Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Time for tea: warm, spicy chai

This week, I have received a few requests for use of a chai tea image I shot some time ago (strange: is there a chai convention going on???). The conversations reminded me of how much I enjoy chai and how fun it is to concoct your own flavors. Chai is such a nice option on a cold winter day: warm, rich and soothing with spices to wake up your senses. It was the perfect afternoon beverage to sip while watching the falling snow today. Follow the basic recipe for chai and then add your own spices to taste, or follow some of my ideas below.

Basic chai

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tsp loose black tea
Spices to taste
1 Tbs granulated sugar (or to taste)

Heat water and milk along with spices until liquid boils. Remove from heat, add tea, cover and steep for 2 minutes. Strain out tea and spices. Add sugar to taste.

For every cup of liquid, add:

Eastern Blend

1/2 tsp sumac berries
2 pods green cardamom

Sweet Blend

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 pieces "Vietnamese or true" cinnamon or 1 stick Cassia

Spicy Blend

1-2 star anise
3 balls allspice
3 black peppercorns

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Satsifying a sweet tooth: quick-bake raspberry rolls

I've been fiddling around with some left over puff pastry from the Sweet Paul piece. It's so fun to work with pre-prepared pastry. It takes just minutes to make something delicious. It's a good thing it's frozen - at least there is some hurdle to baking a hedonistic treat!

Quick-bake raspberry rolls
(makes six, double recipe for 12)

One sheet puff pastry, defrosted according to package instructions
1/4 - 1/2 cup raspberry jam, heated to loosen it (strain seeds if desired but I like them)
Scant handful dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Melted butter for basting
Granulated sugar and sanding sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place defrosted pastry on a lightly floured surface. Lightly dust with granulated sugar. Brush with butter and use a fork to prick pastry in 4 or 5 different places. Spoon on and evenly distribute jam. Scatter walnuts and cranberries on top. Cut pastry into six rectangles and roll each rectangle horizontally. Place on a non-stick baking sheet, seam down. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for ~15 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden.