Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Veggies and Dips

I'm always wanting veggies in a format that will encourage the eating of them. Tea parties consist moreso of sandwiches and scones and desserts, so I wanted the nutritional addition of veggies. Having dips is the main way I find I'll eat more veggies.

We were crafting all day at my Valentine Tea Party, so I wanted everything to be finger food. Probably every time I passed by, I'd grab some veggies to eat, so that accomplished what I was hoping for.

First off, my dip recipe book, suggests par-boiling some veggies, for ease in digestion, then chilling them. Monte asked me to do this years ago, recognizing his body's needs (Monte is a great "body listener"!) Baby potatoes (or small sized potatoes cut later in wedges) boiled and then chilled are EVERYONE'S favorite veggie to dip! So I put the potatoes in a large pot to boil and put my steamer basket on top. Once the water comes to a boil I'll dump in the baby carrots (I know, I know, baby carrots are not truly baby carrots - did you know that?!). Steam veggies  3 minutes, dump them in a strainer basket and run cold water over them, drain, and bag up and chill. I do this with broccoli and sometimes the cauliflower too. So I had these, and green onions, celery sticks, red pepper slices, and radishes all ready the day before my party to keep refilling my large serving platter.

Since I have a three bowl serving dish, I made three dips the day before.

2 C sour cream (sometimes I'll do this with 1/2 Hellmanns Mayo)
1/2 C buttermilk (sometimes I'll just use buttermilk powder - 3Tb)
3 Tb fresh parsley
2 Tb fresh chopped chives
1 Tb fresh oregano
1 1/2 tsp fresh tarragon
2 minced cloves garlic
2 Tb grated lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Mix this all up well. Most of the herbs I have fresh in my greenhouse. If you're using dry, you use a lot less - like 1/2 - 1 tsp. Sometimes when I make this dip I like to slow cook thin sliced/chopped onions till caramelized and add.

This was SO GOOD I'm going to be making it a lot!
- The recipe calls for 4 artichokes to peel and roast their hearts. Since it's not artichoke season yet, I just opened a 15 oz can of plain artichoke hearts (not marinated), drained, and dumped on the foil-lined baking sheet to roast.
- 2 whole garlic heads - cut off tops, pour on some olive oil, salt and pepper, and put the tops back on to roast.
- 1 red pepper - cut off both ends, slit down side and open out flat on the foil with the skin side up, along with both ends.
Roast in a 400 degree oven about 40 minutes. Don't let anything burn, but 'yes' to darkening. Remove the hearts and garlic to cool, and close up the foil around the pepper to sit and cool, so you can peel in a bit.

In a food processor squeeze out all the garlic cloves, add the hearts, and skinned pepper and puree along with
2 C ricotta
1/2 C grated parmasan
2 Tb fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste

2 C sour cream
1/2 C Hellmanns Mayo
2 scallions, including greens
1 1/2 C blue cheese
1/2 tsp pepper
4 shakes of Tabasco
1 Tb Worcestershire Sauce
I didn't have any Worcestershire. I need to look for a recipe substitute since I'm no longer keeping it stocked, as it's got high fructose corn syrup in it. I know it's main ingredients are vinegar and fish sauce (which is made from anchovies - an umami [the fifth taste] you want - it's what makes most salad dressings, etc, yummy). So I put a dollop each of vinegar and fish sauce. You want to puree this mixture as well.

At the end of the day I pulled some turkey broth I froze after Thanksgiving from the freezer, put it in a soup pot with the leftover dip veggies, chopped. Added the rest of the sliced chicken not used in the tea sandwiches. And added a chopped chipotle chili in adobo. Serve with some cut up avacado and a dollop of homemade yogurt. An easy end of the day supper.

Tea Party Sandwiches

SO many tea sandwich ideas to choose from! So what did I make for my Valentine Tea Party?
Cumin Roasted Carrot
Curried Chicken
Egg Salad
Black Forest Ham & Gruyere Cheese
Chicken & Apple

I was going to do a cucumber one, but didn't get to it. Thought a Stilton, pear, and watercress sounded good. Had sliced smoked salmon ready, which would have gone with cucumber too, but didn't do them either. Asparagus logs - rolling the bread around asparagus sounded good too. I read of a BLT too ...

The favorite was the carrot sandwich -
Start with 3-4 thick carrots, peel, cut in thirds and slice 1/8" thick. Toss with 1 3/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper, and 2 Tb olive oil. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. You want them to start caramelizing a bit.
Assembling? One bread was spread with a tapenade, the other slice with a herbed cheese. Then the carrots and some baby spinach.

2 C mixed olives (I just used the Kalamata)
1 Tb each of tarragon, chives, rosemary, thyme, and chervil (I had fresh of each except chervil, so used less of it, dried)
1/4 C sour cream
1 1/2 tsp honey (I used Agave Nectar)
pinch each of salt and pepper
Puree smooth. Refrigerate - up to a week ahead okay.

Herbed Cheese Spread
8 oz chevre (I did use chevre, but we don't like most goat products, unless fresh, so I'd make this from now on with cream cheese - we tasted the goat [Monte, Travis and me] and didn't like it.)
2 Tb cream cheese
3/4 tsp each of tarragon, chervil, chives, and thyme (all fresh, but the chervil)
pinch of salt & pepper
Process till smooth and refrigerate - up to a week ahead okay.

Sliced chicken breast with sliced grannysmith apples are another sandwich using the above herbed cheese spread. I marinaded chicken breasts for at least 24 hours, grilled them with some hickory smoke going, and Monte sliced them VERY THIN, as well as the apples.

The chicken marinade?
1/2 C of brewed green tea
3/4 C soy sauce (I always used Braggs Liquid Aminos- healthy, natural, and hardly any sodium)
1/4 C + 2 Tb  Balsamic Vinegar (why not just say 1/3 C, isn't that close?)
1/4 C fresh orange juice
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
2 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp ginger
4 tsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

I marinaded 4 large breasts. Two I used in the above sandwich with the apples. The other two I ground in my meat grinder, along with the onion and celery, which I made into chicken curry, which along with the roasted carrot, was another favorite -

Chicken Curry Sandwiches
2 large breasts
1/4 C chopped celery
1/4 C chopped onion
1/4 C apricot jam
1/4 C sour cream
1/4 C mayo
1 Tb curry powder
pinch each of salt and pepper
Like I said above, I used the marinaded and grilled chicken. I used the meat grinder cuz it would grind everything fine without me have to do any chopping. Maybe a food processor would do the job. I picked this because of the apricot jam. I thought it sounded lovely!

Another favorite was my egg salad. I'll post that recipe separate another time. I love my egg salad alone, like as a salad, rather than in a sandwich ... I just love it any way.

I read somewhere that cilantro could replace watercress when in a crunch. I bought some, and was going to use it with cream cheese and cucumbers, but never got around to making them. As I posted earlier, I made the white whole wheat and a brown whole wheat bread for the sandwiches in square (pullman) loaf pans, and Monte sliced them 1/4" thin.

(I'm posting some of the same pictures for these posts because I didn't take any more.)

Everything was ready the day before, so all my early guests (it was a valentine crafting open house tea party) helped make the sandwiches. I didn't plan it to be another craft station, but it worked out that way, and I think everyone really enjoyed it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scones, Curds, and Un-clotted Cream

I'm posting recipes I used for my Valentine crafting open house tea party. I already posted about the square bread recipe I used for the sandwich bread. Like it, I didn't want my scones to be like the typical tea house white flour kind. I used my home-ground whole wheat pastry berry flour and oat flour. I also didn't want large scones, so used a small round cutter - like a donut hole size. I wanted to make pumpkin scones too, but found I didn't have any canned pumpkin like I thought I did ... Typical me ... I did plan a lot for this party, but I assumed I had canned pumpkin. Hmmmm.... now that I think of it, I do have that proportion in the freezer ... Oh well, we had enough.

3 C whole grain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 stick (3/4C) unsalted butter
3/4 C buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter till fine crumble, then add buttermilk. OR you could do this just fine with the butter melted and mix the wet ingredients in with the mixed dry ingredients. The most important thing with scones is to not over mix - like DON'T KNEAD! Dump ingredients out onto floured (oiled would probably work too) counter, mixing together more - I had to add a bit more buttermilk. Pat out in large circle till about 1 - 1 1/2" thick. Cut with a circle cutter (recipe called for 3" circles). Put on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes or till lightly browned.

Sweetened recipes used same recipe, but added 1/3 C sugar. I did a mixed berry scone recipe adding in the sugar as well as about 2C mixed berries - I had fresh blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries (I used the leftover berries to make a mixed berry jam for the scones). The pumpkin scones used the same recipe with the added sugar, 1 C canned pumpkin, 1/4 tsp each ginger and cinnamon, then 2 Tb vanilla. I did make turtle scones later, using a caramel glaze also used on the pumpkin scones.

3C whole grain flour
1/3C sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4C unsalted butter
3/4C chopped pecans
3/4C mini choc chips
1 1/4C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Caramel Glaze

Mixed the dry ingredients, added in the wet till barely mixed, dumped onto counter mixing it together better, tho not kneading, into a circle about 1 1/2" thick. Cut in circles and put on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes at 425 degrees.

2 sticks (1C) unsalted butter
1C brown sugar
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2C heavy cream

Heat all but cream in a saucepan over medium till light boil. Add the cream having turned the heat to low. Cook about 2 minutes or until thickened. Hold the scone bottoms and dip the tops into the glaze and put them back onto the baking sheet.

Like I said above, I made a mixed berry jam from extra fresh berries I bought for the berry scones. I made a Tangerine Lemon Curd and a Un-clotted Cream for the scones.

1 Qt heavy cream
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
2/3 C fresh lemon juice

Mix the cream, slowly adding the sugar. Then add the lemon juice in a slow stream. Turn to high speed and whip till the mixture holds peaks. This will keep refrigerated a week.

I ordered up Tea Party books from the library. One book I gleaned a lot of ideas from was Alice's Tea Cup - a famous tea house in New York. When googling lemon curd recipes I came upon this tangerine curd recipe from a blog:, which I've bookmarked cuz I want to try a lot of stuff she posts!

Mix together well, rubbing together with the back of a spoon -
5 Tb sugar
1 tsp tangerine zest
In a saucepan over low heat whisk together -
1 lg egg & 2 lg egg yolks (I'd written down another lemon curd recipe and they used the whole eggs so I used 3 whole eggs)
the tangerine sugar mixture
2Tb lemon juice
1/4C tangerine juice
4Tb unsalted butter
pinch of salt

Whisk in the saucepan over low (the other recipe did it over medium) till thick enough to coat the back of a spoon - about 5 minutes (the other recipe stirred in the butter in pieces, a bit at a time, lowering the heat and continuing cooking stirring constantly till thick)(I probably did a mixture of both recipes.) Joy pressed hers thru a fine mesh strainer, then jarred up the mixture. I didn't. I figured the tangerine peel pieces would be fine. I did jar it up and pressed plastic wrap on the surface, as the other recipe suggested, to keep a skin from forming, let cool to room temp and then refrigerated. This will keep a week too or freeze.

PS I read it's best to make these fresh, so I was making them the morning of the tea. Now it's several days later and I'm reheating them in the toaster oven and they're still good. I'm thinking if made later in the day the day before, covered with foil and kept in a warm oven right before the tea, they'd be good. They really aren't hard tho to whip up quickly and cut out and bake ...

PPS I ran out of baking soda! I'm usually a great list-maker, adding things to a list when getting low. I looked all over for another box, so I googled "baking soda substitute" that morning in the thick of making everything! Lots of science you could read: base/acid... The bottom line? Add extra baking powder - so I used a Tb of baking powder in the scones.

Tea Sandwich Bread - Pain De Mai - Pullman Bread Pans

I had a Valentine Tea crafting party. I've been to tea houses and my main complaint is white breads and scones. I wanted to use my fresh ground flours for fullness of nutrients. As I researched tea sandwiches I settled on wanting pullman pans for making the square bread typically used. The first recipe/pullman pan use I found was in Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook - using a 16"x3 1/2" x3 1/2" pan. I had one old pan. I knew my regular bread recipe amount would fill 3 of these pans, and after reading people's reviews, that of loving the bread on a regular basis, I ordered the pans. When I googled Pain De Mie (pullman) Pan recipes I consistently found recipes based on King Arthur's Flour shop, and read thru the reviews so I could get an idea as to the process and any possible tips.

Did I practice before making the party bread? No.

Martha's book shows a light and dark bread combo for sandwiches. In the google research I saw that unsweetened cocoa or carob powder would offer the darker bread coloring, so that is what I added to the recipe (1/2 cup of cocoa). So I ended up with 3 light loaves and 3 dark loaves. Monte used an electric knife we got for a wedding present and have hardly used - it's the best for slicing a nice even 1/4" slice. With the 1/4" slice, with all the tea sandwich varieties we made, only one of each loaf color got used. So I froze the rest of the loves, cut in thirds.

6 C warm water (milk is used, so I added powdered milk to the water)
2 sticks + 2 Tb (18Tb) unsalted butter, softened
3Tb yeast
1/2 C sugar
1 Tb salt
about 15 C flour

Add 6C of the flour and yeast and sugar to the mixing bowl and barely mix - let set about 10 minutes (this is a sponge, to let the yeast start bubbling). Then add in the salt, butter and flour till the dough starts balling up leaving the sides of the bowl. I stop and feel how sticky it is, adding in flour till tacky, not sticky, then let it knead about 10 minutes. All bread recipes have you do a rising in the bowl before putting the dough in the pans for a second rising. I never do this, because of the sponging and how well the Bosch kneads dough. Since the KAF recipe suggested it, I decided to just let it rise in the Bosch bowl before dumping it out on my oiled counter top, dividing it in three, rolling it up and pressing in each pan, and let rise again. I normally put a cloth over the rising loaves. It was suggested to put plastic wrap - is this to see it? I did. And when close to the top I snapped/slid the lids on, let set a bit more and put them in the pre-heated oven.

Hmmmm ... oven temp and how long? I'm still not sure. Martha's recipe is for the bread pan size I have, so 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes, lids removed and another 15-20 minutes at 375. KAF baked it totally at 350 degrees, but 25 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes with the lid off - but their bread pan is 13" long. Someone also mentioned registering the temp with a thermometer, saying it should be at 190 degrees. I saw another recipe having oven temp at 400 and baking 45 minutes. So I might experiment on that. And too, I want to experiment with my basic bread recipe without the milk and butter, but oil, and not doing two risings like I normally do.

The bread pans with the lids are compressing the bread so the air bubbles are more consistent throughout the bread - a little denser for holding together better. So no rounded tops with the larger air bubbles at the top of the bread. Also, it's almost crustless.

Mine did cave a bit in the middle - not much. That's another thing I have to read about again and practice and perfect.

Sarah cut the squares and hearts for the mixed bread design for some of the sandwiches. I had all the sandwich making ingredients ready for the party, but didn't have them made ahead of time. My party was to be a crafting station party: paper craft station for making valentines, paint and glitter station, wet felt over homemade soap station in the greenhouse, needle felting station in the guest room, a crayon melting & one-use-soap station in the laundry/sitting room. So since the sandwiches weren't made in time, sandwich-making became one of the craft stations. I think people enjoyed that. I'll be posting about the crafts on my overflow blog and continue posting tea party recipes here on this blog.

Oh ... I read it's better to make your tea sandwich bread a day ahead - easier to slice, I think. And too, the leftovers from the cut outs? I was going to do a strata for breakfast, but didn't, so now they're all dry and I'll make them into bread crumbs and store them in the freezer - ready for coating fish, or in meatloaf ...

People are still telling me "thank you" for the party and want it to become a tradition. I will make the Valentine Tea crafting party a tradition, and thinking of doing some other seasonal similar parties - like Ukrainian Egg dyeing craft close to Easter; a late summer tea in the full bloom garden ...
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