Afternoon Tea, Anyone?

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Anna Maria Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, is said to have started afternoon tea in 1830. She complained about “a sinking feeling” between lunch and dinner and began having tea with bread and butter served mid-afternoon. Teatime became more elaborate as she invited her friends and the dishes increased: crustless sandwiches, pastries, crumpets, and scones with jam. It wasn’t until the price of tea came down that everyone began drinking it and it became part of the working class high tea, or supper, a meal served with eggs and ham around 6 pm.

We associate tea with scones and jam, but Devonshire cream teas may have started centuries before tea was introduced to Britain. As far as we know, scones, jam and clotted cream originated in Tavistock, Devon in the early 11th century. Monks served scones to the labourers who helped them restore the monastery after a Viking raid in 997 AD. Apparently they had no difficulty finding volunteers!

This recipe makes 8 scones (no raisins originally):

225g / 9oz flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

50g / 2oz butter

25g / 1oz caster (berry) sugar

150ml (1/2 cup) milk

1 medium egg
Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease baking tray.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter to breadcrumb texture.

Stir in sugar. Add milk. Mix lightly into a soft dough.

Scoop dough onto a floured board and knead briefly.

Roll dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut into circles. Put on baking tray.

Brush the tops with beaten egg.

Bake for 7-10 minutes or until well-risen and golden brown.

Cool on wire rack.

Tea was drunk only by the wealthy in the 1600s and it was highly taxed. Even in the early 1800s ships could take a year to transport loose tea from China to Europe, making transport expensive. The East India Company had a monopoly on the tea trade in 1832 and began to reduce the journey by building light, fast ships called clippers. We now use the expression “at a good clip,” which comes from the ships. They were streamlined square-riggers and could make 15-22 knots under full sail. The most famous was the Cutty Sark, built in 1868. It made the tea run only eight times (clippers rarely lasted 20 years) and can be seen at Greenwich, London.

We use tea bags without thinking, but they were invented only about 100 years ago. The first tea bags were hand-sewn silk-muslin sample bags. By 1904, Thomas Sullivan of New York was shipping tea bags around the world. A machine was soon invented to replace the hand sewing.

The Empress Hotel, Victoria BC, used to serve tea and crumpets with honey for 35 cents but even that price became too high during the Depression, when many of the Empress residents lost fortunes in the crash. One lady made economies by ordering hot water at teatime because it was free. She then slipped a teabag surreptitiously into the pot while the staff looked the other way.

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Hooray for Rice Pudding

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In the United Kingdom, rice pudding is a popular traditional dessert. The earliest rice puddings were called whitepot, as were bread and butter puddings. Gervase Markham has the first known recipe in his worthy book, The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman, published in London in 1615.

 

WHITEPOT 1615

“Take the best and sweetest cream, and boil it with good store of sugar, and cinnamon, and a little rose-water, then take it from the fire and put into it clean picked rice, but not so much as to make it thick, and let it steep therein till it be cold; then put in the yolks of six eggs, and two whites, currants, sugar, cinnamon, and rose-water, and salt, then put it into a pan, or pot, as thin as if it were a custard; and so bake it and serve it in the pot it is baked in, trimming the top with a little sugar or comfits.”

 

COMFITS: whole almonds (blanched), 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp water

Toast almonds in dry frying pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with sugar, stir to coat. When sugar melts, add water to make syrup. Coat almonds in syrup. Put on wax paper to cool. Place on pudding.

To blanch almonds, soak them in boiling water for a few minutes; the skin can be rubbed off.

 

Rice was probably introduced to Spain in the 10th century by trade from India but was not cultivated in Europe until the 15th century. Britain began to import rice from Spain and Italy at this time. Both long and short grain rice were grown but by the 17th century the risotto type of rice, Arborio, predominated in the areas exporting to Britain.

The first rice pudding recipe is a good way to use up leftover cooked rice, either short or long grained. The second recipe is German/Austrian and a show stopper at a dinner party.

 

CREAMY RICE & RAISIN PUDDING

½ cup raisins

1 cup cooked rice

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

1-2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Grated nutmeg (optional)

Put the raisins and cooked rice in a lightly buttered deep 6-cup baking dish. Heat milk and butter to scalding (not boiling). Beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla. Gradually stir in heated milk. Pour over raisins and rice. Grate nutmeg on top and set the dish in a shallow pan of water. Bake in a moderate oven (300ºF) for one hour. Alternatively, put the dish in the microwave for 20 minutes on medium power without the pan of water.

 

REIS à la TRAUTMANNSDORF

1/3 to ½ cup washed short-grained rice

Vanilla pod

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon sugar

125 ml carton whipping cream

Packet of frozen raspberries, thawed

 

In a double saucepan boil rice in milk with sugar and vanilla pod. Cook for one hour but don’t let it get too dry. Cool. Whip cream and fold into cool rice. Chill and serve with raspberries.

 

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Lemons Galore

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LEMONS ADD ZEST

The English name cabbage comes from the French word caboche, meaning head. It has been cultivated for over 4,000 years and domesticated for perhaps 2,500 years. The Celts brought cabbage to Europe from Asia in about 600 BC and as it grows well in cool climates, it soon became a major crop. It’s prolific and can be stored through the winter as sauerkraut, thus fending off scurvy. Interestingly, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are the same species, altered by selective propagation.

If your children won’t eat cabbage, this delicious recipe will change their minds.

LEMON CABBAGE

Melt butter in a large saucepan on medium heat

Slice an onion and add to the saucepan

Finely slice a Savoy cabbage and add

Sprinkle over lemon juice and salt, and toss

Put the lid on to steam rather than cook. It will take only a few minutes – the vegetables need to be crisp, not limp.

GREEK POTATOES

Here’s another way lemon juice uplifts a dish. Peel potatoes and cut them lengthways. Boil them briefly in water. Before they are fully cooked, take them out, discard the water, and put the potatoes into a frying pan with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and oregano. Turn regularly to cook on each side and create a crispy brown exterior. Alternative: you can omit the boiling and put the potatoes straight into a baking tray in the oven with all the above ingredients plus a cup of water. It takes longer; don’t forget to turn the potatoes.

THEO’S LEMON CURD (LEMON CHEESE)

Aunt Theo was a dear old lady who lived in an immaculate Victorian house, full of original furniture, in Auckland. Time had been on hold for many years. Luckily, her recipes were good and traditional too.

Lemon curd can be spread on bread, scones, muffins or tarts. It’s the filling for lemon meringue pie. Note: it keeps for a month in the fridge.

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

Lemon essence

2 oz (1/4 lb) butter

Grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon (Meyer lemons are recommended)

Beat eggs. Add sugar. Add melted butter, lemon rind, juice and essence of lemon. In a double boiler, cook until thick (30-40 minutes), stirring occasionally. Put into sterilized jars, store in the fridge and use quickly.

For orange curd, use 2 oranges with rind and juice; omit lemons. Variations: limes, tangerines, passion fruit, mangoes, berries, lemon and lime, pineapple with Malibu, orange with Cointreau, or cherry with cherry brandy.

LEMON CURD DESSERT

1 1/2 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup lemon curd to mix with cream

3/4 cup lemon curd to layer

1 box of vanilla or lemon wafers

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup lemon curd to the cream and fold in gently.

In 8” x 8” square baking dish put one-third of the cream and spread. Put a layer of wafers and cover with lemon curd. Repeat, finishing with a layer of cream. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

New Zealand’s Favourite Cookies

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Where are they?

AFGHAN BISCUITS

These small round cookies have a blob of icing on top with a half walnut on top of that. The whole thing looks like a turban, which is probably what prompted the name.

Makes 20 small cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 1/4 cups flour

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 1/3 cups cornflakes

1/2 cup walnut halves, to decorate

Heat oven to 350 (180°C) and line two baking trays with wax paper.

Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.

Sift flour and cocoa powder over creamed mixture; stir to combine.

Stir in cornflakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of mixture on baking trays.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

Cool on wire rack.

Ice the cold biscuits with chocolate icing and a walnut half.

Chocolate Icing

Mix a cup of icing sugar with a tablespoon of cocoa and a dash of water in a saucepan on low heat; stir. Add more ingredients to get the right quantity and firm texture.

ANZAC BISCUITS

No one really knows the history of these biscuits but one story is that when Australian and New Zealand soldiers joined forces in World War I (becoming the ANZACs), someone decided to make a biscuit to celebrate.

Another story says that, as the biscuits are economical to make, nourishing, and store well, families could send these biscuits in food parcels to ANZAC troops overseas. They survive rough handling and go well with the strong hot tea that was a standard ration for the soldiers, so this is possible.

The biscuits are like Scottish oatcakes and no doubt early settlers brought the recipe to New Zealand. In World War I, the biscuits were sold to help fundraise for the Red Cross and the Returned Servicemen’s Association, which seems the probable origin of the name.

½ cup (4 oz) butter

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 tablespoons of boiling water

1 1/2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda

1 cup of rolled oats

3/4 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup (4 oz) plain flour

1 cup (8 oz) of sugar

Combine all dry ingredients except soda.

Add melted butter.

Stir in soda mixed with boiling water.

Place in spoonfuls on greased tray.

Cook in moderate oven about 20 minutes. Cool.

Store in airtight container.

PIKELETS or SCOTTISH PANCAKES

1 egg

¼ cup caster sugar

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

¾ to 1 cup milk

1 Tbsp melted butter

Oil for frying

Jam and whipped cream, to serve

In a bowl, beat egg and sugar together until thick.

Add dry ingredients alternating with milk, adding enough milk to form a smooth, thick batter. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add a film of oil and cook tablespoons of batter in batches, for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn pikelets over to brown the other side. Remove to paper towels.

Serve pikelets warm, topped with jam and whipped cream.

  • The batter will thicken upon standing; if necessary, add a little extra milk to thin the mixture before frying.
  • Fry one pikelet to make sure the pan is at the right temperature to turn the pikelets golden brown.

Lady Clementine Churchill’s Coffee Cream

 

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Sir Winston and Lady Churchill

LADY CHURCHILL’S COFFEE CREAM

In the 1930s Mrs. Landemare was one of the most sought after cooks in Britain. She had cooked for Sir Winston and Lady Churchill from the early twenties doing temporary work—Scotland in the autumn, Newmarket in racing week, ball suppers, Chartwell weekend parties—but in 1939 she offered Lady Churchill her full-time services. Lady Churchill knew she would be able to make the best out of rations and that everyone in the household would be happy. She worked tirelessly throughout the war, leaving the kitchen after midnight and returning shortly after to start breakfast. She noted the difficulties in preparing decent food during the Blitz. On VE night, however, Churchill told her that he could not have managed through the war without her. Mrs. Landemare remained for fifteen years, retiring in 1954.

The domestic suite in the Cabinet War Rooms below Westminster includes a tiny, windowless bunker kitchen where Mrs. Landemare was ready to fricassée a chicken, even with the Nazis at the door. Luckily they never arrived; instead she cooked for the Churchills in their flat above the Cabinet War Rooms, known as the No 10 annexe, or at No 10 itself, a quarter of a mile away. “One thing that tested her a lot,” recalls Churchill’s daughter, Mary Soames, “was when my father, to show that it was ‘business as usual,’ sometimes decided to use the dining room at No 10 instead of the annexe. So Mrs. Landemare would have to transfer from one kitchen to another and be driven round in the duty car with the covered dishes wrapped in shawls to keep them warm, clasped tightly on her lap.”

The night of October 14, 1940, was even worse. During an air raid, Churchill chivvied Mrs. Landemare out of the No 10 kitchen and into an air-raid shelter. Three minutes later the kitchen was, Churchill wrote, “a heap of black dust and rubble.”

On view to the public, the bunker kitchen at the Cabinet War Rooms contains waffle irons, pastry cutters, jelly moulds, and copper saucepans but no mechanical whisks or gadgetry, because Mrs. Landemare scorned such “modern” devices.

Churchill’s domestic suite with the bunker kitchen is at the Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1 (020-7930 6961); open daily 9.30am-6pm.

In 1958, she published “Recipes from No. 10: Some Practical Recipes for Discerning Cooks,” with a foreword by Clementine Churchill: “Mrs. Landemare’s food was delicious. She is an inspired and intuitive cook, and it is I who encouraged her to write this book.” So she got as near to the kitchen as her desk and pen.

 

COFFEE CREAM

4 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

4 tablespoons strong black coffee

1 packet gelatine

Shredded, toasted almonds

Dissolve gelatine in coffee in a glass jug standing in saucepan of hot water.

Beat yolks with sugar in a basin standing in hot water until creamy and thick. Add gelatine and coffee mixture. Remove bowl from water and continue beating until cold. Whip whites of eggs. Whip cream. Add alternately to cooled mixture.

Turn out into cut-glass serving dish. Chill. Before serving, sprinkle with toasted almonds.

 Don’t forget to toast Mrs. Landemare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabethan Flower Salad

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A young Elizabeth has just come in from the garden, where she took her dog for a walk and picked some fennel, by the looks of it. Once she’s done the dusting, she’ll make a salad for lunch.

ELIZABETHAN FLOWER SALAD

 

1 bunch watercress

6 spring/green onions, finely sliced

4 leaves sorrel, shredded

1 bunch lamb’s lettuce (substitute butter or Bibb lettuce, or baby spinach)

6 radishes, thinly sliced

3 sage leaves

3 mint leaves

1 stalk fresh rosemary leaves

Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon clear honey

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Garnish:

Fresh edible flowers (calendula flowers, roses, primroses, lavender, blue borage, violets, nasturtiums, pansies, marigolds)

 

Trim greens and chop. In a large bowl, toss the watercress, lamb’s lettuce, spring onions, sorrel, sage, mint and rosemary leaves.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss. Place the salad in a serving dish and scatter edible flowers on top.

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Here’s your lamb’s lettuce.

 

LAMB’S LETTUCE

Corn salad, mache, lamb’s lettuce, field salad, field lettuce (Valerianella locusta) are all names for a salad green of the valerian family. The plant grows in a rosette of long spoon shaped leaves which may also be clustered in loose heads. 

Lamb’s lettuce is used in salad mixes together with other greens such as mustard leaves, rocket, dandelion, frisee, etc. It can also be cooked as for spinach and used in soups and stuffings. (The lamb’s lettuce name comes from its resemblance to the size and shape of a lamb’s tongue!). This green has been used for thousands of years.

With a fingerlike shape, velvety feel, and mild taste, it is usually sold bunched together with its roots, at an expensive price due to its delicate and perishable nature.

 

corn salad = mache = lamb’s lettuce = lamb’s tongue = field lettuce = field salad = fetticus  Notes: Corn salad has tender leaves and a very mild flavor. Substitutes:  butter lettuce OR Bibb lettuce

Chocolate Fudge Cake – forget the other stuff

This brilliant cake recipe was given to me by my sister. I have loved her ever since. It is our standard family birthday cake. That’s not my sister up there, they’re just trading cacao beans ready for someone’s birthday cake.

They say:

“There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz; a buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.” Heartbeats go from 60 to 140 beats per minute, according to a study carried out by Dr. David Lewis of Mind Lab. No wonder the Aztecs thought cacao beans were valuable as currency. A turkey was worth 100 beans and an avocado was a bargain at three beans. Taxes were paid in cacao beans. This is powerful stuff.

Two-thirds of the chocolate people eat today comes from West Africa. The variety of tree is Forastero and originated in the Amazon Basin. In Central America, cacao has been grown and processed for over three millennia but wasn’t available in Europe until the 1500s when it was introduced by the Spanish. The drink was an expensive delicacy for a century until plantations were established in Mesoamerica with an African workforce.

The first chocolate house opened in London in 1657. In 1689, Dr. Hans Sloane invented a milk chocolate drink that was used by apothecaries and later sold to the Cadbury brothers in 1897. The Industrial Revolution stimulated the invention of machines to process chocolate, which made it more accessible. In 1847, Joseph Fry & Son discovered how to make solid chocolate and the chocolate bar was born.

Call it what you like, xocolatl contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenylethylamine, which affect the body, fight fatigue, raise serotonin levels and even lower blood pressure; dark chocolate may benefit circulation. It may fight cancer, stimulate the brain and reduce coughing. But do we need these reasons to eat it? The most reliable way of absorbing chocolate is by mouth. This cake will increase your heartbeat and give you a buzz you won’t regret.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE

1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla essence

2/3 cup cocoa

1/2 cup water

2 tsp. vinegar

1 cup milk

1 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

In a medium or large bowl, melt butter in microwave. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla and beat. In a small bowl, blend cocoa and water. Add to creamed mixture. In 1-cup glass jug, add vinegar to milk to sour. In large glass jug, add flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture with sour milk. Pour into two greased and floured 8-inch (20-centimetre) round cake tins or 9 x 13” (23 x 33 cm) pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before turning out onto wire rack. Ice with Chocolate Vienna Icing.

CHOCOLATE VIENNA ICING

1/2 cup butter (4 oz)

3 Tbsp. cocoa

3 Tbsp. water

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp. vanilla essence

In a medium bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter until creamy. In a small bowl, blend 3 Tbsp. cocoa with 3 Tbsp. water until smooth. Add 2 1/2 cups icing sugar to butter alternately with cocoa mixture. Optional: vanilla essence.