Tea Time.

7:30pm. Tuesday night.

Inadvisably large bowl of frosted flakes.

The latest Netflix Original playing on the laptop that currently serves as both home office and home entertainment center.

Also, stretchy-waist pants + the book I tell myself I'm going to read as soon as I finish up one more episode.

Netflix Original of choice: Happy Valley. A somewhat violent British Crime Drama focusing on the life and struggle of Sergeant Catherine Cahill. Drugs. Mobs. Prison. Justice. Cahill fights all the demons you would expect from a drama of that sort. Does she find peace? Not really. Does she kick a@%? Most definitely. Does she make it back in time to put the kettle on for tea time? Always.

So sitting here in my sweats eating absurd amounts of cereal, I feel like... Tea Time.

But, like, cute. Dainty sandwiches and little scones and jams. However, because my Texan heart has little experience with tea party rituals, I've done some brief internet research. It's good to be informed.

Let's break it down:

Afternoon Tea (or Low Tea, Cream Tea)
Your typical high-society-style party. Around the 1800's this included aristocrats and royalty and was meant as a buffer between the morning meal and a late dinner. Available to all now, this type of tea is still a bit pricier and is usually saved for weekends and events like birthdays or celebrations.
Menu typically includes: tea, scones and clotted cream, sandwiches, assorted cakes and pastries

High Tea (or Meat Tea)
Originally the evening meal for working class folk. In the 1800's, this was often served at high tables (bar-style tables) at a pub following the workday. While afternoon tea is considered a snack or light meal, high tea is a denser meal meant to feed famished laborers after a long day. In modern times, this is basically just supper/dinner.
Menu typically includes: tea, cold meats, savory pies, fish, vegetables, baked goods

And then there's:

People just drinking tea 
People just drinking tea. Because they like tea.

So our beloved Sarg Cahill probably falls into that third category. I, however, am interested in this afternoon tea deal.

  • Cucumber* Sandwiches with Ham and Cream Cheese 
  • Passion Fruit + Ginger Mocktail with Citrus
  • Elcairs with Vanilla Cream and Strawberry Compote

You may notice that tea is missing from the tea party menu. (Other than liking a bit of irony in my posts), like my 5-year old self, I still just haven't been sold on it yet. Scones are also missing, but heck y'all. I'm tired.

*It's important to note that at any other time cucumbers would be regarded as abhorrent and found nowhere near my person. Or the Dough Puncher kitchen. But. These sandwiches were delightful.

Cucumber Sandwiches with Ham and Cream Cheese
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch italian seasoning (this seasoning grinder is much better than the typical jar)
2 cucumbers, skin on
4-5 slices, thinly sliced ham
8 slices white sandwich bread

1) Mix together the cream cheese, butter, garlic powder, and italian seasoning. Set aside.

2) Prep the cucumbers: using a vegetable peeler peel long, thin slices of cucumber- the wider the better. Try to get peels that have skin on both sides (to get the "striped" look you see in the picture above). Peel until you hit the seeds, then switch to the next side, until you've peeled 4 sides. Discard (or eat it, your call) the seeded remainder.

3) Prep the ham: slice the edges off your ham so you have nice and neat rectangles (most definitely eat the remainder).

4) For each sandwich: spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture on 2 slices of bread. On one slice, layer one rectangle of ham. Place the other slice of bread on top, cream cheese layer down. Spread another thin layer of the cream cheese mixture on top of your sandwich. Top with the thin slices of cucumber. Refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes (so your cream cheese firms up a little).

5) With a serrated knife, slice off the crusts and then slice into triangles (or whatever shape you'd fancy).

Passion Fruit + Ginger Mocktail with Lime

Ginger Syrup
via David Lebovitz
8 oz fresh ginger root
4 cups water
2 cups sugar

1) Thinly slice the ginger root, and and then roughly chop into smaller pieces.

2) Combine chopped ginger, water, and sugar in a medium to large pot and bring to a boil, making sugar all the sugar dissolves. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes. Strain mixture with a fine sieve to remove pieces of ginger. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

*This syrup is the real deal. I had this worry that somehow I wouldn't be able to taste the ginger...I can now say - through completely cleared sinuses - that this is definitely no longer a concern. A+.

Put it together...
passion fruit juice/puree
ginger syrup (above)
1 lime or lemon, sliced into wedges
sparkling water or lemon/lime soda

1) In a glass with ice: fill 1/4 with ginger syrup. Add another 1/4 passion fruit juice/puree. Fill the remaining space with your carbonated liquid of choice. Squeeze in a bit of lime/lemon and serve.

Mini Eclairs with Strawberry Compote and Vanilla Cream

Pate a Choux 
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs, beaten

1) Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil butter, water, sugar, and salt. Remove from heat, add flour all at once and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball. Return to heat and continue to cook 1 minute.

2) Pour dough into a the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix for 2-3 minutes until slightly cooled. Gradually add eggs, mixing until homogenous after each addition.

3) Pour batter into a piping bag with fit with a french star tip. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, pipe straight logs about 3 inches long and about 1.5 inches apart. Bake in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes, until puffed and just beginning to brown. Crack oven open with a spoon (to release any excess moisture), and continue baking another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely before filling.

Vanilla Cream
2 cups whole milk (or to make it a little creamier, evaporated milk or half and half)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1) In a medium saucepan, bring to a light boil milk, butter, 1/4 cup sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch.

2) When the milk mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and pour about half into the small bowl with the egg yolk mix. Quickly whisk until combined, then pour through a strainer back into the pan (this process is called tempering). Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and pour into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic is touching the surface of the custard (to keep a skin from forming), and refrigerate until cool.

Strawberry Compote
1 lb strawberries, sliced and chopped
1/4 cup sugar

1) In a medium saucepan combine both ingredients. Cook over medium heat until the strawberries have cooked down by about two thirds and the syrup (formed by the strawberry juices and sugar during cooking) thickens - about 20 minutes. Be careful to stir often to prevent the compote from burning on the bottom.

Whipped Cream
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, whip all ingredients together until the mixture reaches stiff peaks.

Put it together
1) Using a serrated knife, slice the top third off of each of your baked eclairs. Fill with a little strawberry compote, then top with vanilla cream.

2) Pour whipped cream into a pastry bag fit with a rose tip. Position the bag in your hand so that the wider end of the rose tip is down at 6 o'clock and the thinner end is up at 12 o'clock. Pipe a thin ribbon on top of each eclair using a side to side motion. Garnish with a thin slice of strawberry.

Bonus: giant cream puff ring made with extra pate a choux dough (I may have made a couple batches...) and pastry cream. Choux dough is SO adaptable y'all.


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