Virtual afternoon tea; pull up a chair

beetroot tartlet on tray_1 Straight from the oven; beetroot, feta, spinach and pinenut tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora koutou katoa  (Greetings. Hello to you all).

I’m glad you could join me for this virtual afternoon tea, in a week where I’m even more glad of your company than usual.

As you probably know; my home city, Auckland has gone into another Covid 19 lock-down after four (now five) cases of the virus were found that can’t be linked back to travel, border control or quarantine facilities. So it seems we have community transmission and need to do what is necessary to stem it.

For the Big T and I, the immediate impact is relatively small — though we probably won’t be hosting the “posh” dinner party we had planned for the weekend. For our son, who’s recently returned to university after putting his course on hold due to the last lock-down, it’s a much bigger deal and it’s hard for me not to worry.

But as before, I am incredibly grateful for a warm home, a loving family and a (reasonably) full pantry. I have taken the planned scones off our menu today though; flour supplies were disrupted last time so I’m in conservation mode.

Instead we’ve got some sourdough rye and fennel crackers — which pair really well with crisp Granny Smith apples, mint and ricotta.

cheese board Sourdough rye and fennel crackers, raw apple and mint chutney, ricotta and some Maasdam for those who prefer a slightly stronger cheese. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Apparently people were queuing outside supermarkets even before our PM had finished making her Covid announcement, so in anticipation of grocery shopping being a less than wonderful experience, I am determined to just work with the ingredients I have to hand.

And that’s the genesis of these little tartlets containing roasted beetroot (my new favourite food), feta, spinach and a handful of pinenuts. I guess the mixture would work with other pastry too, but I had some leftover fillo, and I love the way it folds around the filling. I found the recipe at Bec’s Table, and while I altered the filling a little, I totally stole embraced her wonderful folding technique.

beetroot tartlets on tray Still warm; beetroot and feta tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2020
tartlet on board Beetroot and feta tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Though it looks like our dinner party is on hold, T and I have been sampling my test dishes for a few days. I don’t normally get (quite) so meticulous with the food I serve guests, but we’re planning to share our table with some people who make my culinary obsession look lightweight (oh, and one of them is a chef).

They’re old friends, so it’s not like I’m trying to impress the boss or potential in-laws, but I know from experience that I’m happier when the food I serve is tasty and interesting (and properly cooked). And more importantly, that the dishes I make don’t have me slaving in the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying themselves.

So …. the point of this is that I’ve been testing a dessert of panna cotta and fruit. And you get to try it too.

pannacotta with pineapple Coconut and lemongrass panna cotta with pineapple and ginger snaps. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Both T and I find cow’s milk hard to digest these days, so I’ve used coconut milk instead, and infused it with lemongrass. The topping is chopped pineapple with light ginger syrup, mint and pineapple sage flowers. Ginger snaps on the side provide some crunch and extra sweetness.

It’s my first attempt at panna cotta and I have to say, it’s incredibly easy and worked well with coconut milk.

But enough explanation. There’s tea in the pot (or coffee if you prefer), and food on the table. Pull up a chair and tell me what’s happening in your world.

Why a virtual tea party?

When Del (at CurlsnSkirls) and I started talking about a virtual tea party, we saw it as a fun way to share our love of food and conversation. It is that of course, but for me at least, it’s also an affirmation of how important you — my blogging whanau — are to me. Over the years you’ve shared your thoughts, stories, advice and support and I really would like to invite you all round to mine and cook for you.

But since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, I hope this will do instead.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing/reading/making? Your thoughts on the food, the drinks, and whatever I’m rambling about. What’s making you happy or pissing you off?  Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.

And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — even better. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it. A recipe if you like.

I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.

#virtualteaparty2020 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)


Amanda at Surprising Lives has joined us today, and brought some delicious raisin and blackcurrant cookies and refreshing lemon ginger tea. Yum!

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition has baked pastels de nata — the most delicious-looking Portuguese custard tarts. I am salivating just thinking about them, so pop over to Sarah’s and enjoy one.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has paired a homemade Mexican basil tisane, with some fabulous Mexican Garibaldis. Pop over to her post to find out more about Mexican basil and the garibaldis.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has managed to deal with electrical switchboard problems and still bake a chocolate cake. She says one side is a bit burned; I say it looks more caramelised than the other side and bring it on.

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has baked some yummy cheddar and scallion scones. Delicious! And she has shared the recipe.

My co-host Del, at Curls N Skirls has made her grandmother’s Foundation Cake, and shared some stories from her granny’s life. Understanding our forebears, and the origins of the foods we love, is so important.





59 thoughts on “Virtual afternoon tea; pull up a chair

  1. This is so much more than a tea party. It’s a veritable feast. Of immediate interest are those beetroot parcels, as I’ve been wondering what I’ll make with the bunch that winked at me from the market stall. This looks worth trying to copy – thanks. Hope your new lockdown’s short-lived.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. i love the idea of the virutal tea party, so warm and welcoming and great way to connect people. i recently had a zoom seminar with a teacher from your lovely country who embraced everything i believe about my philosophy and practice of teaching. someday, when things calm once again. i would love to visit in person and see the schools in person. i’m happy for you that your country. has embraced this horrible virus head on, and is keeping a grip on it as best they can by being proactive. as you know here in the states, we are not in the same situation, but hopefully that will change very soon. all that being said, i love the look of your pastries and you’ve inspired me. i recently made my first bread ever, a focaccia, with olives, garlic-infused herbs, parmesan, and sundried-tomatoes. it turned out really well, and i learned some things to do/not do along the way. onward -)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Beth. I’m sure that one day you will be able to visit NZ.

      I think it is much easier in a small country like NZ to take action quickly; if only because we have fewer layers of government. I hope that what we’re doing now will be enough, but I guess only time will tell.

      I’m experimenting with focaccia too. I’m mainly happy with the basic dough, but I haven’t really come to terms with the toppings yet.

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. I am not going to be an active member again Su, sorry. I love roast beetroot with sour cream and chives. I should have photographed the flat bread I made last weekend with roasted tomatoes olives fresh basil garlic. Oh well. Kia Ora this time and catch ya later

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your tea parties are the best, Su. The people, the food, the overall warmth of the entire atmosphere. Makes me close my eyes and sigh, thinking all will be well with the world if we all could do this. The heck with Zoom meetings; we need tea parties to just visit and catch up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful afternoon tea you’ve put on for us, Su. It all looks so wonderful. Definitely coffee and panna cotta for me. Good idea to save the flour.
    I wonder whether the NZ suggestion to use masks was informed by the latest cases? Anyway, best if everyone can stay home until it is sorted. So disappointing for you all though, and terribly difficult for your son and other uni students who were hoping to get on with their lives. How does he feel about it?
    There have been some terrific Australian comedy and drama series made with Zoom. Young creative people are continuing to be young creative people. I really do not like how negative commentators have been about the future for young people. I hope they’re proven wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Every time I think you can’t come up with something more delicious than you already have, you come along and present us with something as beautiful and tempting as your beetroot tartlets!!! How do you do it?! Love roasted beetroot – here’s a little tip: if you roast a couple of cubes without vinegar and oil, salt etc you can put them in a chocolate cake: it tastes amazing!! I can send you the recipe if you’re interested. 🙂
    That sounds so weird that you go into lockdown because of 5 new cases – in Berlin we have several hundreds each day, about 10 000 in all, and in other federal states it’s actually worse, and no lockdown in sight – sigh. I quite envy you your government, it seems much more up to the task of protecting the population than ours…
    Anyway, back to the food! Those crackers sound awesome, and with the apples so fresh and yummy I’d like to eat some right now!! And would you be too angry for me to ask for a serving of your coconut milk pannacotta sans pineapple? (I’m allergic to them.) Maybe I could just add some more of the apples instead?! 😉 Take care and stay safe, dear friend! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

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  11. Okay, you’ve impressed the hell out of me again!!! My sorry contribution includes store-bought which I guess somewhat defeats the intent of this amazing idea. But at least this month I remembered the date and managed to post so perhaps I’ll take it one step at a time! lol
    I’m not sure if I’m supposed to add my link here too or if getting the pingback is enough so I’ll add it in case.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Everything looks delicious, Su, and very professional. I just got back home Monday afternoon and regularly on the internet today, so not sure I’ll be participating this week, but we’ll see. I have plenty of tea, of course, but nothing baked to offer.

    Nice to “see” you,


    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a virtual feast! Those beetroot parcels look scrummy, I may have to look up a recipe for them. I have made similar with mushrooms and spinach, but not for a while. As always your foodie photos make me drool. And hungry. Best head off to make some supper!
    Ciao ciao xx
    Stay safe 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jude.
      I was thinking about using mushrooms next time; and mixed with spinach, that would be yummy. That’s the problem with filo pastry; nothing I make takes a whole packet, so I have to find other things to make with it.


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  15. Su, your tarts look amazing and I’ve got to give one a try, along with your panna cotta – also, without the pineapple – as it sounds amazing.
    Am so sorry you’ve stepped back into lockdown. However, I really admire your government and you citizens for valuing human life. The more I see and learn about NZ, the more I wish it weren’t so far away.
    Thank you so much for tea! Please join me for tea, and bring friends!
    It’s time for a good natter!

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. Those are the most elegant filo pastries I’ve ever seen! And the flavour combinations sound so yummy! I have never worked with filo before … looking at your wonderful spread, I am tempted to try.

    I recently discovered coconut cream (and coconut milk) at my baking supply store. I replaced the heavy cream in my cheesecake with coconut cream and the result was divine. So I am a big fan! I have never made panna cotta before either …. again, I am tempted.

    Yet another stunning feast which inspires … thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Coconut cream is wonderful stuff isn’t it!!

      Fill is easy to work with as long as you keep the sheets of pastry moist (put a damp tea towel over the sheets you aren’t using) and brush melted butter on the sheets you are working with. That gives it the lovely crisp texture (and yummy taste).


      • Coconut cream is such a wonderful new discovery for me – pretty funny since it is so widely used in Nonya/Peranakan cuisine which is part of my heritage (I scoff the food but do not make any of it!)

        Thanks for the tips on fillo – I will have to give it a try as it seems like the type of pastry the girls would love!

        Liked by 1 person

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