You can tell by now that I am pretty crazy about history! So combing tea and history has me working in my element. I was asked to host an Irish afternoon tea event at Barrington Hall, an 1839 Greek Revival style mansion in downtown Roswell, Georgia earlier this month. The building is ranked as one of the 50 most beautiful homes in Metro Atlanta and it’s been fully restored and furnished with many period and family pieces. The original owner, Roswell King’s daughter (Eva and her husband Rev. William Baker) moved into Barrington Hall in 1883 and owned a tea and coffee importing company. The Bakers have entertained some rather famous people for tea including President Theodore Roosevelt and Margaret Mitchell, so, naturally I wanted to know about the tea they imported and served and ferociously began researching.
The tea that they imported was Orange Peoke! The ‘orange’ in Peoke is sometimes mistaken to mean the tea has been flavored with actual orange. However, the word “orange” is unrelated and refers to the Dutch house of orange black tea leaves of a specific size and quality. These grading are typically used from teas from Sri Lanka, India other than China. After research I found that the closest tea I could serve was an Irish Breakfast tea (I served Punjana). Irish Breakfast has a higher proportion of Assam blended with a little Ceylon. The Assam is copper colored and what we call in Ireland ‘a hearty brew’ and it’s good with a wee spot of milk. We like to say it’s full of Malty gusto and it’s great any time of the day (if your Irish or Irish at heart).
So, I hope this inspires you to fill a kettle and enjoy a spot of Irish tea that’s been enjoyed from Victorian times and a historic pleasure we can all afford to enjoy every day!
Certain smells and flavors conjure up the essence of Christmas! Just like the aromas of the spices baking in the oven of my favorite Gingerbread Scones. Gingerbread is an Old World recipe that has somehow become synonymous with the Christmas Season around the world including both Ireland and America. These Gingerbread Scones are perfect for holiday brunch are always a hit especially when served with Lemon Curd and Fresh Whipped Cream. Enjoy the season and the spices of Christmas.. It’s the time!
Gingerbread Scones with Clotted Lemon Cream
Gingerbread scone ingredients (makes ½ dozen):
1 lb. (4 cups) self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 oz. (¼ cup) dark brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground powdered ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
¾ tsp. cinnamon
6 oz. (¾ cup) butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
1 egg (beaten)
4 fl. oz. (½ cup) buttermilk
2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) molasses
egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water or milk)
How to make them:
Preheat your oven to 425° F.
Sift the flour with the baking powder then combine the remaining dry ingredients together in a food processor or a large mixing bowl.
Cut the cold butter into the mixed dry ingredients then rub the mixture together with your fingertips or add them slowly to a food processor to form a breadcrumb-like texture.
Beat the buttermilk, egg, and molasses together in a small bowl and combine with the dry ingredients, mixing well.
Turn the resulting dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough a few times and then roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about ¾” thick.
Cut the scones out of the flattened dough using a 1” biscuit cutter.
Brush dough scones with egg wash and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake 12–15 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top, turning the baking tray halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
Best served warm. Serve sliced in half and slathered with clotted cream.
This Spring I was so honored to be the guest speaker at the annual garden tea hosted by Patty Blanton and her wonderful family. The tea benefits the Sacred Heart Cultural Center in Augusta, Georgia and is a most elegant affair. It was the most perfect afternoon with Scots Irish fiddling, delicious food, Sipping Thompson’s Irish tea and story telling. Just as mentioned in my cookbook the Shamrock andPeach “one of the many particularities and joys of living in the South is found in the discovery that many of the old traditions of a more refined, bygone age have survived the modern era”. I was truly blessed beyond measure to be part of this momentous occasion tea in the garden and will treasure in my heart for years to come!
So have tea y’all, don those heals, find your most fabulous hat and wear those pearls (and in the garden if at all possible)!
Valentines is the perfect time to host a tea for two or pamper your friends. Oscar Wilde’s famous quote “I am finding it harder and harder to live up to my good bluechina” reminds me of the idealist way we behave around beauty and lovely things and nothing evokes more whimsy than a tea party. Ireland is the largest tea consumer per capita than any other country in the world so I have indeed been steeped in the custom. This week I hosted a lovely tea event at Reynolds Plantation in the beautiful Lake Oconee Georgia and judging by the laughter and smiles it was a memorable occasion. So in honor of Valentines I would like to share my scone recipe with you for your very own celebration of love.
Sift together the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bow. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Make a well in the center of dry mixture then set aside.
In another bowl, combine the egg and buttermilk then fold all at once into the dry mixture.
Stir until moistened then knead 4 or 5 times to create the dough.
Use a floured rolling pin to flatten the dough to measure about 1” in height .Cut scones using a 1 ½” fluted pastry or cookie cutter, and place each cutout on a large baking pan. Brush the tops with egg glaze using a pastry brush.
Bake for 15 minutes until the scones are a light golden brown, turning the pan around halfway through baking time to ensure evenness.
To serve cut in half and spread a little kerrygold butter over each scone, top with strawberry preserves, a dollop of cream and garnish with a cut fresh strawberry! Valentines Joy to all and loads of love