167 Recipes + Tea + 52 weeks = #CulinaryTeaChallenge
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WEEK FIVE RECIPES
STARTER: Jasmine Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab, pg.65
ENTREE: Green Tea Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Greens, pg. 113
DESSERTS: Tea Toffee (with Tea-smoked Salt), pg. 177
TEA BEVERAGES: Green Tea Simple Syrup, pg. 238
Jasmine Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab
"This recipe was created by Chef Robert Bean when he was the executive chef of Todd English's Bonfire Steakhouse in Boston. A more complex version was served at the restaurant, but the flavors were so lovely that we asked him to create a simplified variation for home cooks. This is the result: a light and refreshing starter, perfect for a summer evening. The crabmeat here is almost a garnish, and can be omitted if you prefer a vegetarian dish. The jalapeno adds an appealing heat balance by the sweetness of the watermelon. Add more or less jalapeno, depending on how much heat you like."
-Culinary Tea, page 65
I reintroduced Jasmine Green Tea by Sunflower in this week's recipes and just like in Week Three - Jasmine Tea Chicken Soup, the recipe that includes it, is my least favorite. I don't know if it's the Jasmine Green Tea this time, though, I just think that the Jasmine Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab contains ingredients that I normally do not like. For example, I am not a fan of the bitter taste that jasmine tea adds to food nor do I like seafood all that much (I was born and raised in Texas...no where near the ocean or sea...lol). I absolutely love soup, but I see it as a comfort food and prefer it warm; to top it off, this recipe is made with watermelon; fruity or sweet meals aren't my thing.
In sticking with my #CulinaryTeaChallenge, I made the Jasmine Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab recipe anyway, and I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I would be. After blending all the ingredients and letting it marinate in the fridge for 6 hours, I was pleasantly surprised to taste a combination of well balanced and complimenting flavors. The sweetness of the watermelon was subdued by the red onion, garlic, and jasmine tea. The basil and mint along with the cilantro leaves added savory but cool herb flavors and the crab meat lent a complimenting texture and wasn't as fishy as I thought it would be.
The only thing that I would change about this meal is the portion size. I feel like it is way too much per serving and would be more appreciated if it came in a tasting dish where the gazpacho could be consumed all at once.
Green Tea Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Greens
"Gnocchi are Italian dumplings - a kind of pasta, but thicker, doughy ovals, usually made with potatoes or ricotta cheese and flour. Powdery matcha tea gives the gnocchi a subtle character that goes well with just about any pasta sauce, but especially well with lighter herb or vegetable sauces. Other teas, finely ground to a powder, give an equally delicious result. Consider a full-bodied black tea and pair these gnocchi with the Chicken and Mushroom Paprikash (page 130)"
-Culinary Tea, page 113
Yay! More pasta! No, seriously, the pasta recipes of Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold and Lisë Stern are so much fun to make and tasting freshly prepared pasta is such a treat. I pulled out the Organic Single Estate Matcha by Teas Unique to create green gnocchi, an Italian dumpling-like pasta, similar in color to Week Four - Fresh Matcha Pasta.
Once the pasta dough was prepared, which didn't take long at all, I used a gnocchi board, a special wooden board used to shape the gnocchi. I will say that my gnocchi rolling skills need some practice but the less afraid I was of messing up, the more appealing and oval-in-shape my gnocchi turned out. Here's a few tips: (1) Do not be afraid to roll the gnocchi and to press it into the board with your thumb to create an oval shape (2) Start rolling the gnocchi from the top of the board down, use the full length of the board (3) Make sure your pasta dough pieces aren't too large
The simple combination of fresh grape tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and olive oil created such an elegant and tasty sauce that complimented the matcha and ricotta cheese dumplings. My husband and I loved this dish because it reminded us of a similar Italian dish that we had in Germany using gnocchi pasta drenched in a beefy ragu.
Tea Toffee (with Tea-smoked Salt)
"Salted caramels have become quite popular lately, and we're particularly fond of that salty-sweet blend when combined with chocolate. A full-bodied black tea, such as a low-grown Ceylon, Nilgiri, or Assam, stirred into the toffee, helps balance the sweetness. The garnishes are flexible - if you like a higher chocolate-to-toffee ratio, increase the chocolate. If you like a sweeter chocolate flavor, use milk chocolate, or a blend of milk and dark chocolates, instead of bittersweet."
-Culinary Tea, page 177
I don't think there's enough blog space for me to express my relief that, this week, I did not have to prepare truffles like in Weeks 1, 2 & 4! I am literally so done with truffles! The Tea Toffee was really fun to prepare and it was so very delicious it left me wondering why I had never attempted to make toffee before!
I used a tea that I never thought would be useful, honestly; a tea by the name of French Breakfast by Golden Moon that was suggested in a Tea Review - Subscriber's Edition. The name of the tea is misleading as the tea is literally just Ceylon (black) tea. Thankfully this toffee recipe required a ground Ceylon tea. Yet another reason why I like cooking with tea; you end up using teas that you probably would not have sipped.
The pecan and freshly ground Ceylon added a deep and grounding taste to the sweet toffee and the thin layer of bitter-sweet chocolate created a decadent tasting experience. I sprinkled coarse sea salt (I skipped out on the Tea Smoked Salt as it is an entirely separate recipe in the book) on top and this dessert was to die for! The recipe yields quite a bit of toffee so I shared a few morsels with my mother and my sister and they couldn't stop nibbling on it.
Green Tea Simple Syrup
The simple syrup recipes of Culinary Tea are really simple (no pun intended) to prepare. Although I usually sweeten my tea with honey, Green Tea Simple Syrup has given me, yet, another fun way to sweeten my tea. I used one of the most elegant and proper green teas in my tea cabinet given to me by Adagio Teas, one of my favorite tea providers. Yu Qian Anji Bai Cha (a green tea) from Adagio's MASTERS tea collection lent a sophistication to Green Tea Simple Syrup that enhanced my green tea sipping experience times 10.
Week Five of my #CulinaryTeaChallenge was easy and simple, which worked out well for me since it's been so long since I've been able to cook with tea. What did I learn this week? I learned that using fruit in my meals may not be such a bad idea after all and even though my Texas roots yearn for meats such as beef and pork I shouldn't fear sea food. I discovered what a gnocchi board is and I, once again, learned that fresh pasta is the best pasta. Although toffee requires 10+ minutes of stirring it is well worth the work-out and honey isn't the most exciting sweetener there is.
Can you believe that I only have 152 more days left of my challenge! How am I going to finish over 120 recipes in 152 days? I fear that my challenge may be more of a challenge than I thought! Life has been so busy and my husband and I spent a good portion of our summer months out of the country or even away from home. I hope you still stick with my journey through the #CulinaryTeaChallenge even if the journey takes a little longer than expected.
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.
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Have you ever made toffee?