Tag Archives: drink

Japanese Tea Duo – Genmaicha and Mugicha

I’m not much of a tea drinker but these two varieties are quite enjoyable.

Genmaicha is a “Japanese brown rice green tea consisting of green tea mixed with roasted popped brown rice” according to Wikipedia.

I was intrigued when I saw it listed on the menu in my favourite all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant and ordered it. Instead, I was served jasmine tea. It was hard to understand the server but I got the impression that they didn’t have it. I don’t know if they EVER had it. In any case, I looked for it at my newest ‘go to’ Asian grocery store and came home with a bag.

Some ‘recipes’ are pretty complicated … apparently you can get THREE brews of tea from the same spoon of tea. The water temperature varies among each brew. Or, if you just want a simple cup … add 1 cup of boiled water (150-170 deg F) to 1 tsp of the genmaicha and let steep for 1-3 minutes. You can drink it plain or with a splash of milk.

I wasn’t sure which mug/cup I wanted to use so I pulled out an assortment and had the tea plain.

The second tea, mugicha, is a roasted barley tea so it’s caffeine free. I had some pearl barley in my pantry so I decided to roast my own (REAL mugicha is made with roasted hull-on barley). It can be drunk hot or cold (refrigerated/iced). I added honey and lemon to the jar of cold mugicha.

Homemade Mugicha (Japanese Roasted Barley Tea) – makes 8 cups

1/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
8 cups water

Optional add-ins
sliced lemons, sugar or honey

Put the barley in a large dry skillet and toast over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring the grains and shaking the skillet occasionally so that they toast evenly, until the grains have turned a dark rich brown color. Remove from the heat and pour out into a bowl or a paper towel to cool.

Before and after toasting (8 minutes) the pearl barley

I was curious if it would get darker still so I roasted half the previously barley for another 4 minutes … a total of 12 minutes. I didn’t really see, or taste, much of a difference in the tea made from the two batches.

Bring the water to a boil in a pot, add the cooled toasted barley, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let the barley continue to steep as the mugicha cools, for about 5 minutes.

Strain out the barley and drink immediately, or store in the fridge to drink it cold. Flavor with optional lemon and honey or sugar when ready to drink.

There’s nothing like drinking a cup of tea with a biscuit or, in Japan, a rice cracker (senbei). I made my own senbei and shared them in an earlier post but brought home a package ($3.49) to taste test.

There are 8 of these mini packages (each with 2 crackers inside) inside the big bag.

The crackers were basted with soy sauce and had shredded nori sprinkled over the top.

Nice and puffy interior

They were delicious but very MOR-ish, so you can’t eat just one mini pack.

Bonus: Strawberry tapioca ball tea … my first time trying this type of tea. Enjoyable as it was refreshing and just slightly sweetened.

Drunken Elf

I was reading fanfiction (PLEASE don’t judge me) last week and ran across a selection of naughty and nice Christmas-themed drinks in one of the stories. One of the ones that caught my attention, mostly because it only had a few ingredients, was the Drunken Elf. For colouring the pink lemonade, I used some of my home made cranberry sauce. The results … delicious.

Drunken Elf – makes 1 drink

1 oz Bacardi Golden Rum
Pink Lemonade
crushed candy cane for rimming the glass
2-3 frozen cranberries, for garnish
1 mini candy cane, for garnish

Glaze For Coating/rimming the glass – Combine 2 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp water in a shallow plate or saucer. Stir well.

Dip the rim of each glass into the glaze then dip into the crushed candy cane, chocolate shot or Christmas sprinkles. Let dry thoroughly.

In a pitcher, or large measuring cup, add as much of the rum and lemonade as needed per person. Pour into prepared glasses. Add a couple or three cranberries per glass.

Serve with a mini candy cane hanging off the edge off each glass.

For the Pink Lemonade – Add raspberry syrup to your regular lemonade until it’s the colour you like. For a Christmas theme, stir some cranberry sauce into about 1/4 cup of the lemonade. Strain out any berries or seeds and add to your jug of lemonade.

Add some frozen cranberries to your jug before bringing it to the table to serve.

Strawberry Lemonade

If you have an excess of sweet (or not so sweet) strawberries on hand, make a big jug of strawberry lemonade this summer and enjoy it under a shady umbrella in your favourite outdoor spot.

Strawberry Lemonade – makes 5-6 cups of lemonade

Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup water, boiling
1/4 cup sugar, plus more sugar if needed

In a saucepan on the stove, or in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, bring water to the boil and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Let cool slightly.

Strawberry Puree
400-425 gm (~2 1/4 cup) chopped strawberries
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp (1/8 cup) sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups cold water

5-6 fresh strawberries, for garnish

In a stand/bar blender, puree the chopped strawberries, water and sugar.

In a large jug, add 1 1/2 cups water, sugar syrup, strawberry puree and lemon juice. Stir well, taste, adding more sugar if needed (another 2 tbsp at a rough estimate) and refrigerate.

Serve over a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with small to medium strawberries with a small slit in the base.

NOTE: The strawberry lemonade will look somewhat pink when first made due to all the air incorporated into the strawberry syrup during pureeing. As the bubbles burst and the foam dissipates, the lemonade will darken in colour.

Hard lemonade: Add 1 oz of vodka to each glass of lemonade.

Affogato Espresso

Ported from my LJ

This was a day when I really wanted/needed a shot of espresso and something sweet to go with it. And I had no desserts in the house except for a tub of French vanilla ice cream in the freezer.

An “affogato” is a coffee based vanilla ice cream or gelato dessert. I used espresso, or rather espresso made with instant espresso powder, for a fast dessert that wasn’t overly sweet.

Affogato Espresso – serves 1

1 shot (1 1/2 oz) espresso
2 scoops (1/2 cup) French vanilla ice cream

Note: Since I don’t have an espresso machine, I made my espresso by combining 1 tsp espresso powder with 1 1/2 oz of water that had been brought to a boil. If you like a stronger espresso, use 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder but the lower amount was plenty for me.

For company, serve each person a bowl of ice cream and a freshly brewed shot of espresso which they can pour over their own ice cream.

In a sturdy glass, add the ice cream and pour the shot of espresso over it..

Dig in with a teaspoon, cause you want to savour each mouthful.

You can freeze the ice cream in the bowl and pour cooled espresso over it, or, as I did, pour the hot espresso over the freshly scooped ice cream for an ice cream ‘float’.

Picspam: Frozen Perogies and Fresh Strawberry Margarita

Making perogies from scratch isn’t as challenging as you’d think.

I’ve made them … once.

And they were delicious.

But sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to make them so you buy a bag of the frozen ones, especially when they’re on sale.

The default way to serve perogies is boiled, sauteed in butter/olive oil until golden brown

… and then topped with sauteed onions, crispy bacon and sour cream. A sprinkling of thinly sliced green onion for colour (and so you can pretend there’s something fresh and healthy on your plate).

But, you may want to switch things up every once in a while.

Home made or canned chili is a great topping.

Or bolognese. Or a duck ragu. How do you serve YOUR perogies?

And, because my strawberries were getting past the peak of their freshness … I pureed the remainder and made a fresh strawberry margarita. (If my blender was able to grind up ice, I’d have the slushy version of this delicious drink which I first had at the Regal Constellation in Toronto at a Toronto Trek convention.)

Coincidentally, it’s a nice Cinco de Mayo drink if you want something sweet.

Fresh Strawberry Margarita – serves 1

125-150 gm fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1/4 cup tequila
2 tbsp Cointreau, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Garnish
fresh strawberry and/or lime wedge
coarse salt for rimming glass
coarse sugar for rimming glass

Run a lime wedge around the rim of a tall glass, or a champagne coupe glass. Dip the glass into a shallow bowl with coarse salt (or sugar), to create a decorative rim. Set aside the glass.

Add all of the above ingredients, excepting the garnishes, to a blender and puree. Taste and add more lime juice or honey, to taste. Strain through a coarse strainer to make sure any chunks are gone.

Add a few ice cubes to a shaker, pour the margarita over the top, shake for a minute or two and then strain into the salt rimmed glass. Garnish with a fresh strawberry that you’ve cut a slit into from the base, and/or a lime wedge.

Cinco de Mayo 2018 – Bloody Maria ver 2

I haven’t made this drink in ages but, with a week to go until Cinco de Mayo, it seems appropriate to repost this Mexican version of the vodka based Bloody Mary. Besides, I needed to crack open the can of tomato juice I had in the basement, to make gravy with. I didn’t have any horseradish but seafood sauce is a great substitute. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol so you can double the amount of tequila.

 

Bloody Maria – serves 1

1 oz tequila
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes hot sauce ie. Cholula, Tapatio or Frank’s Hot Sauce
1/2 tbsp seafood sauce (or 1/2 tsp horseradish)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
6 oz tomato juice

Garnish options
Lime wedge or wheel
Celery stalk
Coarse salt for rimming the glass

Decorate the rim of a tall glass with salt by rubbing the edge with a lime wedge and then dip into salt.

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all the ingredients except the garnishes, and shake until well chilled.

Strain into a tall glass filled with ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

Pineapple Margarita

In a recent back and forth on FB, pineapple margarita came up. Since I had all the ingredients, I made a half batch and distributed the drink among two champagne coupes.

Pineapple Margarita – serves 2

1/2 cup tequila
3 tbsp triple sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier
6 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tsp sugar (add more to taste)
crushed ice

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice; shake vigorously until blended. Strain into margarita glasses.

A Comfort Meal for Christmas … Pot Roast

Cooking for one is a challenge during the holidays. You want something special but an elaborate spread is time consuming and can be expensive. The roast below was economical and the long braising time turned a tough piece of beef into a tender and tasty main course.

The outside roast I cooked was small (1.2 kg) so the cooking time was shorter than in the recipe that inspired it. And, while it was braising, there was plenty of time to make the side dishes. I added some new, Christmas-inspired, treats to the meal to make it special.

Purchased Egg nog with a shot of brandy and a grating of fresh nutmeg

Pot Roast, mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes, pot veggies and salad

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream and Mincemeat Kolach

The mincemeat ice cream was a simple variation of the cranberry sauce one I made a while ago. To save time, I’ve posted the recipe below.

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream – makes 3 1/2 – 4 cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mincemeat, plus another tbsp or 2 for marbling
1 tbsp brandy

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, brandy and the mincemeat.

Add a scoop or two of the whipped cream to the bowl with the sweetened condensed milk and fold in to lighten the mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream as gently as possible.

Scoop half of the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Place several dollops of mincemeat over the ice cream. Scoop the rest of the ice cream mixture into the container. Place a few more dollops of mincemeat over the top. With a butter knife gently marble the mincemeat into the ice cream. Put the lid on the container and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

Cranberry Sauce Variation: Replace the mincemeat in the recipe above with home made or jarred cranberry sauce. Use whatever alcohol you prefer … Cointreau or Grand Marnier bring out the orange notes in the cranberry sauce recipe I used.

Cooking the pot roast – The roast is seasoned with salt and pepper and seared before continuing with the rest of the braise.

The pot roast was tender after 3 hrs but it could have been cooked for another half hour if desired.

Mushroom gravy made with sauteed white mushrooms and strained braising liquid.

Boring Friday

I’m bored again and in the mood to ramble. (Lucky you if you’re reading this.)

After a warmish week which culminated in a HOT Thursday, I woke up to rain and a much cooler Friday.

School/work is done as the last class was yesterday and the chance of getting a call during exam week is slim. Just got my VISA bill, and though expected, the hit is a bit of an ouchy due to the plumbing bill. At least now I can use the upstairs tub after a good snaking out and the downstairs tub won’t be dripping hot water … and money. It’s the last of the big bills (knock wood) til I get my 2nd set of city taxes. Still, it means I have to be very frugal until October when I would be getting my first paycheque of the new school year.

I need to go to the library and pick up a book that I’ve got on hold, but other than that, I have no reason to go out.

So, I guess I’ll do some cooking or rather, baking.

Speaking of … I’ve been scavenging through the fridge and freezer again for meals or components to go with recent purchases.

A bit under two pounds of fresh asparagus for $3.50. Enough for four servings with minimal wastage.

A tray of five boneless and skinless chicken breasts, picked up for 40% off, means I ended up with five top cutlets. One of the cutlets became an asparagus roll-up which was crumbed and baked, along with fifteen chicken tenders from the bottom of the breasts, for supper. The other four cutlets and ten of those tenders went into the freezer. Pretty good for $10. The KFC flyer has a bucket of 8 chicken tenders (ok, they’re bigger pieces) for $10. I laughed.

PS: The bread crumbs used for the cutlet and tenders were made with my own sourdough bread.

The combo pack of six pork chops for under $10 gave me two great comfort meals of pan fried pork chops, baked asparagus, mashed potatoes and pan gravy and there are four more chops for the freezer.

With a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, my fudgy chocolate cupcakes made for a great fast dessert.

The scraps of pasta from my ravioli became tagliatelle and were combined with beef stroganoff from the freezer. Enough for three meals. I’m glad I didn’t throw away those scraps. And, a beautiful fresh mango became a mango lassi when combined with milk, sugar and some yogurt.

I HAVE baked … a tray of hybrid sourdough cinnamon rolls, most of which are looking for a good home.

It’s been a productive week in spite of not working at all.

Fruit/Herb “Shrubs” or Drinking Vinegar … Blueberry-Ginger Shrub

If you buy flavoured sparkling water or those flavour crystal packets, this alternative is cheaper and probably healthier.

“Shrubs” are fruit and/or herb and spice sugar syrups with a vinegar base. A simple 1:1:1 ratio of the fruit, sugar and vinegar is used. In the ‘cold method’ the cleaned and diced fruit is macerated with sugar, strained and then the syrup is mixed with the vinegar. In the ‘hot method’, vinegar is brought just to or under the boiling point, before it’s poured over the fruit and allowed to macerate overnight or up to several days. Then, the fruit is strained and the liquid is mixed with sugar. In both cases, the resulting liquid is stored in sterilized bottles under refrigeration.

I used an alternative to the cold method which I found posted here.

Blueberry-Ginger Shrub

1 cup blueberries (any berry may be used though cherries, peaches, plums and pears are good too)
3/4 – 1 cup white sugar (you may choose to use the lower quantity of sugar)
1 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar**
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

In a large jar, combine blueberries and sugar and macerate with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Pour the vinegar over fruit and grate the ginger on top. Stir, cover with a lid and place into the fridge for 2-3 days until all sugar is dissolved.

Sieve the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth or coffee filter. (Don’t discard the spent fruit. It can be served over drained yogurt or added to smoothies or muffins.)

Place the sieved liquid into a fresh, sterilized jar and return to the fridge.

To serve, mix 1  tablespoon of the shrub syrup into a glass of still or sparkling water. Taste and add more syrup, if desired. Shrub syrups may also be used as cocktail mixers, in salad dressings, and more.

** According to on line sources (uncredited):  Any vinegar may be used, as long as it is labeled as having at least 5 % acidity. Distilled white vinegar has a clear, sharp flavour but may be too acrid for most people’s tastes; apple cider vinegar tends to be milder with a fruity flavour; and wine/champagne vinegars, while more expensive, often provide a superior smooth flavor. Balsamic vinegar is delicious with cherries and strawberries.