Friday, March 06, 2020

Mint Matcha Latte Recipe

Mint Matcha Latte Recipe

My thanks to Sonoma Syrup for sponsoring this post. I only work with brands I personally use. 

Growing up I loved pistachio ice cream, green marzipan covered princess cake, and shamrock shakes from you-know-where. Yes, green was my favorite color. I’m not sure I would have liked matcha as a child, but I certainly like it now. I usually make matcha with just water, but for St. Patrick’s Day I created a minty green matcha drink as a treat.

Matcha is a Japanese green tea, ground into a powder. You can easily find matcha powder suitable for recipes at the supermarket nowadays. Matcha can be used in cookies, ice cream, cakes and more. It has a lot of health benefits including antioxidants and is reported to help protect the liver, boost brain function, may help prevent cancer and even support weight loss. In many recipes matcha is combined with milk, if you combine it with cow's milk the calcium counteracts the absorption of many of the beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. Some non-dairy milk also has calcium added. But if you’re not drinking it for health reasons it’s fine to use any milk you like. 

The flavor of matcha is usually pretty subtle in recipes, so I like combining it with other complementary flavors. Sonoma Syrup Peppermint Simple Syrup adds both sweetness and the hint of mint flavor that makes this drink so special. I particularly like using coconut milk in this recipe because while it doesn’t have any real coconut flavor, it does add richness. This drink is intended to be served hot, but I tried it cold and it’s good that way too! 

Mint Matcha Latte
Serves 1


1 serving matcha powder, about a teaspoon
2-3 Tablespoons hot water
1 cup coconut milk (or other milk of your choice)
1 teaspoon Sonoma Syrup Peppermint Simple Syrup, or more to taste


Heat the coconut milk until hot but not boiling. Meanwhile, in a mug whisk together the matcha powder and hot water until smooth. Add the hot milk and simple syrup. Whisk to combine and serve immediately


Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Emma's Famous Beet Borscht Recipe

Emma's Famous Beet Borscht

There are a few dishes that I grew up eating that are my soul food. High on my list is borscht, a beet soup from Eastern Europe. I like it hot, I like it cold. I like it thin, I like it thick. I like it with beef, I like it vegetarian. And I particularly like it with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. The beets somehow transform mundane carrots, onions, and potatoes into something sweet, juicy and scrumptious. 

I used to make borscht from a recipe from The Victory Garden Cookbook. It's a great recipe from a really great cookbook, but it is incredibly involved and time-consuming. To the rescue comes my friend, Emma. Emma is a colleague of mine so I get to see her fairly frequently at events around town. She is in some ways a bit like me — she is curious, has a great appetite, is interested in art and strongly opinionated. We don’t always agree about everything but I am guaranteed a good conversation with Emma and I truly enjoy her company. Recently on a long drive together I learned about her life in Kiev and her story of coming to America. 

So it should come as no surprise that Emma has a good recipe for borscht. The most common variety of borscht is from Ukraine. It’s not just good, according to Emma, it’s famous. She tells me I’ll love it so much, I’ll soon be making it once a week, just like she does. While it’s not exactly a quick recipe, a big pot can be made in just about an hour. I used a bit more liquid than she did, adjust the liquid as you see fit. A few things to note, I peeled the potatoes but did not peel the beets or carrots. I also added water in addition to broth, and used at least a teaspoon of Kosher salt to season it. 

Emma’s Famous Beet Borscht Recipe
Makes about 6 servings
This recipe is adapted from Emma Krasov of Art and Entertain Me


1 32 ounce box chicken stock or broth
2-3 cups water 
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2-3 red medium beets, scrubbed, tops and bottoms trimmed
1 medium green cabbage
1 large potato, peeled and diced
Fresh dill
2-3 Tablespoons of tomato paste 
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon  
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Sour cream


Heat the broth and water in a large soup pot. When it comes to a boil add the onion, carrots and beets. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the diced potato and cook for another 15 minutes. 

Remove the beets with a slotted spoon and let them cool. Add shredded cabbage. Cook for 10-15 min. until soft but not mushy. Add the tomato paste and stir until it dissolves. Meanwhile, grate cooled beets on a big-hole grater. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add to the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat for a couple of minutes. 

Taste and adjust seasoning again as necessary. At this point, Emma says you can add paprika, cayenne, more lemon juice, any herbs, but in small portions, to taste. Turn off heat, stir in chopped fresh dill.  Serve hot, and garnish with sour cream. Keeps well for a week.   


Disclaimer: This post includes an Amazon affiliate link.

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.