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Guest Blogging : Quaint Tea

I am playing hooky today… Well, not really, but I am getting pudding brains this close to deadline and I need all the extra bit of time I can find. After coming to the conclusion that sleep is highly overrated and lunch has been replaced by a cup of soup and a piece of toast in one hand, whisk and camera in the other, (yes, I am also amazed of my newfound dexterity!), I asked one of my favorite bloggers to come and keep you company. I discovered Cindy in one of my late night blog hopping and I instantly fell in love with hers inventive crafts, thoughtful posts and awesome pictures of New York. When I ask someone to guest blog I always tell them to do what they please and have fun. Cindy went beyond the call of duty and baked you something tasty, comforting and perfect for a little Valentine’s day breakfast. I guess I am in love mode after all! I hope you’ll show Cindy the same enthusiasm and support you show me day after day. Enjoy!
Hi Everyone – I’m Cindy from quaint handmade and was so honored when Helen asked me to be a guest blogger here on Tartelette. It wasn’t a task to be undertaken lightly as she is an award-winning blogger. As you know, Tartelette is a serious baking destination featuring fantastic recipes all beautifully photographed. I’m not a prolific baker by any stretch of the imagination, but have been known to knock around some pots and pans in the kitchen from time to time. And, since I’ve been a collector of all things English for years, I thought I would write about a Sweet Tea, which would be lovely for Valentine’s Day.

Now, this is a special post for a special lady and her devoted readers, so I pulled out all the stops and feature tasty delights you might want to enjoy on a special day. But, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Most of the food can be found in the local market, online, or in your cupboard. I also included a simple scone recipe for a homemade touch. First up, it’s time to go shopping!


Tea & Coffee
I’ve been coveting tea from Harney & Sons for a while now and chose their Paris blend. It’s a black tea with a lovely fruity fragrance. True tea aficionados might prefer a loose tea, but I thought the sachets were pretty. As the flavors in our sweets are delicate, a subtle Jasmine Tea from Twinings or Kusmi would also be wonderful. My husband likes tea, but loves coffee. We’ve recently discovered Stumptown Coffee and it has a rich, smooth flavor that would also be a nice alternative.


Butter & Jam
Next up, jam to go with our scones. I’ve loved the preserves from Sarabeth’s for years and chose the Raspberry Orange Marmalade I found in our local market. Conserves from Wilkin & Sons are also delicious as are the jams from Bonne Mamon. Be sure to have some delicious butter on hand, too.


Cookies & Marshmallows
We are lucky to live in NYC and can purchase delicious treats from Whimsy & Spice in the warm weather at a market in Brooklyn. But, it’s winter so I ordered their Herbs & Spices Gift Box online. The assortment is filled with goodness and includes Honey Lavender and Chocolate Orange Cardamom shortbread cookies, Cardamom marshmallows (so fragrant), Coconut White Chocolate 5 Spice cookies, and the most intriguing, Rose & Black Pepper Thumbprints (subtle). All of the flavors are delicate and light.


Taking Tea At The Savoy
I learned about the book Taking Tea At The Savoy when the author, Anton Edelman, from the Savoy Hotel appeared on Martha Stewart’s original television show. He was quite impressed with her ability to make a proper cup of tea and became a little bit flirtatious. It was kind of funny to see Martha under those circumstances. It’s a wonderful book with a variety of traditional English tea recipes.


Homemade Scones
I wanted to make something for our tea and scones are traditional. This recipe is simple enough, but doesn’t mention salt, so I added a pinch. I also added more flour as the dough was quite sticky.


Preparation
I am a newbie photographer and have learned so much from Helen. However, ever since picking up the camera, I’ve become a little bit impatient as a cook. I am absolutely amazed by the ladies who bake and take photos along the way. I do try to assemble the ingredients and tools I need in advance to at least capture the beginning and the end, although I made an extra effort for this post to get the middle, too.


Resting before baking
My round pastry cutter seemed to be in hiding and after trying a few alternatives, I used a heart. I hope it was divine intervention from cupid because I’m so happy they were in heart shapes and perfect for a Valentine’s Day Sweet Tea.


Baked and cooling
Out of the oven and cooling on a wire rack. I think the egg wash helped identify them as hearts since the dough rose quite a bit thanks to a box of fresh baking powder.


Beautiful mess
You should have seen our kitchen after I made the scones! I think there was too much mess for such a simple recipe. The other side of room, which is three feet away, was worse. As I mentioned, the dough was quite sticky so there was flour everywhere, including places it shouldn’t be ;).


Assembling
At this point, I’m just about ready to pull it all together. I’ve selected some pieces from our English china collection and the double tiered cake stand is the star. I’ve polished the silver and endlessly fussed with the arrangement.


Sugar Cubes
My husband Scott went for a walk and to pick-up my one missing item – sugar cubes. I didn’t ask him to come right back because I wasn’t expecting to be ready that day in terms of choosing the china. By now, I really have to photograph the Sweet Tea, or I’ll have to disassemble everything, and start all over again the next day. Plus, those cookies are so fragrant and look delicious.


Teatime
Finally, everything is arranged and it’s time for tea + coffee! Thank you for your hospitality everyone. One lump or two?

Lemon And Yogurt Scones And Unexpected Finds

Marcela is finally here, safe and radiant from her stay in Seattle and New York, ready to chill under the Southern sun. After many late night chats on Yahoo with Lisa over the past year or so, it is a blast to finally laugh in person instead of in front of the computer and discover the many facets of Argentina through her experiences and her eyes. As the nerds that we are, we spent most of the evening of her arrival Tuesday on Google earth checking out the country with the perfect guide. Today was spent downtown Charleston with us showing her some of our favorite places, streets, parks, etc… but I will get to that a little bit later.

After my post admitting that I was a clafoutis fanatic, going as far as eating it everyday, I stumbled on a great looking scone post by Julie of A Mingling Of Tastes. Her blog is one of my regular reads where I get my fix of yummy breakfast ideas, and after many weeks of thinking I ought to make scones again, because after all we do like them, she timely tempted me with these Lemon Buttermilk Scones with Currants. With Marce coming in town I figured it was high time I baked scones again and changed the clafoutis routine a bit. I liked her recipe a great deal but I had to adapt given the raisin hater I have in the house (B. who is by the way loving having two women cooking up a storm in the kitchen right now!!) and use the supplies I accumulate and only get around to use like Goji berries and pearl sugar (regular and brown, also found as rock candy or rock sugar). He still won’t go for the Goji berries as they look too similar to raisins but the scones sprinkled with sugar are already disappearing 3 at a time. If I catch him in the jar of dulce the leche that Marcela brought me….arghhhh!

For the scones I used a mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour and replaced the buttermilk with yogurt, same tang and creamier texture. I like to pat, roll and cut dough a lot so I went for round scones instead of wedges, plus there is more space for jam to be spread (or my dulce de leche). We fell in love with these and I may not need to attend a 12 step program for my clafoutis habit after all, although I feel it won’t be long before we can have a plum or a peach one for breakfast soon.

Lemon And Yogurt Scones, various toppings and add-ins:

Printable Recipe

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tb granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 large egg

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1/3 cup goji berries (optional, use raisins if desired)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to blend. Add the chilled butter, cut in small chunks and pulse until the mixture resembles pea size crumbs. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, yogurt and lemon zest. Add the dry ingredients and the goji berries to the egg mixture and stir just until moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball. Pat or roll the dough out to about 1 to 1 1/4-inch thick. With a 3 inch cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut the dough into 10 and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Brush with a little milk and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. If you use pearl or rock sugar, sprinkle that on top of the scones after the brushing of milk so they adhere to the top better.

Unexpected sightings in Charleston or when to look high and when to look low: I guess I walk the streets downtown with a purpose and never the one to just look and breathe in the scenery. Well not after today when Marcela and I found dozens of Loquat trees downtown. We met a nice English gentleman who threw his hat up on the tree and made a couple fall in our hands. We almost knock on somebody’s door to see if we could harvest theirs since they seemed to be left to rot on the tree. What a shame! Loquats are the perfect balance of sweet and sour in one bite. I have to check with a couple of people if they have one of those trees close by otherwise I am coming back at night with my ladder and basket….

The second unexpected find of the day was bushes after bushes of wild blackberries in the woods in front of our house. I gathered a few at different ripening stage just to compare and was stunned to hear B. say "Oh yeah, the twins have been gathering them like crazy and I mowed a whole row on the side of the yard"….

"You what?!!!! Malheureux (crazy fool)…do you know what blackberries cost and here they grow wild?!!"

Last but not least, above is what my eye catches when I am leisurely walking the streets downtown. Missing shutters on a house where only the hook testifies of its previous existence. Circles in the middle of intricate wrought iron gates. It is just a circle…but to me it was a circle with a day off in the company of a friend.

No Eggs – No Butter? Peanut Butter Scones And Lemon Lime Sunshine Cake From My Sweet Vegan


Baking without eggs and butter past midnight a couple of days ago…"Why would that be?" you might be wondering. Did I run out of baking supplies when a sweet craving hit? Was I cramming in homework at the last minute? None of the above…although I did in fact re-do a post just to update the pictures as Santa finally delivered my present and accessories. Looking at the old shots could not do these baked good justice anymore. So I decided to bake them again and pretended today was December 25th…any excuse to stay in my pjs on my day off is a good one in my opinion. But why out of all the things I could bake, did I decide to make vegan scones and cake?

Well, a couple of months ago, I received a copy from my dear friend Hannah’s first cookbook, aptly titled My Sweet Vegan. I got to baking her Lemon Lime Sunshine Cake that very same day and about every other weekend since then. Same with the Peanut Butter Scones, they are on B’s list of most requested breakfast items. I feel bad because I have been telling everybody about this book, promising Hannah and her publisher a review of the recipes I have tried so far and in the end I keep it all to myself. No more! The book is a perfect reflection of Hannah’s personality, warm and friendly, inviting you to try new things and be opened to the world around. When I first got to know her, I had no idea this very mature soul both in her writing and approach to food, came in such a young and cute package.

Look at that breakfast of champions! That is one awesome Peanut Butter Scone! I love to make these for brunch and take them (minus the glaze) to the gym when the 4 o’clock sugar craving hits. In that spirit, the book is written with the whole spectrum of dessert lovers in mind, vegan or not, and it reads like a novel. Hannah generously gives us her tried and true, favorite recipes as well as tips and tricks to achieve the best tasting treats. Reading through it is like spending time with a good friend over a good brownie or a cup of coffee. Did I say brownie? Yes…and many more like Strawberry Love Muffins, Butterscotch Blondies, Whoopie Pies, Mocha Devastation Cake, Ginger Dream Pie, Five Minute Coconut Fudge….and I am just scratching the surface.

Although not vegan, B. and I do respect the animals that feed us, giving them the day off once in a while. I am more into tofu, soy milk agave nectar, with a weakness of vegan "cream cheese" than he is, but he is a good sport and when I told him I was going to bake from Hannah’s book, he took it upon himself to give me the "Carnivore opinion". So far, everything has been a hit and when he asked about all these alternative items, I handed him the book where Hannah explains in detail her vegan ingredient guide at the begining. I added that if he flipped a couple more pages, she had a section entitled "Tools of the trade" where she explained everything anybody needed to know for baking. His response "I might have agreed to try vegan, but am still not ready to step into the kitchen, meat-lover or not…nice try!" Ah well, can’t blame me for dreaming!


See my midnight snack right out of the oven…? That’s the Lemon Lime Sunshine Cake baked in individual portion instead of a Bundt pan, so I feel even more virtuous stuffing my face eating dessert. I have stopped counting the number of times I have taken this to our weekend oyster roasts with the neighbors. Everytime I make it I end up skipping the glaze that is supposed to go on top because somehow the yogurt, lemon and lime juice and sugar in the batter end up forming their own curd around the edges so that just a dusting of powdered sugar suffice.

I made the big mistake a couple of weeks ago to lend it to my friend "Lucy-The Vegan"…I thought I would never see it again. It appeared she was baking her way through it with great success and that is no small testimonial to Hannah’s recipe when you know that Lucy is not much of a dessert person and a novice baker. I love baking from it because I can relax, kick back, knowing that Hannah has tried her recipes several times and gives us only her favorites. I can open the book at any category (sweet tarts, cookies and bars, cakes and cupcakes, pies and tarts, miscellaneous morsels and desserts) and just make up a treat. Some items take a little longer than others but are by no means daunting or intricate. I also really like the food allergy index at the end of the book. I have more and more clients with food allergies or dietary restrictions so I know that I can bake something without second guessing if I did not sneak in something they could not have without even paying attention.

What is next on the baking list from My Sweet Vegan? Well, I am baking the Triple Threat Chocolate "Cheese" Cake to a friend’s baby shower tomorrow and the Cookies and Creme Pound Cake for my mother in law’s garden club next week.


What? No recipes? In the spirit of supporting writers and young writers out there, I strongly encourage you to buy the book. I have already gotten a couple more for wedding and birthday presents and both recipients fell in love with the recipes, feel and gorgeous pictures taken by Hannah.

Cranberry And Cream Scones

Warning: this post is about love!

I like to give my man a little extra attention in the morning because it is truly the only time of the day we can spend "uninterrupted"…you know how it goes, work, hobbies, friends, functions, for some kids and others pets, and before you know it the day is drawing to an end.
I was getting tired of our breakfast selections so when I saw Meeta's invite to her Monthly Mingle, I figured it would be a great way for me to show B. my love and appreciation with one of his favorites, scones. I felt bad the recipe called for heavy cream and butter so to alliviate any guilt I added dried cranberries…it’s good for the heart!

B. could not stop humming his way through the house knowing that he had those waiting for him this morning. After over 8 years of marriage, I am blessed by the fact that he thanks me for every meal or special treat I set out in front of him… I thank him for still opening the car door for me and making sure my tank is full. We are romantics in our own and geeky way. For example, we have a V-Day card contest every single year: who will be the one to give the most Valentine cards, romantic, funny, creepy, dorky, homemade,…. I think I went a little crazy this year…we’ll see!

Big silence of approval from B. regarding these scones and he asked for another batch next week…my heart can’t say no!

Cranberry and Cream Scones, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Cream Scones:

Makes 8 large ones.

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 egg

2 cups flour

2 Tb sugar

1 Tb baking powder

pinch of salt

5 Tb. cold butter, cut in small morsels

extra sugar for rolling the dough

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350.
In a small bowl, whisk the cream and the egg. Set aside.
In a separate and larger bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender, 2 forks or your fingers (my choice, I like to play with food), until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cranberries.
Mix in the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with a spoon or again your hands. Do this fairly quickly to avoid over kneading the dough. Gather into a ball and pat on a sugared board. With a 3 inch cookie cutter, cut out 8 rounds.
Put them on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown.

Note: I like rolling the dough with sugar on my board and not extra flour. It coats the scones with a light crunch and prevents the dough from getting tough.