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Volume 40 Issue 4 • May 27-June 2, 2010
now in our 40th season

Garden Parties

by Jenn Farmer
Chef, Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm 

There is something about springtime that makes me think of garden parties and brunch and tea parties.  I am not certain why, maybe it is the little pansy and viola faces looking up from my window boxes,  maybe it is the fiddlehead ferns in the market.  Regardless of the trigger for these sentimental feelings, I have been craving this style of food.

When I think of tea parties the first thing I think of are scones.  They are relatively easy to make, and one of my favorite types of recipes experiment with.  Scones are basically like a biscuit, they contain butter, baking soda, and milk mixed into flour.  Though the following recipe is for sweet scones, it is easy to create savory variations with bacon or herbs or cheese or all three.  Scones are also wonderful with tea, since their richness is a great balance with most tannic teas.  Don’t be afraid the recipe makes too many scones, since they are wonderful, day old, split open with some whipped cream, and macerated strawberries.  This is a style of strawberry shortcake.  To dress up strawberry shortcake, I recommend a little basil or mint chiffonade over the whipped cream or even a little lemon zest for color and aroma. 

This particular scone recipe was given to me by a chef, who recently passed away.  Chef Louis proudly proclaimed he stole this scone recipe from Harrod’s of London.  Whether the story is true or just an urban legend, I will never know, but these sweet little  biscuits are quite good.

Traditional Sweet Scones

  • 3 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • One quarter teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 6  tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
  • One-half cup dried currants, or golden raisins
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a medium bowl sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, cut or rub the butter into the flour until it resembles very coarse crumbs—in fact a few larger pieces of butter (between pea and small marble sized) are ok.  It is better to under mix them a little.  Stir in currants or raisins, and mix well.  Stir in milk to make a quick dough.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured, clean countertop.  Knead for a minute or two, until the dough is smoother, but be keen not to over mix it.  Roll out the pastry to the 3/8 inch thickness, and cut into two inch rounds with a cookie cutter, or with a small glass. 

Place the scones or sweet biscuits one inch apart on a lightly greased or parchment covered baking sheet pan.  Brush each with a little milk, and bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Serve warm.  Delicious with lemon or grapefruit curd, or marmalade and clotted cream.  Makes 16  small scones

Since I love the traditional taste of these little biscuits, I have paired them with a recipe for a  traditional scone topping, but with a little twist.  Grapefruit curd is just a spin-off of lemon curd and is very sweet, tart, and uniquely fresh.  Curd is easy to make, but you will get the best texture if you take care to stir it constantly, and watch the heat carefully.  

Grapefruit Curd

  • 1 white or small ruby red grapefruit zested and juiced
  • 2 /3 cup sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a mixing bowl whisk the zest, juice, sugar, and eggs until very well blended. 

In a heavy bottomed saucepan melt butter, on low heat.  Add the grapefruit mixture, stirring constantly for about 7 to 12 minutes, or until the mixture is thick like pudding.  If the mixture is lumpy, strain immediately while it is still hot. 

Transfer the curd into a bowl topped with saran wrap or wax paper to prevent a skin from forming while the curd cools.  When the curd has cooled down, refrigerate.  It should keep for up to three weeks if tightly covered and refrigerated.  (To make traditional lemon curd substitute 2 lemons for the grapefruit.)  Makes almost 2 cups of curd.

Crab salad is another recipe I cannot seem to get off my mind.  Crab is so good in so many preparations.   I love it with a spicy hot sauce, I like it with green mangos in a salad, but most of all I like a real basic crab salad.  It is so good served on a nice loaf of crusty bread.  You know the kind that is crisp on the outside and airy and lightly textured on the inside, like a French or sourdough baguette. To accompany the crab salad on the bread should be a nice fresh slice of  tomato, crispy lettuce, and (for the very adventurous) crispy bacon—like a high class BLT but with crab.  This salad is also really nice on a bed of leafy greens, garnished with hardboiled egg, blanched asparagus, and crispy croutons.  Or simply serve with crispy crackers and a nice glass of medium dry white wine. 

Crab Salad

  • One half pound lump crab meat, picked over for shells
  • One small cucumber, peeled and small diced
  • One half tablespoon lemon juice
  • One pinch ground white pepper
  • One teaspoon fresh chervil, chopped (or tarragon)
  • One teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • One teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • One half teaspoon ginger, finely grated
  • One pinch cayenne pepper
  • ne third to one half cup crème friache or sour cream

Mix together all ingredients except crab meat.  Fold ingredients into crab meat, and taste.  Add salt to taste. 

Lobster meat or cooked chopped shrimp can be substituted for the crab meat.  Better yet, use a combination of all three to make a seafood salad. Serves 4 to 6

  What kind of party would it be without beverages?  Tea is great, but let’s face it, sometimes we are looking for  a different type of pick me up in the morning (or afternoon for that matter!).  I love the idea of champagne cocktails, they are so elegant and emotion evoking.  The following  is a new favorite of mine.  Light, airy, and a little classy, this champagne cocktail is great with brunch, or any other time of day.   Oh and I didn’t name it, but somehow it is an apt title for this little sunny drink.

Trophy Wife Champagne Cocktail

  • One quarter cup pomegranate juice, chilled
  • One quarter cup peach or mango juice, chilled
  • 1 ounce  (a splash) fresh orange juice, chilled
  • One or two ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1 750 ml bottle brut Champagne, chilled

Mix all ingredients and serve up or over ice for a champagne drink or cocktail.  I sometimes like fresh ginger grated into this drink for  a little more sharpness, it looks pretty garnished with a sliced of fresh citrus.  Serves 4-8

 

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