The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another Victorian-inspired recipe: rose petal jam tarts.

Rose petal jam tarts with vanilla gelato!
Sometimes it is fun to include unusual treats on your tea table. If you like to have garden party teas or tea picnics at public or private gardens, why not try including some floral ingredients in putting together your menu?

Rose petal jam can be purchased at specialty stores like Middle Eastern groceries, Whole Foods, and sometimes Trader Joe’s. It can be spread on cream scones, melted and drizzled on pound cake or fresh fruit, or incorporated into wonderful sweets like the tarts in the following recipe.

Rose Jam Tartlets with Cream Topping

1/2 recipe Pâte Brisée or pie crust
1 cup rose petal jam
1 egg
1 tbl orange zest
for topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup mascarpone
2-3 tbl sugar
1 tsp each orange flower water and rose water
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the crust and fit it into mini-muffin cups or tartlette pans.
2. Stir together jam, egg, and orange zest and fill tartlettes. Bake 10-15 minutes, until set. Let cool thoroughly on a rack.
3. Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to beat together cream and mascarpone until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar, flower water, and two tablespoons of the pistachios. Before serving, dollop cream over tartlettes. Sprinkle the remaining two tablespoons pistachios over the top of the tartlettes.
-- from Desert Candy blog post "Morning of Roses"

The South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild recently enjoyed a variation of the above recipe at their May meeting. The San Jose variation used frozen pie crust instead of homemade pate brisée, and lightened the rose petal jam with a bit of strawberry jam and farmer’s market fresh cherries. The recipe’s mascarpone cream toping with pistachios was replaced by purchased clotted cream, but vanilla gelato can also be used. This made a sweet, floral and fruity dessert, perfect for a spring or summer tea party!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Antiques Roadshow in San Jose to be shown tonght!

ca. 1851 grand pianoforte. Image from
The first hour of Antiques Roadshow, taped during their stop in San Jose, CA in August 2009, will air on KTEH tonight! Check it out at 9 p.m. and see the Winchester Mystery House. Next week they will air the second hour, featuring the Thomas & Carmel Fallon House, and the week after that will bring the third hour of their visit to San Jose, featuring Stanford University. Check out the broadcast schedule to find the actual dates and times.

Just another reason to watch Antiques Roadshow!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making rose jelly for tea.

image from Lisa's Garden Clipart.
I was recently given a bunch of organic roses from my friend's garden. Hers are old heirloom roses that are really fragrant, as well as beautiful, and I didn't want to waste them when the petals started to fall. I picked the petals, washed them, dried them, and then made some rose water with them. I used the infusion method (pack rose petals in a clean glass jar, cover with boiling water, let sit until water has taken all the color from the rose petals and the petals are white) to make some surprisingly red rose water, but it's not distilled so I need a better way of preserving it. I have some rose petal jam, but I don't know if I like the texture, so I'll be trying to make rose jelly with the rose water. This is the kind of jelly that you spread on toast, not molded gelatin-dessert jelly ... I think it will make an unusual and delicious tea-table item and if it works well with rose petals I think I'll pick some orange blossoms from our tree and try to make orange blossom jelly! Here's a recipe that I'm thinking of using:

"Rose jelly (or orange blossom jelly!)
Basic flower jelly recipe - can also be used for other herbs

2 cups flower infusion: steep 2+ cups moderately packed flowers in 2 cups boiling water at least 30 minutes
1/4 cup lemon juice (E. Toley says not to use bottled, but I do)
4 cups sugar
3 oz of liquid pectin (this will be 1/2 box of liquid Certo)

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil you can't stir down. Add pectin and boil 2 minutes. Ladle into hot sterile jars. Seal in preferred manner.

Note (Bess Haile): I prefer the liquid certo to the powdered. It seems to jell better with flowers. Also, I find the extra minute of boiling helps to create a stiffer jelly, though 1 minute will create a clear jam-like texture. I always use the 4 oz canning jars because I can give away some of the jellies without running out of all my stock. Not everyone likes jelly from flowers. My own family HATES rose jelly which is one of my favorites. Also, note, rose petals have a bitter white bit where the petals join the flower. Cut these off. I do this by holding the flower, step up, and cutting around the flower, leaving all the bitter bits on the flower. I've used Rose, Honeysuckle, Lavender, and many herbs too. Rosemary makes a good jelly for a glaze on roast pork (and probably lamb). Lemon verbena and spearmint are great too!"
-- from (Bess Haile), on Henriette’s Herbal Homepage

I've made fruit jams and lemon curd, but not jelly. Has anyone made rose jelly before? Any tips to share?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cat Rescue tea party a success!

one of the parlor guest tables at the tea party.
Well, I'm pretty much recovered from our tea party fundraiser from last weekend. I got away with not taking home too many leftovers, so the tea sandwiches are finished and I only have a little bit of sour cream, some chopped onions and some sandwich bread to use up. Mother's Day is coming up, and I always cook for my mom on Mother's Day, so it shouldn't be too hard to use up the tea food.

In any case, we served 33 people on Saturday and 39 on Sunday, had no major catastrophes (although we came close when the tea urns caused the kitchen electrical circuit to break!) and received lots of great comments from the guests. We also raised about $4,500 for the 13th Street Cats! We'll see how many veterinary bills that will pay for; always on the lookout for needy cats, they took in another one on Sunday, just as the tea was ending! This cat has kind owners who can't pay for its medical care, so 13th Street Cats is going to take the cat to the vet and pay for its exam and medication.

The catnip "cigars" for sale!
All in all, another great event; you can see some photos from both days here. Enjoy!

13th Street Cats website
"Support 13th Street Cats by attending the Cat Rescue Tea Party!"
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)