Friday, April 13, 2012

..of Intimate Proportions

Today's "Titanic Tea Party" was an excellent excuse to have friends come over for tea and to try some new recipes. Whilst the attending guest list was small, I was thrilled to have friends over to help me enjoy sweets, sandwiches and sunshine!

the table spread, complete with fresh flowers and my homemade tea trays!

Tea cups, sandwiches, leaves, and scones!

In all, the menu included fresh, handmade:
French Macarons with Chocolate Ganache
Hazelnut Shortbread Balls
Raspberry Tarts
Chocolate and Butterschotch Chip Cookies
Clotted Cream
Tea Sandwiches (made today):
Smoked Salmon and Chive
Blue Cheese, Walnut and Pear
Watercress and Cream Cheese
Crab and Watercress
Shrimp with Chili Mayo and Arugula
Cucumber Mint

And then there were the other little bits - Strawberries, grapes, fine china and fresh flowers! Delightful!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Most Rewarding Indulgence...

In my opinion, one of the most rewarding indulgences in life are fresh cut flowers. Yes, you buy them and they start dying immediately, but for the time you have them - a week or so - you're left with something beautiful to look at and an aroma that trails around you as you walk past.

The flowers often change over the course of their stay as they bloom and wilt. Their perfume offers comfort when you find the "sweet spot" whilst sitting nearby - maybe drinking tea or doing something altogether unrelated. It's a lovely feeling. There's also the fun that comes from choosing and arranging them! Now that spring is here and flowers are blooming again I might do it more often.

Also, I've been doing some fun tea-time projects!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Roasted Easter Bunny Dinner!

This year, since I wasn't hosting 17 of my nearest and dearest for Easter supper I decided to try something new and interesting on a small scale (just Michael and I). I'd heard that Rabbit was a favourite at this time of year ( I remember fondly the "bacon-tur-duck-en-nunny" -bacon on top of a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a bunny - escapade), so Saturday I made my way to a nice little butcher in Kitsilano where I picked up a fresh, butchered Lapin. I had them quarter it for me and it waited in my fridge until this afternoon. I needed an easy-make recipe because after a night shift I wasn't too keen on standing over the stove for ages, and this is what I came up with:

Added to oven-safe pan:
coupla carrots
x1 dolla-sliced yam
three shallots, chopped
a few sliced fingerling potatoes
roughly chopped turnip. (I went with turnip in lieu of parsnip, which wasn't in-store today. pffft.)
salt and pepper to taste
dollup of olive oil
a few sprigs each of Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
about a cup - 1/5 cups of chicken stock

Mixed them about to even things out a bit.

Washed and patted dry my four pieces of Rabbit. I put a piece of Sage, Rosemany and Thyme on top of each one, and covered them all with slices of Wild Boar Bacon (found at the same butcher).

note: Ordinarily when I try a new food like this I like to let it speak for itself, but I read that game meats are quite lean and prone to drying out. The bacon was to help self-baste.

Covered it all with foil and baked in 350 degree oven for about an hour (ish). I uncovered it and cooked it a little longer to thicken things up and brown things out.

In the meantime, I had Michael make this delicious pear-Waldorf salad!

It's spinach, green pear, dried cranberries, walnuts, and a parmesan-type cheese we had in the back of the fridge to replace what is generally feta or chevre.

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Jamie Oliver tells me that whenever you make a vinaigrette keep the oil/acid ratio to 3 parts oil to 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon juice). Helpful! So, I threw into a small (125ml) jam-jar:

the remainder of my EVOO (plus some canola to round out the ratio)
1 part balsamic vinegar
like, three cloves of garlic
salt and pepper

That whole salad combo tasted delish!

So, once the meat was cooked through and basted once I removed it from the pan and removed the veg separately, leaving the Bunny/Bacon/veg juice in the pan. I put it on top of the stove and got the mix to simmer a little, stirring constantly and encouraging it to thicken. I added a few teaspoons of flour to it in small scatterings to make it really believe it was gravy, and whisked it thoroughly until I fugured it was good and ready (only about 3 mins). I peppered it for luck.

Also, I steamed some beets. Then we poured the wine, and supper looked like this! :

Clockwise, from top: roasted veg, ma pretty flowers, waldorf salad, steamed beets, wine from a friend's 2010 wedding,
jam-jar of vinaigrette,  cuppa tea in the fancy china, pan gravy, Easter Bunny.
The rabbit tasted delish. Almost like chicken, but not. Definitely rabbit.

 I got flack from friends about eating rabbit, but from what I read it's not unusual in the U.K, and used to be a staple before we decided to mass-produce certain animals. It was a relatively inexpensive holiday meal, too - about $40 for everything and we've got leftovers for days!

Dear Tori: This post is dedicated to you. Be fearless in the kitchen! I did most of this without a recipe! (I just read a bunch and took the average!)

Happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

And thennnn....

and then I cared for my pretty potted plants and herbs!

Bottom to top: miniature rose, chives, English mint, Lavendar, and Arizonan cactus (grown from seed!)

And I made a trellis for the mint from shishkebab sticks!

Happy Springtime!

New springtime bouquets to be scattered around the apartment!

Monday, April 2, 2012


Today I checked the following books out of the library:

The New Tea Book: A Guide to Black, Green, Herbal and Chai Tea  by Sara Perry
Afternoon Tea Parties by Susannah Blake
Tea Party: 20 Themed Tea Parties  by Tracy Stern
The Afternoon Tea Book by Michael Smith
Victoria: The Essential Tea Companion, Favourite Menus for Tea Parties and Celebrations  by Hearst Books/ Sarah Scheffel

Any ideas as to what I might be planning to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the titanic next week?