Friday, April 29, 2011

Chai Infused Black Bean & Hominy Orzo Pasta Salad

This dish was to tea-licious that I made it on two different occasions in the last two weeks. I created it for my freind's birthday celebration where it recieved such rave reviews that I made a again for the BYBA, Boulder Youth Body Alliance, post DC event.

Before I give you this amazing recipe I should explain a little more about the BYBA, not just because I am on the board, but because it truely is such an amazing orgainization. Founded by Carmen Cool, the BYBA gives teens all the tools and support they need to find the path to celebrate their bodies as vessels that contain their amazing spirits, instead of feeling “trapped” in bodies that don’t fit some externally-imposed norm of “perfection.” The teens that make up the BYBA are Boulder High & Fairview kids that are dedicated to helping their peers build self confidence.

A couple weeks ago Carmen tookl 10 of the kids to DC to speak in front of a congressional briefing on the FREED Act -- the first comprehensive eating disorders legislation to be introduced in Congress, with initiatives in research, prevention, and treatment. This event was featured on Channel 4, you can click on this link if you are interested in viewing the segment: BYBA Goes to DC.

Anyhow, we hosted a post-DC event so the teens can share what they learned, do a slideshow of their pictures, and connect with the community that supports this work. Jared Polis, CO congressman, and many others attended the event. And I was of course responsible for feeding everybody. A generously delicious food donation from the MED, a local Boulder restaurant, and my Orzo pasta salad were served.

This easy to make Chai Infused Black Bean &
Hominy Orzo Pasta Salad is a winner for any event. You can make it up to 1-2 days before, just keep it in the fridge.

• 2 cups
orzo pasta
• 3
Chai Tea Bags (I used Gevalia's Spiced Chai, but you can use any tea)
• 3 TBS Olive Oil plus 1/3 cup
• 1 medium white onion, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• 1 tsp cayenne powder
• 1 tsp coriander
• 1 jalapeno, diced (for extra spice don't seed)
• 1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced
• 1 can
hominy, drained and rinsed (Hominy is dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization.)
• 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
• ¾ cups feta cheese, crumbled
• ½ cup almond slivers (optional)
• 2 TBS Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
• Salt & Pepper to taste

Almond Pesto Drizzle (Optional)
• 3 garlic cloves
• 2 handfuls fresh parsley leaves
• 2 scallions, ends cut
• Optional : 1 serrano, seeded (if you like is spicy)
• ½ cup almonds
• ¼ cup white wine vinegar
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• ¾ - 1 cup almond oil

1. Bring 4 cups salted water to boil. Add orzo pasta and chai tea, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes (al dente).
2. Remove tea bags. Strain orzo, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid, (note: this liquid will be starchy and will add flavor, help bring the dish together and keep the orzo separated), rinse with cold water and drain. Place in a large bowl. Mix in the reserved cooking liquid and 1/3 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large wok, heat 2 TBS olive oil. Reduce heat to medium and sweat onions, garlic, cumin, cayenne, coriander, and jalapeno for about 2-3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and smells fragrant. Add red pepper and let cook for another 1 minute. Add the hominy and 1 more TBS olive oil. Mix together and cook for 3-4 minutes. Mix in the black beans, turn off heat and let cool. (Note this mixture is delicious without the orzo)
4. Optional: Almond Pesto Drizzle – place all ingredients except for the almond oil in a food processor or blender and blend. Slowly add the oil. Puree until smooth yet still a little chunky.
5. Assemble salad by combining the black bean and hominy mixture with the orzo. Add the feta, almonds and garnish with fresh parsley. Season with salt & pepper. Drizzle the almond pesto and or serve on the side.

This salad is a MUST TRY at your next event...Let me know how it is...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tea Dyed Easter Eggs

Using tea to dye your eggs is not only natural, it is also inexpensive. I bet you probably have tea in your pantry that you haven't drank in years...Just use that and then it will be FREE!!! To get a light green color use green tea, for a natural brown color use black tea. Use hibiscus to get a pinkish hue, rooibos for a reddish tint or chamomile for a subtle yellowish tone. Be creative and use what you have in your pantry...

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tea bags (1 tea bag/2 eggs) or 1 gram loose tea per 2 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • Optional, for more color add 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Powdered Alum, an aluminum sulphate product used for pickling or baking powder
  • Optional, for shine: Vegetable oil
  1. Place unshelled eggs in saucepan of cold water – water level should be at least 4 cm (1-1/2") higher than eggs, add vinegar and cover with lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add tea (see different tea options from above), then simmer for 5-6 minutes with lid on. Reserve the tea water to use for step #3.
  2. Remove eggs and blanch (place in ice bath) to cool.
  3. Add Alum and ice ice to tea water and cool for 10-15 minutes. Place eggs back into tea water, put in refrigerator over night.
  4. Remove eggs and dry with paper towel.
  5. Option: Rub with vegetable oil to make them shiny.
These eggs are not only pretty, they are safe to eat, and are naturally healthy filled with protein.

Can you think of any other natural ingredients you can use to dye Easter Eggs, (i.e coffee, turmeric, beets, paprika, cranberries, blueberries, Liquid Chlorophyll)...check out this website for more ideas...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marbled Tea Eggs, A Chinese Tradition & Symbol of Prosperity

Easter is right around the corner which means it is time to start thinking about dying eggs for the Easter egg hunt. Have you ever thought about using tea to dye your eggs? The Chinese have been using tea to dye eggs for years. They are called Marbled Eggs and are a symbol of prosperity. Below is a recipe for Marbled Eggs. They are a delicious addition to any brunch, especially your Easter Egg Brunch. Ingredients : Serves 6

  • 6 eggs

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon black tea leaves or 1 tea bag (Use green tea for a lighter color dye)

  • 4 pieces star anise

  • 1 small stick cinnamon or cassia bark

  • 1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

  • (optional) 2 strips dried mandarin peel (optional)


  1. Place unshelled eggs in saucepan of cold water – water level should be at least 4 cm (1-1/2") higher than eggs. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Reserve the water to use for step #3.

  2. Remove the eggs. Place in a bowl with ice and cover with cold water to cool the eggs down. With a knife or the back of a spoon, tap each egg to slightly crack the shells in two or three places. Return to saucepan.

  3. Add other ingredients and stir. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, adding water as necessary. Drain, serve hot or cold. Notes Cook longer for a stronger flavour and a deeper colour. Tea eggs are also known as Chinese marbled eggs for the unique marbling effect on the surface of the egg.
Using tea to dye your eggs is not only natural, it is also inexpensive. I bet you probably have tea in your pantry that you haven't drank in years...Just use that and then it will be FREE!!!Stay tuned to see how to Dye Easter Eggs naturally and cost effectively...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Did you know?

Gunung Mas Tea Plantation in Jakarta, Indonesia

To make 1 tonne (= 1,000 kg ~ 2,2046 lbs) of dried tea requires approximately...

- 4.5 tonnes green leaves 450 kW electricity

- 500 litres oil (or other fuel), depending on process

- 250 man hours of work

- 23 tea chests (or alternative packaging)

- 3 kg nails (if used with tea chests)

- 2000 tonnes of air! - WOW that is a lot of air...

Air is used for several purposes in tea manufacturing: 1. To remove moisture during withering at relatively low temperatures.

2. To supply oxygen to the leaf during fermentation.

3. To control the temperature of leaf during fermentation

4. To supply heat to the fermented tea for enzyme inactivation and to remove moisture during drying, at relatively higher temperatures.

If you do the math, 4.5 tonnes yeilds 1 tonne ~ 22.22%...

I don't know about you, but it makes me think twice about how much I should appreciate each cup of tea. The next time I take a sip of my tea I will make sure I savor the moment and pay homage to all the work required in making it to my cup and into my belly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tea Spot Chef Meets Guy Fieri

Not a big fan of Minute to Win it, but fantical about the Next Food Network Star, Triple D and Big Bite...What do they all have in common??? One of my idols, Guy Fieri. A really cool guy that just launched his own BBQ Sauce and Salsa line at the Fancy Foods Show last month. Below is a little tea twist on Guy's Salsa Verde.

Tea Twisted Guy's Salsa Verde:
• 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
• 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon capers
• 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
• 2 tablespoons chopped jarred roasted red bell pepper
• 1 tablespoon chopped onion
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• *¼ cup Green Tea Concentrate
o To Makte Tea Concentrate:
Steep 1 tablespoon of Green Tea in 175 degree water for 3 min. Strain tea leaves & let cool for 3 min.
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt

In a food processor, puree all ingredients but oil and salt until smooth. With machine running, slowly add oil until well combined. Season with salt, to taste.

Serve it with chips, ladle it over grilled chicken or salmon, or try is as a dipping sauce. You might want to double the recipe so you have extra on hand.

*Tea Spot's Chef Tea Twist

Yield: 1 cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ease of preparation: easy