Originally we had planned to put on our summer frocks and sit in the garden listening to the birds singing, however the weather changed and the glorious sunshine turned into rain and it was quite chilly. So we had to stay inside but the flowers we picked brightened everything up. To complement Mum's pretty tea cups and plates we went for a floral theme. Now that Spring has finally arrived all the flowers are in bloom and there are plenty of edible varieties to choose from. We used lilacs to make a syrup to brush over some mini madeleines and decorated each one with a lilac flower, borage (starflower) finished off the mini lemon tarts and rosemary flowers adorned the quiche lorraine and chocolate mendiants. Pansies were used to garnish the plates and we had a small jug of lilac and forget me nots for the table. We even managed to bring in a taste of summer with some little yellow pear tomatoes that were picked and jarred in brine back in August.
Clockwise from top left we baked and served: lilac syrup mini madeleines, tomato and basil toasts, dark chocolate mendiants topped with crushed macaron shells, flaked almonds and dried cherries, mini quiche lorraine, mini tarte au citron (lemon tarts), chocolate eclairs with coffee cream filling.
Of course I can't show you all these delicious treats without some recipes so here they are, none of them are particularly complicated but it does take a bit of time to get everything done. I can't remember how long we spent in the kitchen, we took our time as there was no need to rush.
Recipes for a French themed afternoon tea for 3-4 people with leftovers to nibble on the next day.
2 heads of lilac flowers
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
For the madeleines I used the same recipe as my chamomile madeleines I posted recently but left out the chamomile tea bag.To make the syrup heat together the sugar and water until simmering then add the lilac flowers, bring to the boil then leave to cool. Brush the madeleines with the syrup whilst they are still warm from the oven.
Tomato & Basil Toasts.
Not a recipe as such for these as they are so simple. Toast 3 slices of crusty French bread. In a small frying pan heat a little oil and cook a handful of jarred baby tomatoes preserved in brine with a pinch of dried basil and some salt and pepper until reduced to a paste. Spread on the toasts and top with more baby tomatoes.
Another simple creation here. Melt half a bar of dark chocolate, use the back of a spoon to spread into discs on a piece of greaseproof paper. Top with anything you like, we used a few crushed macaron shells, toasted flaked almonds, dried cherries and rosemary flowers. Leave to set in the fridge for about an hour before serving.
For the pastry: 3 oz plain flour, 1.5 oz butter, cold water.
For the filling: 2 oz lardons or smoked streaky bacon cut into small pieces, 1 oz grated cheese (Mum used Cantal which is similar to a mild/mature cheddar), 1 egg, 3 fl. oz milk, salt & pepper, chopped chives to garnish
Preheat the oven to 190C. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs, add in a little cold water to bring together into a dough. Roll out to 3-5mm thick and cut out rounds using a fluted 7cm cutter, press into 6 holes of a bun tray. Make the filling by frying the lardons until just turning crispy, beat the egg into the milk and season with salt and pepper. Divide the lardons between the pastry cases, pour over the milk mixture and top with the cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on top, turn out and cool on a wire rack then garnish with chives.
For the pastry: Use the same quantity of pastry as for the quiche and add 1 tbsp of caster sugar and roll it a little thinner.For the filling: 1 egg, 50g caster sugar, 75ml double cream, zest and juice 1 lemon, 25g butter.Preheat the oven to 180C and roll out pastry to line holes in a bun tin. Melt the butter in a small pan. In a bowl beat together all other filling ingredients until smooth and creamy then stir in the butter. Pour into pastry cases and bake for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 160C and bake for 5-10 minutes until set. Turn out and cool on a wire rack then top with a borage flower when cold.
For the choux pastry: I used a half quantity of the recipe from Larousse Gastronomique which I have already posted here. For the filling whip 150ml double cream with a a teaspoon of caster sugar until stiff, then fold through a few drops of strong coffee. I used a teaspoon of instant coffee mixed to a paste with a little bit of water. Fill the cooled eclairs by cutting in half and spreading on the cream with a spoon, or pipe if you prefer. Melt half a bar of dark chocolate and spread on top of each eclair and leave to set before serving.
This post is an entry to the Whittard of Chelsea Afternoon Tea Blogger Carnival