My current indulgence is a ceremonial cup of matcha tea from Asha Tea House. Matcha tea is fine, pea-green powder that is whisked with hot (not boiling water) and served foamy in a bowl. It is said to have brought clarity and focus to Buddhist monks in the 12th century. Along with my tea, I love to eat these black sesame tea cookies from a local bakery in Oakland. But they are so expensive at Asha that Siena and I decided we needed to make our own version.
We took Julie Cookenboo’s recipe for lemon poppy seed short bread and modified it. Cream together two sticks butter and ½ cup of sugar. Add one egg. Roast black sesame seeds on the stove and then use a mortar and pestle to crush them and release the flavor. You’ll smell the sesame oil coming out of them! Mix the sesame seeds, two cups of flour and a pinch of salt into the butter mixt-ure. At this point you can either put the dough in plastic wrap in a log and cut into cookies when firm (easiest), or roll out the dough (chill again if butter is too soft) and cut with a biscuit cutter (prettiest). I top with a few extra sesame seeds and bake at 400 degrees until they are cooked, but not brown. They only take a few minutes to cook, so watch carefully! Enjoy with your favorite cup of green tea. Gyokuro is my second favorite tea, with a spinach and grassy flavor.