Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The making of a great Scone

You and I both know that when you think of a pot of tea the vision of the perfect scone is right there next to it. When you head out for afternoon tea with a friend or dear sis, you crave that moist flavor-packed treat to nibble on as you sip and chat.
How do you get that perfect scone when baking from scratch isn't your thing? When after years of raising kids, you are more suited to Sandra Lee's methods than Martha's. 

When I launched Set to a Tea, I knew the first order of business was to find the perfect scone mix to pair with all the wonderful teas we were serving to our tea tasting guests. The mix had to be easy! It has to be simple, needing only one ingredient added and most importantly, created a yummy moist scone.  I am pleased to say that all was found with our gourmet mix!

Of course, there are some tips I've gathered over the years and even a couple of tricks too. What better way to share these and help you create the best scone ever, than a quick video? So pull up to your kitchen  island, put the kettle on and sip back with my 6 part series on "In the kitchen-Scone Making"

Please do let me know what your favorite scone flavor is, which tip help you out and if you still have a question, post below. I just adore all your feedback :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Taking comfort -Tea & Toast

Taking comfort in Tea & Toast

There's nothing like a good cup of tea! And then when you add a couple of slices of toast and jam............

It can make the worst cold better. The toughest day relaxing. Those five minutes of peace everlasting.
What memories does this conjure up for you? Did Nana make you tea and toast?  Was there a blizzard outside your door the last time you did this for yourself?
Take care of yourself today. It's a lovely winter day, with a crispness to the air. Put the kettle on, the bread in the toaster. (Find your jam in the fridge, don't squirt on the kids messy jam!) Use the prettiest tea cup and plate you own!   Go ahead and use a pretty napkin too! Do the things you'd do if the Queen was to stop in for a chat! Bless yourself with a nice cup of tea and yummy toast.

Cucumber Sandwiches, need I say more!

In part two of my Elegant Afternoon with the Earl tea party, I wanted to review how easy it is to pull together a yummy menu!
Let's take a look at what I have here: top level, cucumber sandwiches cut into triangles
                                                    lower level: cranberry orange scones, pumpkin loaf,    
                                                    Madelines, blackberries, grapes, and strawberries

Notice, they are all easy finger foods! Everything on the lower level can be purchased at the grocery store ahead of time too, (Okay, I'll let you off the hook this time with the scones, but you KNOW how easy scones are, right!?)
Now for the tea sandwiches, I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a great cucumber sandwich! Nothing says tea time to me like this sandwich, although I am always up for a new idea or flavor of sandwich!

Over the years, I've had dozens of cucumber sandwiches, some more elaborate than others. Some open faced, some not. What's my preference you ask?

Here is what my daughter and I consider to be the Best Cucumber Sandwich! Easy to make and share!

Justine's Favorite Cucumber Sandwich

1 Loaf Pepperidge Farms White Bread "Very Thin"  (only 40 calories per slice and perfect for this)
1 container Boursin Spreadable Cheese -Herb flavored
1 wedge soft cheddar cheese to slice
1 English cucumber

Layout bread on cutting board and spread each piece with a light coating of Boursin Cheese-
Next cut cheddar cheese into thin slices and place on top of Boursin Cheese, on half of the bread slices 
Cut cucumber into thin slices, but not paper thin, you want to taste the cucumber. 
Now on the other half of the bread slices, the ones without the cheddar cheese, place cucumber slices. One layer only and enough to cover the bread.
Make sandwich out of two slices-one with the cheddar cheese, one with the cucumber
Trim off the crust
Cut in half diagonal, then cut in half again for total of 4 triangle tea sandwiches. Scrumptious!

Easy tea sandwiches, easy tea treats with a dash of panache from the silver server spells an 
"Elegant Afternoon Tea with the Earl" 
Just add a nice pot of Earl Grey tea, or Paris Market Day (which is a variation of Earl Grey)
for a wonderful tea time!

Do you have a favorite cucumber sandwich recipe? We'd love to hear about it! Feel free to share it here or on FB or Pinterest! My mouth is watering already :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

An Elegant Afternoon with the Earl

The countdown has begun and I am preparing my tea party to celebrate the return of Lord & Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey! Yes, like millions of people around the world, I have become obsessed with the upstairs family and downstairs staff.
Season three premiers tonight, and after a long crazy week of family illness, packing and working, I settled in to putting together a simple afternoon tea. I wanted to relax and enjoy a friendly atmosphere of conversation, tea and food.
If the Earl could have joined me, I would try to console him over the loss of his fortune, remind him of his devoted wife, get some details of the upcoming wedding and find out if he really is ready to shake hands with his new son-in-law the ex chauffeur.

Pulling a tea party together for a friend can be a fun and easy thing to do. My mantra is use what you have and decide on a theme that will help you get it together!

My tea party theme is simple elegance and silver, a traditional nod to our favorite Downton Abbey characters.

First things first, pretend your home is your favorite "Homegoods" store. Walk around the house and grab everything that catches your eye and will work with your theme! You can edit from the stash later!
I grabbed the silver tea set and my silver tiered server. They just spoke 'elegance' to me.

Then I grabbed a floor length table cloth and an organza table runner, giving me the simple cream color I was looking for.

Remember, I said that a tea party should be easy to pull together? Spontaneous even! That means you don't always have to go all out when setting the table, especially if it's just tea for two.

I used my small round table and put a taller plant stand behind it. This kept the table area small and intimate, easy to carry a conversation and to serve tea and treats.

What tea did I serve? Well, Earl Grey of course! In honor of his Lordship :) Check back on Thursday for more about the menu and tea served at my "Elegant Afternoon with the Earl" tea party.