiment! 

If you’re feeling adventurous, check out Imbibe Magazine’s excellent article on 50 simple syrups. They also have cocktail recipes you can make with your homemade syrups.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Exec Pastry Chef Marian Getz: From the Congo to Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen

Last week we shared a rich Q&A with famed pastry chef and cookbook author, Marian Getz. Her tips on recipe creation were so well-said and helpful that they deserved their very own blog post. Here it is, in all it’s glory!

VFT You're also a prolific cookbook author. How do you approach recipe creation? Any tips for aspiring chefs? 
MG Cookbook writing is easy, really. Collect recipes you love, even on scraps of paper, notes on my iPhone, torn out pages, post-its, and collect them (I use manilla folders and a ratty, unapologetic banana box) until you have enough. Then start typing, which is the hardest part for me. Being chained to a computer for long stretches of time brings out the grumpy side of me. 

If it is a home recipe that you love, other people will love it, too. When creating new recipes, I use a similar one as a sort of template, then start thinking of flavors, colors and textures I want. If you think of the flavor on your tongue as you write a new recipe, its pretty easy to string ingredients together into a dish that will be balanced, exciting and delicious. Trust your instinct, and remember that less is often more. Don't make your dishes unnecessarily complicated or "noisy," meaning too many competing ingredients. 

I pay special attention to the 5 tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and Umami. And I pay special attention to acidity. I think too many dishes are missing a level of tartness. I probably have 15 different kinds of vinegars in my ridiculously large pantry, and I use them all the time! 

Also, for me, pepper gets way too much attention and it shouldn't. Many of my savory dishes don't even invite pepper to the party! It has it's place, but don't automatically reach for it until you taste the dish and see if it's needed.

VFT You have a unique way of extracting the seeds, or caviar, from a split vanilla bean. How do you do it?
MG I've seen photos of vanilla beans being cut and scraping the seeds or caviar out with a knife. That is not how we do it at the restaurant with your plump Tahitian vanilla beans. We squeeze and pop them instead because they are so soft and pliable. It's more efficient this way.

VFT What do you do with leftover vanilla bean pods? (15 things to do with spent vanilla bean pods)
MG At the restaurant, we collect the used pods, even if it's just a few, dry them either in the air if the humidity isn't too high, or in a low oven or dehydrator. Then for every bean you have, place it plus 1 cup of granulated sugar in a food processor and process until the sugar turns light brown and the bean pieces are tiny. This is real vanilla sugar. Just open the lid of the food processor and you will smell that this is true! Use it in any recipe where both sugar and vanilla are both called for. If you don't want vanilla bits, then sift the sugar before using. The flavor is incredible, it saves tons of money and is the best way to use every bit of these beautiful beans. It's the best way to honor this precious gift from Mother Nature.

When it comes to quality it’s obvious Marian has been trained by the best. We’re proud to be included as one of her suppliers. If you’d like to cook with the same ingredients that professional pastry chefs use, Tahitian vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and ground vanilla bean powder are available on our website.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tahitian Vanilla Myths Busted by Executive Pastry Chef Marian Getz

How about a little inspiration today? We’re always on the lookout for incredible talent, and of course, we love to get to know our customers. Today, you’ll get an intimate introduction into the mind of world-class pastry chef Marian Getz, author of the Simply the Best series of cookbooks, frequent guest on the Home Shopping Network, and Executive Pastry Chef for Wolfgang Puck.

VFT It's a long way from growing up the daughter of missionaries in the Congo to being the Executive Pastry Chef for Wolfgang Puck. What sparked your love of baking? 
MG Darkness! We didn't have electricity in Africa. At dusk each day we had just the small halo of light provided by candles or kerosene lanterns, so reading became a cherished pastime. Once I outgrew the childrens' books, I moved on to my mom's cookbooks. My favorites were The Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I was cooking whole meals from these books by age eight. Julia's recipes were so well written that it was like having the most excellent road map. If the map is good, you will most assuredly get from point A to point B. Recipes are like that. Once I started getting praise for my good food from my family, I was completely smitten!

VFT I understand that Julia Child was your assistant for a day. What kind of a person was she to work with? 
MG Aaah. The best! Julia Child is my hero. That delicious day was arranged as a surprise by my beloved husband and Wolfgang Puck, and I was her assistant. I got to spend a whole day at her home in Santa Barbara. My most cherished memories of that day have nothing to do with cooking, but instead are of chatting with Julia about how wonderful it is to have a loving, supportive husband. Julia's Paul was that sort of man, and my Greg is simply the best human being I've ever met.

 VFT How is Tahitian vanilla different from other types of vanilla? 
MG Tahitian vanilla is totally different from others in the most wonderful way. I was first introduced to it by Wolfgang Puck. It's his favorite and the one used in his many restaurants. To teach yourself the difference you must smell and use them side-by-side. Try a Tahitian and another one, say Mexican or Madagascar, and you will see and smell and taste the difference instantly. For me, the Madagascar beans and extract in particular have a medicinal taste and smell that is just awful. I guess for some people it's like coffee where you like what you like, and not everyone agrees on what is the best. For me, there is no contest! Tahitian rules! 

VFT Do you have any favorite recipes that include Tahitian vanilla? 
MG Try using these beautiful vanilla beans and extract in a simple custard-based dish such as vanilla ice cream, crème brûlée, or a vanilla cake and you will understand the difference. 

VFT What are the most important qualities for professional chefs and makers to look for when sourcing ingredients for the kitchen? 
MG Know your sources, get to know the hard working folks who produce the treasures we get to play with as chefs. Buy the best quality you can, and trust your palate to decide for yourself what the is best. Treat all the ingredients you buy with respect and thoughtfulness. Don't waste anything, and I think your food will always taste great and make the world a little bit better tasting.

VFT Please share your thoughts on when to use vanilla extract vs. powder vs. beans. 
MG  Be smart with your vanilla. More is not a good idea, especially if the dish you are making has other prominent flavors in it like chocolate or spices. In many cases, vanilla is singing back up to other flavors to help round out the complexity, so adding more vanilla than called for is wasteful. Extract is used for general taste, beans where the pure vanilla taste will shine through prominently. I am addicted to the new freeze-dried, ground vanilla powder, because it's wonderful and so darn easy to use. I find myself using the freeze-dried powder version everywhere though, even in my morning smoothies! Its amazing stuff!

VFT Are there any myths about Tahitian vanilla that you would like to dispel? 
MG Yes, that it's too expensive. That's just BS. Do your homework and add it up. You can pay even more for crappy vanilla and your dishes will suffer for it. Also, the crazy Internet myth that you shouldn't use Tahitian for hot preparations because some of the perfume will be lost. That's just ignorance. Of course flavors are lost or muted when we manipulate them with heat, but the wonderful nuances are still there. In some cases, a bit more vanilla is added at the end of cooking to add another layer of flavor. But that should never make you think that you shouldn't use Tahitian vanilla! The change in flavors is true of most of the foods we cook. Think of onions, for example. They change dramatically during cooking, which is a wonderful thing, and many times extra onion is added off heat to add that fresh punch of flavor.

VFT Thank you so much for the tips on Tahitian vanilla.
MG You're welcome. It has been a pleasure.

Marian’s experience in the kitchen, working next to Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck, are the stuff dreams are made of! When it comes to quality, it’s obvious she’s been trained by the best, and we’re proud to supply her with Tahitian vanilla. If you’d like to cook with the very same ingredients that she does, every product that she mentioned; Tahitian vanilla beans, Tahitian vanilla extract, and ground vanilla bean powder, are available on our website

Happy baking!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How To Make Tahitian Vanilla Tea

Whether it’s an afternoon with friends or your favorite Saturday morning ritual, sipping the perfect cup of tea is as much routine as it is relaxation. One of our favorite tricks to flavoring tea is to (you guessed it!) add Tahitian vanilla! It’s an easy way to change ordinary tea into something extraordinary. Here’s how:


  • With a sharp paring knife, split the bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, a.k.a. vanilla caviar.
  • Add the vanilla seeds and bean to the tea leaves.
  • Seal the jar tightly and wait a week or so before using.

Homemade Tahitian Vanilla tea makes a great DIY gift.

If you can't wait a week, add vanilla from Tahiti directly to your cup of hot tea: one drop of Tahitian vanilla extract, one tiny pinch of ground Tahitian vanilla powder, a quarter-inch snip of a fresh Tahitian vanilla bean, even a spent bean will work. Remember, a little goes a long way, so you don't need to add much. 

*Note: Tahitian vanilla beans are larger, more moist and more plump than other beans. If you can’t use Tahitian vanilla beans, then use 2-3 times as many of the other types of vanilla beans.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How To Make Tahitian Vanilla Honey

Homemade Tahitian Vanilla honey is (almost) too easy to make! In fact, if honey’s not quite your thing, you can use agave nectar.

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 Tahitian vanilla bean*

  • With a sharp paring knife, split the bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, a.k.a. vanilla caviar.
  • Stir the vanilla seeds into the honey, reserving the spent bean for another use.**
  • Seal the jar tightly and wait a week or so before using.

Homemade Tahitian Vanilla honey makes a great Do-It-Yourself gift. A cute little container, some festive ribbon and you’ve got a sweet gift for your favorite tea drinker in just minutes. We found our adorable (and affordable) little jars online from Weck.

Don’t forget to buy your premium Tahitian vanilla beans!

*Note: Tahitian vanilla beans are larger, more moist and more plump than other beans. If you can’t use Tahitian vanilla beans, then use 2-3 times as many of the other types of vanilla beans.

** See 15 Things To Do With A Spent Vanilla Bean