Category Archives: Recipes

Making jam for the tea party pantry

Homemade apricot-oolong compote.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Homemade apricot-oolong compote. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Now that summer is here and those delicious summer fruits are in season, it’s time to stock up on homemade jam for the tea party pantry!  San Jose’s history as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” is no longer visible in the orchards that once covered the Santa Clara Valley, but plenty of local people still have fruit trees in their front and back yards, full of ripe fruit this time of year.  Wild plums and berries can also be found along the banks of rivers, creeks and streams in the Santa Cruz mountains and local foothills, if you know where to look.  For those that don’t have edible landscaping at home, and even for those that do, the local farmers’ markets are a wonderful source of fresh, ripe fruit for tea-table jams and preserves.  What better treat to serve your tea guests, give as gifts, or enjoy by yourself than homemade jam?  It’s not as hard as it seems.  Plus, once you’ve washed the fruit, you can freeze it in freezer bags, and make jam or pie with it later in the year (or when the weather has cooled down a bit).

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Refreshing Citrus Rose Tea Punch recipe

tea punch ingredients

Citrus pomegranate rose tea punch ingredients. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Labor Day may be the unofficial “end of summer” but it’s not the end of the hot weather here in San Jose!  Cooling, refreshing drinks are still necessary to survive the warmth, especially for those of us who live in older homes without air conditioning.  Tea – especially iced or cold-brewed – is a great drink to keep in the fridge, and it makes delicious mixed drinks and punches.  Served over ice, it is wonderfully cooling and easy to drink. Here is the recipe:

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Beat the heat with iced tea punches and cocktails.

Pomegranate tea punch.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Pomegranate tea punch. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

With the beginning of summer comes the perfect weather for a refreshing glass of iced tea.  Although there is no reason to become bored with good old iced tea – because of the wide range of flavored teas commercially available – tea can be used to make many other cold beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Alcohol-free beverages include punches, virgin cocktails or “mocktails”, spritzers, and of course, the ever-popular Arnold Palmer — iced tea and lemonade mixed together in equal parts.  It is one of my favorite ways to drink iced tea in the summer!  You can also add things like rose water, orange flower water, and simple syrups flavored with mint or other herbs, orange peel or other fruits to your iced tea for more variation.  Then, there are the alcoholic punches and cocktails that contain tea; there are so many options!

Here are two great tea punch recipes.  The first one was served by the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild at their Pre-Raphaelite Tea Salon a few years ago.  It has remained popular with them and their guests ever since.
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Mother’s Day history and tea tips.

 

Mother's Day post card, 1916, Northern Pacific Railway.  Wikimedia Commons

Mother’s Day post card, 1916, Northern Pacific Railway. Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, as we know it, in the U.S.? Julia Ward Howe, an American poet who also wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the beginning of the Civil War, became so appalled by the violence and destruction that she became a pacifist and called, in 1870, for all mothers to band together in peace, to stop their sons and husbands from being sent to war. Her effort temporarily (until about 1880) resulted in June 2nd being set aside for local celebrations of American mothers, and of peace.

When Howe died, although most Mother’s Day celebrations ended, a group of women in West Virginia adapted the holiday as a Mother’s Friendship Day, to re-unite those who had been driven apart by wartime politics. In 1908, Anna Jarvis, the daughter of the Mother’s Friendship Day committee leader, petitioned her mother’s church — St. Andrews Methodist Church — to establish the 2nd Sunday in May as an official, annual celebration, in honor of her mother; the church assented, presenting each mother with white carnations, Jarvis’ mother’s favorite flower, for the special service. A church in Philadelphia, where Jarvis herself was living, also adopted the holiday. The same year, the YMCA started petitioning the U.S. government to make Mother’s Day a national holiday, working with Jarvis to influence senators and other government officials. Jarvis trademarked the phrase “Mother’s Day” in 1912, to indicate that the purpose of the holiday was “for each family to honor its mother, not … all mothers of the world.” In 1912 West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother’s Day as an official holiday, and President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in May of 1914.
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How to make rose-scented treats for tea

Old-fashioned fragrant rose, perfect for making rose water.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Old-fashioned fragrant rose, perfect for making rose water. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Now that we’re into the warmer spring weather here in San Jose, local rose bushes are blooming and scenting the air with their fragrance. Roses not only smell wonderful, but are edible, when grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If you have access to food-grade fresh or dried roses, you can use them for both culinary and medicinal purposes — they are soothing and moisturizing — and some rose recipes are good additions to the tea party pantry! Some of the most useful rose-scented treats include rose water and rose jelly.

Rose water can be added, a spoonful at a time, to a cup of hot tea or a glass of iced tea, for flavor and aroma, and can be used, with granulated sugar, to make a rose-scented sugar or rose syrup for flavoring iced tea or cocktails, or with powdered sugar, to make icing for tea cakes, cookies and sweet scones. Local grocery stores carry rose water in the Middle Eastern food aisle, and this has been distilled so that it is shelf-stable. Continue reading

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Make homemade jam for the tea party pantry

Orlando's Fruit Stand in San Jose.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Orlando’s Fruit Stand in San Jose. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Jose’s history as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” is no longer visible in the orchards that once covered the Santa Clara Valley, but plenty of local people still have fruit trees in their front and back yards, trees that are filling with ripe fruit this season.  Wild plums and berries can also be found along the banks of rivers, creeks and streams in the Santa Cruz mountains and local foothills.  For those that don’t have edible landscaping at home, and even for those that do, the local farmers’ markets are a wonderful source of fresh, ripe fruit for tea-table jams and preserves.  What better treat to serve your tea guests, give as gifts, or enjoy by yourself than homemade jam?  You can make jam either with or without adding pectin; it’s a fairly easy recipe either way.
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Italian Easter Bread: food to eat with tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Many Western cultures have special recipes that only come out on certain holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. Sweet and savory dishes pair well with tea, and a hot cup of tea alongside a special holiday treat can be the perfect way to enjoy the temporary calm on the morning of a busy day. San Jose’s Italian residents have several bread and cookie-type Easter treats, but the most famous one is probably Italian Easter Bread, which goes by as many different Italian names as there are regions in Italy. Here is a fairly easy recipe, which originated on The Italian Dish blog:

Italian Easter Bread
1/3 cup butter
1 ¼ cups milk
1 envelope instant yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
4 to 6 uncooked Easter eggs
multicolored round sprinkles

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan or the microwave, then remove from the heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes (temperature should register between 115 and 130 degrees Farenheit on a food thermometer). In a large bowl, combine the yeast, salt, beaten eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot) butter mixture, and then beat in 2 cups of the flour until smooth. Add the remaining flour in ½ cup increments, mixing well in between additions, until the dough is stiff enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl as you mix it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands. Place in a greased bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough is doubled in size. Punch the dough down, divide it into three equal pieces, and roll each into a rope approximately 2 inches thick. Braid the ropes together into a single loaf, pinching the ends of the ropes together to keep the braid from coming undone. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place risen braided loaf on the prepared sheet, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with multicolored sprinkles. Nestle the raw Easter eggs in the folds of the braid, spacing them evenly along the loaf. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, and cool on a wire rack. Eat while warm, or refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, when cooled, if you want to eat the Easter eggs, which will now be hard-cooked. Discard the Easter eggs if left at room temperature more than a few hours. Makes 1 loaf.

You can dye the Easter eggs and make the dough ahead of time, up to the first rising, and refrigerate it, covered, overnight, to bake the next day. The first rising should happen in the fridge, so you should only have to let it come to room temperature, punch it down and shape it, let it rise the second time and bake it in the morning. Or, you can leave off the Easter eggs, and bake the loaf on its own the day before, and have it ready for breakfast with a hearty black tea, and perhaps some chocolate from the Easter bunny, in the morning!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.  

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest  

For more information:

The Italian Dish blog
“How to give an Italian Tea”
“Easter tea party ideas and tips” 
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“How to make holiday orange spice tea”
“Cinnamon-raisin tea bread pudding with cream cheese filling”
“Aztec chocolate bread pudding to eat with tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Enjoy traditional Irish seed cake with a nice cup of tea”
“Pan-Pacific Expo Canapes for the tea-table” 

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Tea savories are at home on the Super Bowl buffet table

Gingerbread football cookies.  Image: MorgueFile.com

Gingerbread football cookies. Image: MorgueFile.com

All of San Jose is excited for Super Bowl XLVII because local favorites, the San Francisco 49ers, are playing for the championship! While tea-lovers who aren’t also football fans may want to escape to another room, or to another building altogether – such as one of San Jose’s tea shops – when the game starts, there are many tea table savories that are equally suitable for the game day buffet table;  look in your tea party pantry and see what you can use!  Tea-loving football fans can brew up a sturdy black tea like an English Breakfast, or even add tea leaves to their barbecue spice rub, that will pair well with the strongly-flavored foods on the buffet table, and enjoy one of San Jose’s unofficial holidays, “Super Bowl Sunday.”

Show your support for the San Francisco 49ers with red and gold-colored foods, as well as the themed napkins, paper plates and team memorabilia that decorate every fan’s home. For example: make a chicken salad with honey mustard, and serve it in mini red Bell pepper cups. Make grilled cheese and bell pepper finger sandwiches on sourdough bread. Make a fruit salad with lots of bananas, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, or maraschino cherries for color.  Or, try an old California recipe from 1915, invented for the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition. If you have a food processor, it’s a really quick addition, too:

CANAPE A L’EXPOSITION
Fry six thin rounds of bread. Chop three tablespoons of cold chicken or ham and two anchovies, and pound to a paste. Add a tablespoon of thick cream and season with chile powder. Then spread on the toast. Sprinkle with grated cheese and brown in the oven.
— from The Pan-Pacific Cookbook: Savory Bits from the World’s Fare by L.L. McLaren.

In more modern terms the recipe could look like this:

6 slices sandwich bread
1 cup cooked chicken or ham, chopped
2 anchovies, boned
1 tablespoon heavy cream, plus extra
1 teaspoon chile powder
grated cheese, to taste

Toast or pan-fry the bread on both sides until browned and crisp. Use a 1-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut at least 2 rounds from each slice of bread. Set aside. Add chicken and anchovies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ground to a paste. Add a tablespoon of cream and the chile powder to the meat and process, adding more cream as necessary to make a spreadable, but not runny paste. Spread the meat paste on the toast rounds. Sprinkle with grated cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and browned to your liking. Makes about 6 servings.

This makes a quick, easy, and slightly healthier addition to all those hot wings, jalapeno poppers and chips that will be on your game day buffet table. If you use cheddar cheese, and garnish with paprika or roasted red pepper, it will even be a red-and-gold colored appetizer! Other traditional tea savories like sausage rolls and smoked salmon finger sandwiches would also appeal to the beer-drinkers, and you can make iced tea punches and spritzers with fruit juice and carbonated water for the kids and those who want an alternative to beer. Go ‘9ers!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
“How to incorporate tea into your Super Bowl party”
“Super Bowl Super Fan: New Orleans Tea cocktail from The Spice and Tea Exchange”
“Super Bowl ‘tea’”
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Give an open house with a tea buffet for your favorite graduate”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Bottled tea may contain fewer antioxidants than freshly brewed tea”
“Barbecue with tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Menu tip: 5 teas for San Jose’s beer fans”
“Use tea in refreshing fruit spritzers”
San Francisco 49ers Menu from Epicurious
Super Bowl recipes from the NFL blog
Easy Bacon Cream Cheese Roll-ups recipe
San Francisco recipes from Allrecipes.com

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Filed under Holiday, Party Ideas, Recipes, Tea, Tips

Raspberry-basil tea spritzer recipe

Fresh basil, raspberries and iced black tea for a refreshing spritzer. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Now that the hot summer weather has reached San Jose, people are looking for refreshing, cooling recipes to help them enjoy the season and keep hydrated. Sweetened soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are very popular locally, but it’s a good idea to have some healthier drinks around, and you’re not limited to plain water! Iced tea makes a great base for cool summer drinks, and can substitute for alcohol in many recipes. Try adding iced black tea to a sangria recipe instead of the wine, or making a refreshing tea punch or spritzer that all can enjoy.

To make a spritzer, add iced tea, fresh fruit, sweet herbs or citrus zest and sweetener to taste, and top it with carbonated water in a glass of ice, and you have one of the most refreshing and healthy, not to mention delicious, summer beverages! Here’s an example:

Raspberry-basil tea spritzer
5 fresh raspberries
1 fresh basil leaf
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 cup prepared iced English Breakfast tea, chilled
½ cup carbonated water, chilled
fresh lemon zest for garnish
ice cubes

Cut or tear the basil leaf into small pieces and put in the bottom of a 2-cup measuring cup with the raspberries and sugar (if using). Use a spoon to mash the berries and basil together, and mix thoroughly. Pour the iced tea over the fruit and basil, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes to infuse the flavor into the tea. Pour the tea mixture into a glass filled halfway with ice, and top with the carbonated water. Add lemon zest and an ice tea spoon or a straw, and enjoy! Serves 1.

This recipe will work with bagged or loose tea, flavored or unflavored tea, iced tea made by the traditional or the cold-brew method, sweet basil or mint, any kind of sweetener or none at all, and sweetened or unsweetened carbonated water! Try using black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea, or an herbal tisane as the tea base; jasmine green tea or rose-scented black tea will be delicious additions. Look for almost over-ripe berries or stone fruits at the farmer’s markets this time of year; very ripe, soft fruits will mash easily in the bottom of the glass, and they actually have the best flavor. Try peaches, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries or cherries; red raspberries and blueberries make wonderfully festive tea spritzers in patriotic colors, perfect for the 4th of July or any summer afternoon! With the variety of herbs and fruit available in San Jose this time of year, and the flavored and unflavored teas and carbonated water in local supermarkets, you have an almost unlimited choice of flavors for your spritzers.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
White Tea Sangria recipe
Iced Tea Sangria with Fresh Fruit recipe
Jasmine Iced Tea Sangria recipe
Orange Mint Tea recipe
“Iced tea in mixed drink recipes”
“National Iced Tea Day: 20 Refreshing Iced Tea Cocktails”
“Another tea cocktail for the horse-racing fans!”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Is it too warm to sleep? Try soothing orange-blossom mint tisane”
“Celebrate the Fourth of July with a tea party picnic!”
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“How to use edible flowers for tisanes”
“Review: Amandine Decanter by Teavana”
“Greet the summer in San Jose with iced tea during Iced Tea Month”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“Cool off with tea ice cream”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Bottled tea may contain fewer antioxidants than freshly brewed tea”
“Different types of Chinese black tea available in San Jose”
“Chinese oolong tea in San Jose”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Use tea as a holiday champagne substitute”
“The Elixir of the South: sweet tea”
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”
“Memorial Day in San Jose calls for iced tea”
“5 teas for San Jose’s beer fans”
“San Jose kids can spend a summer afternoon with tea and books”

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Enjoy traditional seed cake with your tea on St. Patrick’s Day

Seed cake on the tea table. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Drinking green beer is not the only way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in San Jose! While the Irish pubs in the area like Rosie McCann’s at Santana Row and O’Flaherty’s in San Pedro Square will be doing a brisk business all weekend, why not stay out of the rain and cold with a cup of Irish Breakfast tea and a simple treat?  San Jose-area Lucky’s grocery stores carry Irish Soda Bread this time of year, but there are plenty of other traditional recipes.  If you’d like to make a simple, traditional Irish treat, why not make a seed cake to go with your tea? Seed cake is a very traditional recipe from the British Isles, like a pound cake with caraway seeds in it, which add flavor and aid digestion. Here is a recipe that the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild baked for one of their recent teas:

Rich Seed Cake
8 oz. plain [all-purpose] flour
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 oz. caraway seeds [or to taste]
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. caster [granulated] sugar
4 eggs, separated, tepid

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature or slightly warmer. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line it with baking parchment. Sift the flour, nutmeg and cinnamon into a bowl, add the caraway seeds, and combine. In a large, warmed bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat the egg yolks thoroughly in a separate container, then add gradually to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well. In another container, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then fold the beaten whites into the egg and butter, alternating with the flour, in 4 to 5 additions, gently sifting in the flour. Mix the batter only until combined, to avoid deflating the batter. Empty into the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
— source: The Experienced Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald (18th century).

Seed cake is dense and rich,  but not dry, and will last for over a week, wrapped in plastic wrap or in a tin with a tight-fitting lid.  Caraway seeds are, even today, recognized as a remedy for indigestion, bloating, and intestinal gas by some doctors. Imagine eating a piece of cake to improve your digestive health! Considering that tea was originally thought of as an herbal medicine and is still one of the healthiest beverages around, a cup of tea (with milk and sugar) and a slice of cake may be the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
“Have tea with the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Are tea-drinkers automatically ‘teatotallers”?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
another Caraway Seed Cake recipe
Irish Culture and Customs
Irish Recipes and Baking
“Irish Tea Traditions” by Brenda Hyde
Irish Scones recipe
Soda Bread
San Jose Dublin Sister City Program

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