Category Archives: Summer

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea

 

Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley

The sweet little Lily of the Valley, with its dainty bell-shaped flowers, has long been a favorite flower of mine. Close to 40 years ago, a very dear friend of mine had a cottage on the shores of Rosebank (now Stratford), PEI.  Every spring, I’d make the trek to the cottage to pick a couple of bouquets of these fragrant flowers and there would be a posy on the dining room table and another on my desk at work.  I was thrilled when the offer came for me to dig up a clump of the Lily of the Valley roots from the prolific crop by the cottage front step.  I transplanted them at our family home. A cottage and two house builds later and transplants of the lilies have occurred at each property, all derived from the same clump of lilies that came from the Rosebank cottage. When I see the lilies bloom each spring, particularly by the cottage front step, I am reminded of sweet memories of another cottage long ago and its owner who is no longer with us.

The birth flower of May, Lily of the Valley has various meanings and significance. Said to signify traits of humility, trustworthiness, chastity, sweetness, and purity, it is also believed to bring luck in love and mean the return of happiness. This, undoubtedly may be the reason why it is often used in wedding decorations and bridal bouquets. There have been some very famous brides who have incorporated Lily of the Valley into the composition of their bouquets. Kate Middleton, in her 2011 wedding to Prince William, included Lily of the Valley in her bouquet as did her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, when she wed Prince Charles in 1981.

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea
Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea

I often feature different favorite flowers on my tea tables but I have never featured Lily of the Valley, primarily because it is a short season flower and it is always in bloom during a very busy time of the year for me. This, despite the fact that I have cups and saucers and plates that have Lily of the Valley designs.  So, this year, I decided I would make time for an afternoon tea that features Lily of the Valley and my themed cups and saucers.

Valley China Cup and Saucer
Valley China Cup and Saucer

It’s not necessary to have matching cups and saucers on a tea table. In fact, I think it’s much more interesting to have a variety of China cups and saucers.

Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer
Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer

Not all afternoon teas have to have three distinct courses – scones, sandwiches, and sweets.  Today, my tea table has only two courses – sandwiches and a single dessert.  In keeping with the freshness of early summer on PEI, I have opted to go with open-faced sandwiches, providing three varieties — Island lobster, egg salad, and ham.

There are two different trays of sandwiches on the table – the ones with a white bread base (shown in the photo below) are gluten-free.

Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

And, of course, for tea sandwiches, the crusts must always be removed.

Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

The little purple pansy adds a burst of color to the ham sandwich and dresses it up for the table.

Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich

Lobster is very common on PEI and lends itself well for presentation on an open-faced tea sandwich. Can’t you just taste that succulent lobster!

Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich

Egg salad makes a wonderful topping for open-faced tea sandwiches.  A burst of purple color from the pansy and the green alfalfa sprouts make these sandwiches stand out on the tray.  I picked up the fresh alfalfa sprouts at the Summerside Farmer’s Market. They were grown locally in Pleasant Valley at “Our Old Island Market Farm”. I frequent both the Charlottetown and Summerside Farmers Markets and I love to make new discoveries of products being produced by our Island farmers.

Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich

Curious as to what’s in the little white teapots? One of my favorite teas is Assam Banaspaty which I buy at David’s Tea in Charlottetown. That’s the blend in the individual teapots on today’s tea table.

Individual Tea Pots
Individual Tea Pots

Assam Banaspaty is a lovely rich, smooth tea from India. It has some honey notes with malty undertones. It boasts a lovely amber color. I like a spot of milk in my tea and Assam Banaspaty has enough tannins that it can take a splash of milk without the tea’s flavor being smothered. I’d class this as a robust tea yet it is suitable for all courses of an afternoon tea. I am, therefore, serving just one blend of tea at my afternoon tea today.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

I like tea cups that carry the design to the inside of the cups. It makes them just a bit more interesting.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

Rhubarb is in season in PEI around the same time as the Lily of the Valley bloom and, of course, one of my all-time favorite desserts is Rhubarb Custard Torte which graces my table for the dessert course today. Sometimes, it is nice to have a variety of dainty tea squares and cookies and, other times, a signature dessert like this torte make a splashy and ever-so-tasty statement.

Rhubarb Custard Torte
Rhubarb Custard Torte

I hope you have enjoyed a little look into the offerings on my tea table today. Can’t you just smell the intoxicating scent of this bouquet of Lily of the Valley!

Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Themed Afternoon Tea

Pretty Pink Petal Afternoon Tea

Where or where does summer go and why does it pass so quickly?  On this Labour Day Monday, I thought I should have one more summer outside afternoon tea before the weather turns here on PEI to much cooler temperatures and I start to think of fall menus as opposed to summer foods.  Funny when the calendar changes to the months that end in “ber” (aka “brrrrrrrrr”), we stop thinking so much of the pretty, soft summer colors and more of deep hues of golds, oranges, rusts, greens, purples, and so forth.

For this afternoon tea, I  decided it would be a dessert tea that would feature hydrangea cupcakes and monogrammed cookies.

The inspiration for this delicate tea came from the hydrangea bush we have at the backdoor.

Pink was the primary color scheme….  Flowers for a tea table do not always have to be in a vase.  Rose petals can be scattered on the table itself and a single tea rose can be placed at each place setting.  The guests then get to each take their rose home with them as a souvenir of their afternoon tea event.

I selected a couple of my favorite teacups and saucers.  The first is quite plain in shape but it is a lovely, decorative teacup.

The second teacup is a much more stately and elegant shape.

The napkin fold I am using today is the rose.  It is a simple design, easy to fold, and is well suited to being placed inside a teacup.  It is particularly convenient if the tea table is small and there are a number of items to be placed on it.  In those situations, sometimes there is insufficient room to display the napkin properly so the rose napkin fold inside the teacup takes care of that.

I don’t always try to have matching dishes on the tea table.  Sometimes, it is much more interesting with eclectic pieces.  So long as they all blend and compliment each other in color, it works.

Sparkling pink lemonade is always a refreshing drink on a warm summer’s day.  It’s even more fun when the ice cubes sport edible flowers!

Monogrammed cookies are always fun, particularly if you inscribe guests’ initials on them as I have done in the photo above.

Cupcakes make tasty little cake treats.  My hydrangea cupcakes are vanilla flavour and are iced in hydrangea design in shades of pink and mauve.

I hope you have enjoyed coming along on my afternoon dessert tea today.  I will be joining Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for her Tea Time Tuesday this week.  See you there.

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Anne of Green Gables-Themed Afternoon Tea

Today, I am joining Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage who is hosting an Anne of Green Gables-themed afternoon tea.  Many of you will, undoubtedly, associate both Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery, the famed Island authoress of the “Anne” series of books, with Prince Edward Island.  As many of you will already know, Lucy Maud was an Islander and she set her fictional story about the little orphan, Anne, on PEI.

To the extent possible, I have tried to include elements in the tea that Anne and her bosom friend, Diana, would have had at the afternoon tea that Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote about in chapter XVI in the “Anne of Green Gables” book:  Raspberry cordial, cherry preserves, fruit cake, cookies, snaps, and tea.

I visited the Anne of Green Gables store in downtown Charlottetown this morning and picked up some raspberry cordial for the tea.

The other featured Island-made product at my tea today is the “Very Berry Cherry” jam produced by the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company in New Glasgow, PEI.

While biscuits weren’t mentioned as part of the menu for the tea in the “Anne” story, I’d be surprised if they were not standard fare at an afternoon tea of that era, particularly when preserves were included.  Homemade biscuits are still a very common staple today in many Island households, mine included.  Therefore, I have chosen to serve my homemade biscuits with the cherry jam.

I always tuck away a piece of my Christmas fruit cake in the freezer.  It is such a treat in late summer or early fall.  It made its way on to the tea table today along with some freshly made gingersnaps and melting moments, all of which would have been quite common tea fare back in the early 1900s when L.M. Montgomery was penning the “Anne” books.  As I went through some of my ancestors’ hand-written recipe books, these were indeed items they had recipes for in their collections.

And, of course, the guest of honour would have to be Anne, herself!  My mother gave me this collector’s doll for Christmas several years ago.

Anne looks like she might be eyeing those biscuits….perhaps it is time to eat.

This afternoon’s tea is Orange Pekoe and it is being served from my pretty pink and yellow rose Sadler teapot.

I am not sure Marilla would have trusted Anne and Diana with these delicate teacups but these were my choices from my teacup collection for today’s event.  The one below is Royal Albert Sunnyside Series and is called “Petula”.  I love the exquisite and elegant shape of the cup.

The beautiful cup and saucer below is also Royal Albert, Reverie Series.

Warm biscuits, not too many minutes out of the oven, are always so tasty!

And, with fresh creamery butter and a good slather of cherry jam, they melt in the mouth!

It’s hard to stop at just one homemade biscuit and jam!

Some fresh cherries before checking out the sweet tray.

Now, which will I try first?  The fruitcake?  A ginger snap? A melting moment?

Also on the tea table this afternoon is a Third Impression August 1908 version of the “Anne of Green Gables” book.  A great conversation piece.

I hope you have enjoyed coming along on my Anne-themed afternoon tea.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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Tea for Three Tablescape

On this beautiful warm, sunny Prince Edward Island day, I am sharing a simple tablescape for teatime with you.  I have a three-piece setting of a very old blue tea set.  It has no markings on it to tell me anything about what kind of china/porcelain it is or where it was made.  If any of you recognize the pattern/manufacturer, please do let me know.  It is very delicate and a cherished set to own.

I love both the daintily-designed teacups and their shape.  I imagine some Victorian ladies enjoying their afternoon tea with this tea set.

My choice of teapot for today’s tea setting is one that has tiny flowers of several different colors.  It is my go-to teapot for tea settings when I don’t have a teapot in the specific color of the dishes I am using.  It is a versatile teapot because it is of no particular predominant color.

We have a wonderful blue hydrangea bush that blooms prolifically at the back door of the cottage so I thought two or three of the magnificent blue blooms would make a lovely centerpiece that would compliment the tea set.

The hydrangea are actually in a small square vase even though they look like they are just lying on the table!

I felt the tea set was elegant enough on its own that it really needed no further adornment on the table other than the blue hydrangea centerpiece.

I am belatedly joining Sandi’s Teatime Tuesday event at Rose Chintz Cottage this week.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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Old Country Rose Afternoon Tea

I love afternoon tea any time of the year.  However, I especially like a good cup of tea, dainty sandwiches, and of course, a sweet or two, outside on a warm and calm day in the summer.  Here on PEI, where we are surrounded by water, it is hard to find a day where there is not a breeze blowing.  However, last Saturday was such a day when the temperatures were soaring slightly past the 30C mark with hardly a breeze!   It was a good day for a summer tea under the shade of some big old trees.

My inspiration for my teascapes comes from many sources, often from the season of the year, flowers in bloom, or a particular food item that I envision on a tea table.  My Old Country Rose Tea was inspired by an old rose tree we planted at the back door of the cottage 20 years ago.  It blooms profusely and every year we think it may just break apart or stop blooming but each year, it produces a bountiful profusion of beautiful deep rose-colored roses.  These roses are the kind that the blooms only last a day or two.  Our Atlantic winters are not kind and, being so close to the Northumberland Strait, salt spray is also an element our trees, shrubs, and bushes must contend with.  So, today’s teascape began with a small bouquet of roses from outside the back door.

I looked through my collection of teapots to find one that would be suitable and selected this Sadler that seems very summery.

The teacups I chose featured roses as well.

Why does tea always seem to taste better in a china cup and saucer?

Teacups are too pretty not to be used.  I look for ways and opportunities to use and enjoy them rather than storing them away.

Because it was so hot, I chose to serve cool and refreshing cucumber sandwiches.

I love to decorate food with flowers….just make sure they are the edible kind!

Add cubes of melon, cheese, and some grapes.

This year, I made several bottles of Rhubarb Cordial so served some of this refreshing drink as well as Assam tea.

Naturally, there had to be something for the sweet tooth.  I made another batch of my Lemon Spritz Shortbread Cookies (my April 2013 “Cookie of the Month”) because they remind me so much of summer and are so light tasting.

And, for the finale, vanilla cupcakes iced in rich buttercream icing.

Cupcakes are a simple and more informal way to serve cake at an event.

And, when it was all assembled, this is what the tiered tea tray looked like.

And, here is an overview of the tea table.

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my early summer tea.

I will be joining Rose Chintz Cottage for Teatime Tuesday this week.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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Summer Sunshine Afternoon Tea

The days are starting to get a bit shorter and, here on the Island, we have a saying that when Old Home Week (the Provincial Exhibition) is over the middle of August, so is Summer!  That’s when the daytime temperatures and humidity have historically dropped.  Well, Old Home Week ended last weekend and we have kept our warmer temperatures (25-27C) all week with the exception of today when the high was 21-22C and there was a noticeable drop in humidity levels.  However, I have been reluctant to let go of Summer so took advantage of this week’s warm sunshine to have afternoon tea on the verandah.

Afternoon Tea on the Verandah

As you can see, I chose a yellow theme for my afternoon tea, opting to use some of the new cups and saucers I have added to my collection over the Summer.

My Favorite Yellow Rose Teacup

Yellow always makes me think of summer and lemonade!  I love the bright yellow glads from the garden and I think they made a fine addition to my tea table!!!

Lemonade

Afternoon tea in the soft summer breeze is a great way to have a light meal, particularly in the heat of the summer.

Sandwiches for a Summer Afternoon Tea

And, of course, for Summer sandwiches, there is nothing more refreshing than cool cucumber tea sandwiches along with some garden-fresh tomato sandwiches to accompany them.  And, what would an afternoon tea be without the quintessential egg salad sandwiches!  Here I chose to put a dollop of egg salad atop a toasted bread cube and garnish it with fresh parsley from the cottage herb garden.  I love to step outside the door and be able to pick fresh herbs for anything I am cooking…fresh, as we all know, is always best!  I like to add different shapes and textures to my sandwich tray!

Tea Sandwiches

 

Tea-time Delectables

Some tasty sweets are always a necessity on any tea table!

The Tea-time Menu!

A pot of freshly brewed tea, some savory sandwiches, tasty sweet treats, comfy wicker chairs, and warm sunshine make a combination that is hard to beat for a Summer afternoon tea on the verandah.

Tea Table

 

 

Tea with Lemon

Thanks for visiting my blog today and be sure to drop back soon as I have been working on some upcoming feature stories that will be posted over the next short while.  Enjoy your day!

Strawberry Time on PEI

Fresh PEI Strawberry Jam on Tea Biscuits

There is nothing quite like the scent of newly picked strawberries straight from the field!  It’s a hallmark of Summer, particularly in climates with short growing seasons such as that on PEI.  Some years, we are lucky to get a couple of weeks out of the “strawberry season” but, this year, weather conditions have permitted it to be extended to about a month.

Fresh From the Field PEI Strawberries

I remember when I was growing up, the early morning take-offs to the nearby U-pick berry field so we would be in the line-up for its 6:00am opening for fear of not being in time to get the best “pickings” of berries.  Out would come the big, huge plastic bowls, hats, and bug spray and off to the field we’d go to get berries for eating, for jamming and, of course, “to put away” which meant crushing and freezing them for uses throughout the year.  There was no such thing as imported strawberries in the Winter from other countries as there is today….although I’ll argue those don’t have the flavour our local ones do!  Indeed, there would always be the “reviews” as to the quality of the berries – “they were so large, they had no flavour”, “they were so small, they were “poor” this year and not worth picking”, or “they had too hard a core in the center” – and, of course, the weather was never quite right for their growing no matter the conditions!  It seemed there was no “perfect” berry!  Yet, people picked pounds and pounds and buckets of them every year.  Going to the berry field was somewhat of a social event because that’s where everybody in nearby communities congregated in early July to get those berries!

I don’t freeze a lot of berries and take up freezer space with them but I do purée some for specific recipes I know I am likely to make throughout the year.  I freeze them in recipe-specific proportions and label them with the recipe name.  I like to make strawberry jam – sometimes I think more for the wonderful scent in the kitchen when it is cooking than for the need to have several bottles of jam available – although that’s a nice side benefit!  When I make my jams, I use smaller bottles – i.e., the 1-cup and ½-cup sizes.  These are ideal sizes for sharing and gift-giving and, let’s face it, who minds getting a treat of homemade jam.  Even if you make your own, isn’t it always nice to taste another cook’s jam?

I like strawberry jam on toast, scones, as a dollop on warm custard and, yes, even in my dark fruitcake that I make in the Fall.  But, one of the most marvelous ways to enjoy strawberry jam is on fresh homemade biscuits still warm from the oven.  For some reason, the flavour of strawberry jam always seems more true when the jam is served on a plain tea biscuit along with a nice cup of freshly brewed tea.  Perhaps this is why, of all the varieties of jams available, strawberry is typically the quintessential variety found on traditional afternoon tea tables.[easyrotator]erc_14_1342825771[/easyrotator]

 

Strawberry Jam Ingredients

The recipe I used to make strawberry jam this year comes from Anna Olson of the food network. This recipe does not make a large batch of jam – it yields approximately 6 cups.  It is a fairly sweet jam and I think the amount of sugar could be reduced by ½ cup to 3½ cups (instead of 4 cups the recipe calls for).  However, degree of jam sweetness is one of personal preference and much depends on the variety of strawberries being used and how much natural sugar the berries already contain.  This is not a super-thick jam and it does not use pectin.  I found I had to boil it longer than the recipe directions said.  In fact, I boiled it near an hour to get it thick enough for my liking.  The flavour is really good and authentic.  One thing I do is use a potato masher to crush up some, but not all, of the berries because I like some chunks of berries in my jam but not so many that it makes it difficult to spread.

Preparing Ingredients for Strawberry Jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Strawberry Jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottles of PEI Strawberry Jam

One of my favourite pastimes is to relax and enjoy an afternoon tea.  No better way than with a cuppa, fresh tea biscuits, and newly made strawberry jam.  It’s a great way to enjoy the fruits of jam-making labour!

Fresh Strawberry Jam on Tea Biscuits

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Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!  This is the day we celebrate the birth of our great nation.  There are so many ways to celebrate Canada Day from picnics to barbeques to afternoon teas.

Canada Day Cupcakes

 

Here are some photographs from our red and white Canada Day Tea on the front verandah on this beautiful, sunny 26C day in Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province and the birthplace of the Canadian Confederation.

Canada Day Tea

 

On the menu were tomato and cucumber tea sandwiches, watermelon cut in the shape of the maple leaf, Canada Day cupcakes, rhubarb-almond tart, and tea, of course!

 

The Maple Leaf – A Symbol of Canada

 

Keeping the red and white theme going!

 

Everything Red and White for Canada Day!

 

 

Canada Day Tea on the Verandah

 

 

Canadian Flags

 

 

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

Thanks for visiting my site today.  Enjoy your day!

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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Lady Lilac Afternoon Tea

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We have always had this old lilac tree in the front yard of the home in which I grew up.  Some years, only one side of the tree will have blooms but this year, it is pretty well covered in beautiful mauve lilacs.  It was always a sign of Summer when the fragrant lilacs began to bloom and a big yellow monarch butterfly paid a visit.  I love lilacs.  In fact, they are one of my favorite flowers – I love their color (purple and mauve are my favorite colors) , their shape and flow, the delicate small petals, and yes, even the strong scent of them.  They are not, however, generally well accepted as an indoor flower by anyone who is superstitious, probably because of the flower’s association with death or broken engagements.

But there is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying lilacs in the great outdoors.  And, there is no better way than to sit amidst the color and fragrance enjoying a tranquil and relaxing afternoon tea beside the lilacs.  No monarch butterfly visited on this sunny afternoon but several birds, including a hummingbird, hovered around and some of them twittered and tweeted.  They probably wondered why the humans were invading their private habitat that they were not accustomed to sharing!

Today, I visited a local garden center and purchased two French lilac trees.  They are very small but, hopefully, in time, they will grow and provide wonderful blooms and fragrance in the backyard of my own home.  It will be a long time before they reach the size of our big old family lilac tree but maybe at some point in the future they, too, could form a backdrop for a lovely early summer afternoon tea.