I’ve been in a rather tea centric mood the last few weeks (when I haven’t been running around like a headless chicken trying to keep up with work, household items, and animal chores – pardon my absence!) – Tea and I have shared a love/apathetic (wouldn’t go as far to call it hate, perse) relationship. I find the tea wall at any grocery or speciality irresistible – names like double bergamot Earl grey, Indian chai spice, yerba mate, organic rosehips, lavender scented orange, blueberry green tea – they all sound so unique and delicious. As a result, I have an entire cupboard (yes, cupboard, not shelf, cupboard) full of various types of tea. Black tea, white tea, green tea, fruit tea, herbal teas, you name it, I probably have it. Some of them are long time repeat purchases, others aren’t.
Probably my favorite thing about tea, as a beverage, is it can be adapted to almost any eating situation – pre-breakfast, breakfast, mid- morning snack, lunch (iced or hot), early afternoon, traditional tea time, dinner, post dinner, dessert, and before bed. I have started keeping more traditional tea items on hand – the above photographed cookies were a great success – Nibby Buckwheat Butter cookies from a 101 cookbooks. Mine are a little more rustic in appearance then if you used a cookie cutter, but they were delicious. Not too sweet, buttery and the raw cacao nibs (you could easily use a bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped, instead, I just happened to have raw cacao nibs on hand). I also used white whole wheat flour, in place of the all purpose – so they were 100% whole grain. As you can see from the photograph, I paired these cookies with one of my tea cupboard’s prized inhabitants – Darjeeling Green Tea from Harrods of London. This particular box of tea was a gift from a co-worker who had a stop-over in London on a business trip. It is, in my humble opinion, some of the best tea I have ever tasted.
Another one of my favorite things to have with tea is muffins. A toasted sourdough English muffin with salted butter spread over it pipping hot or a sweet quick bread muffin with goat cheese slightly warmed in the center. Lemon cream can replace the butter or goat cheese – in fact I have a large bag of lemons in the fridge that I bought for that exact purpose. I adapted a receipe that turned out delicious and is pretty darn healthy. The original recipe can be found here:
Here is my adaptation:
Fig Bran Muffins
Makes 12-14 muffins
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
4 Tablespoons old fashioned oats
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1.25 cups milk kefir (or buttermilk)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 tsp lemon extract (almond would also be a good choice)
1/2 cup dried mission figs, chopped
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: bran, flour, flax, baking soda and salt.
In a separate medium bowl, combine wet ingredients: kefir, sugar, applesauce, egg, oil, extract, cloves and lemon extract. Whisk with a wire whisk until frothy.
Add wet ingredients into the dry. Using large strokes, mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Add chopped dried figs, mix just to combine. I was very careful about mixing these with TLC and I was rewarded with light muffins with a nice wide crumb (as you can see in the photograph).
Line muffin tin with muffin liners. Distribute batter evenly among 12-14 muffin tins. Bake in the center of the oven on 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. If you press muffin top gently and it forms a depression without springing back, give them another minute and check again. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
I served these with a slab of cranberry goat cheese log in the middle. They were delicious – particular with a cup of English breakfast tea. Or blueberry green tea. Or earl grey. You get the idea.
And a quick teaser to what is upcoming from my side of the table – my attempt to incorporate sea vegetables into everyday cooking, using coconut oil as a staple fat & my thoughts on eating frugally.