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U.S.A. equilavents vs. The WORLD
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good morning!

Sorry, tiredness got tbetter of me last night and I had to get some sleep.

DairyQueen, my family are Scottish, but my Grandmother had this thing that she had to have "English afternon tea". I grew up in country Australia, one of the last bastions of "like at home", ie in Scotland/Ireland/England depending on where your family was from.

My mother made all of our baked goods at home and so as a child I did not get a lot of super sweet things. This is kind of typical of an oldfashioned Scottish attitude to food. You will find that most tea party foods are not the really rich sticky sweets that children and adults would think of now. We thought that fairycakes with fresh cream and icing sugar dusted across the top where the ultimate treat! If you think that your guests would enjoy it more to have iced cakes, I would go for it, but if you want authentic I would not ice them. As already stated though by Creampuff, you are working from a memory, so you are going by a preconceived idea and an emotional fragment from childhood.

I would have to agree with your partner that fairy cakes are "wee". I think my Mother used a cupcake pan that was slightly smaller than the usual. It was a really old one though and so I have no idea of a brand name etc. To me a cupcake is the normal cupcake size.

Sorry, I meant to say Earl Grey Tea (typo). When adding tea to flavour cakes etc, you are really only adding up to 2 tablespoons of liquid. The trick is to make the tea mix very very strong - stronger than it would be possible to drink. I normally don't substitute it for any ingredients, I put it in first and then add other liquids, reserving a bit of them and most times you can add all of the other liquid. 2 tablespoons extra is not a lot really. You will know whether it is affecting your consistency as you are adding the other liquid and you can adjust quite easily.

Tea cake is a cake that has been baked as one whole cake in a large pan. A Victoria Sponge or Victoria Sandwich as you called it could qualify as a tea cake. If you made a butter cake though, you could add tea flavour as per above to the batter.

Crumpets may be more Scottish than English, sorry. I know the recipe is Scottish, but I have had it served to me and on menus in England for afternoon tea countless times. It was only ever with proper butter though (not margarine) and not with jam and cream. Jam and cream are for pikelets which are an Australian thing, or for drop scones (a type of pikelet) which are Scottish.

Pick whichever cream you prefer and think your guests will prefer. Cream, like cheese, is a personal choice kind of thing when served with a food as oposed to in a food.

Victoria Sponge is traditionally just two thinner cakes which are "sandwiched" together. Don't forget that our meaning of the word sandwich is a modern one. "sandwiches" (as in filled bread) are an 18th or 19th century idea. To sandwich something is to bring to flattish things together and join with something in the middle. In this case it is two thin cakes with cream in the middle. For is one my Mum would sometimes put home made strawberry jam and then the cream and then the second layer of cake... YUM!

Weighing is as important for these recipes as it is for all others. As you have Joy of Cooking you will be right now with this one.

Have fun!
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Jenni



Joined: 30 Mar 2005
Posts: 3
Location: London

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 3:12 pm    Post subject: Cress Reply with quote

As a true-born Brit I have eaten many sandwiches with 'cress' in, and Sally is quite right, it's not the same as watercress. It's called 'mustard and cress' here and you can indeed buy it in little cartons - or buy the seeds and grow them on damp cotton wool. It's the first thing little children are taught to grow, and you can do fun things like grow it in eggshells with faces painted on (so that it looks like crazy green hair). I found one good reference at http://www-saps.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/records/rec125.htm which explains what it really is. As it's unfamiliar to you, perhaps you can't get it in the US: I think watercress would actually be a good substitute, as it has that nice peppery flavour and if you cut it up small it would have a similar texture.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Debbie wrote:
DairyQueen, my family are Scottish, but my Grandmother had this thing that she had to have "English afternon tea". I grew up in country Australia, one of the last bastions of "like at home", ie in Scotland/Ireland/England depending on where your family was from.

My mother made all of our baked goods at home and so as a child I did not get a lot of super sweet things. This is kind of typical of an oldfashioned Scottish attitude to food. You will find that most tea party foods are not the really rich sticky sweets that children and adults would think of now. We thought that fairycakes with fresh cream and icing sugar dusted across the top where the ultimate treat!


Debbie: I mean this in the most sincere way: "I stand in awe of your knowledge and ability to communicate it." Also, I learned to respect Sally's desire to have the Fairy Cakes be plain, because your post taught me so much.

Sally....is Scottish! But she uses the word "British" all the time, to refer to anyone from the U.K. area, so I got into the habit of using it, too. It would make so much sense, the way that you explain the Old Fashioned Scottish view, that Sally would get all giggly and nogslagic about HER version of Fairy Cakes.

I'm embarrassed now. Here, I thought, "What's so special about plain cupcakes with a bit of cream and a cut-up cake 'crumb' jammed on top?? Why, in my infinite wisdom (insert ironic sarcasym HERE), I could radically improve upon your _____ Fairy Cakes!" At this point, of course, the little dog removes the fabric screen from around my Magical Chef's chair, and all who see me, gasp at the Great Wizard of Fairy Cakes!!!

creampuff and you were bang on; I am dealing with memories, which I was completely dismissing in favour of having Sally's Tea Party (NOT mine) be a Blow-Out Spectacular. Having the history of the region, Scotland; the time...at least 20-25 years ago; and the extra nudge on your part that I'm dealing with memories finally got it through my thick skull.

It's not about how beautiful the cakes could be; it's about Sally tying into her memories of teas at her Gran's place near Loch Lohan(sp) and how happy she must have felt as a titchy girl to have yummy Fairy Cakes!

I've learned a big lesson today, with your post. Thank you for every second you put into it.

Debbie wrote:
Sorry, I meant to say Earl Grey Tea (typo). When adding tea to flavour cakes etc, you are really only adding up to 2 tablespoons of liquid. The trick is to make the tea mix very very strong - stronger than it would be possible to drink. I normally don't substitute it for any ingredients, I put it in first and then add other liquids, reserving a bit of them and most times you can add all of the other liquid. 2 tablespoons extra is not a lot really. You will know whether it is affecting your consistency as you are adding the other liquid and you can adjust quite easily.


Okay, Earl Grey Tea, NOT Early Grey Tea. This wasn't me being a smart ass; I really had to know if there was an "Early Grey Tea". Sally would always talk about "Rich Tea Biscuits." I just thought that they were a fancy cookie, so I kept buying her rich, covered cookies (which she'd scarf down), but she said they were never the same.

So, lo and behold, we're in Cost Plus-World Market, and I hear Sally squealing from aisles away, "Bee! Bee! Look! Look! Rich Tea Biscuits! And Jammy Dodgers! And McVee's Digestive Biscuits!!!" And sure enough, the damn box actually said : RICH TEA BISCUITS, and again, they were the plainest thing on this Earth...no icing...no jam...no coconut. So, when I asked about Early Tea, who knows...it could be a real item!

I need to print out my post from the "What has influenced you thread?", where I talk about the purely simple food that I grew up with and cherish and staple it to my forehead for the day, with a sign around my neck saying: "Respect the Food Memories of Others!" I've been an insensitive Food Jerk, trying to hijack Sally's memories for my developing skills with cakes and also for believeing that "plain"=BAD. I should know better.

I'm still going to take the Cake Decorating Classes, but I'll reserve them for decorating Sally's birthday cake, in late May, instead of ruining her memories of High Tea.

Debbie: YOU'RE THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO
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creampuff



Joined: 10 Mar 2005
Posts: 104
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did a quick search and found more info on mustard cress also called cress on this great site www.practicallyedible.com -- a wonderful resource -- which by the way can be accessed in English, French and several other languages.

Here's the info -- the bottom line is that mustard cress tastes just like watercress in terms of pepperiness -- watercress is larger and harder to grow. The site recommends several substitutes including radish sprouts (which are my favorite sprouts for flavor, looks and texture)

Cress
aka Mustard Cress

There are two types of Cress: Garden Cress, also known as Land Cress, or just "Cress", and Watercress. Garden Cress is a member of the cabbage family and is more popular elsewhere.Watercress is a member of the nasturtium family and is more popular in the UK; see separate entry on Watercress.

Garden Cress has the same pungent nip as Watercress does, with medium to dark green leaves. Garden Cress is easier to grow as it can be grown in soil and doesn't require the constant flow of water that Watercress does. However, if grown in dry soil and very hot weather, its refreshing nip becomes unpleasant and bitter. Most Cress will be ready for harvesting 3 to 4 weeks after planting seed. The more you clip it for use, the more it will grow.

Good in salads, sandwiches and soups.

There are many varieties of Garden Cress: for instance Broadleaf Cress, which is good for salads and Curly Cress whose leaves are shaped like parsley.

Substitutes
Rocket, endive, young spinach leaves, radish sprouts, Watercress

History
Cress is native to the Middle East. It was being grown in Persia as early as 400 BC. It was brought to North America by European settlers.
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blush Embarassed You are a sweetie Dairy Queen.

What you say is true, opinions of food nowdays are very different to when we were children. My friends children would gasp in horror if I served them "proper" fairycakes, they would probably ask me if I ran out of icing (or frosting I think you call it over there?).

Your description of Sally squealing with delight at finding all sorts of goodies made me giggle. I have also been accused of doing this in shops and my husband (who is of Maori descent) just looks at me like I have grown an extra head or something.... mind you this is from a man whose country of origin makes "chocolate fish" (small chocolates shaped like fish and wrapped in foil paper so they actually do look like small herrings or sardines!!!).... hmmm

Sorry about the typos. I am using my laptop and the poor little thing cannot keep up with my typing speed and so I make many typos. Will be improved soon when we have our apartment fully set up and I have a computer desk and can plug in an external keyboard..... sigh...

You are not an insensitive food jerk!!! What you are doing is absolutely gorgeous and I salute you for doing something so special for your Sally. One very lucky lady! We all get a bit wrapped up in our different "food phases" and become a bit bogged down in what we think. Nothing wrong with it at all. It is good to be able to share with others on a forum such as this and gain abit of clarity and distance on such "emotion charged" issues.

If you want any other recipes please let me know. I am absolutely passionate about food - and its history (and eating as well) - and love sharing these things. One of the few possessions which I brought to Paris with me is a heritage cookbook. It was my way of combining a few obsessions into a more portable resource. (I worked in archeaology, history and heritage in Australia, and food and cooking was just my outside of work hours obsession).

Thank you for your wonderful compliments. I was having a bit of a mopey day and you have brought back the sunshine!

Note to Jenni... thank you for the update on cress. We always used watercress, but probably because we couldn't get the real deal in Australia. Next trip to London (in 2 weeks and counting) I will make a pointof trying to find some seeds to bring back to Paris and grow for myself. Any suggestions on where I can buy them would be gratefully accepted! I can remember doing the eggshell people and making stockings stuffed with sawdust and grass seeds which you sit on a saucer of water. We used to sew buttons on for eyes and use wool to stitch on mouths and noses. What a fun memory. Thank you.
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If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P.S.

Forgot to add to my novel above.... Please, please, please share your tea party menu with us when you have it all finalised. And pics of the birthday cake would be great to see when you make it in May.

I decorated our wedding cake, and let me just say that is was just as well I love my husband..... my first attempt and it was our wedding cake Shocked - I think I need either a good slapping or a visit to the psychiatrist! Seriously it was a lot of fun if somewhat frustrating at times. Wish I had done a cake decorating course. Next time I will have a stiff glass of scotch and a lie down to bring me back to my senses and make me forget about attempting such a big job with no practical knowledge......

Hope you are having fun with your party plans.
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If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:58 am    Post subject: Re: Cress Reply with quote

Jenni wrote:
As a true-born Brit I have eaten many sandwiches with 'cress' in, and Sally is quite right, it's not the same as watercress. It's called 'mustard and cress' here and you can indeed buy it in little cartons - or buy the seeds and grow them on damp cotton wool. It's the first thing little children are taught to grow, and you can do fun things like grow it in eggshells with faces painted on (so that it looks like crazy green hair). I found one good reference at http://www-saps.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/records/rec125.htm which explains what it really is. As it's unfamiliar to you, perhaps you can't get it in the US: I think watercress would actually be a good substitute, as it has that nice peppery flavour and if you cut it up small it would have a similar texture.


Jenni: I have NO idea how you found the link to this, but you're a God Send! I sent the link to Sally and the mystery is solved! We plan on using radish sprouts as her "American Cress." Impressive link, I must add!

Debbie wrote:
What you say is true, opinions of food nowdays are very different to when we were children. My friends children would gasp in horror if I served them "proper" fairycakes, they would probably ask me if I ran out of icing (or frosting I think you call it over there?).

Yes, we call it frosting and I laughed at the honesty of your kids; I would have asked the same thing or thought, "Poor dear can't afford frosting!"

So much of your post was quoteable, Debbie. Yes, Sally is my delight in life for she never lost her NEVERLAND sense of wonder. A packet of Percy Pigs or a can of Irn Bru can send her over the moon like nobody's business. Much cheaper than diamonds.

It is only 4 days until Kim and my cake decorating classes! She is over the moon with the fact that she's taking them and gave me a call tonight to make sure that they were 'still on". Yes, we are.

And lastly, direct from Sally, is her list, to date, of what she's planning for a "Child's Tea Party", even though the children will be 20-something ex-U.K. patriots!

(She warned me to NOT have all you food experts judge her "plain" food!)

"Cheese and pineapple sticks on an orange" hedgehog
Egg and cress sandwiches.
Sausage rolls
Cucumber sandwiches
Rabbit jelly with bums that no one wants to eat
Party rings
Lemon curd tarts
Victoria sponge cake
Fairy cakes


(I can't tell you the eye rolling and laughter I've had with her over her descriptions of rabbit jelly bums and orange hedgehogs! *snort*)
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creampuff



Joined: 10 Mar 2005
Posts: 104
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you have all you need for this party, but wanted to let you know about a San Francisco-based resource for British foods and goods
www.britshoppe.com

Let us know how the tea party turns out!
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

creampuff: I already copied the link and tucked it into an email to surprise Sally tomorrow morning. I have no doubt, that 8 hours later, I'll hear about Walker's Prawn Crisps, Cadbury Flake Bars and Ribena!

Thanks for the source! I like the look of those crumpets and will probably order them for the party; cheap price, too!
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good morning!

Oh Irn Bru! I used to be absolutely in love with that stuff... now can't touch it unfortunately. However, the sight of a can will still make me come over all "misty and sentimental". Isn't it funny how our childhood memories rule us so strongly and trigger so much emotion.

The menu sounds great. I can imagine your puzzlement.... turning to horror when some of the things were described in detail. Just keep chanting "plain doesn't equal bland" and the little dog will whisk back the curtain from you Magical Chefs Chair to squeals of delight and much appreciation from the "no place like home" participants, who will all want to stay in Oz forever! (or at least until all the food is gone.....)

Lemon curd tarts. Oh wow. Had almost (but not quite) forgotten about these. They were my fathers absolute favourites and I loved them too, but my mother wouldn't make them for anyone but him. It was sort of like his "special dessert" when she wanted to spoil him. I could eat lemon curd and homemade, thick, egg custard with fresh grated nutmeg every day I love them so much.

Thank you so much for sharing the menu. Please take lots of photos and let us catch a glimpse of the party when it happens. I will be sitting here in Paris reliving my childhood vicariously through your posts. I hope Sally and all her friends have a lovely time at the party and it is everything that she hopes it will be.

Good on you for the cake decorating classes. You and Kim will have a great time and both come away with a skill which you will find endless uses for.

You are a angel for all your "good works" that you are involved in. Hope you have as much fun with it as I am sure Sally and Kim will have.
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Nancy



Joined: 18 Feb 2005
Posts: 4
Location: Peak District, UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to add a bit on the egg and cress sandwiches....
I use a mixture of alfalfa and radish sprouts as an alternative to mustard & cress as I find radish sprouts alone much spicier/hotter than traditional mustard and cress. Maybe do a taste test on Sally?

Also on the egg sandwiches -- as you're dealing with memories here, it would be worth checking whether egg mayonnaise (hard-boiled egg mixed with a little mayonnaise to make a spreadable filling) or chopped or sliced egg with just the cress on buttered bread is what's required! Brown or white bread might also be important. For me, egg and cress sandwiches means thinly-sliced brown bread (NEVER white bread - that would be for ham!), buttered, with finely-sliced hard-boiled egg, sprinkled with salt and pepper and then a thick layer of cress. Oh - and cut into quarters (either to make squares or triangles) - the 'tiny' or 'wee' size would be important .
I like egg mayonnaise, but it would've been fancy beyond words in my childhood, and possible regarded as foreign food, on a par with garlic and yoghurt Laughing

Pikelets -- these are called crumpets in the Northwest of England where I come from, but my partner's mother, who came from the Midlands, used to call them pikelets. I had no idea what she was talking about until she made some crumpets Smile

And the fairy cakes with wings brought back a lot of memories - I'd forgotten all about them Smile

And, check out the site 'A Nice Sit Down and a Cup of Tea', you can get the latest on all the British biscuits and become an expert in Hobnobs, Abbey Crunch, Ginger Snaps and Jaffa cakes as well as Rich Tea....
http://www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.com/

Good luck with your party:)
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seastar



Joined: 20 Mar 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheerio everyone!

This is my first posting and hopefully nowhere near my last ...

Back to the superfine sugar topic ...

That was a great idea about whizzing the sugar in the blender! Here, in BC, Canada we can purchase "Berry Sugar" in markets, which is a superfine sugar. Not sure how common this is elsewhere.

Enjoy your English Tea Party!
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In the whorehouses of the bakeries, I was serially, gluttonously, irredeemably unfaithful to all those chapatis-next-door waiting for me back home. East was East, but yeast was West.

On Leavened Bread - Salman Rushdie
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ejm



Joined: 01 Feb 2005
Posts: 51
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seastar, I was just about to post about fruit sugar - superfine sugar that dissolves quickly in liquid. In Alberta, we always bought "fruit sugar" for one of the Christmas cakes we make. (I think my mom still buys it if she is making crabapple jelly) But here in Ontario, I have only found boxes of "superfine" sugar. It looks exactly the same as "fruit" sugar.

I wondered about the cress thing! I remember having spectacular cress sandwiches some years ago at a high tea in Brighton and the leaves were tiny in comparison to watercress leaves I've seen here in Canada. However, the taste of watercress is very similar to that in the tea sandwiches.

Don't forget to make sausage rolls for the tea!
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Lady Amalthea



Joined: 18 Dec 2004
Posts: 136
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 3:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Cress Reply with quote

Dairy_Queen wrote:
"Cheese and pineapple sticks on an orange" hedgehog
Egg and cress sandwiches.
Sausage rolls
Cucumber sandwiches
Rabbit jelly with bums that no one wants to eat
Party rings
Lemon curd tarts
Victoria sponge cake
Fairy cakes


Would you care to share some descriptions for the non-Brits among us?
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cynthiaLW



Joined: 15 Feb 2005
Posts: 13
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2005 4:06 am    Post subject: Cress Reply with quote

Can your friend describe the flavor of the cress she had as a child? Could it be Chervil, which is not sold often in grocery stores because it doesn't keep well. I just bought some today at the Farmer's Market.
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