Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

IMBB? #17 Tea...With Six You Get Springroll


Another food event, another excuse to go overboard...

Please be patient with me: we're still having camera/computer issues. I hope to have the pictures posted as early as Sunday afternoon, and no later than Monday night.

A La Cuisine! is kindly hosting this month's IMBB?, choosing Tea as our ingredient.

Intriguing, isn't it? It's only recently that Americans have thought to cook with tea, and rarer still to use tea in savory dishes.

So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn about half of the dishes we made were Asian, or Asian-influenced!

Yes, I said dishes. You should know me by now; I'm not satisfied till my kitchen's a mess!

Saturday night, Matt and I sat down to seven tea-flavored dishes.

First, Tea-Marbled Eggs.

Boil eggs. Cook a 'broth' of water, sugar, soy sauce, and black tea (we used a Chinese black tea). Crack the egg shells gently, not letting the shell peel from the egg. Simmer the eggs in the broth, then chill. Peel eggs to reveal a nifty marbled look!
Serve with a mayonnaise mixed with balsamic vinegar and the cooking liquid.

Pretty, and yummy.

Next, Mixed Greens with a Green Tea Vinaigrette.

Olive oil, balsamic vinegar (you can also use red wine vinegar), mustard, dried thyme, freshly ground pepper, and Japanese green tea powder, shaken up in a glass jar. Drizzle over greens, and serve immediately.

The vinaigrette was a little sweet, both from the vinegar, and the tea. Nice.

And on to Nutty Jasmine Rice.

Cook rice in a jasmine tea. Add a lot of saffron, and serve garnished with lightly fried almonds and pine nuts.

The odd thing about the rice: Matt and I could smell the tea more than we could taste it. The rice itself was a little bland, which is a pity, after using all that saffron!

Followed by Tea-Smoked Chicken.

Marinate chicken (we used boneless, skinless breasts) with garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce and sherry, then smoke on a stovetop smoker with brown sugar and black tea. That's it.

Matt's review (for those who are new to this blog: I'm a vegetarian, but I have no problem cooking meat for my husband): in addition to the predominating note of the soy sauce, it had a distinctly smoky flavor but one with a very different character from wood smoke.

Now, Masala Chai.

For more on chai, please see Matt's Indian food post, An Indian Food Primer for the Interested American. (Hint: don't say 'chai tea' to him!)

Simmer cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, black pepper corns, and other spices as desired (Matt frequently uses fennel, ginger and nutmeg) and make tea with the flavored water. Add plenty of sugar and milk. This is a non-Indian technique, but it allows you to produce a large quantity of flavored water in advance which you can then use to make masala chai in as much time as it would take to make a regular cup of tea.

And as always, very good.

Dessert? Of course. Green Tea Poundcake.

Cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and green tea, all sifted into a creamed butter and lemon zest. Mix, then add milk and vanilla, mix well, then add eggs, mixing 'till just incorporated'.

Pour into prepared pan, and here comes the real fun.

Bake about fifteen minutes. Take it out, slash it, bake another fifteen. Then, cover with buttered foil, and bake about thirty minutes more.

The result was a much softer, less-dense cake than either of us expected. We got a lot of the lemon from the cake, but you could definitely pick up on the tea note, as well.

And finally, because with six you get eggroll but we made springrolls, our last dish, White Tea Springrolls

Quickly cook bean sprouts, shredded carrot and cabbage, garlic, and ginger. Add cooked bean thread noodles and soy sauce (the recipe called for both hoisin and oyster sauce, but that whole me being a vegetarian thing kind of forced a switch, plus Matt doesn't like hoisin). Let cool and add rehydrated white tea leaves. Fill spring roll wrappers and cook till golden.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the springrolls. I've tried them before, but didn't care for them (not this particular recipe); my issue, as always, is with the noodles. I can't stand soggy noodles. Over-cooked noodles. And the thinner the noodle, the less likely I am to eat it.
The bean thread, however, was just fine. I didn't even notice it. Which is a good thing!
I can't say we actually picked up on the white tea in the rolls. Neither of us has had much exposure to white tea (something I plan to remedy very soon), so we're not sure how it affected the dish itself. Whether it did or not, the rolls are winners.

And we're exhausted. And still have a kitchen to clean up.

Which is what we'll be doing for the next hour or so...we've taken in so much tea, I doubt either of us will be getting much sleep tonight!

And a big thanks to Matt for all his help...

16 Thoughts for food:

At 6:06 AM, Blogger boo_licious said...

Wowee, seven dishes, what a tremendous treat for all of us. Can't wait to see your pictures as the description of the food is making my mouth water.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thank you, boo_licious! I'm so frustrated with my camera situation right now. We need a new one, but can't quite afford it now.

With luck, photos will be up soon!

Thanks for stopping by...

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I do love tea, but my next plan for its use is to color my gray, oddly enough!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Moira said...

Hi Stephanie...everything sounds incredible! I don't envy you all of the cleaning up, though. ;-)

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thank you, Moira!

The clean-up really wasn't that bad. Our real problem is the dishwasher. Well, it's more complicated...old house, old pipes. Low water pressure. So, we have a mobile dishwasher, which we have to wheel into the bathroom, believe it or not. It just gets too complicated! So, dishes pile up, but I'm used to it...

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Stephanie...I've considered using tea as a hair color, but I'm currently having my stylist isolate the silver streaks and do it in the salon. If/when it takes over, I might switch to something like that>

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Wow! You certainly have been busy! That sounds like such an awesome collection of food!

We have a dishwasher but don't use it as I tend to have to do them again when we try to use it. It does not do a good job! Boo!

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Joe!

The meal took up most of the day, but it's really not a big deal...Matt and I do things like this all the time. We have a habit of making too much food!

Isn't it disappointing? I mean, you pay for an appliance to do a certain job, then you end up doing the chore for it?!

At 12:18 AM, Blogger linda said...

Stephanie, sounds amazing! I had enough trouble pulling off one tea dish!

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thank you, Linda!

Maybe there's some condition that forces me to over-achieve in the kitchen?

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous jtoepfert100 said...

Stephanie - Not related but I attempted to email you re Cinnamon Chips. Not sure if I had the right email, though.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Jen, you did! I've sent a reply...thanks so much!

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

Wow - an all-day IMBB! Just finding all those recipes must have been quite an endeavor, let alone preparing them all - well done!

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Cathy!

I'm not sure if doing these things keeps me sane, or makes me crazy...either way, I still do it!

At 11:34 PM, Blogger Elise said...

Oh my gosh Stephanie, 7 dishes! What is it with this IMBB? I have a hard enough time pulling off one dish. They all sound great.

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Elise, thanks...I don't know what it is. I guess I'm an over-achiever when it comes to food!


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