Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Side Trip: English Tea

I made a side trip to England this weekend to visit the Queen and take tea with some friends.  Unfortunately, the Queen was not available (wedding plans and all), but the tea was lovely.

Actually, a friend and I decided that since March is such a long and painful month for anyone who works in a school, that we would break it up a little by having a ladies' tea to celebrate the first day of spring.  It ended up being a beautiful, but cold, day with lots of sunshine.  That, combined with some yummy treats and good friends, was the perfect cure to the March muddiness.

On the Menu:

with Devonshire cream, clotted cream, jam, honey and fresh whipped cream

Smoked Salmon Sandwiches & Cucumber and Watercress Sandwiches
with dill cream cheese and capers & butter (respectively)

Spiced Chocolate Mousse-stuffed Brownies
Victoria Sponge Cake 

Irish Breakfast Tea
Hibiscus Herbal Tea

I made the scones and the brownies.  The strawberry scones were from a recipe I used to make a lot which I like a lot because they have very little butter and call for non-fat yogurt.  I actually used non-fat honey Greek yogurt for half of it and they came out very well.  The currant scones were from a Martha Stewart recipe.  They were NOT low-fat.  They came together easily enough, but the dough was very dry and subsequently, the scones got hard.  We solved that problem by putting them back in the oven about 20 minutes before the tea was due to start, which also made the house smell amazing.

The brownies were a bit more of a potschke.  I made the mousse the night before and was never fully satisfied with how it set.  The brownies were from a no-pudge mix (why not start with something better for you?) which meant that they were very fudgy and therefore very sticky.  I eventually got them together though and dusted the tops and bottoms with a mixture of cocoa powder and powdered sugar so 
they wouldn't stick to finger as much.  Regardless of how they looked, they were very decadent.

I also made some mini Lime Earl Grey Tea Cakes for people to take home as little goody bags.  I used the same recipe that I tried out a few weeks ago, but in smaller form.  Then I topped each one with a caramel-filled chocolate wedge and put them in little bags tied with a red ribbon.  They came out very well, with a light, but delicious flavor.
The tea itself pretty much caused me apoplexy in the store because there were too many options and I couldn't smell them.  Without smelling them I had no idea what more smokey vs. less smokey vs. more rich vs. less rich flavor really meant.  I should take a tea tasting class the way other people take wine tasting classes.  

The event was lovely.  We decorated with gorgeous flowers, and had a wonderful time.  

Victoria Sponge Cake (SO yummy)
homemade lemon curd, brought by a guest
tea sandwiches

Now, one quick stop in Sweden and I promise, I'm heading back on the road to Connecticut!  

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