Monday, October 30, 2006

Cha Cha Cha

Tea (茶 or Cha) is an important part of some Asian cultures. To drink a cup of tea is not just to quench one's thirst but it could be a gesture of respect, gratitude or dare I say, love from one person to another. In these cultures, to know how to drink tea is considered a sign of good breeding and education.

The leaves used to make tea are therefore of utmost importance; a significant body of knowledge on the subject exists beyond our generic té comun or green tea.

My parents' everyday drink is a white tea made with Shou Mei (壽眉) leaves while my grandmother prefers the perfumy daffodil (水仙) which also means "Water Fairy". My favourite is rose (yes, dried rose buds) or a lychee tea and my cousins love a pot chrysanthemum infusion any day.

The Japanese Matcha (抹茶) is now commonly used in cooking and baking beyond Japan while the use of Chinese teas in cooking, as demonstrated most elegantly by J at Kuidaore here, is still very much a hidden secret among the connoisseurs of Chinese cuisines (the 18 provinces have their own distinctive cooking style). Among them, the most well known is a fragrant tea smoked duck from the mountainous province of Hunan.

Since I received my stash of Matcha from Bonnie who used hers in some very cute cupcakes, I have been checking out what others are doing with this versatile ingredient...
Let's set the mood with Paris Breakfasts' collection of beautiful tea related objects...then we go to Cote d' Azur for some Green & Black Tiramisu or we could travel across to Italia for some Matcha sphaghetti, followed by a scoop of Green Tea gelato and a fine alternative to the classic Italian tiramisu - courtesy of Carol, Fanny and fiordizucca (pumpkin flower) who reminds me of another pumpkin recipe by il cavoletto di bruxelles.
Pumpkin and Pine Nut Terrine:
purea di zucca 400g (pumpkin puree)
latte 10cl (100ml milk)
uova 3 (eggs)
farina 50g (plain flour)
olio d'oliva 2 cucchiai (2 tbsp olive oil)
groviera 50g (Gruyère cheese)
panna da cucina 2 cucchiai (2 tbsp single cream)
pinoli 30g (pine nuts)
Steam 600-700g of pumpkin until soft to get 400g of puree. Mix puree with milk. In another bowl, beat togeter eggs, flour, grated cheese and cream.
Add the puree mixture to the flour mixture. In a loaf tin, sprinkle some pine nuts and then pour in the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts on top. Bake in a 200C oven for 45 min. and leave to cool completely.
Cuocere 6-7 etti di zucca al vapore (lasciarla fino a quando sarà molto morbida), togliere la buccia e frullarla, pesare poi 400g della purea così ricavata. Mescolare la purea col latte. In un altro recipiente, sbattere le uova, la farina, il groviera grattugiato e la panna. Aggiungere la purea di zucca.Rivestire uno stampo di carta da forno, versare metà dei pinoli sul fondo, versare l'impasto e finire con l'altra metà dei pinoli. Infornare a 200°per 45 minuti e lasciar raffreddare completamente dopo cottura.
Loosely translated but still an accurate and workable recipe ;-)

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