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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Beverages

RECIPE: Thai Iced Tea

WHAT IS THAI ICED TEA?

Thai iced tea, known as cha-yen (cha is the word for tea), is served in Thailand, Vietnam, elsewhere around the Pacific Rim and in Thai restaurants in the West and elsewhere around the world. It is made from strong-brewed black tea and sweetened condensed milk, which adds body and creamy mouthfeel.

The brewed tea can be enhanced with spices, such as cardamom, clove, nutmeg, star anise and tamarind. If you like chai tea with milk and sweetener, you’ll equally like Thai iced tea.

For visual appeal, the deep amber tea and white condensed milk are swirled together or layered. The drink can be topped off evaporated milk, coconut milk, half and half or whole milk.

The countries where it’s most popular are known for hot.steamy summers. Thai iced tea is a welcome refreshment—and a complement to spicy food. If your neck of the woods is as hot and steamy as ours is, it’s time to try the recipe.

 

The milky swirl of Thai iced tea is a visual treat. Photo courtesy ArborTeas.com.

 

THAI ICED TEA RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup black tea leaves (approximately 3 ounces)
  • Optional spices: cardamom, ground tamarind, nutmeg, star anise or others (cinnamon works for us), to taste
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or equivalent noncaloric sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk to top (you can substitute coconut milk, half and half or whole milk)
  • Ice
  •  

    Thai iced tea. Photo by Jeff Kramer |
    Wikimedia.

     

    Preparation

    1. STEEP the tea leaves (and any optional spices) in boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves. Using an infuser (tea ball) makes this step easier.

    2. STIR in sugar while the tea is still hot, until dissolved; then stir in condensed milk.

    3. COOL to room temperature or ideally, chill in the fridge.

    4. ADD ice to tall iced tea glasses and pour in tea mixture until glasses are roughly 3/4 full. Slowly top off glasses with evaporated milk.
     
    VARIATIONS

    If you find yourself in the Pacific Rim, you can have what Americans think of as iced tea.

  • Dark Thai iced tea (cha dam yen) is simple iced tea without the milk, sweetened with sugar.
  •  

  • Lime Thai tea (cha manao) is dark Thai iced tea flavored with lime. Mint may also be added.
  •  
    If you’re looking for unsweetened iced tea in the Pacific Rim, you may be out of luck. It‘s the birthplace of sugar.

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF SUGAR

    Sugar is native to Southeast Asia, with three species seeming to have originated in two locations: Saccharum barberi in India and Saccharum edule and Saccharum officinarum in New Guinea.

    Originally, people chewed on the raw sugar cane stalks to enjoy the sweetness. Refined sugar appears around 500 B.C.E., when residents of what is now India began to make sugar syrup from the cane juice. They cooled it to make crystals that were easier to store and transport. These crystals were called khanda, which is the source of the word candy.

    Indian sailors carried sugar along various trade routes. In 326 B.C.E., Alexander the Great and his troops saw farmers on the Indian subcontinent growing sugar cane and making the crystals, which were called sharkara, pronounced as saccharum.

    The Macedonian soldiers carried “honey bearing reeds” home with them. But sugar cane remained a little known crop to most Europeans for the next thousand years, a rare and costly product that made sugar traders wealthy.

    In the 12th century, Crusaders brought sugar back to Europe from the Holy Land, where they encountered caravans carrying the “sweet salt.” Venice began to produce sugar in Lebanon to supply Europe, where honey had been the only available sweetener. By the 15th century, Venice was the chief sugar refining and distribution center in Europe.

     
    HOW MANY TYPES OF SUGAR HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Panasonic Electric Kettle

    Summer is iced tea time. If you’re a fan, here’s a question:

    Why take the time and effort to brew iced tea? You can buy it in individual bottles and large formats just about everywhere.

    The main reasons to brew your own are sustainability, cost and, if you have a good palate, better quality tea.

  • Save The Environment. Just as with water bottles, all of that extra plastic goes into landfill. Some people recycle, but that, too, requires energy and expense.
  • Save Money. How much does a 16-ounce bottle of iced tea cost? About $1.79 where we live. Even if you buy them at club stores, you’re still paying a dollar—as opposed to pennies to brew your own.
  • Please Your Palate. Brew iced tea from loose tea or quality tea bags and enjoy superior tea flavor. We use great tea that’s so complex and flavorful, it never needs sugar.
  • Decaffeinated Tea. People who limit their caffeine can enjoy decaffeinated iced tea to their hearts’ content.
  •  

    Panasonic’s sleek new electric kettle. Photo courtesy Panasonic.

     

    THE EFFICIENCY OF AN ELECTRIC TEA KETTLE

    Electric kettles have been around for generations, but they keep getting better and better.

    Introduced last month as part of Panasonic’s new Breakfast Collection, the The Panasonic C-ZK1 is a sleek 1.4 liter tea kettle with 1500 watts of power. It’s $179.95 on Amazon.com. You can find an electric kettle for $25.00, but it doesn’t have these features:

  • Quick to heat. Heats up water faster than a traditional tea kettle. The 1.4 liter capacity equates to 47 ounces. Our pitcher holds 64 ounces. The water for the the extra 16 ounces heats in two minutes.
  • Cool to touch. It has a cool-touch exterior.
  • Automatic shutoff. A welcome safety feature, here’s automatic shutoff when the water has boiled.
  • There are more benefits. Read the full review.

    Or head on over to Amazon.com to buy one.

    HOW TO BREW ICED TEA

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Vanilla Milkshake Day

    Celebrate with a vanilla milkshake. Photo by
    Inga Nielsen | IST.

     

    June 20th is National Vanilla Milkshake Day, and we’ve got some delicious recipes.

    A milkshake is a simple combination of ice cream, milk and syrup, combined in a blender and optionally garnished with whipped cream, a maraschino cherry or sprinkles (you can be more daring with chocolate-covered coffee beans, mini chips, etc.).

    Adults can add a shot of whiskey or liqueur.

    VANILLA MILKSHAKE RECIPE

    Ingredients For 6 Half-Cup Servings

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons to 1 shot of spirits: bourbon, whiskey, liqueur/schnapps (try butterscotch, chocolate, coffee or vanilla)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup or pure vanilla extract
  • Optional garnish: cherry, sprinkles, whipped cream
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE ice cream, milk, alcohol and syrup/vanilla in blender. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth.

    2. POUR into glasses. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

    More ice cream in the mix makes a thicker shake.

    If you like cardamom, try this delicious vanilla cardamom milkshake shooter.

    MILKSHAKE HISTORY

    Most people know a “milkshake” as a cold beverage made from milk, ice cream and often, syrup, served in a tall, fluted glass with a straw (the classic milkshake glass is known as a Y glass).

    The Random House Dictionary describes a milkshake as an American creation, “a frothy drink made of cold milk, flavoring, and usually ice cream, shaken together or blended in a mixer.” And it states that the word dates to 1885.

    That’s when the word “milkshake” is first found in print. But that original milkshake was not suitable for children or teetotalers. It was an alcoholic drink, a “…sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”*

    By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were out, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”*

    Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream.

     

    THE MODERN MILKSHAKE

    The modern milkshake was born in 1922, when an employee at a Chicago Walgreens, Ivar “Pop” Coulson, was inspired to add two scoops of ice cream to malted milk. Malted milk was a drink made by blending milk, chocolate syrup and malt (malt was invented in 1887—as a nutritional supplement for infants).

    The malted milkshake shot to stardom nationwide. By the 1930s, soda fountains were known as “malt shops.” In 1937 two milkshake-worthy events occurred: A superior blender was invented by Fred Waring, and the flexible straw was invented by Joseph Friedman.

    But not all milkshakes were malted milkshakes. Many people preferred their milkshakes malt-free.

    By the late 1930s, the term “frosted” was being used to describe maltless milkshakes that blended ice cream and milk into one smooth drink, while a “float” had scoops of ice cream “floating” in milk.

     

    Vanilla cardamom milkshake shooter with a whoopie pie. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Soda fountain owners also came up with their own names. In New England, milkshakes were variously called frappes (Massachusetts), velvets, frosteds and cabinets (Rhode Island, referring to the freezer cabinet from which the ice cream was scooped). Someone in a drive-through restaurant in St. Louis invented the concrete, a milkshake so thick that it was handed out the order window upside down for a wow factor. (We’ve had a few, and would argue that the concrete is not really a milkshake, but ice cream that’s been blended with just enough milk to turn it into a malleable form. It needs to be eaten with a spoon: It’s so thick it can’t be drunk through a straw).

    *Source: Stuart Berg Flexner, Listening to America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982) p. 178.

    FOOD TRIVIA

    In the 1950s, a milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc bought became the exclusive distributor of a speedier milkshake machine, the Multimixer. He inadvertently invented modern fast food with his vision of franchising McDonald’s hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California—in order to sell several Multimixers to each location.

    FLOAT, MALTED, MILKSHAKE: THE DIFFERENCE

    A float is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with a scoop of ice cream “floating” in it.

    A malt is a milkshake—ice cream, milk, flavoring—with added malted milk.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Red, White & Blue Drink With Iced Tea

    Green iced tea with berries. Photo by Eugene
    Bochkarev | Dreamstime.

     

    To quench thirsts over July 4th weekend, brew up a special batch of red, white and blue iced tea.

    Use red and blue berries and a white fruit to garnish:

  • Green iced tea
  • Hibiscus iced tea
  • Rooibos (red) iced tea
  •  

    White fruits can include:

  • Apple
  • Coconut chips
  • Lychee
  • Pear
  •  
    If you don’t want to add a white fruit, default to a white straw!

     

    ICED TEA TIPS

  • Brew tea correctly. Here’s how to do it.
  • Use tea ice cubes: Make those cubes from the same iced tea, to prevent dilution (recipe). You can also drop a piece of fruit into each compartment of the ice cube tray.
  •  
    ICED TEA FUN

    Take our iced tea trivia quiz.

    Learn all about tea in our Gourmet Tea Section.

    Talk tea like a pro: See our Tea Glossary.

     

    Tart and terrific hibiscus iced tea. For a fourth of July drink, substitute red, white and blue fruits for the lime. Photo courtesy Republic Of Tea.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Limonitz Sparkling Lemonade

    It’s tart and sweet and lightly fizzy with a hint of mint.

    It’s a refreshing soft drink and a delicious mixer for beer, gin, tequila, vodka or iced tea.

    It’s Limonitz.

    “Itz lemonade only better,” says the website. Except that itz British-style lemonade. North American lemonade isn’t carbonated; U.K. lemonade is.

    But itz a treat however you define it. For perfection, we’d add some fresh mint, as the family originally made the drink. At home it was called “Daddy’s Lemonade.” After years as a special family tradition, they decided to bottle it.

    Limonitz is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU) and certified organic by the USDA.

    Additional flavors are coming out this summer. We can’t wait.

    For more information visit Limonitz.com.

     

    The new soft drink in town. Photo courtesy Limonitz.

     

      

    Comments (1)

    TIP OF THE DAY: Become A Master Soda Maker

    Here’s a fun Father’s Day gift that will open your eyes to how great it is to make soda at home—and how much more popular you’ll be once you start doing it!

    Anton Nocito, proprietor of P&H Soda Co. in Brooklyn, New York, has assembled his techniques and ideas into a new book, Make your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails, and More.

    All you need is a bottle of seltzer or a Sodastream and you’re on your way to becoming a great soda maker—and to enjoying real soda, without ubiquitous artificial colors, flavors and questionable sweeteners. You’ll:

  • Whip up your own syrups with fresh fruits and spices
  • Serve up egg creams and egg shakes
  • Make truly superior ice cream sodas
  • Deliver gourmet hot drinks
  •  

    Cherry Lime Rickey. Photo courtesy Make Your Own Soda | Clarkson Potter.

     

    Grapefruit soda with homemade grapefruit
    syrup. Photo courtesy Make Your Own Soda |
    Clarkson Potter.

     

    Then, relax with your creations. Natural sodas are vibrantly flavored: the zing of just-squeezed citrus juice, the intensity of ripe berries, the subtle perfume of fresh herbs.

    And the ability to customize a drink that’s as sweet (or not) as you like, with conventional or low glycemic sweeteners (we successfully substituted agave nectar for the sugar).

    Handmade syrups make all the difference in recipes for all-natural soda pop, floats, cocktails, punches and more: The book has a total of 70 recipes, simple and fun. Beautiful photographs make you want to make every one. This is cookbook that any soda lover will love.

    Anthony Nocito is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and was an executive sous chef in the Union Square Hospitality Group. Artisanal soft drinks are obviously one of his passions. They may become one of yours, too.

     

    CHERRY LIME RICKEY RECIPE

    To show you how easy it is, here’s a sample recipe from the book. If you remember Brigham’s and Bailey’s casual restaurants in the Boston area, you remember the Raspberry Lime Rickey, as seductive a soft drink as ever graced a soda fountain—brightly colored, sweet and tart, a favorite of kids adults alike. Nocito’s version is a cherry lime rickey—very satisfactory. But you can always make a batch of raspberry syrup and relive the memories.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 tablespoons lime syrup (recipe belowk)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Dash of citric acid solution
  • Seltzer
  • 2 tablespoons sour cherry syrup (recipe below)
  • Wedge of lime, for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a tall glass with ice. Add the lime syrup, lime juice, and citric acid solution.

    2. ADD the seltzer, float the cherry syrup on top and garnish with the lime wedge.

    LIME SYRUP RECIPE

  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 4 limes
  •  
    1. BOIL water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the zest and remove the pan from the heat. Steep for at least 1 hour. Let cool.

    2. STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.

    CHERRY SYRUP RECIPE

  • 2 quarts fresh sour cherries, pitted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  •  
    1. COMBINE cherries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

    2. STRAIN the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the fruit solids.

    3. STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

    When you’re passing by McDonald’s on a hot day, cool down with a McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie.

    Very fruity, lightly sweet but not sugary, and icy cold, we were tempted to have another as soon as we finished the first.*

    The company says that the drink is “made with an alluring combination of blueberries and raspberries and a splash of pomegranate juice blended with ice and creamy low-fat yogurt.”

    So why is it called Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie instead of Blueberry Raspberry? Our guess is that “pomegranate” tested better with consumers.

    And “splashes” of other juices are blended in as well, to get just the right flavor. The nutrition label lists, in order of the quantity (weight) of the ingredients:

     

    The new McCafe Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie. Photo courtesy McDonald’s.

     
    Blueberry purée, pineapple juice concentrate, raspberry purée, apple juice concentrate, pomegranate juice concentrate, peach juice concentrate, pear juice concentrate and lemon juice concentrate.

    What lingers is the lovely summer flavor of blueberry. The special McCafe machine creates the drink with a texture motr like a Slurpee rather than a conventional smoothie, but we’re not complaining: A Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie is a great vacation from heat and humidity.

    *What stopped us from having another were the carbs. The 12-ounce size (small) has 220 calories and 50g carbs, of which 44g are sugars. There is, however, 2g of protein from the yogurt.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Spicy Cucumber Green Iced Tea

    How about spicing up your iced tea? This spin is from Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s series, “Chopped.” Ted is a consultant to Lipton’s Pure Leaf Iced Tea. He created this recipe with a prep time of just 5 minutes, using a bottle of Pure Leaf Not Too Sweet.

    If you don’t like sugar in your tea or prefer a noncaloric sweetener, just brew your own tea and take it from there.

    You can turn the drink into a cocktail by adding gin, vodka or tequila.

    ASIAN SPICY CUCUMBER GREEN TEA

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 10 slices cucumber (about 1/4-inch thick)
  • 2 slices lime (about 1/4-inch thick)
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 1 bottle Pure Leaf Not Too Sweet Honey Green Tea or home-brewed green tea,
  •  

    Icy, spicy: Asian-style cucumber iced tea. Photo courtesy Pure Leaf Iced Tea.

  • Optional garnish: cucumber spear and lime wheel; fresh jalapeño slices if you really like heat
  • Optional cocktail version: 1/4 cup gin, vodka or tequila
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CRUSH (muddle) cucumber, lime and red pepper with wooden spoon in 1-quart glass measuring cup.

    2. STIR in tea. Mix well to combine.

    3. STRAIN into ice-filled glasses. Garnish as desired.

    Here’s more about Pure Leaf Iced Tea.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Iced Tea Ice Cubes

    Iced green tea with green tea ice cubes.
    Photo by Tomo Jesenicnikc | IST.

     

    It’s National Iced Tea Month, so we‘re repeating one of our favorite tips for iced tea lovers:

    Make your ice cubes from the same tea.

    This way, you can keep your iced tea ice-cold without diluting it. It’s a more elegant solution than brewing the tea extra-strong, anticipating that it will be diluted by regular ice cubes.

    You can also use the tea ice cubes in lemonade, creating an “Arnold Palmer” effect; or use them to add a different flavor nuance to any cold drink, including cocktails.

    HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA ICE CUBES

    While it sounds like a no-brainer, here’s the recipe:

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 8 tea bags of your choice (or 24g loose tea—each tea bag has the equivalent of 3g of tea)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BOIL the water and pour over tea in a heat-resistant pitcher. Allow to infuse for the variety’s recommended steeping time.

    2. REMOVE tea bags or loose tea; allow tea to cool to room temperature. Pour tea into ice cube trays and place in freezer.

    3. KEEP ice cubes in the tray or remove to a freezer bag or other container so you can freeze more ice cubes. Make black, green and herbal tea ice cubes, depending on what you typically drink.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Peach Iced Tea

    Make delicious peach iced tea. Photo
    courtesy Republic Of Tea.

     

    Last night we dined out, and were seated next to a table of four who were ordering up a storm of house-made peach iced tea. Their iced tea bill alone probably equaled the cost of our dinner.

    So in acknowledgement of National Iced Tea Month and saving money by making it yourself, here’s a recipe courtesy The Republic Of Tea.

    The recipe uses low-glycemic agave nectar, but you can substitute sugar or other sweetener—or skip the sweetener entirely.

    As you can see from the photo, this recipe does not make crystal-clear iced tea. Instead, blending in the peaches delivers more peach flavor and a juice-like opacity. Instructions for a conventional, clear peach iced tea are included below.

     
    PEACH ICED TEA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tea bags of your unflavored tea (black, green, herbal, white)
  • 2 ripe peaches, pits removed (frozen peaches may be substituted) —or— 1 peach and a mango, skin and pit removed
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 cup ice
  • Optional garnish: skewer of diced fresh peaches
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BOIL water and pour over tea bags in a heat-resistant pitcher. Infuse for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and place pitcher in refrigerator to chill.

    2. COMBINE chilled tea, fruit, agave nectar and ice in a blender. Blend and serve with optional peach garnish. Makes three eight-ounce glasses.

    VARIATIONS

    Ginger-Peach Iced Tea: For a sizzle of ginger, add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger to the blender, or infuse a few slices of fresh ginger with the tea bags.

    For Clear Iced Tea: Dice the fruit and infuse with tea bags in the boiled water. Do not blend. Serve over ice.

    PEACH ICED TEA BAGS & MIXES

    You can brew peach iced tea from pre-flavored tea bags and mixes. But as you can see from this review, you might not get the natural peach flavor you expect.

      

    Comments

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