In the depths of winter, when the temperatures plummet I’ll take a cup of chai tea over a cool smoothie any day. It was that impulse exactly that got me thinking of combining the two and having the best of both worlds: a warming and invigorating drink with a creamy, whipped consistency. To achieve this, I made a cup of chai and instead of drinking it, I simmered a chopped pear in the spicy brew, then blended it with cashews, a knob of coconut butter and a couple of plump dates. The result was the perfect snack and cup of tea in one.
“Food is most flavorful when coaxed with very little,” says Jenn Louis, the chef and co-owner of Portland, Oregon’s Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, as well as Culinary Artistry, a full-service catering business. Louis loves to cook with the seasons and as simply as possible. Nearly everything in her restaurants is made by hand. Her pastas have earned her a reputation as something of an Italian nonna, and in March she’s bringing out a pasta cookbook, Pasta by Hand (Chronicle), focused on the under-loved category of Italian pasta: the dumpling (there’s a lot more going on there than just gnudi).
The wisp of crispness in the air is always a reliable prompt to get back into the kitchen. There is no better way to celebrate the beginning of fall than by baking something sweet and fragrant. These muffins fill the air with the aromas of cardamom, coconut, vanilla and pears. Not only are they gluten-free, but they are also vegan, naturally sweetened and whole-grain. They will most likely please everyone.
Chia seeds and ground flax, along with a little mashed banana, bind the batter and provide a moist and cakey backdrop for the cooked pears. The chia seeds also impart a lovely crunchy texture. Served with a cup of tea, the muffins make the perfect mid-morning or afternoon treat. Read more
The jarred stuff was handy on occasion, but I made all 3 of my kids homemade baby food until they transitioned to table food. Doing this saved me money (those 50-cent jars add up!) and put my mind at ease because I knew exactly what they were eating. If you’re curious to try, here are some tips and starter recipes.