November

As we move more deeply into Fall, only a month away from Winter,  consider a lovely tea with a color theme. Setting a tea table with purple—from the palest shade of lavender to a deep, rich aubergine—is a delightful way to make a statement.  And a wonderful way to infuse lavender into your tea.

 

The world of lavender and what you can do with it is endless… so here are just a few suggestions.

 

How to Create Lavender Sugar Cubes

Lavender sugar cubes have a huge variety of uses, you can add them to a celebratory glass of champagne, flavor your tea or even pop them into a nice glass of home made lemonade.

 

Lavender is incredibly delicate and fragrant, which is one of the reasons it works so well with sugar. The lavender syrup will take the edge off of the sweetness of the sugar while adding a wonderful flavor.

 

Now onto the fun part, how you too can create these sweet, fragrant little sugary gems.

 

Ingredients:

 

4 tbsp Lavender Syrup
1 ½ cups pure cane sugar

 

Method:

Cover a small cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Heat the syrup in the microwave for 20 seconds.

Pour syrup over the sugar in a bowl.

Use a fork to combine the sugar and syrup. It should be grainy, kind of like fluffy sand. If too wet add more sugar. If too dry, add more syrup to get correct consistency.

Pour on to pan. Using only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the pan, pack sugar in to a rectangle. Using a scrapper or knife, cut sugar into ½” squares.

Allow to dry for about 40 minutes. Then carefully pull cubes apart and allow to dry for another hour or two.

Lavender Syrup

 

A sugar syrup is really easy to make and very versatile and can be poured over ice cream, fruit tarts, in chilled teas, lemonade or even using it in a cocktail or added to sparkling wine.

 

Ingredientsmakes 2  6 oz jars

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lavender blossoms
  • few drops of purple food coloring (optional but will stay clear without it)

 


Method

  1. Place all the ingredients into a pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to steep 30 minutes.
  4. Return to the heat and bring back to the boil.
  5. Pour into sterilized jars and seal with lids.
  6. Perfect addition to ice cream, fruit tarts, lemonade, teas or cocktails.

 

 

You can also use small molds – and all sorts of different liquids.

For the sugar mix, you'll need to take your granulated white sugar and combine it with whatever liquid you want. The proportions should be three parts sugar to one part "juice." (lemon, pomegranate, rosewater, etc.) So to start, you can do one cup sugar to one-third of a cup of whatever liquid you're using. You're aiming for the consistency of wet sand. Depending on how intense you'd like your flavoring to be, you can add more or less liquid to the mix.

 

Lemon – Lavender Tea Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:White or yellow cake mix

3 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried lavender
1 tablespoon lemon extract

 

For the Lemon Glaze:

 

2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 10 individual mini bundt pans; tap out flour.

2. Using a mixer, add eggs and oil to a mixer bowl and beat until blended. Add cake mix, lemon extract, lemon zest and lavender, then beat for 4 minutes.

3. Pour cake batter into pans and bake for 21 minutes. You'll know they're ready when the cakes start to slightly separate or pull away from the sides of the pans.

4. Leave cakes in pans for 10 minutes to cool slightly, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Flip cakes in an upright position as they cool.

5. When you're ready to serve, make lemon glaze by combining honey, confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl.

6. Use a small spoon to drizzle glaze onto the cooled cakes, then top with a sprinkling of loose lavender.


Pumpkin Lavender Cake

 


Ingredients:


2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon dried lavender buds
1 cup butter
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream 
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Preparation:

Place the sugar and lavender in a blender or food processor and process until lavender is chopped and incorporated into sugar.  Set aside.

 

In a large mixing bowl cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add 1/3 sugar mixture and beat.  Continue this until all sugar is added and mixture is creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each egg.  Add vanilla and beat well.

 

In a small bowl, combine pumpkin and cream and mix together.  In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Add 1/3 pumpkin mixture to batter and mix well.  Add 1/3 flour mixture and beat again.  Continue adding both the pumpkin and

flour mixtures (alternating between the two) until all ingredients are combined.

 

Grease a bundt pan and spoon batter into pan.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Invert onto cooling rack to remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely.

Brown Sugar Frosting

6 Tb. butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1  tsp. vanilla
2-3 tsp. hot water

 

In a medium saucepan, heat and stir butter and brown sugar until butter melts.  Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Stir in enough hot water to make a smooth, spreadable frosting.  Frost cake immediately.  If frosting becomes grainy and hard to spread, add a few more drops of hot water and stir until smooth, you might need to add a few teaspoons to get the frosting to a spreading/glazing consistently.  Carefully spoon over cake and this frosting will beautifully creep down the sides.

 

Sprinkled the top with lavender buds for a finishing touch.


Goat Cheese, Lavender, and Honey Mini Cheesecakes

 

Ingredients

¾ cup graham cracker crumbs

cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

3 tablespoons salted butter, melted

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

3 teaspoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

½ teaspoon culinary lavender

 

Garnish: honey and fresh lavender blossoms

 

Instructions

1.     Preheat oven to 350°.

2.   Lightly spray a 12-well mini cheesecake pan with removable bottoms with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

3.   In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and melted butter, stirring to blend. Divide crumb mixture evenly among wells of prepared pan, pressing firmly to create a level base.

4.   Bake until light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely.

5.   In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, goat cheese, and cream. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add remaining 1⁄3 cup sugar, flour, and vanilla extract, beating until incorporated. Add egg and lavender, beating until incorporated. Divide mixture evenly among wells of prepared pan.

6.   Bake until cheesecakes are set and slightly puffed, 10 to 11 minutes. Let cool completely.

7.   Wrap pan well with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

8.   Remove cheesecakes from pan.

9.   Garnish each with a drizzle of honey and with fresh lavender blossoms, if desired.

 

Serve immediately.

 

 

Ahhhh…. But what of TEA ?

 

 

 

A wonderful tea I use often is Chamomile & Lavender Tea

1 tsp each of chamomile buds and lavender buds to 8 oz of hot water

 

Remember to use only organic, culinary herbs!!!

 

 

One of the things that makes Teas so elegantly visual, is the creative use of beautiful tea sets.

 

Here is the story of one of the most regarded china companies in the world.

 

Wedgwood: Beauty Through the Centuries

 

 

 

Rarely is a table set or a wedding gift registry completed without at least one piece of Wedgwood china. A company known for its tradition of quality craftsmanship and timeless beauty, Wedgwood offers an extensive line of products ranging from its classic china and dinnerware to crystal stemware, serving pieces, and, of course, tea accessories. After merging with Waterford in 1986, the family-owned company boasts representation in over 80 countries around the world, extending the reach of its dynamic combination of artistry and practicality.

 

Like all classics that have endured the test of time, Wedgwood china has a rich history steeped in its surrounding culture. Josiah Wedgwood I, known as the father of English potters, founded the Wedgwood enterprise in 1759 after having apprenticed in the family-owned pottery business with his brother since he was 9 years old. A bout of smallpox in his youth left Josiah unable to operate a potter’s wheel, so he poured his energy into the development of ceramic styles and technology. His dedication resulted in glazes that added to the beauty and durability of his pottery and greatly distinguished his line of products from that of his competition.

 

One of his first and most successful accomplishments was a cream-colored earthenware that met not only Josiah’s incredibly high standards, but also those of Queen Charlotte, who allowed it to be called Queens Ware. This inexpensive line was attractive enough to be finished with a transparent glaze, and although available to the masses, it was popular with notables in society as well.

 

Almost a decade after Wedgwood launched this line, Catherine the Great of Russia ordered a service for 50 for entertaining at her St. Petersburg palace, La Grenouillre, or Palace of Frogs. Comprised of 952 pieces, this was one of the largest and most famous commissions of Josiah’s time. Each piece of the one-of-a-kind service is adorned with a frog and a hand-painted English landscape theme, be it a castle, stately home, or famous ruin. The elaborate process took two years to complete, and it was quite a nobleman’s honor to have his estate featured on one of the empress’s pieces.

 

Josiah’s work was truly a labor of love, and his most prized line of pottery is one that took an estimated 10,000 separate trials to perfect. Jasperware, named after the natural stone jasper because of its similar hardness, is a matte-glazed vitreous stoneware produced in various colors—blue, yellow, green, lilac, and black. The most famous example of this line is blue with white classical reliefs adorning the pieces. In fact, Jasperware is still produced using many of Josiah’s original techniques and even some of Wedgwood’s 18th-century molds.

 

In keeping with the classical theme of the line, Josiah created a Jasperware replica of the Barberini vase, a first-century Roman glass piece with beautiful cameo glass cutting. The Duke of Portland lent him the original Roman treasure, and the ceramic replica is named the Portland Vase. Used as the icon for the Wedgwood brand since 1878, the Portland Vase is the most notable piece of Jasperware if not of all of Wedgwood’s products.

 

The next major Wedgwood milestone came nearly 40 years after the creation of Jasperware when the company adopted the production of bone china. A mix of 51 percent animal-bone fine ash and china clay, bone china is the most durable of ceramics. It is so strong, in fact, that four coffee cups can support the full weight of an automobile. In addition to having incredible strength, bone china pieces are also some of the most beautiful of Wedgwood products and are available in a wide range of colors and patterns. The china is glazed and fired and then subjected to further firings to ensure the brilliant colors of the vivid designs. After a hiatus from 1829 to 1878, production of bone china resumed and remains one of the company’s most popular products.

 

There are 69 formal and casual bone china patterns available to customers in the United States, with many of the patterns dating back to the 19th century. The high-quality Wedgwood reputation has attracted talented designers including Vera Wang and Barbara Barry. And in the unlikely event that a pattern is discontinued, Wedgwood promises to send written notification and allows up to six months to complete a collection or exchange the pattern for another of equal value.

From the promise to the products, Wedgwood is synonymous with high quality. What started with a young man’s dedication and determination almost 250 years ago has resulted in countless well-set tables and well-stocked cupboards around the world.

 

Beauty, quality, and tradition came together in 1986 when Wedgwood and Waterford merged, and a finer marriage there could not be. Together they continue to produce breathtaking pieces recognized the world over.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012