Monthly Archives: March 2013
Afternoon tea, or teatime, is about serving tea with savoury pastries and sweet snacks. Although not everybody in England sits down to afternoon tea, or even drinks tea, teatime is still a popular concept. Tina Jesson shows you how to prepare the tea, and also explains a little more about what tea time is all about. The teapot is covered in a tea cosy while Tina prepares an English cream tea, which is scones with conserves (like jam but runnier) and clotted cream.
Popular in Devon and Cornwall, England’s Southwest, the traditional English cream tea is close to the locals’ hearts and tourists also like it. In Devon, it is usual to put the cream on first and then the jam, while in Cornwall they do it the other way round. The scones are not usually buttered before the jam and cream are added, although you can have some butter on the tea table in case anybody does want some.
This is not the healthiest snack ever, but it is certainly one of the best! Sometimes it is nice to allow yourself the occasional indulgence and treat yourself to something yummy. A traditional English cream tea can work out expensive if you can only buy imported clotted cream, so if you like you can use double cream or whipped heavy cream instead. Scones can be made plain or with raisins. There is also a cheese and mustard variety but those are usually served with butter since they are savoury not sweet. Continue reading
Jam tarts are very popular at teatime and making your own ensures you will be a very popular hostess. Store-bought tarts are never as nice as the homemade kind. Watch Catherine Leydon making these tasty little pastries. She has plenty of tips and good advice in this cooking video. The pastry is simple to prepare and then you bake the pastry cases empty.
Next add some jam. Just use your favourite flavour. You might like to use strawberry or raspberry jam. Some can have apricot jam for a different colour, or even lemon curd if you want to make some yellow ones. Bake them for another 10 minutes and they are all done. Make the pastry in advance if you like, or the individual cases, and fill them when you like. You can keep the baked empty pastry cases in an airtight container for up to a week.
Jam tarts seem to have been around forever but the first historical reference to them appeared around the same time sugar became available for making jam. Sugar was very expensive in those days so jam tarts were a status symbol and only affordable to the wealthy. Today they are ideal for everyone. These little treats are simple and affordable to prepare, and you can use any kind of jam as your filling. Serve these with a cup of Earl Grey or your favourite tea for a late afternoon treat. Continue reading
Earl Grey tea contains bergamot orange oil as a flavouring which gives it the distinctive flavour tea connoisseurs love. This type of tea has been known since the early 1800s, or maybe even before, in England. This tea is believed to be named after the second Earl Grey who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the 1830s. He received a gift of bergamot oil flavoured tea.
The bergamot orange is a citrus tree which blossoms during the winter. One legend states that a Chinaman’s son was saved from drowning by one of Lord Grey’s men in China, so he gave the tea as a token of gratitude. Another tale says an envoy from China brought the tea into England. The Grey family today say the tea was blended by a Chinese Mandarin for Lord Grey, and he added bergamot because the local water had a lot of lime scale in it and the bergamot offset the harsh mineral flavour.
Have you heard of London Fog? That is a special tea made with Earl Grey, vanilla syrup and steamed milk. There are lots of other variations to Earl Grey, some of which feature rose petals, Seville oranges, lavender, jasmine and other fragrant ingredients. In this video you can see a professional tea sommelier making Earl Grey. She offers plenty of tips. The tea should brew for about 5 minutes before you serve it, in order for the flavour to fully develop. Add sugar and/or milk if you wish. A slice of lemon instead of the milk also suits the flavour of this type of tea. Continue reading
New potatoes can be stuffed to make a delicious appetiser or afternoon tea component. This type of potato has a crisp, waxy texture and a thin skin which is eaten along with the rest of the potato. A new potato is a young potato. They can hold their shape once cooked and cut open. A new potato is sweeter than a regular one because the sugar has not yet converted into starch. This makes them ideal for salads.
The best-known type of new potato is the Jersey Royal and when they appear near the end of April in the UK, this often indicates the beginning of summer. They are usually sold until July. Pentland Javelin is another kind of new potato, as are ones labelled ‘salad potatoes’ and those are best eaten cold. When buying new potatoes, get ones which are dry, firm and unblemished. Do not rinse them until you are using them because the dirt protects them from bruising or deteriorating. Just rinse them before using – you do not need to wash them.
Usually new potatoes are simmered for 10 minutes and served with salt and butter, but in this recipe they are par-boiled and then deep-fried, before being filled. Some of these are filled with a garlic tomato mixture, some have a sour cream and bacon filling, and the rest have a crème fraîche and caviar filling. Serve these chilled at teatime for a delicious, healthy snack at tea time. Continue reading
A club sandwich, or clubhouse sandwich, is a toasted bread sandwich with turkey, bacon, tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise. Sometimes this sandwich features chicken instead of turkey, or roast beef instead. There might be ham instead of bacon, or cheese slices. Honey pickle is a popular condiment in some styles of club sandwich, and there might be a little mustard too, especially if beef is used as a filling.
These sandwiches are often cut into quarters and held together with toothpicks. Three slices of bread are used to make this sandwich, rather than two, so a club sandwich is taller than a regular sandwich. This makes an interesting choice for teatime, so you might like to learn how to make a classic club sandwich. You should not use too much filling in each sandwich, else these can be messy to eat.
Ensure all the ingredients are chilled before you start to assemble the sandwiches. In this video the bread is not buttered. Instead you need to combine some mayonnaise with mustard to make Dijonnaise. Once everything is in place, it is time to trim off the crusts and add the toothpicks to hold the sandwiches together. These look colourful and appetising at teatime and the way the ingredients contrast together is magical. Take your pick from chicken or turkey. Different home cooks like to use different poultry, or perhaps you have some cooked chicken to use up, in which case the choice is already made for you. Continue reading
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