Laugh, Social Sundays

Social Sundays – Grilled Tea Infused Chicken, Charred Tomato & Quinoa Salad, and Plum Cornmeal Cake!

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Social Sundays is a special day where we can all get-together and prepare a fantastic meal, catch up with what’s going on in the world, and enjoy each other.  Cooking is a way to bond and explore different cultures in life through food.  This weeks menu is summertime fresh – loaded with fresh vegetables and fruits, but also we are diving into a few new ways to prepare delicious ingredients, like infusing tea into chicken.

Grilled Tea Infused Chicken – we brine first, and then infuse it two-ways, during cooking on the grill. We use Lapsang Souchong Tea, a lightly smoky black tea, to enhance the chicken’s flavor.  I think you will love using this grilling technique – it’s not too complicated, and it is definitely worth the extra steps for a uniquely luscious bird.  Just a reminder to brine your chicken first, then prepare the other recipes, before you begin to grill the chicken – timing is everything. *You can always do two birds for larger groups.

Charred Tomato & Quinoa Salad is a great addition to the chicken.  The tomatoes are charred quickly under the broiler for just a few minutes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much sweeter they get with minimal cooking.  This recipe is a great place to use tomatoes that aren’t as ripe as you want them to be – the intense heat softens them up in no time.

For dessert, I was inspired to make a cornmeal cake after tasting one at the farmer’s market in Santa Monica this past Wednesday.  The light corn flavors were so refreshing with fresh fruit, so I created something similar, but using fresh summer plums.  This Plum Cornmeal Cake is light enough to serve after a delicious meal (like this one), or for breakfast with a cup of good coffee.  I am sure you will have leftovers, so slice it up and pack it in your child’s lunch for summer camp, or take it to the office and share.

Plum Cornmeal Cake


1 stick butter, room temperature + 6 tablespoons

1 cup granulated sugar

2 extra-large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup fine cornmeal

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

8 firm plums, any variety

vanilla ice cream, optional

(Serves 12)

To Prepare:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice plums in half and set aside.  In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and eggs and mix again for 2 minutes.  Add in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mix on low for 30 seconds.

2.  Add in the yogurt and milk, and mix on low for 1 minute.  Do not over mix.  In an iron skillet, add 6 tablespoons of butter and brown sugar, place over medium heat.  When butter and sugar are melted and lightly bubbly, add the halved plums cut-side-down in the skillet.

3.  Pour the batter over the top of plums and spread evenly.  Place the skillet on a sheet pan and put in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean.  Remove the cake and let cool for 5 minutes.  Loosen the perimeter with a table knife and invert onto a large plate or platter. Let Plum Cornmeal Cake cool to room temperature, and serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.  Enjoy!

Charred Tomato & Quinoa Salad


1 cup quinoa

2 cup chicken broth

9 small tomatoes, not cherry tomatoes

2 scallions, sliced thinly

2 cups arugula

olive oil



1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

pinch of salt & pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

(Serves 4-6)

To Prepare:

1. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth until boiling.  Add quinoa and stir, cover with lid.  Turn the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove quinoa from saucepan and let cool in serving bowl. When room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to broil.  Slice tomatoes and place on a foil lined sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil.  When oven is hot, place tomatoes under broiler, about 12 inches away from heating element.  Broil for 4-6 minutes, or until the tops are charred and tomatoes are slightly softened.  Let cool to room temperature.

2.  In a jar with fitted lid, add all the vinaigrette ingredients, shake until combined.  Pour over the cooled quinoa and stir.  Add the scallions and arugula, stir until combined.  Top with charred tomatoes and reserve at room temperature, until chicken is served.  Enjoy!

Grilled Tea Infused Chicken



1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup Lapsang Souchong Tea, or other black loose tea

3 small dried red chiles, broken into pieces

4 star anise pods

2 pound chicken

Tea-Smoking Packet

1/2 cup Basmati rice

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup Lapsang Souchong Tea

1 dried chile, broken into pieces

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1 lime, sliced

(Serves 4)

To Prepare:

1. In a large bowl, combine all the brine ingredients, including chicken.  Fill with water to cover.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, up to overnight.

2.  Remove chicken from brine and rinse with cold water, pat dry.  Rub butter all over chicken and sprinkle with salt.  Crush Sichuan peppercorns and sprinkle all over chicken.

3.  On a piece of foil, add rice, sugar, tea, chile and black peppercorns.  Wrap foil up tightly and using a fork, puncture several holes on top of packet.

4.  Preheat the grill – one side on high heat, and the other on medium heat to reach 425 degrees.  If you have three burners, far side – high and the other two on medium.  So, if you don’t have one of these gizmos (infusing grill pan), you can use a can from your pantry; soup, tomatoes, green chiles etc.  Fill the center with 1/4 cup tea and fill with hot water, stir.  Place chicken over the top of can – similar to the beer can chicken recipe, except we’re not using beer here.  Using tongs, lift the high-heat-side grate up and place the foil packet on top of the grill bar.  Then, place the chicken with can, or infusing pan on the medium heat side of grill.

5.  Grill chicken for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, depending upon the size of chicken.  Rotate the chicken every 15 minutes for even cooking.  If the temperature gets too high, lower the heat under the chicken side of grill.  Remove the chicken from the can and place on a cutting board to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with fresh cilantro and lime wedges, Enjoy!

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