I enjoy a cup of tea in the morning, but also in the afternoon and evening. Luckily for me, the UK is a tea-drinking nation and my habit is matched by many here. I’m sure we can agree that there’s not much a good cup of tea won’t fix, or at least soothe. Then there’s tea as an ingredient – when added to marinades, butters, glazes and more, it has a wonderful ability to impart grassy, herbal, sweet or earthy notes. So, fellow tea drinkers, here are some ways to consume (even more) tea.
Grilled manouri with chamomile honey, spinach tapenade and smoked almonds (top photo)
Manouri is a soft but creamy Greek cheese, less flavorful than halloumi and less pungent than feta. It colors perfectly in a hot pan or on a barbecue and, like most sheep’s and goat’s cheeses, likes to be associated with a good honey. If you can’t get manouri, use ricotta instead and skip the frying step. When buying chamomile tea, look for larger buds and leaves, rather than finer powder, as they will hold their flavor longer.
Preperation 10 minutes
to cook 30 minutes
Serves 4 as a starter or in a meze
1 tablespoon olive oil
340g manuricut into half-moons 2 cm thick
½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
For the chamomile honey
75 ml liquid honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sachets of chamomilebuds removed and ground into a powder in a mortar (I use Teapigs)
Salt and black pepper
1 lemonfinely grated zest, to obtain 1½ teaspoons, then squeezed, to obtain 2 teaspoons
For the spinach tapenade
3 tablespoons of olive oil
300g baby spinach
Salt and black pepper
1 spring oniontrimmed and roughly chopped (15g)
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
25g pitted green olives (I use nocellara)
2 tablespoons smoked almondscoarsely chopped
For the chamomile honey, put the honey, oil, chamomile, one-eighth teaspoon of salt and a good ground pepper in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and heat gently for two minutes, to infuse and loosen. Off the heat, stir in the lemon zest, then pour into a bowl and set aside.
For the spinach tapenade, put two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add two-thirds of the spinach and sauté for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to scrape up any spinach clinging to the pan. Add another tablespoon of oil after 10 minutes and continue cooking until all the moisture has been removed and the spinach is dark green and looks like seaweed.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Add a tablespoon of salt to boiling water, blanch the remaining 100g of spinach for 15 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Once cooled, remove from cold water and squeeze to remove any excess liquid.
Put the blanched and fried spinach in a food processor along with the spring onions, vinegar, olives, one-eighth teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and blend to a coarse paste. Transfer to a small saucepan and keep warm.
Meanwhile, put a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then sear the manouri for about 90 seconds on each side, to caramelize and reheat.
To assemble, spread the warm tapenade on a tray (or four individual plates). Place the manouri on top and sprinkle with fleur de sel, a good turn of the pepper mill and lemon juice. Finally, drizzle with chamomile honey and almonds and serve hot.
Lamb cutlets with green tea and crunchy cucumber
The earthy, grassy taste of green tea is wonderful in pickles and marinades. If you marinate overnight, the tannins in the tea will tenderize the meat and improve its texture when cooked. Feel free to experiment with other red meats as well as fish, if you wish.
Preperation 25 minutes
Marinate 1 hourr or night
to cook 15 minutes
For the lamb
6 teaspoons sencha tea leaves, or other loose green tea
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
1½ tsp aleppo pepper, plus ¼ tsp for dusting
Flake sea salt
800g bone-in lamb chops (about 10), trimmed of excess fat, if you prefer
70ml olive oil
For the green tea butter
75g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tbsp sencha tea leaves, or other loose green tea
For the salad
400g of Persian or baby cucumbers, cut into 5mm thick slices
20g mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
First prepare the marinade. Put the tea, spices and a teaspoon and a quarter of salt in a mortar and crush until almost fine. Put the lamb on a platter, rub with a tablespoon and a half of oil, then massage in the green tea mixture, coating the cutlets all over. Marinate at room temperature for at least an hour or in the fridge overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare the green tea butter. Put the butter, oil, tea and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat for three to five minutes, until gently bubbling. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Return the butter to the heat if it needs to be melted again, then pass it through a fine sieve placed over a bowl. Press the tea leaves to extract as much butter as possible, then discard the tea leaves. Return the drained butter to the skillet and set aside.
To make the salad, toss the cucumber with a quarter teaspoon of salt and strain through a sieve placed over a medium bowl for about 30 minutes. When ready to serve, discard the liquid, then toss the drained cucumber in a bowl with the mint, oil, lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon of salt.
Put a tablespoon and a half of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and when hot, add five of the chops and cook for three minutes on each side, or until nicely browned . (Cook longer or shorter depending on your preference.) Transfer to a platter to rest, wipe out pan and repeat with remaining oil and cutlets.
Once the meat has rested, arrange the lamb on a platter, warm the butter and baste. Sprinkle the remaining quarter teaspoon Aleppo pepper and quarter teaspoon salt on top, and serve hot with the cucumber salad on the side.
Glazed donuts with rooibos and anise
The star here is the spicy rooibos syrup, which you’ll want to drizzle on everything from ice cream and yogurt to your morning porridge. Get ahead by preparing the syrup up to three days in advance. Donuts are best eaten hot, shortly after preparation. If you can’t find anise, cardamom and fennel seeds make great substitutes.
Preperation 15 minutes
Rest 1 hourr
to cook 25 minutes
For the dough
¾ teaspoon fast-acting yeast
1½ tablespoon caster sugar
95g plain flour
20 g of fine semolina
1½ teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
500 ml of sunflower oil, for frying
¾ teaspoon aniseslightly crushed in a mortar
For the syrup
3 rooibos tea bags
1 tablespoon liquid honey
1 orange3 strips of finely shaved skin removed, then squeezed, to obtain 45 ml
1 lemon3 finely shaved skin strips removed, then squeezed, to make 1 tsp
130g caster sugar
20g of gingerpeeled and thinly sliced
First, prepare the dough. Place the yeast, sugar, flour, semolina, oil, 100ml lukewarm water and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk with a fork until smooth. Cover with reusable kitchen wrap and set in a warm place for an hour or more, until bubbling and doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Put the tea bags, honey, orange juice, orange and lemon zest, sugar, ginger, 250ml of water and one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan and simmer. heat over medium-high heat. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has the consistency of thin syrup. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and allow to cool and thicken slightly. Once cooled, remove and discard the tea bags and ginger, making sure to squeeze any syrup out of them. Transfer the syrup to a large bowl and set aside.
To fry the donuts, put the sunflower oil in a medium high-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir the batter to deflate the mixture – you will have a thick batter that forms thick strands. Using a small ice cream scoop or two small spoons, drop 6 to 8 balls of dough 1½ to 2 cm in diameter into the hot oil: they will sink immediately, then rise and swell as they cook. Fry for two to three minutes, turning halfway through cooking to brown evenly, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked donuts to a paper towel-lined tray. Repeat with the remaining dough – you should end up with about 24 donuts.
Once all the donuts are cooked, put them in the syrup bowl and stir gently to coat them. Stack the donuts in a large shallow serving bowl, pour in a tablespoon of the remaining syrup and sprinkle with anise and flaked sea salt. Pour any extra syrup into a small serving bowl and serve on the side, for dipping.