Saturday, March 30, 2013

The sweet time of Easter

Well pleaseth me the sweet time of Easter
That maketh the leaf and the flower come out. ~Bertran de Born

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tomato-Eyed Pyramids

Kim Hendrickson, author of the Tastefully Small Finger Sandwiches cookbook that features "easy party sandwiches for all occasions" has so graciously granted us permission to share one of her recipes. For additional information regarding Ms. Hendrickson, please visit her website, here. I've selected the Tomato-Eyed Pyramids to share.  It is a sandwich filling that mixes quickly in a food processor, is bursting with flavor, and can be used in so many ways; on a sandwich, as filling for bruschetta, or as a topping for hors d'oeuvre.  Ms. Hendrickson also added that this filling freezes nicely.

Tomato-Eyed Pyramids
1 c. oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained
12 oz. roasted sweet red peppers, drained
1 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted (I substituted pecans)
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves
1-1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
salt and pepper
1 loaf olive bread, unsliced

Chop all ingredients (except for the bread) in a food processor to make a coarse paste.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set the mixture aside.

Cut the loaf into a crust less rectangle measuring 3-1/2 x 3-1/2 x 11 inches.  Freeze the loaf to make slicing easier.

Standing the loaf on the square end, cut the loaf in an "X" pattern into 4 triangular loaves.  Cut each loaf into 12 triangles, each 3/4 inch thick.  Cut a circle out of the center of each triangle using the round cutter.

Fill a pastry bag, fitted with the 3/4-inch round tip, with the tomato mixture.  Lay the bread triangles on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and pipe the filling in the holes you have just created.  The filling will cover any ragged edges, making a round red center.  Once filled, these sandwiches can be frozen in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield: enough filling for 32 sandwiches

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tea Party Pleasures

We were excited to welcome Kim Hendrickson, author of the Tastefully Small series of cookbooks that include Savory Bites, Finger Sandwiches, and Dessert Canapes to the tea room.  She joined us on a chilly spring day for afternoon tea after which she presented an informative program where she shared ideas for creating dramatic finger sandwiches.

The tea party began with Citrus Crackers, a recipe from Tastefully Small Savory Bites cookbook, served with a cream cheese rose nestled atop hot pepper jelly.

The sandwich course featured recipes selected from the Tastefully Small Finger Sandwiches book, included Cucumber Apricot Flowers, Curry Cashew Bites, Hummus Stacks, Tomato Eyed Pyramid, and herbed Cheese Gift Basket. Kim encourages you to select sandwiches with more definite flavors, to 'twist is up, some'.  She suggests you give your finger sandwiches some style, and 'knock 'em up a notch'.  With artisan breads now available in most grocery stores, the medium of bread flavors, colors, and textures is endless, so mix it up!  Create an inlaid effect such as the flower sandwich shown above.  And use brightly colored fillings, and don't forget to decorate the edges of your sandwiches using parsley, poppy seed, nuts, even coconut.

Nancy's scones are always a 'must serve' at any tea room event, and today she featured Traditional English Cream Scones alongside a slice of Coconut Tea Bread.  Toppings included sweet cream, raspberry preserves, and pecan honey butter. A fresh fruit garnish of sliced oranges and Coeur a la Creme Strawberries, one of Ms. Hendrickson's recipes in the Dessert Canapes book, completed the plate.

And dessert included Lemon Coconut Nests, Chocolate Malt Tulips, Rugelach, and Toffee Nut Bites, all featured in the Dessert Canapes cookbook.

For more information about Kim and her delightful series of cookbooks that feature easy party sandwiches for all occasions, please visit her website here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

English Entryway - Jane Austen

"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." ~Jane Austen

Exhibit from the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, "Brilliant!"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Welcome, Spring!

The first day of spring is one thing,
 and the first spring day is another.
  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. 
~Henry Van Dyke
(Entryway photo taken at the Philadelphia Flower Show)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crave - Absinthe House, Jim Thorpe, PA

In addition to serving Afternoon Tea, Crave is also an "Absinthe House".   Absinthe is primarily made with the herb wormwood (Artemesia absinthium).   Green Anise Seeds, Star Anise and Fennel, all of which have a black licorice flavor, are also commonly used to make absinthe.  I have seen other herbs used such as coriander, cardamon, caraway, angelica, and hyssop.   

The menu provided a bit about the history of absinthe and what was legal in 19th Century France and what is now allowed to be served in France and in the US.  As you can see we had a choice of six different absinthe's made in the US, France or Switzerland and ranging from 100 proof to 136 proof.    We chose two different, Herbsaint and Grande Absente, to share amongst our group.  Called the "Green Fairy" because of its color,  Absinthe is a "spirit" meaning it is served without the addition of sugar or diluted as a liqueur might be.    It is at the table where you add the ice water and sugar.  

We were given instructions to use the absinthe spoon to hold the sugar cube in place and drip the cold water over the sugar until it dissolves.  Next we added about 2 oz of water and tasted it to see if we needed more sugar and water, or not. 

Joining the ranks of many who have gone before us, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley and Ernest Hemmingway,  we all sipped the absinthe,  which is considered a "bitter" and a perfect aperitif for after eating, as bitters aid your digestion.   The consensus at our table was it tasted like liquid black jelly beans, with a kick.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crave - Afternoon Tea in Jim Thorpe, PA

Last weekend we had the opportunity to visit our sister Marj in the quaint community of Jim Thorpe, PA.  This town has a wide variety of shops and boutiques and an increasing amount of coffee shops, restaurants, and now it boasts a tea room! Crave is an Absinthe House (more about that tomorrow) and Restaurant, but with British born owners, they've added afternoon tea to their menu.

This menu, announcing their tea service, is posted outside.  We made reservations for High Tea on a Saturday afternoon.
The tea list included selections such as English Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong, Darjeeling, and Green.  We all had individual little pots, so our table selected a nice variety so we would be able to sample an assortment.

The tiered tray included a nice variety of tea sandwiches, cucumber, egg salad, herbed cream cheese, and more.  The scones were plain and golden raisin and were served with true Devon cream and strawberry preserves.  The little dessert tray included a strawberry petit four and a miniature shortbread cake.

Marj was working at her shop, Rosemary Remembrances II, while we were taking tea, but Carrie (the oldest sister of the four Reppert girls) and her husband, Phil were happy to partake of the experience.

2023 Update - Crave is no longer in business.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wishing you,
A green, growing garden,
A good cup of tea,
A day blessed with friendship,
Steeped in joyful harmony.

St. Patrick's

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Anticipating St. Patties Day

Celebrating the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Jim Thorpe, PA... while visiting with sister Marj. It's been quite a number of years since we last saw the parade, there have been a few noticeable changes over the years!

Then - 2009
and Now - 2013
May the Luck of the Irish Be With You!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Crown Jewels - Philadelphia Flower Show

This design class featuring royal crowns captured our attention.  Each crown is handcrafted using all natural materials.  The crown is on display, and featured right beside it is the name and a sample of the plant material, seeds, leaves, nuts, and blossoms, that were used to craft the crown.  Some are quite elaborate, others just as beautiful but created with less variety.

And the first place blue ribbon belongs to this exquisitely designed Tudor style crown (shown below) crafted by Lori Anne Currall using nuts, berries, vines, gourds and assorted seeds.  Simply lovely!  Definitely fit for a king!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mad Hatter Tea Party - Philadelphia Flower Show

This elaborate and extensive display featured the Mad Hatter's Tea party.  The festive table setting was surrounded by smaller vignettes and statues that represented the Mad Hatter, Alice, and the Queen's croquet game.  It was fun to walk around and discover all the special touches that were added to this display, tucked here and there.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fabulous Floral Fun - Philadelphia Flower Show

The theme for this years flower show was entitled 'Brilliant!', and featured England as the focus.  From gorgeous floral Buckingham Palace gates to a majestic salute to Big Ben capturing center stage, it was a floral extravaganza every where your looked.
However, the floral design category that captured my eye featured tea cups.  These three distinct arrangements were enjoyable, with the arrangement that looks like it is suspended in mid-air being my favorite.  Do you prefer one over the other?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Garden Tea - Philadelphia Flower Show

Susanna and Nancy attended the Philadelphia Flower Show last week. With reservations made well in advance, we were excited to attend both the show and the Garden Tea. With morning and afternoon serving times, we enjoyed the opportunity to sit down and relax for the 3:45 tea time. They magically transformed a conference room into a lush and beautiful garden tea room. Efficient service and prompt attention to the guests was evident from start to finish.

A variety of Stash Tea, served in tea bags, was offered at each table.  After selecting your tea, these charming silver plated watering cans full of hot water were presented to each table.  Such a clever tea pot for a garden tea.  The volunteers happily offered additional tea flavors and fresh pots of water.

Each guest was presented this lovely plate of tea fare.  In included an open faced chicken salad sandwich atop multigrain bread, there was tavern ham with apricot jam and brie, a cucumber sandwich, an herbed cream cheese sandwich with water chestnuts and a dollop of egg salad to be placed on the little white triangular piece of bread.  Fresh fruit, a cream scone, and a very moist and delicious chocolate brownie completed the tea platter.
This Afternoon Tea break provided an enjoyable respite from the hoards of attendees at the flower show.  Once we were relaxed and rejuvenated, we were able to return to the show, and enjoy it with new found vigor.  We'll be sharing much more from the flower show.  This year's theme was entitled 'Brilliant!' and England took center stage.