St. Patrick’s Day Tea

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

–Irish blessing

Lady T. invites you to a …

invitationLady T. hosted the first Victorian Tea Society tea for 2015, a St. Patrick’s Day tea, to ring in the first official day of spring.

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Shamrocks, gold coins, and festive polar bears

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“A four leaf clover for good luck”

DSC05295 (Small)Lady T. designed her St. Patrick’s Day tea menu to include lots of potatoes and green colored foods.menu

Green bears too!?

Green bears too!?

Lady K.'s Irish soda bread and Lady T.s' green shamrock butter

Lady K.’s Irish soda bread and Lady T.s’ green shamrock butter

D. says that only Americans make soda bread with raisins or currants.  I hate raisins in any form but I enjoyed Lady K.’s soda bread with currants!  A testament to her baking skills!

Lady T.'s potato leek soup

Lady T.’s delicious potato leek soup

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Lady B.’s spinach salad with spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, toasted pecans, feta, avocado, and warm maple Dijon dressing

The warm maple Dijon dressing was good enough to drink!

Warm maple Dijon dressing
(Adapted from Eating Well)

1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 thyme leaves (optional)
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Whisk ingredients together and warm in a saucepan.  For best flavor, make ahead the night before and re-warm it before serving.

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Lady H.’s mini baked potatoes and Lady T.’s spinach artichoke puff pastry cups

The mini baked potatoes are a tribute to St. Brendan’s voyage.  They were made in the image of St. Brendan’s boat with a bacon sail and a savory deck of sour cream, scallions, and cheddar cheese, the ingredients comprising the colors of the Irish flag.

Now for a history lesson: Who discovered America?  Well, that depends on who you ask … the Italians/Spanish will tell you that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492; the Chinese will tell you that ancient Chinese sailors from 2200 BC discovered America, or that Admiral Zheng He discovered America in 1421; and the Scandinavians claim that the Vikings reached America in 1000 AD.  Finally, the Irish claim that St. Brendan discovered America in 5th century.  Which theory do you support?

Spinach artichoke puff pastry cups
(Adapted from My Recipes)

1/2 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
45 frozen mini-phyllo pastry shells

Preheat oven to 350°. Drain thawed spinach, pressing between paper towels. Stir together drained spinach, artichoke hearts, sour cream, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and a dash of freshly ground pepper. Spoon spinach mixture into pre-baked phyllo or puff pastry shells (about 2 tsp. per cup), pressing into bottom of each cup. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve immediately.

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Lady J.’s shamrock shaped corned beef tea sandwiches with mustard butter and cornichons

The triskele, triskelion, or Triple spiral is a Celtic and pre-Christian symbol found on a number of Irish Megalithic and Neolithic sites.  When Christianity came into the forefront in Ireland before the 5th century, the triskele took on new meaning, as a symbol of the Trinity (i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and eternity.  Its meaning can be interpreted so many ways that I cannot name them all here.  For the purposes of this tea, I declare that the triskele represents the 3 foundations of afternoon tea: Tea, Relaxation, and Friendship!

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Irish cheddar on soda bread with apple cranberry chutney (by Lady H.) and Goat cheese and fresh herb triangles (by Lady ML)

Goat cheese and fresh herb triangles
(From Tea time magazine, Sept./Oct. 2012)

2 (4-ounce) packages goat cheese, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 slices wheat bread, such as Sarah Lee Honey Wheat
Garnish: minced fresh parsley

In a small bowl, combine goat cheese, cream cheese, and cream, stirring until smooth. Add herbs, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Spread cheese mixture evenly onto 6 bread slices. Top each with a remaining bread slice.

Using a serrated bread knife, trim crusts from bread with a gentle sawing motion. Discard crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 triangles.

Garnish by pressing additional parsley onto edges before serving, if desired.

Apple cranberry chutney
(adapted from Ocean Spray)
Yield: 1/4 cup

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup peeled, diced apple
1 Tbsp. diced red onion
Pinch each: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves
1 oz. dried cranberries

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and cook until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.  Add water if needed for consistency.  Puree with a hand blender or leave chunky.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Lady T.’s double chocolate oatmeal scones with brown sugar glaze

Lady MH got into the swing of spring by serving her pistachio fruit fluff in glass cups that resembled planters and shovel shaped spoons.

Lady MH.'s pistachio fruit fluff

Lady MH.’s pistachio fruit fluff

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Lady MH.’s mint brownies–BEST BROWNIE EVER!!

Mint brownies
(from About Food)
Yield: 16

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup fudge ice cream topping
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tub vanilla ready to spread frosting

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
Few drops green food coloring
1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. cocoa
1-1/2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a heavy saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and blend in fudge topping with wire whisk.  Add sugar, beating well.  Then add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa and mix well.  Stir in 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips.  Grease 9×9″ square pan.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until just set. Cool completely.

In small bowl combine frosting, green food coloring, and mint extract and beat well until frosting is evenly colored. Spread over brownies in pan.

In medium bowl, combine powdered sugar and cocoa and mix with wire whisk. In microwave safe bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. butter and 1-1/2 Tbsp. water and microwave for 30-45 seconds until butter melts. Add to powdered sugar mixture and beat with wire whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. You may need to add more water to reach a pouring consistency. Then carefully pour this frosting over the green frosting and gently spread to cover.

Thank you, Lady T. for hosting such a grand tea!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.

In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea.

I liked the Irish way better.”

― C.E. Murphy, Urban Shaman

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