Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Using chai throughout the kitchen

Another winter walk this weekend with a mug of chai in hand. How I love it. But in addition to drinking the stuff — bought or blended at home, with hot milk and honey — I enjoy applying the spicy flavors throughout the kitchen. Some things I've tried and tinkered with:

• The chai syrup recipe I posted a while back is fabulous for mixing up a quick serving, but it's also scrumpdillyicious over ice cream.

• A neighbor of ours adds chai powder or mix to his pancake batter. I also recommend this recipe for Oatmeal-Chai Buttermilk Pancakes.

• By now you know my love of vodka infusions, and the chai liqueur I made last fall has been a delicious dessert treat and nightcap all winter.

• Chai makes a great poaching liquid for fruits, especially pears.

• I've even used it to deglaze a pan or two when sauteeing onions, when the spice and the carmelizing might be perfect together.

• Speaking of savory recipes: Chai makes a lovely brine for meats, too, a la this Chai-Brined Pork Tenderloin we enjoyed last night (alas, without the apple chutney). Cooking Light magazine has been a good friend for many years; their recipe for Chai-Spiced Winter Squash Puree is awesome, too, over pasta or by itself.

• Over the holidays, we also made shortbread rounds spiced lightly with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and pepper. No actual tea, but we called it chai shortbread, and in addition to dessert uses it sure tasted good with a cup o' chai, too.

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