Tag Archive for Drink

Cucumber Lemonade

I discovered the delight of cucumber juice when I drained cucumber for tzatziki. It has a lovely mellow cucumber flavour and is insanely refreshing. And then I saw this recipe. Combining cucumber juice with lemon juice and sugar seemed a bit weird, but I wanted to give it a try and was glad I did: it is delicious! Cucumbery, tart, sweet and incredibly refreshing, so perfect for hot weather.
You can play around a bit with how much water and sugar you add. I like to use less water, so I can finish the lemonade with a generous glug of sparkly water.
I also adapted the process a bit. The original recipe asks you to blend the cucumber to a very fine pulp. This gives you a lot of juice, but also forced you to throw away the pulp. I chose to grate the cucumber, which still gave me enough juice, but also cucumber gratings that I could use for tzatziki. If you leave the skin on your lemonade will be quite green, if you peel the cucumber first, it will get more pale green.

CucumberLemonade2

Cucumber lemonade
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup cucumber juice (from about 450 g cucumber, peeled or unpeeled)
1 cup lemon juice (from about 7-8 lemons)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cold water

Grate the cucumber. Transfer the gratings to a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain. Use a spoon to press out as much of the juice as you can. Use the solids for tzatziki.
Pour into a bottle and add the lemon juice, sugar and water. Give it a shake, then place in the fridge for 15 minutes to cool. A few more shakes should dissolve the sugar completely.
Serve with or without ice/sparkly water. And if you feel fancy, garnish with a thin slice of cucumber, a lemon peel curl or a few borage flowers.

New smoothie flavours

I still love smoothies as a snack. My local supermarket had some smoothie recipes that you could try, and they really gave me some new ideas. It’s not that these ideas are very revolutionary, I just got stuck in my routine of making the same smoothie each time, this made me mix up some other versions. A new thing for me was the addition of oats, I expected not to like it but actually I did. It makes the smoothie more filling, and makes them thicker as well, which is a good thing when you use quite a lot of liquid and no frozen fruit. You do need to blend a bit longer to make sure the oats are ground down completely, otherwise the texture gets a bit weird.
Another thing I recently tasted was carrot-apple-ginger juice. I don’t have a juicer, so I cannot really make it at home, but if you have one, give it a try. It is a really energizing mixture.

Banana and Oats (2 glasses)
150 ml yoghurt
150 ml orange juice
1 large banana
4 tbsp oats

Banana and Kiwi (2 glasses)
150 ml yoghurt
150 ml orange juice
1 large banana
1 kiwi

Strawberry and Cherry (2 glasses)
125 g strawberries (frozen)
50 g cherries (frozen)
1 small banana
75 ml yoghurt
100 ml orange juice
4 tbsp oats

Mango, Pineapple and Coconut (2 glasses)
100 g mango
100 g pineapple
150 g coconut yoghurt

To make smoothies, throw everything in a blender and blend well. You can also use an immersion blender. Add some more liquid when the smoothies are very thick, add some extra frozen fruit or oats when they are very liquid. The exact amounts for the perfect consistency depend on what you like, and how much liquid the yoghurt/fruits you use contain.

Hazelnut Affogato

A faster dessert than affogato is virtually impossible. You scoop some ice-cream in a glass, pour some liqueur over it, then pour a shot of (just made) hot espresso over it and serve it immediately, so that the ice-cream isn’t molten yet. And it’s delicious!
Traditionally there is no liqueur in it and is it made with vanilla ice-cream, but my variant used a hazelnut liqueur and hazelnut ice-cream to make a hazelnut affogato. Keep in mind that, as with all simple dishes, the quality and taste of your ingredients will make or break this dessert. You need good coffee, good ice-cream and good liqueur, otherwise it will taste cheap and/or inferior. The amounts of everything depend on what size glass you use. how boozy you want it to be and how large you want the dessert to be, but I used medium glasses, 1 scoop of ice-cream, 1/2 shot liqueur and 1 shot espresso.

Affogato

Indian Sweet Chai Tea

The first time I saw this recipe was in a Rick Stein program. Unfortunately, the recipe was not available on-line, and I didn’t pay attention enough to remember the exact amounts. So I forgot about it… until recently. I had a bit of condensed milk left from another recipe, and I thought of this to use it up. I just guessed the amounts, and it turned out very tasty. I was happy that I served small cups (instead of our usual large coffee/tea mugs), because it is very sweet. But the combination of the tea, spices, sweetness and creaminess is delicious!

Indian Sweet Chai Tea (2-3 small cups)

250 ml water
1 strip orange or lemon peel
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1 small cinnamon stick
few slices of fresh ginger
1 bag of black tea
100 g sweetened condensed milk

Pour the water in a small pan. Add the orange or lemon peel, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Bring slowly to the boil and leave to simmer for 5-15 minutes (depending on how intense you want the flavour of the spices to be). Add the bag of tea and leave to infuse for another 5 minutes, but make sure the water doesn’t boil, otherwise the tea will get bitter. Add the condensed milk and simmer for a little longer to warm through. Sieve and serve immediately.

Smoothies

I love making my own smoothies as an afternoon and/or pre-workout snack. They are easy to make, healthy, filling and you can make up endless variations and mix and match with the ingredients you have available. And of course they are delicious!

Because I often use frozen fruit, you need a sturdy blender or immersion blender, otherwise the smoothies will not get thick and creamy. The frozen fruit also is an economic way to eat fruit, for example berries, fresh they are terribly expensive but frozen they are quite affordable. And overripe banana’s work perfectly well in a smoothie (when you have too many of the overripe banana’s you can easily freeze them; just peel, cut (or break) into chunks and freeze).

Milk and banana are the base ingredients of my smoothies. I generally use semi-skim cow milk, but you can also use other milks like soy and almond, according to your preference; yoghurt also works very well. The banana is a base ingredient to make them deliciously thick, creamy and smooth. Using frozen fruit also makes the smoothie thick, creamy and smooth; if banana is the only fruit in the smoothie I freeze it, but when I also use frozen fruits I don’t bother with freezing the banana. I never add sugar, honey or other sweeteners because the fruit is sweet enough on its own.

Berry Smoothie

The two favorites I have right now are banana-berry (in lots of variations) and banana-chocolate.

Banana-berry smoothie
1 banana
150 ml milk
a handful of frozen berries (I like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries, or a mixture of berries)
optional: linseed (to bulk it up and add valuable healthy fats), vanilla or cinnamon (to amp up the flavour)

Blend everything together. Serve immediately, in a large glass with a straw.

Banana-chocolate smoothie
1 banana
150 ml milk
1 tbsp almond-hazelnut butter (can be any nut butter you like)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
optional: dessicated coconut, or coconut flour, or bran (to add fibers)

Blend everything together. Serve immediately, in a large glass with a straw.

Variations
– banana-vanilla: frozen banana, milk and vanilla extract (or use a vanilla flavoured milk; cinnamon, ginger or cardamom are also delicious spices to add
– banana-mango: banana, milk and frozen mango (also nice with a grating of lime zest)
– banana-tropical: frozen banana, coconut milk and a can of pinapple or tropical fruit mix (use fruit on juice, not fruit in syrup which contains lots of extra sugar)
– banana-coffee: frozen banana and coffee flavoured soy milk, optional add some nut butter
– citrus-berry: yoghurt, orange (or grapefruit) and frozenberries (because the yoghurt is thick you can add a liquidy fruit like orange without thinning the smoothie too much)
– pear-oat: milk, frozen peeled pear, oats and cinnamon
– winter: milk, frozen peeled apple, soaked prunes (dried plums) and pumpkin/speculaas spice-mix
– ….: any combination of milk, fruit, flavourings and add-ons

I know that there are a lot of people out there who like to add vegetables (spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, avocado, etc) to their smoothies, stating that you really cannot taste it. Well, I can, and I don’t like it. For recipes search on pinterest or google for (green) smoothie, and you will find tons of them. Another popular thing is to add powerfood like chia seeds to your smoothies. I don’t, because they are poorly available and very expensive over here. Also, I’m not so sure that they actually are as beneficiary as claimed.

Hot chocolate

I have a love-hate relationship with hot chocolate. It can be the most delicious thing in the world, warming up with a mug of smooth, creamy and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream after an autumny beach walk or an evening walk when fresh snow has fallen. But it can also be the most ghastly thing, with a thick skin on top, nasty taste of sterilized milk and the chocolate flaking in bits because the hot chocolate is cooked too long, or lumps of cocoa powder. Ick.

That is exactly why I prefer to make my own hot chocolate: I think the best hot chocolate is made with whole milk and good chocolate. Making it with cocoa powder always gives it a kind of dusty mouth feeling, while making it with chocolate gives it a very smooth, creamy and chocolaty taste. Topping it with whipped cream enhances this creamy, luxurious feeling even more. Oh, and don’t bother with warming up store-bought chocolate milk, those are way too sweet. Although since chocomel (the main brand of store-bough chocolate milk) started to sell those hot chocolate machines to cafés and coffee houses the quality of hot chocolate you get there greatly improved, it is not the best option when you are at home. And really don’t dare to call that instant powder stuff you can mix into milk hot chocolate: it really is not (its mainly sugar and something to make your milk brown).

The amount of chocolate you use for a really delicious cup of hot chocolate is a bit tricky. Too much and the hot chocolate gets too thick, making it almost a dessert. But not enough the hot chocolate is watery and not chocolaty enough. This recipe of Jeroen Meus is perfect (although he uses milk chocolate with nuts, instead of the pure chocolate I use, and he also adds a cinnamon stick). Jeroen Meus is one of my favourite chefs, he has a program on Belgian television (Dagelijkse Kost) in which he makes something else every day. I really like his vision that food should be about good food and good taste, and not about using posh expensive products and making it look mind-blowing perfect while the taste could be better. It is important that food looks appealing, but looks should not go at the expense of taste; it is exactly how I think about food.

Hot chocolate (2 large mugs)
adapted from Jeroen Meus – Dagelijkse kost

500 ml milk (preferably whole milk)
90 g chocolate (I use 55% cocoa semi-sweet chocolate, I think 70% cocoa chocolate is overkill and makes it too bitter)

125 ml whipping cream (preferably fresh cream with 35% fat as it whips and taste better, but a sterilized carton of cream with 30% fat is okay too)
2 tsp sugar
few drops of vanilla extract

Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot, but not boiling (this prevents the milk from getting that boiled taste). Meanwhile, add the sugar and vanilla extract to the cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Because it is a small amount, I prefer to do this by hand. Add the chocolate to the hot milk, stir until molten on very low heat (it should still not boil). Scoop or pour the hot chocolate in 2 large mugs, top with the cream and enjoy.

Indian espresso coffee

I’ve seen this thing called Indian espresso coffee passing by for a long time on all kinds of blogs before I gave it a try. I could not imagine that something like this would be tasty, with the coffee powder instead of real coffee, and with the sugar (I hate sugar in my coffee), and with all that milk it is certainly not an espresso. But when I gave it a try, I liked it a lot!

The principle is very simple. You add a tablespoon of instant coffee powder/granules and a tablespoon of sugar to a tall mug (you can adjust the amounts to your taste). You wet it with a few drops of water, just to get it going, and then you beat the hell out of it. It is suggested to do it with a spoon, but I found that a fork works much better. The mixture start dark and sandy, but the more you beat it, the paler and fluffier it gets. It can easily increase a 4-fold in volume, it is like magic, it just gets really stiff and frothy. After beating 5-10 minutes (according to how frothy you want it) you add hot milk. And voila, your sweet coffee beverage is ready.

Indian espresso coffee is often described as a cross between espresso and cappuccino. I think that is not true, both real espresso and cappuccino are made with freshly brewed espresso from good quality, and cappuccino has microfoam milk froth. Indian espresso coffee doesn’t suffice to these criteria. But it does taste better than instant cappuccino, it kicks a punch, it has generous amounts of caffeine in there, but still is nice and creamy. And when making it you can beat out your frustration. So it is the perfect accompaniment when you need to study or meet a deadline or something like that. But I do think that the drink will benefit from good instant coffee powder… as far as that is possible.

Indian Espresso Coffee

Coconut-chocolate “milk”

Did you know that high fat (25%) coconut milk will get frothy if you heat it? Well, I didn’t, until I prepared chocolate “milk” with coconut milk instead of ordinary milk. I melted about 30 gram chocolate, added the coconut milk and put it in the microwave to heat it, and then it got all foamy. It is really nice! The chocolate milk is really rich and chocolaty and the foam gives it a mochaccino (cappucino with chocolate milk instead of ordinary milk) effect. I think it would also be lovely to add some espresso to it, to get a real mochaccino. The coconut milk gives it a slight coconutty flavour, but it is definitely not overwhelming. But take care, it is really filling!

Chai concentrate

Chai is a kind of spiced strong tea syrup, often mixed with milk to form a chai latte. Chai is also commonly used as a flavouring for cookies and other baked goodies. You can buy chai syrup, but I think it is overly, sickly sweet and since I had all the spices necessary already on hand, I just made my own.

Chai

Chai concentrate (makes about 500 ml)
From munchin with munchkin

2,5 cups water
5 bags of black tea (I used a mixture of Earl Grey and Indian)
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean (I used 1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean)
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 whole cloves
5 cardamon pods
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 star anise pods
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp allspice seeds
pinch of saffron (can be omitted)
1/2 tbsp orange zest
2 cm piece of ginger, sliced into discs (don’t bother to peel, there is much flavour in the skin)
1 tbsp honey

Bring the water to a boil. Add tea bags, spices, orange zest and ginger. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in honey and let stand 10 minutes. Line a sieve with cheesecloth or clean tea towel and strain concentrate. Discard spices. Store concentrate in a sealable container in the fridge for up to two weeks. To make Chai tea combine 1/3 cup of concentrate with warm (foamed) milk (or soy/nut milk).

Gluhwein

Gluhwein (mulled wine) is a drink very suitable for this season. Nothing better than a cup of warm, spiced wine with your friends and family, while it is raining and storming outside. Or after a nice walk in the freshly fallen snow. Or on a Christmas market. Or just by yourself, under a blanket on the sofa, reading a good book.
You will need a reasonable red wine for this recipe. I always think that using a good wine is a bit of a waste, since you will alter the flavour by adding spices & sugar and by heating. But using a very bad wine will not work either, you will taste that even trough the spicing and the sugar, and you shouldn’t bother to make it yourself, the supermarket has cheap ready made that tastes like bad wine with to much sugar. So a mediocre wine is fine, but it should be a wine with oomph. Otherwise your gluhwein will mainly taste like gluh, and not like wine. I used a Berberana Red Dragon Tempranillo 2009 that was priced down at my supermarket and I was very happy with the result.
For people that can’t or don’t drink wine, you can do the same thing with apple juice. Buy a good apple juice for this (I use “flevosap”) that is unfiltered.
I like to make the spice mix myself in stead of buying ready made, because I can choose what I put in there and it is more cheap as well.

Gluhwein (0,5 L)
0,5 L red wine
1 strip of orange or lemon peel
2 whole star anises
5 whole cloves
5 whole cardamom pods
a piece of mace
1 small stick of cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar (for medium sweetness)
Optional: raisins (for an extra kick, soak them in rum)

Combine everything in a pan, put a lid on and simmer on very low heat for 15-30 min. Drink hot. Take care not to let the mixture cook, not only will you loose the alcohol, it will also make the mixture bitter.