Dear Tea Friends,
Somehow I scored an invitation to last night’s grand opening of La Maison Du Chocolat’s (www.lamaisonduchocolat.com) new store on Wall Street, NYC. Opening the door, I felt dipped in chocolate. The shop is a little jewel box designed in shades of milk and dark chocolate and the scent of all those chocolate pralines, truffles, and I don’t know what you call ‘em, was indescribably intoxicating. And the champagne flowed freely. Later in the evening, when I protested that I’d had enough, one server charmingly insisted that I finish off her bottle because the French believe it is good luck to have the last glass. Two young French women, jammed into the counter next to me, confirmed that it’s true and raised their glasses in a toast.
The really lucky bit was ending up next to a server just as he poured molten chocolate, flavored with vanilla and chili, into shot glasses filled with nuts and sugar lumps. Ate that with a spoon. At the other end of the counter, laden with several kinds of macaroons, (my favorite was made with 4 red fruits) pate, cheeses, and smoked salmon rolled in leek strips (interesting tea sandwich idea), was another flotillas of shot glasses.
These held tiny tea-infused chocolate cubes bobbing in pink champagne. My tea tour groups always love the store’s Yoko ganache flavored with black tea, almond and citrus, but this was way, way over the top.
Met an interesting gentleman at the party who told me about a book tea lovers might like,“A History of the World in 6 Glasses,” by Tom Standage. The author writes “that each epoch, from the Stone Age to the present, has had its signature beverage—and takes readers on an extraordinary trip through world history” floated on beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. Standage claims that during the British industrial revolution tea "was the lubricant that kept the factories running smoothly." Haven’t read it yet, but did find a copy on Amazon this morning.
Speaking of chocolate and books, received an early birthday gift copy of “The Good Cookie” by Tish Boyle, www.tishboyle.com, Editor-in-Chief of Chocolatier magazine and Food Editor of Pastry Art & Design magazine. Can’t wait to try her chocolate dipped Earl Grey shortbread wedges, 6 types of tea cakes, and green tea orange sandwich cookies.
Also received “A History of Food” by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat. The hefty (756 pgs.) tome is accurately described by The New York Times as “indispensable, and endlessly fascinating.” There’s a chapter devoted to “Tea and Philosophy” with beautifully written prose such as this bit about the role tea played in the American Revolution: “With one voice, Parliament voted to tax glass and to tax tea. It had brewed a glass of tea that was to burn English hands, and when she dropped it she lost America.”
My friend Kim Hendrickson, who will be teaching a class, at the next World Tea Expo, on creative finger sandwiches, based on her new books, “Tastefully Small Finger Sandwiches – Easy Party Sandwiches for all Occasions” and “Tastefully Small Sweet Canapés” has provided sample recipes to whet your appetites. To order copies, contact Crystal Edwards, Atlantic Publishing.
Phone: 352-622-1875, Fax: 352-622-1875, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Curry Cashew Bites
Yield: 24 sandwiches
Make a culinary statement. Using the primary ingredients of each sandwich to garnish the edges is an attractive way to let your guests know what is inside before they take a bite.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons milk
3 teaspoons curry powder (or less if desired)
¾ cup finely chopped cashews
16 slices firm whole wheat bread
1 ounce cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup cashews, finely chopped, as garnish
Using a wooden spoon, cream 8 ounces cream cheese and 3 tablespoons milk in a small bowl. Stir in the curry and cashews until combined.
In a separate small bowl, mix the extra cream cheese and milk together. Reserve for garnishing.
Spread the cashew filling equally on eight slices of bread. Top with remaining bread slices, then cut the crusts off with a sharp knife. Cut each sandwich into thirds (three equal rectangles).
Using a small spatula or knife, coat one end of each sandwich and about a quarter of the edge along the length of it with the milk and cream; press the coated sandwich tip into the extra cashews so each sandwich has one end covered with cashews.
Nutty Shortbread Bites
Rich shortbread with gooey toffee-covered nut clusters make these bites beautiful and so-o easy to achieve. Great “make-ahead” sweets for any gathering.
Shortbread cut into 1 ½ inch squares (36)
For caramel nut mixture:
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups lightly salted mixed nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a heavy saucepan combine the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mixed nuts and vanilla. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Spoon the warm nut mixture on top of each square. Let them stand for another 20 minutes so the topping can set.
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup confectioners sugar
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, in a large bowl at high speed, for
5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
At low speed gradually add the flour mixture until the dough is combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a 9 inch X 9 inch square pan with parchment paper leaving some paper hanging over the two opposing sides of the pan. This will help you
lift the dough out later.
Press or roll the dough out to ¾-inch thickness and into the lined pan. Using the tines of a fork, score the dough marking off 36 1-½ inch squares.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly colored. While the dough is warm, cut into the fork marks to create a more definite cut. Let the dough cool completely. Lift the shortbread out of the pan and while it is resting on a firm surface, gently cut apart the squares, following the fork marks as a guide.
My newest book, “Celtic Teas With Friends,” is now carried in over 100 stores, tea rooms, and Celtic shops located across the country. Several catalogs carry it, too. To read what people are saying about it visit http://teawithfriends.com/celticteaswfriends_bk.php.
If you’d like an autographed copy, of any of my books,
as a gift for yourself or a friend, just drop me an email
or give me a call @ Tel. 201-656-4365.