Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: Alice's Tea Cup

Summary: The delightful sisters and owners of Alice's Tea Cup share nearly one hundred recipes from their charming and wildly popular Manhattan restaurants.

For almost ten years, Alice's Tea Cup has been a destination in New York City for locals and tourists alike who crave a scrumptious afternoon tea without airs or pretension. Haley and Lauren Fox learned at an early age that tea was more than just a beverage—it was an event to be shared and protected—and they divulge their tea-making philosophy and dozens of delectable recipes in this beautiful cookbook.

Embodying the mantra "tea turned on its ear," Alice's Tea Cup serves up unique twists to traditional Victorian tea fare, including:

Savories—Lapsang Souchong Smoked Chicken Salad and Cucumber Watercress Sandwiches with Lemon Chive Butter

Baked goods—Banana Nutella Cake and Mint Black Bottom Cupcakes

Sweet treats—Alice'S'mores and Queen of Tarts

Tea selections—from African Dew to Rooibos Bourbon

Specialty drinks—Alice's Tea-jito and Ginger Mar-tea-ni

And of course Alice's world-famous tender, moist scones—including nineteen versions, from pumpkin to peanut butter and jelly to ham and cheese

Haley and Lauren also show you how to throw a personalized "Curiouser and Curiouser" tea party with household props and offer lots of other ways to celebrate with tea and festive food. From salads to scones, pancakes to cupcakes, afternoon tea to evening mar-tea-nis, this fabulous cookbook lets you enjoy Alice's mouthwatering recipes without leaving home. -- William Morrow

I have been anxiously awaiting the publication of this cookbook -- ALICE'S TEA CUP: DELECTABLE RECIPES FOR SCONES, CAKES, SANDWICHES, AND MORE FROM NEW YORK'S MOST WHIMSICAL TEA SPOT by Haley Fox and Lauren Fox -- since last May when I was fortunate enough to visit Alice's Tea Cup during BEA week! I fell in love with this amazingly beautiful (and whimsical) tea room, and that was even before I tasted all of the delicious teas and food.

Let me give you a little background on why I loved Alice's Tea Cup so much and why this cookbook means so much to me. Last spring, I participated in the tour for Adriana Trigiani's Valentine series for TLC Book Tours. Part of the "reward" for posting about the Valentine books (which I love!) was that I was eligible to win a tea with Adriana and five other bloggers. Luckily for me, I was chosen! Spending time with Adriana really was one of the highlights of my life (yes, my life!) You can read all about it here.

As part of our favor bags, we received a sample of the upcoming ALICE'S TEA CUP cookbook. There were a few recipes along with lots of gorgeous pictures, and I knew that I was going to need this cookbook for my collection. So a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to receive a copy and I immediately looked at it and found dozens of recipes that I wanted to try.

Words cannot express how much I love this cookbook -- but I'll try! There are lots of photos of this adorable teashop and its delicacies, but there also tons of delicious recipes. Since I am a huge fan of different types of tea as well as all of the goodies that go along with tea time, I was incredibly impressed with this cookbook. In fact, I was amazed by just how many recipes there are. There were lots of recipes for things you'd expect like scones and cakes, but there were also some unique recipes for adult beverages as well as loads of helpful advice about tea and tea parties. Furthermore, this cookbook serves as a fantastic party planner/entertaining guide.

ALICE'S TEA CUP is divided into the following chapters -- Afternoon Tea, Before and After Noon: Scones (and a Cream...); Breakfast and Brunch; Soups and Salads; Sandwiches; Cookies; Cakes and Cupcakes; Other Sweets and Treats for the Alice in All of Us; Mar-tea-nis; The Basics of Brewing Tea; The Art of the Tea Party; Menu Pairings; and Tea-Dying Linens (and Clothes!) As you can clearly see, there are quite a few chapters with some surprising topics.

There are so many amazing recipes in ALICE'S TEA CUP that it can be a bit overwhelming; however, I had some ripe bananas so I decided to make the Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. The recipe was easy and made only 12 cupcakes -- the perfect amount; and I was happy with the texture and flavor. I actually chose not to frost them because they were so moist and rich so they were actually a bit more like a muffin.

The other recipe I made was a no-brainer for me -- the Pumpkin Scones. I absolutely loved these scones when I tasted them during the tea, and they were my favorite treat by far. Unfortunately, this recipe just didn't work for me. I know...I wanted to cry! I'm not exactly sure what happened, but everything that could go wrong kind of went wrong for me. I wasn't sure that I should really use 1/4 cup of ginger and and a 1/4 cup of cinnamon because that sounded like a lot for 12 scones. And then, my batter was way too wet to form the scones. I also had issues with the maple glaze -- it was extremely runny and I couldn't get it to thicken. When all was said and done, I did have scones that were kind of attractive, but they weren't anywhere near as delicious as the ones that I had at Alice's Tea Cup.

There are still quite a few other recipes that I'd like to try including the Mixed Berry Scones which are featured on the front cover, the Alice's Curious French Toast Bread Pudding, and the Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes. Honestly, I could go on and on.... almost every recipe appeals to me in some way!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this beautiful cookbook.
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Beth F said...

Oh my sounds like that recipe had some editing errors. That kind of thing happens. So glad the other recipe was great.

Besides, it's such a great reminder of your fabulous afternoon!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Don't feel bad! Scones are really, really hard! I've been making them for years and I still mess up. The recipe is so easy on the surface, and yet, so hard to do!

I am very excited about that banana nutella recipe. I love nutella, although someone recently told me I had better not read the list of ingredients! :--)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I loved this book too and keep it handy in my kitchen for when I am in the mood to try a yummy recipe out.

Now I want to try the banana cupcakes! :)

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm those Banana and cream cheese cupcakes sound marvellous!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, Banana Nutella Cake. I have to make this for my daughter right away. I'm going right out to find this book.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I must have read wrong. I don't know if the Banana Nutella Cake recipe is in this book but I think I need it just the same. And I'll try not to be too jealous of your wonderful tea with Adriana Trigiani, who I love more than chocolate.

bermudaonion said...

I'm excited about this cookbook but disappointed about the pumpkin scones. They were my favorite at the tea.

S. Krishna said...

This sounds like an interesting cookbook, though it's a shame about the pumpkin scones!

Unknown said...

Hey, I was thinking about buying this book as well. I've always loved Alice's Tea Cup. One of the reviewers on Amazon said that they called up the cook who makes the pumpkin scones and the spices listed in the book are a typo. It's supposed to be 1 tsp. of each spice. Hope that helps.