Blooming Chives…a Perfect Topping for Smoked Salmon at Tea Time

I have the most resilient chives in my herb garden.  For almost 20 years, they’ve popped up whether I paid attention to them or not.  I love to finish off various dishes with fresh minced chives.  It’s so nice to run out to my yard to clip a bunch, rinse, dry, and snip them into petite pieces for sprinkling on top of almost any savory dish.   I use scissors to mince my chives.  It’s quick, easy, and allows for a fairly uniform piece, depending how steady and careful you are as you snip, snip, snip.  While the flowering chive is not the tender, edible stalk of the chive plant, it sure is gorgeous…on occasion, I use them to decorate the table, but mostly, I just love looking at them in full bloom in the garden.

I had some smoked salmon left in the fridge, so put together this petite, tasty bite of smoked salmon, with creamed cheese in a toasted wonton cup…topped with my minced chives.  This was the perfect savory snack with my cup of tea.  It was delicious and looked quite appealing to consume too.

Chives are easy to grow in a pot.  Try it.  I actually had this snack for a late breakfast with my cup of Organic Assam Rani Estate Black Tea from Mighty Leaf. The wonton cups are so easy to prepare.  Using a petite muffin pan, I brush the top of a wonton wrapper with a bit of extra virgin olive oil (having purchased a package out of the deli section in my local market), push the wrapper into a muffin slot, and move on to the next one.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes or until they turn to the brown color you prefer.  They freeze well too…I had these handy as I had frozen a few from the last time I prepared them.  This is one of the “holders” and an easy recipe from Tea With Betty.

My blooming chives...they come back each year...minced on top of smoked salmon, creamed cheese in a crispy wonton cup...mmmmmm - Seriously a perfect bite of food...salty, crunchy, creaming, savory bit of herb

My blooming chives…they come back each year…minced on top of smoked salmon, creamed cheese in a crispy wonton cup…mmmmmm – Seriously a perfect bite of food…salty, crunchy, creaming, savory bit of herb

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An Italian Tea Menu…and a Gift to Friends

I have met the most wonderful people through an exercise class I take several times a week.  Recently, one of my classmates, who has just loved my book, asked if I’d help her put on an afternoon tea for a few of her friends, for her birthday.  What a novel and fun idea – give a tea party on your birthday for your friends.  We chose items from Tea With Betty.  She asked if I would demonstrate how to make a good cup of tea and pair a few with the menu.  We are both of Italian descent, thus opted for the Italian themed menu.  What a fun afternoon with a special group.  The host decided on a traditional tea time of 2:30 p.m. – we did a three course menu.  By the end of tea time,  several of the guests said they were inspired to drink more tea.  They also had their favorites, each different.  Different tastes for different taste buds. The menu is below.  All the items were “small bites.”

First Course:  Savory Bites :  Polenta Crostini Topped with Marinated Roasted Peppers – Roasted Tomatoes & Di Stefano Mozzarella & Olive Tapenade Bruschetta Bites – Endive Leaves Piped with Creamy Gorgonzola

Tea Pairing:  Kenilworth Ceylon Black Tea

Second Course: Scones:  Petite Asiago Cheese Scone with Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon Butter

Tea Pairing:  Masala Chai Black Tea

Third Course: Sweets:   Petite Marble Cakes (Mom’s Mayo Cake) with Mascarpone Cheese –  Lemon Cream Tartlets – Linda’s Coconut Macaroons

Tea Pairing: Jasmine Pearl Green Tea

I included a surprise to go box of Polenta Cookies (with extra room in the box for each to take home some sweets they didn’t finish at the tea).

The teas were really wonderful.  The Kenilworth Ceylon Tea was a great accompaniment to the savory bites.  The tea was so smooth tasting, no bitter tannins at all…was a wonderful black tea without the addition of milk or sweeteners.   The Masala Chai paired perfectly with the vanilla, cinnamon butter on the scones.  Adding milk and sweetener to this tea enhanced it’s flavor.  The stunningly fragrant Jasmine Pearl Green Tea was a lovely way to finish off the tea with the sweets.  It never fails to amaze me how this subtle, yet powerful green tea adds to the delightfulness of almost any food you pair it with, in particular sweets.  The Kenilworth Ceylon was from Harney & Sons, the Masala Chai from Peet’s Coffees and Teas, the Jasmine Pearl’s from Mighty Leaf Tea.

Thanks P. for including me in such a special birthday celebration.

Hopefully you readers are inspired to plan a tea time of your own for friends or family.  It’s amazing how a 90 minute tea time can allow you to relax, as well as,   invigorate relationships.  And…tea is good for you!  Drink Tea!

Tea time luncheon....spring colors -- polenta carved, ready to cupcakes ...beautiful table setting...everything low so guests can talk to each other

Tea time luncheon….spring colors — polenta carved, ready to fill…mini cupcakes …beautiful table setting…everything low so guests can talk to each other

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Cheesy petite scones right out of the oven...lemon curd tarts for the third course

Cheesy petite scones right out of the oven…lemon curd tarts for the third course


Ready to go in the kitchen...tea kettles all set and plates ready to easily reach and pass around the table - all small bites

Ready to go in the kitchen…tea kettles all set and plates ready to easily reach and pass around the table – all small bites

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Thyme to Cook…with Friends


The other night I got to cook with girlfriends I hadn’t seen in a long time.  Our hosts (P and N) treated us to an exceptional cooking demonstration.  We got to witness the making of six different appetizers (and got to consume them too).  One of our favorites was the Brie En Croute topped with an addictive apricot, bacon jam.  It was simple to make and the topping could be used as an addition to many dishes.

The recipe for the Apricot Bacon Jam is:

two bacon slices, cooked until crisp, and chopped

3/4 cups diced dried apricots

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup apricot jam

two teaspoons minced and seeded jalapeno chilies

Cook the bacon until crisp, reserve one tablespoon of the drippings.

Combine apricots and water in a small sauce pan.  Boil over medium high heat until the water evaporates (about 10 minutes.)  Add jam and one tablespoon bacon drippings and stir until jam melts. Stir in teh bacon and minced jalapenos.  cool to room temperature.  May be made a day ahead, cover and chill.  Serve at room temperature.

Brie encroute...topped with apricot, jalapeño jam...from Thyme To Cook

Brie encroute…topped with apricot, jalapeño jam…from Thyme To Cook


“Thyme to Cook”  is what “P”, our instructor, calls her class.  What fun to cook and  share with friends…of course the evening included a little vino…next time we’ll be doing a tea menu.  Maybe we’ll even start off with a little tea martini 🙂