This latest journey began with a Food & Wine recipe for Earl Grey Lemon Bars. As I had just made our Thanksgiving turkey by modifying a tea and lemon brine into a smoked tea, orange and spice brine, this substitution was almost automatic. Yes, I would make smoked tea orange bars instead. But, not really being a fan of the standard lemon bar, or ever eating more than a serving or two of sweet baked goods cooked at home, I started to tweak that idea bit by bit. I reduced the sugar, added a pile of toasted spices and smoked tea to the base and made a ginger, orange custard on the top. These are great as is, but I also loved them as platforms for an appetizer. Not having time to smoke some duck breast for the top, I bought a couple confit duck legs and made a gooey black bean glaze. The overall combination was excellent, but the orange bars were great alone as a not-too-sweet dessert as well. Other toppings could include pork done with the same sauce or smoked duck charcuterie or similar.... —savorthis
Lacquered Black Bean Duck Confit
lapsang souchong (or 1 teabag)
fermented black beans, rinsed, chopped
Boil water and steep teabag for about 5 minutes. If using confit duck legs, remove skins and render with any fat you can scrape off in a pan. You can save the crispy skin for garnish (or snacking). Cook shallots, ginger, garlic and black beans in fat for a few minutes until beginning to brown and very fragrant. Add tea, soy, syrup, juice and zest and simmer a bit while you pull meat off the bone into 1? or so chunks. Add meat to sauce and cook, stirring until sauce has just turned into a glaze. Remove from heat.
Place a small piece of duck on an orange square and garnish with cilantro. These are best served right away while they are still warm or room temperature and still a bit crispy, but can also be gently warmed the next day.
Smoked Tea Shortbread with Gingered Orange
Heat oven to 350. Line an 8" baking dish with foil and grease with butter or cooking spray. Mix flour, sugar, tea and salt in a bowl. Toast spices briefly in a pan until fragrant then grind to a powder. Stir into flour. Cut butter into flour and mix until it resembles a medium crumb. Press into baking dish and bake about 18 minutes or until brown.
Meanwhile, heat orange juice and ginger in a small pot and reduce to 1/4 c. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, tea, salt and zest, then stir in eggs. Strain juice into egg mixture and mix until smooth. Pour over hot crust and return to oven until set and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Gently peel off foil and cut into small squares.