Posts tagged ‘tea’

February 14, 2012

hazelnut linzer hearts

when i was fifteen i got my first job.  it wasn’t a real job in the sense that i was paid for it, but it felt real to me.  i was a volunteer in the day surgery ward of a hospital.  i guess one would call it the equivalent of a candy striper.  my uniform was not a pretty pink and white  but was instead a royal blue pinafore with a “volunteen” name badge.  i worked once a week, all day, stripping beds and wheeling discharged patients to their car.  day surgery wasn’t much of a happenin’ place and i frequently had a lot of time on my hands.  one afternoon, reading through an old magazine while waiting for something to do, i came across a recipe for some beautifully photographed linzer hearts.  i wasn’t an experienced enough baker to know that this was a very traditional  cookie, but in feeling grown up, i decided i wanted to start my own recipe collection and i would start with these hearts.  i copied it out onto a paper towel of all things,  apparently the only thing available to me at the time.  i still have it, and it has a place amongst the holiday recipes in my recipe box.  the original calls for ground almonds but i had ground hazelnuts on hand and decided to use them instead.  they were wonderful.  i found my ground hazelnuts at whole foods: they were a bob’s red mill product. these pretty cookies do take some time but they are well worth the effort.

happy valentines day!

linzer hearts

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/8 t ground cloves

1/2 c butter (unsalted please!) at room temperature

1/2 c packed dark brown sugar

1/4 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 c ground hazelnuts

1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam; melted (if  you cannot find seedless raspberry jam, pour the jam through a strainer after it is melted.  this sounds like a big deal but it really isn’t a lot of trouble).

2/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips melted, for decoration

powdered sugar for dusting

mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves.  set aside.

in a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with electric mixer until fluffy.  beat in egg, fold in hazelnuts.  gradually stir in flour mixture until blended.  divide dough in half.  shape into flattened rounds, wrap, and refrigerate for one hour or until firm enough to roll out.

heat oven to 350 and have ungreased cookie sheets ready.

on a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough at a time to 1/8″ thickness.  cut out hearts with a 3″ heart shape cookie cutter.  place half the hearts 1″ apart on cookie sheet.  cut a 2″ heart from the center of remaining hearts.  place heart frames on cookie sheet.

re-roll scraps.

bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  immediately remove to racks to cool completely.  dip the heart tips or rounded edge of the heart frames in melted chocolate.  cool on wax paper until chocolate is firm.  using wax paper to cover chocolate, dust frames with powdered sugar if desired.

brush one side of the whole hearts with the raspberry jam.  top with decorated frame to form a “sandwich”.  serve immediately.

makes 20 cookies

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January 23, 2012

tea scones

my grandfather immigrated to the united states from england when he was four.  i grew up hearing the stories of how his mother lay in the cabin, uncomfortable with motion sickness, while my grandfather played marbles on the floor – watching them roll back and forth with the rocking of the ship.  growing up in the u.s., he eventually lost his accent, but one thing his family kept were their english traditions.  a pot of tea and scones were one of them.  i have eaten these since i was a child, long before the scone became a food fad.  these are in my opinion, closer to the original intent, a far cry from the enormous sugar laden product now offered at a coffee shop.  they are most likely what would have been served for tea at downton abbey (if you are still watching) whether you were dining upstairs, or down, and would have been served with clotted cream and a jam or curd of some sort.   my wedding reception featured a high tea and a friend and i made these by the hundreds one afternoon before the wedding: they are that simple to put together.

scone by the way is pronounced to rhyme with “lawn” not “stone”.

tea scones

2 cups of flour

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of dried currants (optional, i rarely use them as it competes too much with the jam i like to serve on the side)

6 tablespoons of butter

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup of milk

1 slightly beaten egg

in a bowl thoroughly stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  stir in the currants, if desired.  cut in butter til the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. add 1 beaten egg and milk, stirring just till the dough clings together.  knead dough gently on lightly floured surface (12-15 strokes).  cut the ough in half.  shape each half into a ball and pat or roll to a 6-inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick.  with a sharp knife, cut each circle into 6 wedges.  place wedges on ungreased baking sheet or baking stone.  do not allow the sides to touch.  brush tops with lightly beaten egg, and bake at 425 until a deep golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.  makes one dozen scones.

note: the key to having them raise nice and high is fresh baking powder and handling the dough as little as possible.

~ from better homes and gardens heritage cookbook

June 2, 2011

favorite cups

having talked about our favorite yellow tea pot, i thought i would devote a post to our favorite “his and hers” teacups.

marco and i had our first date at the hotel del coronado in san diego california.  i plan at some point to write about the details of our courtship but for now, suffice it to say that we met online and when we knew it was serious, marco flew me out to to california to meet him in person.  we got engaged about 48 hours later.

what does this have to do with teacups.

i’m getting there.

the year previously, i had been in california with my family while we attended to some business that had to do with our work in central america. we spent a day in san diego and walked through the lovely lobby area of the hotel del coronado.   being a huge high tea enthusiast i noticed that palm court was being set for afternoon tea.  i swooned.  there was no time however to stop, so i just stood and admired before moving on.

a year later, after marco and i had just met, i recounted this to him.  shortly after making my travel arrangements, marco told me that he had made a reservation for us to have sunday afternoon high tea at palm court.   the details of that wonderful afternoon on our first date are reserved for another post at another time, but i will say now that it was lovely.  i still remember sitting in that sunny palm court at our reserved table, eating duck confit canapes, scones, and sharing a pot of tea.  it set the stage for many great years to come.

so fast forward then through the wedding, the honeymoon, and on through about the first four years or so of marriage.  one morning at breakfast while each of us are browsing the news on our respective laptops, i hear a gasp.  marco claims he has found the perfect valentine’s day gift, from an uber-cool online store featuring all sorts of fabulous vintage stuff.   after a few weeks of secretive behavior, and a mysterious package i discovered what the gift was.

on valentine’s day morning, he woke me up with a cup of tea – served in the vintage china from the hotel del coronado.  it was priceless.

since then, every morning that we are together, we share several pots of tea drinking from our special cups.  it has become a sacred part of our morning ritual.

marco travels often, and on those weeks that we are apart, the cups stay up in the cabinet.  but when he comes home, they come back down and we resume the ritual.

every once in a while i panic that something might happen to them.  i have never seen any others like it and they could possibly be irreplaceable.  i have mentioned this several times to marco and wondered aloud if we should lock them up in a china cabinet.  his response – that would be a catastrophe.   the pleasure we have in using them every morning is well worth it.

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February 9, 2011

today is a yellow teapot day

part of our morning ritual is a pot of tea over breakfast.  usually that one pot will extend to two or sometimes even three: pg tips steeped for about three minutes and served in our his and hers teacups which are so special they are deserving of a post all to themselves.

i have two teapots for our morning ritual – brown betty knock-offs that are stored over the stove on a scalloped shelf next to a vintage repro tea tin.  the  brown one has an endearing chipped lid.  i bought it years before i was married on a trip to canada.

recently though we added a yellow version to the collection.  i found this one at a tea room down the street,  just after we started the infamous kitchen remodel.  it was cute. it was round. it was yellow.  i had to have it.

on average ordinary days we use the brown pot.  every once in a while though we will designate a day as “yellow teapot day”.  it can be in honor of a special occasion such as a day off, a pick-me-up, or just because.

or, as in today’s case, dreary weather.

this morning i woke up to another swirling 6 inches of wet snow.

today is a yellow teapot day.