Monday, January 29, 2007

a bit of chai... and quite a bit of playing by ear

chai muffins with lemon glaze

Last week, in the midst of the work kaos I´m currently drowning in, I decided to play it cool and spend the whole afternoon experimenting in the kitchen. One of the best ways to release stress for me is cook exactly what I´m craving (I did say "one").
And, as it happens quite often, relaxation equals something sweet, and something having to do with chai tea.
I fell in love with chai in my second visit to the US, at Borders to be more precise. I bought a travel coffee mug and they gave me a free drink with the purchase. I had seen frozen chai latte there before, it was summer and I was stuffed after eating at the Olive Garden (I know, I know, it´s probably not the best restaurant on earth or anything, but I was in Tulsa, so my selection wasn´t endless, and I was pretty homesick after a month there, so Italian food = home). Anyway, they didn´t have the frozen chai, but they did have chai, so I went for it. I´ve never looked back, I was hooked instantly: the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and all the fragrances. I started drinking it like there was no tomorrow, yet there was a tomorrow, and the tomorrow was here in Argentina... which is truly great in many ways... but it was chai-less... and the mere thought of a chai-less existence was hard to bear.
Over-dramatic? That description? Come on!
But anyways, who saved me from utter chai-withdrawal was my "friend" Narda Lepes again. For some reason, she decided to do a homemade chai recipe on her show, and I was instantly hooked. Some cloves, cardamom, fresh ginger, cinammon sticks and black tea and I was good to go. Later on, I was able to get this chai here

my beloved chai

... but the flavors aren´t as strong as that first Borders chai who first enamoured me or the homemade chai I sometimes indulge in.
But last week, I wasn´t going to settle for chai as is, no, no, I needed chai in a different package... and that package ended up being cute little muffins with a lemon glace.
I altered a simple muffin recipe so that I could end up simmering cream with all the chai spices and voilá, chai muffins.

chai muffins

The result was fantastic, but I don´t think it makes sense to share my somewhat complicated "recipe", because you guys have chai syrups readily available, so you can just take a simple vainilla muffin recipe, add a bit of syrup, and you have amazing chai muffins. Those of us living at the world´s rear end have to make do without Amazon and without chai syrup... but we´ll persevere, despite this uphill struggle hahahhaa I think all this work is catching up with my brain and my sense of drama.

chai muffins with lemon glaze

And a few other photos before I go to bed to get my well-deserved rest. This is another one of the "creations" that came out of my tired little brain that day.

It´s a potato-onion soup-cheese quiche I created to reinvent a French onion soup that was way too strong to eat as such:

onion soup-potato quiche

Just what people in low-carb diets need!!!

onion soup-potato quiche

Good night everyone :)

6 comments:

Kate said...

I love Chai too, however, it can vary widely depending on who is making it.

That just sounds like a wonderful time. Cooking is something I love to do when I am overwhelmed too (running a close second to hiding under a blanket)

Those muffins look so tasty!

Kristen said...

I'm with Kate. Chai is one of my favorites, but it completely varies on the brand and where it is from.

Your muffins look amazing as does your quiche!

Marce said...

Kate- Definitely agree. For instance, anise is a no no in my list, and I didn´t really enjoy as much the Tazo Chai I had at Starbucks because it was a little too spicy... in the Mexican sense of the word lol

Yeah, cooking definitely helps. Tonight I´m going Italian on some friends :)

Kristen- Yep, besides that Twinings tea I photographed, I have yogi tea and celestial seasonings (which a friend brought me from the US... yes, I´m obsessed and proud of it). I like Yogi Tea, but the Celestial Seasonings Chai I have has anise, so I´m not really a bit fan.

Thanks for the comments about the muffins. I have a few in the freezer, so I´ll probably "revisit" them soon ;)

Anonymous said...

Could you please provide the chai recipe sometime? I'd love to try to make my own. Also, I really dislike the Tazo chai as well but LOVE Oregon Chai-give it a try! I don't know if it has anise in it or not, I happen to love all things licorice-y so it's inclusion wouildn't have put me off.

Brilynn said...

Those chai muffins look delicious! I made chocolate chai ice cream a little while ago, I strongly recommend it!

Frank.Sugar&Spice said...

I have that same box of tea in my home as well. My parents brought it with them from the States. I have just found a little tea store in Palermo Soho that has a chai blend. I have not tried it yet but plan on it. It is called Camellia on Gorriti 5070.

By the way, your muffins look delicious.