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Archive for March 25, 2014

PRODUCT: Higher Caffeine Teas

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More buzz than coffee. Photo by Elvira
Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

Caffeine is a natural stimulant, a compound present in tea, coffee and other beverages. Coffee has more caffeine, 80 to 100 mg. per cup.

Among teas, black tea has the highest amount of caffeine, about 40 mg. per cup; with diminishing amounts found in oolong, green (approximately 20 mg. per cup) and white teas, depending on strength and steeping time.

But what if you need more of a caffeine jolt and don’t like coffee or energy drinks?

Republic Of Tea hopes to fill the gap with its new line of HiCaf™ Teas for natural energy.

The company has intensified the normal caffeine in tea by adding green tea extract, known to have more caffeine than coffee, so tea drinkers can quickly get a healthy jump on the day.

There are five initial varieties: four black and one green.

 

HiCAF TEA VARIETIES

Black Teas

  • Breakfast Black HiCAF Tea Bags
  • Caramel Black HiCAF Tea Bags
  • Pom-berry Black HiCAF Tea Bags
  • Toasted Coconut Black HiCAF Tea Bags
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    Green Tea

  • Gingermint Green HiCAF Tea Bags
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    We received three samples: Breakfast Black Tea, Black Caramel and Gingermint Green. The caffeine content is clearly indicated on the side of each tin.

    Breakfast Black and Gingermint Green read their scripts well, and we’ve been enjoying them every morning. Caramel Black was too flavor-forward for us but will please people who enjoy highly flavored teas. We expect the same would be true with Pom-berry and Toasted Coconut black teas.

     

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    Three of the five HiCAF flavors. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    Did they give us a jolt?

    No, but we don’t get a jolt from coffee, either.

    Each tin contains 50 round, unbleached tea bags free of strings, tags and staples: $13/tin.

    The full collection is available for purchase at RepublicOfTea.com and at natural and specialty food stores nationwide.
     
    POP QUIZ: NAME THE FOODS THAT CONTAIN CAFFEINE

    There are seven foods that contain natural caffeine. Can you name them?

    The first two are giveaways: coffee and tea. The other five are in the footnote* below, but try to guess before you look.

     
    *Cacao (in cocoa and chocolate products), coffee, guarana (a component of energy drinks), guayusa (another Amazonian leaf), the kola nut (used to make Coke and other colas), conventional tea (Camellia sinensis) and yerba maté.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Leftover Cooked Grains

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    Turn leftover quinoa or other grain into a
    breakfast parfait. Photo courtesy Chobani.

     

    Barley, buckwheat, bulgur, rice, quinoa….

    You’re doing your best to eat more whole grains and up your daily fiber content.

    But if you’re staring down a bowl of leftover grains in the fridge, here’s how to repurpose it. Although it isn’t a whole grain, include white rice on this list (since many of us have lots of leftover white rice from Chinese takeout). We haven’t included oatmeal because its cooked consistency has limitations; but you can find ways below to use it.

    UNSEASONED GRAINS

  • Breakfast Or Lunch Parfait: Sweeten the grains lightly and create a parfait with yogurt and fruit.
  • Omelet or Scrambled Eggs: Just fold the grains in.
  • Porridge: Reheat grains in a bowl and serve with milk, sweetener of choice and optional fruit and/or nuts.
  • Rice Pudding Substitute: Place the grains in a bowl and moisten with whole milk or nonfat milk (enough to wet the rice but not to create a pool of excess liquid). Add a teaspoon of your favorite sweetener and optional raisins or chopped dried fruit, plus cinnamon and nutmeg. Microwave for 30 seconds or enjoy cold.
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    SEASONED GRAINS

  • Burritos, Stuffed Peppers, Wraps: Toss ‘em in.
  • Fried Rice/Fried Rice Substitute: Heat oil in a saucepan; add rice or other grains, diced onions or green onions, minced garlic and soy sauce. Add diced bell pepper, carrots and any leftover meat, poultry seafood or tofu. If you have sesame oil, add a teaspoon to the primary cooking oil.
  • Grain Salad: Mix with diced chopped onions, bell peppers and other favorite vegetables, fresh parsley and any leftover protein. Use olive oil to bind. You can also use this filling to make stuffed tomatoes and stuffed peppers.
  • Green Salad: Toss seasoned grains in with your salad or use as a garnish.
  • Mac & Cheese Substitute: Mix grains with shredded, grated or chopped cheese and put in the microwave for 30 sections. Season with fresh parsley, chopped green onions or red pepper flakes. Enjoy it as a quick snack or a side dish; it’s great comfort food.
  • Meatballs or Stuffed Cabbage: In the meatballs, substitute grains for breadcrumbs; in stuffed cabbage, substitute other grains for the rice.
  • Polenta Or Hash Browns Substitute: Use the grains to create a version of these popular sides. Combine the leftover grains with any other ingredients that appeal to you (green onions, sesame seeds, whatever), press into a frying pan and fry.
  • Side: Add more ingredients to make yesterday’s side look different. Beans, corn, dried fruit, green onions, peas, nuts, and so forth can make the dish look new. Also look at a different flavor enhancement: Dijon mustard, horseradish, sesame oil and so forth.
  • Soup: Using a cookie dough scoop, ice cream scoop or tablespoon and place a mound in the center of a bowl of soup—hot or chilled (like gazpacho).
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    Other ideas? Let us know!

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: International Waffle Day

    International Waffle Day, which originated in Sweden, is celebrated in the U.S. on March 25th. There is a separate National Waffle Day, celebrated on August 24th, that was originally created to honor the waffle iron.

    The net of it is, you can celebrate a waffle holiday twice a year! Prepared sweet or savory, they can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    In different parts of the world, waffles are topped with confectioners’ sugar, honey, jam, even peanut butter. But in the U.S., what are waffles without maple syrup?

    And what’s with the different types of maple syrup?

    GRADES (VARIETIES) OF MAPLE SYRUP

    Because maple syrup is tapped in the winter, it has traditionally been seen as a winter flavor. But just like honey and sugar, it can be enjoyed year-round in recipes from cocktails to salad dressings and marinades to desserts.

    If you’re confused by the four grades of maple syrup (A Light Amber, A Medium Amber, A Dark Amber and B) here’s an explanation of the different types.

     

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    Chicken and waffles. Photo courtesy Daniel Krieger | Sweet Chick | Brooklyn.

     
    In brief, at the beginning of the season, the syrup runs light in both color and flavor, and is called Grade A Light Amber. By mid-season it’s Grade A Medium Amber, followed by Grade A Dark Amber and Grade B. At the end of the season, it’s the strongest in flavor and color, commercial grade syrup.

    CROWN PREMIUM MAPLE SYRUP

    We recently received a bottle of Crown Maple syrup, certified organic. It is produced by Madava Farms, a family business in the historic Hudson River Valley of New York (Dutchess County).

    There, 800 acres of century-old, sustainably managed groves of sugar and red maples enjoy perfect soil and ideal seasonal weather conditions to produce a superior sap for maple sugaring.

    But production is a key determinant of quality. Far from the old primitive sugar house, Crown premium maple syrup is made at the most advanced maple syrup production facility in the country. The pristine sap collected from the maples is cooked using the latest in green, organic production techniques to produce syrups of exceptional quality.

     
    CROWN SYRUP VARIETIES

    As you can see from these tasting notes, different grades pair better with specific recipes.

    Light Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Flavors of popcorn, vanilla bean, roasted nuts, salted caramel and brown butter. Although light in color, the body has a pleasing weight and depth, with a sweetness and finish that lingers.
  • Uses: Pair with salty flavors, for example glazing pork belly or bacon. Try it in cocktails with whiskey as a base: Replace the muddled sugar cubes in an Old Fashioned. Use it as a substitute for palm sugar in Thai recipes.
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    Medium Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Aromas of gingerbread and roasted chestnut with flavors of rye, butterscotch and spice.
  • Uses: Pair with baked breads, chocolate and ginger cookies and heavier spirits—barrel-aged bourbons or peaty, smoky Scotch. Use as a topping for chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
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    The handsome bottles are nicely boxed for
    gift giving. Photo courtesy Madava Farms.

     

    Dark Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: The flavor and aroma are similar to Medium Amber, but the syrup has more weight, depth and concentration. Aromas of coffee and cocoa beans are present, along with flavors of brown sugar and toasted almond.
  • Uses: Use instead of other sweeteners in coffee, and as an alternative to honey as a condiment for cheeses.
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    Crown Maple Extra Dark for Cooking

  • Tasting Notes: A robust maple syrup with a great depth of flavor, richness and a bright finish.
  • Uses: For cooking and baking. The richness shines through even the boldest of food pairings.
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    Where To Purchase

    A 12-ounce bottle, gift boxed, is $16.95; a samplers of all three is $59.95; and a “petite trio” of three small bottles (1.7 ounces each) is $15.95. An 12-ounce bottle of Extra Dark Syrup for Cooking is $27.95.

    A 10-ounce bag of maple sugar (see below) is 10.95.

    Buy them online at CrownMaple.com.

     
    MORE ABOUT WAFFLES

    The Ur-Waffle. Before there were modern waffles, there were the rustic hotcakes of the Neolithic Age (ca. 6000 B.C.E. to ca. 2000 B.C.E.). Made of cereal pulps, they were cooked on heated stones. Honey is as old as written history, dating back to 2100 B.C.E., where it was mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings, the Hittite code and the sacred writings of India and Egypt. We don’t know when man first decided to unite honey and hotcakes, but here’s the honey history.

    The Waffle Iron. The waffle iron—enabling pancake-type foods to be turned into textured waffles—was created in the 1200s, when a [presumably] pancake-loving craftsman combined cooking plates that reproduced a pattern of honeycombs.

    The Electric Waffle Iron. The electric waffle iron was introduced in 1911 by General Electric.

    Types Of Waffles. There are at least 11 varieties of waffles: American, Belgian/Brussels, Liège, Hong Kong Waffle, Krumcake, Malt, Pizzelle, Potato, Soft, Stroopwafel and, yes, Toaster. Take a look at the types of waffles.

    Here’s the complete history of waffles.

    The Center Of Syrup. Canada produces more than 80% of the world’s maple syrup, the vast majority in Quebec. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, followed by New York and Maine. But no matter how much is produced in the U.S., we need to import the majority of our syrup from Canada. (We have the trees to produce more syrup, but not the people who want to tap them.)

     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE WAFFLES WITH A TWIST

    Here’s a recipe from Crown that uses maple sugar instead of table sugar for even more maple flavor.

    Ingredients For 6 Large Waffles

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar (see note below
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT waffle iron to desired temperature.

    2. COMBINE all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and set aside.

    3. BEAT eggs in a separate bowl; stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.

    4. LADLE batter into heated waffle iron and cook until golden brown; serve immediately with maple syrup.

     

    WHAT IS MAPLE SUGAR

    Maple sugar is made from the sap from the maple tree, as opposed to the juice of sugar cane, from which table sugar is made. It has the same strong maple flavor and aroma as maple syrup.

    The sap is boiled until almost all of the water has been evaporated; the remaining product has crystallized. The sugar can be sold in large blocks, molded into small shapes or simply ground into a granulated version that can be used like regular sugar.

    Maple sugar can be used in the same way as cane sugar: in coffee, tea, baked goods and cocktails. It adds more complexity and richness than cane sugar.

    However, is almost twice as sweet as regular sugar, so when replacing cane sugar, you need to reduce the amount. Try using one-third less, and adjust to taste.

      

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