Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cooking with Tea

November Daring Cooks challenge was Cooking with Tea.

As I can’t live a day without tea, I was very excited about this challenge. My first take on cooking with tea was soup based on tea. It has come out very tasty though I didn’t find any tea flavor in it probably because it was largely overwhelmed with such a flavorful ingredients as ginger and miso.

Not being satisfied, right away, I tried another tea-based dish – Almond Cranberry Pilaf which did not impress me either with tea flavor. This time I used strongly brewed Russian Tsar Nikolai tea, pictured farther below.

I didn’t give up and tried another ‘tea’ dish – Brown rice cooked with generous
amount of matcha tea. And guess what – I was not satisfied with it too. There was a subtle flavor of matcha tea, not even close to that flavor of matcha when we drink it plain as a tea. I think that happens because tea loses its flavor after cooking at higher temperatures.

What I’m actually planning to do is either adding matcha powder to already cooked rice and serve it as side dish or cooking plane white rice in strong ginger-lemon tea. Although I think the latter is likely be a weaker version of rice cooked with fresh ginger and actual lemon zest.
Also I encountered really interesting recipe ALMOND-CRUSTED CROQUE
MONSIEUR WITH ENGLISH TEA BECHAMEL SAUCE on Foodnetwork and I want to try it!
Here is complete description and step-by-step pictures of soup and pilav.

Salmon Noodle Tea Soup

gun powder green tea - 1 1/2 teaspoon
ginger root – 1 ½ inch, cut thingly
sorrel or spinach – 2 cups, fresh
miso – 2 tablespoons
light soy souce – 4 tablespoons
sesame oil – 1/3 teaspoon
fresh chives
fresh thyme, just leaves
noodles, fettuccini style
fresh salmon – about 5 serving size pieces
salt, pepper to taste

First of all I’ve got greens from my garden. Here, in Ohio, weather is declining and these are not going to hold for a long before winter comes. Sorry for overwhelming you with greenery pictures below but they are way too beautiful to hide somewhere inside my virtual folders. Below is sorrel (right). Sorrel is not popular here in US. I ordered sorrel seeds to plant in my garden to have fresh leaves for making almost forgotten by me here Ukrainian “green borszh”. On a picture, next to sorrel is thyme (great flavor) and fail-free-in-
my-garden chives. In this recipe I used sorrel in place of spinach. It’s lighter in texture than spinach and has some sourness. Spinach can be used instead – I just felt that I have to get some use to sorrel before it freezes out outside.

Picture above has rosemary on it. To clear confusion - I didn’t use it in  this recipe– rosemary is very strong and potent herb. I just cut sprig of it every time I go to garden and then walk around keeping it close to my nose for aromatheraputical ‘sniffs’.

When done with herbs preparation, brew tea and ginger in 7 cups of water. Right before it starts boiling, turn heat off and set aside. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Strain to remove tea leaves and ginger pieces.

Separately, cook noodles, drain and set aside. Usually right after cooking, I transfer noodles back to the pot without rinsing them and add a little flavorless olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.

Now place fry pan on very low heat with a splash of oil or butter or ghee. Place raw salmon pieces (in my case it’s store-bought frozen salmon burgers with no additional ingredients in it) on a pan, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it, cover and let it pouch in its own juices until salmon is not translucent anymore. For me it took about 20 min on the lowest heat setting.

While salmon is cooking, let’s finish soup base/broth. For this, if needed, warm up your brewed tea to make it hot. Scoop out some liquid to a small bowl and mix in the miso paste.

Then return the liquid back to pot with tea. Add soy sause and sesame oil.

Blanch your herbs under boiling water.

Now we are ready to assemble the final product “Miso Tea Soup Embellished with Pouched Salmon and Fresh Herbs” – how is that sounding, ha?

In the serving plate, put some noodles, then get some generous amount of herbs, then slowly pour tea liquid and then top everything with a salmon. Make sure that noodle, salmon and tea are hot enough. Bright dry pepper on a top is just for decoration purposes :)
Enjoy – it’s good!

Tea Infused Cranberry Pilaf

Black Flavored Tea - 3 teaspoons
Whole Raw Almonds – 1 cup
Onion – 1, diced
Dry cranberries – 1 cup
Jasmine rice, rinsed – 3 cups
Eggplant, diced – 1
olive oil - 4 tablespoons
Salt, pepper to taste

This is a tea I used for this recipe. I don’t like drinking this tea because it has really strong perfume flavor. By using it in this recipe I tried to utilize the product – bad idea as I know now. Do not use tea you don’t like in a first place. Well, I was punished enough for this idea by eating this pilaf for the rest of the week – ha-ha-ha. After all, it was not thaaaat bad.

Brew tea with in a 5 cups of boiling water. Set aside.

Fry eggplant on a skillet with olive oil until well browned. I would like to mention next time I’ll cook this pilaf I won’t add eggplant – it was foreign in here and didn’t merry very well with other ingredients (please note that I cook eggplant in many different ways all the time so it’s not unfamiliar ingredient for me at all).
Separately, in a big frying pan, cook onion until just soft, add almonds and cranberries and cook on low heat 10 more minutes until it’s soft, about 10 minutes.

On a top of almonds, onions and cranberries, spread evenly rinsed rice, and then eggplants. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and slowly pour strained brewed tea over.

Bring to a boil, cover tightly with lid and cook at lowest heat for about 30 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

This is it. With some corrections I’ve pointed at above, I’m sure next time pilaf will be perfect. Wanna try? For me next time may never come for this recipe. I know myself that new and exciting recipes that will come across will be priority for me. After all, cooking it’s all “hit and miss” and more you try – it’s more hit than miss. I ended up picking out all eggplant pieces on a side of my plate (despite all my love for eggplant !) and enjoying very much whatever left – rice, cranberries, almond.
Blog-checking lines: Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.