Virtual Afternoon Tea, January 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

Major General Urquhart:
Hancock. I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?

Corporal Hancock:
Couldn’t hurt, sir

From the film, A Bridge Too Far (1977) Dir. Richard Attenborough

On that note; wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora. Tau Hou mai i Aotearoa  (Greetings. Happy New Year from Aotearoa).

With Auckland’s hot, dry weather showing no signs of easing, I’ve made my first ever iced tea.

My past experiences with this drink (generally the sort that comes in a bottle from the corner shop) left me a bit underwhelmed. Then I read about cold- brewing; which is essentially adding cold water to tea leaves (it works best with green or white teas apparently) and allowing them to infuse for a long time (think 12 hours in the fridge). This avoids the bitterness, and consequently the (for me, excessive) sugar which is meant to balance it.

It works — certainly for the Big T and me. I’ve experimented with adding kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and mint to different brews (lemongrass is my favourite), and stirring through about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut sugar per cup to the finished product. I’ve experimented too with warmed honey (which certainly dissolves better), but I’m keen to hear from any iced tea drinkers your preferred sweeteners — and additional flavourings.

Iced green tea. Works well with these mini tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2021

So on to the food.

I’ve just bought a copy of the new Yotam Ottolenghi book — Flavour — and am in love with all things charred. I hope you don’t me experimenting on you with these little tartlets (using my “cheat” baked dumpling-wrapper pastry).

First of all we have grilled prawn with charred fennel and lemon sorrel mayonnaise. I love prawn and fennel together, and the mayonnaise is based on one we were served in Matisse — a wine bar in Napier. My version uses Rick Stein’s Lemon Mayonnaise recipe (from Fruits of the Sea) with a big handful of blitzed-up sorrel from the garden.

Grilled prawn, charred fennel, lemon sorrel mayonnaise. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Or, if you prefer, we have grilled peach with Kapiti Baby Kikorangi blue cheese and thyme.

Grilled peaches, blue cheese and thyme. Image: Su Leslie 2021

My favourite Golden Queen peaches have quite a short season, so I’m making the most of them at the moment. This is the first time I’ve served them grilled in a savory dish, and I quite like it.

The cheese is quite mild, but does seem to balance the (fairly sweet) peach. If there’s a Mark #2 version, I’ll be adding some acid. A balsamic glaze would work — even though the Big T will have a field day reminding me of all the things I’ve said about the ubiquity of this in NZ restaurants.

Homemade Christmas cake and English Breakfast tea. Image: Su Leslie 2021

And if none of this is appealing, hopefully a slice of Christmas cake and a proper cuppa will hit the spot.

As we begin a year that shows no signs of being easier than the last, it feels more important than ever to connect with the people we care about. For me, sharing food has always been an expression of aroha (love); even when it’s delivered virtually. So pull up a chair and help yourself.

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.

#virtualteaparty2021 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)

Update

Janet, from This, That and the Other Thing has an Irish theme with Irish Breakfast tea AND home-made soda bread. Yum!

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has made some delicious waffle-iron churros; perfect for dunking in hot chocolate. And she’s included her recipe.

Aggie from Nomad joins us from her new(ish) home in London. A hot cuppa is perfect in an English winter.

My lovely co-host, Del at Curls n Skirls has produced a feast. Cheese, fruit and crackers, chicken sandwiches and chocolate cake. Can I go straight for dessert please?

Yvette from Priorhouse Blog has brought some key lime cheesecake to have with tea.

Ladyleemanila is serving pancit, coleslaw and vegetable quiche with some hot apple tea. Perfect!

Be sure to pop over to Deb’s (The Widow Badass) and drool over her Christmas Black Forest Trifle. And read the hilarious back-story!

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has brought us a wonderful persimmon loaf. I love persimmons and can’t wait until they are in season to try the recipe she’s thoughtfully included.

Save the date: Thursday 14th January

We’re back!

Del (Curls n Skirls) and I had so much fun hosting virtual afternoon tea in 2020, we’re doing it all over again.

I hope you’ll be able to join us — anytime from about 3pm next Thursday (Kiwi Time = GMT+13). Golden Queen peaches are in season here (my absolute favourites) so expect to find them on the menu. And I still have a whole Christmas cake waiting to be eaten.

Coming soon … Christmas afternoon tea

Image: Su Leslie 2020

It’s hard to believe that next Thursday (17th) will be the twelfth virtual afternoon tea Del and I have hosted.

In the beginning, I had no idea if anyone would even read these posts, let alone join in. But you have, and your comments, posts, yummy food photos and recipes have made us so, so happy.

It’s been a tough year for all of us. But I am painfully aware that my home country has managed (so far) to keep the virus at bay and my life has been considerably less impacted than many of yours. So in line with my personal motto “when the going gets tough, the tough bake cookies” — I’m making a few extra goodies this month; sweet and savory.

Yes, I can do savories that don’t involve pastry or scone dough. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Save the date: Thursday December 17th

… or whenever you get here. Virtual food never runs out and the tea’s always hot.

Save the date: Thursday 17th December

Virtual Tea Party; an invitation

As it’s the final tea-party of 2020 — and to thank you all for embracing this wacky idea of mine — I’ve been busy baking a few extra goodies for us.

I’m letting you know in plenty of time to work up an appetite, and I might even manage a preview next week!

Looking forward to seeing you all on the 17th.

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.

And Amanda at A Home by the Sea has used another of Ju-Lyn’s recipes to make some fantastic cinnamon rolls.

 

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.