Afternoon Tea at Home

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We hosted a Pride & Prejudice Tea recently where a group of friends came over to watch the A&E/BBC Pride & Prejudice mini-series. We made tea sandwiches and a few sweets to tied us over during the long 5.5 hour show.

Dave baked two loaves of bread in a pullman loaf pan so that we’d have nice square slices of bread to make the tea sandwiches with. We had several different flavors of sandwiches including: egg salad with rocket (arugula), ham with havarti cheese and cucumber, cucumber and Cotswold cheese, and cheddar cheese with either tomato jam or mango chutney. All of the sandwiches turned out great and went really fast, faster than I was expecting!

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For the sweets, I made Julia Child’s butter scones and served them with Devon clotted cream and homemade strawberry-rhubarb and bumbleberry jams, cranberry shortbread, and Empire biscuits. I had made the shortbread before, it’s a super easy recipe. I had also made the Empire biscuits previously, which I think turned out better than before. I had tried the butter scones before, but this was my first time making them. They also came together quite easily and were very tasty.

We had an assortment of teas out for people to try. The whole afternoon was lovely.

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Three Teas & a Lunch

Bea's of Bloomsbury

Way back in September, Dave and I traveled to the United Kingdom for a lovely two week vacation. We staying in London for a week and then went up to Scotland for another week (split between Glasgow and the Outer Hebrides). While we were in the UK we drank A LOT of tea! We drank tea with almost every meal whether we were eating at home or out in a restaurant. I really wanted to go to a “real” afternoon tea while we were in London and we ended up going to three different afternoon teas (two in London and one in Glasgow)!

Our first tea was the cream tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury. The tea included a individual pot of tea, I had the vanilla black tea, two scones, Cornish clotted cream, and strawberry jam. Our friend’s daughter enjoyed a cupcake. The tea was very nice, it was called vanilla and I could actually taste like vanilla. I hate it when food or drink is labeled something and then doesn’t deliver on the flavor. The scones were lovely and absolutely heavenly topped with the clotted cream and strawberry jam.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of Bea’s of Bloomsbury. It was nice and casual, but still felt special. I don’t know if that’s because we don’t regularly do afternoon tea at home or if it was actually the space. Either way, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Ladurée

Our next afternoon tea experience was at Ladurée the famed French macaron bakery. First, the macarons were absolutely delicious and everything that I expected and hoped for (I’m kind of obsessed). While we were eating our macarons outside the shop in Covent Gardens, we took a look at their afternoon tea menu and decided to stay. We were seated on a balcony overlooking the plaza. Our tea was served in individual pots and the cream was served steamed. Included in the tea were two tea sandwiches each, two croissants each, and two pastries each. There was a selection to choose from for each category.

The tea sandwiches were good, not anything special. We both got ham and cheese and then just cheese. The croissants were the best croissants either of us had ever had! Both of us tried a plain croissant and then I got and almond one and Dave got a chocolate one. So, so good! And then for the finally, we each tried a raspberry and mango tart. I ordered a chocolate hazelnut torte and Dave had a super rich chocolate torte. It was perfect and everything I wanted in an afternoon tea in London!

Willow Tea Rooms

Our last afternoon tea was at the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow at their Sauchiehall Street location. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1904, The Willow Tea Room was the only tea room building where Mackintosh had complete control over every aspect of the design. He modeled the exterior as well as the interior of the building and even designed the cutlery and waitresses’ dresses. The tea room was restored in the 1980’s.

We were served tea sandwiches (an assortment), scones with clotted cream and jam, and then we got to pick an item from the pastry case. The sandwiches were good, especially the egg salad. We skipped the roast beef. The scones were tasty too, but the real star of the show was the Empire biscuits we selected from the pastry case. They’re HUGE and delicious. I wish I could have one right now. The Willow Tea room also has a very large selection of tea and a full lunch/breakfast menu.

Ella's Café

We spent a few days with family on the Isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. After our ferry ride back to the Isle of Skye, we grabbed lunch in Uig at Ella’s Café. We both order the crofter’s lunch. I had mind with a pot of tea, of course! The crofter’s lunch included a couple of slices of meat (we’re really not sure what kind of meat it was, our guess was either beef or venison), a couple of different types of cheese, bread, and a berry compote. On their own, I wasn’t a big fan of the cheese or the meat, but when combined all together with the bread and the compote, I quite liked it.

The food in the United Kingdom offen gets a bad rap, however, if you’re ever lucky enough to visit I would recommend trying afternoon tea as at many places as possible!

Spritz “Cookie Press” Cookies

Pecan Bourbon Spritz Cookies

I recently tried out my hand-me-down cookie press. I had never used it before so I was curious how it would work out. You need to use a recipe specifically for a cookie press, often called a spritz cookie. The consistency of the dough is important, you do not refrigerate the dough before loading it into your cookie press and it’ll make it more difficult to press or shoot the cookies out.

The recipe I decided to try was for Bourbon Pecan Spritz from Recipe.com. The original recipe called for the sawtooth die and to press out a continuous cookie strip that would then be cut into individual cookies. I tried this method and found it too difficult/impossible to get the dough out of the cookie press in an even manner. I switched to the flower die and things went a lot more smoothly! In fact, I was able to dispense over 100 cookies onto cookie sheets in less than 10 minutes. The only hang up I found after I switched dies was that I did not grind my pecans fine enough. If one got stuck, I made a butterfly instead of a flower and then just unclogged the die with a toothpick.

The original recipe also called for dipping the cookies partially in chocolate. With the more irregular shape of the flower cookies, I decided to drizzle the chocolate on top instead, which worked out well. The cookies were tasty and kept really well (I stored them in the refrigerator after a couple of days to preserve freshness).

Other spritz cookie recipes I considered were:

I look forward to trying my cookie press again, especially for the match almond spritz cookies that I linked above. It sounds delicious!

Dibella’s Old Fashioned Submarines

Dibella's Old Fashioned Submarines

I thought I was trying Dibella’s Old Fashioned Submarines for the first time, but once we entered the restaurant I had a weird feeling of deja vu. I think I had eaten there several years ago with my old job. Either way, second time around or a new experience, my Dibella’s sub was delicious!

I was tempted by the Buffalo chicken sub, but thought I should try something I might not normally order. So I ordered the Italian meatball sub. Dave ordered the Italian assorted (Genoa Salami, Capicola) sub. We ended up only eating half, they’re huge, and then swapping our leftovers for dinner that night. The meatball sub was moist and flavorful. I was worried that the meatball sub would be too heavy, but surprisingly it wasn’t. The Italian assorted was also super flavorful, which makes my decision for our next visit difficult…which one to order!?! Perhaps I can convince Dave to go halvsies with me again.

Hygrade Restaurant & Deli

Hygrade Restaurant & Deli

Step into the past with a visit to Hygrade Restaurant & Deli in Detroit. We enjoyed a Saturday lunch with a Groupon, bonus! I ordered a corned beef sandwich with Russian dressing and coleslaw on an onion roll and Dave ordered a hot open-faced ham sandwich with mashed potatoes.

The corned beef was excellent, nice, lean, and tender (up there with Zingerman’s Deli and The Grand Trunk Pub). The coleslaw and Russian dressing added a lot of flavor and moisture to the sandwich and the onion roll was just perfect. It was a good size too! Dave really liked his ham sandwich. The entire plate was warm and comforting.

I look forward to our next visit!

Hygrade Restaurant & Deli

Hygrade Restaurant & Deli