Learn about how to infuse cooking, baking with tea at BookWoman

Cauliflower Steaks with Tea Umami Sauce from “Steeped” by Annelies Zijderveld. Photo by Stephanie Shih.
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Cauliflower Steaks with Tea Umami Sauce from “Steeped” by Annelies Zijderveld. Photo by Stephanie Shih.

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Thus began Zijderveld’s foray into cooking — and baking — with tea that led her to write “Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea” (Andrews McMeel, $21.99), a new cookbook that she’ll be talking about at an event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at BookWoman, 5501 N. Lamar Blvd.

In the introduction to the book, Zijderveld explains that not all teas are actually derived from the tea plant Camellia sinensis, but those herbal blends, also called tisanes, can add a wonderful subtlety to your culinary efforts, no matter if you’re making blueberry scones with a strawberry chamomile jam or rooibos honey butter. (To make rooibos honey butter, pulverize rooibos leaves in a spice grinder and mix about 3/4 teaspoon of the rooibos with 2 teaspoons honey and one stick of butter.)

Using proper tea in cooking can lend a depth of flavor not only to sweet dishes but savory as well. Only someone with a deep understanding of the nuances of tea could come up with a green tea stock used to make a creamy broccoli soup or put that same green tea to work in a basil aioli.

Zijderveld says that the idea for this cauliflower steak recipe was inspired by a trip to Dan Barber’s Blue Hill in New York, where a crispy-edged cauliflower steak outshined even the dessert. She mimicked the lusciousness of that dish with a sweet-savory sauce made with maple syrup, soy sauce (or liquid aminos) and lapsang souchong tea, a smoked black tea that is available both in tea bags and in the bulk section of many grocery stores.

Cauliflower Steaks with Tea Umami Sauce

Cauliflower Steaks with Tea Umami Sauce from “Steeped” by Annelies Zijderveld. Photo by Stephanie Shih.

Cauliflower Steaks with Tea Umami Sauce from “Steeped” by Annelies Zijderveld. Photo by Stephanie Shih.

2 heads cauliflower, rinsed and patted dry, sliced into 4 steaks 1 1/2 inch thick
4 Tbsp. safflower, grapeseed, or other neutral oil
1/4 cup lapsang souchong tea, brewed and cooled (1 teaspoon loose, finely ground)
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp. liquid aminos or organic soy sauce
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
Sumac, for garnish (optional)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Place an 18-inch sheet pan on the middle oven rack. Preheat to 450 degrees. Position a foil tent on a plate near the stove.

Place a 2-quart fry pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil to coat. When the pan begins smoking, use tongs to carefully place (it may splatter) one steak in the hot oil. Sear 2 minutes. Turn and sear the flip side 2 minutes. Transfer the steak to the plate and cover with the foil tent. Repeat with the other steaks, adding oil as needed.

Once all the steaks have cooked, arrange them on the preheated sheet pan, making sure no sides are touching. Bake 10 minutes.

Whisk the tea with the tahini, liquid aminos or soy sauce, maple syrup and pepper. Pour the umami sauce over the steaks. Sprinkle with sumac and chopped parsley, if using. Serves four.

— From “Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea” by Annelies Zijderveld (Andrews McMeel, $21.99)


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