Virtual afternoon tea; let’s sit outside in the sun

Coffee and a catch-up in the back garden. Image: Su Leslie 2020

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

I thought we’d take our tea outside this month. In the last 24 hours, the wind has dropped and the sun has come out. And while my back garden is very much a work in progress (yeah, ignore the wheelbarrow full of mulch), there is plenty of space for us to spread out and share a cuppa.

Last month I joked I might resort to serving shop-bought gingernuts with our tea. This month, without the excuse of surgery, my energy levels seem to have dropped even further, and I haven’t felt much like baking.

So I am actually serving gingernuts.

But they are home-made.

And crunchy.

And they hold together quite well when dunked.

Who else is a dunker? Image; Su Leslie 2020

And I found a pretty plate to serve them off.

Op-shop find. My new favourite serving plate. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I’m not entirely sure why I feel so meh. I know it’s been a crap year, but I also know that the impacts of Covid-19 are rather less in New Zealand than in many parts of the world. And we’re heading into summer, while many of you are facing rising infection rates and the approach of winter.

I suspect that a major source of my anxiety is that we’re in the midst of a general election, and I am genuinely concerned about the outcome. Our current Labour-led coalition government is far from perfect, but the prospect of the right-leaning National party regaining power horrifies me.

Election day is this Saturday.

In the meantime, I continue to plant seedlings, shovel mulch and direct the Big T’s splendid efforts in constructing new raised beds.

And when my hands aren’t covered in dirt, I’m baking bread.

… cos biscuits are not all that filling. Fresh sourdough bread, cheese and home-made plum jam. Image: Su Leslie 2020

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 kai and korero. 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?)

Update

Yvette at Priorhouse blog brings us oolong tea (or coffee) and cashews

Jo from Restless Jo always brings such yummy cakes. I’m a lemon meringue pie fan, but pop over to Jo’s post to see what else is on offer.

Ladyleemanila is enjoying some jaffa cakes with her cuppa — and a fab-looking jigsaw puzzle.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has made some delicious-looking finger sandwiches with fresh herbs from her garden, cream cheese and home-made bread. Heaven! Oh and there are some Garibaldi biscuits too.

My friend Sarah at Art Expedition has a wonderful way with flavours. Who can resist toasted banana bread with walnuts and goji berries — topped with Nutella. Yum.

Sheree at View from the Back has an absolute feast of afternoon tea treats.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has made a delicious apple and ricotta cake. Excuse me while I go make a coffee to drink with it!!

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has not only brought delicious-looking gingerbread cheesecake bars, but shared the recipe too.

 

Save the date; Thursday 15th October

Virtual Tea Party; an invitation

October is flying by and I’d almost forgotten our monthly tea party. So apologies for a slightly late invitation; I’ll try and make up for it with some extra yummies.

Hope you’ll be able to join me for a cuppa and a catch up. I’ll post mid-afternoon next Thursday (NZ time). Feel free to pop round any time after that.

Kia ora. Welcome to virtual afternoon tea in Maori language week

Paramanawa o te Mahura; afternoon tea September 2020. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Nau mai. Welcome.

As it’s te wiki o te reo Māori (Māori language week) in Aotearoa New Zealand, I’m challenging myself to improve my te reo (language) skills wherever I can.

My first challenge was translating virtual afternoon tea!

This will probably have friends who are kaikōrero te reo (fluent speakers)  cracking up with laughter, but I think we may be partaking of tuihono paramanawa o te Mahuru —  online refreshments of September.

Whatever we call it though, there is ti in the pot; te mīhini kawhe (the coffee machine) is at the ready and although the kai (food) is simple, there’s plenty to fill your puku (stomach).

First of all, thank you everyone for your kind wishes last week when I mentioned my surgery. It seemed to go well (biopsy results pending) and I am incredibly grateful to the staff at Waitakere Hospital who treated me  with mānawanawa (patience),  atawhai (kindness), and great tautōhito (skill). I’m also grateful for my country’s (underfunded, yet still incredible) public health system.

After my initial bounce-back, I’ve been feeling a bit meh the last couple of days, so I really wasn’t joking about the simple kai.

The crunchy. Rosemary Parmesan crackers with some Whitestone aged cheddar on the side. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I think I may have stumbled upon the quickest ever way to make “crackers” —  assuming that, like me, you have a package of dumpling pastry tucked away in the freezer.

Because everyone intends to make that big batch of fiddly, time-consuming pot-stickers, right?

Anyway, it turns out that if you lay the pieces on some baking parchment, brush them with olive oil, chopped rosemary, sea salt and maybe some Parmesan, then bake them for about eight minutes in a fairly hot oven, they make really tasty, and very crunchy, crackers.

The gooey. Chocolate brownie and raspberries. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I’m not normally a big fan of chocolate in desserts and baking, but I do like brownie. This one is made with beetroot in place of most of the flour (the other dry ingredients are cocoa and coconut flour) and uses coconut oil instead of butter. It is delicious, especially if you like your brownie very chocolate-y and not very sweet.

I have cream and ice-cream if you’d like to add some to yours, but for me, just some raspberries are ka pai (good).

So pull up a tūru (chair) and let’s kōrero (talk).

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 kai and korero. 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?)

Update

Brian at Bushboy’s World has not only brought coffee and cake, but is joining in learning some te reo too. Ka pai.

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition has baked my absolute, all-time favourite cake — carrot. Perfect with a cup of Darjeeling from one of her beautiful blue and white cups.

Janet at This, that and the other thing  has baked a beautiful blueberry crisp to go with her High Grown Kenyan tea. Brewed in a beautiful pot and served in a matching cup — utterly lovely.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has not only brought us some Camotes de Puebla — sweet potato treats from the Mexican state of Puebla, but she has shared her recipe too.

Aggie at Nomad joins us from London where she and her family are now living.

Ju-Lyn of All things bright and beautiful has put a new twist on a favourite dish and I can’t wait to try it. I’m not letting the cat out of the bag, so you’ll have to visit her post to see what I’m talking about.

A Wonderful Sheep has some of her aunt’s delicious cooking and a recipe for soy sauce eggs, which I absolutely have to try

Yvette at Priorhouse  has a selection of teas, and coffee — and some beautiful photos of the flowers in her garden

Ladyleemanila has brought some of my favourite British biscuits — Hobnobs anyone?

My lovely co-host Del at CurlsnSkirls has baked some digestive biscuits (she knows I love them too) and a yummy cake with fresh berries.

Save the date: Thursday 13 August

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August’s Virtual Tea Party; an invitation for Thursday 13th. Images: Su Leslie

After the road-trip induced hiatus last month, Virtual Afternoon Tea is back and you are all invited.

I’ve got a bit of an obsession with scones at the moment, and I’m practicing dishes to serve at an upcoming dinner party, so who knows what will be on the menu.

My tea-time will begin while lots of you are still asleep, but rest assured that in the blogosphere you can arrive at any time, there’s always plenty to eat, and the tea never gets cold.

Teatime in the blogosphere

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Soup and toast? 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 another virtual afternoon tea.

As we approach the shortest day here, the temperatures have dropped and it feels that winter has arrived. I know that for many of you, it is summer and you’re probably sweltering, but in keeping with my general policy of trying to eat local and seasonal, I’m afraid this month’s menu is very much about what’s available and good where I am.

So; soup anyone?

But because I’m not totally heartless, it is quite a light soup — fennel, squash and orange — easy to drink rather than eat. And it goes rather nicely with a little bit of toasted sourdough.

In the last couple of weeks, the majority of our Covid 19-related restrictions have been (at least temporarily) removed, and we’re getting used to hugging each other again. Equally exciting is that I’m able to invite friends over for a meal. And that’s how the soup came about.

It’s from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple; but the first time I made it, neither T nor I particularly liked the sweetness of the rose harissa it used, and we both felt it needed a bit more acid. So I made it again, using plain harissa and replacing the onion with a bulb of fennel. And whereas Ottolenghi used only orange zest, I included the juice. This was partly for taste, and partly to make it a thinner, more drinkable soup.

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Parmesan, rosemary and black pepper straws and some crunchy Granny Smith slices. Image: Su Leslie 2020

And if you’ve still got some left over after you’ve dunked the toast, I’ve made cheese straws. I’m not a dunker, and I prefer to eat them with some slices of crisp, tart apple, but that’s just me and I won’t judge if you do use them to, er, stir your soup.

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Persimmon and ginger muffins. They taste better than they look! Image: Su Leslie 2020

Persimmons are also in season here, and I found a few recipes that use them in baking. I chose this muffin recipe because it also includes ginger (both powdered and crystallized).

The batter (made exactly according to the recipe) seemed a bit wet, and the muffins spread rather than rising in the oven, but they do taste good. At least good enough to serve now, and experiment with until I get the consistency right.

Perhaps because of the weather, it’s been a very indoorsy, introspective few weeks. It’s not that I don’t care about the violence and injustices happening all around the world; but I feel quite powerless and disheartened that after all these years and all the protests, very little seems to have changed.

So I’ve hunkered down; baked a lot of bread, made marmalade with the oranges on our tree and am preparing to make more, this time with grapefruit from the boy-child’s garden. I’ve worked in my garden, visited the library, and am currently enjoying the Documentary Edge Festival online. Last night I watched Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band — a joyously beautiful film about two men, both Holocaust survivors in their 90s, who make music as a way to celebrate life.

I think this quote sums it up:

This unique and compelling story is about having the courage to live one’s dreams, finding purpose and meaning in life, the transcendent power of music, the complex experience of aging, surviving trauma, the power of love and family, and speaking out against anti-Semitism and bigotry.

It could hardly be more timely.

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?)

A note about next month

I won’t be hosting a tea next month. It’s my dad’s birthday and — unless travel restrictions are re-introduced — I will be spending the middle of the month on a bit of a road-trip to visit him. Normal service will be resumed in August.

Update

Janet at This, That and The Other Thing has baked some lovely, and healthy, doughnuts and is serving them on beautiful Imari ware. Pop over — it really is stunning (and the doughnuts look so good).

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has baked the most delicious apple pie — and shared her recipe. You have to check this out.

Sarah at Art Expedition has made a gorgeous raspberry cream shortcake. But be quick; raspberries seem to disappear when Sarah is around.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind brings us banana cake and a beautiful mug made by an Australian ceramic artist.

Pop over to Irene at My Slice of Mexico for a lovely herbal infusion and to learn more about teas and tisanes.

Jo at Restless Jo is serving coffee and yummies on a beautiful tray decoupaged by  her daughter.

For an absolutely sensational afternoon tea  spread, you must visit Sheree at View from the Back

Like me, Suzanne from Life at No. 22 is living in New Zealand. She’s also made soup — cauliflower — and has shared her recipe. Oh, and there are muffins and blissballs too!!!

My co-host, Del at Curls n Skirls has made olive oil herb scones and her wacky cake (with recipe). Del will be hosting solo next month while I’m away so make sure you join her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea time in the blogosphere

img_7097 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 another virtual afternoon tea.

It’s definitely feeling like autumn here in Auckland, although we are still in drought. And though the country has loosened Covid 19 lock-down restrictions to the extent that from today most shops and cafes are open again, I’m feeling no particular desire to hit the mall. In fact, I’m pretty happy staying at home trying to finish at least some of the projects that are starting to feel like Damoclean swords over me.

Luckily, baking never feels like a chore.

I’ve temporarily abandoned my attempt to discover 101 ways with dumpling wrappers, and actually made pastry. Admittedly it’s choux pastry which is pretty easy, but I am happy with the results; crisp little buns filled with herby cream cheese.

img_7096 Choux pastry, filled with cream cheese, coriander and lemon zest. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Childhood memories

A couple of tea parties ago, I made some “grown up” fairy bread, using edible flowers instead of sugar sprinkles/hundreds and thousands. It would be fair to say it wasn’t one of my more successful culinary experiments, but it did spark a conversation with Brian (Bushboy’s World) about childhood foods, and the following month, Brian made real fairy bread.

I (as you do) promised chocolate crackles — another sweet treat that was pretty much compulsory at every birthday party in Australia and New Zealand. I’ve gone a bit off piste with this childhood favourite too, but, for an adult palate, I prefer mine to the original.

img_7099 Chocolate crackles, Zimmerbitch style. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I’ve replaced the rice crispies with broken-up rice cakes (thank you for that genius idea Tracy), used melted dark chocolate and coconut oil in place of the vegetable shortening, and dumped the icing sugar all together. I’ve kept the cocoa powder and added cacao nibs for crunch; the sweetness comes from chocolate and crystalised ginger.

The Big T approves, so I will make them again and actually take note of the quantities in case anyone wants an actual recipe.

img_7098 Fig and ginger loaf. Image: Su Leslie 2020

“these are a few of my favourite things …”

It’s interesting looking back at my earlier tea party posts. Not only do I seem to have an obsession with dumpling wrappers, but cream cheese, coconut, ginger and figs also pop up in multiple offerings. What can I say? They’re all flavours I like, and I still have figs on my tree.

But we’re at the end of the fig harvest, and the fruit are smaller and less plumscious; better for baking than eating straight.

The loaf recipe is more or less from The Spruce Eats — minus the cinnamon and pecans, and with lots of grated fresh ginger. It is a bit crumbly; I’ll need to work on that before I post a recipe.

img_7095 Fig and ginger loaf. Image: Su Leslie 2020

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?)

Update

Janet at This, That and the Other Thing has made a cinnamon chip Danish which looks utterly delicious. And she’s serving pu-erh tea in a beautiful clay pot.

Check out Ju-Lyn’s recipe for lemon drizzle cake at All Things Bright and Beautiful — and wish her a speedy recovery from a dislocated toe. Ouch!

Little Pieces of Me joins us too, and you might want to send best wishes to her too — an injured knee is causing pain.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has made some wonderful chocolate pineapple-jam filled sponges, with jam she made too. She has included her recipe, and a really fascinating history of the pineapple, so please visit.

Lois at On Pets and Prisoners has brought some fragrant magnolia and cinnamon sticks to adorn our table.

A Wonderful Sheep has visited Veganique, a vegan bakery located in her Seoul neighbourhood, and bought a delicious banana coconut pound cake and Earl Grey Tea. Like so many small businesses, the bakery is suffering during the pandemic. You can check out their goodies on Instagram, and in these times, even social media support is helpful.

LadyLeeManila is sharing some delicious chocolate cupcakes and marbled brownies. Yum.

Sarah at Art Expedition has baked a beautiful flour-less hazelnut cake from her grandmother’s recipe. It looks delicious and is all the more special for being part of the thread that binds generations of women together.

Jo at Restless Jo is enjoying a luscious-looking carob and orange cake and a rather yummy-looking filled doughnut.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has made a delicious platter that includes fresh fruit and some cheesy Vegemite crackers. For everyone who doesn’t know about Vegemite (or its rivalry with Marmite), you have to read the comments on Tracy’s post.

Del at Curls and Skirls has made a delicious spice cake, and is trying out a cornmeal cookie recipe. It’s wonderful,how bakers are being so inventive in the face of the flour shortages.

 

 

 

 

Tea time in the blogosphere

tea invitation apr 2020 Image: Su Leslie 2020

Welcome. Pull up a chair and I’ll put the kettle on.

It’s Day 22 of NZ’s Covid 19 rahui, and even I’m getting a bit fed up being at home all the time. While we have plenty of food, and I’m getting used to the long queues at the supermarket, flour has become an almost mythical commodity, and most of the projects The Big T and I planned are stalled due to a lack of materials (pretty much all NZ businesses are closed unless they’re selling food or medicine).

But we’re well, and so far our families and friends remain healthy too, so there is much to be grateful for.

And that’s enough about me.

How are you coping with these strange times we find ourselves in?

My baking for our tea party has been a bit constrained by both the flour shortage and the new reality of infrequent, time-consuming trips to buy ingredients. So my savory this month uses the same type of pastry (dumpling wrappers) as last time round, and both my sweet dishes contain rolled oats and coconut (sorry Jude).

bowl of figs0415 Image: Su Leslie 2020

Our fig tree has begun fruiting and we’re harvesting a dozen or so luscious fruit each day. Rather than use them in a sweet dish, I’ve opted for a little tartlet with blue cheese and thyme. The figs have been caramelised a little bit in butter and balsamic vinegar. It turns out that blue cheeses are short supply at the moment, and the only one I could get is quite sharp, so I’ve softened the impact by mixing it with a little cream cheese.

I’m serving it with English breakfast tea, though I suspect an Earl Grey might work better with the flavours.

fig and blue cheese tarts Caramelised fig and blue cheese tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2020

And in the same spirit of making do, both my sweet dishes are variations on a theme.

anzac biscuits Anzac biscuits and English Breakfast tea. Image; Su Leslie 2020

With just over a week until Anzac Day, it was inevitable that I’d make some Anzac biscuits. The story goes that women in New Zealand baked these to send to their menfolk serving in WWI. With relatively few ingredients (and quite a lot of sugar) they were supposed to survive the long journey to the battlefields of Europe and the Middle East. You can find a recipe here.

Recipes for ginger crunch have appeared in Kiwi cookbooks since at least the 1950s. Traditionally, it’s a ginger-flavoured shortbread base topped with a liberal spread of ginger icing, but in recent years it’s not uncommon to see a variation that uses the same ingredients and method as Anzac biscuits to form the base. The icing; butter, golden syrup, icing sugar and ginger remains the same.

ginger crunch no cup Ginger-oat slice. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I like the oat version, though it doesn’t have the crunch of the original. It works well with coffee — either espresso or a flat white. And I can conserve my flour supplies for bread-making.

With luck, by next month we will have more freedom of movement and a wider range of shops will be open. I may have to celebrate by baking something really decadent!

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 any time 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?)

An update

Wow. So many people have joined in with the tea party and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you all for sharing kai (food) and aroha (love); it means a lot to me and I think reflects how many of us believe that food really does bring people together.

After our conversation about fairy bread last month, Brian at Bushboy’s Worldhas made the real thing. Now I really have to make good on my promise of chocolate crackles next month.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has set a beautiful table — complete with a dahlia in a vase — and made Anzac biscuits, (proper) crunchy ginger nuts and a chocolatey slice containing all the things that good, grown-up chocolate crackles should have. Inspired!

Ladyleemanilahas made some dalgona coffee and dalgona matcha latte. Am I the only person who had never heard of dalgona coffee until about a week ago?

Dawn at A Shared Spacehas made a gorgeous-looking chocolate cake with ganache and Ferrero Rocher crumble. Yum.

I don’t know where to start with the array of delicious treats from Jo at Restless Jo.

Ju-Lyn has baked a lovely Wholemeal & Oat Soda Bread — and shared the recipe. She has also shared a link to a really lovely performance by the Singapore Virtual Choir which Ju-Lyn and one of her daughters took part in. You really have to watch this.

Sarah at Art Expedition has baked a delicious blueberry cheesecake (using her last egg), and has served it, with tea, on beautiful crockery.

A Wonderful Sheep has shared my ultimate comfort food — tea, toast and marmalade.

Lois at On Pets and Prisonersis tantalising us with her collection of recipe books. Surely poring over the books is one of the best parts of cooking?

Janet at This, That and the Other Thing really knows her teas — and has paired a yummy pain au chocolat with Mao Feng black tea. I’ve just Googled it and it sounds really interesting.

Punam at Paeansunpluggedblog has made some yummy dried mixed fruit muffins to serve with savoury banana chips and a roasted orange pekoe Darjeeling tea.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has not only brought the most delicious-looking chocoflan, but also shared the recipe and the science behind how it works. This is such an interesting read.

Aggie at Nomad has made us “a proper brew” — Yorkshire tea. Apparently a controversial choice if you’re Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK.

Amanda at A Home by the Sea has baked a delicious walnut streusel cake.

 

April 16th: save the date

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It’s almost time for the next virtual tea-party. I’ve got the recipe books out and am looking for some yummy treats to share with you all.

I’ll post my afternoon tea next Thursday, April 16th (which will still be the 15th for lots of you, so you might have to treat it as breakfast), and I’m sure Del at Curls N Skirls will be sharing some deliciousness too.

Hope you can join us.

 

 

Care to join me for a cuppa?

img_6701 Afternoon tea; carrot cake and mango coconut tarts. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, welcome.

Since Covid 19 is such a huge issue impacting all of us, I’ll get my update out of the way and let you all decide whether you want to discuss or ignore the virus in your own comments and posts.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand we have, to date, been extremely fortunate that the number of cases is still in (low) double digits, and all of those suffering seem to have relatively mild cases which have required minimal or no hospital care. They have all occurred in people who have either returned from overseas, or are family members of those people, so we’ve so far avoided the sort of local transmission that will produce exponentially more cases.

I don’t think any of us are kidding ourselves that things will stay this way, but our government does seem to be proactive in taking steps to try and limit the spread, and help those affected financially as well as medically.

The Big T is fortunate that he already works remotely a lot of the time, and since I’m also home-based (and let’s face it, seriously introverted), social distancing feels much like business as usual. Things are tough for our son though, who is a student and works in a retail business in the CBD. He’s struggling emotionally and we’re doing all we can to make sure he knows that we will always be there for him. I flip flop between  being really proud of his resilience and wishing he was two again so I could at least feel like I was protecting him.

‘Nuff said. Let’s talk about food.

The menu

This month, I’m testing out a couple of recipe ideas on you (as well as offering tried-and-true carrot cake).

The first I alluded to in yesterday’s post; the second has sort of evolved as I’ve gone along.

img_6709 Fairy bread for grown-ups? Image; Su Leslie 2020

The strange places my brain visits

I’m not sure if it’s just an Antipodean thing, but when I was a kid, birthday parties weren’t really complete without a plate of fairy bread — thinly sliced white bread, buttered and sprinkled with hundred and thousands (AKA sprinkles or jimmies if you’re not British apparently).

Since I have an on-going interest obsession with updating old (and nursery) recipes, I got to wondering what fairy bread for grown-ups might look like.

And this is my take on it; homemade sourdough (crusts removed), spread with my friend Duncan’s wonderful raw honey, and edible flowers. At the moment the garden is a bit drought-challenged, so the mix is viola, borage and lemon bergamot, with a few petals of rosemary and thyme, and lemon balm leaves.

To be honest, it looks pretty but taste a bit medicinal. So back to the drawing board.

img_6706 Mango coconut tarts. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Instant(ish) entertaining

My second dish, you lovely culinary guinea-pigs, is a mango coconut tart. It contains a sort of instant custard of cream cheese mixed with coconut cream and lime juice, and it’s topped with fresh mango and toasted coconut flakes. The pastry is genius (I’m allowed to say that because it’s not actually my idea). I bought dumpling wrappers from the local Asian supermarket and baked them blind in a muffin tray.

img_6708 The big reveal — “instant custard” of cream cheese and coconut cream. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The Big T says they are delicious and I agree.

Finally, we have slices of carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. It’s a recipe I’ve made lots of times before and it is yummy, though quite sweet, so I’ll cut thin slices (at least to start).

img_6707 Carrot cake. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I’ve brewed English Breakfast tea this time, but I can offer you coffee or green tea if you’d prefer.

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?)

And finally

I found these, and rather liked them.

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”  ― Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Honestly, if you’re given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don’t say ‘what kind of tea?” ― Neil Gaiman

An update

Both Del at CurlsnSkirls, and Brian at Bushboys World have baked delicious bread for us to share. Thank you both — bread is my absolute food weakness!

Aggie at Nomad brings us some delicious mint and rosewater tea.

A Wonderful Sheep has brought some Golden Milk — and her recipe.Yum!

And if you scroll through the comments you’ll see Karen/Elizabeth‘s fabulous afternoon tea at Sydney’s QVB Tearooms.

Ju-Lyn At All Things Bright & Beautiful has baked some fabulous PB&J bars.