Welcome to our blog....here we will share all our afternoon tea adventures with you...the good, the bad and the wonderful!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Chocolate time! Recipes from Paul A Young

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - if you popped by over the weekend you'll know that this week is officially Chocolate Week!

We've already brought you a round up of some of chocolate experiences that you can indulge in this week....but today we thought we'd share some fab chocolate recipes from Paul A Young that you can try at home. So, if you haven't heard of Paul before he really knows his stuff when it comes to chocolate! Paul’s passion and creativity have won him numerous awards and led to him being ranked amongst the world’s best chocolatiers.

Paul A Young

Paul has several shops in London, where he and his team make all their creations completely by hand in the kitchens at each shop, in small batches and at every stage using fresh ingredients. If you haven't visited one of his shops and love chocolate you should definitely make a trip!

Now, in our eagerness to bring you these recipes we haven't actually tried them out at home yet...but they looked so good we wanted to share them with you straight away. Take a look...you'll see what we mean...

Chocolate bramble cocktail

From Paul A Young - I came up with this version of the classic bramble cocktail one evening when the air in the city changed from warm and balmy to the first cool breeze of autumn.

Chocolate bramble cocktail - Paul A Young

makes 2 cocktails

300g unrefined golden caster sugar
150g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
100ml gin (I prefer Tanqueray or Plymouth Dry)
25ml Crème de Mûres (blackberry liqueur)
8 blackberries
Lots of crushed ice
2 squares of your favourite dark chocolate

First, make the chocolate liquor. Put 150ml water in a saucepan along with the sugar and bring to a simmer. Allow to rest for 2 minutes, then pour over the chocolate pieces in a bowl. Whisk well and leave to cool thoroughly.

Meanwhile, place 2 martini glasses in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to get the frosted effect.

In a cocktail shaker or jug, place the lemon juice, gin, Crème de Mûres and 6 of the blackberries. Muddle and mix well until the blackberries burst slightly.

Place a pyramid of crushed ice into each glass and pour over the blackberry mixture. Now top up each glass with the chocolate liquor, then place a blackberry and a piece of dark chocolate on top of each ice pyramid.

Venezuelan chocolate pancakes with chocolate maple syrup 

From Paul A Young - This recipe is my homage to Sunday-morning brunch, which is one of those occasions when anything goes; in other words, be as indulgent and naughty as you like because it is certainly not the time to count calories or grams of fat. 

Feel free to add blueberries, nuts and sultanas if the fancy takes you. The syrup can be made days or even weeks in advance and stored in the fridge. 

Venezuelan chocolate pancakes  - Paul A Young
Makes enough pancakes for 4 people 

25g Venezuelan 100% dark chocolate, grated 
200g buckwheat flour, or spelt 
1 free-range egg 
45g light muscovado sugar 
350ml milk 
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
25g unsalted butter, for frying 

Pinch of sea salt
250ml dark maple syrup 
100g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces 

Place all the pancake ingredients (except the butter) in a blender or food processor and whizz until a smooth, thick batter is formed. Leave the batter to rest while you make the syrup. 

To make the syrup, dissolve the salt in 50ml water in a saucepan over a gentle heat, then add the maple syrup and bring to a simmer. Pour on to the chocolate in a bowl and whisk well until smooth. 

Heat a crêpe pan or non-stick frying pan until quite hot and melt a generous wedge of butter until it sizzles. Spoon a small or large amount of the batter into the pan, depending on whether you want to make American pancakes or crêpes. Leave to cook on a medium heat until you see bubbles on the surface of the pancake, then carefully turn over and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Place the pancakes on a plate and cover with foil until you have cooked the entire batch. 

Serve the pancakes laced with the warm syrup – be generous as the pancakes soak up a lot! 

How wonderful do they both look?

If you try these recipes at home we'd love to hear how you get on....send us a Tweet or leave a message on Facebook!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Time for......a little chocolate?

Hello there,

Welcome back to another sweet post from Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you are well today!

So....hands up....who loves a bit of chocolate? Well, you're in luck then because did you know that next week is Chocolate Week? The UK's biggest Chocolate celebration runs from 12th - 18th October 2015, culminating in The Chocolate Show, which runs at Olympia National Hall, London between 16th-18th October. This is actually the eleventh year that Chocolate Week has run and this year chocolatiers and chocolate companies, as well as hotels, bars and restaurants will be celebrating by hosting talks, tastings and demonstrations. Sounds scrummy to us!

So we thought we'd bring you a little round up of some of the things you will find next week.....

Harvey Nichols have teamed up chocolatier Paul A. Young, to create a stunning Chocolate Afternoon Tea that treats the taste buds to a chocolatey dining experience.The tea includes delights such as Moroccan spiced chocolate pot, Rose crunch cake and a Chocolate and pecan tart.

Paul A Young Chocolate Afternoon Tea

This scrummy looking Afternoon Tea is priced at £20 per person or £28 per person to include a glass of Champagne. Available throughout October, Monday to Saturday.

A colourful and intriguing sweet plate is on offer at the Ampersand in South Kensington. The sweet elements of this Afternoon Tea menu consist of white truffle oil cremoso on an intense chocolate and pecan crunch tart, dark chocolate mixed spice crumble cake, mango milk chocolate mousse and white chocolate macaroon and milk chocolate flavoured jelly with raspberry and dark chocolate mousse.

Chocolate Afternoon Tea - The Ampersand

This menu is available 12th - 25th October 2015 and is priced at £32.50 Per Person

This limited edition Chocolate Afternoon Tea is available from the 28th September to the 21st November and will surprise even the most educated chocolate connoisseur. The mood boosting menu features chocolate marshmallow scones and a selection of indulgent cocoa desserts including Dark chocolate frangipane tart and Milk chocolate mousse .

Chocolate Afternoon Tea - InterContinental London Park Lane

This is priced at £42 per person including a Champagne Cocktail

The chefs at Lancaster London have created an Afternoon Tea to indulge chocolate connoisseurs.

Guests can experience unusual flavour combinations such as: Chocolate and black olive tartlets; and Warm savoury feta cheese and dark chocolate chip tarts. Freshly baked Divine Chocolate scones will also be included, served with a chocolate praline spread. Other sweet treats will include: Honey and chocolate lolly pops; Coffee and chocolate opera; Milk chocolate brownies; as well a selection of finger sandwiches. The Afternoon Tea will be served with a selection of Novus teas or an indulgent Divine hot chocolate

Island Restaurant will be serving two delectable desserts to celebrate chocolate week: a Divine dark chocolate mousse with honey glazed pear and raspberry sorbet; and Divine white chocolate Crème brûlée with passion fruit and shortbread.

However, as well as chocolate afternoon teas we also discovered some other chocolate experiences that chocolate fans can indulge in this Chocolate Week.....

Chocoholics will be in sweet chocolate heaven at K West Hotel in Shepherds Bush. Cocoa bean connoisseurs can go one step further in indulging their obsession, by being wrapped up and massaged in the good stuff too.  Available only during Chocolate Week, the limited edition K Spa package is priced at £125 per person and includes a Cranberry Body Wrap, a deliciously aromatic Chocolate Balm Massage, and access to the hotel’s Wet Spa facilities.

K-Spa at K West Hotel

Ensuring that guests feel indulged both inside and out, the package finishes with an antioxidant cranberry drink served in the Relaks zone, plus a bar of Divine dark chocolate with cranberries.

Steve Smith, Head Chef of Bohemia restaurant in Jersey, has created a sublime dish to celebrate National Chocolate Week. Forgo the usual chocolate puddings, tarts, and mousse in favour of an altogether more exciting flavour combination. Steve has created a white chocolate & lobster starter, made with Butter Poached Lobster, Cauliflower and Divine White Chocolate, with Sorrel & Caviar.

Lobster & Divine White Chocolate Dish at Bohemia

 The chocolate dish will be a special starter on the restaurant’s Classic Menu, priced at £59 for a three-course dinner, including the lobster dish.

We hope you've enjoyed our round up of chocolate treats....if you indulge in some treats to celebrate Chocolate Week we'd love to hear about them!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Friday, 9 October 2015

The Friday Review....BRUU Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends...guess what...it's Friday and so we have another tea-riffic tea review for you!

We were really excited recently when this little box was delivered through our letter box by our postman...

BRUU - the gourmet tea club

Yes, BRUU is a tea club.....and they send you tea through the post....I love this idea and couldn't wait to try the tea....

BRUU tea - through your letterbox!

The idea behind this tea subscription is simple....you join, you call the shots and they send you a different set of teas each month. The tea selection is personalised, depending on your preferences and all the teas are high quality loose leaf blends. 

Let's start by looking at the tea which BRUU sent us from their huge selection....

BRUU Tea selection

In our box we had:
Lemon Meets Ginger
Famous White Dragon
If Terry's did Rooibos

In normal tea language....what we have here is a green tea, a white tea and a rooibos. Once brewed I have to say they made a pretty trio, with bright vibrant colours...

The first tea I decided to try was the Lemon Meets Ginger, which has a green tea as its base. I hadn't come across a green tea blended with lemon and ginger before, but imagined a bright, zingy tea perfect for the morning.

As soon as I opened the packet I was hit by the aroma of lemons, it actually made my mouth water! 

Lemon Meets Ginger - BRUU Tea

Each packet comes with brewing instructions so you can enjoy the perfect cuppa, including water temperature, amount of leaves and brewing time. So once I'd finished sniffing my tea I added the water....

This photo doesn't really do the tea justice...as the tea is really a beautiful, bright yellow once brewed. The aroma of lemons continues and the taste is zingy and bright. The lemon is probably the strongest flavour, with the ginger coming through as a warming hint at the end of each mouthful. The taste is clean and not at all synthetic - a great cup of tea to wake up to in the morning.

Next let's take a look at the Rooibos tea....If Terry's Did Rooibos....

If Terry's did Rooibos....BRUU tea

Now....as the name suggests....open the packet with your eyes shut (although I'm not entirely sure why you would do that) and your nostrils could be fooled into believing there is a certain chocolate and orange treat in front of you. The aroma is amazing...again...my mouth watered!

Once brewed the tea is a lovely warm orange colour, it looks like a very inviting cup of tea.

The flavour is more orange than chocolate, but it still reminded me of that chocolate treat I indulge in every Christmas (yes, I said the C word!). This is a warming cup of tea, perfect for the autumn evenings.

Finally I moved onto the White tea....now I love a good cup of white tea and so I was intrigued by the Famous White Dragon....

Famous White Dragon - BRUU tea

Although this blend has a white tea base, it is packed full of fruity flavour, including ......dragon fruit! When I opened the packet, the air was filled with sweet notes....I couldn't wait to try the tea....

A slightly lighter coloured tea when brewed, it also had a more delicate flavour too (to match the delicate white tea base). This tea is light and fruity and very refreshing - it reminded me of berries. This was definitely my favourite from the selection we were sent.

So...how do you get your hands on a BRUU tea subscription you might ask.....well its very simple actually, just visit the BRUU website and pick the package that you want. You can decide whether you want two, three or four teas each month and you can also say what kinds of teas you like to drink. You can then choose from monthly payments or one-off payments of 3, 6 or 12 months - making it a very flexible subscription. Subscriptions start from about £10 per month.....pop by the website for more information and to see some more of the teas that could be sent to you.

We'd like to thank BRUU for sending us these teas - we thoroughly enjoyed discovering more about their tea club! Please remember that although we have received these teas for free, this hasn't effected our taste buds at all and all opinions expressed here are our own.

Thank you for popping by today,

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Recipe Time.....let's make fudge-ish!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends, I hope you are well today!

I thought I would share with you today a really, really simple recipe that I tried for the first time this weekend....perfect for making a sweet treat to accompany an afternoon tea spread. Yes, we are making fudge....now don't groan...because this is a cheats recipe! No need for fancy sugar thermometers or long recipes....in fact this recipe only has two ingredients! That's why I've called it "fudge-ish"....because I'm not entirely sure it is fudge.....however I have served my fudge-ish to unsuspecting guests this weekend and no one blinked an eye!

Fudge-ish from Tea With Me and Friends

It looks scrummy doesn't it....and no one needs to know that you didn't slave away over the hob to make it....I won't tell if you don't!

So, I found a recipe a while ago on the Internet...on one of those tip/life hack sites, but I have tweaked the original recipe slightly...mainly because I didn't have enough of the ingredients in my kitchen....but it worked out well so I am sticking with these amounts.

To make a batch of fudge-ish you will need:
1 can of condensed milk - 397g (I used that well known variety but I'm sure an own brand would work just as well!)
300g milk chocolate cut into small pieces (the smaller the better)
1 shallow baking tray, well oiled to prevent sticking (this is very important)
1 microwave
space in your fridge to chill your fudge-ish

Now...are you ready....to make the fudge-ish....

  • Put the condensed milk in a microwave save bowl, add the chocolate and stir well so all the chocolate is covered
  • Put your bowl in the microwave on high for approximately 2 minutes, remove and stir well. Don't worry if all the chocolate isn't melted to start with, as you stir it will all melt down and the mixture will start to thicken
  • Once you have a nice, thick mixture resist the urge to stick your finger in the bowl (however tempting) and instead pour it into your prepared baking tray. Smooth over the top with a spatula
  • Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours (the longer the better really), once set cut into small pieces to serve. Your fudge-ish is best served cold and it's definitely worth letting it chill properly in the first place otherwise you end up with a gooey mess that is hard to cut (yes, that's experience talking there!)
A nice addition to an afternoon tea spread - a plate of homemade fudge

You can either enjoy this plain - it has a slightly chocolately taste, and is rich and creamy. Or if you fancy something a little different, once the mixture is ready to chill add a little sea salt to the top and press down slightly into the mixture.

If you want a more chocolately taste, simply add a bit more chocolate in the first place.

I hope you enjoy this recipe - if you give it a go let me know how you get on! Send us a photo of your fudge-ish on Twitter or Facebook!

Thank you for popping by today,

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Time....to get a little crafty!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends....sorry we've been missing for the last week, time has escaped us recently! But don't fear.....we're back today with another scrummy post!

Recently, Sheree and I visited The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court, for a spot of crafts....and of course some afternoon tea! We booked our tickets really late this year, but managed to take advantage of a great offer which upgraded our tickets to VIP giving us access to the VIP lounge and an afternoon tea.

Both of us visited the fair last year and left feeling really inspired by the craft activities and stalls, so we felt another visit was in order. The location of the fair had changed ever so slightly this year.....crossing the road from the grounds of Hampton Court palace to the green opposite, but everything else looked vaguely familiar. Think lots of bunting and pretty tents full of crafts and you'll get the picture......

The Handmade Fair - Hampton Court

Our ticket this year gave us access to a talk in the Super Theatre, a craft activity from the Grand Makes selection and also a mini skills workshop. For our Super Theatre we watched the Mollie Makes mash-up featuring Mr X Stitch vs Lisa Comfort.

The mash-up saw these two very different sewists taking a tote bag and making it into an apron and our VIP tickets gave us great seats in the front row....

I'm a big fan of Lisa Comfort and so it was great to see her in action! We enjoyed listening to the banter and watched in awe as Lisa sewed perfected straight lines in a flash (I'm still a novice with the sewing machine).

After this we made our way over to The Grand Makes tent where we enjoyed learning the basics of cross stitch with Mr X Stitch (we weren't stalking him - honest!)....

Mr X Stitch taught us how to start a new cross stitch pattern so you have a perfect back and front, and gave us some tips as we started our first couple of rows. After the session finished we got to take out cactus projects home, so we can finish them off.....mine is...well...lets say still work in progress!

After a morning of craft just one thing was required....a good cup of tea...and of course some cake!
Now, in the VIP tent there was no shortage of teacup....

Decisions, decisions....which teacup will I choose today?

But I have to say that we were ever so slightly disappointed with the afternoon tea offering, which was exactly the same as last year...even the cakes were the same!

Another afternoon tea adventure!

There was nothing wrong with the food exactly (apart from it being rather limited - eight scones were given to a table of nine guests!), but it wasn't particularly inspiring and I was disappointed to see the same sweet treats and savouries.

The finger sandwiches were crustless and fresh....

but the fillings were a rather standard affair, including salmon and cream cheese, ham salad and cucumber. However, it was nice to have a mixture of brown and white bread to choose from.

The scones were a good size and were served with clotted cream and strawberry jam....

Scones enjoyed the Tea With Me and Friends way!

The cakes included small squares of lemon drizzle cake and mini macaroons, both of which unfortunately tasted rather like they had come straight from a packet. A disappointing end to this afternoon tea adventure.

Afternoon tea - The Handmade Fair

After we had recharged our batteries it was time for a mooch around the shopping tents, although they were so packed full of people it was hard to actually mooch....or see anything! There were plenty of stalls, offering a wide choice of craft retail therapy, but the tents were really full and we didn't feel like we could linger and look at things. 

Our day ended with our skills workshop, where we were taught how to make simple ric rac roses.....

All in all this was a bit of a mixed experience, we enjoyed the talks and learning new skills but it was a shame that the afternoon tea was a carbon copy of the previous year. It's always inspiring being surrounded by creative ideas, and the next day I got my sewing machine out and made myself a new simple dress.

Did you visit The Handmade Fair this year? If so we'd love to hear about your experience.

Thank you for popping by today,