Tnik and I are in Red Deer teaching a series of three tea party classes at The Cooking Room and the Women’s Conference at Red Deer College tonight and tomorrow (after which we head to Banff to the Girlfriend’s Getaway at the Banff Park Lodge. We’ve just arrived in our hotel room and are watching Cyndi Lauper on TV and munching from a ziplock baggie of the crusts we trimmed off of all those cucumber sandwiches (we are extremely high class).
Our first tea party ran from 4:30-7pm, so technically I suppose dinner was tea – bites here and there of currant scones with strawberry preserves and real clotted cream, balsamic mushroom crostini, curried coconut mango chicken in wonton cups, lemon curd tartlets and Earl Grey shortbread. Oh, and some of the chocolate that exploded all over me as I tried to dip a too-taught balloon in too-hot melted chocolate to make fancy chocolate tulip bowls. (Nicole neglected to let me know it was still all over my forehead and neck when we stopped at the wine store – where I asked the clerk where I could find the Moscato - and when I checked into the hotel.)
The shortbread was a successful experiment – I whizzed a spoonful of Nicole’s cream Earl Grey loose tea in the food processor with the flour, sugar and butter, dumped it out and gathered it into a ball, pressed it into the bottom of a 9″ round pan, pressed around the edges and poked the surface with the tines of a fork the way you do with shortbread, and baked it until it was pale golden around the egdes, then cut it into wedges. You could do this with any sort of tea in any shortbread recipe, really. Grinding it a bit first releases more flavour and makes it look peppery.
3 cups all-purpose flour, or 1 ½ cups all-purpose and 1 ½ cups whole wheat
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda (if using buttermilk)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup currants
1 cup buttermilk, milk or half & half
extra buttermilk or milk for brushing on top (optional)
coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a bowl or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and pulse to combine or blend with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly, with bits of butter no bigger than a pea. Stir in the currants.
Stir in the buttermilk and mix just until combined. Gather dough into a ball, then pat it into a circle that is about 1” thick. Brush with a little milk or buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut into 8 wedges and pull them apart so that they will bake on the sides as well.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden. Makes 8 (or more if you cut them into rounds or smaller triangles.)
Curried Coconut Mango Chicken in Wonton Cups
24 wonton wrappers
a drizzle of canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I like using leftover roast chicken – a great way to use roasted deli chickens)
1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. curry paste
1/2 cup light or regular coconut milk
1/3 cup mango or peach chutney
Juice of 1/2 a lime (about a tablespoon)
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
To make the wonton cups, press fresh wonton wrappers into mini muffin tins, pressing any folds firmly to the sides, and bake at 350 F for 5-10 minutes, until pale golden. Set aside to cool.
To make the filling, heat oil in a medium nonstick saucepan and cook the onion, garlic and ginger for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken, curry paste, coconut milk, chutney, lime juice and salt. Cook, stirring often, until bubbly and thickened. Cool slightly or chill before spooning into wonton cups. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Makes 2 dozen cups.
Per cup: 69 calories, 1 g total fat (0.3 g saturated fat, 0.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.3 g polyunsaturated fat), 7.1 g protein, 7.3 g carbohydrate, 16.8 mg cholesterol, 0.1 g fiber. 13% calories from fat.
Earl Grey Shortbread
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. loose Earl Grey tea
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, stir together butter, sugar, tea and vanilla until creamy. Add the flour and salt and stir until you have a soft dough.
Press the dough into an ungreased 9” round pan or place it on an ungreased cookie sheet and pat it into a rectangle. If you like, press down around the edges with the tines of a fork, and poke all over the top.
Bake about 15 minutes, until golden. Cool for 10 minutes, then slice while still warm.