Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Cup of Tea, A Nosh and A Book

Every afternoon at half past three, I stop for a cup of tea and a nosh . . . and often a read as well. A quiet respite in sometimes a very busy day.

Sometimes, it is just a cup of tea . . . rather than a pot. For even though I stop and slow down, it's not always a pot worth of slow down . . . and January is a busy time for I'm housecleaning as well as doing closets and cabinets and drawers! Days in January are usually a cup of tea day instead of a pot

And as always, my cup and saucer of choice is blue and white . . .

These dishes belonged to my mother. I inherited them when she passed away. They're a bit different from my usual blue and white but I do like them. They're by Mason and the pattern is Fruit Basket. I don't have many of them but I think they're perfect to use in the breakfast room.

Of course, with a cup of tea, there is always a nosh . . .

And I like noshes that can go on the saucer . . . smaller bites of cookies.

For Christmas this year, dear friend Carolyn gifted me with Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. It was the perfect gift and I love Dorie's recipes.

The one that intrigued me the most was the recipe for Speculoos. A spiced Belgian cookie. I made them and they are perfect for tea. They're not that hard to make although I did not roll mine thin enough. Like Dorie, I used my 1 1/4 inch cutter and three are the perfect afternoon nosh.


1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground cloves
7 T. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda and spices together in a bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well-blended, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough. You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that's normal. Using your hands (always my first choice) or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to eliminate any dry spots.

Divide the dough in half. (The dough is very soft, even after you refrigerate it for several hours, so if your kitchen is hot, you might want to divide the dough into thirds -- that way it won't take you as long to cut out the cookies and the dough won't soften as much.) Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap until you have a circle that's a scant 1/4 inch thick. As you're rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don't end up rolling creased in the dough. Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a tray and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When you're ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment.

Choose a cookie cutter -- I use a scalloped cutter that's 1 1/4 inches in diameter -- and remove 1 circle of dough rom the refrigerator. Peel off the top piece of wax paper and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough, carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scrps from the second piece of dough.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are lightly golden and just slightly brown around the edges. Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool.

Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool beore you put the cutouts on it. To use the scraps, press them together and roll them into a circle and chill before cutting and baking.

It's Monday and I'm joining Smiling Sally for Blue Monday.


On Crooked Creek said...

I've been enjoying my "Tea Time" every afternoon without a nosh here on the prairie. Seems to re~energize my soul and my spirit!
Your recipe sounds wonderful!

While "Mr.Ed" was off this past week (between storms) I brought the "junk drawer" in from the kitchen. It only took the two of us a few devoted minutes to sort through. It was a wonderful sharing time together.One more thing OFF my To Do List!

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

How smart of you to keep your Mother's dishes..they are unusual and so pretty!

Rose H (UK) said...

I'm drinking tea all day on and off but rarely do I sit and savour it - I really need to take a leaf from your book Martha ;o) Love the pretty Fruit basket cup and saucer, lovely that they're so special to you.Those belgian treats look a delight too, thank you for sharing the recipe with us.

acorn hollow said...

I discovered tea when we went to Jamicia it was wonderful. I work full time and take tea at 2 at work while not as lovely as yours it helps to make my day sane.
Thank you for your visit.

Tracey said...

What a lovely break to look forward to each day. And to use the pretty china that was your Mother's makes it even more special.

SmilingSally said...

How nice to take a break from (ugh!) cleaning closets... And, then, to remember Mama... (sigh)

Happy Blue Monday.

Tallulah's Antique Closet said...

Hi Martha, Thank You for stopping by. And the recipie sounds delicious. I wish I had the time to bake such goodies. Im always outside playing in the garden soil. Have a great week..............Julian

Cathy said...

Tea and a cookie or two are the perfect pick-me-up for a busy afternoon. Sometimes I even sneak in a 20 minute nap.

René said...

What a sweet reminder of your mother Martha. The cup and saucers are such a pretty pattern and it's nice that you use and enjoy them.


black eyed susans kitchen said...

I also try to take a little break every afternoon. A cup of tea and a cookie goes a long way to making the rest of the day a happy one.

Donnie said...

That looks like a lovely respite during the day. Beautiful.

Chubskulit Rose said...


My Blue Monday, hope you can drop by.

Kelly said...

I am sitting here with my cup of tea, enjoying catching up with your posts. Tea time is great!