English Tea

In case you didn’t know, the season premiere of Downton Abby was on Sunday night.  You should probably start watching it if you don’t already.  I love it all: costumes, scenery, great story and saucy lines delivered from Dame Maggie Smith.  Don’t worry though, I’m not going to use this post to give any spoilers.  This is about what I ate for the premiere. As it’s a proper English show, I wanted to make a proper English tea.

scones and cream

The first thing that came to mind was cucumber sandwiches without the crusts.  The recipe is as simple as it sounds.  I referenced several English recipes online and they all said the same thing: soft white bread, lots of butter and thin sliced cucumber.  I peeled the cucumbers before slicing.  To draw out moisture, I also let the slices sit with a few pinches of salt.  After sitting for about 10 minutes, I rinsed and dried the slices on a few sheets of paper towel. It keeps the cucumbers from turning the bread soggy and let’s be honest, no one likes a soggy sammy.

I also made scones and clotted cream.  This was more of a process.  The scones turned out ok but I’m not going to share the recipe.  The one I used had the ratio of dry to wet ingredients off somehow and I had something that looked more like cake batter than pastry dough.  I ended up having to do a lot of fudging: adding in tablespoon after tablespoon of flour and estimating on additional sugar and baking powder to get the right consistency.  If I make them again I’ll be using a different source.

The clotted cream was ridiculously easy but very time consuming.  You take 2 pints of heavy cream and pour them into an oven safe pan or bowl so you end up with around 3 inches of standing cream.  Pre-heat your oven to 180, cover the cream and cook at that low heat for 8-12 hours. Yes. Hours.  Once it turns a bit yellow and thick on the top you let it cool on the counter for an hour or so and then pop it in the fridge overnight.  The next day you collect all the thick cream off the top and use it to spread on your scones or any other pastry you like.  You can use the leftover cream in the bottom for baking. I liked the recipe because it was something you could start right away in the morning and then let yourself forget about it for the day.  There’s no stirring or checking necessary until you timer goes off. Just don’t plan on leaving the house either.  Since it’s not very sweet, I served it with some of the raspberry jam we canned this summer. It made it just the right amount of sweet and tart and kept it from becoming to rich.  I’m curious to see how it would pair with some more savory ingredients as well. Any suggestions? I’m sure Carson or Mrs. Patmore would have just the thing.


Zukes and Cukes

We’re starting to get some fresh cucumbers and zucchini in the garden out back.  It means pickling, zucchini bread and plenty of grilled zuke slices to go with dinner.  We’re still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen up.  We have a lot of little green cherry and Romas that are taking their sweet time to turn red.  I want to eat them with homemade mozzarella so stinkin’ bad!

zukes and cukes

I’ve been doing some more reading in my ‘On Cooking’ text book.  I’m making my way through the history, menu making and cleaning chapters.  Besides making me want to completely sterilize my kitchen on a daily basis, it’s been a little on the dry side.  It’s the all good stuff to know but I’m ready for the chapter on cheese.

I’m going to go mop my kitchen with bleach.

Garden Plans 2013

Well, we have a winter storm watch/warning later this week with accumulating snow, awesome.  In spite of the lack of spring, we’ve finally gotten our full garden planned out.  We’re expanding a little on to our patio with the herbs and trying to grow some new veggies on both sides of the yard.  We cut out the summer squash and switched some for Butternut squash.  We’re also trying a couple different varieties of potatoes, the basic white and some cool blue potatoes, both of which will be in the large garbage cans like last year.  We’re going to give salad greens and swiss chard a try too.

garden layout 2013

It’s hard to believe some of my Facebook friends have already been out in their yards with full garden beds sprouting.  I’m definitely a little jealous about that.  We’ll keep doing what we can in the meantime, we start our tomatoes in doors this week and are ordering the remaining seeds we need this week.  We’re supposed to get up to 50 this weekend, cross your fingers for me that it sticks around this time!

Refrigerator Pickles

Well, the Hubs started his first round of pickling this last weekend. I’m not a fan of pickles (gasp!) so this has been been his project just like the beer brewing. The refrigerator pickles skip the heating to seal the jars but they don’t have as long of a shelf life. I think he’s going to try some other pickling methods as the cucumbers keep going. I’ll let you know what the preferred method is in the end!


We can (sometime in the future) pickle that

I got home from work today to find The Hubs in the garden planting the free cucumber seeds. I was expecting maybe 3 plants tops….. Nope


Way past that. If all goes well, we’ll have plenty to pickle and enjoy fresh in a couple of months.

Things are really moving in the garden. Lots of green but nothing ready to eat with the exception of a few herbs. I’ll have to show you a full update soon!

Food Photography Class- 4th and Final

Hope you had a good weekend!
Sunday afternoon was my last installment of photography class at Kitchen in the Market.  I apologize if this post is taking forever to load!  I’ve enjoyed going to class each month and was a little disappointed it was ending, however, Kitchen in the Market announced they’ll be doing another photography series this summer!   I highly recommend it.  Besides the full stomach, photographer  Amber Procaccini gives lots of information on composition, lighting and camera settings. There are rumors of food truck outings and farm visits:)  More details to come, but you see a list of all their classes here.

Any who… back to class.  We started the day with a glass of champagne and appetizers.  I know, tough day…   The appetizer was a plate of veggies and hardboiled quail eggs to dip in vodka and then one of three salts.

To follow that up, we had a black tea spice rubbed pork loin with mini polenta cakes topped with a cherry and apricot chutney.  So, so good!

Last of all we had some lemon, rosemary shortbread cookies.  I thought I was doing really well, I cut myself off at two cookies and the platter was pretty much empty… Then they put a full plate of cookies fresh from the oven right in front of me.  It was all over, if only sweatpants were office appropriate.

Besides just stuffing our faces with food between photos, we also had the chance to listen to Stephanie Meyer of Fresh Tart and Stephanie March of Mpls St. Paul Magazine.  They spoke to us about the do’s and don’ts of photographing food, citing your inspiration and increasing readership.  I left with new ideas of how to improve the blog and can’t wait to get started!

Have a great week!  I’m gonna go vacuum the cookie crumbs out of my purse.