Favorite Things

Dear Friends,

Today is the beginning of our marathon of tea!  Today I am drinking my absolute favorite tea Queen Anne by Fortnum and Mason. I discovered it when my mother toke me to London, and we had High tea at St. James Restaurant in Fortnum and Mason store.  But this is not the place that sparked my passion for tea.  Another St. James’, in Albuquerque NM, introduced me to the grown up tea party.  If you are ever able to visit one of the restaurants, please do.  I do not remember much about the actual place, but the memory of feeling lovely and welcome stays with me.  The staff does not rush you to finish your meal quickly; time slows as the guests enjoy each other’s company.  This is the heart of tea; the ability to take time to stop, relax, reflect, and possibly commune with humanity.  I once read that tea is a perfect way to share time with friends, if one needs to think on a subject, one can always wrap their hands around the warm tea cups, take a sip and reflect.  The pressure to talk is relieved by the food and drink.  This is why I love tea, why I love having teas; to stop life for a little while and make someone, even myself, feel special.

Throughout the thirty days, I hope you will share a cup of tea with me and feel special.  Enjoy the moment of time to yourself.  So what do you need to have a cuppa?  Well, honestly all you need is a mug and tea, and sugar and cream.  Nothing more.  However I suggest having a small teapot, a teacup (that you absolutely adore!), a small plate, and food.  So put the kettle on (or hot-pot or microwave), boil water, and get your tea a steeping!

Today I also wanted to share with you my favorite scone recipe.  It really is simple. I promise, and you probably have the ingredients in your pantry.  I found this recipe recently during a wedding of a friend, and before she walked down the aisle, around 100 scones at least were produced.  Even though I made it so many times, I still love it.  It is a fall-back when I do not have much time or am making scones for myself.  It is of course Ina’s recipe.  😉 (She just is a really good cook!)  I make mine in the food processor, but I only pulse the machine, never put it on full blast.  The process of scones if very similar to biscuits: Mix the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into them (cutting the cool butter into the flour with forks or pastry cutter to make small pea size bits).  Add the moisture, and blend only slightly (knead ONLY 7 times**).  Then bake.  The food processor cuts the butter really well, but if you have never made them before, I suggest making them by hand.  This way you will know the appropriate texture next time.  Serve with your favorite jam and lemon curd (recipe to come). Here’s the recipe:

Ina’s Scones
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 cup all purpose flour (Can use half wheat and half white)
1-3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon orange zest (optional)
6 tablespoons butter (cold butter), cut into 1-inch squares
1 egg
¼ cup cream
1/2  teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup cranberries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees C.  Prepare a sheet pan with either Pam or parchment paper.

Food Processor:
In the bowl, blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest (if using).  Add the cold butter, and pulse until the butter is the size of peas.  Whisk the egg, cream, and vanilla together.  Add this to the dry ingredients, and pulse until just combined.  The dough will still be lumpy.

By Hand:
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest (if using).  Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks.  In the end the butter will be pea like.  Then whisk the cream, vanilla, and egg together.  Combine with the dry ingredients only until just blended.

Dump the dough out onto a floured board, and sprinkle the cranberries on top.  Knead ONLY seven times**.  Then flatten into a circle, and cut into 8 wedges.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Brush with an egg wash (1 egg + 2 tablespoons water), and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees C for 10-14 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then enjoy.

Makes 8 scones.

** This trick was totally not my idea.  The author of Orangette shared it with her scone recipe.  If you need any more, the scone becomes tough, any less, and the dough does not come together.  I know it sounds silly, but seven times people.  Seven!

This book is the beginning of my tea party books, cookbooks, and ideas.  Author Emily Barnes, If Teacups Could Talk.  It is a wonderful.  If you are remotely interesting in teas and tea parties, this book would be a good starting point.

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