Friday, November 15, 2013

NEWHSA tea at Green Bay Botanical Garden

The Northeast Wisconsin Unit of the Herb Society of America hosted Visions of Sugarplums: A Holiday Tea at Green Bay Botanical Garden on November 14th, promising "traditional, old-fashioned sweet treats and savories will grace the plates at this year's Holiday Tea. In addition to information on the history of tea, the proper preparation of tea, and appropriate tea etiquette, be prepared to imbibe some unique teas and herbal tisanes suitable for the holiday season. Recipes provided. Holiday attire and hats encouraged, but not necessary."

The menu we served included 3 platters of sweet and savory treats accompanied by complementary teas:
     Jasmine Green Tea with:
Swedish cardamom cookies
Mini pumpkin cheesecakes
     Orange Pekoe Black Tea with:
Ham Roll-ups
Salmon spread on rye bread
Bacon blue cheese spread on cucumber slices
     Chai latte with:
Elderberry custard tart
Sugar plums
     Sweet Treat Candy Dish
Candy cane bark
Chocolate amaretto cake balls

Setting the scene with holiday decor
Table set awaiting our guests
Greeting some of our guests
As we prepare for the presentation on tea etiquette and
holiday lore, guests dressed for the occasion
pose for photos in the background.

Recipes for treats served at the tea include:

Swedish Cardamom Christmas Cookies

2 1⁄2 c. all-purpose flour
2       t. ground cardamom
1⁄4    t. fine salt
1      c. unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1      c. confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1     T. pure vanilla extract
1      t. finely grated lemon or orange zest
           colored sanding sugars or chopped toasted pecans
Whisk the flour, cardamom, and salt in a bowl.
Put the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor, and process until smooth.
Pulse in the egg, vanilla, and lemon (or orange) zest until combined.
Add the flour mixture and process to make a soft buttery dough.
Divide the dough in half onto 2 (12 inch long) sheets of plastic wrap, using the plastic, shape into rough logs. Refrigerate the dough logs for 30 minutes until just firm enough to shape into uniform logs, 8 inches long by 2 inches in diameter.
Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Scatter either the sanding sugars or toasted nuts on a work surface and roll the logs until completely coated. Cut into 1⁄4 inch thick cookies and space about 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake until golden around the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool cookies on the pan on wire racks. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Pfeffernusse Cookies

Wet Ingredients: Heat on low in a heavy saucepan just until the sugar dissolves. Let cool.
1      c. sugar
1      c. dark karo syrup
1⁄2   c. dark molasses
Dry Ingredients: Mix together in a large bowl.
2      c. flour
1      c. lard, heaping (use a pastry blender to mix)
1⁄2    t. cinnamon
1⁄2    t. cardamom
1⁄2    t. allspice
1⁄2    t. cloves
1⁄2    t. salt
1⁄2    t. black pepper
1 1⁄2 t. baking soda
1       t. Anise Oil
Directions: Blend together the wet & dry ingredients and then add: slowly...4 additional cups of flour (total 6 cps).
Mix by hand as the dough will get pretty stiff. Separate into 6 balls and kneed each ball until the dough gets shiney. Set the 6 balls of dough in an air-tight container and let set overnight in a cool place or refrigerator. When you have the time, take out 1 ball at a time and cut the ball into 4th’s and roll 1⁄4 of the dough into a long rope about the diameter of a dime.
Cut the rope every 1⁄2 in. and roll into small balls about the size of a marble. You will be making a lot of them...about 50 per cookie sheet. Bake @ 350° for 8-10 minutes (the size matters). I found 9 mins was perfect. The entire batch will fill a gallon size container. I use parchment paper taped down to the countertop is easiest to roll the dough. You will find that if the dough gets too sticky to handle, you will have to cool the dough to handle it. That is why you want to divide it and take out a little at a time. I also bake the little cookies on parchment paper.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Gingersnap Crust

20        gingersnap cookies
2    T.  unsalted butter, melted
1/2 T.  granulated sugar
8    oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2  c. packed brown sugar
1/2  c. canned pumpkin
1     T. sour cream
1/4   t. salt
1/2   t. vanilla extract
1/2   t. pumpkin pie spice
1      egg

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease mini cheesecake pan with baking spray.
In a food processor, process gingersnap cookies into fine crumbs. Add granulated sugar and melted butter, combining well. Divide equally among cheesecake pan cavities and press down on cookie crumb mixture. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Reduce oven temperature to 325.
In a bowl, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, sour cream, salt, vanilla and spices. Mix well. Finally, add egg. Divide among cheesecake pan cavities.
Spoon roughly 2 tablespoons of filling into each pan cavity.  Do not overfill. Leave a 1/4" gap between cheesecake mixture and top of the pan. Tap pan on counter gently to force any air bubbles to the top.
Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

3    T. ground cinnamon
2     t. ground ginger
2     t. nutmeg
1 ½ t. ground allspice
1 ½ t. ground cloves

Bacon Blue Cheese Spread

8 oz.     whipped cream cheese, softened
4 oz.     blue cheese
2 t.        creamy horseradish
2 t.        milk
1 clove garlic, minced
3 oz.     bacon bits
Mix cream cheese, blue cheese, horseradish, & milk. Add bacon & garlic.

Ham Pinwheels

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can  (4 1⁄4 oz.) chopped ripe olives, drained
1/3 c.  thinly sliced green onions
8-10    thin slices fully cooked Boneless Carving Ham
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; stir in the olives and onions. Spread over ham slices. Roll up, jelly- roll style, starting with a short side. Chill for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, cut into 1-in. pieces. Yield: 40 appetizers.

Instant Chai Latte Tea MIx

1 1/2  c. instant tea powder
2        c. powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2     c. dry milk
1        c. powdered sugar (infused with a split vanilla bean)
1/2     c. brown sugar
2        t. ground cinnamon
1 1/2  t. ground cloves
1 1/2  t. ground cardamom
1 1/2  t. allspice
1 1/2  t.  ginger

Add 2 T. of chai latte mix to 8 oz of hot water.

Gingerbread (George Washington’s favorite – said to be serve to LaFayette in 1784)

2 1⁄4 c. flour
1/3    c. sugar
1       c. black strap molasses 3⁄4 cup hot water
1⁄2    c. shortening
1           egg
1       t. soda
1       t. cinnamon
1       t. ginger
3⁄4    t. salt
Blend all the above by hand for about 30 seconds and then with a mix (I don’t think they had mixers during the Civil War, but they do make life easier) for about 3 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 9 pan, and bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes. I’ve found it comes out of the pan easier when it’s cool. (It’s cake-like.)

Elderberry Custard Tart/Pie

4 T.   flour
1 c.   sugar or less
1⁄4 t. salt
1 c.   milk, divided
1 c.   elderberry juice
1       egg, separated
         zest from 1 lemon
Unbaked 9 inch pie shell
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, sugar & salt. Stir in enough milk to make a paste. In a saucepan, bring the
juice to a boil. Stir in the paste and simmer, stirring often until it begins to get thick. Remove from the heat and stir in remaining milk. Stir in the egg yolk and lemon zest. Beat the egg white until it is stiff. Fold it into the juice mixture. Pour into the pie shell & bake for about 30 mins.

The next class offered by one of our members at Green Bay Botanical Garden will be held in the new year at 6:00 PM on February 6th.

"Our grandparents and their grandparents used ancient knowledge and modern understanding of techniques in making elixirs, oxymels and simple herbal syrups at home to combat common illnesses. Learn how and why to make these old fashioned mixes and make some samples to take home and use." 

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