Lavender Spiced Chai Latte

Find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things. ~SakiImage

This is my second post on tea and I guess the quote affirms my love for tea- that is if you could see the absence of great quotes from other posts :-)   I would never ever refuse a cup of tea and always had a great company at home and outside to enjoy the small cups of goodness.

A great contrast to my “tea-crazy” self,  my husband is not much of a “tea” or a “coffee” person.  When he first told me of this, I asked him- “Seriously? what kind of person are you??   Five years into marriage, the tea evangelist in me finally managed to get him to (occasionally) enjoy the masala chai that I make at home.

So when this Friday he asked me for a cup of the chai, I tried a slightly different version of the regular masala chai that turned out great.

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Ingredients:

  • Water- 4 cups
  • Loose black tea leaves- 3  tsp, I used Darjeeling tea
  • Cinnamon- 1 Tsp (coarsely crushed bark).
  • Ginger (grated)- 1 tsp
  • Cardamom- 3-4 pods crushed
  • Grated nutmeg- a pinch
  • Dried Lavender buds- 1/4 tsp

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Instructions

  • Place 3 cups water in a small saucepan.
  • Add cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and Lavender.
  • Add sugar per taste if you are using or any sweetener)
  • Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce heat to low
  • Simmer until the mixture (and your kitchen) smells aromatic, about 10 minutes.
  • While the tea is simmering, prepare the milk.
  • If you have a milk frother at home, go ahead and use it.  I do not have one, so I  used the following trick that turned out pretty well.
  • Heat milk in microwave for about a minute. Transfer to a glass jar with a tight lid.  Shake vigorously for about 30 sec.
  • Open the lid carefully and with the back of your spoon hold off the froth.
  • Strain the tea into cups and add milk.
  • Spoon the froth and top off the chai.
  • Dust lightly with cinnamon powder and enjoy

Note: I used 2% milk and the froth was good enough.  You can use whole milk for thicker froth.

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Lavender Lemon Bars

Am I the only one who dreams about how a certain recipe tastes? I guess not.  I recently came across an email from Taste of Home on Lavender Lemon Bars.  Even without reading the entire recipe, I fell in love with it.   I was dreaming about how it would taste and could almost taste it on my tongue. Now, don’t be so surprised, for I never had a lemon bar before, forget it with lavender. I was sure that the sweet taste of lavender would perfectly complement the tartness of the lemon and it sounded like heaven.  

I tried it out this weekend (having ordered for the lavender buds on Amazon.com) and it did not disappoint me or my family.

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Lavender Lemon Bars Recipe

Ingredients
For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers
  • 2 teaspoons lemon peel-grated

Topping:

  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Substitute for 4 eggs (see the note below)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Note:  I do not use eggs and as a substitute, I have added 1 tsp of Baking Powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda to 1 cup of yogurt, let it sit for 3 min till it froths up.   For those of you who use egg, actual recipe calls for 4 eggs.

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  • In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add the flour, lavender and lemon peel; beat until crumbly.
  • Fill a13-in. x 9-in. baking pan and pat till even.
  • Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, the yogurt mix/eggs and lemon juice; beat until frothy.
  • Pour over the warm crust. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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Restaurants- Troy Mezze, Raleigh, NC

It was not my initial idea to write about restaurants when I started off on this blog.    But of late my dining out experiences have been too good, so I decided that it does not hurt to write few words when you come across good restaurants and eating experiences.

Troy Mezze is situated in a tranquil and relaxing little street in downtown Raleigh.   During our visit to the city, we visited that Historic Blake Street and spent an idyllic evening there.   A stroll down the street revealed through the old streets, cobblestone paths that are lined up by quaint little shops.

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Down further, you actually stumble upon a lot of great eating places, one of which is Troy Mezze.   When the chef and one of the co-founders of the place said that it was the best and the only Turkish restaurant in the area, I had no hesitation whatsoever accepting it.

The first thing I noticed when I took in the surroundings of the restaurant were its warm hues, walls draped with kilim rugs, and ornate-colored glass lanterns over the bar.   Then I looked at the Menu and I was lost.  I did know a little bit of Turkish cuisine, but I was totally unprepared for what I saw.  That plus the fact that I was only supposed to take a stroll at the Historic Blake street and my presence there was totally away from the lunch OR the dinner time was not helping either.

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So, I settled for what seemed to me at that time the most reasonable choice- Troy Platter- A sampler of Hummus, Spicy Tapas, Haydari, Baba ghanouj, Lentil patties, Turkish red beans (Barbunya Pilaki), Stuffed grape leaves (Yaprak Dolmasi),Tabboulleh.   My favorites were the Baba ghanouj (eggplant mashed and mixed with virgin olive oil and various seasonings), Dolmasi (grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, currants and onions) and the Haydari, yogurt with bonus sprinkling of chopped walnuts and mint.

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So, here it is- Troy Mezze on the Historic Blake Street in Raleigh.  A perfect place for an idle stroll and also the home to a lots of good restaurants.  I recently read that good food eaten in good surroundings makes it a great experience.  Blake street and Troy Mezze did that for me.

A little note here: I being a vegetarian had “limited” choice for food.  While I really cannot talk about the meat containing dishes, I did hear that their Turkish style pizza (specifically the lamb pizza) was very popular.

Another note:  Did I tell you that on Friday evenings are Troy Mezze’s live performance evenings?