Category Archives: cooking

Masala Chai

A lot of people are unaware the word chai literally means ‘tea’ so ordering a ‘chai tea’ is essentially ordering a ‘tea, tea’ but what you get is ‘spiced’ tea or ‘masala’ chai.

Generally in the winter I switch from drinking coffee to drinking spiced tea. I have a really hard time finding a place that serves a good chai. I really enjoy Bangalore Rose Chai from Enjoyingtea.com but alas I ran out. I also enjoy a good sweet coconut ginger tea with vanilla and coconut milk. Instead of reordering I got the chance to ask the magical question…

Can I make my own?

The answer is yes.

What is in chai? Some, but not all of these things:

Core ingredients:

  • water
  • milk (I find milk alternatives blend better with the flavors)
  • sugar or maple syrup
  • black tea
  • cinnamon
  • clove
  • black pepper
  • cardamom
  • ginger

Additional ingredients I found and tried

  • nutmeg
  • mint
  • lemongrass
  • fennel
  • star anise
  • vanilla
  • rose petals
  • corriander

Recipe? Well now. That’s a bit harder, your nose and taste buds will tell you.

There are so many ways to make spiced chai, because people all have different tastes so dont be afraid to experiment and write your own recipe.

It doesn’t matter if you have the whole or powdered version of the spice or some of both, that is completely ok. Using the internet to look up dozens of Masala Chai recipes let’s call the following ingredients the core of the recipe, nearly every recipe I looked at had these ingredients, the quantities and extra additional ingredients surrounding them can change drastically from recipe to recipe… but we have to start somewhere? right?

Actually that lead me somewhere interesting but I wasn’t the right place, not all chai is the same… I went back to square one and looked at the ingredients list of the chai I drink the most and make up amounts of those ingredients, and then tried mixing them around until I was happy with the result.

Instruction:

Using your smallest sauce pan start with about 2.5 – 3 cups of water brought to a simmer and three tablespoons of loose leaf black tea. or a few tea bags. If like me your smallest sauce pan is being used then you may do this via the microwave in a pinch.

My base chai recipe:

2.5 cups water

3/4 cup Almond milk

1.5 Tablespoons black tea (Behora Assam)

1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon

10 black pepper corns

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

2 thin slices ginger

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon corriander

3-4 tablespoons sugar, white granulated

Ok, you could totally stop there if you feel lost but for the adventurous spice users. I find smelling the steam and then smelling the individual spices helps me decide what to add. Once you decide then add in small amounts and taste your way to the correct amount but make sure to write it down.

Let the spices and the tea simmer for about 5 minutes add 1 or even 2 cups of milk, sugar/maple syrup/ vanilla once removed from the heat. steep for a few brief minutes.

Pour though a strainer (or maybe a coffee filter for powdered recipes) to separate the tea and spices.

Good luck in finding the perfect spiced tea!

Curry!!!

I made up a batch of Curry Powder the other day.

  • 2 tablespoons ground corriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Then from that I made Coconut Curry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon avocado or other cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • lemon zest from one small lemon
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • fresh chopped basil or 6 frozen basil cubes

Add oil to pan, saute red pepper flakes and garlic until fragrant. about 20-30 seconds. Add curry powder and stir and cook for a minute or so. Add two tablespoons of coconut milk to a teaspoon of corn starch and mix well and set aside. Add the rest of the coconut milk to the pan along with the lemon zest, soy sauce and sugar. Bring to a simmer and let cook for several minutes. Not all coconut milk is the same and a good coconut milk will turn into a nice thick sauce while some remain more liquid, they both taste the same in the end. Remove from heat and add basil, I used some frozen basil cubes for mine.


Curried Fried Potato Salad = comfort food

  • 2 tablespoons Avocado oil or other high heat oil
  • 1 large russet potato, diced into small bite sized cubes
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 cup cashews, toasted
  • 1/2 cup coconut curry sauce, heated

Heat oil in pan, add potato and onion and cook until crispy and browned, about 10 minutes.

One the side toast the cashews in a pan and set aside (Essentially you are making breakfast potatoes.) Once cooked remove from pan to a bowl, add the toasted cashews on top and pour 1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut curry over the top depending on serving size.


Then the next day I also made Curried Chicken Rice from the same batch of coconut curry

  • 1 cup of dry rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cashews, toasted
  • 1 left over chicken breast, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup coconut curry
  • 1 avocado, diced

Make the rice. While it is cooking chop the chicken breast, toast the cashews in a dry pan, prepare the peas depending on if they are canned or frozen. When the rice is done cooking, mix the rice, cashews, chicken and fully combine, then fold in the peas(gently if they are soft). Mix in diced avocado directly to the serving bowl just before being served.

Apple Cinnamon Challah

I have decided to expand my bread baking, I am going to stay with a bread I make well and try out stuffing bread. I like the slight bit of sweetness of honey challah and only added the cinnamon and sugar to the apples. I used Granny Smith, I prefer a juicy tart apple.

I am using a very old hand written recipe, so I am not sure of it’s origin.

I am using a very old hand written recipe with minimal instruction, I am not sure of it’s origin.

Ingredients:

1 package yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm water

3 eggs at room temperature

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 cups bread flour

2 large apples, minced into fine chunks

3 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Egg wash:

1 egg

1 teaspoon water

raw sugar

Instruction:

Proof yeast in the warm water with 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

whisk in eggs, honey, oil, salt, add flour 1 cup at a time and kneed for 10 minutes until smooth and a bit sticky.

Coat the dough in oil and place into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, allowing room to double and place it in a warm spot to rise for 90 minutes or until doubled.

Peel and chop the apples, mix with sugar and cinnamon.

Divide the dough into 4 parts. Place them back into the bowl and keep covered with the plastic wrap while working.

Roll out one portion at a time, long and thin and then flatten to allow for filling. Roll tightly and pinch the dough sealed. Set filled dough ropes in a cross hatched or tic-tac-toe pattern across the center of your baking sheet and weave them around together, and tucking the ends under.

Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush bread with egg wash, sprinkle with raw sugar and bake for 35 minutes. Rotate at about 1/2 way through cooking. Place tin foil over bread if it is becoming too dark.

Baking Bread

For me bread is not so much about the recipe, I can find great bread recipes all over the place, it’s more about having the time and patience to try and do it right. I sometimes fail terribly at the patience part.

Pumpkin Cardamom Spice Challah

Basic White Bread

First time with this recipe and I hadn’t baked bread in a long while. In the end it was a great tasting bread it was a bit dense and had a great crust. I don’t care for dense bread so I cut the loaf into thick slices and let them dry out overnight. I made a coconut milk French toast with them the next morning.

Fall Favorites cooking

This season I pulled from a lot of my past favorites.

Lemon Coconut Cream Pie

Cranberry Lemon Bread

Candied Mixed Nuts

Blend these up in a food processor and you have an amazing cupcake or coffee cake streusel topping or layered in between fruit, custard and whipped cream or, as the crust for a cheesecake, or in cookie dough… the possibilities are endless.

Chicken & Mushroom Ramen

Fall is the time for soup, but my favorites soup is ramen!

Baked Maple Delicata Squash

Curried Carnival Squash Soup

Turkey Day For Two

first things first

We are just cooking for two today so we shall not go overboard as we used to when cooking a thanksgiving meal. This is another occasion where measurement is not a part of meal preparation for me. Also, with just two, I do not want food to go to waste. So I am going with smaller portions and focus on quick and easy, but there are a few things I cannot make compromise on, stuffing, cranberry sauce must be made from scratch. I buy a smaller turkey without the wings and legs it is easy to position it in a way that holds herbed butter under the skin when balanced upright, or should I say… upside down.

I add the herbs and seasoning to unsalted dairy free butter and cook the flavor in gently. I am infusing quite a lot of sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper into the butter.

The important part is to separate the skin from the meat, getting under the membrane without tearing any holes in it so the liquid cannot escape. If done right there you will not compromise the pocket you have created and you will have a juicy turkey. I cooked it in this upright position the entire time and covered it with tinfoil after the first hour. It seems to cook faster in this position.

In a large crockpot, fill half way with cornbread and a whole grain nut and seed bread, dried and in small pieces. I use more herbed butter for the stuffing, you will need 1 lb of it, divided into two equal parts. I add one portion of the butter to the pan with a chopped onion, mushrooms and celery and cook until soft and beginning to brown. This will seem like an excessive amount of butter but it will pick up the flavor of the onion, mushrooms and celery and in turn they will taste buttery but the important part is that the bread really picks up all of the flavors through the butter. Once the onion is mostly translucent remove the pan from the heat and add onion mixture to the crock pot. Mix everything together really well and drizzle on the remaining half of the butter. From this point on you will want to add turkey broth until you reach a proper level of moisture. Cover the crockpot and cook on high for one to one and a half hours. At the half way point stir and do a taste test to adjust seasoning.

I am cutting corners, the yams are just tossed in on the sidelines, they aren’t in an elaborate desert or candied. I picked up a frozen dairy free pie, but I cannot bring myself to use canned cranberry. They are also selling cranberries in two pound bags this year so I think I may need to make some other cranberry recipes. Perhaps Cranberry bars or a coconut cream cranberry tart… But for now I will just start with jellied cranberries.