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Enjoy A Cup Of Chai For Diwali: Chai Recipes

Masala Chai Recipe
[1] A comforting cup of chai, which is traditionally brewed with milk in India (photo © Charles Chocolates).

Masala Chai Tea Blend Loose Tea
[2] A chai blend of blacck tea andd spices (photo © Spice Station Silverlake).

Iced Chai Tea
[3] Iced chai (photo © Republic Of Tea).

 

Diwali, or Dipawali, is India’s most important holiday. The five-day festival begins today, so we’re celebrating with a cup of chai (the word for tea in Hindi) and additional chai recipes.

Diwali, a festival of lights, gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indian families light outside their homes.

Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and the human ability to overcome. The lights symbolize the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness.

The festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians.

Diwali’s date is determined by the India calendar and changes every year, ranging from October to November. It’s observed on the 15th day of the 8th month (the month of Kartik).
 
 
THE 5 DAYS OF DIWALI

  • Day 1: Cleaning. People clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune.
  • Day 2: Decorating. People decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand.
  • Day 3: Feasting & Fireworks. On the main day of the festival, families gather together for Lakshmi Puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi, followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities.
  • Day 4: Gifting. This is the first day of the new year when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season.
  • Day 5: Visiting. Brothers visit their married sisters, who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.
  •  
    It’s a lovely holiday. Here’s more about it from Diwali Festival.
     
     
    HOW CAN YOU CELEBRATE?

  • Light candles or lanterns.
  • Plan for a feast on Wednesday. You don’t have to cook: Head to an Indian restaurant or purchase delicious frozen Indian foods from your local market (we enjoy the frozen Saffron Road brand, and Kitchens Of India, a shelf-stable brand). Check out pairing wine with Indian food.
  • Drink chai. While it’s not “official,” chai is part of everyday life in India. Enjoy a cup on your own, or invite friends, neighbors, or colleagues to sit down for a cup.
  • At THE NIBBLE, we’re having chai for afternoon tea, with banana chips and almond brittle (check out these Indian snacks).
  •  
    > The history of chai.

    > Chai vs. tea: the difference.
     
     
    CHAI RECIPES

  • Caffeine-Free Chai
  • Chai Hot Chocolate
  • Chai-Spiced Applesauce
  • Chai-Spiced Pound Cake
  • Homemade Chai Concentrate
  • Iced Maple Chai
  • Make Chai From Scratch
  •  

     
     

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    Pumpkin Spice Latte Popcorn Recipe For National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

    While we already have a Pumpkin Spice Popcorn recipe, this one is even more on-trend: Pumpkin Spice Latte Popcorn (photo #1).

    The “latte” comes from the addition of espresso powder, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla sugar (photos #2, #3, and #4).

    So take a gander, PSL fans. And while you’re checking out this PSL recipe, check below for more fall popcorn recipes.

    > 13 more pumpkin spice recipes, from cake to nuts to waffles and some popcorn trivia.

    > The history of popcorn.

    October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month.
     
     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE POPCORN

    If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make it from spices you probably do have.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar*
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice†
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 cups popcorn
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • Optional: white chocolate chips or vanilla yogurt–covered raisins
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together in a small bowl the vanilla sugar, espresso powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until blended.

    2. PLACE the popcorn in a large bowl. Drizzle the coconut oil over the popcorn; toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar mixture until dusted evenly.
     
     
    MORE FALL POPCORN RECIPES

  • Candy Corn Popcorn Balls
  • Chocolate-Cranberry Popcorn Bark With Toffee
  • Cinnamon Maple Popcorn Crunch
  • Cranberry & Chocolate Spiced Popcorn
  • Cranberry-Orange Popcorn Balls
  • Crispy Crunchy Apple Popcorn
  • Down Home Apple Pie Popcorn
  • Halloween Witch Popcorn Balls
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn Bark
  • Pumpkin Spice Popcorn
  • Sage Popcorn
  • White Chocolate & Pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn Bites
  •  
     
    POPCORN TRIVIA

  • Popcorn is a whole-grain food.
  • Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), a member of the grass family, and is scientifically known as Zea mays everta.
  • There are 4 types of corn—dent, flint, popcorn, and sweet—but only popcorn pops.
  • Popcorn kernels can pop up to 3 feet in the air.
  • After they pop, popcorn is 30-4- times the size of the original kernel.
  • Most popcorn comes in two basic shapes when it’s popped: butterfly and mushroom.
  • Americans eat 14 billion quarts of this popcorn per year. That’s 43 quarts per man, woman, and child. (Amazing, but that’s aggregate data. Some people out there are eating a heck of a lot more popcorn than we do.
  • The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is in the fall.
  •  

    Pumpkin Spice Latte Popcorn Recipe
    [1] Pumpkin Spice Latte Popcorn (photo © National Popcorn Board).

    Jar & Spoon Of Espresso Powder
    [2] Espresso powder has many uses. Add a teaspoon or two to any chocolate cake or cookie recipe (photo © King Arthur Baking).

    Jar Of Pumpkin Pie Spice From The Spice House
    [3] If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can blend your own. See the footnote* (photo © The Spice House).

    Ramekin Of Vanilla Sugar With Vanilla Beans
    [4] You can also make your own vanilla sugar. See the footnote*, and this recipe for spiced vanilla sugar (photo © Nielsen-Massey).

     
    ________________

    *Recipe To Make Vanilla Sugar: You need 1 vanilla bean per 2 cups of granulated (table) sugar. Add the sugar to a food processor. Cut the bean in half lengthwise and use a knife to scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds on top of the sugar and save the empty pods (here’s how you can use them). Also, use a spoon or knife to scrape the seeds off the first knife. Pulse until all the seeds are broken up and blended—they’ll look like little dots. Store in a tightly sealed jar.

    Recipe To Make Pumpkin Pie Spice:

     
     

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    Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting: A Delicious Recipe

    Apple Cake With Brown Sugar Frosting Recipe
    [1] A simple scrumptious cake for National Apple Month (photo © King Arthur Baking).

    Mixed Green & Red Apples, Cored
    [2] Some bakers recommend using a mix of apple varieties in cakes and pies (photo © Williams Sonoma).

    Canister & Spoon Of Dark Brown Sugar
    [3] Brown sugar has a deep, caramel or toffee-like flavor due to the added molasses, which adds more richness to fruit and chocolate cakes and cookies.

    Bowl Of Confectioners Sugar
    [4] Regular sugar has a larger crystal size than powdered sugar (a.k.a. confectioners’ or 10x sugar. It thus dissolves more readily (photo Katherine Pollak | © The Nibble).

    Bottle Of Wood's Boiled Apple Cider
    [5] Boiled cider is a thick syrup made by boiling down apple cider. It is used instead of molasses or honey to deliver more apple flavor to a recipe (photo © Cheese & Wine Traders).

    Apple Pie Spice Mix
    [6] Apple pie spice is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. There’s a recipe to mix your own below (photo © Jamie of My Baking Addiction, who also uses cardamom).

     

    Nothing says Fall like the apple varieties piled up at farmers markets. October is National Apple Month, October 21st is National Apple Day, and here’s what we baked: an old-fashioned apple cake with brown sugar frosting.

    The frosting is like a thin layer of brown sugar fudge or penuche. The moist cake can be as fine or chunky as you like, depending on how you slice the apples.

    Thanks to King Arthur Baking for this wonderful treat, a new family favorite at our home.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, and bake time is 42 to 47 minutes.
     
     
    WHAT APPLES SHOULD YOU USE FOR APPLE CAKE?

    According to Stemilt, the key to a great apple cake is to use a diverse variety of apples.

    Why a variety? It gives you a mix of textures and flavors: sweet, tart, crisp, and soft. Stemilt suggests:

  • A mixture of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp if you prefer your cake more tart.
  • A mixture of Fuji and Gala if you prefer a sweeter experience.
  •  
    Of course, you can use just one apple variety.

    For the best apples for any particular recipe, head to AppleForThat.Stemilt.com.
     
     
    > The history of apples.

    > The difference between frosting, icing, and glaze.
     
     
    RECIPE: OLD-FASHIONED APPLE CAKE WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING

    This recipe makes one e 9″ x 13″ cake. The same recipe will make 24 cupcakes.

    For a cake with more texture, leave the peels on the apples, and chop them coarsely rather than finely.
     
    Ingredients For The Cake

  • 2-1/3 cups (280g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-2/3 cups (330g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice-or-1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ginger and nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups (425g) peeled, cored, finely chopped apples (1/4″ to 1/2″), about 1-1/3 pounds whole apples
  • 2 tablespoons (43g) boiled cider
  • 1 cup (113g) walnuts or pecans, toasted* and diced
  •  
    For The Frosting

    For a lower-sugar frosting, which we personally prefer, use between 1-1/2 cups (171g) to 1-3/4 cups (200g) confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk.

  • 7 tablespoons (99g) butter
  • 2/3 cup (142g) light brown sugar or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (57g) milk or 2 tablespoons (28g) milk + 2 tablespoons (43g) boiled cider
  • 2-1/4 cups (255g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan or two 8″ round pans.

    2. MAKE the batter. Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl. As soon as the mixture comes together and becomes pretty uniformly crumbly, stop mixing (or it will turn into a cohesive mass).

    3. ADD the apples, boiled cider, and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick, creamy batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency. Don’t worry if the mixture doesn’t immediately loosen up; this will take about 3 minutes at low speed in a stand mixer.

    4. SPREAD the batter in the prepared pan(s), smoothing it with your wet fingers. Bake the cake for 45 minutes for a 9″ x 13″ pan or for 38 minutes in two 8″ round pans. A toothpick or paring knife inserted into the center should come out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it. The temperature at the center of the cake will be about 205°F.

    5. REMOVE the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool a bit while you make the frosting.

    6. MAKE the frosting: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl or onto a piece of parchment or wax paper; set it aside. (Sifting guarantees a lump-free frosting.)

    7. MELT the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar starts to melt and the mixture becomes fairly smooth. While you may still notice a bit of grittiness from the sugar, you shouldn’t see any melted butter pooled atop the sugar. Add the milk and boiled cider, and bring to a boil.

    8. REMOVE the syrup from the heat and pour it into a medium-sized mixing bowl (large enough to accommodate the confectioners’ sugar). Let the syrup cool in the bowl for 10 minutes.

    9. POUR the confectioners’ sugar into the warm syrup in the bowl, then add the vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is thoroughly combined. You need to work fast here; the frosting stiffens up quickly as it cools.

    10. POUR the warm frosting onto the cake(s), spreading it over the entire surface.

    11. CUT the cake—either warm or at room temperature—into slices to serve. Store the cake, covered, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
     
     
    ________________

    *To toast the nuts, place them in a single layer in a cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 9 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell “toasty.” Or, you can dry-fry them (no oil) in a skillet set over medium heat. Done this way they can go from perfectly browned to burned quickly, so keep your eye on them.

     

     
     

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    Halloween Cheeses For Lovers Of Fine Cheese

    If you’re not committed to handing out (and eating) Halloween candy and would prefer a sophisticated adult Halloween experience, check out these different types of Halloween cheese.

    We don’t mean cheeses that look like pumpkins. Rather, these are year-round fine cheeses that happen to have bright Halloween colors or shapes.

    Take a look, and pair the cheeses with your favorite wines. We promise you an experience that is all treat, no trick!
     
     
    Halloween Cheeses For Lovers Of Fine Cheese: Part 1

    These are very specific variations of the particular cheeses that make them perfect for Halloween.

  • English Cheddar
  • Irish Cheddar
  • Gouda
  •  
    Here’s the complete article.
     
     
    Halloween Cheeses For Lovers Of Fine Cheese: Part 2

  • Bloomy rind cheeses
  • Geotricum “brain” goat cheeses
  • Mimolette
  • Huntsman
  • Saxonshire
  •  
    Here’s the complete article.
     
     
    You Can Still Have Chocolate!

    Since Halloween wouldn’t be the same without chocolate, bring some dark chocolate bars to the table. They pair well with cheese.

    The bars can be plain or with:

  • Almonds or other nuts
  • Chipotle or other chiles
  • Dried fruits
  •  
     
    > The history of cheese.
     
    > Cheese glossary: the different types of cheese.

     

    Coupole Goat Cheese For Halloween
    [1] Brains and blood: cocktails with bites of brain-looking goat cheese with blood sausage on crostini. There’s a close-up of the cheese in the next photo (photos #1 and #2 © Vermont Creamery).

    Coupole Goat Cheese For Halloween
    [2] Coupole goat cheese from Vermont Creamery is one big brain. Here’s how the ridges are formed.


    [ ] Mimolette is a cheese produced around the city of Lille, France, that has the bright orange color of a pumpkin (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

     

     
     

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    Chocolate-Orange Mezcal Milkshake Recipe For National Mezcal Day

    Chocolate-Orange Mezcal Milkshake Recipe
    [1] Chocolae and orange mezcal milkshake. Check out the recipe below (photo © Brian West | Alcoholmanac).

    Mezcal Bottle & Glass
    [2] We like to sip mezcal from a glass with a narrow lip, which focuses the flavors and aromas (photo © Dos Caminos | NYC).


    [3] In Mexico, mezcal is often enjoyed with fruit sprinkled with sal de gusano (photo © Gran Mitla Sal de Gusano).

    Sal de Gusano In Bowl
    [4] Sal de gusano (photo © Rancho Gordo).

     

    How are you celebrating National Mezcal Day on October 21st? It’s the perfect day to enjoy the chocolate-orange mezcal milkshake recipe below.

    Or you can just sip a glass of mezcal, tequila’s smoky cousin, neat, accompanied by some swallows of water to cleanse the palate as we sip mezcal. This technique enables us to better focus on the flavors and aromas of mezcal.

    In Mexico, people often drink mezcal with a side fruit: slices of guava, blood or another orange, grapefruit, or lime, a refreshing snack, accompanied by sal de gusano—salt mixed with ground chiles and dried, ground larvae of worms (gusano) that live in the agave plants (photos #3 and #4).

    The combination of mezcal, fruit, and salt is an outstanding pairing.

    And then, there’s dinner. Instead of a glass of wine, a glass of mezcal works wonderfully with meats, especially stewed or barbecued meat, and meats served with rich, heavy sauces like mole.

    Mezcal is best sipped at room temperature. Don’t serve it on the rocks—although you can drink it from a rocks glass.

    We prefer to drink it from a liqueur glass or a narrow-lipped glass that helps to focus the aromas and flavors (photo #2).
     
     
    MEZCAL IN COCKTAILS

    Of course, you can use mezcal as a substitute for tequila in cocktails. It adds a smoky twist to a Margarita or a Paloma.

    But it also works equally well as a substitute for both gin and Scotch. Try it in a Negroni instead of gin; make a mezcal Martini.

    And then, there’s the Chocolate-Orange Mezcal Milkshake recipe below, along with a holiday mezcal punch.

    > The differences between mezcal and tequila.

    > The history of mezcal.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: CHOCOLATE-ORANGE MEZCAL MILKSHAKE

    For some food fun, try this shake. The recipe was developed by Kurt Fogle, and first published by Brian West in Alcoholmanac in 2013.

    Food trivia: The original milkshakes contained alcohol. Here’s the history of the milkshake.
     
    Ingredients Per Shake

  • ¼ ounce orange zest
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2¼ cups whole milk (or other milk)
  • 1 cup chocolate ice cream
  • ⅓ ounce orange juice concentrate
  • 1 ounce mezcal
  • Garnish: chocolate shavings, orange peel, and toasted cinnamon stick
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE orange-cinnamon milk by putting the orange zest and 1 cinnamon stick in the milk. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, then taste or just smell it. If it smells orangey and cinnamony, then it’s ready to use. Strain out the stick and zest.

    2. PLACE 3½ ounces of the orange-cinnamon milk and all other ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth.

    3. GARNISH with chocolate shavings, an orange peel, and a toasted cinnamon stick (not the same one you used in the milk!).
     
     
    RECIPE #2: TOASTED CINNAMON STICKS

    Can you use the cinnamon stick for garnish without toasting? Certainly, but toasting will deliver an even lovelier aroma.

    1. PLACE the cinnamon stick in a cold, dry frying pan—the heavier the pan, the better (because the heat spreads more evenly and there won’t be hot and cold spots that can result in burning).

    2. HEAT the pan over medium. As the pan heats up and the spice becomes fragrant, shake the pan often. Once it just starts to brown…

    3. IMMEDIATELY REMOVE it from the pan to a plate. Overheating the spice will cause it to become bitter. The residual heat will keep the cooking process going a bit longer on the plate.
     
     
    MORE MEZCAL RECIPES

  • Boozy Hot Chocolate
  • Mezcal-Pomegranate Holiday Punch
  •  

     
     

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