Thyme for Tea

Tea Parties: March: An Irish Tea


To celebrate spring and St. Patrick's Day, let's have an Irish tea!

Lore

Of all the plants in lovely green Ireland, the shamrock is the one that has come to symbolize this beautiful country. But what is the shamrock? It is thought that the name comes from the Irish word "seamroge," or "little clover," and first appeared in print in 1571 as "shamrote." But the wearing of shamrocks on St. Patrick's day was not recorded until 1681, and the legend that St. Patrick used the plant as an emblem of the Holy Trinity does not appear in print until 1726. Mostly, early writers describe the shamrock as a food and seem to equate it with watercress. Most modern herbalists believe that it is the Lesser Yellow Trefoil that is most commonly identified as the shamrock. It was worn by the Irish as a charm against witches. The shamrock of luck and blessing is a four- or five-leaved clover: When you find it accidentally (this doesn't work if you go looking for it!), you should say this incantation as you pick it, and you will have good luck.

Thou Shamrock of promise on Mary's Day,
Bounty and blessing thou art at all times.

Decorations

Of course, all your decorations will be green (with perhaps a bit of yellow to brighten things up). A green cloth, green napkins, a bouquet of clover picked from your yard (the next best thing to the Real Shamrock). And how about a few daffodils to suggest spring? You might also want to include a small green rosemary—perhaps a rosemary topiary in a pot.

Menu

Recipes

Gaelic Country Scones

  • ½ cup dried currants
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sour cream (you can substitute the fat-free kind, but the scones won't be as flaky)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, chopped very fine

Preheat oven to 425°. In a small bowl, pour enough hot water over the currants to just cover them; let stand for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, soda, and rosemary. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the currants. In a small bowl blend the sour cream and the egg yolk.

Add all at once to the crumb mixture, stirring just until dough clings together.

On a lightly floured surface, knead gently for 10 to 12 strokes. Pat or roll the dough into a 9-inch circle about half an inch thick. Using a 2½inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut into circles. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 425° for 15 to 18 minutes. Serve hot with butter and jam.

Dublin Cream Cheesecake

  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ¼ c margarine, melted
  • 1 ennvelope unflavored gelatin
  • ½ c cold water
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened (use lower-fat cream cheese if you like)
  • 2 T cocoa
  • 2 T Irish whiskey (or 2 T cold coffee, if you prefer)
  • 1 c whipping cream, whipped (or use low-calorie whipped topping)

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and margarine; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Soften gelatin in water, stir over low heat until dissolved. Blend in 3/4 cup sugar and beaten egg yolks; cook stirring constantly, over low heat, 3 minutes. Combine cream cheese and cocoa, mixing until well blended. Gradually add gelatin mixture and whiskey, mixing until well blended. Chill until thickened, but not set. Beat egg whites until foamy; gradually adding the remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites and whipped cream into cheese mixture and pour over crust. Chill until firm. Release from the springform pan onto a plate. Garnish with chocolate curls and sprigs of green rosemary, parsley, or other fresh green herbs.

Aunt Maureen O'Reilly's Favorite Tipsy Cake

  • 1 lb pound cake
  • 3 T strawberry jam
  • 3 T Irish whiskey mixed with 3 T sherry
  • 1 recipe vanilla pudding, warm
  • whipped cream

Break up the cake and stir it gently with the jam. (Does not have to be completely mixed). Place in a pretty glass bowl. gently mix the jam through—the mixture does not have to be completely even. Sprinkle the whiskey-sherry mixture over cake. Press down lightly. Pour custard over the cake, and chill. Then spoon whipped cream over top and serve.

Irish Coffee

  • 1 c freshly brewed coffee for each person
  • 3 tsp sugar per mug
  • 3 tb Irish whiskey (1 jigger)

Pour coffee into large mug. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Add whiskey and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream and serve.