Saturday, 31 December 2011

Unwanted Xmas Gift Swap Tea Party - Book Now!

I am guessing you are all aware of the concept of Secret Santa?

Well, the VERY first Secluded Tea Party of 2012 will indeed be kicking off with a twist on this very British Christmas tradition...

On Sunday 29th January 2012 at 2pm, we will be celebrating the anniversary of the very first Secluded Tea Party, which was held this time last year at Cambridge Cookery School with 12 strangers around the table. Some of whom I must say, have become very good friends of Miss Sue Flay and TSTP. It's been a fantastic first year, and 2012 is shaping up to be even better with the plans we have in store for our Afternoon Tea guests.

Guests are invited to the first Secluded Tea Party event of the year to rid themselves of any naffrubbishunwanted or just plain crap Xmas gifts they may have received over this upcoming festive season!



Wrap up that hideous orange bottle of bath foam from your colleague - that you cant even use because you havent ever owned a bath, the pants Chick Flick or Christmas CD that your mum bought you after much thought (In the wrong direction!) or that itchy knitted cardigan that your auntie made for you & that you gritted your teeth and smiled at when she gave it to you.

Book your ticket to The Secluded Tea Party to come along and enjoy the fun alongside copious amounts of tea as well as lots of tasty afternoon tea treats such as finger sandwiches, cakes and scones all homemade by Miss Sue Flay.

Bring Your UNWANTED gift with you, simply labelled: "To ? , From Santa"

Queue hilarious fun, whilst opening a gift or two each after a fun swap around the table... 

And if you receive more than one unrequired gift this Xmas, why not bring more along, there is no limit and no rules - within reason! 
And if you don't receive any, just grab a fun or useless novelty item in the sales to bring along instead hehe.

So hopefully see you at the Tea Party table in the New Year for the Crap & Unwanted Xmas Gift Swap, but more importantly 
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Lots of Love,
Miss Sue Flay

Friday, 30 December 2011

Review: Orange Blossom Water with Baking Mad

If you haven't heard of Baking Mad before, then I can honestly say that is one of the most inspiring websites for baking and cooking ideas and inspiration, they even have the lovely Cake Boy AKA Eric Lanlard on board offering his recipes of the week amongst other features... what more could a baking lady need to convince her?! Hehe

I recently got the offer of a trial bottle of Nielsen Massey Orange Blossom Water which sounded really intriguing to me as its not a flavouring I have personally come across before and I fancied a little bit of a baking challenge, so I agreed to receive a bottle and I started planning and plotting some recipe ideas right away. The Great British Bake Off had well and truly inspired me to bake away and try making up my own recipe for a change, instead of stealing somebody elses hehe.

I settled on Mini Choux Buns filled with An Orange Blossom Cream, topped with a gorgeous dark Chocolate Ganache which just made this dessert perfect in every way. Sometimes you just crave something bitter and sweet and this was just the ticket.
Think Terry's Dark Chocolate Orange.... In profiteroles!

The flavouring smells lovely straight from the bottle, after a quick sniff as soon as it arrived with the lovely postman (Apprently it can be spritzed from an atomiser should you desire), and although it smells fairly strong, it doesn't actually taste too strong, and it did need a fair few splashes to get the taste in the cream filling. It is quite an unassuming flavour and the Chocolate Ganache may have darkened this a little, but it doesn't matter. Noted for the next time.

The Recipe *

  • 100g butter 
  • 125g plain flour, sifted
  • 4 eggs (free range if possible)
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 - 2 tsp orange blossom essence (to your taste) 
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

(Optional Ganache Topping) 

  • 100g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 3 - 4 tbsp double cream

Preheat the oven to 200*C

Place the butter into a pan with 300ml/½pt water and heat gently until the butter has melted

Add the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture looks like roughly mashed potato

Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well to combine each egg before adding the next, until the mixture becomes smooth and glossy

Spoon equal portions of the mixture (about one tablespoonful) onto baking trays lined with slightly damp baking parchment (or silicone sheet placed on a baking tray if you have one) and place into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and puffed up

Remove from oven, make an incision into the side of each profiterole to allow the steam to escape, then return to the oven for 1-2 minutes to let the profiteroles dry out and then place onto a wire rack to cool

For the filling, whip together the cream and orange blossom water until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed, then gently fold in the caster sugar. When the profiteroles are completely cold, pipe the cream into each profiterole with a piping bag and medium pointed nozzle, through the incision, and arrange on a serving dish or pretty plate

If you go for the Chocolate Ganache, place the chocolate & cream into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Do not allow the bowl to touch the water. When the chocolate has melted, stir the sauce and pour gently all over the pile of profiteroles on the dish/plate and serve immediately

Miss Sue Flay x

* Recipe adapted from my most favourite Nigella Lawson Profiterole Recipe found here

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Curiosity Project

Another twitter adventure has arisen recently, in the form of The Curiosity Project, thanks to one of my fellow tweeters taking part in a exciting and new blog idea that's been taken by storm and it has been dreamt up by the lovely Tiffany Grant-Riley, a Wedding planner and stylist who has a hunger for getting people to get crafty and/or thoughtful and send a box of goodies to a complete stranger for the sheer fun of it. 

What's not to love about that idea?!

It's a bit like Secret Santa, but you post a box of random gifts up to the value of £20 to your recipient, with no idea of what they might like to receive.... It's a little nerve wracking trying to decide what to put in that box, but so addictive getting involved.

If you love surprises or enjoy pampering other people with presents "Just because..." 
then this blog is just the ticket for you.

You can sign up every couple of months, completing a form with your name and contact details and await further instruction.
The whole idea behind it is very British and traditional by taking the simple concept of chain letters that I think most of us attempted back in primary school and making this a little bigger and better than just a letter this time around. 
 Using the postman to deliver a parcel... by hand... I think most of you will agree, there is nothing more exciting than having the postman ring the doorbell with a parcel for you!

All that is asked of you is to put some thought into your curiosity box - Make your gifts, write a note or a poem, find a curious charity shop item or an antique, share a recipe, tell a story, decorate the box however you like and make it personal.

Remember, you will be getting one in return, so make it as you would want to receive it, it's so easy to get engrossed once you get started. Very addictive indeed.

Tiffany offers a few guidelines and even postage advice before you sign up, so you can check it all out before you commit to The Curiosity Project. It's very helpful and just irons out any queries you may have before getting involved, although its such a simple idea, why would you not want to?!

I am in the middle of preparing my first recipients' Curiosity Box as I type, however, I actually received my own curiosity box this weekend and it was stupidly exciting receiving it.
I hadn't expected it to arrive, so it was an added bonus when I saw it sitting in the hallway just waiting patiently to be opened when I got home from work. The box was small & delicately handmade with a pretty button and pattern on the top with very cute cake related sayings on the sides - MORE than appropriate for me hehe!

My Curiosity Project partner had sent me a beautifully handmade tea cosy and pretty mug warmer which both match in material. They had also put a couple of labels in there telling me that they were made by their own fair hands, which automatically made me jealous of their skills, as they are just stunning and I needed a new tea cosy for my afternoon tea parties, so it was an extremely welcome gift.

They had also found such a gorgeous miniature teapot with 2 matching teeny cups and saucers which would almost be small enough to put inside a dolls house.... So lovely and the set will be placed proudly alongside my antique tea set in my lounge at The Secluded Tea Party HQ.

Thank you so much, whoever you are, I love all of my gifts : )  
- Mine is soon to be on it's way to my very own secret recipient, eek! 

Such a thoughtful Curiosity Box.... And it makes it even better when somebody makes you a gift or two with such charm and warmth. It makes me realise just how great the world wide web is and what adventures there are for people to get involved in.

Why not get stuck into the next Curiosity Project yourself?.... 
DO leave a comment below if you have been involved, or indeed plan to in the future... 

Miss Sue Flay

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The High Tea Cast - Podcast Review

Podcasting is something fairly new to me as a concept really. It came up a lot in conversation throughout the Secluded Tea Party's Blogfest back in November, with some guests having already delved into the world of podcasting, one or two of whom had already been doing it for sometime now, such as the lovely Anne Bramley at EatFeed.

Two other lovely ladies who have also jumped into this exciting and interactive way to get your voice heard (Quite literally) alongside their blog, are fellow Brits Leanne Rice and Sam Sparrow from The High Tea Cast.

These clever young ladies have all sat down and put a heck of a lot of thought and planning into each and every word that they broadcast, and as well as Anne, The High Tea Cast ladies do this in a very real approach, one that I can most certainly relate to myself.

These beautiful fashionistas don't pretend to be women they are not, they speak to you on the podcast as they would speak to their best friends down the pub. And that's what I like about them, they aren't scared to speak their own mind, try new things and occasionally admit when they have made fools out of themselves. Come on, we all do it, but how many admit it?!

And what tea and cake-based podcast wouldn't be complete without talk of, well, tea and cake?!
They review the best afternoon tea hotspots in London and tell you all about them each month.
They also enjoy a cheeky cocktail or two (who doesn't?!) and they are happy to share their favourite finds each time they broadcast. From independent tea shops to more civilised hotels and bars, there is a real mix and this makes for superb listening. 

Not forgetting the humorous Simon Button, who's blog is Simply Simon, where he moans and groans about life and topics of the hour in what can only be suggested as a 1930's style radio voice. I sit there and imagine him to have slicked back hair, wearing a smart suit and sipping on a G&T whilst twiddling his perfectly shaped mustache between his thumb and forefinger. 
I love him. 

Discussion topics so far have been subjects close to us all such as fashion faux pas, rainy festival experiences, embarrassing ourselves in front of celebrities, body confidence, the London Underground, and so much more beyond. They also natter to interesting people with a story to tell and they give them the time they deserve to talk passionately about their projects.
 It's been inspiring in just 4 episodes so far, from chat such as short girls packing a punch to making low budget films to name a few topics. 

These ladies have helped me through some very dull day job-related tasks over the last few weeks and I am so glad to have crossed their paths and poured them into my lives, it makes the world seem fun again.... And it makes me want to go out and have cake-based fun too. 
(Oh wait just a minute ... : ) 

I defy anybody to give them a listen, male or female, it's an education in many different ways and it will bring a smile to your face. 

An added bonus is also to find out that these lovely ladies are going to be speaking at Cybher in May 2012, of which myself and fellow blogger, Feisty Tapas have bagged ourselves early birds to make sure we get our bums down to the big smoke for some blog inspiration - So excited! 

I have fallen in and out and back in love with the idea of having a go at my very own podcast, and this has spurred me to finally start moving in the right direction... The microphone has been purchased this weekend and my ideas are jotted down... Now to make this into a real life project.

 Ladies, I thank you for being such an inspiration and helping me to stop toying with an idea and just bloomin' well do it!

Listen to them now!

You can even hear them talking about Miss Sue Flay on Episode 6 (Approx 10 minutes from the end) talking about The Secluded Tea Party... Awww thank you so much lovely ladies! xxx

Miss Sue Flay