Saturday, January 18, 2020

Masala Chai Recipe

My thanks to Sonoma Syrup for sponsoring this post. I only work with brands that I personally believe in and use. 
Hot, creamy, spiced, black tea is called masala chai in India. In Hindi chai means tea and masala means a mixture of ground spices. But in the US we often refer to masala chai as chai tea or chai tea latte. During Winter I crave masala chai. I first tried it in an Indian restaurant. It was rich with milk and very, very sweet, then in college, I discovered the pleasure of making it myself. I got the recipe long before the internet, from someone I met at a party. Calling it a recipe might be a stretch, it’s more like general guidelines.

Funny that tea is not even mentioned in the recipe! But that ancient scrap of paper is the basis for my recipe, which is a combination of strong black tea and milk, flavored with cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and fresh ginger. I’ve tried many commercial versions of chai, but they often use flavorings or ground spices rather than crushed whole spices and I like mine much better. I find the chai at most Indian restaurants to be too sweet. Making it at home, I used to use white sugar, but Sonoma Syrup White Ginger, Pumpkin Spice or Vanilla infused simple syrups are even better because they add another layer of flavor.

There’s no right or wrong way to make chai. You will see some recipes that use whole spices or grind them completely, some simmer the tea bags with the spices and some simmer the tea, the spices, and milk. The best thing about making masala chai at home is that you can adjust the technique and the spices to your liking, something you can’t do with chai mixes, tea bags or concentrates. Just as I adapted the recipe I was given, you should do the same, experiment with different spices or different proportions to make it truly yours. 

Masala Chai
Makes 2-3 servings


4 cardamom pods
4 black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 stick cinnamon 
2 thick slices fresh ginger 
2 cups water
2 tea bags of strong black tea or 1 Tablespoon loose black tea
1 cup milk, or more to taste (dairy or non-dairy, I use 1% dairy milk)
Sweetener—white sugar, Sonoma Syrup Pumpkin Spice, White Ginger or Vanilla infused syrup to taste 


Crush the cardamom, black pepper, clove and cinnamon and bash the ginger slices, but do not grind any of it completely. In a pot combine the water and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer over low heat, covered for 10 minutes. Add the tea and turn off the heat. Cover again and let steep for 5 minutes then add the milk. Strain and add sweetener to taste. 


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Half The Sugar All The Love Cookbook Review

Sugar has been in the news lately and it hasn't been sweet. While it isn’t a surprise to learn that too much sugar is bad for your health, it is a bit surprising to learn just how addictive and pervasive sugar is. In Make 2020 The Year of Less Sugar, a story that ran in the New York Times just a few weeks ago I learned that sugar lurks in 70% of packaged food, the many health risks associated with too much sugar as well as the “addictive nature of the fructose in processed foods and beverages.” 

The article recommends taking a 7-day break from added sugar, and then adding it back in but carefully. The New York Times also published a “7 Day Sugar Challenge" but  if you’re really serious about cutting the sugar, check out Half The Sugar All The Love, a new cookbook by Jennifer Tyler Lee, a healthy food advocate and Anisha Patel, an MD and Stanford professor who researches children’s health. The book definitely slants toward families, but even a household without kids like mine will find the recipes appealing. I made the Double Chocolate Brownies, twice (!) and the Creamy Tomato Soup. I already had recipes I like for both of these things so it made for interesting comparisons. 

The brownies are grain and gluten free, and have only 1/4 cup of maple syrup to sweeten them! The recipe uses almond butter and sweet potatoes and is fairly low in saturated fat. They are rich, not terribly sweet and very tender, but not caky. But my favorite recipe is actually the tomato soup which is incredibly smooth and well balanced without added sugar, but with a couple of carrots to lend sweetness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Some of the recipes are truly a marvel, each one shows how much sugar is in it, and what the typical amount of sugar is. Some recipes have 1/4 or 1/2 the usual sugar but others have as little as 1/10th the sugar. I’m looking forward to trying the Cold Sesame Noodles, the Caramelized Pumpkin Bread, Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon Burgers, and the Maple Roasted Almonds. 

I received an extra review copy of this book, so I’m going to give it away to one lucky reader! 
Just follow Cooking with Amy on Instagram, like the brownies post, and leave a comment tagging someone you think would like the recipe to enter. 

*Must be 18+ years and have a US address to win. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted directly. If the winner does not reply within 24 hours, a second winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Instagram. The contest will end on 1/23/20

Disclaimer: This book was provided for me as a review copy. I was not paid to write this post but it does include an affiliate link.

Monday, December 30, 2019

White Ginger Turmeric Latte Recipe

Disclaimer: My thanks to Sonoma Syrup for sponsoring this post. I only work with brands that I personally use and want to share with my readers 

I love the tingle and zing of ginger, especially fresh ginger, but lately, I’ve been using Sonoma Syrup White Ginger Infused simple syrup to add a bit of spice and warmth to Winter recipes. Just this past week I used it in both applesauce and turmeric latte or golden milk. Instead of using sugar in applesauce, I added 1/4 cup of the white ginger infused simple syrup to 8 peeled and diced apples and the juice of one lemon. This was a change from the usual cinnamon, and it was particularly good on potato pancakes. 

I’m a bit of a latecomer to the pleasures of "haldi doodh" also known as turmeric latte or golden milk. A traditional drink in India, it is purported to have all kinds of health benefits including everything from warding off colds to curing acne to supporting weight loss. I can only speak to one benefit, which is aiding in sleep. Growing up I drank warm milk on nights I couldn’t sleep. It might have been the power of suggestion, but I still associate warm milk with sleep. Turmeric latte is a soothing, relaxing and warming beverage, and my version is enhanced with the addition to ginger and black pepper. 

Turmeric latte is a very flexible recipe. A pinch of black pepper and a bit of ginger both supposedly enhance the anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric but also complement the flavor of turmeric and milk. While adding sweeteners is not traditional in golden milk, it is used in a lot of contemporary recipes. Some recipes use maple syrup or honey to sweeten golden milk, but white ginger infused simple syrup is particularly good. Be sure to use really fresh turmeric powder in this drink, if you use between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon per serving it won’t be gritty or require straining but it will be golden. 

White Ginger Turmeric Latte 
makes 2 servings 

2 cups of milk, dairy or non-dairy
1/2-1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2-1 teaspoon Sonoma Syrup white ginger syrup
Pinch black pepper

In a small saucepan combine the milk, turmeric, syrup and pepper. Heat over medium heat and whisk until frothy. When hot remove from the stove and taste. Adjust the amount of turmeric and syrup to your liking. 


Monday, December 23, 2019

Joy of Cooking: 2019 Edition Fully Revised and Updated Review

Joy of Cooking was one of the first cookbooks in my collection. It's been a solid reference book for home cooks since it was first published in 1936 and was the cookbook I turned to when I was learning to cook. I turned to Joy to learn how to make biscuits, cobblers, pie crust, gingerbread, how long to roast a chicken or leg of lamb, and the general guidelines for everything from how long to steam an artichoke to how to make zucchini bread.

As my cookbook collection has grown and my cooking has become more adventurous, I stopped referring to Joy of Cooking which felt a little old fashioned, and a little too Midwestern. But the latest version has brought me back into the fold and here's why. The most recent version was updated by John Becker, the great-grandson of the original author Irma Rombauer and his wife Megan Scott. They live in Portland, Oregon, and the book now has more of a West Coast flavor than ever before— which is evident in recipes for things like poke and cioppino. They are young and adventurous and have thankfully dispensed with recipes that relied on things like Jell-o and canned soup while incorporating a very wide range of international spices and condiments so you'll find explanations of things like koji, amba and gochujang. The book has sections on canning, fermenting and even how to infuse vodka.

Recently I wanted to make kimchi but having never made it before I found the recipe in Joy of Cooking was perfect for a beginner. The book has caught up to where I am in my cooking and culinary explorations while still being a solid pick for the basics. Even if you already have a copy (or more than one) of Joy of Cooking, I recommend checking out the new one. There are 600 new recipes and it feels fresh and modern while preserving everything cooks appreciate about the book, especially the intertwining of ingredients and instructions and an approachable personality. Becker and Scott have done Irma Rombauer proud. 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of Joy of Cooking. I was not compensated monetarily to write this review. This page includes affiliate links.