Friday, June 1, 2012

Long May She Reign!

 Coronation Chicken Sandwiches

I'm doing my best planning and preparing to serve up a 
"proper" English tea
this Diamond Jubilee Weekend.

Yesterday between polishing the silver and starching the doilies, 
I practiced making Coronation chicken tea sandwiches. 

My tea sandwiches are inspired by the famous Coronation Chicken recipe 
created by Constance Spry for the 
Queen's Coronation lunch in 1953.

Coronation Sauce

Coronation Chicken Tea Sandwiches
Makes 6 sandwiches to cut into smaller tea sizes

2 chicken breasts, rubbed with Madras curry paste 
and roasted in a 350F oven until a meat thermometer registers 160F.  
Let the chicken cool and shred or cut into small dice.

For the sauce:
1/4 C. Mayonnaise
1/4 C. Sour Creme
2 T. Mango Chutney
1 T. Madras Curry Paste (I used Patak's brand) 
2 T. Chopped fresh Coriander
4 Dried Apricots chopped

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.  
(I prefer a bit more spice and if you do, too,
just add more curry, chutney and coriander.)
Add the chicken, mix well.

For the tea sandwiches:
Lightly spread softened butter on the bread slices. 
Fill with the Coronation Chicken mix.
Press down slightly and cut into squares, triangles or fingers. 

Garnish with watercress.
Serve and enjoy!

As for Queen Elizabeth II,
I truly admire her. 
Long May She Reign!

As for my Wedgwood Embossed Queen's Ware
1953 Coronation Tea Set...
can you believe I found it covered in dust in an Oregon antique shop
last year.  It had never even been used.
I think it would have made a lovely wedding gift to
the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge don't you?
Sorry Wills and Kate,
I'm keeping it!


(In the photos:  Vintage Wedgwood 1953 Coronation Tea Set and
Wedgwood Queen's Ware Edme Sandwich Tray.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The British Aisles

 60 Years a Queen!

I received a "hot tip" today that there's now 
 (on this side of the Pond)
 at Cost Plus World Market.
So this afternoon, I made a mad dash and hit the 
"British aisles"

 Long May She Reign

I spotted the Queen Elizabeth II tea mug right away.
Cost Plus did a nice job with this lovely Jubilee keepsake mug 
and it's hand finished in the UK.

 Devonshire Cream

Nothing goes better with tea and scones than Devon Cream!
I'd already stocked up on this tea party necessity 
and can't wait to see if it tastes as good as 
Devon Cream in England!

 Digestives Anyone?

It's always nice to have digestives on hand 
in case some "pops" over for a cuppa!

 Scottish Tea Cakes

I've spotted these cute little Scottish tea cakes by Tunnock's 
in Emma Bridgewater's Diamond Jubilee photo styling.
I bought them awhile back for the Jubilee Weekend...
but they didn't last a day in our house!
They are "ooey-gooey" good!
Best way I can describe them is, they're  like a chocolate, 
marshmallow covered biscuit.  

 Scottish Shortbread

Well, the Queen loves Balmoral Castle, Scotland and her Corgis 
so these little Scottie Dogs are perfect for a Jubilee Celebration!
They're not Corgis but they're sure cute!


 Spot of tea?

What's your favorite cuppa?  
There's plenty of good British brand tea 
to stock-up on in the tea aisle. 

I enjoyed visiting the
British "aisles" today but left empty handed since I'm already 
stocked up for the big Jubilee weekend.   
It was fun to see a Diamond Jubilee display though 
on this side of the pond!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jubilee Countdown

 Jubilee Dress Rehearsal

 is now just days away 
so I'm in dress rehearsal mode 
trying out a few new recipes for my 
Jubilee tea party.

 Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes

My Jubilee tea party menu is very traditional 
and includes both sweets and savory.
are sure to be the "star" of the celebration!

 The Ingredients

It's always good advice to buy the best ingredients you can.
With this recipe, 
you really want to splurge and buy the best strawberry jam 
available. 

I went with Wilkin & Sons Ltd. 
They hold a royal warrant...
so if it's good enough for the Queen
it's good enough for me!

 Oops!

The mini cakes are made in a British mini-sandwich tin.
Here in the States, 
you can use a mini-cheesecake pan for the same results. 

Don't worry if your cakes bake too high 
and you end up with muffin tops.
Just take a serrated knife and cut the tops off and then you'll have 
the perfect shape and size.

Mini Sponges

You'll end up with perfect little sponge cakes
(like these)
thanks to their baking pan's design with straight sides. 

Mini Victoria Sandwiches

After the cakes have cooled on a rack, 
you cut each cake in half 
and layer on buttercream 
and then a teaspoon of strawberry jam.

Fit for a Queen!

The last step is to lightly dust the cakes with icing sugar 
and they're ready for your tea table!
And yes,
this recipe truly is
"fit for a Queen"!


(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Diamond Jubilee & Union Jack Pottery and Betty and Barclay Union Jack Bunting.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fit for a Queen!

Victoria Sponge Anyone?  

It's Queen Victoria's birthday today...
so I think this calls for some Victoria Sponge!

 Queen Victoria

Yes, Victoria Sponge is named after Queen Victoria
and it was her favorite cake!

Whenever I visit London, 
I love to walk the grounds of Kensington Palace and see the 
Queen Victoria statue.  

Last year after tea at the Orangery
I could not find the Queen Victoria statue.  I discovered after our trip that the statue 
was being re-stored during Kensington Palace's two year refurbishment. 

The Queen Victoria statue was erected in 1893
The statue suffered shrapnel damage during World War II 
and has been now restored to her former glory.  
 I will look for her again on my next trip to London!

 Victoria Sponge 

On our trip to England last year,
I tasted Victoria Sponge for the first time at
 The Orangery at Kensington Palace 
(photo above)
and  at 
in the Jane Austen Center in Bath, England
(top photo).
Both Victoria Sponges were
 "fit for a Queen"!

Did you know that,
Queen Elizabeth II 
is Queen Victoria's great-great-great granddaughter and 
 Victoria Sponge
 is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite cakes, too!

I'm off now to my kitchen to practice making 
Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes
for my upcoming Diamond Jubilee tea parties!  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Raise the Buntings!

Celebration Time!

Every Diamond Jubilee celebration needs a 
and I've got mine!

Whenever I travel to England 
I love seeing Union Jack buntings everywhere 
from the "quaintest" tea rooms to the most regal "high street" shops.
Last year in England, I almost bought a Union Jack bunting until I read the package and saw that is was out-sourced and made in China.  I just couldn't bring myself to buy it.  I'm so glad I didn't buy it because I recently discovered a brilliant bunting shop on Etsy called, 

The moment I saw Betty and Barclay's buntings, 
 I knew the owner had to be British.  
Sure enough she is and Carol James is a retired Brit, 
now living in France.  
When Carol's not busy sewing her adorable buntings 
she's out scouring the French countryside for vintage treasures 
to sell in her other Etsy shops,  

Betty and Barclay

Since most Americans are not that familiar with buntings
I asked Carol to explain what buntings are and tell us a bit about her buntings. 
Here's our chat:

Carol, can you explain what a bunting is and how they are used?
CJ)  Buntings originated in Suffolk, England in the mid 1800s and were traditionally used by the navy for signalling purposes and even today the ship's officer in charge of communications uses flags known as a "bunt".   As time went by the flags then moved on to being a decoration for boats and yachts with colors being red, yellow, blue and green. Buntings then became popular with patriotic celebrations, moving on to home party decorations and now today to being home decorations for use all year...celebrating or not!
I had not thought of hanging bunting myself until last year when I was hosting a family birthday party.  It was October, full of the colors of Autumn and so I decided to hang two of my "fall buntings' and seven months later they are still hanging because I find them most cheerful and mesmerising...maybe it's time to change to summer ones?

 How did you become interested in making and selling your signature line of buntings?
CJ) Just over a year ago my niece was getting married and commented that she would like to have bunting but it is so expensive....I like sewing so thought I would make her some as a surprise. I looked on the Internet and was surprised at just how expensive buntings can be so thought I'd have a go at trying to sell some. 
One of my first buntings was my Nautical Navy and White Stripe Bunting.   I thought as bunting has its origins with a naval theme this would be a good one to start with and it has become my most popular bunting...I don't know exactly how many I have sold but I have used about 50 yards of fabric now so it is quite a lot!  Three orders have been for "nautical themed" weddings and my nautical buntings have been featured in over 100 Etsy Treasurys. 

Do you have any tips on how to decorate with buntings?
CJ)  In my experience, I always think that buntings look better when hung in a space as opposed to being flat against a wall...say from one wall to another across a corner, not flat against the wall.  The uses for buntings are endless but I always say that "less is more" if you choose colors correctly.   You don't need loads of bunting to make an impact in rooms where you might need a lot of buntings.  For example, say if you were going to fill a marquee for a party, decorate a shop, a tent stall, across a street, etc.  then certainly bunting with spaces in between the flags is so much better...not so much like shark teeth!  Also, fewer flags are needed and the cost of the banner should be less expensive.  I've made all sorts of buntings from a New York fashion show with 300 yards down to a string of five little flags for a baby's  room.  I make many customized buntings which is always a pleasant challenge!

Because I always have to ask, are you a tea drinker?  If yes, what's your favorite "cuppa"?
CJ)  Yes, I am a tea drinker...although since living in France I have become a coffee drinker, too.  Coffee or tea, it has to be made in the correct way.  Coffee is always freshly percolated and I am still experimenting and trying new flavours and densities.  But tea, well I'm English and have always been a tea drinker.  I have English Breakfast in the morning and in the afternoon Earl Grey.  Tea is most definitely the most refreshing drink...only in a cup and in a pre-warmed pot!
Love that!

Betty and Barclay

Who are Betty and Barclay?
CJ)  Betty and Barclay are the names of my vintage Teddy Bears!
Barclay was found at an antique fair in England.  He was under a stall with his head in a polythene bag...we had to rescue him!  A year later we found Betty with a broken neck and torn ear...another rescue and a mate for Barclay!

Carol, what a pleasure getting to know you 
and "thank you" so much for taking the time to chat about buntings.  
I can't wait to get more of your buntings for other celebrations! 

(In the photos:  Betty and Barclay Union Jack Bunting, Emma Bridgewater Union Jack and Diamond Jubilee pottery and Spode Blue and White china)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fit for a Queen!

 Diamond Jubilee Tea Party

It's countdown time...
Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Celebration 
is just a little over two weeks away now.  

I wish I could be in England 
attending some fabulous village street parties 
but since I can't
I'll be celebrating here in the States all Jubilee weekend long
with parties of my own. 

My Diamond Jubilee celebrations will be mostly tea parties 
since I am a huge fan of British afternoon tea. 

 British Tea Mugs

To set the stage for my tea parties
I've been collecting British Union Jack and British "themed" china. 
Thanks to my "very kind and thoughtful" British knitting friends,
(Thank you Jo and Teresa!) 
I've even had wonderful tea mugs sent to me all the way from England
for my Jubilee celebrations!

Union Jack pottery

No Jubilee celebration would be complete without 
Emma Bridgewater's Union Jack pottery!

I've began collecting Emma's Union Jack pattern
ever since I visited the Emma Bridgewater factory last year. 
I knew it would be perfect for my Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Emma also has a limited-edition Diamond Jubilee range 
which has been a smashing success!
I love this range and special-ordered a few mugs and plates.
Many of the pieces can be personalized and hand painted by artists 
at Emma Bridgewater.  I had my tea mugs personalized with 
"cuppa" on them since that is so "British" to me!

 Queen of Cakes

Besides china, 
I've also purchased some new British cook books
 to make authentic British tea party treats. 

I recently discovered Britain's Mary Berry who is known as the 
"Queen of Cakes"
so I had to buy her book called, 

I also adore the book Vintage Tea Party which is filled with tea party recipes 
and encourages us to bring out our treasured vintage tea things for our tea table.  
The author Carolyn Caldicott owned the World Food Cafe in London's Convent Garden.  
She has been collecting tea recipes ever since she was a child.  
I'm so glad she is sharing them in her darling book! 

So now, I'm off to finalize my Diamond Jubilee Tea Party plans.
On the menu already are:

Scones with Devonshire Cream and Strawberry Jam
Coronation Chicken Sandwiches
Cucumber Sandwiches
Egg and Cress Sandwiches 
Victoria Mini Sponge Cakes
and 
Lemon Tarts

I think her Royal Highness,
would approve!


(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Union Jack & Diamond Jubilee pottery, Mason Cash Knitannia Mug, Waitrose Tea Mugs, Vintage Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Mug

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All The Tea in China

The Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is once again in ship-shape! 

Queen Elizabeth II officially re-opened the historic Cutty Sark today,
five years after the 19th century British tea clipper was ravaged by fire
during it's restoration project. 

Whenever we travel to England,
I'm always wanting to learn more about tea.
 So on our 2004 vacation,  we took a day trip to Greenwich in south London
 to see the last surviving British tea clipper ship, the Cutty Sark
and hit a few antique markets, too.

On the momentous occasion of her reopening  
I thought it would be neat to share my photos
and a few of my memories of
our visit to the Cutty Sark.

 All the Tea in China

The Cutty Sark was a working cargo ship from 1869 until 1922.
She was a great tea clipper ship during, what is called,
The China Tea Years from 1870 to 1878.

In 1870 she made her first voyage from London to Shanghai
(an 8 month round trip)
and returned with 1450 tons of tea on board!
She made a total of eight journeys on the high seas to China
as part of the tea trade 
until clipper ships were replaced by steam ships. 

Chinese Black Tea  

From my travel journal entry on May 9, 2004:

"Next stop in Greenwich is aboard The Cutty Sark.
  Built in 1869, she is the last of the great tea clipper ships. 
She  traveled to China to bring both black and green tea to England.  
Once the tea made the journey from China to England
 it was already 18 to 24 months old."

"There is an effort now to save the Cutty Sark due it's demise 
mostly from the London rain.
We enjoyed touring the ship and were most amazed at how small the merchant sailors 
bed and bunks were."

The Cutty Sark in 2004

What a wonderful day in the Cutty Sark's glorious history 
to be returned to all her former glory!

 She  re-opens to the public tomorrow and even has a cafe on board now.
If we ever travel back to Greenwich, 
I would like to visit her again
and have a tea break in the new cafe.

And leave it to Twinings...
they have a Chinese black and a green gunpowder
commemorative tea blend named  Cutty Sark 
to celebrate the re-launch of the Cutty Sark.  ...
the last of the great tea clipper ships!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Good Earth


 Reduce

Today is Earth Day.

I believe we should all do our best to live "green" 
and be kind to the good Earth!

As a crafter, I'm always thinking of how to be creative and up-cycle.  
Recently, I ran across some Emma Bridgewater catalogs that I had saved. 
 They are filled with such beautiful photographs on nice quality paper 
that I just can't seem to throw them away.

Recycle

So now, I'm recycling Emma's catalog pages and turning them into cards,
 tags and decorations for my tea and recipe albums.

Emma's darling mug photographs with "mum" hand-painted on them,
recently inspired me to make my mother 
her birthday and Mother's Day cards this year. 

We're not British but quite proud of our family ancestry in England 
so my mom loved her "Best Mum" birthday card!

Up-cycled with Love

I even decorated the card envelopes and back of the cards 
with cut-outs (from the catalog)
and rubber-stamped hearts.

And, of course, moms save everything you make them 
so these cards will stay out of the landfill for a long time!

 Reuse

Being a tea lover and concerned about the land fill, 
I just can't seem to throw out pretty tea caddies either.
I'm always thinking of ways to re-use them like holding
pens & pencils and even straight knitting needles.

Another clever idea...
is to reuse your tea caddies as flower vases
at your tea and garden parties!

Good Earth Tea

And since it's Earth Day,
I'm drinking Good Earth tea.

Growing up a California "Bay Area" girl,
I loved the Good Earth's
"sweet and spicy" iced tea 
served at Good Earth restaurants back in the late 1970's.
Thankfully today, I can buy the tea at my local grocery store.  

So lets all be good to the earth everyday 
and think of creative ways we can all 
live "green" by following the Three R's:
reduce, reuse and recycle. 

Together 
we can make a difference!


(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Hearts Tea Cup & Saucer and
French Glass Tea Mug.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth!

Her Royal Majesty

Great Britain's Royal Navy fired a 21-gun salute today marking
Queen Elizabeth's II 86th birthday today.

So my afternoon tea break today has a "royal-tea" theme
honoring the Queen's birthday!
I've been saving my
Highgrove Afternoon Tea 
that I purchased at The Prince of Wale's, Highgrove Shop
 last year in Tetbury in the Cotswolds
for a special occasion.
Today is that special occasion.

I'm sure Her Royal Highness would approve of
my afternoon tea blend choice...
it is after all blended, packed and imported
by R. Twining and Co. for Highgrove.
Twinings holds a Royal Warrant for tea
and I believe is the Queen's favorite tea purveyor.
I wonder which Twining blend she had for
her birthday "cuppa" today?

Happy Birthday your
Royal Majesty!


(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Union Jack Pottery
Spode Blue Italian & Blue Room and 
vintage Midwinter Queen Elizabeth II Coronation mug.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cherry Blossom Tea

 Sakura Tea Party

It's Cherry Blossom Festival time!

This year 2012, 
is a special year for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,
as it marks the 100-year anniversary 
of Japan's gift of 3,000 cherry trees to
Washington D.C..

Here in California, 
this weekend and next weekend is the 
in San Francisco, CA.
Our festival is said to be the second largest festival
outside of Washington D.C. to celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms,
a traditional custom in Japan known

 Sakuramochi

To celebrate Hanami,
I'm having a Sakura  (cherry blossom) Tea Party 
with Fleur de Geisha tea, that I purchased last year in Paris, 
along with Sakuramochi treats.

Sakuramochi is a sweet pink mochi (rice cake)
filled with a red bean paste center,
covered with a pickled sakura (cherry) leaf.  
In Japan,
they are a variety of wagashi,
which is traditional Japanese confectionery
which is often served with tea.

I did a bit of research and found out that
Sakuramochi is traditionally served on 
Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day in Japan) 
on March 3rd. 

 Fleur de Geisha

Fleur de Geisha
is one of my favorite green teas to drink in the spring.
It's a blend of Japanese green tea, 
delicately flavored with cherry blossom.  
This lovley blend by Les Palais Des The`s was
inspired by the Japanese Hanami tradition 
of cherry blossom viewing. 

I've purchased this tea
before in Paris
and couldn't wait to buy it again.  
Last year in Paris,
I purchased the boxed Fleur de Geisha tea,
 that comes in a pretty keepsake caddy.
I love that the tin caddy is covered with Washi paper,
decorated with the Sakura motif
traditionally found on the geishas kimonos.

 Le Palais Des The's

I love to shop at Le Palais Des The's 
 in the Le Marais at 
64 rue Vieille du Temple
Paris, France  75003


(In the photos:  Japanese blossom plate by Mino and vintage Spode Chelsea Wicker tea cup.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Greetings

Happy Easter

Mischievous little Peter Rabbit 
squeezed under the garden gate
 and came to 
Easter Brunch.

He wasn't going to miss out on

Wishing you a 
Happy Easter!


(In the photo:  Vintage Beatrix Potter's Beswick Peter Rabbit
and Royal Winton Chintz china.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hot Cross Scones

 Good Friday Treats

I've always wanted to make 

In England, hot cross buns are sweet little buns
 with a cross cut into their tops.
They are traditionally served on Good Friday.

I found a recipe instead for Hot Cross Scones 
in one of my baking books called 

Hot Cross Scones

To make your own Hot Cross Scones,
just use your favorite basic scone recipe and add:

1/2 cup Zante currants
2 T finely chopped candied peel
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and
roll out to 1" thickness. 
Use a 2.75" round cutter to stamp out your scones.
Arrange scones on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat liner.
Brush with egg wash.

Bake at 425 for approx. 10 to 15 minutes until well risen 
and golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Once they are cooled, 
decorate scones with an icing cross,
made of confectioner's sugar and milk.

More lemon curd, please!

Hot Cross Scones are perfect 
paired with lemon curd 
and a nice "cuppa" of  Earl Grey!

(In the photos:  Royal Winton Chintz patterns
and vintage silver tier stand that I purchased in England.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Let's Make Candied Peel

 Candied Peel

When your grocer doesn't have candied peel
what do you do...
make your own!  

  I went to the market yesterday with a grocery list for Easter baking.  
On my list was candied peel.

Naturally most grocers (at least in the States) only carry candied peel 
and candied fruits during the holiday season for fruitcakes, etc.
Instead of driving 30 miles to a specialty grocer,
I decided to make my own.

I researched British, American and French recipes 
and they all virtually use the same method.  
Here's a quick method of how I made my Candied Peel:

Candied Peel

 1)  Wash the citrus fruit.  
Use a sharp vegetable peeler and peel the fruit in long peels 
leaving the white pith on the fruit. 

 2)  Julienne in to strips or leave as whole peels.


 3)  Cook peels until tender in a boiling pot of water. 
This takes about 10 minutes. 

 4)  Transfer peels with a slotted spoon to a wire rack 
to dry for about 15 minutes.

 5)  Bring to boil equal parts water and sugar 
and boil over high heat to dissolve sugar. 
Add peels and simmer until peels turns translucent and 
the syrup thickens.  This takes about 10 minutes. 

6)  Transfer peels with a slotted spoon to a wire rack 
placed on a baking sheet.  Separate the pieces as needed. 
Let peel dry for 1 hour and dust in sugar to coat. 

I made a small batch of candied peel using just one orange and one lemon.  
I used Martha Stewart's recipe for Candied Citrus Peels 
as my recipe guide. 

Now tomorrow, 
 I'm ready to bake some Easter treats!