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.

Save the date: Thursday 17 September

Virtual Tea Party; an invitation

Yep, it’s nearly time to grab a cuppa (and a few goodies if you feel like it) and head over to mine for a virtual afternoon tea.

I’m having (hopefully minor) surgery — possibly as you’re reading this — so will be spending the next few days recuperating. I tell you this because the quality of the food on offer at the tea party will depend a bit on how I’m feeling.

So be prepared for anything: I might try out the black velvet cake recipe I found, or I could be sending the Big T down the road for a packet of gingernuts.

But whichever way it goes, I hope you’ll join me for a virtual catch-up. I’ll be putting the kettle on sometime next Thursday afternoon and you’ll welcome to join me any time.

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?)

Update

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.