A British Inspired Brunch

December 2011

I needed to be really far away from the normal routines and to be overstimulated by a city’s offerings.  I had come down with a case of wanderlust (my near constant ailment), a condition heightened by the pains of a mending heart.  I made up my mind, and my mind took me to London for a spell.  In one word, London was wonderful, glorious flux (that’s technically three words)!  I have a lot to report from my journey to the land of double-decker buses, changing guards, pubs and tea. I will be reporting a lot from my journey to the land of “flat whites,” engineering marvels, a snaking river with a silent h and a cathedral that may nor may not have made me cry (ok…made me cry).

However, this post is about one of the major lessons  I learned from afar:  I really value people!  I value the people who make a city change on a daily basis.  More importantly, I value those people who have been there for me, especially this last year.  Admittedly, there have been times in my life when I have been rather closed off and internal, but this year, I have made an effort to foster the relationships with the amazing friends in my life.  You, dear friends, know who you are, and you all mean so much to me!  Those who know me well, know I don’t throw this out there lightly, but while walking the exhilarating streets of London and thinking to myself, I dare say… I missed you!

Upon my return, I wish I could have filled my entire apartment with teacups for all those friends who entered my mind while I strolled, but my dear friends span cities, states and continents!  However, I was ever so lucky to have two of my nearest and dearest lovelies join me at my dining room table for a spot of tea with scones and yes, clotted cream!

A British Inspired Brunch with Near & Dear Lovelies
(for the record Nicole, you were supposed to be seated at the table also, so you better accept these sentiments as well)

Tea with me… me in the tea…

A Note About Tea & Friendship & A Blog You Should Be Reading/Bookmarking

While I’m talking about tea and friends, I want to highlight a budding friendship, and the really cool thing is, it’s a friendship budding in the blogosphere!  Heather Mulholland has a really beautiful blog entitled Tea With Me.  See the connection?  What drew me to paging through Heather’s blog was the rustic wood grains background, the teal accents, the stunning and refined photography (sometimes I swear I can feel the chill in the foggy air of her travel photos) and the really thoughtful writing, especially about the importance of friendship.  What really sealed the deal though, was Heather’s love of my new favorite file type:  the gif!  AND she sent me REAL snail mail!  The best!  Be sure to give Tea With Me a read, especially the post about High Tea Bringing People Together.

Ok, back to The British Inspired Brunch…

Open Face Egg Salad Sandwiches
(With homemade mayo!)

British puritans would probably tell me I veered too far from the little, dainty egg sandwiches that accompany a proper tea, but I probably would pretend not to have heard them.  You see,  I own a juicer, and I’m constantly looking for little ways to use some of the produce pulp… a la egg salad with bright colored bits of carrot and bursts of vitamins!

Egg Salad

5-6 Large, local/free-range eggs, hard-boiled
3-4 Tablespoons homemade mayonnaise*
5-6 pearl onions, caramelized
2 Tablespoons carrot pulp from juicer
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 fresh cranberries, chopped

*Homemade Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk (local/free-range)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
3/4 cup olive oil, divided

For the Egg Salad

Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Whisk until blended and bright yellow, about 30 seconds.

Using 1/4 teaspoon measure and whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup oil to yolk mixture, a few drops at a time, about 4 minutes.

Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup oil in very slow thin stream, whisking constantly, until mayonnaise is thick, about 8 minutes (mayonnaise will be lighter in color).

Cover and chill.

Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

When ready to serve, cut your favorite bread into rounds, add a splash of green (local kale in this case) and top with a dollop of the egg salad.  Serve with a cranberry on top because it’s the holiday berry and because cherries are so passé.

Apple Cranberry Sauce with a Hint of Sparkle

Not too long ago a good friend told me the universe was going to rain champagne and pearls upon me.  When I visited a Best Friend Dear in London, she treated me to champagne… lots of champagne… and oysters, which are basically pearls, right?  The glaring conclusion is my time is now, and I could also use more champagne in my life.  Cranberry sauce seemed an ideal opportunity for more champagne!

Side note:  the inclusion of cranberry sauce was more a nod to Thanksgiving than ye olde UK, since I only somewhat celebrated the holiday of gratefulness while abroad. 

Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of champagne
1 cup of turbinado sugar
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 medium local mutsu apple, peeled and cut into chunks
Zest of one organic orange
~ 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, diced

Directions

Bring the champagne and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Add cranberries and the remaining ingredients, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries have popped and the consistency is closer to jelly.

Chill until serving time.

A Warm Brunch Libation

While stirring a wooden spoon around the saucepan of cranberry sauce, an idea hit me!  I reserved about one cup of the liquid as the ingredients thickened.

Meanwhile, I added a “splash” (ie: a generous shot) of bourbon to each bruncher’s mug, added a pour of the cranberry sauce liquid (pictured above) and topped the mix off with hot cider.  Swirl it all with a cinnamon stick for a warm and comforting brunch blend!

Cranberry Rosemary Scones with Clotted Cream

While in London, I was on a quest for an authentic tea experience (which I know is mostly outdated and more of a romantic notion of tourists), but it does still exist in a few bakeries and fancy pockets of the city.  I very nearly failed completely, but a table snagged in Cambridge just before closing time enabled me to check tea and clotted cream off my England To Do List.

The additional flavors in my scones were cranberry and rosemary, commemorating my baby Christmas tree and the aforementioned holiday berry.

Cranberry Rosemary Scones

Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons Irish butter, cold
¼ cup fresh cranberries, sliced
1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
1 cup local buttermilk
1 egg beaten with a little buttermilk and water
Turbinado sugar and rosemary for garnish

For the Scones

Heat the oven to 400°F

Line a baking stone with parchment.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the butter.

Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the center, and stir in enough buttermilk to make a soft, pliable dough.

Add the cranberries and rosemary.

Turn the mixture on to a floured board and knead very lightly until just smooth then lightly roll out to 3/4″ thick.

Cut rounds with a 3″ ring.  Collect scrap dough, roll it out again and cut additional circles until no dough remains.

Place scones on the baking stone and brush with the beaten egg and buttermilk milk mixture.

Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and sprigs of rosemary.

Bake near the top of the hot oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and well risen.

Cool on a wire rack before eating.

Serve with butter clotted cream and jam (or cranberry sauce with a touch of sparkle).

Let’s GIF it started!!!
↓↓↓↓↓ (click the crazy ladies) ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

Bunny, meet Squirrel
For some reason, Nina wore bunny ears to the table.  Oh Nina!  <3

My favorite photo of the day ↓!  What a happy bunny!

While I may not have been grateful to be back in the ‘burgh after the wonders of London, I was very grateful for my friends, their company and the comforts of a warm pot of tea.

Stay tuned for the upcoming reports from my European adventures!

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