June 29, 2009
Summer has been fighting to make an entrance and we’ve had a couple hot days that could qualify as summery, and every summer I turn to a single, ashamedly, favorite. Sunflower brand Jasmine Green Tea, iced. Yes, that is the cheap one in the yellow/gold tin sold in every Asian market known to man. I can’t help it. I have plenty of high-end jasmine greens, but none of them make the great iced tea I know and love.
Unlike most tea brewed to become iced, do not over brew it. It will get horribly bitter. It’s a delicate ballet and they key is to make it strong enough that it stands up to some dilution from ice, but not bitter. Sure, you can cheat and just brew it to the desired strength and then put it in the refrigerator to cool it down slowly… but I prefer the instant gratification iced method. I’d say just under boil water and like 3 minutes steep, if this is bitter try 2.
It wil be a delicate flowery treat. I drink it straight but to sweeten it only use a natural sugar (yellow lump, turbinado, or palm) as white sugar or honey don’t pair well.
June 19, 2009
OK I have an admission, I am addicted to Popeye’s Chicken Red beans and rice. You can hold the chicken and the biscuts even, I just need the glorious smoky, savory red beans and rice. For years now I have worked and refined, and worked some more on exacting the flavors and texture and finally I have come up with an almost perfect replica. Without further ado, I give you:
2 cans of light red kidney beans.
1 capfull (~1tsp) Liquid smoke.
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper.
~1/2tsp garlic salt. (probably a bit more)
3-4tbsp real unsalted butter.
(I also throw in a 1/4-1/2tsp of powdered red hot pepper and a dash of garlic powder for good measure.)
Put all ingredients in a pot on medium heat until it begins to boil. Smash most of the beans with spoon as they soften to help thicken everything up and continue to cook and stir often, especially once it really begins to come together or it will scorch. I’d say about 8-10 minutes before smashing some beans, and another 20-30 cooking and stirring until they reach the right consistency which is a touch soupy but thick.
For the rice:
2 cups white rice
1 tblsp butter
1tsp garlic salt
Cook the rice as normal with the addition of the butter and garlic salt. I use a rice cooker and just toss it all in at the beginning.
(if you have time – and open arteries – render some smoked hamhocks in the oven at ~200deg and use about a 1/4c of the fat instead of the liquid smoke and butter… well maybe still a little butter too.)
Everything is inexpensive and accessible, I have tried “gourmet-ing” it up and using real garlic and high-quality spices and salt/pepper and honestly it doesn’t need it. Just stick to the basics and it will happen. By using the liquid smoke and butter you get all of the flavor and a small reduction in heart problems. It still probably isn’t health food but it is delicious!
Top Secret Recipes
June 1, 2009
Thai food is one of the most underrated cuisines and one of my personal favorites, happily that seems to be changing and it starting to make in-roads into many American cities. Thai iced tea is actually something I rarely order when out but on a recent trip to a great new Thai restaurant near Pittsburgh (Nicky’s Thai Kitchen) my father had decided to try some. He was hooked, and knew his tea-swilling son would be able to find him some.
I went with C.T.F brand Thai tea which consists of very small bits of leaf, yellow #5 coloring!, and anise seed… why tea would need any colorant is beyond me, but it was the best of the options available. I brewed some up for myself to check it out, and while it still isn’t exactly my thing, it is nicely refreshing as just a plain (no sugar or half and half) iced tea. It has a kind of woody aroma and taste with a hint of the anise subtly tossed in. Nothing complex or outstanding but no glaring issues either outside of adding color to a drink that by definition is already, naturally, perfectly colored. I seriously don’t get that. He was happy to be able to enjoy this treat on his own, and throughout the summer I’m sure I’ll get use out of my bag too. I’m looking forward to using it in some cooking and maybe a homemade BBQ sauce, and also for some bubble tea. At about $4 for a pound of tea it is a great value too for what it is.
Thai Iced Tea
Por Kwan brand Thai Ice Tea Mix – 16 oz