Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot Days, Cold Drinks

I normally don't like to turn the stove on at all when it's hot out, but I broke my rule and we made some really delicious food this weekend. Dan made bean enchiladas from his favorite vegetarian cookbook, Rabbit Food.  They were AMAZING.  I don't know about copyright laws and whatnot, so I won't post the recipe here, but you should definitely get the book because they have some really good, simple, and easy to modify dishes.  He added one jalapeno pepper and some cheese to the book's recipe.  This morning I ate a cold leftover bowl of the enchilada sauce with a bit of the bean mixture because it was so good.  Hello, breakfast enchiladas!  I also grilled a piece of fresh rockfish and served it with a little Earth Balance, oregano, and lemon juice on top.  We had some leftover snap peas from our stir-fry last week, so I steamed those to go with it.  It was all quite good.

Iced Masala Chai
On to the topic at hand.  I love a good soy iced chai.  The problem is there are almost no places that make a good soy iced chai so I've resorted to doing it myself.  At almost anyplace you order it, if you ask you will find out it is made from a pre-packaged concentrate or worse, a powder.  If said place has "chai tea" as their menu item, don't even bother asking ("chai" is the Indian word for "tea", so this place is offering you "tea tea").  The secret to masala chai, literally "spiced tea", is to use a good loose-leaf black tea and incorporate really good spices.  I tried making my own spice mixtures for a while, but I had a hard time getting it right.  Fortunately, last year Dan and I were in Portland, Oregon and we hit the jackpot.  We were at a small cafe and I was served a delicious, fresh-brewed chai with a peppery kick.  Upon asking what spices were used we found out the spice mix was commercially available from Morning Glory Chai so of course we ordered some.

I follow the directions on the package.  What you are making is essentially the "concentrate" a restaurant might have except it's so much better.  As sweeteners, I use 1T agave nectar, 1T real maple syrup, and 1T honey.  Let it cool off, fill a cup 3/4 of the way with ice, put in about 2/3 chai mixture and 1/3 soy milk (adjust which alternative milk you use and the amount to taste).  This was so refreshing in the 100 degree heat!

White Sangria
Last weekend, Dan and I visited one of our favorite local wine stores.  I like it because every single time we go in they are pouring samples of yummy wine, and Dan likes it because it happens to have a great selection of craft beers, a win-win for us. The lovely folks that work there mentioned using "New Age", a particularly light and effervescent white wine to make sangria.  I had to try it!  Today at the farmer's market, I picked up some tiny local plums and ripe peaches.  We chopped those up, added a few chunks of frozen mango that hadn't made it into smoothies and poured in the full bottle of wine.  To that, we added about a shot's worth of Grand Marnier (any citrusy liquor will do, that is just what we had in the house), and about 1/4 cup of sugar.  After letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, it has turned out absolutely wonderful! Serve over ice.

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