The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How about some frozen lemon curd and cream?

image from
It has been so hot this last week that I came up with a frozen dessert recipe! Now, I love ice cream but I don't have an ice cream maker, so I am usually able to control my ice cream consumption by only purchasing one small pint of real ice cream every once in a while, and keeping fat-free fudgesicles or popsicles in the freezer for the rest of the time. But now, there is real ice cream danger!

In preparing for the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild's Tea with Rhys Bowen, I made a bunch of lemon curd and stirred it into whipped cream, to use as a filling for miniature tarts, topped with fresh berries. I ended up making much more than I needed for the tarts, and the rest of it sat in the fridge for several days until I was afraid it would go bad. Then, it struck me: lemon curd freezes well, so will this lemon curd cream freeze well? Boy, does it ever! Especially if you put it in popsicle molds! The danger is, it's too easy, so I'll be making (and eating) this more than I should! Here's how you make frozen lemon curd cream:

2 pints heavy whipping cream (organic, if you can get it)
2 cups homemade lemon curd (I used Meyer lemon curd)

Whip the cream to soft peaks, then slowly drizzle the lemon curd from a spoon (homemade will do this, you'll have to soften it if you use store-bought) over the cream as you continue to beat it. After you have beaten in the first cup of lemon curd, slow down the beating as you drizzle in the rest of the curd. The cream will not whip to stiff peaks, but should retain a light, mousse-like consistency. Use to fill tart shells, topped with sugared fresh berries, or fill re-usable popsicle molds or the small bathroom-sized Dixie cups. Insert popsicle sticks into the center of each lemon cream-filled mold, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze solid.

To serve, remove from the freezer, remove plastic wrap, run warm water over the outside of the mold to loosen the frozen pop, remove from the mold and enjoy! You can also just spoon the unfrozen lemon curd cream into a sealable freezer container, and freeze until slushy, and then serve. You'll have to break it up if you let it freeze solid, but the heavy cream in it will keep it from getting too hard. How easy is that? Dangerously easy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Did you make it to the Antique Car Show in San Jose last weekend?

image from ClipartETC.
If you didn't, a couple of nice people took some video of the event and posted it on YouTube.

And this one is about 3 minutes long:

Fun! Wish you were there!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Elizabeth Gaskell to be honored at Westminster Abbey.

image from Clipart ETC.
Along with many of you, I really enjoyed watching the recent adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's work, Cranford, which was broadcast on KTEH and KQED in this area last year. It turns out that Elizabeth Gaskell is about to be included -- with Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, and other 19th century English novelists -- in a memorial window in Westminster Abbey, overlooking Poet's Corner. I wish I could be there to see it! Here's the link:

Maybe the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild needs to have Tea with Elizabeth Gaskell when the new Cranford Christmas special is broadcast ...

The Gaskell Society
The Elizabeth Gaskell House in Plymouth Grove
Wikipedia entry for Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell's pages on the Victorian Web
Cranford at Internet Movie Database website

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review of Buccaneer blend loose tea from SerendipiTea.

I recently received a sample of this tea blend and have really been enjoying it. The Buccaneer blend contains Fair Trade certified organic black tea, chocolate, coconut, vanilla and rooibos. The first aroma that I noticed upon opening the foil pouch was the toasted coconut, with a little hint of vanilla and chocolate and the kind of citrusy fragrance of rooibos. When brewed and served hot, the flavor of the tea blend changes slightly; I thought it tasted mostly of toasted coconut and rooibos, and couldn’t really taste the chocolate and vanilla. On a second and third brewing, the chocolate and coconut are very much in the aroma, but the vanilla is still hiding behind them, I suspect. The black tea flavor wasn’t there at all for me, and I had to look at the tea leaves themselves to make sure they were there. Sort of disappointing for me, as I expected the black tea to make the blend taste more substantial. On a second and third brewing, I detected the black tea as a faint presence behind all the other stronger flavors, but not as a distinct flavor in itself. I tend to want my tea – even flavored tea – to taste at least a little bit like “tea”, but I may be alone in my preference. All in all, still a tasty blend, which can withstand 2 infusions per serving. I’m not sure this blend is one of those that tastes equally good as a hot beverage and a cold one; I drank some both freshly brewed and after it had cooled, and I prefer this blend hot, definitely. The chocolate flavor really needs the heat in order to have a presence, I think. But as a hot drink, with a flavor of the tropics, the Buccaneer blend is a good one.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Having tea parties is easy if you have a tea pantry!

image from ClipartETC.
This is an article I wrote for another website, but it answers a question that several people have asked me: "Isn't it a lot of work to put on a tea party?" Not if you keep it simple and prepare in advance; while it is a lot of fun to put on a big, fancy, to-do, it is also easy to get carried away! In order to be able to pull together a simple tea party with minimal stress and planning -- even at the last minute -- it’s a good idea to keep certain items and products in the house, set aside in what some people call a “tea party pantry” so that they don’t get used for anything else and are there when you need them. Keep them wherever you have space, but label them and make sure you can find them at a moment's notice. Apart from tea, a kettle, tea pot, mugs or cups and saucers, and a tea strainer, your tea party supply collection can contain any or all of the following:

1. some bottled water, if your tap water is full of minerals or bad-tasting (it will affect the flavor of the tea)
2. sugar cubes
3. packaged fancy cookies
4. store-bought jam and lemon curd
5. imported clotted cream, or Mexican crema or table cream (in the International food section in some grocery stores)
6. packaged scone mixes
7. dried cherries, cranberries, currants and/or apricots
8. store-bought chutney, tapenade, and gourmet spreads or sauces
9. boxed cake mixes, pudding mixes, and canned pie filling
10. confections like chocolate chips and candied ginger
11. cream cheese and unsalted butter, which you can store in the freezer
12. loaf of pound cake or fruit cake, sliced, which you can store in the freezer
13. frozen appetizers like mini quiches, mini veggie turnovers, rolled sandwiches, and turkey sausage
14. frozen puff pastry, pie dough, crumpets and tart shells
15. frozen desserts like mini cream puffs, mini eclairs, and ice cream bonbons

With all of these things, you only have to buy fresh sandwich bread, cucumber, milk (to put in the tea), and some seasonal fruit and flowers, and you're ready for tea! For a traditional afternoon tea, you’ll need bread (scones or crumpets) with jam and cream, savories (tea sandwiches and other savory bites), and sweets (desserts). For a cream tea, you’ll only need scones with cream and jam, and maybe one small dessert. Keep everything small and dainty in size, trim the crusts off of all bread slices for toast and tea sandwiches, and avoid overly messy finger food. (Hot wings are too messy for a tea party!) Here are some suggestions using items from the above list:

Bread: scones (from a mix), frozen or packaged crumpets (heat in the toaster) or toast – trim off the crusts and cut into triangles. You can add dried fruit, chocolate chips, or chopped candied ginger to the scone mix before baking. Serve with clotted cream, table cream or whipped unsalted butter, jam and/or lemon curd.

Savories: cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls (puff pastry strips filled with sausage and baked), chutney or tapenade spread on toast rounds or squares, frozen mini appetizers (defrost and bake as needed), or cream cheese mixed with some spicy gourmet sauce and used as a sandwich spread.

Sweets: packaged cookies, cupcakes (boxed cake mix), tart shells filled with pie filling or pudding, sliced pound cake or mini desserts (thaw as needed), pie dough or puff pastry turnovers filled with jam or pie filling (bake as needed), or frozen ice cream bonbons.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What to do with fresh peaches? Have them with tea!

1895 "Berry" peach from Wikipedia.
While peach season is technically in August, they are still available in September around San Jose! Don’t forget to enjoy them right now, either fresh (with cream and sugar), or made into savory dishes and salsas to accompany meat, and many delectable desserts. Why not even give a tea party featuring peaches? You can purchase any one of the many peach flavored tea blends available in the supermarkets or online, or you can make your own. I suggest a nice Taiwanese oolong tea as the base for your peach tea.

To make your own peach tea at home, you should have:
  • fresh or dried peaches, or peach juice
  • granulated sugar
  • fresh water
  • unflavored oolong tea (from Taiwan, if you can get it), or other unflavored tea
First, fill your kettle with fresh water and put it on to boil. Meanwhile, pour hot tap water into your teapot, swirl the water around inside to warm it, and set it aside for a few minutes. If using dried peaches, chop them into small pieces. If using a fresh peach, take out the pit and chop it into small pieces, then sprinkle a few tablespoons of sugar over the fruit and let it sit for a few minutes. When the water in the kettle boils, take it off the heat. Empty the hot water out of your teapot, and measure 1 tablespoon of tea leaves, and at least 1 tablespoon of chopped peaches into the teapot. Pour the just-boiled water over it and let it steep for 3 minutes, then strain into teacups. You can add some more peach pieces to the bottom of each teacup before you pour in the tea, if you want. If using peach juice, omit putting peach pieces into the teapot with the tea, and brew the tea as usual. Strain the peach juice through cheesecloth, if desired, to remove the pulp, and add a teaspoon or two of juice to each teacup after you've filled it 3/4 of the way with tea. Add more peach juice or sugar as desired, to flavor the tea, and enjoy!

Here are a variety of menu choices for your own Peach Tea party!

Oolong tea or Peach flavored tea

Clotted cream or Mexican crema
Peach jam
Peaches and Cream Scones

Grilled Peaches Wrapped in Prosciutto
Peach mint salsa on crostini
Sliced peach and turkey sandwiches

Peaches and cream
Peach cobbler
Individual Peach Pies
Peach ice cream
Peach pound cake

More links:
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of good quality oolong tea”
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Which foods go with oolong or pu-erh tea?”
Peach Iced Tea recipe
Prize-winning Peach Pie recipe
Pickled Peaches recipe
The Lady & Sons Peach Cobbler recipe
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)