An Italian cooking in England: food, photography, recipes.

Ginger lemon and mint tea

Posted on February 25, 2015

FCG_opening_ginger_lemon_mint_tea

I love hot drinks. I was the one who introduced the habit of drinking tea (in all its various traditional, herbal, fruit incarnations) to my family back at home, in Italy, when I was younger. I find it strange not to have a steaming mug between me and my keyboard on my desk, at the office. I truly am addicted. After a few years of going from Earl Grey, to red fruit infusions, from green tea to Lady Grey (my favourite, though, was the perhaps more aristocratic version called Empress Grey, from Marks & Spencer), finally settling on flavoured green teas about three years ago (for dental reasons which I delved into back in August 2013). In fact, I spent the best part of the past couple of years trying to find alternatives to Twining’s lemon green tea, which used to be one of the few options to be found in supermarkets at the time. Thankfully, now everybody (supermarket’s own brand, Tetley, PG Tips) seems to be developing flavoured green teas – albeit to varying degrees of quality.

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Despite this wider (and cheaper) choice, though, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. Even discovering Morrison’s Earl Grey flavoured green tea, a few months back, failed to excite me. Which is why, on a sunny but very cold Saturday afternoon in January, after walking around London for hours, I ordered a ginger and lemon tea (‘homemade’, the board said) in a Spanish-inspired, handsomely tiled cafè placed on a Bloomsbury corner. The thick, tall glass arrived, together with a sticky honey dispenser. Slightly suspicious, I squirted some honey in the glass, stirred, fished out the lemon and ginger slices, and took a tentative sip. Reader, I liked it. I took a slow glug and felt my whole body warm up, the ginger tingling my throat. A revelation. Since then, ginger roots have a permanent spot on the weekly shopping list (as do lemons, but that happened before too. Lemons aren’t the second most used tag on this blog for nothing (eggs win that prize)!). So, without further ado, the simplest recipe for a warming and exciting alternative to your more usual cuppa.

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Ginger, lemon and mint tea

Depending on your preference, adjust quantities of each accordingly. I started out adding honey, but now I never do.

Ingredients
1 thin slice of organic unwaxed lemon
2 or 3 thin slices of ginger root (peeled or unpeled, but washed)
1 or 2 sprigs of fresh mint, washed
freshly boiled water
honey (optional)

Put lemon, ginger and mint in a thick glass or mug, then pour boiling water. Leave to infuse for at least a few minutes. You can then either leave everything in the glass/mug, or take it out. Add honey, if you wish.


Pear and walnut loaf

Posted on January 20, 2015

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Seeing the light, the moment of truth, the turning-point, surely we borrow these from Hollywood or the Bible to make retroactive sense of an overcrowded memory?”

Ian McEwan, Black Dogs

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È naturale che la vita, di fatto, sia più simile all’Ulysses che a I tre moschettieri; tuttavia chiunque di noi è più disposto a pensare la vita in termini de I tre moschettieri che di Ulysses: o meglio, può rimemorare la vita e giudicarla solo se la ripensa come romanzo ben fatto.”

Umberto Eco, Opera aperta.

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Pear and walnut loaf

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s pear bread. Makes two loaves. Slice once just warm or completely cool, then store in an airtight container. Keeps well for a good few days before starting to dry out. Make sure you have the ingredients ready before you start, as some require preparation – the butter needs browning and cooling down, the pears need peeling and grating just before using, and so on.

Ingredients
370 gr wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of grated nutmeg
1 level tsp salt
130 gr ground walnuts
240 gr light brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
140 gr butter (browned and cooled down)
340 gr freshly grated pear
100 gr dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan, or 190°C static. Line with baking parchment and grease two loaf tins. In a big bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ground walnuts until even. In another bowl, combine sugar, eggs, butter and grated pear and mix until evenly incorporated. Mix the wet pear mixture into the dry flour mixture, quickly stir until the flour is absorbed, then pour in the prepared tins dividing equally between the two. Sprinkle the chopped dark chocolate on top, then bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I would start checking after 40 minutes, to be on the safe side. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then pull out the loaves using the edges of the baking parchment to help you.


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