My ‘New’ Green Tea Book

Green Tea: 50 Hot Drinks, Cool Quenchers & Sweet & Savory Treats

A lovely woman who produces a food radio program telephoned me recently to set up an interview about my ‘new’ book on cooking with green tea. She caught me off guard because I don’t have a new book on cooking with green tea. Then I realized she was referring to a book that I wrote in 2006 titled: Green Tea: 50 Hot Drinks, Cool Quenchers and Sweet and Savory Treats ( Harvard Common Press, 2006).

We got it straightened out, had a laugh, and fortunately she still wanted to have the interview.

After this, I started to think about my book and the idea of cooking with tea. Back in 2006, cooking with tea or using tea as in ingredient in cooking and baking was an unfamiliar concept here in the US, and it did not resonate with most. Its not that it wasn’t a good idea – it was and still is a great idea – but only a few short years ago the conversation about tea was vastly different than it is today.

Back then, tea drinking had not yet reached the widespread popularity that it has now, and education about premium tea from traditional places of origin was still in its infancy. Spreading the word about the different classes of tea (green, white, yellow, oolong, black and Pu-erh) was challenging for those of us in the tea business as black tea was the most commonly drunk tea at that time, and the only tea that many people were familiar with.

Fortunately, my book sold well and is still in print –yea!- but I have come to realize that the subject of cooking with tea ( and my book ) was ahead of its time. For Green Tea I developed original recipes in these categories: hot and iced green teas, smoothies, green tea cocktails, savory dishes and sweet endings, and often when I would describe to someone back then what my book was about they would look at me as if I had holes in my head.

In fact, even in Taiwan, where I gave a presentation at an annual tea meeting to a room full of tea growers on the idea of cooking with tea, and where there are dishes that utilize oolong tea in the preparation, many there looked at me as if I had holes in my head, too.

But today, just five years later, the idea of cooking with tea, or using tea as a culinary ingredient, has caught on. Not like wildfire, but with enough traction to be included in various tea conversations and for others to pursue the topic.

Cynthia Gold, the Tea Sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, has co-authored a book with Lise Stern titled: Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World ( Running Press, 2010). This delightful book explores the concept in depth, and provides much guidance for those looking to experiment with all classes of tea in their cooking.

Some restaurants, too, feature tea as an ingredient in various savory dishes and cocktails. Green tea in particular is showing up pretty regularly in sweets and desserts. But I fear such desserts will suffer from over-exposure and incompetent hands, and become culinary outcasts in the same vein as tiramisu, molten chocolate cake, and anything kiwi.

I am reprinting (with permission of my publisher) one of my favorite cocktail recipes from Green Tea: 50 Hot Drinks, Cool Quenchers and Sweet and Savory Treats.

Tropical Sky
( serves 2 )

  • 12 ice cubes
  • 3 ounces chilled green tea
  • 1 cup chilled pomegranate juice
  • 3 ounces gin
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto
  • Maraschino cherries, lemon wedges and orange wedges for garnish

1. Put 4 ice cubes, the green tea, pomegranate juice, gin, and amaretto into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 1 minute.

2. Divide the remaining 8 ice cubes between 2 old-fashioned glasses. Make a skewer for each glass by threading 1 cherry, 1 lemon wedge, and 1 orange wedge onto a decorative cocktail pick. Strain the cocktail into the glasses and drape a fruit skewer across the top of each glass. Serve immediately.

Hot Chocolate vs Hot Cocoa

Hot chocolate versus hot cocoa….customers constantly ask us if is there a difference. Our answer is always a resounding YES, indeed there is. Neither is better but the choice has to do with resulting flavor, texture and richness.

Both beverages are delicious and either can be topped off with lightly whipped cream, and or embellished with orange slices, cinnamon sticks or powdered cinnamon, peppermint sticks, chocolate sprinkles, etc.

A cup of chocolate was originally an Aztec beverage that was no doubt far less ‘tame’  and far more heady than our familiar drink. The French have claimed rights to a very rich style of Hot Chocolate that incorporates milk, cream, sugar, and shaved or chipped bits of bittersweet chocolate.  The chocolate melts as the milk/cream mixture is heated. French-style hot chocolate is wonderfully rich, creamy, and substantial. And depending on the amount and type of chocolate used, the result can be gloriously thick – almost spoonable in the cup.

Hot Cocoa is made with water, a few tablespoons of milk or cream, sugar and cocoa powder. Cocoa powder and sugar are mixed with the cream in the bottom of a cup or cocoa pot until a paste is formed, then hot water is added to the paste and mixed until a smooth consistency is reached. Hot cocoa lacks the creaminess and luscious mouthfeel of  a cup of hot chocolate, but it is more concentrated and has a more chocolaty taste. This is because there is less vegetable fat ( natural cocoa butter ) in the cocoa than there is in shaved chocolate. And as many know, fat coats the palate and minimizes flavor.

Here are a few recipes for delicious hot chocolate and hot cocoa. My advise ? Try them all and see for yourself which you prefer.

HOT CHOCOLATE
Makes 1 serving – scale up the quantity for additional servings

  • 4 tablespoons cream
  • 6 ounces milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (add more to taste after the chocolate is melted if desired)
  • 2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: whipped cream or mini marshmallows for garnish

Put the cream, milk and sugar into a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Add the chocolate and heat until melted, stirring constantly. Add the vanilla extract and heat for an additional few seconds. Ladle the hot chocolate into a mug and garnish if desired.

HOT COCOA
Makes 1 serving – scale up the quantity for additional servings

  • 2 teaspoons dutched cocoa powder ( we prefer dutched process cocoa because we feel that these cocoa powders have a deeper flavor, darker color and a smoother texture that blends flawlessly in hot beverages.)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream, not heated
  • 6 ounces boiling water

Optional: whipped cream or mini marshmallows for garnish

Place the cocoa powder and sugar into a mug and mix well. Add the cream and stir into a smooth paste. Add the boiling water and stir until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Ladle the hot cocoa into a mug and garnish if desired.

 

PARIS AFTER DARK
This recipe is from our book, Hot Drinks which Bob and I co-authored in 2007. Although Ten Speed Press published this book 3 years ago, sales are still strong as the recipes are intriguing and delicious, and perfect for warming winter and early spring days and nights! This is still one of my favorite recipes in the book.

Makes 2 servings – scale up the quantity for additional servings

  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 1& 1/2 cups strong coffee, freshly brewed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, firmly whipped with 1 teaspoon sugar, for garnish

Optional: Pinch of fleur de sel or other sea salt for garnish

In each of two mugs, mix 2 teaspoons of the sugar and 2 teaspoons of the cocoa until well-blended and lump free. Add 2 teaspoons of the cream to each and stir until thoroughly combined into a light paste. Add 3/4 cup of the coffee to each and stir again until thoroughly mixed.

Top each with a dollop of whipped cream. Roll the dollop over to stain it with the coffee, then sprinkle a few grains of sea salt atop the whipped cream.

Aperitivo Bloody Mary

Happy New Year 2010 to all our family and friends, colleagues and customers ! May 2010 be a healthy and joyful year for everyone.

This version of a Bloody Mary cocktail comes from our friends at the Italian firm of Acetum, who produces lovely and distinctive balsamic vinegar in Modena, Italy.  Acetum belongs to a consortium of balsamic vinegar producers who  submit their vinegars for classification to a group known as the AIB, Assaggiatori Italiani Balsamico. The classification system assigns a rating of 1 to 4 Leaves to each vinegar according to flavor and style, and it also suggests appropriate uses for each style of vinegar.  Please see the chart at the end of the post for more information.

This recipe is designed by Acetum for use with their fruity and tasty 4-Leaves Fiaschetta Balsamic vinegar, which is one of our best selling balsamic vinegars.

Aperitivo Bloody Mary

serves 1

chipped ice

1 & 3/4 ounces premium vodka

3/4 tablespoon 4-Leaves Fiaschetta balsamic vinegar

4 drops Tobasco sauce

7 ounces tomato juice

salt and pepper to taste

garnish: fresh lemon or lime slices, sprigs of fresh celery leaf

Fill a double old-fashioned glass 1/2 full with chipped ice. In another glass, add the vodka, balsamic vinegar and tomato juice, salt and pepper and gently stir with a long handled spoon. Taste, and adjust any of the ingredients to your preference. Pour the drink into the glass with ice, and add the slice of citrus to the rim of the glass.  Stand  the sprig of celery upright in the glass.

Holiday Hot Drinks:Atholl Brose

Happy Holidays to all our friends, family, customers and on-line readers. In the spirit of the holidays we are posting one of the specialty drinks from our book: Hot Drinks: Cider, Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, Spiced Punch, Spirits ( Ten Speed Press,2007).  To have a look inside our book on Amazon.com, click here: http://tiny.cc/INpvZ

Atholl Brose

Legend has it that this concoction allowed the Earl of Atholl to defeat his enemies during a Highland Rebellion in 1475. The Earl had the rebels ‘well filled’ on this intoxicating beverage, after which they were easily overcome in battle. The oatmeal broth ( ‘brose’) provides a creamy and luxurious base for tempering the fire of the Drambuie and Scotch whisky. The addition of Scottish heather honey keeps the flavors of this hot drink authentic.

Serves 2
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1&1/2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon Scottish heather honey
1/4 cup ( 2 ounces ) Drambuie
2 tablespoons ( 1 ounce ) Scotch whiskey
1/4 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped with 1 teaspoon sugar ( optional garnish)

Stir the oatmeal and water together in a small bowl. Cover and let sit for 1 hour, stirring gently every 15 to 20 minutes.

Strain the oatmeal broth into a saucepan using a fine-mesh sieve. Press the oatmeal against the side of the sieve with a wooden spoon until it is almost dry to extact as much oatmeal broth as possible. Discard the solids, set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a low simmer. Lower the heat, stir in the honey, Drambuie and Scotch, and simmer until just heated through, about 5 minutes.

Serve in espresso-sized cups or festive hot toddy-style glasses. Garnish with whipped cream or not.

Cold Weather is the time for Hot Drinks

bk-hot_drinks

Are you out of ideas for that certain someone on your holiday list ?

Consider the following – a copy of our  Hot Drinks book ( 50 original recipes concocted by Bob and me that feature coffee, tea, cider, cocoa, liqueurs, etc. in  a mouth-watering and delicious array of intriguing flavors and aromas ) along with some key ingredients for stocking a hot-drinks pantry:

  • soft Ceylon cinnamon sticks
  • whole cardamom pods
  • star anise
  • peppermint twizzle sticks
  • rich hot chocolate or hot cocoa mix
  • spices for mulled-cider
  • Chai tea
  • Holiday Blend coffee

We are really proud of this little book and we love the recipes that we created. Our goal was to put a delicious new spin on some classic favorite drinks as well as to come up some wonderful combinations using comtemporary ingredients. We love it when customers tell us how much they love our book, and that are working their way through all of the recipes. Everyone seems to have a different favorite !

Here is a sneak-peek of one of our recipes that is  just perfect for the holiday season ( and you can see two others in my December 16, 2007 and January 1, 208 posts )  –

Hot Speculatius
In Germany and Holland, the Christmas holidays wouldn’t be complete without a selection of traditional spiced cookies. This hot drink was created in honor of lebkuchen, the popular German gingerbread cookie, and speculatius, Hollands thin, crisp windmill-shaped alomnd cookie. This wonderfully rich and creamy drink is  the perfect messenger of holiday cheer.

Serves 2

2 cups whole milk
3 & 1/2 ounces marzipan, chopped
1 tablespoon ( 1/2 ounce) amaretto
4 tablespoons ( 2 ounces) Bailey’s Irish Cream
2 tablespoons ( 1 ounce) ginger brandy
large pinch of ground cinnamon
large pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground cardamom

Combine the milk, marzipan, amaretto, Bailey’s and ginger brandy in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally to incorporate the marzipan. Lower the heat and simmer gently until just heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cimmanon, cloves, and cardamom, and simmer for another 2 minutes to release the aromatic oils from the spices.

Strain into two large mugs and enjoy – with or without a namesake cookie.