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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 Diet Nibbles

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Treat House Gourmet Rice Krispies Treats

Looking for gluten free treats, mini treats, kosher treats or simply something new and fun? Head to Treat House, a sparkling new establishment that serves up a great selection gourmet Rice Krispies treats.

The flavors include:

  • Kid Delights: Birthday Cake, Bubble Gum (garnished with a piece of Bazooka), Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pretzel, Cookies & Cream, M&M, S’mores and Red Velvet.
  • Sophisticated Flavors: Almond Cranberry, Cappuccino, Caramel Sea Salt, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Raspberry, Lemon Zest and Salted Caramel.
  • Seasonal Specialties: Fall specials include Pumpkin Spice (topped with a candy pumpkin, for Halloween) and Maple Pecan.
  •  

    An assortment of creative, gluten-free treats. Photo courtesy Treat House.

     

    Read the full review, and think of Treat House for gluten-free Halloween or holiday treats.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Blake’s All Natural Comfort Food

    Lobster mac and cheese: elegant comfort
    food. Photo courtesy Blake’s All Natural.

     

    Comfort food: does the term need an explanation? Those favorite foods from childhood, rich with nostalgia (and often, rich in calories), are so satisfying. For a brief period of time, they can make you feel that all’s well with the world.

    Apple pie, banana pudding, beef stew, chicken pot pie, chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken, a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and meatloaf…the list goes on and on.

    Depending on your ancestry, there will be additions from foreign lands. Borscht with boiled potatoes and sour cream and bagels with chopped herring or smoked whitefish are on our list.

    Blake’s All Natural Foods specializes in frozen comfort food entrées from American and U.K. traditions. The line consists of all natural, frozen meals. They get popped into the oven or microwave, wanting only a large side salad to round out a convenient, healthful, and delicious lunch or dinner.

    There are individual portions and family-size:

     

  • Mac & Cheese: Chicken Mac & Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese (family size only), Old Fashioned Macaroni & Cheese, Veggie Mac & Cheese
  • Old-Fashioned Macaroni & Beef
  • Pot Pies: Chicken Pot Pie, Garden Vegetable Pie, Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie
  • Shepherd’s Pie (gluten free)
  •  

    Most varieties can be cooked in either a microwave oven or a conventional oven. For the pot pies, you’ll want to use the oven so the lovely crust will crisp delightfully.

    For more information and to find a retailer near you, visit BlakesAllNatural.com.

    The products are made from scratch by actual people (not machines) in small batches by hand. The ingredients are all natural, the poultry and meats antibiotic- and hormone-free, the cheese rGBH-free.

    There’s also an organic line that includes most of the varieties above plus All Meat Chicken Pot Pie and Upside Down Chicken & Waffle Pie. The organic meals contain at least 70% organic ingredients and some varieties are 100% organic. The organic vegetables are also used in the all-natural line.

     

    Pot pies are made in three varieties, one with a gluten-free crust. Photo courtesy Blake’s All Natural.

     

    We tasted a few varieties—all comforting, some requiring a bit of extra seasoning (a tablespoon of grated Parmesan, a shake of nutmeg, some fresh-cracked pepper). In particular, the sauce for the Veggie Mac & Cheese was very buttery, but not cheesy enough for us. A couple of heaping tablespoons of Parmesan solved that!

     
    ABOUT BLAKE’S

    The company traces its origins to a 25-acre farm purchased in Concord, New Hampshire in the Great Depression the farm’s first season in 1929. Clara Blake’s son Roy grew up to farm award-winning turkeys.

    In the third generation, grandson Charlie was experimenting with his grandmother’s recipe for turkey pot pie. With a dozen pies in 1970, he sold out in 20 minutes. For the next 40 years, he sold turkey and chicken pot pies throughout New England—through modern distribution networks, not the back of the van.

    Charlie’s daughter Amy and her husband joined the business, and expanded the line to accommodate the wishes of their own young family—a fifth generation that one day may be the face of Blake’s.

    Grandma Clara would be proud.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Something New For National Whole Grains Month

    Just because it’s National Whole Grains Month doesn’t mean you have to flock to the brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Good as they are, why not try something new—something you might enjoy as much or more? Because whole grains are not only good for you; they’re delicious.

    Thousands of years ago, many more grains were cultivated; in modern times, the majority have fallen out of fashion. Yet, with focus on the important health benefits of whole grains and the recommended 3-5 servings daily, these largely-forgotten nutritional powerhouses call out for your attention.

    All of the ancient grains are very healthful and excellent sources of protein and dietary fiber. They’re a less expensive way to add high protein to your diet, with minimal fat. You may know farro, quinoa and other newly “discovered” ancient grains, but how about these four?

    1. Amaranth. Amaranth was first cultivated 8,000 years in Mesoamerica. Like quinoa, is actually a seed, not a grain. Like quinoa, it is a whole protein, containing all of the essential amino acids (the amino acid lysine is lacking in many grains); and is gluten free. Amaranth contains unusually high-quality protein and is higher in fiber than wheat, corn, rice, or soybeans. Use it place of corn grits in your polenta. Try this Amaranth Polenta with Wild Mushrooms recipe.

     

    Quinoa cakes with spinach, feta and lemon-dill yogurt sauce is a healthier take on spanakopita. Photo courtesy PaniniHappy.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    2. Kamut. Kamut is a trademarked term for khorasan wheat, an ancient relative of modern durum wheat. It originated in Egypt thousands of years ago. Legend says that Noah brought khorasan wheat on the ark, hence the nickname “Prophet’s Wheat.” The grain has inherent sweetness and a buttery taste; it also delivers iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc, plus 7 grams of protein per serving. Try using it in a vegetarian main course, such as Kamut Grain and Shiitake Risotto with Thyme.

     

    Banana bread made with teff. Here’s the
    recipe. Photo courtesy
    52KitchenAdventures.com.

     

    3. Millet. Millet was cultivated in China some 10,000 years ago, making it one of the earliest cultivated grains. It was revered in ancient China as one of five sacred crops*. Whole grain millet is a good source of protein, essential amino acids and fiber. Quick-cooking, easily digested and naturally gluten free, millet has a mild, sweet flavor and can be served in sweet or savory preparations. Try it as a hot breakfast cereal. Serve it as an alternative to rice in salads and stir-fries. Serve millet with a drizzle of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper in place of mashed potatoes. Add a crunch to deviled eggs, salads and other recipes with toasted millet seeds (recipe). You can also add uncooked millet to breads for a crunchy texture and a hint of sweetness.

     

    4. Teff. Teff is an ancient North African cereal grass, and the smallest grain in the world. The germ and bran, where the nutrients are concentrated, account for a much larger volume of the seed compared to more familiar grains, which provides its “nutritional powerhouse” standing. One serving of whole grain teff averages 4 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of protein and nearly one quarter of our suggested daily calcium intake. Cook or bake with it: Here’s a delicious Apple and Pear Crisp made with teff.

    There’s more to consider, of course. Here’s a complete list of whole grains:

    Amaranth, barley (but not pearled barley), buckwheat (kasha), bulgur (cracked wheat), chia/Salba®†, corn (whole grain corn or cornmeal, yellow or white, but not grits), farro (emmer wheat), flaxseed, grano, hemp, Kamut® (khorasan wheat), millet, oats (oatmeal, whole or rolled oats), popcorn, quinoa, rice (black, brown, red, wild), rye (whole), spelt, sorghum, teff, triticale (a barley/wheat hybrid), whole wheat.

     
    *The list varies by source. The Classic of Rites, compiled by Confucius in the 6th century B.C.E., lists broomcorn, foxtail millet, hemp, soybeans and wheat.

      

    Comments

    GLUTEN FREE: Among Friends Hand-Crafted Baking Mixes

    Phil ‘Em Up combines chocolate chips and
    dried cranberries. Photo courtesy Among
    Friends Baking Mixes.

     

    Our gluten-free products editor, Georgi Page, tastes lots of gluten-free baking mixes. We’re as happy as she is when she finds something she likes.

    One of the hardest things about being gluten-free has been the difficulty of not being able to have a cookie when I want (need?!) one. Without even realizing I was using it as a crutch, I resorted to making homemade granola, and snacking on that.

    It was only when I got a chance to try Among Friends “Phil ‘Em Up” Chocolate Cranberry Cookie mix, made with Oatmeal flour, that I realized just how big the hole in my cookie-loving heart had been.

    Among Friends Hand-crafted Baking Mixes come in regular and Gluten-free varieties. All have healthier, better-for-you ingredients.

     

    The gluten-free line-up includes Phil ‘Em Up, the oat-y chocolate cranberry mix I baked; Shane’s Sweet-n-Spicy Molasses Cookies; CJ’s’ Double Chocolate Cookies and a Trish the Dish Crisp Mix.

     

    The names accurately capture the homey taste and flavor of the end result: toasty, tasty, hearty cookies that are relatively low in fat. The oat cookies I sampled have a very sturdy texture provided by the oat flour, so they’ve got plenty of fiber, without the grittiness of rice flour.

    They also have a faint salty, coconut-y aftertaste that I loved. Some gluten-free products have a mysterious aftertaste that is faintly bean-like, or raisin-y, but that is not a problem here.

    The chocolate chunks are rich but not so plentiful as to be a distraction, and the cranberries retained a chewy tartness. The cookies made me forget I am gluten-free.

    And, I got 14g of whole grain in my serving of two cookies.

    Among Friends’ mixes are made with premium GMO-free ingredients, and the price point of $5.99 reflects it. You’re also getting Callebaut chocolate chips, which are top-of-the-line.

     

    Nice enough to give as gifts to your GF friends. Photo courtesy Among Friends Baking Mixes.

     

    They are a breeze to make. The only advance planning needed was setting out a half stick of butter to soften. Then, you’ll be popping cookies into the oven 5 minutes after opening the adorable packaging (with “stretch of the day” tips on the bottom of the bag).

    For more information about Among Friends Baking Mixes, check the website.

    Here’s a store locator. You can purchase the cookies at Whole Foods Markets, Meijers and Sprouts (coming soon) and online at Amazon.com and AmongFriendsBakingMixes.com.

    — Georgi Page

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Black Rice Tortillas, Exotic & Gluten Free

    Yes, there are gluten-free tortillas from Rudi’s and Udi’s that have been lifesavers for Mexican food fans who follow a gluten free diet.

    But now there are even better ones: black rice tortillas from Food For Life. Exotic, gluten free, vegan and yeast free, they are ready to be turned into:

  • Crust, e.g. for chicken pot pie
  • Croutons (cut into strips, fry and season)
  • Mexican favorites: burritos, empanadas,
    enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas
  • “Mexican lasagne”
  • Sandwich wraps
  • Tortilla chips and nachos (cut into triangles and bake into chips)
  • Tortilla “pizza”
  •  

    Gluten-free wraps are dramatic as well as tasty. Photo courtesy Food For Life.

     
    WHAT’S BLACK RICE?

    Black rice, also known as purple rice and forbidden rice, is a group of rice types that are black or dark brown when harvested, but turn purple when cooked.

    Unlike refined white rice, black rice is a whole grain loaded with fiber, 18 amino acids, iron, zinc, copper, carotene, vitamins, minerals and anthocyanins (the same antioxidants that are found in like those found in açaí, blackberries, blueberries and tart cherries, and give all of these foods their deep pigments).

     

    Quesadillas with a twist. Photo courtesy
    LeslieLovesVeggies.net.

     

    In ancient times, black rice was reserved exclusively for Chinese emperors—thus the name forbidden rice. (See the different types of rice.)

    Today, you don’t have to be royalty to enjoy black rice—you can buy it at almost any natural foods store and online. It makes an especially glamorous rice pudding: Thai black rice pudding with coconut milk.

    A healthier alternative to traditional wheat flour tortillas, these black rice tortillas are tastier, too.

    One thing to watch out for: We didn’t see an expiration on our package and left them out at room temperature. The tortillas are actually pretty fragile: the shelf life is five days at room temperature. But they’ll stay fresh for three weeks when refrigerated and one year frozen.

     

    The tortillas are certified kosher by KOF-K.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade gluten-free tortillas.

    Here are some of our favorite gluten-free products.

    For information on gluten intolerance, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Japanese Cone Crepes

    Pick your crepes. Photo courtesy Eight Turn
    Crepe.

     

    If you get excited by the thought of crepes, take a look at Eight Turn Crepe and get out your crepe pan.

    The take-out restaurant concept, which originated in Tokyo, has just opened in New York City. The gluten-free, rice flour crepes are packed with fresh ingredients and rolled into a cone shape.

    The varieties, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, are all so exciting that we want to have every one.

    Read the full review.

    If you’re in New York City, head to 55 Spring Street in Soho. Here’s the company website.

    Be sure to have yuzulade—yuzu lemonade. (The recipe is in the review.)

    Then, hope that an Eight Turn Crepe opens near you.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Substitute Tofu For Cream & Try This Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding Recipe

    Soft tofu can be turned into a substitute for
    heavy cream. Photo courtesy House Foods.

     

    We learned from Japanese and Asian-influenced restaurants that you can have lush, creamy tofu-based desserts and not even notice there’s no cream. Substituting tofu for heavy cream helps to save calories and avoid cholesterol. It produces recipes that support kosher, lactose-free and vegan diets. It’s also less expensive than cream, and is available in organic and conventional varieties.

    Erin Dow of Guiding Stars shared how to make a heavy cream substitute from soft (silken) tofu.

    “Abstaining from heavy cream, regardless of the reason, can pose a serious challenge in the kitchen,” Erin notes. “Its thickening power, its silky rich mouth feel, and the flavor-balancing power of its fat content, are tough to replicate with plant-based alternatives. But for certain applications, a substitute made with silken tofu can help. The recipe is simple.”

     

    RECIPE: SOFT/SILKEN TOFU “HEAVY CREAM”

  • Combine one part silken tofu with one part liquid of your choice (see last two bullets) in a blender and process until smooth.
  • If desired, strain through a fine mesh strainer before using.
  • For sweet recipes, use coconut milk or unsweetened vanilla soy milk for the liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla for every cup of cream you make.
  • For savory recipes, use almond or oat milk. They will help balance out the flavor without risking a curdled mess.
  •  
    Soft/silken tofu heavy cream is a great substitute for pastry creams and other desserts, quiches and chocolate truffles and for thinning out frostings and dips. Use it to add body to sauces, gravies and smoothies. Extra firm or firm tofu is used for scrambles, kabobs, stirfries and other mains.

     

    And pudding—chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, etc.: Tofu substitutes easily for cream. The following recipe is dairy free and cholesterol free. It’s a companion to the tofu chocolate mousse recipe we published last year for National Chocolate Mousse Day.

    It was created by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, hosts of Cooking Channel’s show “Extra Virgin.” Budino is the Italian word for pudding.

    RECIPE: TOFU CHOCOLATE BUDINO

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 package (14 ounces) soft/silken tofu
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •  

    No cholesterol, no lactose. Photo courtesy Cooking Channel.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE sugar, water, and cocoa water in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cool slightly.

    2. MELT chocolate in a glass bowl set over a saucepan of lightly simmering water.

    3. PLACE all ingredients in a blender and purée until completely smooth. Divide the chocolate mixture among ramekins and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
     
    ABOUT TOFU

    Tofu was first created from soybeans more than 2,000 years ago in China. While lots of tofu and soy sauce are consumed, approximately 85% of the world’s soybean crop is processed into soybean meal and vegetable oil.

    In Japan, edamame (immature soybeans), miso (soybean paste), natto (fermented soybeans) and kinako (roasted soybean flour) are popular foods. Soy milk, tempeh and textured vegetable protein are increasing in popularity in the U.S.

    If you’re ingredient-conscious, look for organic tofu, made from sustainably grown, non-GMO soybeans. Commonly used tofu processing aids such as defoamers, bleaches and preservatives are not used in organic tofu.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fruit Salad Cocktail or Mocktail

    We love this idea of a “seltzer-fruit cocktail” from Polar Seltzer: refreshing and low in calories. The Worcester, Massachusetts-based bottler makes seltzer in numerous yummy, calorie-free flavors:

  • Year-Round Flavors: Black Cherry, Blueberry, Cherry Pomegranate, Cranberry Lime, Georgia Peach, Granny Smith Apple, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Pomegranate, Raspberry Lime, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Strawberry, Triple Berry, Orange Vanilla, Vanilla.
  • Limited Edition Summer Flavors: Limited editions change yearly, but summer flavors have included Ginger Lemonade, Mint Mojito, Orange Mango, Piña Colada and Pineapple Passionfruit.
  • Limited Edition Holiday Flavors: What a great idea for calorie-free drinks! No wonder past flavors such as Boston Cream Pie, Butter Rum, Candy Cane, Cinnamon, Eggnog, Mint Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Pear have sold out.
  •  

    The mixologists at Polar Beverages always provide cocktail and mocktail ideas for the different flavors. You can find them on the company’s website and Facebook page.

     

    Cocktail or mocktail with “fruit salad.” Photo courtesy Polar Seletzer.

     

    FRUIT SALAD COCKTAIL-MOCKTAIL RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 different fruits
  • Flavored seltzer to match
  • Optional: a shot of your favorite spirit or liqueur
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE fruits: wash, pat dry, slice as needed.

    2. FILL glass with ice cubes, seltzer and optional spirit.

    3. ARRANGE fruits at the top of the glass. The ice cubes serve as a base to anchor the fruit.

    4. SERVE with a straw and a cocktail pick or cocktail fork for the fruit.

     

    “Creamsicle” seltzer: Orange Vanilla seltzer
    with an orange wedge. Photo courtesy Polar
    Seltzer.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLUB SODA &
    SELTZER

    A Glossary Of Sparkling Waters

    Any effervescent water belongs to the category of carbonated water, also called soda water: water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved, causing the water to become effervescent. The carbon dioxide can be natural, as in some spring waters and mineral waters, or can be added in the bottling process. (In fact, even some naturally carbonated waters are enhanced with more carbonation at the bottling plant.)

    Carbonated Water: In the U.S., carbonated water was known as soda water until after World War II, due to the sodium salts it contained. While today we think of “soda” as a carbonated beverage, the word originally refers to a chemical salts, also called carbonate of soda (sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, sodium monoxide). The salts were added as flavoring and acidity regulator, to mimic the taste of a natural mineral water.

     
    After the war, terms such as sparkling water and seltzer water gained favor. Except for sparkling mineral water, all carbonated water/soda water is made from municipal water supplies (tap water). Carbonated water was invented in Leeds, England in 1767 by British chemist Joseph Priestley, who discovered how to infuse water with carbon dioxide by suspending a bowl of water above a beer vat at a local brewery. Carbonated water changed the way people drank liquor, which had been neat, providing a “mixer” to dilute the alcohol.

    Club Soda: Like the original carbonated water, club soda is enhanced with some sodium salts.

    Fizzy Water: Another term for carbonated water.

    Seltzer or Seltzer Water: Seltzer is carbonated water with no sodium salts added. The term derives from the town of Selters in central Germany, which is renowned for its mineral springs. The naturally carbonated spring water—which contains naturally dissolved salts—has been commercially bottled and shipped around the world since at least the 18th century. When seltzer is made by carbonating tap water, some salts are added for the slightest hint of flavor. And that’s the difference between seltzer and club soda: Club soda is salt-free.

    Sparkling Water: Another term for carbonated water/soda water. It can also refer to sparkling mineral water, which is pumped from underground aquifers. Note that not all sparkling mineral waters are naturally effervescent. Many are actually carbonated from still mineral water. Some are lightly carbonated by nature, but have extra carbonation added at bottling to meet consumer preferences.

    Two Cents Plain: Another word for soda water, coined during the Great Depression, when plain soda water was the cheapest drink at the soda fountain.

    MORE TYPES OF WATER

    Check out our Water Glossary for the different types of water, including the difference between mineral water and spring water.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Pillsbury Gluten-Free Dough

    Happy ever after in the marketplace: a really
    good gluten-free pie dough, plus cookie and
    pizza options. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     

    Many of us who are gluten-sensitive have said goodbye to baking, goodbye to homemade pies, pizza…and goodbye to the comfort of an impulsive batch of chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes you just don’t want to do the research or make multiple trips to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients to make exactly what you crave.

    Pillsbury’s new line of refrigerated Gluten Free Doughs aims to give back the freedom to bake, to those with gluten or wheat sensitivities. It includes:

  • Pillsbury Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • Pillsbury Gluten Free Pie and Pastry Dough
  • Pillsbury Gluten Free Thin Crust Pizza Dough
  •  
    The products are available at major retailers nationwide. Look in the refrigerator case; then, indulge your baking whims as often as you like, wherever you like.

     

    The standout is the Pie and Pastry Dough. It is extremely convenient, as well as versatile. Not only can you make a pie for dessert in a pinch, but I sampled a delicious savory samosa made with dough right out of the bin.

    The dough might be a tad sweet for some savory options, but it has a great crispiness and a satisfyingly rich texture—almost like a shortbread—that makes me excited to sample it in an apple hand pie or in a peach cobbler. Pillsbury suggests multiple other uses for the dough, including mini-quiches, pot pies, tarts and tartlets.

     

    I was also pleased to notice that there was no bean-y or bitter aftertaste to the crust, an affliction that hobbles other gluten free flours that shall go un-named.

    The dough is completely pre-prepared and comes in a 15.8-ounce tub, which makes two 9” pie crusts. The suggested retail price, $4.99, is comparable to other gluten free pie crusts and mixes.

    While the product is gluten free, it is not calorie free: The dough contains 250 calories per serving. Ingredients include soybean oil, rice flour, whole sorghum flour and fructose. Additional corn and potato starches make the dough easy to handle and shape, with the help of a little wax paper.

    Ultra-convenient and easily available, we love that it has restored our freedom to bake on impulse.

    —Georgi Page

     

    Dying for a slice of apple pie? You can make it gluten-free with Pillsbury’s new and delicious dough. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     

      

    Comments

    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.

      

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