Tea Time

IMG_1689The third chapter in Sundays with Moosewood is the British Isles. So far, I have cooked up Africa and Armenia and the Middle East. We are now out of A and into B. The chapters are organized in alphabetical order by region.

The British drink their tea and eat tea as well. A friend of mine once went to visit relatives in Ireland. Upon arrival they asked if she would like tea. She said yes, expecting a nice hot beverage. Instead, she got delicious little sandwiches and cake. She came home and related the experience to me with such enthusiasm, that I searched out tea places in New York.  I found a couple I really liked. One of these, Alice’s Tea Cup, was talked up by Kelly Ripa on her TV show. Now you have to wait an hour or more, to get into the place! It’s worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.

I’m a tea drinker. I do not drink coffee. I don’t know why this is as I come from a family of coffee drinkers. In fact, Italians only drink tea when they are sick. In the morning, chamomile tea just doesn’t cut it. I prefer a nice full-body tea. I probably get this penchant for tea from my aforementioned friend’s mother, who always ended her evening with a relaxing cup of tea.

 A Proper Pot of Tea

Use one teaspoon of leaves or one teabag per cup, and add one more for the pot. Start with cold tap water. Hot tap water’s been sitting in the water heater and lost its oxygen content,  which makes the tea taste flat; boiling the water too long creates the same problem, so heat it to the “just boiling” point. Brew the tea in a ceramic or glass pot, metal will bring out the tannic acid in the tea and make it bitter. Warm the pot by swishing hot water through it before brewing the tea to ensure that the cold surface of the pot won’t reduce the temperature of the water. The brewing water needs to be right near the boiling point in order to brew the tea properly.

Pour the steaming water directly on the tea leaves. Keep the lid on your pot or the temperature will drop. Brew for at least 3 minutes: less will make the tea too weak. Allow a longer brewing period if you like a stronger flavor, but not longer than 5 minutes, or the tea will become bitter. Don’t dip your tea bag, the leaves must remain in the water while brewing. Strain or otherwise remove the leaves when the brewing has finished. (from Sundays with Moosewood, The British Isles)

For a father’s day brunch I made: scones, tomatoes with forced meat, hash browns, and Welsh rarebit. I woke up early to get started. It was nice and quiet in the house and I could work undisturbed. Until my husband woke up and kept cleaning up and putting things back in the fridge to my utter frustration.

strawberry scones
strawberry scones

I started with the scones. I decided to replace the raisins in the recipe with strawberries. I had made strawberry scones a few weeks ago from a recipe in Parade magazine. This time, I used the recipe from Sundays with Moosewood. The dough came out sticky this time, even though the recipe said it shouldn’t. I rolled it out on the counter with lots of flour and used a glass to cut out rounds. I do prefer making the scones round rather than triangular.

sticky dough for scones
sticky dough for scones

Tomatoes with forced meat, doesn’t contain any meat at all. This is a vegetarian cookbook so that makes sense, but why call it forced meat? It’s really fake meat or no meat at all actually. It’s just stuffed tomatoes. As you can see from the photo, one of the tomatoes did not go gently into the platter!

The book states that it is a medieval term from when people of limited means used minced vegetables, herb, nuts, and fruits to supplement meats that were often in short supply.

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While this was in the oven I started on the Welsh rarebit. I melted the cheese in the double boiler and then added two beaten eggs with 6 oz of beer. It’s a 12 oz bottle, so I started with a beer breakfast. Not quite like my younger day’s at Jeremy’s down at the South Street SeaPort, but nostalgic nonetheless.

The melted cheese gets poured over toast layered with slice apples and broccoli. Finally, I made the Singin’ Hinnies. Which is, basically, a quick pancake fried up in a skillet. It really tastes more like a biscuit than a pancake.

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Again, there was too much food. This is the third week following the Moosewood recipes. While they are tasty and simple to prepare, they are also hearty and copious, even when halving the recipes. My husband complained it was too much food. My son didn’t eat a thing, as usual. Afterwards, we all just lazed around on the couch full from all that flour and butter and cheese! And I wonder why the scale keeps going up at Weight Watchers!

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Here’s another use for frozen peas. This weekend I banged my foot into a random piece of furniture. I screamed and hopped up and down, holding the foot and yelling for ice.

IMG_1702I keep a bag of peas in the freezer just for this purpose. It is always at the ready, can cover a large area, and will bend around the surface as needed. Just make sure not to use these peas to cook up dinner!

Scones

yields 8

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and flour, rubbing the lumps of butter between your fingers and thumbs. Stir in the sugar, salt, and raisins. Slowly stir in the milk, adding just enough to make a smooth, but not sticky, dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out 2-inch rounds and place them on a buttered baking pan. Keep rolling out the scraps until all the dough is used up. Bake for about 20 minutes, until just beginning to brown.

Serve the scones hot from the oven, split and topped with butter, jam, honey, or cream cheese.

Singin’ Hinnies

yields 8 or 9 griddle cakes

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour (may be part whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3-1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • oil for frying

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and slat. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the currants. Add just enough milk, a little at a time, to make a firm dough that is like a pie crust.

Roll out onto a well-floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Coat the bottom of a heavy frying pan with oil. On low heat, fry the cakes for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Serve piping hot, spread with butter and jam.

Tomatoes with Forcemeat

serves 6 as a side dish or luncheon entrée

  • 6 large ripe fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 6 ounces finely chopped mushroom
  • 5 leaves fresh sage, minced (1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary (pinch of dried)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 tsp sweet hungarian paprika
  • bread crumbs

Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp. Chop the pulp and set aside. Saute the onions in the butter for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute a minute more. Stir in the tomato pulp, sage, rosemary, parsley and salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Add the rice, raisins and paprika. Cook for a few more minutes, remove from the heat, and let cool for a few minutes. Stuff the tomatoes and mound any extra filling on top. Place in a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle the tops with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

 

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2 comments

  1. I want to start a tea and scones shop in Baltimore but the downside is I would end up the size of a house. I am upset that you made scones and didn’t offer me any [sulks] you can give me some stale ones any scone is a good scone!

    • I have some in the freezer. I’d like to know what you think. I’ve only had the american version. A tea and scone shop would be marvelous. Chrys wanted me to open one in New Jersey, but who would finance it, but there were all these rich ladies who shopped and needed lunch.

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