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Steeped Book

Tea with Tastemakers Podcast: Episode 2

tea with tastemakers tea podcast

Do you have a car ride ahead of you for a certain holiday of thankfulness this week? To sweeten the miles, our newest episode of Teatime with Tastemakers tea podcast is up! And, good news—we are in the process of getting the podcast up on the iTunes store. Stay tuned for that update.

Expo West 2015

But, first, I felt it fitting to invite you to a conversation with another local tea maker, this time we ventured past San Rafael, California and our first podcast episode with Silk Road Teas to Novato, California and a tea company where each employee is designated as a minister.

Rose and Cabernet Iced Teas

When I think of Republic of Tea, my mind jets through the flavor rolodex of taste memories to the Bazaar Café in San Francisco. It’s not a flavor from their line of Grateful Dead teas or even from the newer line of Downton Abbey teas that comes to mind.

Chardonnay Tea

Instead, Blackberry Sage black tea, Ginger Peach black tea or Wild Blueberry black tea bloom into focus. (Do you sense a trend? Republic of Tea boasts 300 teas / blends.)

Rose Tea

At the 2014 San Francisco Tea Festival, I chatted with one of their ministers of trade about working in the tea industry. Another time, I sat next to the minister of innovation  who has overseen product development for many years–her sources of inspiration on new flavors fascinated.

Chardonnay Tea

Their new releases of teas and tea lines remind me of fashion collections (which might make sense given they were originally started in 1992 by former Banana Republic co-founders, Mel and Patricia Ziegler {along with Bill Rosenzweig}, though the Rubin family has been at the helm of ROT since 1994, under the leadership of Ron Rubin until recently in May when son, Todd succeeded him).

Sonoma Tea Tasting

Earlier this year at the San Francisco Fancy Food show and then at the Natural Products Expo West show, I had a chance to visit their booth and see their flavor innovation at work. Their expansive line of flavors has included recently Matchia or Chia Chai which are both fun to say and to sip / chew.

Hot Mulled Tea

This spring, they introduced a Sonoma Tea line… made of spent wine grape skins that really surprised me with the clever approach and collaboration with wine country company, WholeVine. I had a chance to try the sangria teas at their Expo West booth in Anaheim and then later received an invitation from them to attend a luncheon to taste the teas in action, paired with cuisine concocted by the chef at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco which was a fun way to experience the tea flavors in context.

Sonoma Teas_anneliesz

A vegetable-centric amuse bouche came out as another server poured Chardonnay iced tea. Salad with a citrusy yogurt smear paired with Rose Tea. Seared duck breast was served with Cabernet tea. And a decadent chocolate dessert introduced the hot mulled Zin tea.

Sonoma Teas

After the luncheon, I caught a few minutes with Kristina Richens, the minister of englightenment to talk a bit about Republic of Tea, the Sonoma teas, and their philosophy on cooking with tea.

Tune in below:

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Recipes

Spicy Sweet Tea Glazed Chicken with Corn Relish

You get used to 60 degree summers. Somehow, the body in all of its intelligence deduces how to survive in any environs. I visited India twice during the monsoon season of sticky long sleeves with sweat and cotton as air conditioner. I grew up in a place that might sound fictitious with its now “normal” climes of 110 degree weather. And at one time, I lived in a slice of the sparkly city by the bay that became blanketed by a dense fog, muting colors and making a hoodie summertime uniform. There was a time when if we got really desperate, we would leave our hovel, climb into our car and just drive in an attempt to chase the sunlight on the rare occasions when the dull gunmetal gray sky sucked all hope that sun would ever visit our neighborhood again. We ate soup in the summer. Threw the extra down blanket over the duvet. I would walk the few blocks from our apartment to my favorite coffeeshop chilled to the marrow and loving every moment of grey-skied summer humor.

We live in Oakland now. I’m getting used to sunshine 24/7 again with the help of cold-brewed coffee and iced tea. Call me a wuss and I will gladly accept the title. Growing up in Texas, heat means pools and ice cream. It means bringing a sweater to slap over the tank top upon going inside any building because that building is a microclimate of cold proportions, aided by air conditioning. You get used to it. My first car, a Peugeot passed down from my Tia to my Tio and then to me didn’t have air conditioning and in the summertime I would venture out, windows down, an extra blouse in my bag just in case the current one became slick with sweat. One summer during college, I lived in South Carolina and learned how to drink sweet tea to dull the ache of throbbing heat from the sun. That summer changed my life in meaningful ways: I found my love of teaching and made friendships and memories that have lasted. Foodie Day at Leigh's Favorite Books

This past weekend landed me in Sunnyvale for a Steeped book event and I learned that the city is aptly named. Two cookbook author-friends and I handed out samples and talked about our books with passersby of the open-air farmer’s market that brought Sunnyvalites downtown and strolling past Leigh’s Favorite Books. I caught up with Sheri, the brain behind the event. Emma passed out a Chipotle Porter with just enough of a kick in the finish to surprise the dark beer lover, of which I am one. Cheryl poured shots of a vanilla-ginger lassi that made me want to slurp down a whole glass. And I filled a small bowl with strips of fresh levain bread on which to smear either the strawberry jam or sweet tea jelly from Steeped. The sun shone on my table like a spotlight. And during the day, I met so many lovely people. A friend from my Texas youth group even stopped by. After the book signing finished, we chatted in that brief way of catching up without taking a breath in five minutes that can happen when trying to squeeze 10 years into a 30 minute window. You sometimes find how similar your stories are and that as she completes one thought, you’re nodding from a known solidarity.

Sometimes you don’t have to know the person personally to find solidarity. In the wave of people who tried jam and jelly, one woman visiting from Los Angeles who sampled the sweet tea jelly stood out. An immense joy exists when meeting other people obsessed with food. Conversation starts easily and makes unexpected detours and discoveries. Sweet tea jelly talk led to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Long Beach which then led me to grilled chicken and the idea of creating a sweet tea glaze. Hmm, I thought. I might need to get on that. We had known each other for no longer than 3 minutes and yet experienced camaraderie through ingredient collaboration. The next day, as I sat down and began planning our menu for the week, I flipped to a page in one of my cookbooks that begged to be adapted to a version with tea. And, it’s just the right time to make this recipe what with the sunny but breezy days sweeping across Oakland. The glaze has a hint of Texas in smoky chipotles. It includes kernels of sunshine that we would eat for visual cues of summertime when the San Francisco weather looked its most bleak. But, mostly, that slick of sweetness in the guise of sweet tea jelly gives homage to South Carolina where the kudzu grows wild and friendship of youth can be evergreen.
Spicy Sweet Tea Chicken

Spicy Sweet Tea Glazed Chicken & Corn Relish

The recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook calls for oranges: orange marmalade, orange zest, and orange juice. I swapped them out for sweet tea jelly from my book Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea, grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest to counteract the sweetness with a bit of bitterness that I thought would match up well with the spiciness of chipotle. I also added a touch of chicken stock to give it a savory hint that cooks down in the reduced glaze.  With the corn relish, I wanted to add more vegetables, and found that small diced zucchini paired well with the corn, cilantro and scallions. I hadn’t planned on sharing it here but liked the leftovers today so much, that I knew it was too good not to share. 

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best Simple Recipes cookbook

Makes 4 servings

Sweet Tea Glaze
1/2 cup Sweet Tea Jelly (page 19, Steeped)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon grated grapefruit zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
1 tablespoon chicken stock

4 (12-ounce) bone-in split chicken breasts, fat trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon safflower oil

Corn Relish
1 ( ounce) bag frozen organic corn, thawed
1 small zucchini, small diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 scallions, chopped

Make the Glaze: whisk together the jelly, chipotle, zest, juice and stock in a bowl. Set aside.

Fold a piece of foil over a plate to create a tent and place near the stovetop. Drizzle the oil into a 12-inch fry pan placed over medium high heat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken and add to the pan to cook for five minutes until golden brown. Turn the chicken with tongs. Cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes or until it reaches 160F. Move the chicken to the plate and pull down the foil to keep the chicken warm.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add the corn and zucchini to the pan and cook for five minutes, browning it. Scoop out the corn and zucchini into a bowl. Stir in the cilantro and scallions along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Finish off the glaze: pour the whisked jelly into the pan, still set over medium heat. Scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan and cook down the sauce by half, about 4 minutes. It will thicken upon cooling. Serve the chicken over the corn relish. Drizzle the glaze over the chicken and serve.

 

Categories
Recipes

Earl Grey Lollipops

Earl Grey Lollipops - Lollipop Love BookPicture this: a get-away car, a driver, and a passenger with two cookbooks in tow. Is this you headed on a grand summer adventure? Maybe. I hope you will be excited for a spate of book reviews I’ve got coming up. Think of it as a Summer Required Reading List of sorts that will be several parts cookery and several parts poetry with a dash of memoir stirred into our class-is-out cocktail. Sometimes on road trips, I am the passenger, and I’ve always had a proclivity for reading in the car. Our first book of summer came all dolled up in muscovado and turbinado from Shauna Sever. Today, I want to bring to you hard crack. Another way of saying that is here comes a sweet surprise in Lollipop Love by Anita Chu. Do candy-makers have a special sense of humor? I hope so.

It’s no mistake that I took Real Sweet and Lollipop Love on that 48 hour road trip. Several years ago, Anita, Shauna, Irvin Lin, and I all organized a food blogger bake sale for No Kid Hungry. For two fun years, the four of us banded like the Three Amigos (although, maybe that makes one of us D’Artagnan and the analogy is better suited to Musketeers?). Each of us figured out how we would contribute and it worked brilliantly, especially with the phenomenal addition of eager, passionate food blogger volunteers who baked and decorated some tempting treats. We had Celia to thank for letting us set up our pop-up bake shop outside of Omnivore Books and years later, we remain friends.

At one of those bake sales, I first schemed to make a granola with green tea and liked it so much that it got tucked into the pages of my cooking with tea book. Back then, the aspiration of writing a cookbook had not happened for me yet and so I saluted Anita and Shauna as they took to their kitchens publishing several books (Anita: Field Guide to Cookies and Field Guide to Candy) and (Shauna: Marshmallow Madness and Pure Vanilla). Call it fate, call it kismet, call it a lot of hard work and sinkfuls of dirty dishes or packed refrigerators with trials 1 through 8, but all of us are cookbook authors now with Irvin’s first book, Marbled, Swirled and Layered is coming out Spring 2016. Imagine, then, my delight that my first book’s launch date happened to coincide mere weeks from Shauna’s and Anita’s.  If life is sweet, it’s because of the company we keep.

Earl Grey Lollipops

This brings us to lollipops. Lollipop Love is a slender, small book of 96 pages. As a novice candy-maker, I appreciated that the basic sugar lollipop recipe accompanies the reader onto almost every page. A good book instructs and inspires opportunities for departure. While the basics of lollipop making remain largely the same, some flavor combinations exist that excite and make me want to pull out my heavy-bottomed saucepan and get busy boiling. I’m drawn to flavors like the mango-chili lollipops (page 49) and the pink hued rosewater-saffron lollipops (page 35). If those sound a bit exotic, she also includes recipes for boozy lollipops like the Beer Lollipops (page 44) and what would be a knock-out for New Year’s Eve, Champagne and Glitter Lollipops (page 42).

The book is divided into three sections, not counting the technique primer at the beginning. I like that she masterfully educates for any skill level and shows the process to make a batch of lollipops simply. Section one explores sugar lollipops and denotes the flavors mentioned above. If you tend to be sweet on caramel, section two is for you. I’ve been eyeing the Passion Fruit-Caramel Lollipops (page 67) or the Almond Butter Crunch Lollipops (page 73). Section three focuses on chocolate lollipops and has me thinking ahead to a fun form of evening entertainment. Who wouldn’t want to dip peanut butter lollipops into chocolate (page 90) as a do-it-yourself dessert?

You will need a few essential supplies to get started, namely, lollipop sticks, lollipop molds, and a candy thermometer. And, here’s a genius tip from the Kitchn on quick and easy clean-up. Once you’ve set up your candy-making station, in less than 30 minutes you will have freshly brewed lollipops.

I say brewed because, of course, I knew I needed to make her Peach Tea Lollipops (page 33). In the headnote, she recommends that you can use any tea, so I opted to use Earl Grey instead to give a bouquet full of bergamot scented suckers to a friend for her birthday. One thing she notes is that when brewing the tea you want more astringency from it, so plan on brewing black tea for around 6 to 8 minutes . Switch it out and brew your favorite green tea, or concoct Honey-Chamomile Lollipops (page 45) for an herbal infused throat soothing hard candy.  There’s a lot to love about lollipops.

Lollipop Love Book Review

Earl Grey Lollipops

adapted ever so slightly from Anita Chu’s “Peach Tea Lollipops” from Lollipop Love.
Reprinted with permission.

Store the lollipops in cellophane bags, tied off tightly and in a cool, dry place where they can be kept for 1 month. The recipe calls for light corn syrup, which isn’t high fructose corn syrup, but the kind used to make pecan pie. If you’re not keen on corn syrup, try her recipe for Sweet Agave Lollipops on page 52 instead.

YIELD: 24 small (1 1/2-inch/4-cm) or 10 big (2-in/5-cm)

1 cup / 200g sugar

1 cup / 240ml brewed Earl Grey tea

1/4 cup /60ml light corn syrup
Coat the lollipop molds lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place lollipop sticks in the molds.

Combine the sugar, tea, and corn syrup in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 300F/149C (hard-crack stage). Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.

Pour the mixture into a heatproof measuring container with a spout, or a candy funnel. Divide the mixture among the prepared molds. Let the lollipops cool and harden, about 15 minutes, before removing them from the molds.