What You Can Cook, Using Tea

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Creative cooking has lots of surprises for those willing to keep an open mind. One unexpected ingredient to consider is tea. Cooking with tea can add flavors that range from smoky to herbaceous. From sweet dishes to savory, tea can add tasty notes to a variety of concoctions.

When thinking of sweets, tea is a consideration with cookies and with desserts that make use of dairy. Shortbread and sugar cookies work well loose leaf tea leaves or matcha powder incorporated into the dough. The buttery flavors and sweetness make for a delicious blend. Be sure to grind the loose leaf tea sufficiently, perhaps using a coffee or spice grinder if a mortar and pestle are not handy.

126469484With desserts that use dairy, consider ice cream or crème brûlée. Infusing the applicable dairy ingredient with tea is a great approach. When using loose leaf tea, be certain to strain it carefully after going through the process of infusing. Herbal teas work particularly well for these luscious desserts. To infuse the dairy ingredients, add the desired tea and slowly heat the cream or milk until it is slightly below the boiling point. Allow it to cool before straining.

Adding Tea For Flavor

Teas also offer opportunities to add distinctive flavors to savory dishes. As with desserts, dairy infused with tea can create a delicious change of pace. Grassy varieties, for instance, work well with béchamel sauces for rice and pasta. Tea can even be used in pasta noodles, giving the dish a lushly herbaceous flavor. Full-bodied varieties of tea  can be a rich complement to the flavors in stir-fry. When added to other ingredients that are typical in a dry rub, tea can introduce further smoky notes to the beef or pork. The addition is flavorful for dishes that are cooked slowly or quickly. Tea that has been lightly brewed also makes a good addition to soups that feature grains.

Some dishes might be a little daunting, but there could be options to be purchased in the supermarket. Green tea soba noodles, for example, can be found at some grocery and specialty stores. The most important ingredient is a sense of adventure.

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The Basic Ingredients You Should Stock Up on For Baking

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We all know someone who makes those magically wonderful desserts that just seem to melt in your mouth upon tasting them. While beginning cooks sometimes think that there must be some sort of magic involved, it’s really much more simple. Becoming a wonderful baker is more than simply having artistic flair or an uncanny ability. It’s simply about precision, patience and maintaining several basic baking ingredients in your kitchen.

The experts here at the Italian Home Kitchen Blog know that you’re probably not making cannolis every chance you get. Yet, we know that you need some basic pantry essential on hand that will allow you to create delicious treats whenever you like. To succeed in making wonderful treats, you need basic baking ingredients on hand that will allow creation of many different types of tasty sweets and desserts.

Here are basic baking ingredients that every well-stocked pantry should have:
• Unbleached all-purpose white flour
• Rolled oats
• Stone-ground cornmeal
• Salt
• Baking power
• Baking soda
• Granulated white sugar
• Confectioner’s sugar
• Brown sugar
• Honey
• Canned pumpkin puree
• Bar baking chocolate
• Cocoa powder
• Shredded unsweetened coconut
• Vanilla extract
• In-season ripe fruit
• Dried fruit

Some of those ingredients are no-brainers. After all, you can’t bake without flour, but rolled oats, for example, adds texture to cookies, while the different types of sugar have their own specific uses in baking. Plain white sugar, for example, is ideal for blending with wet ingredients. Baking powder and baking soda are essential for light and airy creations, white pure vanilla extract adds wonderful flavor to all sorts of breads and cookies.

As you become more savvy with your creations, you’ll want to add the following ingredients to your basic list to create even more tempting treats:
• Whole wheat and other alternative flours such as rye and gluten-free
• Coconut oil
• Alternative liquid sweeteners such as molasses and agave
• Alternative granulated sweeteners
• Raw sugar
• Corn syrup
• Cornstarch
• Vanilla beans
• Condensed milk and evaporated milk
• Ripe bananas

Check back often with Italian Home Cooking for more tips that will make you a savvy cook.