cherry darjeeling tea lemon sorbet

darjeeling tea cherry lemon sorbet

Cherries make a happy sticky red mess whether you're eating or working with them in the kitchen. The juicier they are, the bigger the mess they make. I know this from first hand experience because I was still finding a few red spots today even though I thought I had done a superb job of cleaning up after myself! I might need one of those hazmat style protection wraps for my kitchen or one big "kitchen bib". But don't let the mess scare you off, this sorbet will make you very happy this summer.

cherries

I added a good dose of dark Indian tea leaves, the Darjeeling kind and infused the woody tea flavors into the sugar syrup before mixing it in with the fresh lemon juice and cherries. Once you make it, you can do what I did, serve it for tea in tea cups. It felt somewhat appropriate.....

cherry halving

Tea really does make everything better but it makes good things even better! 

lemon juice squeezing

Here are some of favorite food links of the week,

cherry darjeeling tea lemon sorbet

cherry darjeeling tea lemon sorbet

yields: 4-6 servings

ingredients

1 cup water
1 cup (7 3/8 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon darjeeling tea leaves
5 3/4 ounces fresh ripe cherries, cleaned, sliced in half with stalks and stones removed
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1. In a medium sized saucepan bring the water, sugar and tea leaves to a boil on a medium high flame to prepare a simple syrup. Once the liquid reaches a rolling boil, remove from the stove and strain the liquid through a tea strainer and discard the tea leaves. Keep the strained syrup aside until ready to use.
2. Place the cherries and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cherries have formed a smooth puree. You can do this with an immersion blender too, just pulse until the cherries are completely pureed. Strain the puree through a sieve and press the pulp in the strainer with a spoon to squeeze as much fruit pulp as you can out. Save the fruit bits left behind in the strainer (I add them to pancakes or muffins or just eat them raw). With a whisk mix the strained cherry puree into the tea infused simple syrup to prepare the sorbet base.
3. Place the sorbet base into a clean gallon ziplock bag. Seal the bag airtight and place it an ice water bath for 20 minutes to cool completely. 
4. Pour the chilled sorbet base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn for about 20 minutes or until the sorbet is completely formed, it will acquire a slightly milky pink color. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight freezer safe container and cover with a layer of parchment paper. Press the surface of the paper gently to remove any trapped air bubbles. Freeze for at least 4 to 6 hours to firm completely before serving.

masala chai ice cream

masala chai ice cream

A chai flavored ice cream post is way overdue here. For one, I love making frozen desserts and two, I'm a huge chai drinker. Actually, I drink some sort of tea every day, even if it isn't chai. Tea is calming and soothing and yes, delicious! There are so many things one can do with tea and with the wide array of flavors that keep coming out, I'm almost overwhelmed at times if I can even keep up. So instead of going too crazy, I'm sharing a simple and trusted way to make a chai ice cream.

chai prep

I infused the chai with the spices (masala), crushed green cardamom seeds and freshly grated ginger root. Of course, you can spice the chai with additional spices like I did in my Masala Chai Apple Cake but I added the masala (spices) to the chai just the way my mom does, her two special ingredients and nothing else. It made me a little nostalgic and brought back memories of drinking cups of hot tea while I dipped cookies into the fragrant hot milky brown liquid and watched my evening cartoon shows on the Cartoon Network. These days things are a little different, I normally just drink the tea and do the cookie thing occasionally, still watch tv, no cartoons though.

chai ice cream

I've adapted the basic ice cream recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Also, just a little note here, I normally don't make chai with that much tea leaves in that small volume of water, I was going for a more concentrated flavor and did a reduction because the flavors and taste would ultimately get balanced and diluted out by the ice cream base. 

masala chai ice cream ginger cardamom

Here are some of my favorite posts that I drooled over this week,
  • Kimberly of The Year in Food made some amazing Cajun-spiced Sweet Potato Burgers that I need to make soon. 
  • Jennifer of Savory Simple made the most picture perfect fan-shaped gyoza stuffed with mushrooms. 
  • Marta of What Should I Eat for Breakfast made these killer green sandwiches that are topped with greens, pine nuts, cheese and poached eggs. How can you say no to that!  
  • Ashlae of Oh Ladycakes has quickly become one of my favorite vegan bakers, her dreamy raw citrus cakes are self-explanatory.
masala chai tea ice cream

masala chai ice cream

yields: 1 generous quart

ingredients

3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons black tea leaves (Darjeeling tea - I specifically used orange pekoe) 
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons
1 1/4 cup half and half
2/3 cup (5 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon kosher sea salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cream cheese

1. Add the water, cardamom and grated ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil on a medium-high flame. When the water begins to boil, add the tea leaves and reduce the flame to medium-low. Allow the water to boil for another 2 minutes, remove from stove and strain the liquid to remove the solids. Transfer the tea liquid back into the saucepan and reduce the volume to a little less than 1/4 cup by boiling the liquid on a medium-high flame. Remove the liquid from the stove and keep aside until ready to use.
2. Mix the cornstarch with the two tablespoons of milk to form a slurry and keep aside until ready to use. In a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the reduced 1/4 cup of tea from step 1, the 2 cups of milk, half and half, sugar and honey and heat on a medium-high flame. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minutes with stirring. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and quickly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the hot liquid.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook with constant stirring until the mixture thickens, this will take approximately 1 minute.
3. Place the sea salt and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and whisk lightly until smooth. Add a little bit of the hot milk liquid from the saucepan and whisk lightly until smooth. Add the rest of the hot milk and whisk until the ice cream base is completely smooth. 
4. Transfer the hot liquid into a 1-gallon ziploc freezer bag, seal airtight and place in an ice cold water bath. Allow to chill for 30 minutes or until ice cold. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn the ice cream for about 30 minutes or until the ice cream has come together and begins to come off from the sides of the canister. (Alternatively, follow the instructions of your particular brand of ice cream maker).  Transfer the frozen ice cream into a freezer safe container and layer the top of the ice cream with a piece of parchment paper, press gently to remove any trapped air bubbles and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

masala chai apple cake

Masala Chai Apple Cake

As far back as I can remember, I've always drunk more tea than coffee though this eventually changed with grad school (many hours of test preps necessitated caffeine). Tea or chai is served at almost every meal in Indian cuisine and in some instances even after a meal. Chai can be drunk plain with or without milk, sweetened or unsweetened but my favorite way to drink tea is when the liquid is infused with a concoction of spices giving it a delicious aromatic fragrance and warm flavor. Masala chai or spiced tea can be made in so many different ways, my mother likes hers with a little freshly grated ginger root ,  sometimes she might add in a few crushed cardamom pods and if she is feeling extra adventurous, then she'll toss in both. My favorite version of chai involves a few more spices to her mix, I like to throw in a little cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and star anise, to give it a bit of a spicier taste. When it comes to selecting tea leaves for preparing the brew, I personally prefer to use whole loose black tea leaves from Assam, the flavor and color are much more richer and darker, Darjeeling black tea is another good option.

apples

I can hardly keep up with what most days or months represent, so this is truly a complete coincidence, that I have an apple cake recipe for you during September, the national month of apples. There are so many different kinds of delicious and colorful varieties of apples available today that can be used specifically for different things. My favorite are the Red delicious and Granny Smith apples, though I will probably sink my teeth into any apple that is crispy. Yeah, I guess I am a crispiness snob when it comes to apples, the joy of biting into a crispy apple while the sweet juice trickles off your fingers is simple and pure perfection! 

spices

This is a great everyday rustic cake made rich with tea, spices and apples, one you can certainly eat at anytime of the day, just like tea (you can even eat this with a cup of coffee). Instead of adding the spices to the tea (which is what one would do to make masala chai traditionally), I added freshly ground spices directly to the cake batter and prepared a reduction of the tea to concentrate the each of the flavors of the ingredients. Granny Smith apples are tart and they hold their shape during the baking process and you can taste the apples in every slice of cake that you bite into. Tea and apples are a wonderful combination in this cake and I am sure you will enjoy it.

As an option, you can also fold in 1/2 cup of raisins or walnuts to the cake batter towards the end when you add the apples. 

tealeaves

Do check out some of my favorite apple recipes,


Savory Apple Samosas, that can be served with this Sweet Tamarind Chutney.

Chai apple cake

masala chai apple cake

yields: 6-8 servings/ one 9 inch cake

ingredients

1 cup water
4 tablespoons black tea leaves ( I used Darjeeling)
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) plain all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon (for coating the grated  apples)
1 cup ( 4 1/4 ounces) whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
2 cloves, freshly ground
1/2 inch cinnamon stick, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon star anise, freshly ground
1 teaspoon butter for greasing the pan
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + extra butter to grease baking pan
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
2 large granny smith apples, peeled and grated (you should get approximately 1-1 1/2 cups of squeeze grated fruit pulp)
1-2 teaspoons of confectioner's sugar,  for dusting the cake

1. Center a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the tea leaves to the water and continue to boil for one minute. Remove the saucepan from the stove and allow the tea leaves to steep in the water for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid through a tea strainer into a clean cup and discard the leaves. Rinse the saucepan clean (to make sure there are no residual tea leaves left behind). Transfer the tea back into the saucepan and bring it back to a boil on a high flame. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and reduce the liquid volume to approximately 1/4 cup. At this stage remove the tea and leave to cool to room temperature. 
3. Whisk and blend all the ingredients from the flour to the star anise and keep aside.
4. Line a round 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease evenly with the butter.
5. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 7 minutes on medium speed. Beat in one egg at a time to get a smooth and creamy cake batter. Add the cooled concentrated tea prepared earlier to the batter and mix completely.
6. Add half of the whisked dry ingredients to the cake batter. Combine completely into the batter until no more flecks of flour can be seen. Stop the mixer and add the yogurt to the batter and beat gently on low speed until combined completely. Beat in the remaining flour until no more flecks of flour can be seen.
7. Gently squeeze the liquid out of the grated apples between the palms of your hands and reserve two tablespoons of the juice. Toss the apples in the extra flour and fold in the grated apples and the reserved juice into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula and bake for 50-60 minutes in the oven. Half-way through the baking process, open the oven and rotate the cake pan to ensure even baking. The cake is completely baked when the center is firm to touch or when a skewer comes out clean from the center. Remove the baked cake and allow it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan and transfer the cake to a wire rack. Cool the cake completely to room temperature for at least 1-2 hours. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.