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.

 

Summer Catch Up

It’s hard to believe the summer is half over already.  Back to school ads are all over the place and the nights are getting cooler again.  I realized that this time last year we were harvesting tomatoes and zucchinis and were working on our second harvest of raspberries.  This year we still have yet to see a red tomato or full grown zuke.  There’s been plenty of produce at the farmer’s market while we’re waiting for our garden, but it’s just not quite as exciting as picking a few bowls of your own cherry tomatoes.

summer catch up

Despite the lack of produce and posts, I have been doing a few projects in the kitchen.  We’ve made a batch of jam from the first raspberry harvest, I’ve made some wheat bread from scratch and we made BBQ Pulled Pork.

I’m trying to get myself motivated to try some new projects and new foods for the rest of the summer and into the fall.  To help get inspired, I bought a few books that should give me plenty to work with.

cookbooks

I have to say I’m most excited about my new text book ‘On Cooking’.  It’s sort of nerdy but I’m hoping reading through this will make me more comfortable with trying new foods and new cooking techniques.  I’m too quick to just throw something in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Not always a bad thing but there’s got to be something more exciting.