167 Recipes + Tea + 52 weeks = #CulinaryTeaChallenge
WEEK ONE RECIPES
STARTER: Mexican Black Bean Soup, pg.60
ENTREE: Darjeeling "Dry" Mung Beans, pg. 108
DESSERTS: Earl Grey Truffles, pg. 174
TEA BEVERAGES: Masala Chai Concentrate, pg. 234
Masala-Style Chai, pg. 235
Mexican Black Bean Soup
Although I really enjoy black beans and I could eat soup everyday I have never actually prepared a black bean soup. So, the first starter recipe in Culinary Tea was a first in a lot of ways for me.
Even though this is considered a vegetarian dish, the smokey effect of the Lapsang Souchong by Harney & Sons almost gives you the impression that the black beans had a secret rendez-vous with seasoned meat on a grill...somewhere romantic...in the south of France, maybe?
I could have saved myself 1 whole hour of prep time if I had soaked the beans the night before; by the way, I used a quick-soak method where you bring the beans to a boil and then turn off the heat and cover the beans for 1 hour. It's supposed to preserve the flavor as well. I also feel like the color of the soup wasn't as vibrant because I discarded the water containing the juice of the beans. Next time, I will soak the bean over night so that the juices will be part of the cooking process. The hue of the soup should turn out to be deeper and more lively.
To add a little more flavor and depth to the soup, I added a seasoning called cube magie. It has an effect of balancing all flavors of any dish. The jalapenos and crumbled goat cheese added a fresh and spicy touch to the over-all finish of the soup but Lapsang Souchong stole the show ending the taste with a pouf of smokey flavor floating off the palate into the nostrils. My husband stopped, and looked up, and said, "Yeah, this is good." If food is so delicious that it makes him stop eating, then perhaps I'm on to something.
Darjeeling "Dry" Mung Beans
Because I am obsessed with Indian food, I've had mung beans before not realizing what they were. Indian cuisine isn't Indian cuisine without them and I see why as they are super easy to make and hold flavor very well.
Again, I could have saved a lot of time if only I had thought about prep the day before. Mung beans need to soak for at least 3 hours so I bit the bullet and allowed exactly 3 hours for soaking. Once the mung beans soaked the recipe called for the mung beans to be steeped in tea until somewhat softened by still firm in the center. It didn't take long for the beans to cook, perhaps 10-15 minutes.
Darjeeling Tea by Palais des Thés created a perfumed effect and paired really well with the turmeric required in this dish. The Darjeeling tea taste stayed on my palate long after enjoying the beans which was the best part of all.
I don't mind a veggie meal but I wasn't too sure about just eating beans for dinner, especially after having the Mexican Black Bean Soup for a starter, so I paired these beans with an Indian yogurt and spice chicken recipe that is always a hit. I used the spices from the chicken to make a sauce. One word: delicious.
Earl Grey Truffles
I'm loving this entire #CulinaryTeaChallenge for the simple fact that I am preparing foods that I normally would not even think to prepare. Honestly, I love truffles, but I would never think to take the time to make them. I'm so happy that I did though because they are easy to make and when paired with tea, they are simply too good to never not make them again. Like, seriously, these Earl Grey Truffles were the most fun and the easiest of all of Week One's recipes.
Whipped egg infused with Earl Grey by Harney & Sons and chocolate laced with orange zest make for a decadent truffle. I can't believe how delicious and simple these truffles are! I can see myself making a batch and preparing them quickly as a snack after a meal shared with friends. I'm sure they will leave my guests guessing on the various notes, not realizing that tea is one of them.
Masala Chai Concentrate &
Ok, so the Masala Chai was actually the most difficult and the most time consuming of all of Week One's recipes. Anytime I am served home-made chai tea from henceforth I might be tempted to bow to the cook. The patience needed for chai tea concentrate is beyond holy!
It took 5 hours, yeah I said it, 5 hours to finish preparing the chai concentrate! What is more, I realized that I did not have a cloth sieve to drain the concentrate separating it from all of the spices. I ended up storing the concentrate containing the spices in a mason jar. Thankfully, this did not disrupt the taste but merely made it a little more inconvenient to prepare the concentrate. Normally, you're supposed to be able to take a few tablespoons of the concentrate and stir it directly into your Assam tea. Since I left the spices inside, I am forced to put a little more than a few tablespoons into a steeper and pour my hot water over it and my tea. Additional tablespoons preserve the taste.
Even though 5 hours for tea is an exceptionally long time, I am prepared to try this recipe time and time again. It's chai, after all! Also, the cooking spices filled my home with the scent of chai goodness, so it's like a two for one deal, you know: You get a tea and an air-freshener...
Ok, so what did I learn in Week One of #CulinaryTeaChallenge? I learned that I actually really like to cook. I learned that when it comes to culinary cuisine, prep is everything and can make or break a recipe. I learned that utensils are just as important to have as ingredients. And I learned that using tea, but not just any tea, can truly enhance the taste of my food.
I'm so excited to keep learning as I go through each recipe of Culinary Tea. Remember, if you love tea as much as I do and are willing to spend a few hours in the kitchen to prove it, then purchase your very own copy of Culinary Tea and cook along with me!
Be sure to also follow @teaendblog on Instagram as I am always posting photos of different foods and asking my tea sipping bookworm friends for recipes inspired by tea.
Which recipe excited your taste buds?