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Posts Tagged ‘tea’

Happy birthday to my brother!
and Happy April Fool’s Day to the rest of you!
This is a joke I played on my friend Kim a couple of years ago. A hundred parking tickets.

We had our nephew Brian and his GF over for dinner some time ago, and I cooked a roast pork tenderloin dish that I hadn’t made in a very long time (sadly, I didn’t take any photos and now I know better than to post a recipe without photos ;-), so I’ll have to make it again in the near future). The pork was dressed in a flavourful Apple Cider and Dijon Mustard gravy for which I had to buy fresh Apple Cider. In my area, fresh Apple Cider is sold in 500 mL or larger and because I only needed a couple of cups of the stuff, I bought the 500 mL. So now I had about 4 cups left over. Now we could have drank it, because it was fresh and delicious, but I prefer to eat my fruit rather than drink it so I was left with the dilemma of what to do with all the cider.

I searched high and low and came across some lovely options but not practical; we don’t eat that much cake so a coffee cake was out of the question, we don’t usually eat that many quick breads, so that was out of the question, and the muffin recipes I found had too much oil in them and therefore quite unhealthy. What to do?

It was in my trusty Jean Paré’s, Company’s Coming, Muffins & More cookbook I found the solution: Tea Biscuits! Now I modified the recipe to include the Apple Cider which I reduced by less than 1/4 of its original volume and these scones did not disappoint; they were soft, buttery and had a very distinct apple cider flavour. This would be a lovely scone to serve during Autumn while you watch the leaves gently fall from the trees with a warm fire burning in the hearth a cup of tea and a couple of scones. Soon enough!

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A little tangy from the concentrated flavour of the cider.

Apple Cider Tea Biscuits

Makes about 10 good size tea biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small bits
  • 1/4 cup sultana raisins
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or yogurt for brushing the tops.

Directions:

  1. Reduce the apple cider to about 1 cup of concentrated liquid by slowly boiling it off (takes about 40-50 minutes).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
  3. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar and spices until well mixed.
  4. Slowly drop in the cold butter while pulsing and blend until is it a coarse mix.
  5. Transfer this mix into another bowl, add the raisins and mix well to coat the raisins with the floury mixture.
  6. Add the cider all at once to the flour, and mix well with a wooden spoon mix until it is a soft ball of dough. (Note this is a slightly softer ball of dough than a tea biscuit usually is).
  7. Transfer to a floured board and knead a couple of times (not enough to melt the butter with the heat of your hands).
  8. Roll out the dough to about 2 cm (~3/4″) thick and cut with a triangular cookie cutter. Repeat until the dough is completely used.
  9. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush tops with the yogurt or milk (for a beautiful shine) and bake 10-12 minutes until golden. You’ll need to watch the bottoms because the natural colour of these biscuits are more golden and you will only be able to tell how far along they are by looking at the bottoms.
  10. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve with unsalted butter and preserves.
  11. Enjoy.
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Please take one, or even two.
Would you care for tea or coffee with that?

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Melt in you mouth scones, served warm with unsalted butter.

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English Crumpets

This recipe has been in the making for about 30 years; my Mom and I bought the crumpet rings that long ago, and although we tried making crumpets in those days, we were not successful. Without the internet and YouTube to show us how, we simply gave up. But I kept the rings, and every time I see them I am reminded of my failure.

Warm, crispy and chewy, just like a crumpet should be

I spent the weekend at my friends Carmen and Roland who after a re-evaluation of their lives after 9-11 up-rooted and moved themselves and 3 kids from the bustling city of Toronto to the Muskoka‘s. To their credit it’s a wonderful, relaxing life-style with a grand view of the lake. We had an incredible, social weekend catching up, eating, drinking and just having fun. My other friend Pam who runs the blog Downton Abbey Cooks (you know, that enormously popular British drama Downton Abbey) was also there. Pam is a bit of a Tea aficionado and she posts every Tuesday about Tea Tuesday where she talks about the traditions of tea, how the Downton’s handled their tea, and modern day snack to serve with her tea. You’re probably wondering what the heck all this has to do with crumpets, but I’ll get to it.

Roland collects old cookbooks; he loves the particularly wordy one’s and most of his cookbooks don’t even have pictures (or if they do, they are terrible). We were paging through a first edition Fanny Farmer cookbook chatting about food trends when I recalled my crumpet dilemma and decided then and there to try my hand at it again. Plus, with Tea Tuesdays, I really had no choice. So there, you see, I did get around to it!

This was the second crumpet recipe I tried, and even it was not perfect, but I did get two very crumpet-like specimens that I had to blog about. The first recipe cooked blind which means we didn’t get the holes. The trick is to get the right consistency so that the yeast can do its job and bubble up and cook with those wonderful holes. The texture turned out exactly as I had remembered, a little crispy on the outside but nice and chewy in the centre. The taste was perfect too, I’ll just have to perfect the consistency so that all the crumpets cook up with the famous holes. Please click here for the original recipe.

English Crumpets

Makes 6 crumpets

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
  • additional warm water to adjust the consistency of the batter.

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast in the water with the sugar for 5-10 minutes until its bubbled up. Add the warm milk, butter, and salt.
  2. Beat the liquid into the flour and stir until the batter becomes smooth. Let stand for 30 minutes. It will bubble up and increase in volume somewhat.
  3. Stir the baking soda into the water until it’s disolved; add it to the batter and mix well.  Allow to rise in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Prepare griddle and crumpet rings with a little grease. Heat over medium heat.
  5. Drop batter into crumpets rings so that the batter is about half way up the ring side. Reduce heat to low, cover griddle and cook crumpets until tops look dry, about 10 minutes. During this time, the holes should form, from the outside in.
  6. Flip them over and cook for a couple of minutes or you can put them under the broiler for a minute or so.
  7. Serve toasted with butter and jam.

The holes turned out perfectly in two. The others still tasted good, but didn’t look the part so they didn’t get a call back for the photo shoot (but they made the breakfast table).

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The Atlas Mountains

We hired a driver to take us to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. He was here promptly at 10 in the morning. A lovely gentleman who spoke almost perfect English. The one thing that keeps coming through with each encounter we have is how truly beautiful the Moroccan people are; so friendly and giving. I know in a past post I had some uncomplimentary things to say about the people in the Souks, but for the most part, the people whom we’ve actually met and had some type of relationship with are really and truly wonderful.
Our driver, Amin (I think) was chatty and had some interesting facts about Morocco on our 45 minute trip into the mountains. He fixed us up with a walking guide, Hassan once we were there. Hassan is a Berber and grew up in the village Amin brought us to. He speaks 5 languages, one of which is English, thank goodness! He is well connected in his village, knows everyone, which was nice. He spoke of the Berber traditions with pride and eloquence. I must say that the common trait of Moroccan people is that they are soft and by that I mean to pay them only the highest compliment; they have the kindest eyes and they have extreme gratitude for everything (for example, Hassan thanked us for letting him be our guide). The Berbers were not pushy, or arrogant, but humble and understanding.
A view of the mountains as we began our hike.

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Hassan is the guy in the red pants on the left (we have better photos from our good camera, but you’ll have to wait until I can download them to the Mac at home!)

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Hassan had made arrangements for us to have tea in a traditional Berber home. It was lovely. They have walnut trees all over these parts and we were served freshly picked walnuts. The never blatantly ask for anything in return for the tea, but it would be appreciated.

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The coming days are for celebrating and the extra money will help buy the kids new clothes and toys. It is a very festive time.
View of the mountains from our lunch place.

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For lunch I had the Kefta which are Moroccan meatballs; so flavorful and delicious, they are served in an incredible tomato and onion confit!
Driving into the Medina: crazy traffic!

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