This week's two-new-recipe challenge is off to a good start. I made Rachel Allen's Chunky Mediterranean Pasta soup and am quite pleased with the result. It's got the lovely smokiness of chorizo, fresh tomatoes, pasta, spinach, all in a chicken broth and it's definitely good for keeping winter at bay. I absolutely love cooking with chorizo, especially as its flavors melt into warming olive oil, turning it the most amazing reddish orange. It's often I grab a small chunk of bread and take a furtive dip. I would recommend, however, when making anything with chorizo, to be mindful of salting as you go. My end result needed a shot of water to balance out the salty flavors from the sausage and the broth. I also threw in a handful of peas because the garlicky smoky paprika aroma of the chorizo reminded me of paella and I felt that peas would really add something. Lucky me, I was right.
Bridget posted a most excellent blog about tea and I want to play.
1) Please share your hot tea memories with me. Who introduced you to hot tea?
We always had tea in the house, usually whatever was on sale, including store brand. My parents drank tea, but the only hot beverage I liked when I was younger was cocoa, so the magic was lost on me until years later. I finally "got" tea when I was sixteen, on a whirlwind trip through Europe, when I had my first massive English breakfast and there were pots of freshly brewed hot tea and racks of cold toast. I was in heaven. I came home and insisted we buy Twining's, which, at the time, my local grocer didn't have, so we went down to Strawbridge & Clothier's food hall to buy boxes of it. It wasn't exactly the same but it really got me hooked.
2) Describe your perfect cuppa' hot tea. If you're like me and it depends, share as many different scenarios as you care to.
I used to love putting the bairns down for their nap and brewing a small pot of P.G. Tips to have with a sweet. I called it my afternoon tea. I'd find something to read and plop on the couch to relax a bit before tackling the messes. Now they're up until bed time but I just switched things around to include them in the ritual. The exception is that I put something on tv that they want to watch so I can still have a little reading time to myself. They like to take sips from my cup as it's got a pinch of sugar or honey and milk so it appeals to them. With Jerry working in an office now he doesn't get to play but we still have tea together on the weekends. It's a nice way to ease into the second half of the day.
I like breakfast teas--English and Irish--and darjeeling is nice on occasion. I am not a fan of green tea as, to me, it has the aroma of a gym locker and I just cannot get past it. I find Earl Grey quite frightening as it's almost like drinking cologne. Herbal teas I tried for a very long time (back when I was a veggie) but I find that, though they often smell lovely, they don't quite live up in taste. Yet I keep trying. I should not have so many boxes of Celestial Seasonings but I do. Madness.
I really enjoy the loose P.G. Tips, Twining's, and Bridget got me hooked on Red Rose. I never knew how good it really was, especially hot in summer with a little lime. Yum. I like the Chinese jasmine tea that was mentioned in her blog comments by Knitterary and used to pick up tins of it when I worked downtown. That's one of those delights that can really help you get through a nasty cold or flu.
Lastly, I can't go without mentioning a good cup of chai. I've made it from scratch myself and it's good, really good, but Twining's has its own version and it's made life so much easier. That's a real treat in the afternoon when you have nothing in the house (sweet-wise) that appeals to you. A blob of honey and some milk and it's almost dessert.
I guess, though, in the grand scheme of things, Bridget's version of "hot tea" really is the way to go. Why should coffee have all the fun?