Tag Archives: tea

Afternoon Tea Part 2- the posh kind!

And we’re back to tea. But the posh nosh one this time.  I think you have to have a balance of sweet and savoury.  And people usually expect a sandwich, a scone and some cake.  The combination and quantities are up to you.

Tea Menu:

A selection of open sandwiches, with a variety of toppings on a sourdough made from oak smoked flour

Parma ham and Rocket Macaron

Fruit Scone with Cream and Raspberry Jam

Pistachio and Rose Friands

Strawberry Meringues

and of course…. some Darjeeling Tea

Afternoon Tea

Some open sandwiches to start things off

I had decided to be a little adventurous with my second savoury option.  Macaron filled with parma ham, mascarpone cream and some rocket leaves.  The macaron could have been better, they tasted fine but lacked the obligatory “foot”.  So more practice is needed.  But they were really delicious.

Savoury Macaron

Savoury Macaron

My better half is the scone maker in our house, and my favourite is fruit.  Although herself prefers the chocolate ones, and Nigel likes the cherry.  Each to his own! But they have to be served with cream and some sort of jam.  I had made some raspberry jam last week so went with that.

Afternoon Tea Scones

Afternoon Tea Scones

And then the bit that everyone is dying for- the sweet stuff.  Of course as strawberries are bang in season, and meringues are just so good.  There’s nothing nicer. And they can be made in advance adn stored in a tin.  I was talking to a lady recently and she spoke of freezing her meringues when cooked.  I had never heard of this- and although I do freeze any extra egg whites, I have never actually frozen the meringue once it’s made.  

Strawberry and Cream Meringue Nests

Strawberry and Cream Meringue Nests

So the other little adventure was Pistachio Financiers.  OMG.  A revelation.  How I did not eat them all is beyond me. They are so light and easy to eat.  They are not messy, and can be finished off in a couple of dainty bites.  I will most definitely be making these again!  

Afternoon Tea

Pistachio Financiers


Afternoon Tea Part 1- the non posh kind

It’s a given thing in our house, that anyone around the farm at approximately 4 o’clock in the afternoon, heads to Alan’s house for “tea”.  This has been happening for as long as we are in Waterford (15+ years), and I’m sure it happened before then too.  And the tea consists of tea, with a maximum of 2 biscuits.  In fact that was my first foray into speaking Finnish.  My nieces and nephews would ask Liisa (my Finnish sis in law) how many biscuits they could have.  And to this day, she still will say “kaksi keksejä”, which means two biscuits!  But sometimes it involves cake…

Some rather untidy pear tart for afternoon tea

Some rather untidy pear tart for tea

The key ingredient of course, of any afternoon is the tea. I try to use looseleaf when making a pot.  And I’ve lots of teapots. Lots. But sometimes only a bag in a cup will do.  My favourite is Breakfast tea blend, but try to have Darjeeling later through the day. And I know it sounds ridiculously snobby to have a a favourite tea.  But people have favourite coffee don’t they???

Afternoon tea can be fun- but also glamorous, and is a very relaxing way to spend time with friends and family. Afternoon tea, is in the fact the new cocktail hour in many hotels.  At some stage I want to try the one served in the Ritz Hotel in London.  They have served this meal since 1906!! But at £52 per person it’s a bit steep.  The more up to date version in Claridge’s (who have only been serving it for 150 years)  is a more informal setting focuses more on the food.

 Making the Perfect cup of Afternoon tea:

Using fresh water (very important because of aeration) bring the kettle to the boil.

Immediately “scald” the pot, leaving the water in it for around 5 minutes.  

Empty this water out.

Add one teaspoon of loose leaf tea per person into the warmed pot. Reboil the kettle and add onto the tea. Leave for about 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Perfect!

  Time for tea

Darjeeling, as it happens, is a perfect flavour to have with a creamy pastry, so says the king of pastry, Eric Lanlard.  So who am I to disagree? Course now that he’s said that, I’ll have to try it.  Won’t I??

 

Strawberries- part deux

And the quest to make every possible strawberry dish continues.  At this stage it’s jam time. And strawberry jam goes with just about everything.  And bears no resemblance to the shop bought variety, even if the first batches can lack consistency, no pun intended!

The finished product

The finished product

Shop bought strawberries are often grown hydroponically, and for some reason they have less pectin, resulting in a runnier jam.  So use sure-set if you need to, half and half is probably best.

In it's natural environment!

In it’s natural environment!

My next favourite recipe, which requires a little planning is mini strawberry tarts.  Perfectly proportioned, these little beauties are best fresh and cold, and unlike most desserts, go equally well with both a cup of tea and a glass of champagne.

A strawberry tea party

A strawberry tea party

Credit at this stage must go to my willing team of helpers (and tasters) who rescued me as I frantically tried to get the shoot set up outside before the sun went in behind a cloud.They get paid well in food- don’t worry!

the food photography helpers

the food photography helpers

And for my nephews third birthday- a chocolate fudge cake filled with cream- and strawberries.  He even managed to sneak a few off the cake before anyone else got to it.

A birthday cake fit for a three year old

A birthday cake fit for a three year old

 

Chocolate Mince Pies- Why Not??

I like mince pies.  Alot. Too much actually so I’d better dust off the running shoes. I posted this picture of my mince pies on facebook the other night and I got a few requests for the recipe.

I use a pastry that has ground almonds in it as I think it makes it a bit shorter in texture.

My sweet mincemeat recipe I make in bulk, then mix the grated chocolate through it before I assemble the pies.
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I got the punch for the top from a great little site called “Not on the High Street” as recommended by my good twitter friend @babaduck.

Pastry: enough for 24 mincepies

275g plain flour

25g ground almonds

175g butter, chilled and cut into cubes

85g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons of chilled milk

zest of 1 orange

Method:

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, almonds, sugar), rub in the butter, mix in the zest, then add the egg and enough milk until is just coming together.  I actually use my mixer for this pastry, once you don’t overmix it’s fine.

Pat it into a round and wrap in greaseproof paper, NOT  clingfilm, and leave to chill in the fridge.

Mincemeat:

3 cooking apples, roasted whole for 30mins at 180Oc then the flesh removed into a bowl.

75g fresh cranberries

100g each of sultanas, raisins and currants

2 tablespoon each of dark and light brown sugar

1 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and mixed spice

zest and juice of 2 lemons and oranges

5 tablespoons of rum or brandy or whiskey or whatever takes your fancy!

50g grated dark chocolate

To Serve: Some freshly whipped organic cream

Method:

Place the cranberries in a saucepan with the juice of the lemons and oranges, heat gently until the skins burst.  Tip into the bowl with the apple flesh.

Add all the other ingredients and mix well.  This is best bottled and left for a number of weeks but I have used it immediately too.

For this recipe, I add 50g of grated dark chocolate to enough mincemeat to make 24 mincepies.

To Assemble:

Pre-heat the oven to 200OC.

Grease and flour the tin.

I roll out a little pastry at a time on a floured surface, to approx 5mm thick.  I also regularly flour the cutter so it doesn’t stick.

Only a bare teaspoon of sweet mincemeat is required in each.

I chill the tin of prepared mincepies for 10mins prior to cooking.

Cook for 10mins or until slightly brown. Leave in the tin for 5  ins then cool until required.

I serve with freshly whipped cream that I add a little orange essence too.

Better put the kettle on….

Mince pies ready for the oven

Tea and mince pies, does it get any better?