Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Painting and Exciting News!


Hello everyone!

It's been a long time since I last blogged and as much as I'd like to put the blame on school and exams, I can only blame myself and my procrastination.  My first New Year's resolution to fail. :\  But, despite my recent lag in blog posting, I have not stopped trying new recipes and painting.  Hopefully, with the pictures I have stored on all those SD cards, I should have a couple more blog posts for you all before the month is over.


The two images you see here are a series of paintings I made for my mother.  The inspiration behind the images are photographs my neighbor's son took of places he has traveled to and the interior of a hotel he stayed in.  Each photograph was altered to include the miniscule details my mother wanted and I had a lot of fun doing that.  For example, the fountain in the first painting was originally a set of horse statues in Venice.  I changed it to a water fountain from Spain to get the style my mother wanted.

Side by side, the pictures look like this.
Now, the news I have been super excited to tell you all is that I am going to hold a giveaway on this blog soon!  What's the occasion you ask?

Well, this blog has almost reached 10,000 views and what a surprise that has been!  When I started my blog in 2010, I had no idea anybody (except my mom, of course) would even read it.  Now, people tell me almost every day that my blog inspires them to cook or bake, or they will tell me how much they love reading my sister and my posts.  Just that is more than any blogger could even wish for.  So thank you, everyone, for your support and look forward to an awesome giveaway very soon.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cinnamon Chai Cream Pie


I recently came across this recipe while drooling over various food blogs. As a person of Pakistani descent, I thought chai-infused cream sounded familiar and warming. And since I've never made pudding from scratch before, I knew I had to try this.


I ran into a problem though: I didn't have one of the most crucial ingredients: chai concentrate. But after a quick Google search ("how to make chai concentrate") I made some of my own :)


It's the best thing ever- now when my parents want to drink chai all I have to do is mix this concentrate into steamed milk! So easy and mess-free. Plus, the spicy goodness makes the tummy happy.

Here's what I used to make the chai concentrate (recipe at the bottom):


Boil water. Add all the spices, remove from heat and steep for 15-20 minutes.

 
Strain the mixture to remove solids.


Pour into a jar...


Done! Now let the concentrate cool while you work on making the pie :)

Cinnamon Chai Cream Pie

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup graham crackers, crushed
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
For the Cinnamon Pudding:
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (or turbinado sugar)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten and in a medium bowl
  • 1/2 teas cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 teas pure vanilla extract
For the Homemade Chai Concentrate
  • 4-½ cups Water  
  • 2 sticks Cinnamon
  • 1 piece Fresh Ginger Chopped
  • 8whole Cardamom Pods
  • 3 Star Anise Pods
  • 10 whole Cloves
  • ¼ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ teaspoons Freshly-ground Nutmeg (I didn't have this)
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Zest
  • 10 teaspoons Black Tea or 10 Tea Bags
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey 
For the Chai Whipped Cream:
  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 3/4 cup Chai liquid concentrate (sweetened), chilled
-----------CRUST------------

Place nuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, checking often.  Remove from oven and allow to cool and remove the skins from the walnuts. Finely chop the walnuts and almonds.

Crush the crackers with a rolling pin like so:


Add brown sugar and butter, mix. Then spread mixture into a springform pan and bake for 12 minutes. Let cool.


------------PUDDING------------

Mix the brown sugar and cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir for 2 more minutes then remove from heat. 


Add cinnamon and stir.

 

Remove from heat. Add one cup of the pudding mixture into the bowl of beaten egg, mix well. Pour the egg mixture back into the milk mixture in the saucepan. 

Cook the pudding until almost bubbly, but don’t allow to boil.  Reduce heat and cook for 2 more minutes, then remove from heat.  Add the butter and vanilla, and stir. Pour the pudding mixture into the cooled crust. Freeze.


----------TOPPING----------

Prepare the chai topping by beating the cream and chai concentrate together until the cream forms soft peaks.


Spread chai cream on pie, top with chopped nuts and chocolate shavings.
     

    Enjoy! Freeze leftovers in an airtight container.


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