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Remove chicken breasts when very tender if pierced with a two-pronged fork. Turn heat to high and boil cooking liquid until reduced and starting to caramelize. Replace chicken breasts and continue cooking, turning them so they become golden brown and coated with sauce, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, slicing to show the white meat inside.

Makes 2 servings.

All true tea comes from the bush Camellia sinensis, gathered from the young sprigs on the tea bush. Green teas taste like their name, fresh and grassy, and the flavor impact is immediate. To prevent oxidation, the green leaves are treated by heat (the Chinese method) or by steam (as in Japan) before being air-dried. There are several styles of green tea, the most prized coming from the largest leaves and buds. Everyday green tea is powdered, and I’m astounded by how little is needed — a teaspoonful is often enough — to add characteristic taste to ice creams and custards such as creme brulee. A green-tea sorbet flavored with lime is one of my favorites.

Tea and lime sorbet

I like a strong Assam or other Indian tea for this sorbet, which freezes to a pretty copper-gold color. Green tea can be good, too.

Water

1 cups sugar, or more

3 limes, juice and pared zest

10 tea bags

Heat 3 cups water with 1 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add lime zest, cover pan and simmer until zest is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove zest, finely chop it and replace in syrup. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan, add tea bags and leave to infuse over very low heat 10 minutes. Discard bags, squeezing out liquid, and add tea to lime syrup with the lime juice. Taste and adjust amount of sugar. Chill mixture, then freeze in an ice cream maker. Makes about 1 quart sorbet.

Black tea is far more varied than green tea, coming from many different countries and being treated in several ways. The best is grown at high altitudes on steep slopes, for example from Sri Lanka (the tea is called Ceylon) and India (Assam). Black tea may be lightly or heavily oxidized (aka fermented), and there are smoked varieties, too, such as lapsang souchong. You’ll pick up the nuances of taste in food at once.

One of my most successful experiments has been tea-smoked scallops, for which I substitute soaked tea leaves for the usual wood chips. If, like me, you don’t have a stovetop smoker, a wok does just fine. The dark, spicy tea from Assam gives a slight bite to the sweetness of scallops, and a lemony Russian tea does well, too. The same principle of smoking with tea can be applied to seafood, particularly shrimp and chicken. As a ballpark, you should allow 2 to 3 teaspoons of tea per serving of chicken breast or portion of fish, such as salmon, halibut or bluefish.

Tea-smoked scallops

Serve the scallops hot with green fettuccine tossed in walnut or olive oil. The scallops also make great cocktail hors d’oeuvres, speared on toothpicks and served at room temperature.

1 pound large sea scallops

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