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Exploring, sipping & delighting in all things tea.
Just put the kettle on. One lump or two?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day * Tea & Bakes Guest Post


There's nothing I love more than a cup of tea, except a cup of tea with a slice of cake. My tea of choice is either a Rooibos or a Nettle Tea because I find these refreshing. Rather oddly, however, if I have an Afternoon tea I want nothing more than a good old Breakfast tea, which is exactly what I shall be drinking with this Chocolate and Raspberry cake. Perhaps a special occasion cake, this is made with spone, raspberry syrup, chocolate mousse, chocolate glaze and raspberries. All are fairly simple to prepare and Valentines give us the perfect excuse to indulge. If you have any questions about this recipe you can find me on Twitter at MariaKelly17 where I will be happy to help.


For the sponge:
4 eggs yolks + 4 egg whites

125g caster sugar
90g flour, sifted
30g unsweetened cocoa, sifted

1. Prepare 3 baking trays with parchment paper and turn oven on to 180˚C, making sure you have 3 shelves in place. Trace on circles or heart shapes (for you romantics).

2. Combine the egg yolks and 60g of the sugar, beat until pale yellow and creamy. Separately whisk the egg whites, gradually adding the rest ofhe sugar util this is glossy, smooth and has stiff peaks.

3. Gently fold in the egg yolk mixture, then the flour and cocoa powder.

4. Pipe this mixture using a round nozzle, working outwards, following the shape closely until filled.


5. Bake for 8 minutes, then set aside to cool.

For the Raspberry syrup:

100ml water
50g caster sugar
50ml raspberry liqueur

1. Place the water and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil.

2. Remove from heat to cool. Once cold add the liqueur.

For the Chocolate Mousse:250g dark (55%) chocolate
500ml whipping cream

1. Chop the chocolate and place over a bain-marie until the temperature reaches approx. 45˚C on a cooking thermometer.

2. Beat the cream until it forms stiff peaks.

3. Add 1/3 of the cream into the chocolate beating briskly to combine.

4. Pour this mixture over the rest of the cream and fold in gently.

For the Chocolate Glaze:
140g dark chocolate
200ml whipping cream
25g mild honey 1. Chop the chocolate and place into bowl.

2. Heat the cream and honey until simmering and pour this over the chocolate, stir until combined.

For the Decoration:
350g fresh raspberries

Assembling:

1. Place one of the sponges onto a rack and brush with the raspberry syrup. Spread 1/3 of the chocolate mousse and arrange 1/3 of the raspberries on the mousse.

2. Place the second sponge on top and repeat.


3. Place the remaining sponge on top then spread the remaining 1/3 of the mousse all over the cake and place in fridge to set for 20 minutes.


4. Pour the chocolate glaze over the top and refrigerate for another 50 minutes to set.

5. Decorate with the remaining raspberries.

Enjoy and Happy Valentines Day!
Adapted from The Chocolate BIBLE, Le Cordon Bleu.

You can find more food and bakes in Maria's Kitchen!Thank you Maria for our delicious treat for Valentines day!!

Chin chin...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reading Tea Leaves By a Highland Seer

Good arrrfternoon tea friends. We had a little trip to one of the many charity shops in Bridport just the other day and spotted this little book. Reading Tea Leaves...


What a find, right?! We have (like many of you lot must have) heard all about reading tea leaves and had a little wink-wink-knudge-knudge-chuckle about it all. However... is there more to this form of fortune telling or is it just a load of wishy-washy tea-tosh or balderdash? So in we delve...

Just the beginning paragraph of the Introduction (by James Norwood Pratt - would be wrong to...*ahem*) is possibly convincing us otherwise...
"Who hasn't heard of reading tea leaves? If you buy this book, you may have the good fortune to discover that it is no joke but an exercise of insight and intuition, not infrequently shading over into genuine psychic ability."
Fairly interesting, if you are a believer of psychic ability and whatnot, as we may have just found your answer to getting even more from that beloved cuppa.

Mr Pratt goes onto mention that it is probably "the oldest book in English on the subject. just recently rediscovered by the distinguished tea merchant John Harney"... Ooooerrrr!

You are invited to "simply close the book," if you don't believe in this sort of thing ... which is fair enough... but in we shall delve a little farther...

The first quarter of the book is taken up wholly with the Intro and Preface but lets get to some of the nitty-gritty.

From here on the titles are as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Tea Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves * Introduction to the Art of Divination from Tea Leaves
  • Chapter 2: Ritual and Method of Using the Tea-Cup
  • Chapter 3: General Principles to Be Observed in Reading the Cup
  • Chapter 4: An Alphabetical List of Symbols with Their Significations 
  • Chapter 5: Collection of Specimen Cups, with Interpretations * Interpretations and Illustrations
  • Chapter 6: Omens

And so who is itching to have a little looky at some of the Interpretations and Illustrations?! Here are just two examples for you lucky lot.

Fig 3: Principal Symbols - Crescent moon, Bird Flying, Triangles, Flag, Initial A in conjunction with sign of a letter in official envelope, Other initials, H and two Ls (???)
INTERPRETATION: 
"This shows, by means of the crescent moon on the side, prosperity and fortune as the result of a journey denoted by the lines. The number of triangles in conjunction with the initial H indicates the receipt of a legacy from some person whose name commences with that letter, and, being near the rim, at no great distance of time. The bird flying towards and near the handle, accompanied by a triangle and a long envelope, denotes good news from an official source. The flag gives warning of some danger from an enemy."
Ok then... so what do you think of that then tea peeps?

Fig 8: Principal Symbols - Coffin in bottom, in conjunction with V, Flag in conjunction with rifle on side, Sceptre on side, Large initial K with letter sign near sceptre, Astrological sign of Mars between them, Initial V near flag and rifle (???)
INTERPRETATION 
"This tea-cup appears to give warning by the flag in conjunction with a rifle and the letter V that some friend of the consultant will be wounded in battle, and as there is a coffin in the bottom of the cup that the wounds will be fatal. On the other side, however, a sceptre, surrounded by signs of honours, seems to indicate that V will be recognised by his sovereign and a decoration bestowed upon him for bravery in battle, shown by the initial K accompanied by a letter-sign, and by the astrological sign of Mars, intervening between these and the sceptre."
Wow. We're a tad stumped what to say about that one...

Hands up who can see the symbols in the tea leaves!?!

Just to give you a little more insight into this spectacular book, as we thought it wouldn't be fair not to, here are some examples of the Symbols and Significations:
"Abbey: Future ease and freedom from worry. Apes: Secret enemies. Apple Tree: Change for the better. Badger: Long life and prosperity as a bachelor. Bear: A long period of travel. Birds: A lucky sign; good news if flying; if at rest a fortunate journey. Camel: A burden to be patiently borne. Clouds: A serious trouble; if surrounded by dots, financial success. Cock: Much prosperity. (Ooooerr *Ahem*) Comet: Misfortune and trouble. Deer: Quarrels, disputes; failure in trade. Dog: A favorable sign; faithful friends, if at top of cup; in middle of cup, they are untrustworthy; at the bottom means secret enemies..."
We think you may have possibly got the gist, but be sure to stay clear of seeing a Kettle in your tea leaves as it means Death and we're certainly not wanting any of that around us thank-you-very-much.

It is all rather interesting, but it has got us thinking about the origins of the superstitious symbols and their significations. We know throughout many culture's histories there has been a strong link between superstitions and animals brining fortune or misfortune, but wonder if the superstition has to be concrete or could possibly change. We would like to think that Kettle would be a positive bringer of good things (tea perhaps!) rather than Death anyhow...

The Chapter titled Omens digs a little deeper and stumble upon some of the old ones you may or may not have heard of. Such as;

  • Monday's child is fair of face... (and so on) 
  •  Putting your clothes on backwards is a sign of good luck (but you must not alter them or the luck will change) 
  •  A cow coming into your garden is a very prosperous sign ... (ok...)
  •  Crickets are a lucky omen as they foretell money coming to you, but they should not be disturbed 
  •  Magpies (we all know this one, surely?) 
  •  A new moon seen for the first time over the right shoulder offers the chance for a wish come true 
  •  Nightingales are lucky for lovers if heard before the cuckoo 
  •  Owls are evil omens. Continuous hooting of owls in your trees is said to be one of ill health (Eeeeek!) 
  •  Singing before breakfast and you'll cry before night. (*Sniff*) 
  •  It's best to put your right shoe on first
So there you have it. Whether you take it with a pinch of salt like us or really believe you may be able to predict your future, here's a place to start with those tea leaves. Otherwise we've heard they're very good for Rose bushes!

Right then... we're off to put on some clothes backwards, drag a cow into our garden, put some microphones into some long grass and tiptoe off, get some binocs for the magpies, remember to look over our right shoulder, listen out for those Nightingales, keep our eyes and ears covered around Owls and always remember it's the right foot!

Think we'll just make a cuppa instead...

P.S. This will be going into our Tea Reads page very soon!

Chin chin...
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