Sunday, 3 May 2009

Victorian tea today with Lavender Bakery

Savoury tartlets: anchovy, tomato, roasted peppers and capers; blue cheese and creme fraiche; artichoke, mozzarella and pesto. Victorian couple hard at work in the kitchen.

Cocktail of violet liqueur, vodka and cava. Victoria Sponge. 

Lavender and green tea shortbread. Pistachio & rosewater meringues

Holy crumpet! Making clarified butter to oil the rings means it's less likely to burn

Blending unsalted butter and Marmite for the sandwiches, a Nigella trick that works...

Coupe au violet

Les salés
Marmite and cucumber Sandwiches
Savoury tarts
Home-made crumpets

Les sucrés
Madeleines au miel
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Victoria sponge
Raspberry cake
Lemon cake
Chocolate cupcakes
Mini lemon and lime tarts
Rosewater and Pistachio meringues
Lavender shortbread
Green tea matcha shortbread
Tea and Coffee

Aga meringues

I used Martha Stewart's easy recipe for my pate brisé for the tartlets and the vintage tins I bought on various trips to France. The blue cheese and creme fraiche filling is dead easy, takes minutes in fact: just blend blue cheese, creme fraiche, an egg or two. I blind baked the pastry casings, then filled with a variety of toppings. I used stuff I had to hand like anchovies, curled in a cross like starfish, pine nuts (which I hate roasted and keep in the fridge to prevent them going stale), roast cherry tomatoes dowsed in olive oil, quarters of artichoke hearts in oil, basil leaves, roast red and yellow peppers, capers, mozzarella...almost like tiny pizzette.
These were fiddly but enjoyable to make. As I worked my mum told me about her friend Joy, who, fresh from a cooking course, then made a meal in which the canapes were miniature versions of full-size dinners. There were tiny peas, tiny roast potatoes, tiny carrots on a little plate. All the women didn't know whether to eat them or laquer the canapé and wear it as a broach. The men, of course, she said, just slung these tiny works of art into their mouths with nary a thought, Shrek-like.
The crumpets were, of course a triumph. @porridgelady from Twitter talked of the fact that they came ready-buttered, with my best Brittany sea salt butter, so piping hot they almost burnt the roof of your mouth. Are there any places in London where they serve hot home-made crumpets? Not heard of one.
@porridgelady was a finalist in The Golden Spurtle World Porridge making championship. She's obsessed with porridge. Apparently there are others with this fetish!
Lavender bakery's scones were light and fudgy, just as a scone should be, served with clotted cream and organic jams. My favourite was her lavender shortbread and her carrot cake, which didn't have too much carrot in it and was dotted liberally with walnuts.
It was interesting cooking with someone who has such a different style; her tiny pistachio and rose-water meringues against my enormous golden-pink Aga-baked meringues. She is precise. I throw a handful of this, a handful of that into dishes. And that's why she is a baker and I am a cook. Although my baking is improving...


  1. Absolutely stunning menu. Just wish I could be there. Hope it goes well.

  2. Looks Mouthwatering.

  3. YES! Marmite and cucumber sandwiches! One of my all time favourite sangers.

  4. The lightest scones I've ever tasted, and crumpets I could eat till I die.

    Too many things that melted in the mouth

  5. Truly, it all looks soooo superb!

  6. Congratulations, this must have been a wonderful afternoon and all of those goodies look simply great.

  7. Okay, that does it, I have to come to your underground restaurant - I simply have to. Not only to sample this delicious food but also just to chat with you about cooking and stuff. I want out of the office and into the kitchen! Need to get stuck into cooking properly...!

  8. Wow! what a surprise!
    I thought that being a friend or commentatot to Stewart your blog would be another theme...
    Well, I've collceted recipes from magazines over the years, mostly from magazines, just for the pictures.
    My country is more sophisticated that you were able to seen back in 90, the problem is (for me) that good food is a field mostly visited by the richies here, but since the economic growth for the middle classes (after you were here), fancy restaurants and careers related are abundant.
    About resources, I think we have a lot of delicious things. Unfortunately, in the average home, lack of time to cook is a problem, due to everyone going out to work a lot to earn a lot of money to taste delicious things from restaurants.
    Now , ecological issues are endangering our resources, as seafood precisely. We have 2000+ kms of shore and this is a new and worrying situation.
    But land is not expensive and that european dream of living freely and autonomously working the land is still very possible, but you won't have a big fancy plasma at your shack.
    I tasted marmite in England and they told me that you people divided in two bands; those who hate it and those who love it. I tasted a commercial brand, though. I guess is something you have to get from more home made sources.

  9. Hi there Rick,
    Wow your comment is almost longer than the post!
    I am a friend of Stewart Home. I also have another blog which is slightly more connected with his world I guess.
    I imagine things have changed considerably in Chile since I was there in '89/90. People were still quite cowed at that time. The average wage was $50 a month and yet prices were quite expensive.
    There was an amazing range of sea food that I have not seen elsewhere.
    But many of the restaurants were fast food outlets, fried chicken etc. I saw less unAmerican indigenous foods than in other South American countries.
    Glad to hear things have changed.

  10. Great post as always! Very envious of your stunning photos as well.


  11. Wish I could have come for the cocktail alone...

    Loving the authentic Victorian scullery maids and matching washing up liquid. Totally sets the scene.

  12. I keep on coming back to your blog to check out your latest intricate creations! Very impressive! :)
    Can you beam over some of those green tea stars? :D
    Btw I've just tried out a 'scones' recipe from the American Southwest. Maybe you could expand on that and have an 'Arizonan Tea' or 'Desert Tea' one day ;)


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