Ovente Kettle

(c) Crystal Derma – English Tea Store

For quite some time now, tea drinkers have been able to purchase electric kettles and boil their water using electricity, saving on their gas bills. Electric tea kettles have added extra convenience to the tea drinker’s life, adding space on the range top (or stove). The advantage to an electric kettle is that it helps boil water in a faster amount of time than done on a stove. They also usually come with the feature of automatically shutting off when it reaches the proper temperature.

When looking for an electric kettle, there is a great variety, so choose according to your needs. Electric kettles come with many features. Some allow you to control the temperature. Rather than guesstimating or sticking a thermometer in the water with a traditional kettle, you can change the setting to a certain temperature. This is especially beneficial when boiling water for a certain kind of tea (i.e., green tea, white tea, or darjeeling), since in order to bring out the best flavor is to steep them at specific temperatures. Some kettles are also marked with milliliters (ml) so measuring water is easy! Making a cuppa for one or six? No problem! Simply measure and pour the water in and switch on the kettle! Safety First: Be sure the electric kettle is unplugged when not in use!

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(c) English Tea Store

There are several types of electric kettles, ones with and without cords. The ones with cords simply have a cord running from the back and plug into an outlet into the wall, while the cordless ones have a base, allowing the user to pick it up and go wherever the user chooses to. In my research, I was unable to find out the origins of the electric kettle and there are a vast amount of manufacturers who make electric kettles.

And did you know that electric kettles are not just for tea and coffee? Any food that involves hot water like oatmeal, instant soup, or hot chocolate can be made using an electric kettle.

One of the few downfalls to having an electric kettle is that would not work if the electricity shuts off or goes out. If you must have tea, then keep a stovetop kettle as a backup, unless you have my current stove. It’s electric AND gas! It needs electricity to bake in addition to starting up the stove but runs on gas. But definitely keep a regular kettle in case of emergency!

As for picking out a good electric kettle, it’s hard to choose. If you’re like me and just want the basics, then the Ovente kettle is a good choice. You can choose from three colors (green, white , or brown, and they all brew very nicely. The green one has a pretty blue glow when it’s on and even automatically shuts off when the water is hot enough! Best of all, with colors like these, they blend in perfectly with your kitchen!

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(c) English Tea Store

Do you fancy a bit more of a chrome look? There are ones like the Ovente Stainless Steel! This kettle has a more sleek design than their standard plastic kettle. Or perhaps you enjoy watching the water boil? Some electric kettles are made with the combination of glass, so you can watch the water gently boil!

Sometimes extra money in the budget could allow for a more high tech but well worth the money, kettle, such as the Chef’s Choice 677 model. 1500 watts of heating power add to this kettle compared to the standard plastic Ovente’s 1100 watt. Finally, if you want to add some high tech to tea preparation, you can always go for the Chef’s Choice Electric 688 Smart Kettle. Now what makes it a smart kettle? It has a feature that will allow it to remember the previous temperature setting that was selected in its last use! Plus many other wonderful features! Definitely worth the extra money on this one!

When you look for an electric kettle, remember that there is one for everyone!

 

IMG_4984Have you tried the Piccalilli yet?  Not sure what to eat it with?  Well here we have a traditional recipe for Cornish Pasties which you can eat hot or cold with or without Piccalilli and they are delicious.

You will need approximately 8 oz of  shortcrust pastry, either home made or bought.  I used Braising steak but if you have no idea what this is then ask your butcher for some beef that you can cook in water for a while until it is tender, the kind that one would use in a pie.

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  • 8 oz Braising Steak
  • 1 onion or leek
  • 1 pint of beef stock

Cut the meat into cubes and toss in seasoned flour, fry in a little oil to seal the edges, add the onion or leek and cook until the onion is tender.   Put this into a casserole dish with some beef stock to cover and cook for two or three hours in a moderate oven, alternatively put everything in a stewing pan and cook on top of the hob for the same time.   Meanwhile cook some potatoes and chop quite small.  When the meat is tender add the potatoes and some cooked carrots and peas if you like.

Roll out the pastry and using a dinner plate cut out a circle.  Place your mixture into the center and dampen the edges then IMG_4991bring the edges together and seal at the top, Use your fingers to create a wave effect then brush with beaten egg and cook in a hot oven, gas mark 8, 420 F, 230 C or 200 C in a fan oven for 20 minutes.  Serve hot with fresh veg and chips (fries) or cold with Piccalilli.  Either way I hope you enjoy them.

As the summer holidays draw to a close, many are planning a last hurrah. Children are returning to school, and many employers give their employees a day to celebrate known as Labor Day, which is observed on the first Monday in September in the United States. Some go on vacation while others stay at home and cook up a barbecue. Depending on the state and its climate, it may be the last barbecue for quite some time so they make this one count. Steaks, hot dogs, and especially burgers are thrown on the grill. The standard American condiments, ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish and brought out and set out for guests. You take your pick at the condiments and you can’t help but wonder about the pickle relish.

In the US, pickle relish or simply “relish” is made from pickled cucumbers (also what we refer to as just pickles). It is either sweet relish or dill relish. We usually just put it on hot dogs and hamburgers but there isn’t much to the imagination with simple pickle relish. The British, however, have different sorts of “pickles”. One such pickle is called piccalilli. A mixture of mustard, turmeric (helping to give its distinctive yellow color), and pickled vegetables, piccalilli is a popular sort teafcsc1000031911_-00_haywards-piccalilli-16-2-oz-460gof pickle in the United Kingdom and it’s widely used in a range of foods, from pasties and sausage rolls, to sandwiches. Piccalilli was also considered an Indian Pickle, and created as early as the 18th century. Great for use in hot dogs or hamburgers as this is very pungent and tart like regular yellow mustard (Note: Piccalilli is also known to some as chow-chow).

More of a sweet pickle person? Then the Branston Pickle might be for you. This pickled chutney has been loved by the British since 1922. The appearance is dark brown colored and chunky but inside is a load of ingredients that bring the famous pickle its sweet and sour flavor. The vegetables in Branston Pickle range from cauliflower to onion. It’s a whole list of ingredients in this wonderful jar! Branston is widely used in the UK with cold cuts and cheese, especially in a Ploughman’s Lunch (I must write about that someday). Some make a simple cheese (cheddar is usually used) and pickle sandwich and makes a great lunch.fco_brn_pkl_branston_pickle_520g

Speaking of Ploughman’s Lunch, pickled onions are another widely popular pickle/condiment. Small onions, usually silverskin, are pickled in a malt vinegar and are crunchy when eaten. Another popular dish these are usually eaten with is fish and chips! Haywards is one of the popular makers of this heavenly pickle!

While there are steaks on the grill, why not spice it up with a little HP Sauce? A tangy brown sauce which has been on British tables since 1899, this sauce is used on all sorts of meats and in sandwiches. The HP stands for “Houses of Parliament” because it was believed the sauce was used at a restaurant there at the time of its invention.

 

 

Stay tuned to September 2nd! We’ll be featuring Piccalilli in a new recipe!

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(c) Julia Briggs- English Tea Store

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

  • Oven 175 C, 155 C Fan, 330 F or gas mark 4
  • Two packets of Oreo biscuits
  • 2 oz butter
  • One 400 g or 12 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • The zest of one lemon
  • 2-1/2 level tablespoons of custard powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 oz caster sugar
  • 4 oz dark chocolate (or milk if you prefer)
  • 4 oz double cream
  • 3 oz white chocolate

 

Make the base by combining all but three of the crushed biscuits with the softened butter and press 2/3 of this mixture  into a 8″ spring form tin and leave to cool.

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Meanwhile mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, lemon zest, custard powder, vanilla essence and sugar.  Then spread half over the base, sprinkle the remaining 1/3 biscuit base on and top with the other half of the mixture.  At this point it can get a bit messy!

Smooth the top and bake for about one hour until firm to the touch.  Cool on a wire rack for at least two hours before decorating the top.

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

 

For the topping melt the dark chocolate and mix with 3 oz cream, melt the white chocolate in a separate container and mix with the remaining one oz of  cream.  Spread the dark chocolate over the entire cake top and drizzle on the white chocolate.  Use a fork to create a pattern on top and, presuming you still have the 3 biscuits you did not use in the base then use these to decorate the sides.  Mine had mysteriously disappeared when it came to this part!!

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

The French call this recipe ‘Salmon en croute’ but it is basically fresh salmon coated with cream cheese, is desired, cooked inside pastry and it is delicious.  It does not take long to make, especially if you use ready made pastry  and it only takes 20 minutes to cook.

I used ready rolled puff pastry from the supermarket and some lovely fresh salmon and parsley from the market.  I like cream cheese so I used that too.  First, I cooked my salmon for 30 minutes in the oven with the parsley until it was almost cooked through but I could still handle it.  Then I cut my pastry into squares, placed a piece of salmon on the pastry then spread cream cheese on the top of the salmon and folded my pastry over and crimped the edges.  Brushed the whole thing with an egg wash and sliced the top to let the air out, then placed it on a baking tray.​

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(c) Julia Briggs- English Tea Store

Bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven 180C until nice and brown.

Take out of the oven but leave on the tray so it does not loose the heat.  I baked some potatoes in a cream cheese sauce whilst the oven was on and served this with peas and carrots.  I also made a fish sauce with a fish stock cube, water, cream and balsamic vinegar.  I had only clean plates afterwards so it must have been good.​

 

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(c) Crystal Derma – English Tea Store

When drinking tea, what would you think goes along with a nice cuppa tea?! While one may prefer a tea sandwich, a little cake, but for some, there are tea biscuits. There is a wide variety that you could either make or purchase that simply make tea more enjoyable and more filling. It’s what helps make Afternoon Tea so enjoyable.

So what kind of biscuit would one go for when having a cup of tea? Here are just a few of the basics below:

The DigestiveOne of the most popular biscuits for tea, they are perfect for soaking up tea and taking a bite! And these are not meant for dunking in milk, trust me, I’ve tried! It doesn’t soak up as well as it does in tea! The Digestive, made by McVities, is made with wheat flour, and was invented in the 19th century to originally aid with digestion, hence then name Digestive. While the name does sound a bit off, the biscuit is actually very delicious and very addictive! If you try them with chocolate, it’s an added bonus!

Rich TeaAlso made by McVities, the Rich Tea is made in the same shape as the Digestives-round and stamped with the McVities logo. The difference with these biscuits are that these are not crumbly like the Digestives, but are instead more crispy and light than Digestives. These were the original “tea biscuit”, meant for the higher classes in British society in 17th Century Yorkshire but is now for everyone to enjoy!

Shortbread-Rich and buttery, these biscuits are very creamy and melt-in-your-mouth! These go way back to the 12th century in Scotland, shortbread biscuits were originally known as “biscuit bread” which was created from leftover bread dough. The yeast in the bread was soon to be replaced by butter, which is how it has the signature buttery flavor!

Custard CreamOne of the most popular and beloved biscuits in the British Isles, this one is very addictive! Embossed with a Victorian design, these can be enjoyed with our without tea.

Bourbon CreamDon’t be mistaken! There is no alcohol in this but is actually chocolate! The name is said to be originated from the House of Bourbon in France. Sandwiched in between chocolate buttercream, these are also hard to eat less than a few!

Britain has a great variety of biscuits so it would take me a lifetime to talk about them all! Do you have favorites that are not listed here and how do you eat them? Do you dunk them in tea or simply eat them without tea? Always feel free to discuss!

PART II – RECIPE

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Digestives Biscuits with a difference.  Do you have a wheat allergy?  Then this is a recipe for you, they only take 15 minutes in the oven and they taste good.  You can use a variety of flours or just on kind, I used wheatmeal flour which is made from oats but I did not have have any buckwheat so I just doubled the quantity of wheatmeal flour.

So you will need:

  • 4 oz Oat Flour
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 4 oz Buckwheat flour
  • 2 oz light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or less
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk (any kind you want)
  • A greased baking sheet or two, this quantity makes about 12.
  • Set the oven to moderate 180 C 350 F gas mark 4
  • Sieve the flours with the baking powder, sugar and salt then beat in the butter, egg yolk and milk.
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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

When well combined turn out onto a floured worktop and roll out.  You can make the biscuits any thickness you like but bare in mind they will spread on the sheet.  Cut out with a biscuit cutter and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool slightly before lifting onto a wire rack.  Enjoy one with a nice cup of tea.

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

The other day my very friendly Market stall holder gave me some fruit for jam making and amongst the pile was some very nice juicy lemons.  Now I am a big fan of lemons and just love Lemon curd or Lemon Cheese spread as it is sometimes know.  It is very simple to make, tastes good and you can use it to sandwich a cake together as I did or just on some nice crusty bread.  So after I had made the lemon curd I bought some clotted cream and proceeded to make a celebration cake for my friend who needed a ‘pick me up’

For the lemon curd I used:  the rind of 3 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 8 oz jam sugar, 4 oz butter and 2 eggs.

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Grate the rind carefully not allowing any of the white pith in as this tends to make the curd bitter.  Roll the lemons on a hard surface to soften first before squeezing the juice out.  Put the rind, sugar, butter  and lemon juice into either a double boiler or a jam pan and allow the sugar to dissolve and the butter to melt.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding the well beaten eggs. If you add the eggs too soon you get scrambled egg!!  Back on the heat cook until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, usually about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.   Pour into warm jars and seal immediately with a a circle of grease proof paper.  The next day you can use it.

Make one deep  or two shallow Victoria sandwich cakes (or buy two) and slice each one across and remove the top sliver from both cakes.  Place the base of one layer on a board and put lemon curd on then add another layer and spoon the clotted cream on top and then repeat by adding another layer of cake on top of the clotted cream and put lemon curd on this one then add the top layer of cake upside down and dust with icing sugar and decorate with any fruit you may have. (I only had strawberries left!)  Enjoy a slice with our ETS Brand Tea!

What makes Great Britain so intriguing is not just the tea, but the food. Not only do they have an excellent taste for chocolate, desserts, and cooking, but they also have a great taste for snacks! One of the most popular snack foods in Britain is the crisp. What’s a crisp? It’s the familiar potato chip! Just don’t call them (potato) chips or you might be referring to the fried potatoes we Americans know as fries!

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(c) Crystal Derma – English Tea Store

Britain’s largest crisp manufacturer and the most popular brand is Walkers. The logo looks strikingly similar to the Lay’s Potato Chips logo (they are both owned by Pepsico) but the huge difference is the flavor variety! The United States has flavors like sour cream and onion, barbecue, and cheddar while Great Britain has Prawn Cocktail, Worcester Sauce, and Cheese and Onion. Wait, Worcester Sauce? Prawn Cocktail? Yes, you read it correctly! These are among some of the traditional flavors that also include Ready Salted and Salt and Vinegar.

Along with the standard potato crisp, there are other kinds like the Monster Munch! A baked corn snack flavored with Pickled Onion, I was a bit nervous but adventurous when I obtained a bag! My sister, who was over at my house when I opened the Monster Munch, wrinkled her nose. You see, us Americans are not used to pickled onions, so it sounded a bit odd. Then, we tried them. We were completely surprised! The texture is similar to the onion ring-like chips we grew up with called FunYuns, but the taste is completely different! These Monster Munches are tangy and mouthwatering! My sister was even taking the bag and running around the house, getting our family members to try it before telling them it was pickled onion!

Crisps have been in homes both British and American for generations, on lunch plates, in children’s lunch boxes, and even alongside soldiers during World War II. If you go anywhere in the UK, crisps are sold nearly everywhere as much as you see tea. Millions of packets of crisps are sold every year in the UK, and its popularity does not seem to be faltering.

And if you do end up in an English crisp section, do try Walkers Tomato Ketchup crisps! You would be surprised at how delicious those are!

One looks at that title and thinks a cake that you boil? No not a cake that you boil but a boiled fruit, cake.  We boil the fruit first then bake it in the oven, it is a very good cake for keeping as it does not go dry very quickly.  Also an added bonus for you with egg problems it does not contain any!  If it is still too hot over there for cooking you may need to save this recipe for Winter.

Oven gas mark 4/5, 350/375 F 180 C

greased 8 inch cake tin

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(c) Julia Briggs -English Tea Store

1/2 pint water or cold tea if you have any

3 oz fat (dripping, lard, marg, cooking fat  or butter)

3 oz Sugar, brown if you have it

3-6 oz dried fruit (any combination you have)

10 oz Self Raising Flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.

Boil the liquid, fat, sugar and fruit together in a pan for 2 to 3 minutes.  Whilst this is cooling sieve together your dry ingredients, flour, spice and bicarb.  Combine the liquid with the dry ingredients and beat thoroughly.  Pour into the tin and bake for 40 to 50 mins depending on your own oven.  If it is burning on top then turn your oven down and leave it in longer or cover with tinfoil.  I used the whole 6 oz of fruit in mine and it was cooked in 50 mins.  It is really good when sliced and buttered with a nice cup of tea.

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Chocolate cake always goes down well for afternoon tea and my dentist, (whom I saw on Saturday) is very partial to chocolate cake so this is a new recipe just for her.  It is a take on lemon drizzle cake but chocolate cake with a Mars bar drizzle and a chocolate butter cream filling.  I discovered that you could melt Mars bars and drizzle onto cake when I went to the cupboard and found the chocolate gone but one Mars bar left.

Oven 180 C, 350 F or gas mark 4  A greased loaf tin or a sandwich tin.

4 oz butter

4 oz caster sugar

2 large eggs

4 oz self raising flour

1 oz chocolate powder

1 tablespoon golden syrup.

1 Mars bar.

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time with a little flour, fold in the remaining flour and chocolate powder and golden syrup and spoon into your tin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes for a sandwich tin and about 35-40 minutes for a loaf tin.  Always test with a cake tester or needle before taking out of the oven though because chocolate cake always looks done even when it is not.   Leave in the tin to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool.  Meanwhile make the butter cream with:

2 oz butter

4 oz icing sugar

1/2 oz chocolate powder.

Mix all the ingredients together and beat until smooth.

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Slice the cake and spread all but one tablespoon of the butter cream on the bottom half.  Prick the top half of the cake all over and place on top of the butter cream.  Melt the Mars bar in the microwave for 30 seconds and beat hard with the tablespoon of reserved butter cream.  It will be liquid still.  Pour over the cake and leave to settle.  I made some plain buns and poured it over so you can see how it trickles down into the cake itself.​

Once everything has cooled down the top of the cake looks sticky but not actually covered in a chocolate icing so you can, if you want, cover the top with icing or leave it as it is.  I left mine and it was voted a hit by the dentist!

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