A Perfect Bite…No Coffee Needed In This Affogato :-)

Featured in Martha Stewart Living Magazine September issue...who says you need coffee? :-)

Featured in Martha Stewart Living Magazine September issue…who says you need coffee? 🙂

Mine is prepared with an organic, malty tasting Assam from Rani Estate…with a luxurious vanilla bean ice cream (instead of milk 🙂 )…make it petite – three or four bites and you are good to go…what a great idea, thanks Martha.

I enjoyed testing out this perfect bite dessert…or afternoon pick-me-up…it was like having iced tea with sweet cream mmmmm

I bought the teeniest Haagen Daz container (only 18 carbs for the whole thing and I used about 2/3's of the carton for my test recipe here...it was creamy, cool, rich with Assam malt flavor from my hot organic Assam tea from Mighty Leaf.  This will be a go to afternoon tea staple when friends just want a bite and tea and sweet!

I bought the teeniest Haagen Dazs container (only 18 carbs for the whole thing and I used about 2/3’s of the carton for my test recipe here)…it was creamy, cool and rich with Assam malt flavor from my hot organic Assam tea from Mighty Leaf. This will be a go to afternoon tea staple when friends just want a bite and tea and sweet!

One scoop…pour fresh, hot whole leaf tea, have a spoon ready and eat up…or drink up…last photo is the end result…all gone 🙁

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Drink tea! It’s good for you.

Earl Grey Revisited

Most of the households I grew up around had a 100 count box of Lipton or Salada brand black tea bags in their kitchen pantries…tea dust in a stapled paper bag.  At our house, we also had either Twinings or Bigelow’s Earl Grey tea.  These and Bigelow’s Constant Comment tea were considered  fancy teas in my circle.   These days, I usually prefer pure, organic leaf teas … pure… meaning with no scents or flavors added, just the tea leaf.    I had not consumed an earl grey tea in ages…but a couple months ago, while hanging around the historic Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano getting ready for our big tea tasting events… I came upon Hidden House Coffee house and ordered a pot of earl grey, it was stunning!  It actually stopped me in my tracks!  I had to know where they got this spectacular tea from…it is Tea Forte‘s loose leaf earl grey. It’s more floral than most earl grey teas – I think because along with bergomot oil, they add corn flower petals too.  I got hooked again on this popular flavored tea.  I woke up craving “that” cup of tea for several days…which led me back to Hidden House to indulge in more pots of this fragrant brew.  I decided to check out Tea Forte online and spent an hour enjoying their site, their award winning tea accessories, as well as,  I now have a stash of my own Tea Forte earl grey at home too. (see photos below of their Kati brewing system and their single steep pre-portioned pouches for us lazy bones 🙂   This is my new favorite steeping tea cup and tea gift).

Today’s earl grey tea offerings are not like those of days gone by…the quality and choices available are delightful.

This got me thinking about other earl greys.  My daughter loves Mighty Leaf’s earl grey…offered in a silken pouch.

Mighty Leaf quality teas in a silken pouch

Mighty Leaf quality teas in a silken pouch

 

Harney & Sons has several, even a white earl grey.  Harney describes their Earl Grey Supreme as…

“To the connoisseur we offer Earl Grey Supreme, which uses a higher grade of teas along with the addition of Silver Tips. Most of our customers have never gone back to our regular Earl Grey once they have tasted the Supreme. If you love Bergamot and fine tea, this is the blend for you”
Dean & Deluca carries many French brands of fine teas, including Mariage Freres (which I purchased and posted about here.) Their Earl Grey tea came in a cute satchel -it has a hint of bergamot…they use darjeeling tea in this earl grey.

What makes earl grey an earl grey?  Bergamot.

Bergamot Orange...beautiful and fragrant

Bergamot Orange…beautiful and fragrant

Bergamot is an aromatic oil found in the peels of bergamot oranges. It’s floral and rich, with a slightly bitter or astringent taste.  Earl Grey tea is a tea blend with a distinctive flavor and aroma derived from the addition of this oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus.  Other varieties add lavender, jasmine, and differing citrus peels to the mix.

 Why is Earl Grey tea called Earl Grey?

Earl Grey was named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, (13 March 1764 – 17 July 1845), known as Viscount Howick between 1806 and 1807, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 22 November 1830 to 16 July 1834.  According to the  Howick Hall website, “The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it. Lady Grey used it to entertain in London as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it. It is now sold worldwide and the Greys were sufficiently unbusinesslike not to register the trade mark; as a result, they have never received a penny!”

In getting out of my little tea rut … and branching out to try something new (even though it stems from something old for me)…I came across my new favorite tea gift for tea novices to tea lovers – Tea Forte’s Kati tea brewing system – allowing anyone to brew loose tea by the cup…..simple to use and enough design patterns to satisfy most needs and interests.

Individual steeping cup...double walled with stainless infuser...the Kati cup comes in several designs and is a great gift too.  Comes with Tea Forte single steeping pouches already portioned out for us lazy bones :-)

Individual steeping cup…double walled with stainless infuser…the Kati cup comes in several designs and is a great gift too. Comes with Tea Forte single steeping pouches already portioned out for us lazy bones 🙂

They describe the Kati system as:

“Our double-wall ceramic tumbler and integrated stainless steel infuser make brewing loose tea by the cup simple. The innovative double-wall construction keeps tea hot and the tumbler cozy to hold. Brews a generous 12 oz cup, is dishwasher and microwave safe.”

Tea Forte single steeps...use in their Kati tea cup with built in stainless infuser... a great gift with many style choices...I just love this double walled tea cup...

Tea Forte single steeps…use in their Kati tea cup with built in stainless infuser… a great gift with many style choices…I just love this double walled tea cup…

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There is much innovation going on in the tea delivery systems and in the availability of high quality leaf teas…making it a great time to drink tea.  Hurray for us tea drinkers…it’s about time 🙂

Small Plates…Perfect Food Bites…Tapas in San Juan Capistrano

Small plates of food are ALWAYS appealing to me…that’s part of the reason I am so attracted to afternoon tea menus – they are normally “small bites or small plates” of food, often meant to be a shared eating occasion…and I am all for partaking of eating occasions.  For me, tea time and tapas time are absolutely enticing eating experiences.   So, when I asked my niece to lunch and she chose the recently opened  Guapas Tapas Restaurant and Wine Bar in San Juan Capistrano, I was revved up and ready to go.  It was our first time there and we will be back.  The service, environment, and the food we chose were spot-on good, making for a truly enjoyable experience.  We shared these plates: Tortilla Espanola – potato . egg . chives (just deliciously flavored with chives and a little hollandaise-like sauce..tender, fluffy eggs with creamy perfectly cooked potatoes) – Calamari – Beligian ale battered with an herb alioli (crunchy and incredibly tender calamari), Meatballs – beef & pork with herbs and romesco sauce (so flavorful…porky good) –  we finished with a caesar salad which was fresh and crisp… nice, really nice

Meatballs in romesco sauce, Crispy Calamari, Tender Tortilla Espanola (potato . egg . chives)  at Guapas Tapas SJC

Meatballs in romesco sauce, Crispy Calamari, Tender Tortilla Espanola (potato . egg . chives) at Guapas Tapas SJC

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Tapas:

Tapa means ‘cover’ in Spanish, and it is said that the original tapas were slices of bread or meat placed as a cover on top of a drink (wine or sherry) in order to protect it from fruit flies. An extension of this idea is that people often stand at Spanish bars, and they needed somewhere to place their plates while eating their tapa. They placed their small plates on top of their drinks, creating a lid, or cover.

A more folkloric explanation of tapas involves King Alfonso X (some sources cite King Alfonso XII of Castile.) It is said that he ordered a cup of sherry at a popular inn on a windy day in the port city of Cádiz. His waiter covered the cup with a slice of cured ham to protect the sherry from the beach sand, and from then on King Alfonso ordered his sherry ‘with the cover.’

 

We drank iced teas with our lunch — their tea was just “o.k”…when I diluted mine with some ice water, it tasted more to my liking.  The location is in the bustling and interesting part of San Juan Capistrano near the train depot which is becoming a real dining destination and hot spot with many cool businesses opening up.   Can’t wait to go back and try several other small plates.

It’s Teatime! Hands-On Learning – Make Scones . Lemon Curd . Petite Quiche

Cream tea...scone with clotted cream served in Royal Doulton Old Country Roses China

Cream tea…scone with clotted cream served in Royal Doulton Old Country Roses China

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join us at our next event…at Eat Street Culinary with Chef Katie Averill…learn, have fun, eat, and taste several varieties of teas…take home scones and quiche and lemon curd that you’ve made yourself in this professional cooking school kitchen…sign up soon as these are small classes. Class is Saturday, September 21 from noon to 3 p.m..

Come learn 5 different teatime recipes you can do time and time again

Class write up: “Tea expert and Author Linda Thomas Jones of “Tea With Betty” is our guest instructor. Learn what tea is (and isn’t) and the major types of teas and brewing methods.  Each item you make will be paired with freshly steeped whole leaf teas.

Chef Katie Averill will then instruct on the cooking side of things.  We will bake, cook, tea pair and sit down for Afternoon Tea at the appropriate hour at the end of class.”

Event:

IT’S TEATIME! – TEA MENU WITH FOOD PAIRING
Start:
September 21, 2013 12:00 pm
End:
September 21, 2013 3:00 pm
Category:
Organizer:
Katie Averill
Phone:
714 563 2334
Email:
info@eatstreetculinary.com
Venue:
EAT STREET
Phone:
714 563 2334
Address:
270 S. Clementine Street, Anaheim, CA,92805, United States
Hope to see you there!  Drink Tea! It’s good for you 🙂

 

The Incredible Five-Layered Tea “Party” Sandwich…

I’ve waited a long time to do this post.  We made this masterpiece for my dear friend, Hils, surprise birthday tea luncheon on March 9. While this sandwich fascinates me,  I worried that it’s many steps to construct would not capture most people’s interest…it’s really simple, but has many repetitive steps to bring the finished product to a beautiful fruition.   While it is absolutely “doable”, it does take a steady hand with a good bread knife to pull it off effectively.  Once built, you end up with a neat and tidy vehicle for delivering FIVE perfectly constructed, petite bite, distinctly different and separate tea sandwiches which are packed with flavor and “light” on the bread.   I don’t personally possess the steady hands required to slice this pain de mie (Pullman loaf) into 10 fairly equal horizontal slices.  Actually, I  suppose it’s not the skill I lack, but rather, the patience.  The good news for me is that my husband and his good friend, Clive, DO have those skills.  Clive was an executive chef (European trained), who once worked at the Savoy in London and prepared this awesome tea sandwich for their outstanding and world renowned afternoon teas.  He is the one who showed me how to make this layered tea sandwich.  It serves 12 guests.   We made two loaves this day.  The good news is that they can be prepared hours in advance, covered with a damp towel, refrigerated and ready to serve – nice and neat – and impressive on the buffet table.  Below are step by step photos of the preparation of this unique party favorite.  I chose traditional fillings of minced ham, curried egg salad, creamed smoked salmon, roasted tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, and finally, topped with thinly sliced cucumbers with mint and creamed cheese.  Below are the step by step photos of the construction of our two centerpiece finger sandwiches.

Five separate filled finger sandwiches on a skewer...recipe from the Savoy in London...takes several, simple steps to prepare...if you have patience and are a bit on the meticulous side...use damp paper towel to wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Five separate filled finger sandwiches on a skewer…recipe from the Savoy in London…takes several, simple steps to prepare…if you have patience and are a bit on the meticulous side…use damp paper towel to wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Once a guest takes their own skewer, the five sandwiches slip off easily into five separate, small sandwiches.  Perfect when paired with salads or soups at a luncheon, or by themselves for an afternoon tea.  Thank you Clive for making these…they were the hit of the party (sorry I didn’t get great shots of the final serving…it was a fun day).