Monday, August 19, 2013

Southern Temptations Tea Room Recipes

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at the home of Ellen McEwen in Gay.  Cohosting with Ellen was Patti Acheson. Ellen introduced the club to Ramona Laird from Webb, Alabama, who is a regular exhibitor at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair. Laird owned and operated
Southern Temptations, a tea room well known in the south Alabama, north Florida areas. It was easy for Ellen to persuade Laird to come to Meriwether to do a program as her daughter lives in Manchester.

Laird shared her favorite tea time recipes with the club and decorated the table with edible floral and herbal touches. She began explaining some tricks using puff pastry. Thawing 45 minutes before use, her “Surprise Bundles” or Chocolate Raspberry Bundles were easy enough for the most inexperienced cook and so very delicious. The puff pastry square holds a mixture of cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, toasted pecans, chocolate chips and raspberry jam. Laird brushes the pastry corners with water and twists them together securing the top with an easily made puff pastry bow. She uses food coloring to color the bow-red at Christmas, pink or blue for baby showers, etc.

After baking and cooling, the bundles are topped with whipped cream, a raspberry and sprig of mint. Laird said she once checked on a tableful of ladies at her tea room to see if they needed anything and they told her to please leave so they could lick their plates! Yes, the surprise bundles were that delicious and variations to the filling can be easily made.

Laird’s second recipe was displayed most attractively. She used a Styrofoam cone and pinned ruffled kale to it and secured edible flowers and herbs to add color. She showed the club how to make Dragonfly Crostini that topped toothpicks placed around the tree. She uses regular sandwich bread-whole wheat for a bit more nutrition.  She works with frozen bread and cuts out dragonflies, brushes the slices with olive oil and then puts then in a miniature muffin pan to form a cup shape and make the dragonfly appear in flight. The bread is bake for eight to ten minutes. Instead of throwing away the left over bread she often cuts the remainder so a cucumber slice can be placed on top for the cream cheese and cucumber appetizer.

Laird pipes in a delicious meaty cream cheese and beef sandwich meat recipe that includes chives, nuts, and basil. The yummy dragonflies on the kale tree make a delightful presentation with a definite “Wow, factor.”

The garden club members also enjoyed her tomato bisque, cucumber chive sandwiches, frosted pecans, raspberry-pepper jelly topped appetizers, alongside her flavored peach tea.

Club members purchased Laird’s cookbook-Southern Temptations-plus her soup mixes, spice packets, jellies, flavored teas, and dip mixes. The good news is that Laird will be at the fair in Gay this fall selling her books and mixes for those who would like try her recipes or refill their orders.