Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rainy days and Mondays...

...Or Sundays! The time to curl up, get your work done, and do some baking! Today is a gloomy day in New York so I think I'll make a pot of English Breakfast and make something yummy!

Let's share our favorite rainy day recipes here! Don't be shy!

My favorite dessert for the cooler months is a British staple. Treacle Sponge Pudding. The recipe I will provide is from Tea and Sympathy, here in Manhattan. The thick golden syrup that makes the pud can be bought at many grocery stores and all gourmet groceries. Don't be afraid to slather it in hot custard and enjoy the delicious combo of hot and sweet! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
A few drops of vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup (a little extra will do no harm).

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla.
With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter and flour a 10-inch round Bundt pan.
Pour the syrup into the pan, then spoon in the sponge batter, gently smoothing the top with a spatula.
Bake for about 30 minutes; the sponge should be golden on top.
Remove the pudding from the oven and let it cool for 2-3 minutes. Place a plate on top of the Bundt pan, then quickly but firmly turn the plate and pan upside down to release the cake onto the plate.. You may need to loosen the edges very slightly with a knife before you flip it.
Serve with hot custard.


3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks

Heat cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat, whisk in egg yolks.

What do you love to bake?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rooibos Tea

One of my favorite teas as of late, this naturally decaffeinated red tea is good for any season. The taste is so unique and delicious, I'd recommend this South African native beverage to both tea novices and aficionados alike!

Taken from TeaMuse:

"Deep in the heart of South Africa, in the mountains and valleys of the Cedarberg region near Cape Town, vast vistas, fields of verdant green bushes, fill the landscape. Traveling throughout this precipitous expanse, one may not suspect that this bright bush, which the locals refer to as "Rooibos," (pronounced roy-boss), could be such a versatile and remarkable herb. Among Rooibos' many uses, Rooibos' most popular utilization is as a tisane, or herbal beverage. Also known as Red tea, Bush tea (no relation to our 41st or 43rd President) and Redbush tea, Rooibos tea has become the hottest trend in the tea industry."

Rooibos is fine to take properly in fine china at tea, but one should feel just as comfortable to sip it out of a mug. I like to boil myself a mug of Twinings Rooibos with milk and sugar before starting the day. It is also quite the soothing tea to help one fall asleep. Also, there are a variety of flavors. I recently took tea and scones at Alice's Tea Cup on 64th St. and enjoyed a lovely pot of their Admiral's Rooibos which included vanilla and chocolate essence within the tisane. There have been many varieties to the delicious blend. Go and enjoy! I think I'll go grab myself a cup now!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Podunk, New York, NY

Half empty or half full?
Fine sugar pot
Amelia is glowing
Seasonal berries up close
Berries, preserves, and cream OH MY!
Wonderful scone
Fresh pot of Vietnamese Vanilla tea
The scone platter. 8 Scones for 3!
Another view
Cucumber Sandwiches
Teapots and Sandwiches
Kiley basking in the surroundings
Very rustic, homey environment
The front counter

This lovely little "American Tea Room" sits nestled on the quiet, unprepossessing fifth street, between Bowery and 2nd Ave. Upon entering, mismatched lawn chairs and cute, homey decorations highlight the family-run establishment. Children books adorn shelves on the walls, and behind a lovely little counter up front is the woman who runs it all. Elspeth Treadwell, along with husband and daughter run this adorable room. Inspired by Scandinavian heritage, the extensive menu offers wonderful traditional tea items, plus Scandinavian dishes like potato crepes with cinnamon and cardamom cake, which I must try on my definite return visit!

I can't say enough nice things about Elsepth. Truly a kind heart, who appreciated me and my love for tea. I was joined by friends Amelia and Kiley. We ordered at the front and sat down around 3:00, just before the small room started getting busy. Elspeth makes everything to order, fresh and delicious. The three of us shared a cream tea, plus cucumber sandwiches and individual pots of tea.

I had the Vietnamese Vanilla. It was delicious. Just the right kind of black tea for this gloomy New York day. Kiley thoroughly enjoyed her house blended coconut-vanilla, and Amelia had a classic English Breakfast, with rose petals added on request. The tea menu is extensive, so if you have a hard time making choices, you might sit with the menu for an hour! They blend their own flavored chais, create some wonderful in-house blends, and even have an assortment of drinking chocolate.

Onto the food. The cucumber sandwiches were DIVINE! They were so delicately prepared, the bread so thin, the cucumbers sliced so meticulously. We savoured every last bite. Elspeth served the sandwiches to us with cheddar biscuits that she thought we would enjoy! They were delicious. Thinking back on it, they might be the finest cucumber tea sandwiches I have ever enjoyed! That is saying a lot.

Our scone plate was tremendous. 3 different varieties of scones for each of us to sample, plus three different preserves: orange, raspberry, strawberry. Instead of the traditional clotted cream, there was a fresh whipped cream. I can see how purists would scoff at this, however at the impossibility of having REAL fresh clotted cream in the states, and with the poor mock recipes I have seen, I rather appreciated Elspeth's dedication to freshness. The scones were divine, perfect texture! The plate included fresh berries.

All three of us were in a state of content upon finishing or delightful afternoon tea. The Dorchester in London, Podunk is not, however a wonderful at-home environment for enjoying tea sweets and savouries, while chatting with close friends for an hour or two, Podunk is. The three of us paid $22 each, which for the amount of food we received, was a great deal. I told Elspeth that I would definitely be back. Her kind heart and appreciation of my passion for tea was enough. The delicious food and tea was even more! I can't say enough good things about Podunk, so I will just tell you to go for yourself! Bring your friends, bring your mother, and enjoy a hot pot of tea while you nibble on Elspeth's wonderful foods!

BONUS: Tipping is strictly prohibited! Elspeth will never accept a tip, no matter how big your party is! If that isn't enough to get you running, I don't know what is!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Last night, I made a fresh batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins. I found the recipe on Joy of Baking, and it came out so delectable, that I could not resist sharing it with you! Enjoy these muffins with a nice cup of your favorite rich black tea, and a splash of milk. I will have more pumpkin coming your way, along with a belated review of my favorite spot in Manhattan, Tea and Sympathy, after my hectic week ends.

Be well,


Friday, September 4, 2009

The Season Draws Near...

The Starbucks Pumpkin Scone

...For pumpkin! One of my favorite food items! There are so many delicious treats that can be made using this wonderful gourd-like squash that becomes of season in the fall. And we already start to see cafes selling pumpkin flavored beverages and treats. Additionally, Tea Time magazine, in their most recent issue, has six pumpkin recipes, including: pumpkin-chocolate turnovers, mini gingerbread trifles with pumpkin custard (YUM!) pumpkin-leek tarts, pumpkin risotto bites, pumpkin scones with maple butter, and pumpkin-bread and cranberry tea sandwiches. One could make quite the delicious pumpkin-based afternoon tea around these recipes. I advise you to purchase this issue!

In related news, I woke up this morning at 5 AM to purchase rush tickets for Next to Normal, the new spectacular Broadway show. This will be my fourth time seeing it, if that says anything about how wonderful it really is (Alice Ripley is phenomenal! And she won the Tony this year!)! Me and two friends (Rebecca and Frankie) arrived at The Booth theatre on Shubert Alley at about 6 AM and waited for four hours, first in line, to get front-row center tickets for only $25.00. We will be at this evening's performance! In dire need of food, Rebecca went out on a bagel-hunt. I shamefully admit that every now and then, I can't resist using the convenience of Starbucks for my tea needs. I am a really big Iced Chai Latte fan, and Starbucks' version of the popular beverage isn't half bad. Although I would always rather support the small, non-corporate businesses, in times of need, the fragrant, well-spiced chai certainly suffices.

Of course their menu now offer the seasonal pumpkin latte, and on display with the baked good, pumpkin scones! Of course I picked one up. American style (triangle shaped), the Starbucks scones can actually be quite good. I dislike most of the baked good items at Starbucks, however the petite vanilla bean scones are delicious. I brought back a pumpkin scone for Rebecca, Frankie and I to share. The scone is completely iced, so the flavor is a little too sweet for my liking, but everyone enjoyed it. The scone was a nice, not too dry-not too moist consistency, with a good, strong pumpkin flavor. It went quickly, and so will the season, so go out pumpkin hunting.

My good friend Danielle has been baking pumpkin scones the past couple of weeks, perfecting a secret recipe she has. She is now studying abroad in London, but if we are lucky, perhaps she will send over the recipe, and I can have it up in time for the holidays.

Enjoy the lovely day, stay well, and enjoy the search for the perfect pumpkin treats! If you find anything exceptional, let me know, and I can post about it right away!