February 18, 2016


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Winter Tea for Three



What could be better than tea by the fire on a cold winter day? Afternoon tea is my favorite way to pass weekend afternoons anytime of the year, but from Fall through Spring it seems especially nice. I am particularly fond of the foods: warm scones, clotted cream, jams, small sandwiches, a cookie or two and a great chocolate confection, along with the hot tea make for a decadent treat. Recently Thomas and I had our good friend Mieke Ten Have over for an impromptu fireside visit in our New York apartment. 

All the necessities for a great tea.
A Chocolate Salted Caramel tart took center stage on the tea table. I used a sable crust for this tart which competed the chocolate and served it on a Thomas cake stand. So the table would have a springtime feel I mixed a variety of patterns and colors of china.

The basics: warm scones and tea sandwiches.
Little watercress and cucumber sandwiches are something I always serve even if its just the two of us. I made the scones from a recipe from a vintage '20's cookbook that is part of my ever expanding collection of early 20th century cookbooks. They are really easy to make and taste so good with clotted cream and jam. 
Breakfast cups and saucers in the Thomas and Charlotte patterns on a Combray duo tray all from my collection. 
Instead of the silver teapot, I used a beautiful white porcelain one in the whimsical shape of a Swan that I brought home from my speaking trip to Dallas last winter. Tea cups are too small in my opinion, thats why I opted to use the larger Breakfast Cups from my china collection by Marie Daage. 

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis
For a nod to tradition we used an antique silver tray and bowls, the pretty twisted handle spoons are a gift from my friend Charlotte Moss and I used her namesake dessert plates
A hot cup of tea, a plate of delicious treats and good company are hallmarks of a tea. I have been a big fan of Mariage Freres teas since my student days in Paris. It's really almost an addiction. I keep what I call a wardrobe of them, numerous types of moods and occasions. I used their evocative very smoky and woodsy Roi du Soleil tea for this get together. 
The recipe for the cookies came from a notebook I found at Brimfield last summer. Its an amazing find. All the recipes date from the mid teens to about 1924 and were cut out and pasted into this notebook. The selection is very broad.
It includes recipes for everything from cakes and corn beef, to a cure for cancer, to how to make a labor saving detergent that is so complex and labor intensive that I needed a nap after reading it. 
However, the Sand Cookie recipe stood out amongst the crowd. I decide to give it a try and the cookies are fantastic. Thin and crisp and flavorful. They also rollout beautifully. 

A vintage notebook filled with recipes from the early 20th century was a find from the Brimfield Flea Market.
Sand Cookies 
Makes about 2 dozen

I have rewritten the recipe from the original. I halved it from the original which called for 5 cups of flour. I also used cake flour instead of all purpose, if you use all purpose reduce the flour to 2 1/2 cups.

1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperate
1 egg
2 2/3 cups of sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl combine the sugar and butter and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Sift the flour and baking soda together and add to the mixture in three additions. Combine well after each addition. 
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness. Using a cookie cutter cut into shape, dredge cookie in sugar on both sides and place on cookie sheet. Bake 5-6 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and cool the cookies on a rack.

Sand Cookies. The crown cookie cutter I picked up on a trip to Sweden, at the gift shop of
Drottningham Palace. The Effiel Tour cookie cutter I picked up in Paris.