Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Magic of Tea

The Magic of Tea
By Dahlia Haas
Food Styling and Photography by Dahlia Haas

Listen up. Tea has moved from its home in a four o’clock teapot and emerged as a cutting edge ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes. Bringing tea into the kitchen and out of its familiar role is exciting. Cooking with tea is the hottest new trend to hit the food scene.

These spring time recipes are exotic, spicy and for tea connoisseurs that enjoy cooking, a revelation. Consider Tea-Smoked Chicken with a Sesame Soy Glaze, heart -warming Chocolate Chai Pudding, buttery Earl Grey cookies and a refreshing Green Tea Martini.
Classic tea-smoked chicken is a century’s old tradition in Chinese cuisine. By using a wok lined in foil as a smoker, you can easily do this on your stove. If you are a first -time Chinese smoker be sure to wait until you see thick plumes of smoke in the wok before adding the chicken breasts. This may take 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, the mahogany glazed poultry will be slightly smoked, infused with black tea, brown sugar, black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, whole orange peel and uncooked rice. The smell from the smoking chicken brings family members to the kitchen wondering...What’s burning?” and asking “Amazing …how did you learn that!”

Once the smoke clears, make both desserts! I promise the Mocha Chai Pudding and the Earl Grey cookies will be new favorites. Both of these tea -based desserts are easy to make and an unusual sweet ending to a meal. The rich warm blend of spices steeped into the Mocha Chai Crème Brulee will fill the kitchen with a luxurious fragrance of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. The Earl Grey cookies baked with a little Hawaiian salt are incredible eaten plain, dipped in chocolate or made into ice cream sandwiches. I can’t imagine having a cup of tea without them. Not too sweet or rich, “kind of”a grownup version of Girl Scout Cookies.

If a cup of tea is the ultimate comfort drink, then a Green Tea Martini is the perfect cocktail to end the day. Personally, I like my tea shaken, with friends watching the sunset.

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