Friday, July 31, 2015

Peaches and Cream Scones

“The walls were wet and sticky, and peach juice was dripping from the ceiling. James opened his mouth and caught some of it on his tongue. It tasted delicious.”

~Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach 

Peaches are one of my favorite summer fruits (next to cherries, I pop them like candy as soon as the price goes down).  After my Afternoon Tea in Paris, I had left over cream and cream cheese and a couple weeks old peach--the perfect combination for a scone recipe!
Peaches and Cream Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
heaping 1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons cold, salted butter
1 1/2 cup diced peaches (one large peach)
4 oz cream cheese, diced
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, whisking until blended.  Using a pastry blender, cup butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3.  Add cream cheese and peaches, tossing to combine.
4.  In a small bowl, combine cream and vanilla extract.  Add to flour mixture, stirring to combine.  Worth through lightly with hands to bring together in bowl (If mixture seems dry, add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time, until uniformly moist).
5.  Drop rounded scoops on sheet, and bake for approximately 15 minutes.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tea in a butterfly garden

 This week we're going to the Smithsonian's butterfly garden in Washington, D.C. (followed by tea, of course!)

This little path off the Mall has an assortment of different flowers, all of which attract butterflies, arranged to show what would grow in different butterfly habitats in the Eastern U.S.

I started by passing oakleaf hydrangeas at the "wood's edge" portion of the garden,

 Moving next past the meadow,

 Before crossing into the urban garden


and around the corner past the wetlands.

(and a quick picture of water lilies for July's flower of the month)
The garden's official website provides a bit more information if you are interests. 

And, to cap off our garden visit, how about we go back to my little container garden for a butterfly tea?

This set by Grace's teaware was a Homegoods find.

Maybe a cup of Enchanted Forest green tea,

and peaches and cream scones?

I'll share the recipe for these scones later this week.

I'm joining these tea parties:

Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Madeleines and Macarons

I'll start the desserts with the madeleines de commercy.

As I mentioned during the original post, I just used Julia Child's recipe, which I found on this website (hungry sofia).  I made them just as stated in the recipe using a large madeleine pan.  They are better the day they are baked (slightly crispy on the outside), so I think next time I will make up the batter the night before and keep it refrigerated and bake them the morning of the tea party.

Now, on to the macarons!

I looked at a lot of websites before I finally settled on a recipe that worked for me, and even then it was a lot of trial and error to get the shells to come out.  I highly recommend you check out the video on how to cook that before giving it a go.  The Not So Humble Pie blog also had a long list of advice to help you figure out why the cookies didn't work.  I kept having cracking problems and my feet still aren't perfect, but the batch you see was as close as I got. 

Here is the recipe and baking instructions that finally worked for me.

French Macarons
3 extra large egg whites (leave out for 3 hours at room temperature)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup almond meal/flour
pinch salt
gel coloring
1.  Beat eggs until they are frothy.  Add sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form and you can turn the bowl upside down without the mixture falling out.  Beat an extra minute and 40 seconds.  Add gel food coloring until slightly darker than the color you want.  Beat 20 seconds.
2.  Combine almond flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt.  Whisk.  Using a narrow hole strainer, sift to combine into another bowl. Whisk to combine.  Repeat.  Discard pieces that are too large (don't force it).
3.  In 3 batches, add almond mixture into egg mixture.  Fold in with a spatula.  When all has been added, fold until combined, roughly 30 folds.  Do not over mix!!  Should be thick but fully combined.
4.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Double the baking sheets.
5.  Fill a piping bag with a large round tip (I use Wilton's 1A tip) with the mixture.  Pipe circles on the parchment paper, holding the bag at an angle. 
6.  Rap baking sheet on counter hard at least 10 times, rotating the pan.  Use a tooth pick to get any air bubbles that remain, and to smooth out any holes.
7.  Let stand for 1 hour.
8.  Preheat oven to 295.
9.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Let stand on tray until cool and you can pick up the cookie.  Move to wire rack to continue cooling.
10.  Fill.  I used my favorite strawberry icing (here), substituting for the plan strawberry jam a strawberry jam with champagne...and voila!  Strawberries and champagne macarons.
11.  Refrigerate overnight and serve.  They can be made in advance and frozen, and taken out of the freezer and put in the fridge to defrost the night before the party.  Putting them in the fridge really helps to soften them and spread the flavor.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Lavender scones

I'm fascinated by lavender and how it not only has a wonderful scent, but it also tastes good in a variety of dishes, from savory to sweet.  On the sweet side are these lovely scones, that I originally found the recipe for in Tea Time Magazine.  I've made a couple of changes, so I will go ahead and copy it here.  This recipe has the perfect amount of lavender so as to not be overwhelmed by the flavor and the touch of lemon zest is the perfect compliment. 

Lavender cream scones
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold salted butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried lavender
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, mixing well.  Using a pastry blender, cup in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add lavender and lemon zest, stirring well.  Set aside.
3.  In a small bowl, combine cream, egg, and vanilla extract, whisking well.  Add cream mixture to flour mixture stirring to combine.  Continue to bring dough together with hands (if mixture seems dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until uniformly moist).
4.  Take portions of the dough and drop on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5.  Bake until edges are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted comes out clean, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Paris teatime savories

Today I thought I would share more about the savories from my Afternoon Tea in Paris party.  Here is a picture of the tiered stand again:

Starting at the top, I served ham and cheese baguette sandwiches.

I bought slices of a good ham (Honeybaked Ham since there is a store near my house) and a French cheese.  I choose camembert because I was actually served it in France and really enjoyed it--it is a pretty mild cheese.  I used a mayonnaise based spread, but in hindsight I think a Dijon (or dijonaise) would be good on this sandwich (and appropriate for the French theme!). 
I made the Eiffel tower picks by putting two stickers together around a fruit pick.
The sandwiches on the middle plate are my cucumber canapés.

These sandwiches were really simple.  I used flower shaped fondant cutters in two different sizes on both the thin sandwich bread and the cucumbers.  I bought spreadable cream cheese with onions and chives and spread it on the bread (after sticking the bread in the freezer for a bit to make it easier to handle both for the cutters and the spread).  As the final touch, I cut a bit of curled parsley from my container herb garden to use as the "leaves" of the flower.  This is my second time using a flower cutter on a cucumber, and I must say it worked much better on a hothouse English cucumber if you have that as an option in your grocery store.

For the last sandwich, I served chicken salad on mini croissants.

I started with a basic chicken salad.  I purchase rotisserie chicken and cut off the white meat into smaller strips to use in the chicken salad (reserving the thighs and legs for dinner during the work week).  My version of chicken salad is simply mayonnaise with a little bit of dill relish.  For this French tea party I wanted to add a bit of flare, so I decided to sprinkle in some herbs de Provence.  Herbs de Provence is a mix of different herbs reminiscent of southern France, including savory, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme.  I really enjoy herbs de Provence on roasted chicken, but I don't know if I would put it in chicken salad again or not.  The sandwich wasn't bad, but I think I would have preferred if it was just plain chicken salad. 

The final savory I served are the mini quiches I forgot to take a picture of.  I did find one picture of the tea party where you can see them off to the right side of the photo:

I cheated and didn't make the quiche from scratch--I figured I wouldn't get them as small as the ones you can buy frozen for appetizers and it would be easier to just heat up the frozen mini-quiches rather than making them myself.  It did work out really well--I just popped them into the oven about a half an hour before the tea party was set to start and 15 minutes later I had perfect warm mini-quiches! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Afternoon Tea in Paris

Paris isn't for changing planes, it's... it's for changing your outlook, for... for throwing open the windows and letting in... letting in la vie en rose.

Sabrina (1954)
I've been wanting to do a French themed tea party for awhile, and I was so excited to have the chance to host last Saturday for a new Meetup tea party group I joined.  Tea is a wonderful way to make new friends or enjoy time with old, so please join me for An Afternoon Tea in Paris!

First a bit of mood music:

(As a side note, I heard La vie en rose played on the accordion while walking around Paris--it was such a lovely moment)

I see life in rosy hues ~La Vie en Rose, Edith Piaf

(also translated as I see life through rose colored glasses)


I had an variety of different settings in rosy hues on the table:

(Royal Albert's Lady Carlyle)

(French Limoges)

(French Limoges)

(Royal Albert's Cheeky Pink--one of my favorite sets)

(a Japanese set with pretty pink roses)

(Royal Albert's Lavender Rose)

(Paragon's Victoriana Rose)
Guests were greeted with a sparkling strawberry wine (because you have to serve wine at a French tea party) while we waited for stragglers. 

At each place setting above you can see a card with the Eiffel tower on the front, which served as the menu for the tea:
Starting with savories:

I really liked how the cucumber crème fromage (cream cheese) canapés turned out:

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture devoted to the quiche Lorraine and quiche Florentine I also served on little bread and butter plates. 

Next scones:


 and oranges and berries.

I had the most fun with the desserts for this tea, both just looking on the internet for ideas (so many beautiful and delicious things to choose from) as well as learning how to make them.

(This is the last set on the table that I didn't share earlier--Shelley's Stocks)
First, the madeleine's de commercy that I made with Julia Child's recipe,

and my crowning achievement--French macarons!

I have been wanting to make these for over a year, and finally worked up the courage!  I decided on strawberry flavored with just a hint of champagne.
Finally, here is a glimpse at the favors.  I collected tea bags while I was in France from the different hotels we stayed at and put one in each of the gift bags.  I also included a dark chocolate covered crepe purchased from Angelina's (a famous Parisian tea salon). 

Thanks so much for joining me!  I will be sharing recipes and other ideas from this tea all this week, including the recipe I finally got to work for me for the macarons, so please stop back by.  This tea party is linked at the below tea parties:

Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy (Belated) Fourth of July!

My sister joined me for dinner on the 4th of July so instead of having a barbeque, I put together a small tea party (we just waited until Sunday night to have the hamburgers and hot dogs).  She works on weekends, so it is hard to find time normally to do more than a quick dinner, so we took advantage of her getting off early for the holiday. 

I have a few odds and ends of Liberty Blue, so I set the table with an eclectic assortment of dishes (actually in both meanings of the word, now that I think of it).  I really like all the different scenes in this china--all of which are important colonial places and happenings!

Here are a few of the scenes on the dishes since they are covered by food in the picture above:

The big platter with tea sandwiches has George Washington crossing the Delaware River,

The serving bowl has a picture of  the Fraunces Tavern.  The real tavern (located in New York City) served as a headquarters for Washington and a venue for peace negotiations with the British.  I found both this bowl and the platter at my favorite thrift store last year for only $7 each!

The little bowl with jam in front of the serving bowl has Betsy Ross with an early American Flag.

The plate full of dessert in the front has a decal of Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the site of the second Continental Congress, and where later the Constitutional Convention was held.

I'm serving Blueberry white iced tea in my blue stemmed water goblets, with two mismatched small plates at each setting:

(Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia graces this plate)
(This is actually a saucer, and is of the Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts, where a lantern (or two) would be hung to warn of the British coming by land or sea)
Now for a bit about the food:
(Chicken salad and cucumber canapés)

(White chocolate cherry scones)

(white chocolate French financiers)

This is a brand new camera--I think the picture quality got a bit better as I worked with it more!  So far I'm pretty happy with it.  I need to walk around with it outside and give it a better test though.  Here are a couple of pictures of my yard for the fourth that I'll leave you with (from my brief excursion out with the camera):

This week I'm joining the tea parties below:
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday