I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet

Vanilla in Savory Foods — Really??


Really.  In 1985, when I wrote The Vanilla Cookbook, my editors asked me what vanilla could be used in besides ice cream, dessert and beverages. Quite honestly, the idea had never crossed my mind. However, they threw down the gauntlet next to my half-written  manuscript.  Experiment or give back the advance — what would you do?

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Fresh Vanilla Liquid — A Non-Alcohol Option

Fresh Vanilla Liquid –A Non-Alcohol Option
Courtesy of Rita Rivera Author of Milks Alive

A lot of people want an alcohol-free liquid vanilla  option. Although there is vanilla flavor, I personally don’t like it as it is made with propylene glycol and it isn’t very flavorful. Rita Rivera also wanted an alcohol-free option and came up with fresh vanilla liquid. It doesn’t keep as long as vanilla flavor but you can make this recipe in small batches. Here is Rita’s recipe along with her comments.

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Things to Do With Vanilla Ice Cream

Courtesy of Alice Medrich, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

This is a selection from Alice’s book that directs readers to different recipes she has in the book. You will need to read the book for the recipes that are highlighted, but this will give you good ideas for adorning vanilla — or other– ice creams. And, for starts, how about the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream? or Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream?

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Things To Do With Vanilla Ice Cream


Courtesy of Alice Medrich, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

This is a selection from Alice’s book that directs readers to different recipes she has in the book. You will need to read the book for the recipes that are highlighted, but this will give you good ideas for adorning vanilla — or other– ice creams. First, how about a recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream?  And if you’re not up for making your own, buy the best quality vanilla ice cream you can afford as many don’t actually contain pure vanilla extract!

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Deep Down Orange and Best Damn Lemon Cakes

A couple of weekends ago I threw a tea party at New Leaf Market where I run a demo program. We have really interesting customers. We’re a community market chain, 99% of our produce is organic, we have grass-fed and humanely-raised meat and poultry, we created the sustainable fish program with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the 1990s, we donate regularly to programs within our broader community and we do whatever we can to buy local ingredients and make our community stronger and better. Needless to say, most of the people who shop at our store regularly have the same values. And a good sense of humor.

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Too Many Egg Whites? Here’s a Thought

If there is a gene that predisposes us to love dessert, I have it. For the last several days I have been eating 
myself into heavenly oblivion.  The Christmas pie I made that’s so good it makes you want to cry.  Biscotti from Bob Benish’s Bakery.  Divinely smooth fudge made by a friend.  The leftover Italian cookies from a market demo.  And, always chocolate.

I’m not sure which came first for me — discovering a love of dessert through baking or baking because I love dessert. While the answer might appear obvious,  we didn’t have daily dessert when I was a child nor did my brother or I have access to stores on our own as we lived several miles from town.

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Great Tips for Frosting Cakes


Pastry Chef, Nancy Kux, ran a bakery, Nancy’s Fancies, for many years.  She is an active member in many culinary groups, including the San Francisco chapter of the Baker’s Dozen where she has served as President and mentor to many.

Recently Nancy provided a guide for preparing a cake for frosting as well as effective frosting techniques for the Baker’s Dozen.  I was impressed by the thoroughness of her guide and invited her to share her article with us at The Vanilla Company. She readily agreed and added even more information.  I hope you will find this useful.  I know that I did.

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A Primer on Tomatoes

Ahhh, tomatoes!  So wonderful when they come into season.  I refuse to purchase tomatoes during the winter as they’re flavorless and expensive.  But when they’re fresh and ripe, they’re a real treat.  Don’t pass up the heirloom tomatoes coming into today’s marketplaces.  They can be yellow, green, purple, oddly shaped and a little scary, but don’t be put off by appearances.  They’ve been brought back to market because the flavor is exceptional.  You may need to pare them a bit but trust me, it’s usually well worth it.

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The Art of Seasoning and Flavoring the Foods You Love

A Tutorial by Chef Dave Nelson

Does a cow eat grass because she enjoys it? Does she have a favorite grass? I can’t answer that
question. Do the deer eat my tulips, geraniums and columbines because they like them? YES! I
am sure of that. While animals eat to survive, most people eat because they enjoy the flavors of
the foods they are accustomed to.

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Turkey Trot Soup

As much as I hate letting go of the Christmas tree with its sweet lights and woodsy smell, when the holidays end, it is definitely time for turkey soup.  Okay, maybe you didn’t have turkey for the holidays, but we did, and I made turkey soup yesterday with all the tasty last bits of leftovers, lots of veggies and nice meaty chunks of turkey.  It filled the house with its steamy fragrance as I reluctantly removed the ornaments and lights of the holiday tree.

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What is Chocolate Tempering and Why do We Do It?

Courtesy of Chef Stephany Buswell: www.chefany.com

When you melt chocolate you are melting the cocoa butter crystals as well as the sugar. In order to achieve the original luster and stability of the chocolate you must temper it before dipping or molding.

The technique is not difficult; it only requires practice with care and patience.

Some important information about tempering:

The room used for tempering and dipping should be at 65? – 70? F. and draft free. If the room is too warm the chocolate will

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The Mathematics of Chocolate

Courtesy of Chocolate Expert, Stephanie Zonis

This article isn’t about how much chocolate costs to produce, though that would be an interesting topic to explore sometime. Instead, there are two aspects of numbers and chocolate I want to discuss. One is percentages, those you might see on a chocolate bar wrapper or a chocolatier’s website; just what does that 70% or 38% figure mean? The second is price. Why are some chocolates so much more expensive than others, and are the higher prices worth it?


The percentage figure you see associated with chocolate is an indication of how much of that chocolate comes from the components of the

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What’s All This Talk About Cacao Percentages?


By Carole Bloom:  Author of Bite-Size Desserts and The Essential Baker: www.carolebloom.com

I truly love chocolate and I especially like high cacao percentage chocolate. Currently I’m working on a book on this subject to be published by Wiley in 2010. We are all seeing the labels on chocolate bars, and even on restaurant dessert menus, that give the cacao percentage, like 70% or 85% or even more. What does all this mean and how does it relate to semisweet, bittersweet, and all of those other terms we hear?

First I should say that different people have different preferences when it comes to chocolate. Some like milk chocolate, some like darker chocolates, others are crazy about white chocolate.  Lucky for us

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Why do our customers love Rain's Choice vanilla?

  • 99% of all vanilla products are imitation. Ours are 100% PURE!
  • We carefully choose all products to assure best QUALITY & FLAVOR!
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  • Our vanilla beans are SUSTAINABLY grown.
  • Everything we sell is grown WITHOUT CHEMICAL pesticides or fertilizers.
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For an update on the 2016 vanilla shortage, please see "Why is Vanilla so Expensive?"

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