Daring Cook's Challenge: Chicken Breasts with Tea and Lemon/Lime

Daring Cook's Challenge: Chicken Breasts with Tea and Lemon/Lime

Chicken Breasts with Tea and Lemon

Once again, the Daring Cooks choose a great project for us.  Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.
I choose to make the Chinese Tea Eggs suggested, and Chicken Breasts with Tea and Lemon/Lime that I made up as I went along.  I also tried using it in a stuffed pepper recipe but the other flavors were too strong so the tea just didn’t come through.  The chicken worked wonderfully though and was moist and really delicious.
First I made the eggs following the recipe provided by Sarah here (with some great pictures):

Chinese Tea Eggs

Servings: 6 eggs
6 eggs (any size)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (6 gm) black tea leaves, or 4 tea bags
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (5 gm) Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon (5 ml) (3 gm) coarse grain salt

Chinese Eggs to boil

In a large enough pot to avoid overcrowding, cover the eggs with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for twelve minutes.
Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and keep the cooking water.
With a spoon, tap the eggs all over until they are covered with small cracks. This can also be done by tapping and rolling the eggs very gently on the counter.
Return the eggs to the pan and add the tea leaves or bags, Chinese five spice powder, and salt. Cover the pan.
Heat gently and simmer, covered, for one hour.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs cool down in the liquid for 30 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the liquid. Peel one egg to check how dark it is; the others can be returned to the liquid if you wish to have the web-like pattern darker. Allow the eggs to cool fully. (This is the part I should have paid more attention to as my eggs weren’t colored as much as I would have liked but as usual, my patience is sometimes lacking so I didn’t put them back.  I have to admit I’m not a hard-cooked egg fan but the official taste tester aka husband who will try anything gave them the thumbs up.)

Chinese Eggs

To serve, peel and slice the eggs in halves or quarters. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Next I continued on using the boiled tea water to make the chicken:
Pot of Tea with Chinese Spice left from the eggs
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4-6 chicken breasts
1/4-1/2 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon black tea
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon
1 lime
2 tablespoons butter
Few fresh basil leaves
Add the salt and sugar to the tea/Chinese Spice mixture and marinate the chicken breasts (in the refrigerator) for 2 hours.  If you are short on time you could double the salt and sugar and do 1 hour but I wanted the tea to have more time to infuse.
Remove the breasts from the tea brine and dry well with paper towels, then sprinkle well with the corn starch.
Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy pan (an iron skillet if you have one).
Add the chicken breasts, sprinkle with the tea and pepper and brown well.

Chicken Breasts with Tea and Lemon/Lime

Once they are well browned, turn down the heat to medium and add the lemon and lime cut in half turning them occasionally.  The oils from the skins will infuse the olive oil adding a lot of flavor.

Chicken Breasts with Tea and Lemon/Lime

When the chicken is cooked to 165, remove it and set aside covering loosely with foil.
Remove the lemon/lime from the pan and carefully using a towel squeeze the juice into the pan and scrape up any browned bits.  Add the butter and basil and stir until the sauce is smooth.

Chicken Breasts with Tea and Lemon/Lime Sauce

To serve, pour the sauce over the chicken.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Cheese

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Cheese

Spaghetti Squash

Well, the year has gone by and my healthy eating plan has once again been a dismal failure but  I did recently try a recipe that passed both the healthy and good test.  For someone who absolutely loves pasta, especially with a rich cheese and cream sauce, it’s a hard sell to get me to go for anything less but I thought spaghetti squash might work.  In the interest of a fair review though, there is no comparison between squash and a good pasta no matter how similar they might look and in no way is this an adequate substitute for fettucine Alfredo but. . . it was pretty good and got into the once a month category (our family’s informal rating system – once a week, once a month and please, please never again).

Baked spaghetti squash with cheese

Printable Version Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Cheese
1 small to medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
5 cloves of garlic (I like lots of garlic you could reduce this if you prefer)
salt and pepper
6 eggs
1 cup low-fat milk
4 tablespoons Italian seasoning
4 ounces Gruyère or Asiago shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Spaghetti Squash Cut and Seasoned

First you need to roast the squash and there are two ways to go.  The best,  if you are a brave and have a really good knife, is to slice the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian spices, salt and pepper and roast it cut side down on a foil wrapped cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 20 minutes (it should be starting to soften, but not anywhere near mushy – it will be baked more later so don’t overcook).  Be warned though that they are very hard to cut!  As you can see, my technique could use a little practice but no matter, you’re going to cut it up later anyway.  If you’re not so brave, you can just poke a few holes in it, bake and it will cut much easier but it won’t have as much flavor.  After you remove from the oven, set it aside for a few minutes to cool.  Using a fork, shred the squash, then chop it into pieces about 1 inch long.

Baked and ready to shred

In a dutch oven if you have one you can do this in one step, otherwise use a medium saucepan and a casserole dish.  Add the olive oil to the bottom of the pan and brown the onions well 8-10 minutes the browner the better, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer.  Add the squash (and if you didn’t slice the squash before roasting, add the Italian spices salt and pepper) and mix well, cooking for about 5 minutes longer.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the milk and Gruyère.  Gradually add a small amount of the hot squash to temper the eggs, then pour this mixture over the squash and stir gently but quickly to mix well as you don’t want to scramble the eggs.
Top with the shredded Parmesan and bake (still at 375) for about 45 minutes until the top is lightly browned and bubbling.

Baked and cooling

It can be served warm or cold.

Individual Serving