Tag Archives: sandwiches

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

Homemade Salad Dressing

Homemade Salad Dressing

Homemade salad dressing is simple to make and is a tasty addition to many salads and sandwiches. It’s also a more economical alternative to commercial varieties on the grocery store shelves. Additionally, if you find yourself in need of salad dressing and are not near a supermarket, you can quickly whip up a batch of homemade salad dressing so long as you have eggs, sugar, milk, vinegar, dry mustard, and flour.

Originally, my mother always cooked the salad dressing in a double boiler on the stove. When microwaves came on to the scene, it became easier and quicker than ever to cook salad dressing so the microwave is what I use today.

Because of all the different kinds of microwaves and their power levels, it is difficult for me to say exactly how long to cook the salad dressing. However, for starters, it will need at least 2-3 minutes just to heat the ingredients and then I suggest cooking the salad dressing and stirring it at 1 to 1½ minute intervals until it reaches the desired consistency and thickness which should be about the same as any commercial variety available.

It is important to stir the salad dressing as it cooks to prevent lumps from forming and to ensure that the ingredients stay mixed while it cooks. Be patient and expect this to take a few minutes.

The recipe I use has been in the family for many years and it is a basic recipe with little seasoning. I prefer to use the basic recipe and then, if I want it more seasoned, I take a bit of the salad dressing and add some additional seasonings for use in a particular recipe.

This is the salad dressing I use in potato salad and sandwiches. It is particularly good in lobster sandwiches and rolls! In fact, some claim that, if you don’t have the homemade dressing, it’s just not a good lobster sandwich or roll!

Homemade Salad Dressing
Homemade Salad Dressing
Homemade Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp dry mustard
¼ tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup white vinegar
1 tbsp butter

Method:

In microwave-safe bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the sugar, continuing to whisk mixture until smooth.

In separate small bowl, combine flour, mustard, and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into egg-sugar mixture until incorporated and smooth.

Slowly whisk in the milk and then the vinegar.

Cook on high for 2 minutes in the microwave, then stir mixture. Return mixture to the microwave and cook until thickened to desired consistency, stirring mixture at 1 – 1½ minute intervals. Be patient. This will take several minutes.

Lastly, stir in the butter. Pour mixture into glass jar. Let cool slightly for about a half hour or so then cover and store in refrigerator.

Yield: 2+ cups

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Homemade Salad Dressing

Yield: 2+ cups

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. In microwave-safe bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the sugar, continuing to whisk mixture until smooth.
  2. In separate small bowl, combine flour, mustard, and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into egg-sugar mixture until incorporated and smooth.
  3. Slowly whisk in the milk and then the vinegar.
  4. Cook on high for 2 minutes in the microwave, then stir mixture. Return mixture to the microwave and cook until thickened to desired consistency, stirring mixture at 1 - 1½ minute intervals. Be patient. This will take several minutes.
  5. Lastly, stir in the butter. Pour mixture into glass jar. Let cool slightly for about a half hour or so then cover and store in refrigerator.
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Homemade Salad Dressing
Homemade Salad Dressing