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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save the date: Thursday 18 June

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Virtual Tea Party; an invitation

Yep, it’s that time again; a virtual afternoon tea to which everyone is invited.

The figs are finished, but I have lots of citrus on the trees, and the persimmons are good right now, so I’m sure they’ll make an appearance somewhere.

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 will always be plenty to eat, and tea never goes cold.

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.

 

 

 

 

Thursday 14th, save the date

Well I’ve sampled the test batch and tweaked the recipe!

“Of what” I hear you ask?

Join me for virtual afternoon tea next Thursday 14th May and find out.

Of course, 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 will always be plenty to eat, and tea never goes cold.

See you next week.

With regret …

I’d been looking forward to inviting you all to my next virtual tea party, but I have a cold. So instead of baking goodies and tasting teas, I’m on the couch with a hot lemon drink, a box of tissues and stack of food magazines.

I may not be able to taste anything, but I can still look at the pictures.

Oh well, I’ll try again next Tuesday. Hope you can join me.