Welcome to Tea Tuesday. I trust that my American friends spent a restful and reflective Memorial Day weekend.
I host Tea Tuesday each week, a virtual tea party which was inspired by Christine, a follower who lives in France, who was curious about English tea traditions after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey. The British excel in the tea ritual. Join me every Tuesday as I dish on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe with a history.
My Online Guide to the Tea Ritual
Many of you will be traveling to the UK and will likely have “afternoon tea” on your list. To help avoid disappointment (there is a difference between afternoon and high tea), I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience: Downton Abbey Cooks Online Guide to Afternoon Tea.
- The history of Tea in England
- Tea Lingo
- The difference between Afternoon and High Tea
- Proper tea etiquette
- How to make a proper cup of tea
- Sweet and Savoury tea recipes, including a great scone recipe you can adapt many ways.
- How to build a tea service on a budget.
- Last week Prince Charles and Camilla paid a visit to Canada. They were in Toronto on Victoria Day, a national holiday commemorating Queen Victoria’s birthday, enjoying fireworks with us commoners that evening. Even though they are considered the least popular of the Royals, they were well received this trip.
- There is a flurry of activity this year in connection with the Queen’s Jubilee and you can keep up with the Royal schedule online or on Twitter @BritishMonarchy.
- Queen Elizabeth II was not the first queen to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. You can learn more about Queen Victoria from her journals on Twitter @QueenVictoriaRI or at http://www.queenvictoriasjournals.org.
Learn new words like Jubilympics, multiculturality, and how to use positive phrases like “so, that’s all good” in any situation. The BBC mockumentary looks behind the scenes at organizing the London Olympics. Starring Hugh Bonneville as Ian Fletcher, Chief of Deliverance, it is a great fun. I have collected some episodes on my YouTube channel.
Even during Downton Downtime there is the odd crumb thrown in our direction to keep us going until Season 3 begins;
- Broadcast Schedule: The word is that Season 3 will be broadcast on ITV in the UK starting in September, and on PBS in the US beginning in February.
- Spoiler Alert: if you simply can’t resist what might be taking place in Season 3, there are always a few pictures snapped during filming which make their way to the press and are circulating on the internet.
- Downton Sixby: There have been many spoofs released, the latest by Jimmy Fallon, who has pulled all the stops where star power is concerned. Brooke Shields stars as Cora and in the latest episode released this week, Whoopi Goldberg arrives on the scene as Cousin Isobel. You can watch them both on my YouTube Channel.
Goat Cheese and Fig Sandwiches on Raisin Bread
I haven’t provided a savoury recipe in a while so thought it time to put another one on the list. This is quick to make and can just as easily be added to your appetizer repertoire as your tea tray. The recipe comes from Tea and Crumpets, a great tea book which shares recipes from some of the best tea rooms across the UK.
As you recall I made raisin bread a few weeks back, so I have a great base for this dish, but any raisin bread will do.
Makes 12 canapies
- 12 slices raisin bread
- 2 x 4 ounce logs of plain goat cheese at room temperature
- 2 tbsp. milk
- fresh chive sprigs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces for topping
- 1 package (10 ounces) dried Calimyrna figs, stemmed and chopped
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 3 tbsp. sugar (or sugar substitute)
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
To make the spread*
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the figs, 1 1/2 cups of the water, and the sugar.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the figs are nearly tender when pierced with a fork.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor, add the lemon juice and process for 20 to 30 seconds or until smooth. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water if the mixture is too thick.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl. You should have 1 1/4 cups.
To make the sandwiches
- Preheat the broiler. With a 2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out a round from each slice of bread. Arrange the rounds on a baking sheet and toast them under the broiler for 2 to three minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. If the weather is too hot, you can always toast the bread and then cut the rounds. Do save the scraps for croutons, stuffing, etc.
- In a small bowl or food processor, combine the goat cheese and milk. Whisk until smooth.
- Spoon the mixture in a piping bag with a star tip and pipe the cheese onto each round of bread. Alternatively, make your own bag out of parchment paper or a ziploc bag, making little “x” cuts at the tip.
- Top with a tablespoon of fig spread and garnish with 2 pieces of chive.
- You can store the remaining fig spread in your refrigerator for up to 1 month.
*Note: You simply buy a high quality fig spread if you are pressed for time