Cooking with Tea

Most people know that alcohol is a great tool for cooks, but not everyone thinks of tea for cooking purposes. Tea has a beautiful earthy fragrance and brings new, unexpected depth and flavour to almost any dish. Green tea, black tea, jasmine tea, lavender tea or chamomile tea- they all work well, so be experimental!
Besides providing great flavour, another big benefit of using tea as opposed to alcohol is that it is much less costly. In light of the poor economy and rising food costs, it is always beneficial to find value wherever it`s available!
Today I will show you how to create various tea-based treats, both sweet and savoury. The first recipe I have for you is lamb shanks with a lavender Dijon sauce. Lavender is a commonly used flavour in French cooking, and works very well with lamb in particular. I start by searing my lamb, and finish it in the oven. While the lamb is cooking in the oven, use the same pan that it was seared in to make the sauce. By the time the meat is out of the oven and rested, the sauce will be finished! Simply pour it over the shanks prior to service, and side with your favourite vegetables.

I follow this recipe with two tea-based desserts- my green tea and honey crème brulee, and poached pear tartlets with Jasmine tea glaze. The Jasmine glaze is an amazingly versatile glaze that can be used on a variety of cakes, tarts, ice creams or even fruit. I have paired it with a simple poached pear and tart recipe to compliment the lightness of the jasmine tea. Although I usually prefer to poach my pears in wine (please see Cooking With Booze for my poached pear recipe!), feel free to poach the pears in green tea or jasmine tea with a cup of sugar for an extra blast of tea flavour! Both recipes are very different; however, their one similarity is the light, earthy flavour of tea that lightens up an otherwise heavy dessert.
These are just a few recipes, to spark your love of cooking with tea. Tea is a versatile, flavourful ingredient that can be used in virtually anything. As you begin cooking with tea, you will find that the possibilities are endless. Try poaching salmon with black tea and onions, carrots and celery, for a new spin on poached fish! If you have an ice cream maker, why not try infusing one of your favourite teas into a basic ice cream recipe?
I hope I have provided with you with some amazing new ideas on how to start your adventures in cooking with tea! As long as you keep an open mind and are willing to experiment, you will find all kinds of new uses for your favourite tea!

Lamb Shanks with Lavender Dijon Sauce
You will need:
6 lamb shanks, frenched
1 tbsp butter, cut into small chunks
3 shallots, finely diced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 ½ cups boiling water
6 lavender tea bags, or 3 tbsp looseleaf
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Allow the tea to steep in the boiled water for about 25 minutes, until lightly coloured and fragrant. Remove tea bags and allow the tea to cool.
3. Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over high heat, and sear both sides of the lamb for about 1 minute each. Remove from heat and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Once the lamb is out of the oven, allow it to rest until ready to serve.
4. While the pan that seared the lamb is still hot, add the shallots. Sautee for a minute, until soft and translucent.
5. Pour the tea into the pan, and whisk thoroughly, making sure to whisk everything off the bottom of the pan (this process is called deglazing).
6. Allow the liquid to reduce for about 10 minutes, whisking continuously. Reduce heat to medium-low, and whisk in the Dijon mustard and honey. Continue to cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.
7. Add the chunks of butter, which will add richness and shine to the sauce.
Poached Pear Tart with Jasmine Tea Glaze
You will need:
12 tart shells, baked
12 poached pear halves (for poached pear recipe, please see my cooking with booze article)
2 eggs
2 ½ oz sugar
½ oz cornstarch
1 c 2% milk
1 c 35% cream
1 Vanilla bean (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch.
3. Whisk in the cream, milk, and vanilla.
4. Pour the mixture evenly into the tart shells.
5. Place one pear half over each tart.
6. Place the tarts into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes.
7. Eat while warm, and serve glazed with Jasmine Tea (below) and accompanied by vanilla ice cream.
Jasmine Tea Glaze
You will need:
6 fl oz White wine
1 fl oz Cold water
2 tea bags (or 1 tbsp looseleaf) Jasmine Tea
2 oz sugar
1 ½ tsp unflavoured gelatine powder
1 tbsp apricot preserve
1. Bring wine to a boil. Add tea, turn off the heat, and steep for two hours.
2. Remove the tea, and return the liquid to a boil. Whisk in the sugar, gelatine, and apricot jam.
3. Pour over anything you would like to glaze.

Green Tea and Honey Creme Brulee
You will need:
8 ramekins, plus one large, deep pan that will hold them all (a lasagna pan works well)
6 egg yolks
24 fl oz 35% cream
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp honey
8 green tea bags, or 4 tbsp looseleaf
1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the cream with the green tea and vanilla bean. Bring the cream to almost a boil, and then reduce heat to medium.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, until smooth and light in colour.
4. Temper the egg yolks by pouring in one-third of the cream mixture, and whisk thoroughly. Pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan, whisking continuously. Do not allow the mixture to boil!
5. Pour the mixture into the ramekins.
6. Place the ramekins inside the pan, and pour warm water into the pan to halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Cool for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
7. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over top of the custard in each ramekin. Using a propane torch, caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.


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