Recently a very dear and beautiful woman named Bonnie removed her blog, Belle On Her Toes, from the web. Although I understand the need for a break from it all, I will still miss her lovely posts very much.
We both shared a love for tea and this is for her.
French Tea Garden (also known as The Terrcuite Tea Set)
"The muses friend, Tea, doth our fancy aid,
Repress those vapours which our head invade
And keep that place of the soul serene."
Lover's Tea (Victoria Magazine)
1 c loose Jasmine tea
1 t dried marjoram
1 T dried lavender flowers
1/4 c dried rose petals OR
2 fresh rose petals, pesticide-free, for each cup of tea
To make dried tea mixture:
In a bowl, combine tea, lavender flowers, marjoram, and dried rose
Pour into a container with tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dark
To serve tea:
Use 1 T of tea mixture for each cup of tea. Rinse the teapot with hot
water. Add the tea and 6 oz boiling water* for each cup of tea.
Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain into cup to serve.
To use fresh rose petals, remove the bitter white heel from each
petal. Crush the petals slightly to release the flavor, then float on top
of each cup of tea.
...The quaint old fiction of the kettle simmering all day on the hearth, waiting to be turned into a delicious cup of tea, is actively disturbing to anyone who cares very much whether his tea will be made from lively water instead of a liquid which is flat, exhausted, tasteless-in other words, with the hell cooked out of it....
It is safe to say that when the water boils, as it surely will, given enough heat under it, it is ready. Then, at that moment and no other, pour it into the teapot...If it cannot be used then, turn off the heat and start over again when you yourself are ready; it will harm you less to wait that it will the water to boil too long."
MFK Fisher The Art of Eating
Cucumber Sandwiches with Mint Butter
Yields: 8 sandwiches
1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
8 thin slices of white bread, crusts removed
2 small cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
In a small bowl combine the butter and mint. Mix well.
Spread the mint butter on the bread slices. Lay the cucumber on 4 of the slices and top with the remaining bread to make
4 sandwiches. Slice them in half diagonally.
Spinach Cheese Tartlets
Yields: 30-32 tartlets
1/2 c cold butter-cut into pieces
6 T lard
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
4 to 6 T ice water
1 1/2 c cottage cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 t salt
For the pastry:
In a large bowl, cut the butter and lard into the flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle ice water over the mixture a tablespoon at a time and stir with a fork (or hands) until the pastry gathers into a ball. Sprinkle with a little flour, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 2 portions and roll each into a circle about 1/8" thick. Cut out in rounds to fit 2 1/2" to 3" tartlet pans. Press each into a pan and prick with a fork-bake blind (covered with foil and weights such as dry beans) in a 375 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans and put back into oven for 8-10 minutes until pastry is lightly browned and firm.
Cool tart shells.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cottage cheese, onion and garlic and mix well.
In a sieve, press the water out of the spinach. Add the spinach, cheeses and salt to the egg mixture. Stir until well blended.
Fill each pastry shell with about 2 Tablespoons of filling.
Put the shells on baking sheets and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden on top. Serve hot.
Blackberry Muffin Miniatures
YIELD: About 20 small muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 20 or more miniature muffin cups measuring 1 3/4 inches across with paper baking cups.
In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set the mixture aside.
In another medium bowl lightly whisk the egg yolk. Whisk in the milk, then the butter. Quickly stir in the dry ingredients, stirring only until they are moistened. The batter will be a little lumpy. Fold in the berries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them so that the batter is almost level with the rim.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 1 minute. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve hot.
Repeat the baking procedure with any remaining batter. If there is not enough batter to fill all the muffm cups, put water in the empty ones during baking.
Spiced Blackberry Jam
YIELD: 1 quart
1 quart fresh blackberries, or frozen loose-pack unsweetened blackberries, thawed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine the berries and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.
Stir in the sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon, and let the mixture boil to dissolve the sugar.
Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the temperature reaches 220°F on a candy thermometer. (Subtract 2°F for each 1,000 feet above sea level.)
Remove the pot from the heat. Stir the jam with a long-handled spoon and skim off any foam that rises to the top.
Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch space on top. Place a piece of cinnamon stick in the jam in each jar. Seal with canning lids according to manufacturer's directions.
Cool the jars upright on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 month. For longer storage, process the jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes after sealing. (Add an additional minute of processing time for each 1,000 feet above sea level.) Coolon a rack and label. Store the jars in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Hickory Nut Butter Cakes
YIELD: 12 servings
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
Grated zest from 1 orange
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped hickory nuts, pecans, or walnuts
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 6 teaspoons orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray twelve 1-cup fluted mini-tube pan cups with nonstick coating spray.
In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking powder. Stir a few times to mix well. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until they are light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Add the orange zest and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, alternating it with the milk. With the mixer at low speed, blend the ingredients after each addition. When all the flour and milk are incorporated into the batter, add the vanilla and mix well. Fold in the nuts. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cups, using about 2/3 cup of batter for each.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.
5. Set the pans on wire racks and let the cakes cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife carefully around the edges of the cakes to loosen them. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on the racks.
In a small bowl combine the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to achieve a thin consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cakes.