It’s bad enough, the way I peek at their pink bricks and the tall windows.
Now I also want to have tea in their garden.
I live just a block away but we haven’t met, so I walk past their magnificent house every day with my dog and her pretty red leash – who knows? It’s spring, and Cleo is very shiny in the light. One morning they could step outside, wave and say “my, that’s a sweet dog.”
Cleo blinks like a baby seal.
“You wait there,” friendly brick-lady will say. “I’ll just bring out some tea.”
Then I will play it cool.
“Me – wow, okay! Can you wait like 45 minutes?” I start jogging backwards. “I’ll go home and bake some madeleines…be right back!”
I am a cool customer. “Can I make a centerpiece? Some daffodils?”
Isn’t there always a place we’d like to be invited, but wind up invited somewhere else? Tea in a neighboring garden is where I’d like to be.
Everyone has a happy go-to image – one you summon when you are where you’d rather not be. I have my breezy would-be tea under the trees – two wire chairs in the grass, a plate of cookies on the table, a kind neighbor and the first hours of spring.
Ooh, that is a thought. Time to butter those shell-shaped tins.
Madeleines do make fine introductions. Carry these and every door is open!
Beautiful scalloped madeleine tins are traditionally used for these French cake-like tea cookies, but try shallow mini-muffin pans for a similar effect.
yield: 2 dozen cookies
2/3 cup superfine sugar (granulated sugar is fine)
1 egg yolk
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350º F and butter or spray 24 madeleine molds.
Beat the sugar, whole eggs, egg yolk, lemon juice, and salt in an electric mixer bowl on low speed until well-blended. Fold in the flour until well-combined. Slowly add the melted butter to the mixture, and stir to blend.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling no more than 2/3 full.
Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes, or until slightly golden. Unmold cookies and cool on wire racks. Sift powdered sugar lightly over madeleines and serve, preferably warm.
from The Charms of Tea, Reminiscences and Recipes