Saturday, November 10, 2012

Making Chai Masala Tea, a weekend project with countless benifets

 On the weekend I usually like to make a big batch of something to eat or drink that will last me well into the workweek. That way when I don't have time or energy during the week I can still benefit from my weekend efforts. This week I decided to make Masala Chai Tea, because frankly I have been craving it lately. And the recipe in India by Pushpesh Pant is outstanding. This book is full of amazing recipes I have only tried a few but they have all been delicious and the Masala Chai recipe is worth buying the book. I have adapted the recipe slightly to suit my tastes But I think it is the method of cooking the Chai that makes it so satisfying. The finished tea has the silky mouth feel of a well made latte. 

 Making Chai is very easy, it takes about 20 minutes. This recipe makes a lot(2.5 quarts) but it will keep in the fridge for a week.

  • 10 cloves
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 8 black tea bags(I used decaffeinated so I could drink it before bed, or whenever the hell I feel like it without having to worry about the caffeine keeping me awake)
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar(you can add more or less depending on how sweet you want it. Substitute vanilla sugar to make Vanilla Chai tea)
  • 6 cups of water
 First off put your water on the stove to boil. Then put the whole spices in a mortar and pestle.

Just kidding, everything except cinnamon sticks, so take out the cinnamon sticks and put them in the pot of water, crush the remaining spices with the pestle. If you don't have a mortar n pestle pulse spices in a coffee grinder or blender, just try not to make them too fine. You could also put the spices in a plastic zip lock bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.
Once your water starts to boil add crushed spices and ground ginger.
Boil for two minutes.
Add tea bags(remove the paper tags and staples)Boil 1 minute.
Reduce to a simmer, simmer five minutes.
Add milk, return to a boil, watch closely as it might boil over at this point.
Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in sugar.
Strain and serve hot, store remaining in fridge for up to a week.
Once chilled it also makes a delicious iced tea, just pour over ice. Or reheat in microwave for a non alcoholic after dinner digestif.

All this boiling and timing might seem like a pain in the ass, but its easy just do it and you will end up with a cup of the best Chai you have ever had!
If being delicious and fairly easy to make doesn't sway you to try your hand at making Chai tea, maybe the many health benefits of Chai tea will.
  •  Black Tea has many of the same benefits as green tea. Antioxidants and tannins are a few of the many beneficial components in tea.
  •  Cinnamon is thought to increase circulation and open breathing, increase awareness and vitality, and reduce fatigue.
  • Cardamom is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys, and heart. It is also a mood elevator.
  •  Cloves have pain-relieving and antiseptic attributes
  •  Ginger has long been valued as a stimulant for the circulatory and the immune systems, 
  • Fennel is said to facilitate digestion. Some of the components in fennel are stimulants and stimulate secretion of digestive and gastric juices, reduce inflammation of stomach and intestines and facilitates proper absorption of nutrients. It also has anti acidic (basic) properties and is extensively used in antacid preparations.
Still not convinced! The best thing about making Chai is that it will help you use up some of those ageing spices gathering dust in your spice cabinet. While I was gathering the spices for this recipe I found a hardened old vanilla bean which I then used to make vanilla sugar(recipe to follow). Vanilla sugar could be substituted for the regular sugar in recipe to make Vanilla Chai Latte.
 Vanilla Sugar How To

The usual way to make vanilla sugar is to take a fresh vanilla bean and cut in half the long way, put it in a jar and cover with sugar. Wait a week and viola vanilla sugar. I make mine a little differently, I buy a vanilla bean or two with grand plans to make something uber delicious. I put the vanilla bean in my spice cabinet maybe use one maybe not, then discover them 6 months to a year later hard as a rock. Now at this point I wouldn't risk using this dried out bean on a complicated dessert recipe, but it still has plenty of flavor to give. So, I break it up and put it in a pint jar of sugar. Wait a week and yeah you guessed it vanilla sugar! What is it good for you ask? Many things, I use it mostly when I make oatmeal(blueberry, cinnamon, vanilla), or I add to smoothies to add a little hint of vanilla. If I put sugar in my coffee I would definitely use this there as well. Also good on grapefruit. The possibilities are practically endless.
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Fast Foodie Friday, Easy Pasta, DInner in minutes!

So I know I promised you guys easy dinner recipes, well I haven't forgotten. This one might be the easiest yet. This is one of those recipes where you might think, it's so simple/boring how could it be good? You will have to trust me and try it for yourself. It is amazing how delicious this dish is. All of the ingredients are showcased in the finished dish, so make sure you use high quality ingredients. That being said you probably have most of these ingredients on hand.

  • Angel hair or cappelinni pasta
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil(no subs on this, vital to flavor)
  • 1 large can of whole plum tomatoes
  • kalamata olives
  • garlic, thinly sliced not minced
  • fresh basil
  • Parmesan cheese the real deal not pre shredded or grated, you need a chunk.
  • zucchini or other vegetable, optional.
This dish is fast and easy, you can have an impressive looking pasta on your table in 20 minutes! However, for the finished flavor to be impressive you need to follow these guidelines. Use a decent quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it is part of the sauce so you will be tasting it. Also slicing the garlic vs. mincing make a difference in flavor! Sliced garlic will have less punch and be more mellow. The last thing that is very important is using a chunk of Parmesan, you need to shave thin sheets of parm onto your finished pasta, if you use grated Kraft bullshit parm or even preshredded, you might as well just not make this dish. Ok you get the idea now to the how to.

  • Get your pasta water on the stove.
  • open can of tomatoes and drain of extra juice, then crush with hands and drain of most of extra juice again. place tomatoes in bowl.
  • add about 6 kalamata olives torn in half/or 12 halves.
  • Julienne about 6 leaves of fresh basil and add to tomatoes
  • thinly slice 2 cloves of garlic
  • Then add about 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I know it seems like a lot but Olive oil is heart healthy remember.
  • Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Your sauce should look like this

  • When your water is boiling add your pasta/about one fist full(make a circle with thumb and forefinger....that much)
  • If using zucchini or other vegetable have it sauteed and ready in pan when you add pasta to water. If not using skip this step.
  • Add all of your sauce to the saute pan, cook a few minutes.
  • Your noodles should be al dente now take them directly from water to saute pan. Some water is ok it will add to your sauce.
  • Cook together until liquid is absorbed by noodles.
  • Plate and using a vegetable peeler shave a generous amount of Parmesan on top.

Other Fast Foodie Friday Posts

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Things of Interest

 Hello Readers,
I haven't been blogging for a good while because my computer was so old that I could no longer update my browser, or blogger. It made blogging tough. It would take an hour to upload photos and even then wouldn't always work. So....I have a new computer! I am rejoining the ranks of bloggers. I am working on a few posts of substance, but for now you will have to make due with a few items of interest from around the web.

Thank you for your patience.

 Food Nerd Links
 I am always on the look out for interesting food blogs, most are all the same "look I'm Martha Stewart, I made good things!". Here are a few that are more interesting than just looking at pretty food.

Nerd alert! Here are some just plain nerdy links. Have fun!