Masala Chai Tea

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It’s finally February! January breezed by too fast but while it’s still crisp and nippy out, here’s my first post for this new year. Some of you may remember seeing this tea on my former blog. Enjoy!

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I was flipping through the pages of Fine Cooking Magazine and a picture of a steamy mug of creamy tea caught my eye. Along with that picture was a recipe for “masala chai tea”. I had my first taste of chai tea at Starbucks. It was an interesting flavor but it was a bit too sweet and the spices were too bold for my taste. However, it peaked my interest so I thought that I should try a more authentic version of chai tea. Since making a pilgrimage to India was out of the question, doing a little research was my next option. This recipe promised a subtle and more delicate flavor so I had to try it.

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“Masala” refers to a blend of spices used in Indian cuisine, and the word, “chai” is the word for tea. So, “masala chai tea” translates to…”spiced tea, tea. Right? Think about it.

I’m enamored with the idea that there are as many chai tea vendors also known as “chai wallahs” or “chaiwalas” spotting the streets of India as there are coffee houses speckled all over our cities. Each of them as dedicated to the art of making chai tea as a barista is to brewing the perfect cup of espresso. Finding some of the spices was a little adventure and I wasn’t familiar with some of them. Lucky for me, I’m minutes away from a Mediterranean specialty foods market and they carry lots of lovely products.

What I love about this tea is that it’s fragrant, creamy, spicy, and it’s packed with healthy benefits. A tea with all of these wonderful ingredients has to be good for us right? Here’s how this tea is prepared.

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You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon of loose English breakfast or Darjeeling tea
  • 2 cups of water
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 6 cardamon pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 slice of ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (more or less to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup of milk

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, crush each cardamon pod with the back of a spoon until you hear a slight pop or the pod slightly opens. Place the loose tea, cloves, peppercorns, cardamon pods, star anise, and the slice of ginger into a mesh tea infuser. Once the water has reached a boil, remove from heat and drop in the cinnamon stick and the tea infuser into the hot water. Allow it to steep uncovered for 5 minutes. Then, remove the cinnamon stick and the infuser from the liquid. Add sugar and the milk. Froth with a whisk until sugar has dissolved and the tea is slightly frothy.

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You should now have a foamy, creamy, fragrant tea. Pour into cups. Grate a little fresh nutmeg on top. Sip. enjoy.

Let me know what you think and have a very romantic February!

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Refreshing Chia-Lime Water

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You know, the only thing I like about summer is the fresh foods and drinks that we can prepare to keep cool. I bet you have a few favorites of your own. Let me tell you about one of my summer drinks. I’m talking about my refreshing Chila-Lime water. My mother would always prepare cool pitchers of homemade fruit drinks to keep us hydrated during the hot summers.

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I especially remember that she would stir a few tablespoons of chia seeds into pitchers of limeade. The kids and I used to love it. It doesn’t alter the taste. They’re tiny seeds that swell up by absorbing the liquid that they’re submerged in.

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The really awesome thing about chia seeds is that they are a nutritious powerhouse. Mayan and Aztec warriors and hunters who relied on this tiny seed to give them energy, endurance, and to help keep them satiated and hydrated. Chia seeds also have tons of health benefits such as omega-3, calcium, and antioxidants. They’re also known to help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Consuming them helps with weight loss by helping you feel full longer. Chia seeds are also rich in protein and healthy fats. These are only a few known benefits of these amazing little seeds. Check them out for yourself. Okay, with that said, bellow you’ll see how to prepare this refreshing chia-lime water:

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You will need:

  • 4 cups of cool filtered water
  • 3 to 4 limes
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Agave nectar or simple syrup

Fill a pitcher with 4 cups of filtered water. Juice the limes and add the juice into the pitcher. Pour the chia seeds into the liquid and stir immediately. Allow seeds to plump, but stir frequently to keep them from clumping.  Sweeten to taste with agave nectar or simple syrup. Pour over ice and enjoy.

Simple right? Let me know what you think. Have a lovely week!

-Camila

Iced Macchiato with Caramel Sauce

 

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Previously, I showed you how easy it is to make an iced cafe au lait in a mason jar. If you haven’t read that post, you’re missing out! To see it, click here. This stuff is awesome!

It’s really hot here in Houston so this is the perfect time for iced coffee. I’m going to share how I prepare my favorite iced coffee drink, iced macchiato. I always try to keep a bottle of this coffee concentrate in the refrigerator so that I can prepare macchiatos any time I want. For cafe au laits, I used, French Market or Cafe Du Monde coffee because they have chicory in the grounds. However, for macchiatos I use an Italian roast or espresso roast coffee. Feel free to experiment with your favorite coffee and see what you like the best.

Okay, let me get right to it. You will need ice, chilled coffee concentrate, cold milk, and caramel sauce. This is how you prepare it:

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Put some ice in cup.

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Pour some milk (about two-thirds of the glass).

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Slowly pour the coffee, gently over the ice (about one-third of the glass).

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Isn’t it a beautiful thing? I love how the coffee swirls barely staining the milk with caramel hues honoring its name, “macchiato”, which means, “marked” or “stained” in Italian. Now all that you have to do is drizzle some of your favorite caramel sauce on top.

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Stir…

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and enjoy.

Easy isn’t it? Please…I insist, try this at home.

Well, I’m off to some new adventures and to sip on this refreshing coffee. Drop a line with any comments or feedback. It’s much appreciated! Enjoy your week!

 

 

Coffee: Iced Café au lait

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I adore coffee served in any form, but my favorite way to drink it is on ice. I prefer it chilled probably because Houston is cold drink-friendly almost year-round. Although, I have been one of those people caught sipping on an iced drink on the coldest days.

My sweetheart and I until recently, were living out of our suitcases. We were on the road for over a year traveling back and forth all over Louisiana and back. Every square inch of our car was packed with suitcases, pots, pans, bird-cage, and all.  I was limited to what I could bring along so I had to plan accordingly. One thing we always must have, is our iced coffee. Can I tell you something? I have a gold card status at Starbucks. Yep, that’s like racking up frequent flyer miles, but the currency here is caffeine. Practically all of the places we were traveling to were off the beaten path so there weren’t any coffee houses nearby much less a Starbucks. I had to get creative so I came up with a way to steer our homesickness away and get our iced-coffee fix without the need for special equipment. That was all possible with a little help from a mason jar. Let me tell you how to prepare a nice cup of iced café au lait.

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The first thing you need to do is prepare a strong cold coffee concentrate. To make this you will need some ground coffee (of your choice). I’m making an iced New Orleans style café au lait, so I will be using the French Market Coffee or Cafe Du Monde coffee. You will also need some cone coffee filters, a tablespoon, and a large 32 oz mason jar.

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Place three generous tablespoons of coffee grounds into each coffee filter or more if you’d like. Limit 4 spoonfuls per filter because if you put too much coffee grounds in a single filter, the grounds will slip out.

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Once you have three or four spoonfuls of coffee in a filter, begin folding the top corner and continue to make folds overlapping over the last. Repeat until you’ve created a sort of envelope.

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Prepare two or three coffee envelopes. Place them inside the jar and fill with clean filtered water to the top. Twist on the cap and let it sit in a cool place in your kitchen overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. This will allow the coffee to brew without the use of heat. It makes a nice, smooth brew without bitterness.

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After that time has elapsed, it will look like this. Isn’t it a dark beauty? Pull out the coffee filters and discard. If any grounds slip into the liquid. Put a coffee filter over the mouth of another mason jar and pour the liquid through it to strain out the grounds. It’s no big deal. Put the coffee concentrate in the refrigerator to chill for later use or you may use it right away.

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Okay, now comes the fun part.

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Put some ice in a nice cup and pour some of that delicious coffee elixir…or concentrate.

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Then, add a splash of milk or cream. If you’d like to sweeten it, stir in some sugar, coffee sweetener, condensed milk, or simple syrup.

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Stir. Sip. Enjoy. Simple, right? Now go on and try this at home and let me know what you think, leave a comment, or like and share. Have a fantastic weekend everyone!