Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sweet Spicy Chai (vegan and dairy versions)

Chai - the word in Hindi for tea - is of course a lot more than just tea. It is the perfect blend of spicy, creamy, sweet liquid goodness; at least in my opinion. And each cook makes it differently.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of teaching some pretty special high school students how to make chai. And while they were very savvy about spices, cardamom had them stumped. It's one of my favorite spices in the world, and most chai recipes include it an essential element. 

This is my take on Chai, including variations for vegan Chai as well. Feel free to adjust it to your own tastes, but I highly recommend keeping in the fennel, peppercorns and cardamom for balance. Even one of the students who was very convinced that black peppercorns had no place in her sweet chai agreed that this blend was one of the best she had tasted.

While a mortar and pestal is not essential for making chai - you can grind the spices in a grinder - I prefer the traditional method that leaves them cracked and slightly whole. I also highly recommend buying a bamboo strainer if you think you might make a habit out of chai making.

The recipe below is for a single serving of 8 ounces of chai (small coffee cup), so double, triple, quadruple, etc. to tailor your needs. But please trust me on the vegan version; boiled non-dairy milks of any kind will NOT be tasty!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Raw Key Lime Pie

Raw, vegan key lime pie... sounds impossible, right? But it's real, it's easy, and oh so delicious!

The secret to most raw desserts is soaking cashews. They plump up like raisins and blend into pure creamy almost cheesey goodness. And while they still have a high calorie count, those aren't empty calories; they're full of fatty acids, several vitamin Bs, and electrolytes like potassium, magnesium and manganese. For myself, anything key lime and I'm sold!

Another benefit of this dessert is it is gluten free, made with a walnut, almond and date crust. You can use all walnuts or all almonds, depending on your preference. And when it comes to the tartness of the pie, add more or less sweetner to taste, keeping in mind that the flavor will mellow over time.