Friday, April 2, 2010

Afternoon Tea, Only a Little Different...

As shrimp and grits are to the South, so is afternoon tea to Britain. Or at least by every stereotype you can find about this great isle. For now I'm going to revel in this stereotype as everything about this dining event is great. Not only an excuse to eat in between lunch and dinner, you get a choice of sweet and savoury. So here are a few ideas for some old afternoon staples, only not as you've ever seen them before (hopefully...)

Sausage Rolls with Red Onion Marmalade

4 Sausages - casing removed (Cumberland is preferable due to the herbs)
Half a pack of puff pastry (as discussed previously, you would be foolish to want to make it yourself)
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 egg - beaten

1 red onion
balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar

For the onion marmalade:
  • Peel and finely slice the red onion. On a medium-low heat sweat them down in a little butter until they are soft - about ten to fifteen minutes - ensuring they do not burn.
  • Add about 4 tbsp of the balsamic vinegar - the affect is not pleasant when adding vinegar to a hot pan so make sure your head isn't directly over it!
  • Stir constantly while the vinegar is bubbling to reduce. Add the sugar to help it caramelise and to sweeten the vinegar.
  • When the mixture is treacly and thickened up turn off the heat and set aside.
To make the sausage roll:
  • Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)
  • Roll the pastry out on a floured surface until about 1/2 cm thick. You ideally want it to look like a wide rectangle.
  • Combine the sausage meat and mustard (and any other herbs you feel like adding - sage would go nicely) and spread thickly and narrowly down the centre of the bottom half of the pastry.
  • Top the sausage meat with a layer of the onion marmalade.
  • Dab some of the egg wash along the bottom edge of the pastry and fold the top half over to create a casing. Press down firmly to seal.
  • Brush the egg wash all over the top of the pastry, place on non-stick baking sheet or some greaseproof paper and place in the middle of the oven.
  • Cook for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack (the pastry with de-puff as it cools).
  • Cut when cooled and serve up immediately.

Orange Blossom and Honey Scones

225 g self-raising flower
1 tsp baking powder
60 g butter
1 large egg
2 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp orange flower water
1 generous tbsp honey

  • Preheat oven to 200 C
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Beat the egg, orange blossom water, honey and milk together with a pinch of salt and pour into the flour mixture - it may be a little dry so add a dash or so of milk.
  • Combine until you have a smooth but fairly dry dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and press flat until a good inch thick.
  • Using the rim of a glass cut out the scones and put them flour-side up on a prepared baking sheet.
  • Brush the tops with a little milk and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (I find they are done much closer to 10 than 15, but you could have a slow oven).
  • Turn out onto a cooling rack and serve cold with clotted cream and cherry jam.

Smoked Mackerel Open Sandwiches

Now before you all skip to the next post, give these little beauties a try, they surpass cucumber sandwiches in every aspect! I am newly introduced to this fish myself and am very grateful to the insightful person who first brought them into my diet. It is a cheap fish to buy as well as good for you so it's silly not to try it...

All you need is:
  • A fillet of the fish (I recommend the easily found peppered one for this sandwich).
  • A few handfuls of washed watercress
  • Dijonaise - Maille is my preferred kind or you can make a basic one of your own combining wholegrain mustard and mayonnaise in a ratio of 2:1.
  • Some (preferably home made) wholewheat granary bread.

Thinly slice and toast the bread - let it cool before you put on the dijonaise. Pick some leaves off the stems of the watercress and load them onto of the bread. Delicately remove the fish from the skin and make sure you don't have any bones. Finish with some freshly ground pepper and a slight squeeze of lemon.

Like all good sandwiches it is simple but great due to the strong yet complementary flavours. You can also substitute the dijonaise with some horseradish mixed with creme fraiche.

After all this hard work no one would begrudge you the odd store-bought cake or tart slipped in there. I love battenberg cake and think it looks as good as it tastes - making any tea spread look pretty.

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