Category Archives: Jam

Peterborough chocolate indulgence tea party

After weeks of anticipation it was finally here – my chocolate indulgence tea party to raise funds for Age UK. I love, love, love chocolate and couldn’t wait to create some new recipes to wow my guests and their taste buds. Several weeks ago I tried different scones/clotted cream/jam combinations to incorporate chocolate and I really didn’t like scones with chocolate baked into the dough. Lesson number one. Lesson number two – I tried an awful (awful being the right word) lot of savoury+chocolate combos and boy let me tell you some things just taste horrible when combined with chocolate (chocolate+olives anyone?!).

Here’s what I finally decided to serve today:

Hot chocolate on arrival in the garden – yes it was a bit chilly and yes it was a bit rich but I couldn’t resist. I also laid out some Willies Cacao samples to taste but I think my guests were a bit shy at that point so they didn’t really dig in.

Once seated in our shabby chic little summerhouse, complete with fairy lights and candles (including a gorgeous little blueberry pie candle from the Emporium Oundle which looked good enough to eat!) we had a good old natter whilst eating:

Cream cheese and chive finger sandwiches

Cheese scones with sweet chilli pepper and dark chocolate swirls

Walnut scones with blue cheese cream

Salted pretzels dipped in milk and dark chocolate

(so I didn’t add too much chocolate to the savouries in the end)

Then… plain scones, served with morello cherry jam or Nutella and a choice of white chocolate or Talisker single malt clotted cream. Something for everyone…including a new male guest who claimed not to like chocolate but who did not let the side down by the end of the afternoon!

Cake/sweet selection included a new favourite, chocolate Guinness cake topped with a cream cheese frosting and chocolate curls. I find this quite heavy personally; and in case you’re wondering, no it doesn’t taste of Guinness – the stout just makes the cake dark and rich.

I made chocolate brownies as my friends always rave about these – I’ve used Nigel Slater’s recipe since it was first published in the Observer in 2004 – it ALWAYS hits the (chocolate) spot! So fudgy and dense – no tinkering required – look for the recipe online and just follow it to impress your friends!

I experimented with a couple of new recipes which I think turned out rather well. These were inspired by my absolute favourite recipe book (I sit and read this in the evening, I just love it) – Green and Black’s Ultimate, published last year, and the Ghiradelli Chocolate Cookbook which I picked up a few years ago when I visited ‘America’s premier chocolatier’ in San Francisco. So, one recipe was rather British in origin and the other quite American.

I made meringue nests, then poked a little hole into them into which I poured salted, velvety caramel (I’m salivating now….it was very gorgeous indeed!), then I put a small blob of whipped cream on top so I could anchor a rich chocolate truffle – I infused the cream with rosemary from the garden – then I drizzled the little beauties with melted milk chocolate and a little more caramel. Heaven.

Experiment no. 2: I crushed oreo cookies, mixed with butter and lined a mini tartlet case with the buttery crumb. Into the freezer they went. Then I whisked some cream with icing sugar and combined it with some smooth peanut butter and some cream cheese. Oh and some chopped dark chocolate. I froze these babies until an hour before the tea party. I could have happily eaten the whole tray of these Peterborough mud pies!

I spent some time experimenting with loose teas to serve today and everyone tried the black tea with almond and the Maya Gold though we all decided the former was a winner (smells like marzipan!) and the latter was quite pleasant, something perhaps to drink at bedtime? The almond tea came from Imperial Teas in Lincoln – worth a visit to the tasting room on the Steep Hill. Maya Gold came from Nothing But Tea in Bedford.

Whilst everyone packed their take home tins (which I’d asked them to bring along!) with leftover cake I handed out little bags of chocolate which I’d tied with ribbon. I tempered dark chocolate with chilli and sea salt and white chocolate with pistachio and cranberry – lovely little gifts which they can either give away or consume greedily!

I’m constantly surprised how cosy our little summerhouse is – the windows steamed up and no one needed to borrow a scarf, though I’d supplied several, just in case… What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon with new and old tea party guests. The conversation didn’t wane for even a minute and covered local schools, special needs, child minding, secret tea rooms, commuting, research, conferences, where we were brought up and jobs. A fabulous tea party and yet again I’m a very happy secret tea party hostess!

Lemony Drizzle x x

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An afternoon of vintage loveliness!

Finally, I have time to post details of the delightful topsecretteaparty
at Tilly’s Vintage Craft Workshop a couple of Sunday’s ago. I was really
excited about this tea party, because every time I visit Tilly’s barn, at Hall
Farm, Chesterton on the outskirts of Peterborough I come away with bags of
ideas about things to make and sew – of course I can rarely find the time to
make most of it a reality, but the inspiration is there and surely it’s only a
matter of time before I actually make some of these projects?! It was at Tilly’s
that I learnt to applique (I made a lovely little lavender bag and was very
pleased with my efforts), the wonders of bondaweb (great for a lazy sew-and-so
like Lemony he he..), and the possibilities for upcycling tired clothing / how
to jazz up jackets etc., plus all that is fabulous about wet felting – I got to
make a gorgeous flower corsage out of beautiful merino wool. Have a look at Tilly’s
Facebook page/events and see what takes your crafting fancy https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tillys-Vintage-Workshop-Craft-Studio/216476658376432.

Anyway….Tilly and Lemony decided afternoon tea at the Barn
would be a fab way of introducing people to vintage crafting – a civilised tea
party around Tilly’s wonderfully large table whilst drooling over my cakes and
scones and Tilly’s shelves full of fabric, linens, ribbons and books/magazines…
what could be nicer? The fact that Tilly currently has several vintage wedding
dresses hanging up was a bonus – so pretty!

Six lovely ladies came to tea – a wonderful
mix of chatty people with such different backgrounds and interests –
dressmaking, photography, textiles, academic research, a café owner,
radiography…!! They all enjoyed browsing Tilly’s shop and workshop whilst
sipping their elderflower cordial from champagne flutes.

Then they got down to
the serious business of afternoon tea…which included egg mayonnaise finger
sandwiches on wonderful Hambleton’s Bakery 7 seed granary bread; cheese scones
with red pepper cream (Appearance No.2 for these little savoury delights, as
they were such a hit at the fashion+tea party the weekend before); plain scones
with Hall Farm strawberry jam – made by the farmer’s wife a few feet from Tilly’s
barn! Plum, pear and apple jam was also on offer from Saints and Sinners in
Spalding (Lovely) and, of course, lashings of clotted cream.

I made a morello cherry and vanilla
buttercream layer cake – which was incredibly messy to cut and serve but tasted
great nonetheless!! Meringues sandwiched with my homemade lemon curd (always
have to have something Lemony on the menu!) 

and some iced gingerbread biscuits –
which I have to confess were a last minute substitution as I seem to have lost
the knack of making shortbread – two attempts were nibbled on by myself and Mr
Tea and rejected – what’s happening?! I have won awards for my shortbread in
the past (at Nassington and Yarwell village show, in case you were wondering!)
and now I just can’t get my act together – I’ll keep trying though as I love
shortbread and I hate to be beaten by something so simple!

Tilly told the guests all about her
Barn and workshops and one of the guests, Sue, gave everyone lots of ideas for
crafty keepsakes including using baby clothes. I then forced everyone to take
home bags containing leftover cake – I like to think they can share my baking
goodies with their loved ones long after their own tummies are full up! And as
luck would have it, one of the guests, Amy, is setting up a photography
business so asked to take some piccies which I’ve made use of here… isn’t it
nice meeting new people and helping each other out? You can look at Amy’s
photographs on her blog http://amylewinphotography.wordpress.com/

Tilly and I have lots of ideas for
future joint ventures and I’m hoping to become a more regular visitor to the
Barn, at Tilly’s regular sew-in café (Wednesdays 7-9pm and Saturdays 2-4pm) –
after all, I’m determined to make at least some of my Christmas gifts this year
so I need to get sewing! And if you come along to the topsecretteaparty on 2nd
December you might just get to visit Tilly’s for some Christmas inspiration of
your own…

Lemony x x

 

 

Bags, bangles and cupcakes

Sunday’s fashion tea party was such a lot of fun! I couldn’t
resist buying a beautiful scarf with bobbles round the edge and a lovely bird
print – I got carried away after fashion stylist and personal shopper Emma
Smith showed all the guests (and yours truly!) how to wear scarves this
Autumn/Winter to look stylish rather than like a Sloaney 80s girl! Emma styled
her three lovely models, Hannah, Christine and Liz in the same cardigan but
dressed it up/down differently to show different looks suitable for ladies in
their 30s, 40s and 50s (and beyond!). The poor models didn’t get to eat any of
my lovely cakes until they’d been paraded around, poor things, but perhaps that
meant the anticipation could build?!! Emma then went through some ‘key items’
including a beautiful wool cape. I wasn’t sure about the chunky patterned
jumper though Emma, a bit ‘David Soul’ for me but perhaps I should have tried
it on!

Once everyone was relaxed they browsed all the
gooooooorgeous jewellery and bags and tried on clothes, calling on Emma to help
them decide what worked and what didn’t.

It was SO hot on Sunday that nobody wanted a cup of tea,
even though all my lovely tea cups looked so beautiful lined up on the shop
counter! But luckily I had a bag of ice and made jugs of elderflower cordial
and pink lemonade which kept everyone refreshed. I served smoked salmon and
cream cheese sandwiches and – the biggest hit of the day – miniature cheese
scones topped with piquant red pepper cream. As this wasn’t a ‘sit down do’ I’d
made everything bitesized and ready to eat– I think I could have doubled the
number of cheese scones and they still would have been eaten by the fashionable
ladies! Interesting, too, that several guests said that they really liked
having lots of savoury goodies because they aren’t cake fans. However, I think
I won a few over with my colourful macaroons and Autumn spiced cupcakes.

The cupcakes contained cinnamon, ginger, lemon and orange
zest and the buttercream frosting was topped with caramelised hazelnuts and
walnuts and a delicate pear wafer (just dip very thin slivers of fresh, firm
pear into a warm sugar solution that has had lemon juice added to it to prevent
discolouration, then put the slices in the oven for an hour or two on a very
low heat). I broke my no cupcake rule (again) but I think if the cake TASTES
nice and doesn’t just look good then I can get away with it! No one was
complaining….

 

It was the first time I’d made macaroons. I found them a bit
fiddly and if I make them again I’d bake them for slightly less time to try to
keep the colours more vibrant. But they looked so pretty – just the thing for a
fashionable crowd! I sandwiched the pink, yellow and blueberry rounds with
rose, lemon and vanilla buttercream, and the chocolate ones with chocolate
hazelnut spread.

And of course I made scones (I managed to make tiny ones
this time!) which were served with local strawberry jam and clotted cream. I
was amazed that the cream stayed really thick in the heat – too thick in fact
for the guests to dollop onto their scone halves whilst also holding their
drink!

We all agreed this was a lovely event, and something worth
doing again. It would be great when all the Christmas party frocks are in stock
– I definitely need help with that!! And I can serve a sophisticated selection
of cakes with a Christmassy ‘dinner dance’ theme perhaps….

Many, many thanks to the lovely Emma Smith from ‘Me and Mrs
Smith’ – not easy to stand and do your thing when it’s 30 degrees and you’re
pregnant, so well done Em for not fainting!! And many thanks also to Jodi and
Liz for letting us host the event at the fabulous Ruby Loves boutique in
Stamford – I LOVE shopping here so it was great to have the place to ourselves
for the afternoon.

Maybe I need to book Emma for a personal shopping session at
Ruby Loves, just for me….. or….. she says, getting excited – Emma and I would
love to come to you, if you get your girlfriends together for a ‘wardrobe wean’
– Emma will tell you what to chuck, what to keep and how to wear it all, whilst
I lay on a tea party? Bring your own fizz! How does that sound? Get in touch if
you’re interested in booking a Lemony and Mrs Smith double act!!

Lemony x