Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Tea Tasting Tea Party (With Kandula Tea)



Last weekend at The Secluded Tea Party we welcomed a real first in the form of a very grown up and interesting tea tasting workshop with the lovely Jane & Gail of Kandula Tea, a local independent tea supplier here in Cambridgeshire.

These lovely ladies greeted my 14 fabulous afternoon tea guests with their friendly and fun approach to tea tasting, offering the option to purchase their favourite loose leaf tea blends by providing them with a scoring sheet as we glided through the afternoon. This was such a great idea so that guests could remember afterwards all the tasting which teas exactly they enjoyed the most, such a simple idea, but I would have never have thought to do it myself. These ladies thought of everything, including their very own John Lewis Tea Pots and strainers to allow me to focus more on the edible elements. 


Drinking from mis-matching china teacups, guests enjoyed blends such as their Green, Ivory & a Pink Ceylon (of which is said to be best enjoyed naked with your better half whilst eating edible flowers, but we didn't put this one to the test!) , some Black Teas including English Breakfast, Ebony Chai (Which went perfectly with a homemade dark melt in the mouth truffle ; ) and a gorgeous Earl Grey which got most guests talking and realising that the shop bought tea bags don't quite cut it. 


In fact, the Kandula ladies had some shop bought tea bags at the table for the guests to rip open and learn exactly just what was inside those cheap impostors. Most of us had no idea just how cunning these large tea companies can be, even learning a very intriguing little secret about a very well known brand that we just couldn't spread around, but you would be very surprised if you didn't know! It was very informal, but we learnt a lot and got to sample lots of new tea blends that most of us would never have considered prior to this event. 

The health benefits of tea are also of great interest to me, learning that both of these lovely ladies drink Peppermint Leaf tea before bed, which is a natural relaxant and doesn't stimulate you as a cup of normal tea or a coffee would before you need your 8 hours beauty sleep. Noted for the future ; ) 


The afternoon tea treats were matched to the tea selection that the ladies had pre-organised with myself, including a new twist on a classic in the form of Cucumber & Cream Cheese Penny Sandwiches, Warm Cheese & Paprika Scones with a Chive Butter and a new addition to the table in the form of Carrot Jam, of which my Jam lady has designed from a recent burst of inspiration. Needless to say it worked perfectly and my guests loved it. Hurrah : )

The sweet dishes included Raspberry Meringues with a Lemon Curd swirled Clotted Cream, American Mocha Jubilee Cake (With my ode to the upcoming celebrations, Chocolate Crowns which melted in the heat, but I think I managed to capture a photo of two before they collapsed haha) and British Strawberry & Vanilla Creme Patisserie Tartlets which were the perfect mixture of sweets to enjoy with our Pink Ceylon Tea. 


Whilst, the best was save until last, the Midnight Truffles, rolled in caramel and chocolate curls. These were the perfect petit four to melt on our tongues whilst sipping the Ebony Chai Tea. I am such a convert with this simple little dish and tea combination, that I will be offering this to a sophisticated group of hens at the next event I host to allow them to try this for themselves. 

My guests got on like a house on fire, as always, it's such a great feeling to see Tea & Cake bringing strangers together on a gorgeous summer day, I wasn't really needed to make introductions, everyone chatted between themselves, made new contacts and had a giggle, which was the exact reason I started offering these afternoon tea events. 


Our venue was one of my favourite secret Cambridgeshire locations and in fact some of our guests left their cars after the event and took a walk in the gorgeous woodland walks through the village to burn off some cake, of which I am chuffed to bits to see, as this village is stunning and the perfect location to host an afternoon tea party. 

I can't thank Jane & Gail enough for their expertise and friendly tea tasting experience, it was so much fun and I can't rate them and their award wining teas enough. And no, they haven't paid me to say that, I truly believe in what they offer and I love them both as a supportive supplier to The Secluded Tea Party. Get yourself on their website now and purchase some Pink Ceylon if NOTHING else!... Honestly, even local spas and deli's are now selling this blend, it's so different and yet so refreshing, you have to try it, if just once. 

You can visit their website at www.kandulatea.com

Until next time... 

Toodle Pip 

x



Friday, 18 May 2012

How To Make The Perfect Cucumber Sandwich



I don’t know about you, but sometimes you can really just crave a simple sandwich...

If I am home alone, I won’t usually make myself lunch (naughty I know!) as it always seems like so much effort just for me, so if I get hungry for something easy, I do usually crave a good old Cucumber Sandwich. Not some soggy cream cheese filled sandwich that has so much moisture in it that by the time you come to eat it, it’s all limp and watery... there is nothing worse than a soggy cucumber sandwich!

For an easy weekend treat, I want to share with you my favourite variations of this British classic, the sandwich that may not have been one of Lord Sandwiches favourite fillings, but he helped to create it regardless : )

The Cucumber Sandwich.

For me, the plain white square loaf is best... sorry to say it, some will shout at me for this, but the cheaper the better for this particular indulgence so as not to distract from the flavours of your filling.
But, if you want to rebel, go for brown, or even wholemeal if you prefer... you crazy cat!

For soft/cream cheese in a sandwich, I tend to prefer full fat, only because it’s a thicker consistency than low fat and holds its own within the sandwich. Low fat tends to ooze much easier, and isn’t as civilised for this finger sandwich.

The key to a good cut of cute & addictive finger sandwiches is a good sharp knife, to ensure that no oozing or flattening occurs whilst slicing these beauties.


I would also say, no need to faff with your cucumber, I don’t peel mine... I actually quite like a bite to my cucumber sandwich. Some peel it and scoop out the seeds, but I find this reduces your slice by approx. 50% so I don’t tend to bother when it’s just me. Just wash your cucumber and then pat it dry with a piece of kitchen towel to dry it again before slicing into rounds of approx 2mm in thickness. This can sometimes be a science in itself and I like to play mini challenges with myself to try and get them all the same thickness... GEEK!

Here, I share my two favourite combinations for you to sit down and enjoy with a good strong cup of tea, each recipe below being made for 1 person, just little old you.
However, if you want to make it for more people, just multiply it accordingly.


LITTLE OL' CUCUMBER

2 Slices white bread
Approx. 6 slices of cucumber rounds
Knob of slightly salted butter or margarine
Pepper to season


Butter 1 side of each slice of bread, and slice your freshly washed & Dried Cucumber into the requisite number of slices.
Sprinkle some pepper onto one side of the sandwich so that it sticks nicely to the butter and isn’t going to shake off anywhere. Then place your cucumber slices on the slice, just inside the crusts so that you keep it all in when you cut.
Carefully place the other slice on top and give it a little press to crush it all together nicely.
Slice all 4 crusts off and throw them into the garden for the birds. Waste not want not.  
With a good, sharp knife,  cut into 4 neat little squares and get munching.



CUCUMBER & MINT TRIPLE DECKERS

3 Slices white bread
Approx. 12 slices of cucumber rounds
2 Tbsp of soft/cream cheese  
Handful of fresh mint, chopped finely
Handful of fresh chives, chopped finely
Pepper to season

Place all 3 slices of bread on top of each other so they are aligned perfectly and de-crust them - put aside.
In a small bowl combine the soft/cream cheese, chopped mint & chives and season with pepper to your liking.
Delicately spread a generous amount of this mix onto 1 side of each slice of de-crusted bread, and slice your freshly washed & Dried Cucumber into the requisite number of slices, as above.
On the first bread slice, place approx. 6 cucumber rounds to cover, as instructed above and place the next slice of bread, soft/cream cheesed side UP.
Layer with the remaining cucumber, then place the last slice of bread, soft/cream cheese side DOWN.
With a good, sharp knife,  cut into 3 rectangular Double Decker finger sandwiches, being careful as you go so as not to squeeze the filling.

Enjoy a fresh taste with the herbs giving the cucumber a perfect lift.



And forget the garnishes & finishing touches for a pretty picture, Just get your bum on the sofa or at the kitchen table with a cuppa and enjoy some well deserved “Me Time”... I just hope this inspires : ) 

Perhaps you make your cucumber sandwich differently? Do share with a comment below to inspire. 

Miss Sue Flay

x

PS - Don't like Cucumber? Then why not check out my Perfect Egg & Cress
Finger Sandwiches instead - Here.

Monday, 14 May 2012

"The Tea Cosy" - Our New Mini & Secret Afternoon Tea Room


After many enquiries asking for smaller, more intimate afternoon tea parties, I am very excited to be announcing a new and very homely afternoon tea venue in Cambridge, or somewhere close to our City... for a Cambridgeshire retreat with a difference.. and free parking too – a real perk in our here region!

Introducing... The Tea Cosy

The perfect afternoon tea location for bookings from simply 2 to 5 people.
It’s your very own private tea room for 2 entire hours, with an entirely new Secluded Tea Party menu for each date listed below.

You will be able to book The Tea Cosy with Miss Sue Flay as your own personal tea hostess for the afternoon, whilst you get to sit back, lounge around, read a book, get to blogging or writing that important post or chapter you have been promising yourself you would complete, chat with your friends or family or even grab the chance to sit back and watch a film or a few episodes of your favourite box set should you prefer.

You can treat the Tea cosy as your own personal space and peace & quiet for the entire time you are there, enjoying the coffee table books and films provided, be it a girly chick flick you fancy indulging in, or a horror or indie film should you prefer something a little edgier with your afternoon tea or even bring your own if you would prefer.
Alternatively, you can simply have some relaxing background music on whilst you natter and nibble away to your heart’s content.


You won’t annoy anybody with your antics, it’s just you and your fellow afternoon tea guest/s for a full homemade afternoon tea menu and a vast selection of tea and coffee to order. Equally, you won’t be annoyed by children running around you or other afternoon tea guests listening in on your conversations, it’s just you and your own people here : )

It’s the perfect secluded venue for couples or for a date, perhaps even for a unique & romantic proposal, friends & family wanting to catch up, small civilised hen parties or birthday celebrations, “Ladies Wot Do Lunch”, men who want to indulge at lunch, or Just because you fancy a good old gossip in your own space for an hour or two..

There is plenty on the menu, to include finger sandwiches, homemade cakes & sweet treats, scones with all the trimmings and much more besides. Each menu is £25 per person (minimum is 2, maximum is 5) and will be different for each of the dates below. What doesn’t get eaten, you will take home with you to enjoy later on.

Whatever the reason, just email Miss Sue Flay at cake@secludedteaparty.com to secure & book your time slot from the dates & times below and tell her why you think you deserve to secure The Tea cosy for the afternoon.


On booking, you will receive details of its secret location and the appropriate etiquette for your visit.

The dates and times below are the only ones currently on offer, so get in quick to sample an entirely new & exciting venue and menu (Subject to change if I burn something along the way hehe).. Some evenings may be available, subject to a chat via email in the first instance... Just get in touch.  


Saturday 19th May 2012  - £25 per person
12noon – 2pm – Available
3:30pm – 5:30pm – Available

MENU:

Finger Sandwiches, Including:

Cucumber, Cream Cheese & Mint
Free Range Egg Mayonnaise & Cress
Ham & Garlic Jam

***
Choice of Scones, from either:
Sweet Fruit & Spice Scones with Clotted Cream & Locally Sourced Preserves
Or Savoury Cheese Scones with a selection of herb butters

***
Selection of Cakes & Sweets:

Fruit & Chocolate Tarts with Vanilla Creme Patisserie 
Gorgeous Raspberry Coulis & Chocolate Cream Meringues
Teacup Trifles

***
Unlimited Tea & Coffee Selection



Tuesday 5th June 2012    (Bank Holiday for Jubilee)  - £25 per person
12noon – 2pm – Available
3:30pm – 5:30pm – Available

MENU:

Finger Sandwiches, Including:

Red Leicester & Spring Onion
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
Ham & Garlic Jam

***
Choice of Scones, from either:
Sweet Fruit & Spice Scones with Clotted Cream & Locally Sourced Preserves
Or Savoury Cheese Scones with a selection of herb butters

***
Selection of Cakes & Sweets:

Warm Blondies, served with Fresh Strawberries & Cream
Banana Split Bites
Nutella Teacup Cheesecakes

***
Unlimited Tea & Coffee Selection



Sunday 17th June 2012   (Fathers Day) - £25 per person
12noon – 2pm – Available
3:30pm – 5:30pm – Available

MENU:

Finger Sandwiches, Including:

Cucumber, Cream Cheese & Mint
Free Range Egg Mayonnaise & Cress
Ham & Garlic Jam

***
Choice of Scones, from either:
Sweet Fruit & Spice Scones with Clotted Cream & Locally Sourced Preserves
Or Savoury Cheese Scones with a selection of herb butters

***
Selection of Cakes & Sweets:

Fruit Tartlet Bar, with Fresh Fruit & Crème Patisserie
Oreo Cookies & Cream Truffle Selection
Peanut Butter Mousse & Meringue Dipping Kisses

***
Unlimited Tea & Coffee Selection



Saturday 30th June 2012    - £25 per person
12noon – 2pm – Available
3:30pm – 5:30pm – Available


MENU:

Finger Sandwiches, Including:

Red Leicester & Spring Onion
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
Ham & Garlic Jam

***
Choice of Scones, from either:
Sweet Fruit & Spice Scones with Clotted Cream & Locally Sourced Preserves
Or Savoury Cheese Scones with a selection of herb butters

***
Selection of Cakes & Sweets:

Chocolate Ganache & Raspberry Cake
Ritz Torte
Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

***
Unlimited Tea & Coffee Selection


And I hope from here, you are salivating as much as I was making up these menus... and do get in touch to book your slot before it goes to somebody else  : )

Miss Sue Flay
x

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A Civilised Hen Party... At Their Lovely Cambridgeshire Family Home



Last weekend I was witness and host to the loveliest & most civilised Hen party I have ever been part of, I was very lucky to be involved and I had a great time helping out to make this memorable for the gorgeous bride-to-be.


Emma, the sister of the bride has been to one of my events previously and she is such a sweetie for asking me to help host her sisters’ surprise Hen party at their home in the gorgeous Cambridgeshire Countryside. Of course, I said yes, it was going to be a first for me in going to my guests home, rather than them coming to me, so exciting.


The original idea was to hold it in their stunning garden and orchard, however with the changeable weather (This IS England, of course it was threatening rain, when isn’t it?!) so we set up in their gorgeous kitchen and dining room instead, which gave me huge house envy, I must admit.


With the bunting up and the table set up in a buffet style with mis-matching teacups & saucers, side plates, cutlery and of course the food itself, it looked great and I was chuffed to bits with the way the afternoon panned out.

The Hen knew she was having a tea party, but she didn’t know she was going to be pampered just as much as she was hehe. She enjoyed sipping out of the lovely teacup she had made to commemorate this afternoon along with my delicious layer cakes, including my Tuck Shop Cake and a Lemon & Blueberry Layer Cake as well as my home made fruit & spice scones, served warm from their very own Aga. It was a kitchen dream for me and I loved every minute of it. 


I was able to stand back and let the lovely ladies spoil the lovely Steph, whilst I was on hand in the background to serve loose leaf tea whenever they needed me. 
Plus, that way I got to people watch and see just how lucky this lovely lady is in her loving friends and family and some of my very youngest tea party guests hehe. The little lady with the prettiest outfit and huge white flower in her hair was snoozing in the land of cake fairies after a few bites of my tasty treats, awww so cute!


I was also mightily impressed by the gorgeous gifts they had bought from a lovely local lady who makes stunning personalised crockery and wrapped up a lovely cake stand and a commemorative plate with a pen for everybody to sign and then fire at home for her to keep as a gift. I may well get one myself for The Secluded Tea Party one of these days, such a great idea!


So, with practice, means I now have the hen tea party bug!... For any need of a civilised celebration, just drop me a line, I would be more than happy to have a chat. 

You can book a Hen Party Afternoon Tea or Tea Party in Cambridge or in any location you wish, either at home, a venue of your choice or one of our chosen afternoon tea venues, no matter how many guests you have we can cater for 3 to 30 guests onwards, so just email Miss Sue Flay for all your Hen Tea Party needs. 

cake@secludedteaparty.com 

But most importantly - Steph, congratulations and Good Luck for your big day! xxx



Miss Sue Flay 

x