English Tea (with a Twist) in Hopewell; Fabulous Fall Squash Recipes; More

AFTERNOON TEA – WITH A DIFFERENCE – AT PAINT THE ROSES

I’m a sucker for the whole ritual: carefully brewed pot of tea, warm scones with jam and clotted cream, assorted finger sandwiches followed up by a variety of sweets. At the interestingly named Paint the Roses Tea Room on Hopewell’s main drag you can get all of the above or you can mix it up, as I did, with some Latin flavors courtesy of owner Jimena Hajek.

Hajek, who hails from Chile, has taken over what had been La Chardon tea room. She serves a wholly traditional English tea for $18, but is gradually supplementing her breakfast, lunch, and tea menus with foods of her homeland. I couldn’t resist adding her delicious empanadas to an already teeming afternoon repast. About the following photos. I’d like to pretend that I got all artsy and purposely used a blue filter, but the truth is I don’t know what the heck happened. The (in reality un-blue) beef empanadas ($9.95) below are moist inside, tender and flaky outside, and come with Chilula Hot Sauce. Varieties change daily.

At least 20 different teas are on offer, as well as Rojo’s Roastery coffees. I got organic black Assam tea.

All the “correct” finger sandwiches put in an appearance: cucumber on white, egg salad on pumpernickel, ham & cheese on croissant, and chicken salad on wheat:

Hajek’s take on scones is a bit different, in a good way. Instead of dry, white, and crumbly, hers are crackling on the outside and almost muffin-like inside. They come in interesting flavors like cranberry-chai tea and butter brickle, with a nice touch of sliced mango on the side. They’re followed by a choice of desserts – cheesecake, flan, or Swiss rolls with blackberry or caramel filling.

Paint the Roses Tea Room takes its name straight out of Alice in Wonderland. If you look really, really close you can see the merest hints of red roses tinged with white growing just outside the window.

TWO RECIPES FOR THOSE SPECTACULAR FALL SQUASHES NOW IN THE MARKET

Kabocha squash, worldcrops.org

Who better than Maricel Presilla – Latin chef and chocolate expert – to come up with a soulful soup that combines two New World crops – squash and chocolate? This is reprinted from a previous Princeton Packet column I wrote and blogged about her spectacular new cookbook.

SMOKY PUREED PUMPKIN AND CACAO SOUP
Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel Presilla (Norton $45)
Serves 6 to 8.

2 pounds calabaza (Caribbean pumpkin) or kabocha or Hubbard squash
4 medium plum tomatoes (about 12 ounces)
1/2 small white onion (about 3-1/2 ounces), not peeled
4 garlic cloves, not peeled
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon anise seeds
1 ounce cacao nibs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated brown sugar loaf (panela or piloncillo) or Demerara sugar
8 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
1 ounce dark chocolate, preferably Pacari Esmeraldas 60% or Manabi 65%, coarsely chopped
For the garnish:
1 cup diced manchego cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 cup Mexican crema or crème fraiche

Peel and seed the squash and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a bowl and set aside. Heat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic and roast, turning occasionally with tongs, until the tomatoes are blistered and the onion and garlic are charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. Scrape off the charred bits from the tomatoes and peel the onion and garlic. Place the tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a food processor; add the chipotle chile, allspice, cinnamon, anise seeds, and cacao nibs and process to a smooth puree. Heat the oil in a medium heavy pot over medium heat until sizzling. Add the puree (watch out for splatters), stir in the brown sugar, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the squash, then pour in the broth and let come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor. With a wooden spoon, force the puree through a fine-mesh strainer into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the chocolate and cook, stirring until it melts, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. To serve: ladle into bowls and serve garnished with the diced cheese and cream.

The following recipe from chef Fabian Quiros of Salt Creek Grille doesn’t include squash, but it features two of my favorite ingredients: big, juicy scallops and homemade toasted pumpkin seeds.

Taken for Halloween during a carving

Taken for Halloween during a carving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SCALLOP SALAD WITH APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE & TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Chef Fabian Quiros, Salt Creek Grille, Princeton
Serves 4

1/2 cup toasted  pumpkin seeds (instructions follow)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons canola oil
12 large sea scallops(U-10 size)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound baby arugula, cleaned and dried
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

1. In a large bowl whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, apple cider, honey, and salt. Drizzle in a slow, steady stream 3 tablespoons of the canola oil into the apple cider/Dijon mixture and whisk until it emulsifies.
2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining canola oil over medium-high heat. Generously season the scallops all over with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot and shimmering, gently put the scallops into pan. Do not touch or move the scallops until the edges have turned light brown and the bottom is caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the scallops over and cook for 4 minutes more, until the bottom edges are browned. Add the white wine to the pan, cover, and remove the pan from the heat to finish cooking, 4 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, toss the baby arugula with the apple cider vinaigrette to coat and then add in the halved grape tomatoes.
4. Divide the arugula salad among 4 plates and top each with 3 of the seared scallops and a sprinkling of the toasted pumpkin seeds.

For the pumpkin seeds:
2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a medium baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Yield: 2 cups.

SHIRLEY TILGHMAN HEARTS THE BENT SPOON

President of Princeton University Shirley Tilghman

President of Princeton University Shirley Tilghman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the end of a recent interview on WNYC radio, the outgoing president of Princeton University gave a nice shout-out to Bent Spoon ice cream. She also had some interesting things to say about the status of women in the sciences. Listen to it here.

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