Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

Add some intrigue with an Earl Grey infused cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it is time to start planning what is considered one of most important meals in America. For tea lovers, it is a chance to use our favorite beverage in several dishes to highlight how it adds depth and flavor you will not find with other ingredients. For me, freshly made cranberry sauce is a requirement. It probably has more to do with the fact that it is the key ingredient in my favorite coffee cake from childhood than anything else, but it also brightens up the presentation of the other food, like turkey. So let’s jump right into making one of the easiest side dishes in the Thanksgiving meal.

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Ingredients

1 12oz package of fresh cranberries (look in the produce section)
1 cup of water
4 grams (Rounded Tablespoon) of Earl Grey Tea
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of fresh orange zest (optional)

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Equipment

Colander
Glass measuring cup for at least 2 cups
Container to refrigerate the cranberry sauce in
1 quart pot and lid
Strainer for tea
Oven mitts
Long handled spoon for stirring
Spatula
Timer
Micro-planer to zest the orange

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Steps

Cooking this recipe only takes about 15 minutes and requires you to be focused on the sauce in the pot, so you will notice a lot of these steps are focused on preparing to cook. Skip them at your own risk.

  1. Empty the package of cranberries into the colander and rinse under water. Now is your one chance to sort through them, remove any stems that may still be there, and remove any bad cranberries. Bad cranberries are cranberries that are soft and wrinkled or have soft spots on them. You do not want these in your sauce as they will ruin the flavor and can make you sick.
  2. Once you have sorted your cranberries, pour them in the pot and add sugar and put the pot on the stove. DO NOT turn on the burner yet.
  3. Start your kettle for the water for tea. While the kettle is heating up you can put your tea in the glass measuring cup and get out the container, long handled spoon, spatula, timer and oven mitts and put them by the stove where you can get to them quickly.
  4. Add the boiling water to the tea and steep for 5 minutes. Remember you only need 1 cup of water.
  5. When the 5 minutes are up, pour the water through the strainer straight into the pot with the cranberries and water. Turn on the burner now to high and use your long handled spoon to stir in any sugar that did not get into the tea.
  6. Set your timer to 10 minutes and put on your oven mitts to protect your arms from splash back from the popping cranberries. Once you hear your first cranberry pop, start the timer and start stirring. The goal is to allow the sauce to come up to a rolling boil while you are stirring. Once you have that boil, drop the heat down to medium and keep stirring. You are only stirring for 10 minutes and it does not need to be a vigorous stir. Just keep the cranberries and liquid moving. If you want more of jelly consistency to your sauce, squash the popped cranberries with back of your spoon against the side of the pan as you stir. If you like whole cranberry sauce, just stir.
  7. When the timer is up, turn off the burner and take the pan off the heat. This is when,if you want, you will add the orange zest by running the micro-planer lightly over the outside of the orange. The goal is to get as much of the orange skin without the white pith underneath. You are looking for a tsp, which is find is about 3-4 passes over the orange based on its size. I just zest over the sauce and stir.
  8. Pour the sauce into your storage container and leave the lid off to allow the sauce to come down to room temperature. Once at room temperature, put the lid on and put it into the refrigerator. If you do not have time for this, you can put on the lid and put it into the refrigerator, just realize that condensation will form on the inside of the container which may cause your sauce to be more runny than you want.

When the sauce cools down (it will take a few hours), have a taste. The bergamot oil will be present, but not overwhelming. It makes for a nice change to traditional dish.

Want to go all out this Thanksgiving with tea infusions? Check out Irish Soda Bread, Matcha Salad Dressing, and Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream for dessert!

 

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Halloween Tea Cookies

Matcha cookies for Halloween.

Fun Tea & Spooky Halloween Themed Cookies

These fun Halloween tea cookies use matcha to get their green color and can be shaped into all sorts of different shapes. This recipe makes around 36 cookies if done as a simple round cookie.

Halloween Tea Cookies – Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Matcha
1 egg
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies
Eyeball candies
Gummy candies

Halloween Tea Cookies – Instructions

  1. Cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add Egg and Matcha and mix until well-combined.
  3. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.
  4. Scrap dough out of the bowl and onto a sheet of plastic wrap.  Wrap the dough and put into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, 2-3 is better, to allow the butter to harden again.  This will keep the cookies from spreading out as much.
  5. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350º F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  6. Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon full and roll into a ball. Place each ball of cookie dough into the bowl of granulated sugar and roll to coat well. Place cookie dough onto baking sheet, spacing about 1½-inches to 2 inches apart. Lightly press each cookie down.  If decorating, you can put on your hard candies now on the top of the cookies and press in.  If you put in the gummy candies now, they may slightly melt creating a cool melted colored sugar effect on the top.  If it is important to keep them hole, wait until you pull the cookies to add them.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and decorate with the gummy candies while the cookies are still warm.  Just lightly press the gummy candies into the cookies.  Allow the cookies to cool on the tray before removing.  Store the cookies in an air tight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
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Burmese Tea Leaf Salad – Part 2

Plated Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad – Plated for presentation but not yet mixed together.

So, if you are just joining us, you may want to read Part 1 of this blog post describing how to pickle your green tea leaves. For those of you who already read and now want to eat, we have a few more steps to finalize this salad. This salad is traditionally served with the tea leaves acting as the equivalent of lettuce, which I will prepare below. However, the pickled leaves remind me more of a dressing and do nicely as a garnish on romaine lettuce. So feel free to Americanize.

Ingredients (To serve 4)

Fried Rice Noodles (look in the Asian isle of the grocery store)
8 gloves of Garlic
1/2 cup Peanuts
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
1 can of Lentils (color is your choice)
Oil for frying
2 whole Tomatoes

Equipment

Paper towels and four plates. Cast iron frying pan or a pan with high sides to fry in. You will also need a ladle to pull out the lentils and a slotted spoon for the garlic.

Steps to Prepare the Other Ingredients

Start by gathering up all your ingredients as the frying times are going to be short and you cannot walk away from the pan. Setup the paper towels on two of the plates, double the paper towels on one of the plates for the lentils. This will give you a place to put the ingredients to cool before plating them with the tea leaves. Remove the skin and slice the garlic cloves. Cut the tomatoes into wedges to get you at least 4 wedges per serving. Empty the lentils out of the can into a strainer and rise under cool water. Pat dry with paper towels. Put the pan on the stove top and allow to heat. Add the sesame seeds and allow to toast for no longer than about 1 minute. If they start to turn brown on you remove from the heat so they do not burn. Pour the sesame seeds out on one of the plates with no paper towels. Next, put the peanuts into the pan and toast them for about 2 minutes. You need to stir the peanuts to prevent burning. You will smell the peanuts, which is an indicator to remove from the heat as they will burn quickly after this point. Pour the peanuts out on a plate without the paper towels to cool. Now add oil to the pan, depending on your oil type it will ripple immediately and will not require any more time before putting in the garlic. The garlic will cause bubbling, so do be careful. You can lower the heat and stir the garlic with a slotted spoon. It will take the garlic about 5 minutes to start to turn brown. Once brown, remove from the oil and put on one of the plates with paper towels to remove the oil off the garlic. Next, put in the lentils, leave them in the oil until they are crunchy, which will take around 5-7 minutes. Keep stirring and you will feel as they dry out and harden. Remove them from the oil. Unfortunately, the lentils are so small they fall through the slots in the spoon. So you will need to remove them with a ladle.

Steps to Plate the Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Measure out roughly 1/2 cup of the tea leaves into the middle of each of the 4 plates. Arrange the dry ingredients (rice noodles, fried lentils, sesame seeds & peanuts) in piles around the outside of the leaves and divide the piles with the tomato wedges. Sprinkle the garlic on the top of the tea leaves. It is up to the individual to decide how they would like to mix the ingredients together. Don’t skip the fried garlic and lentils as they add a wonderful textural contrast to the tea leaves.

Enjoy!

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Burmese Tea Leaf Salad – Part 1

Pickling green tea leaves.

Pickling green tea leaves for Burmese Green Tea Salad.

Obviously we love our tea. Not only do we love drinking it but also cooking with it. Well in Myanmar (aka Burma) there is a long tradition of eating your tea leaves in the form of Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. With just a little preparation first you can enjoy this dish yourself.

In preparing Burmese Tea Leaf Salad, the tea leaves are traditionally fermented underground in clay vessels for several weeks before being used in the salad. Given that underground fermentation requires something of an underground chamber that is bug and pest proof as well as holds a consistent temperature, this is not a reasonable option for most Americans. (Sorry your basement doesn’t get cool enough for the fermentation process to hold.) Not to mention, fermentation is playing with bacteria, and if you get it wrong you can get extremely sick. So we are going to pickle our tea leaves instead.

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad – Which Tea to Use?

The best tea to use is a straight, non-flavored green tea. Figuring out which straight green to use has more to do with personal preference and your willingness to pick through the leaves to remove any stray stems. For this recipe we went with Sencha since it does not have any stems and the leave sizes vary widely due to the steaming process that makes Sencha. It is perfectly fine to select any other green and quite frankly you will be closer to the flavor profile using Vietnamese Green, but you will definitely need to inspect for stems and harder leaves that do not soften during the brewing process below.

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad – Pickling Tea Leaves

You will need a jar or container with a lid to store the tea leaves in while they pickle as well as a large strainer to pour the tea leaves into after they have steeped.

Ingredients

1/2 cup of green tea leaves
4 cups of water
1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup of sesame oil, plus additional to cover the tea leaves if necessary
1/4 cup of roasted sesame oil
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon of minced ginger
1/8-1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flake

Green tea in a pyrex container for infusing bulk green tea.

Steeping green tea for Burmese Green Tea Salad.

Steps

Start by bringing 4 cups of water up to 185° F. You can bring the water to a boil, pour it out into another container away from the heat and wait about 5 minutes to for the temperature to drop to the desired range. Then put in the tea leaves and steep for 10 minutes. While this is going on, you can chop up the garlic and ginger. For ease of mixing, put the vinegar and both sesame oils into a mason jar and then put in the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Drain off the tea leaves. Unfortunately, the tea liquor brewed for 10 minutes will be bitter and not something you will want to drink. However, your plants can use it, so allow it to cool and water your plants with it. While the leaves are in the strainer rinse them with cool water so you can work with the leaves. Using your hands, pick through the tea leaves to ensure no stems and squeeze the tea leaves to remove excess water. Next, put the leaves into the jar and put the lid on the jar and shake  until all the leaves look coated in oil. At this point allow everything to settle to the bottom of the jar, you should be able to tell if there is enough liquid in the jar to cover the leaves. If not, top off with additional sesame oil. Then put the jar into the refrigerator and wait at least 2 days, but 5 is better.

We will conquer assembly of our Burmese Tea Leaf Salad in Part 2.

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Chai Tea Ice Cream – No Cook Recipe

Ice cream made with chai tea.

Chai Tea Ice Cream – Perfect for Summer

Chai Tea Ice Cream takes advantage of coconut cream for its fat content, making it super easy to make without having to turn on the cooktop. While we used Masala Chai Tea for this recipe, it can be replaced with other teas that play well with coconut. So feel free to play with the tea you use in this recipe until you find one you enjoy. Humans are not very good at tasting flavors when eating cold foods, so the focus is intensifying the tea flavor while balancing the fat and sugar content of the ice cream so it can come out smooth.

Chai Tea Ice Cream

3 Tablespoons of Masala Chai Tea (Feel free to substitute your favorite tea)

8 oz of water

1 package of Silken Tofu (Silken is critical for this recipe, if you use firm or extra firm you will get lumpy ice cream)

1/2 cup of coconut cream*

1/2 cup of brown rice syrup**

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

*  You can find canned coconut cream in the Asian section of your grocery store. If they do not carry the coconut cream, get a can of coconut milk (skip the low fat version) and put it in the refrigerator over night. The cream will rise to the top of the can of coconut milk, allowing you to scoop it out. It is also recommended that you put the can of coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight as well to cool the contents and harden the fat. You will not use the entire can in this recipe but any thing left over can be used in all sorts of other recipes or drunk straight if you like coconut milk.

** Since this is a no-cook recipe, the sugar content needs to be in liquid form. I prefer the brown rice syrup over corn syrup, but you can use corn syrup or agave nectar here as a replacement.

Start by heating up your water to make the tea concentrate. Since we are using black tea here, we need to get the water to a boil, if you opt for another type of tea just follow the proper brewing instructions as if you were making a cup to drink. While the water heats up, take out your blender and put in the tofu, coconut cream, brown rice syrup and vanilla extract. Return to your boiling water and add the tea and allow to steep for 5 minutes. At the end of the 5 minutes, strain out the tea leaves and pour the tea concentrate into the blender. Next, run the blender until everything is blended together and smooth. You may need to stop the blender and scrap the sides to get all the brown rice syrup to properly mix in. Once the mixture is smooth, you will need to refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to get the temperature to drop enough for it to work properly in an ice cream machine. Once the mixture has cooled, follow the instructions on your ice cream machine and pour in the mixture and allow it to churn for the appropriate amount of time. It will come out with a soft serve consistence but will harden in the freezer. You will want to allow the ice cream to thaw for about 10 minutes to allow you to serve it easily.

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