And then we had tea . . .

Friday 14 January 2011

These cold dismal and dreary January days can get one a bit down after a while. Day after day of drizzle or snow . . . very little sun . . . blah, blah, blah.

Here's one way to perk them up and bring a bit of sunshine into your life! Have a tea party! You don't need anything special . . . or even to invite a whole bunch of people over. Some of the best tea parties of all happen when there's just two of you and a dog!

All you need is a table spread with a fine cloth and some tea . . . in a pot of course, (today we had blackberry and mint and it was delicious!) and cups and saucers.

The perfect afternoon tea should begin with some delicious savouries . . . finger sandwiches, sausage rolls, little toasts, savoury pastries . . . followed with scones (if you wish) and a selection of fancies and cakes.

I decided early on during this particularly dreary day that I was going to treat Todd and I to a traditional English Afternoon tea party. He had no idea what I was up to, as he sat upstairs engrossed in his war games on the computer.

Things don't always go to plan though . . . do they. The dog mischeviously ate half of my first Victoria Sponge when my back was turned. Bad doggie. I seized the engine on my new baby sized food processor, chopping the glace fruit for the florentines. Bad idea. Chop it by hand.

Never mind we got there in the end and Todd was so surprised when I called him down to lunch and he saw what I had been up to.

We sat there smiling and sipping and nibbling . . . all was right with the world, drizzle or not, dog eaten cakes . . . it was fun, plain and simple.

Don't forget to use your pinkies!

*Finger Sandwiches*
makes 18 to 24
Printable Recipe

What would afternoon tea be without a plate of tasty sandwiches? (Choose 3 of the below fillings)

12 thin slices of white or wholemeal bread, crusts removed
(I just buy the bread that already has the crusts removed,
easy peasy, lemon squeasy)
room temperature butter, for spreading
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired

For the egg and cress filling:
2 TBS good quality mayonnaise
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest from an unwaxed lemon
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
a handful of mustard cress

For the Gentleman's Morsels:
1/4 pound shaved roasted ham
apricot jam, seived
Dijon mustard

For the Roast Beef:
1/4 pound thinly sliced rare roast beef
horseradish mayonnaise
a handful of rocket leaves

For the Parma Ham and Fig filling:
1/4 pound of parma ham
1 ripe fig
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp olive oil
handful of rocket leaves

For the Stilton and Pear filling:
50g of Stilton cheese, thinly sliced (1/4 pound)
1 ripe firm pear

To cut sandwiches, lay your hand on top of the sandwich and lightly press down. Using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, cut diagonally into quarters or lengthways into 3 fingers.

For the egg and cress sandwiches, thinly butter 4 slices of the bread. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest, egg and season with some black pepper, folding together well. Spread evenly on half the slices of bread. Sprinkle with the cress and top with the remaining 2 slices of bread. Cut as above.

To make the Gentlemen's Morsels., thinly butter 4 slices of the bread. Spread 2 slices with seived apricot jam. Spread the other 2 with Dijon mustard. Lay the ham evenly over top of 2 slices and top with the other 2. Cut as above.

For the Roast Beef, thinly butter 4 slices of the bread. Spread 2 slices with the horseradish mayonnaise. Top with the roast beef and season to taste. Sprinkle with the rocket and top with the other 2 slices of bread. Cut as above.

For the Parma Ham and Fig sandwiches, thinly butter 4 slices of bread and fold ham on top of two of them. Cut the fig into thin wedges, remove and discard the skin and then arrange the wedges on top of the ham. Whisk the vinegar and oil together. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle over the figs. Top with rocket and the remaining slices of buttered bread and cut as above.

To make the Stilton and Pear sandwiches, thinly butter 4 slices of bread. Arrange the stilton over 2 slices of the bread. Slice the pear into thin wedges, removing and discarding the core, then arrange on top of the cheese. Season with black pepper, then top with the remaining slices of bread and cut as above.

*Dark and White Chocolate Florentines*
Makes about 24
Printable Recipe

Sticky, crisp, chewy, gooey. Moreishly addictive.

50g of butter (3 1/2 TBS)
50g of caster sugar (2 TBS)
3 TBS double cream
25g of flaked almonds (1/4 cup)
75g of mixed nuts, chopped (Pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.) 3/4 cup
4 glace cherries, chopped
50g of mixed glace fruits (apricots, pineapple, peel, angelica) chopped (1/3 cup)
25g of plain flour (1 heaped TBS)
50g of white chocolate
(2 ounces)
50g of dark chocolate
(2 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ Gas mark 4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Gently heat the butter, sugar and cream together until the butter melts. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Stir in the nuts, cherries, fruit and flour. Mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them well apart.

Bake for 10 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and gently press back the edges with a rounded knife to keep a round shape. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before carefully peeling off the paper and setting on a wire rack to cool completely.

Break the white and dark chocolates into individual bowls. Melt carefully in the microwave without over-heating. (Be careful as white chocolate burns easily.) Alternatively melt in bowls over simmering water. Spread over the bottoms of the florentines, coating half with white and half with dark. Let set before serving.

Ohhh . . . doesn't she have a longing look in her face? I think half a cake is more than enough don't you?


  1. How fun. Tea for two, good for you. What a sweetie Todd is with his finger sticking out of the teacup. Goog sport and I'm sure he loved every bite as well as your attention. xxoo

  2. Oh, my! May I please be invited to your next tea party?!?!? What a marvelously beautiful table you set, my friend...and such delicious-looking morsels!

    That Mitzi is a pesky little thing, isn't she?! And I love the photos of Todd--espeically with his pinky up!

    So much love and joy being sent your way, my dear, sweet friend!


  3. What fun you are all all looks so yummy too, I love tea parties, even though I don't drink tea! LOL

  4. Hi Marie!!!

    Greetings from Spain!!!
    Beautiful post and beautiful dog. It´s just like my spaniel!!!! They seem like sisters!!! jejejejeje.
    A kiss for her and thanks for your tea!! all was great.

  5. my dog did exact the same a couple of weeks ago.. :)
    oh Marie.. please invite me for the next tea party.. i will catch the first airplane to UK and i will also bring greek mountain tea.. mmmm..

  6. Looks like a gorgeous spread. Its so nice to have a proper afternoon tea with little dainty sandwiches and all. Lovely :)

  7. What a beautiful tea! I once lived very close to an honest to goodness English Tea Room. I loved it and went every change I had.

  8. Mitzie is too cute! Marie what a lovely tea you two had!

  9. I love tea parties! So very favorite detail in novels about England. Your sandwich fillings are inspired. What a sweet thing to do for your husband. I'm sure he felt very special.

  10. Wow - what a treat and it looks like it was such great fun too! Love the last pic with the pinkies ;0)

  11. Ooh, what a naughty doggie! I love the pictures though, beautifully shot.... *drool*

  12. I so enjoyed your lovely tea. I hope Mitzie did too. What a delightful way to spend a snowy dreary winter day!

  13. Bonjour Marie,
    How I would love to be at your place for tea; my favourite thing; it's too bad we have lost that practice in Canada, except when we go to Victoria in March.

  14. Oh, my goodness... I love LOVE that photo of Todd with pinkie up! LOL! And the one of Mitzie too... so sweet. I spy napkins I recognize too. ;o) Fun to see you using them. A tea party at home sure does lift a winter day, doesn't it? Wonderful ideas here. I'm thinking of a Valentine Tea for hubby & I next month. I love tea rooms. we don't have them here in Norway, it's coffee country here. :o( Not that I mind coffee, but I LOVE tea. So tea room at home... I must do that again soon. Happy weekend, dear friend--LOVE YOU LOTS ((BIG HUGS))

  15. Hello Todd..we've heard so much about you:)

    What a lucky man you are..those gentleman's morsels sound and look like heaven..Love the pinky and smile:)

    Marie..I hear you re the mini chopper and confit fruit..never again! By hand.. of course..i guess we all try once..ONCE.:)

    This is beautiful..good for you for doing this and treating us to the photos..
    Love the one you're with~
    So often we shower others with attention..this was lovely to see.

  16. I am absolutely crazy about a good tea party - thanks so much for the recipes! I'm always on the hunt for new ones. =)

  17. What a wonderful treat! I'll have to bookmark this so I can be sure to try all of your wonderful-looking recipes.

  18. Marie, Since I follow you via Google Reader, I haven't taken time to comment on your blog before now. However, as we are a family of tea lovers, more importantly the "taking of tea" I thought it was time. Thank you so much for all the time, honesty, and energy you put into each of your posts. It shows, and I greatly appreciate reading all of your posts. There was a wonderful tea place owned by a British family here in town for years that has shut down. Now, we would have to travel to Asheville, NC, USA for any sort of the "real thing" if we wanted to be served. Doing this at home is always fun and some of your recipes are new to me; we'll be happily adding them to our repertoire. Thanks again and cheers! Tom

  19. Oh I love tea and I probably would have stolen the other half of your Victoria sponge had I have been there. I have to say though with that adorable face staring at me, I probably would have given it to your dog.

  20. My but your post has made me ever so hungry and wanting to have some of those dainty little sandwiches right now. Ha, ha, ha. What is rocket?

  21. Hi Marie -- I want a tea party -- now! Earl Grey please. Such a pretty table. This Victoria Sponge cake has a circular pattern on it's top. The other picture I saw had a square pattern. You said the square pattern was from laying on a wire cake/cookie cooling rack. How did you manage the circular pattern? Enquiring minds want to know. Many thanks!

  22. Tis simple Marie, I have more than one cooling rack! One has a square pattern and the other is a round one that looks a bit like a flower, with little feet and a coiled centre. I got it at Lakeland about 10 years ago. One of my first kitchen purchases over here! Not sure if you can get it anymore though.

  23. How simple. Of course now that you mention it I have seen the circular style of cooling rack. It's funny how you think something is complicated -- then when you hear the explanation -- you go, "duh", of course why didn't I think of that?
    The "other" Marie

  24. How fun, to surprise Todd with a lovely tea! Got a chuckle of the photos with the pinkie! Say hello to him for us, will you?

  25. Afternoon tea is so comforting in the middle of January! I have a cup or two of tea every day, but in the winter it seems so much better to have lovely treats with my tea. Your food and table look so inviting, and the Parma ham and fig sandwiches sound delicious! It's past the time for fresh figs here in California, but I made some fig jam last October and I'll be using that in some sandwiches for a tea party this coming April.

    I don't have a dog to steal my tea treats, but we do have cats, and they are just as naughty when it comes to food for the tea table! I have to put a large colander over every pan or plate of baked goods that I leave on the counter top to cool, and weight it down with a can of beans to keep the cats off of it. They'll either eat the hot food, or sit on it!


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