Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Raspberries and Cream Scones

Raspberries and Cream Scones


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries, such as Just Raspberries
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


• Preheat oven to 350°.
• Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
• In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, whisking well. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add raspberries and cubed cream cheese, tossing to coat with flour mixture. Set aside.
• In a measuring cup, combine ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cream and vanilla extract, stirring to blend. Add cream mixture all at once to flour mixture, stirring to combine. Bring mixture together with hands until a stiff dough forms. (If mixture seems dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until uniformly moist.)
• Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 3 to 4 times. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a ½-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut rounds from dough, rerolling scraps as necessary. Place scones 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
• Brush tops of scones with remaining 2 tablespoons cream.
• Bake until edges of scones are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, approximately 19 minutes.

These fruity scones are a lovely addition to afternoon tea.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Regency Dinner Parties and Etiquette

Regency Dinner Parties and Etiquette

"The soup was fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases' last week; and even Mr Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at least."
Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

Dinner during the Regency was quite an affair encompassing several courses with a multitude of dishes at each. Guests who sat down to eat were faced with soup, meat, game, pickles, jellies, vegetables, custards, puddings- anywhere from five to twenty five dishes depending on the grandeur of the occasion.

The first course would have been soup, which the host would supervise the serving of. When that was finished and cleared away, he would carve the larger joints of meat (mutton, beef, etc.). The Gentlemen of the party would serve themselves from the dishes in front of them, and offer them to their neighbors. If a dish was required from another part of the table, a manservant would be sent to fetch it. Fortunately guests were not expected to try every dish on the table!

When the main course was cleared a small dessert of salad and cheese was put in its place until that was cleared in favor of the second course, which was a variety much like the first including many dishes savoury and sweet. This, in turn, was cleared, the cloth taken away and Dessert was served- usually nuts, fruits, sweetmeats and perhaps ice cream.

At last the ladies would retire to the drawing room to gossip and embroider and chat for about an hour while the gentlemen enjoyed their Port in the dining room. They would then gather for tea and conversation- sometimes cards, and tea again- until the party broke up, quite late in the evening.

A period volume, True Politeness: A Handbook of Ettiquette for Ladies offers the following suggestions:
  • The hostess takes the head of the table; the seat of honor for a gentleman is at her right hand; for a lady, it is to the right of the host.

  • It is usual to commence with soup, which never refuse; if you do not eat is, you can toy with it until it is followed by fish...soup must be eaten from the side, not the point of the spoon; and in eating it, be careful not to make a noise, by strongly inhaling the breath: this habit is excessively vulgar; you cannot eat too quietly.

  • Always feed yourself with the fork, a knife is only used as a divider. Use a dessert spoon in eating tarts, puddings, curres, &c., &c.

  • If what you are eating before dessert has any liquid, sop the break and then raise it to the mouth.

  • The mistress of the household should never appear to pride herself reagarding what is on her table...; it is much better for her to observe silence in this respect, and leave it to her guests to pronounce eulogiums on the dinner.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sould I Clean My Teapot?

Should I clean my Teapot?

This is an age old question.  Tannin builds up on the inside of the teapot when it is just rinsed out, should this be left or not?

Many years ago, in my late tees, I lived in Paisley, Scotland.  During this time I had a part-time cleaning job at Arnott's  department store.  In the basement of the store all us cleaning ladies (think of Ena Sharples with her hair wound up in a scarf or Rosie the riveter);  I was the babe, had a little gas ring and sitting area, I would hardly call it a kitchen, and here we would take an early morning break, as we went in at 6:00 am; and brewed up tea.  These ladies where definitely of the opinion that tannin remained in the teapot and added to the taste.

I must admit that my little kitchen teapot is mostly just rinsed out, and therefore leaves the tannin in the teapot.  I always brew up an Assam tea in this pot, so therefore it is not necessary to scrub it out.

If I drink a different tea, and want the pure taste of the tea, then I will get out a different teapot.  To get the pure taste of teas such as a white, green or oolong tea you would want to start with a tannin free clean teapot.  A white tea is far to smooth and delicate to brew in a tannin blackened teapot.


P.S.  "The Messages":  It took me one month with these dear ladies to figure out what getting the messages meant.  Every day someone would say "after work I have to get the messages."  Well as a girl bought up south of the border, I had to wonder why they had so many messages to pick up and where they picked them up.  Eventually I twigged that it meant food shopping.  If you shopped for clothes and household items that was shopping, but if you went for groceries, that was "the messages."

Ena Shaples as seen on Coronation Street

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Georgian Breakfast

The Georgian Breakfast

The elegance of the breakfast set forced itself on Catherine's notice when they were seated at table
Northanger Abbey

Breakfast, as we know it, was developed during the Regency. Prior to this a late morning meal of tea and coffee, rolls, breads, meats, eggs, etc. was provided around 10 a.m. Upon a visit to Stoneleigh Abbey, Mrs Austen, Jane's mother, was known to have remarked on the quantity of food at breakfast, listing, "Chocolate Coffee and Tea, Plumb Cake, Pound Cake, Hot Rolls, Cold Rolls, Bread and Butter, and dry toast for me".

The lateness of the breakfast hour allowed people to run many errands which we would normally consider suitable for later in the day such as a visit to the park or library. While "morning calls" were actually made to friends in the afternoon, other events did take place. Until the late 1880's, weddings were required by law, to be morning affairs. This paved the way for Wedding Breakfasts- the ancestor to today's wedding receptions. Breakfast and Wedding cake were served and the party broke up in the early afternoon allowing the couple time to travel to their new home or honeymoon destination.

As the working/Middle class became a greater part of society, mealtimes changed and an early meal around 8 or 9 in the morning was needed to start tradesmen and professionals on their way. This meal would have been eaten in the drawing room or dining room and would have revolved around cakes and breads such as Brioche, French bread, toast, plum cake and honey cake. Tea and chocolate were popular drinks to accompany this meal. In the Austen household, it was Jane's job to prepare breakfast for the family around 9 every morning. The Austen's breakfast consisted of pound cake, toast, tea and occassionally cocoa

Jane often used the hour before breakfast for her own personal time. Her neice, Anna Lefroy describes the routine: "Aunt Jane began her day with music – for which I conclude she had a natural taste; as she thus kept it up – ‘tho she had no one to teach; was never induced (as I have heard) to play in company; and none of her family cared much for it. I suppose that she might not trouble them, she chose her practising time before breakfast – when she could have the room to herself – She practised regularly every morning – She played very pretty tunes, I thought – and I liked to stand by her and listen to them; but the music (for I knew the books well in after years) would now be thought disgracefully easy – Much that she played from was manuscript, copied out by herself – and so neatly and correctly, that it was as easy to read as print." 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Drip Teapot

Look, no spills: Debenhams lays claim to solving vexed question of the dripping, cafe teapot

  non-drip teapot

No drips: At last, a way to take the mess out of making a cuppa
They are two of the nation's best-loved traditions.
But drinking tea while grumbling about the perpetual dribble from the teapot could become a thing of the past.
After receiving a storm of complaints about its dripping pots, cafe bosses at a department store turned to scientists for a solution.
They have unveiled the tea lover's holy grail - a simple stainless steel teapot which promises to pour without a drip.
Yesterday the Daily Mail road-tested the product and the results were impressive. With the pot filled to the brim our tester filled up several cups without a drop spilt.
The tea flowed out evenly and the lid remained firmly in place.
The Debenhams design can now be seen in action - and appreciated - in the chain's 110 restaurants.
The store says the secret of the non drip comes from a larger spout which helps the tea flow better, a metal plate placed inside the pot to stop the teabag blocking the spout, and a redesigned lid.
Designers have repositioned the lid at the rear so it will not swing open when you are tipping the pot.
Debenhams has ordered 10,150 pots and may consider putting them on sale.
Food director Peter Barrett said: 'We want our customers to be able to relax in our restaurants and cafes and not have to worry about tea spilling on to the table or themselves.
non drip teapot.jpg

'We all know how annoying it can be when tea dribbles from the spout and you have to wipe it up.
'These teapots are a one-and-a-half cup size and prove a perfect vessel for our quality tea. It provides the perfect cuppa for our customers.'

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Regency Desert Course

With Sugar on Top, the Regency Desert Course

When the dessert and the wine were arranged, and Mrs Dashwood and Elinor were left by themselves, they remained long together in a similarity of thoughtfulness and silence.
Sense and Sensibility

In the 18th and 19th century, a formal dinner was looked upon as more than a fine meal. It was a sort of grand show. The finale of the meal--dessert--was the most elaborate and expensive course of the dinner; and it required a knowledgeable confectioner to create the spectacular dessert displays of the day. The dessert fare included biscuits in great variety and macaroons served for dipping into sweet wines and liqueurs. Sugar biscuits that were closely related to meringues and gimblettes de fleurs d'orange that were large knotted biscuits were popular. The most fashionable dessert--ices--were presented in little serving cups known as tasses à glaces and came in a variety of flavors including: pistachio, barberry, and rye bread.
The table was decorated with sugar-paste (pastillage) sculptures in forms such as cherubs and architectural shapes that recreated a garden or exotic locale in miniature. The display might decorate the dinning table throughout the dinner or grace a special dessert table in another room. This centerpiece was known as a plateau. It was generally placed on a mirror to increase the light and would include such items as temples and all the features usually found in a garden such as decorative pattern hedges (parterres) and flowers all created in sugar.
The sugar-paste sculptures might be made by pressing the sugar mixture into elaborately carved wooden molds or by carving. Thus the confectioner would own an array of molds and special carving tools.
In addition to the table centerpiece decorations, each guest would find a tiny molded sugar basket filled with bonbons or 'jeweled fruit' beside their place setting. Even the place card might be a sugar sculpture, often in the form of the coat of arms of the guest.
The confectioner's expensive and ethereal sugar-paste art began to be replaced by durable unglazed porcelain, known as biscuit, which looked very like sugar-paste. The French Vincennes/Sèvres porcelain factory began producing biscuit table figurines around 1751. By 1790, the Danish court owned a collection of 850 pieces of porcelain meant to decorate the dessert table ranging from the ubiquitous pavilions, statues, and urns to cascades and warships.

The Prince of Wales had a separate confectioner's kitchen in his Brighton Pavilion and kept three confectioners on his staff so that he could entertain in the finest style.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Picnic Time

Ah! The picnic- what other meal is so synonmous with summer? Drawing it’s name from the 16th C. French pique-nique which means “to pack a trifle” picnics began as a kind of pot luck dinner where everyone brought a dish to be shared. The word did not appear in print in English until the early 1800’s. It appears in Jane Austen’s Emma, as the neighborhood plans an outing at Box Hill.

Picnics soon became standard entertainment after organized hunts (a good idea of this can be seen in Gosford Park, 2001) and grew in scale and grandeur. One Victorian writer, Mrs. Beeton, whose Book of Household Management appeared in 24 monthly parts between 1859–1861 lists the following as a

A joint of cold roast beef, a joint of cold boiled beef, 2 ribs of lamb, 2 shoulders of lamb, 4 roast fowls, 2 roast ducks, 1 ham, 1 tongue, 2 veal-and-ham pies, 2 pigeon pies, 6 medium-sized lobsters, 1 piece of collared calf’s head, 18 lettuces, 6 baskets of salad, 6 cucumbers.

Stewed fruit well sweetened, and put into glass bottles well corked; 3 or 4 dozen plain pastry biscuits to eat with the stewed fruit, 2 dozen fruit turnovers, 4 dozen cheesecakes, 2 cold cabinet puddings in moulds, 2 blancmanges in moulds, a few jam puffs, 1 large cold plum-pudding (this must be good), a few baskets of fresh fruit, 3 dozen plain biscuits, a piece of cheese, 6 lbs. of butter (this, of course, includes the butter for tea), 4 quartern loaves of household broad, 3 dozen rolls, 6 loaves of tin bread (for tea), 2 plain plum cakes, 2 pound cakes, 2 sponge cakes, a tin of mixed biscuits, 1/2 lb, of tea. Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.

Things not to be forgotten at a Picnic
A stick of horseradish, a bottle of mint-sauce well corked, a bottle of salad dressing, a bottle of vinegar, made mustard, pepper, salt, good oil, and pounded sugar. If it can be managed, take a little ice. It is scarcely necessary to say that plates, tumblers, wine-glasses, knives, forks, and spoons, must not be forgotten; as also teacups and saucers, 3 or 4 teapots, some lump sugar, and milk, if this last-named article cannot be obtained in the neighbourhood. Take 3 corkscrews.

3 dozen quart bottles of ale, packed in hampers; ginger-beer, soda-water, and lemonade, of each 2 dozen bottles; 6 bottles of sherry, 6 bottles of claret, champagne à discrétion, and any other light wine that may be preferred, and 2 bottles of brandy. Water can usually be obtained so it is useless to take it.
You can imagine the work required for such a event! By 1900 picnics had become smaller, portable feasts, such as we are used to today. No matter what the size, or occasion though, picnics remain a favorite way to spend a summertime meal, so grab a blanket and sandwich and let’s go!

01 09 10