Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Tea Party - Part One

Spring is such a lovely time of year! When all the flowers start to come out, and it's often sunny and beautifully breezy! :-) (And mixed in are colder, wetter days, but that makes the nicer days all the better! :OD). I think Spring is the perfect time for a TEA PARTY!!! :-)

For the spring tea party, if it is warm enough, having it outside would be lovely, but also the breeze might be too cool for your guests, so I would suggest having it inside, and opening some windows if weather permits that.

Use a table cloth that will generally match, or compliment, your tea set (preferably a lacy or plain white, or another light color. Flowers are nice too, just don't let it look too "busy".).

Use matching, or complementing, cloth napkins. And set the table so it is all ready for your guests.
On the table place the food, and also place flowers around in vases - this will make things feel more spring like. :-) (And, if you can, have pretty curtains on the windows - this can brighten up the room! :-)).

For tea, serve Raspberry herbal tea. But also have another kind handy in case one of your guests doesn't prefer this kind. :-) Make sure to have sugar out, and honey available. (No milk is needed since it is an herbal tea, but both honey and sugar go nice with it. But you can have only sugar if that works better for you. :-)).

Also, have another fancy drink handy (besides just water) for those guests who don't prefer tea. I love when they have fruit punch at a tea party, so here is a recipe! :-) ( http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Fruity-Sherbet-Punch/Detail.aspx ).

Fruity Sherbet Punch

* 4 cups apple juice, chilled
* 4 cups pineapple juice, chilled
* 4 cups orange juice, chilled
* 2 liters ginger ale, chilled
* 2 quarts orange or pineapple sherbet


1. Combine juices in a punch bowl. Stir in ginger ale. Top with sherbet. Serve immediately.

(You can either set a bowl of this out with the glasses set around it, or you can set out a glass for each person along with their tea cup.).

For sandwiches it's nice to have a couple different kinds as well. (Make sure to have a "normal" type sandwich among the others, such as peanut butter and jelly.).

For this tea party have CUCUMBER TEA SANDWICHES ( http://home.att.net/~dfaglon/tearecipe.html#cucumber2 ).


1-2 European cucumbers
Salt and black pepper
White wine vinegar
Pumpernickel or wheat bread very thinly sliced
Butter at room temperature

Peel a European cucumber and slice it into transparent slices
with a mandolin or very thin slicer (a potato peeler works well too).
Sprinkle these thin slices with a little of white wine vinegar
and salt and let drain in a sieve for about 1/2 hour. Drain
away any excess water and pat dry with a paper towel. Cover a
slice of lightly buttered thin brown bread with 2 layers of cucumber
and a bit of black pepper and top with another slice of buttered
bread. Press firmly with the palm of your hand. Cut off the crusts.
Cut into small rectangles or triangles. Cover with plastic wrap
until served.

And ( http://home.att.net/~dfaglon/tearecipe.html#chicken ).

Makes 24 tea sandwiches

3 cups chicken broth or water
2 whole boneless chicken breasts with skin (about 1
1/2pounds) halved
I cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
24 very thin slices homemade-type white bread
1/2 cup finely chopped smoked almonds (about 2 ounces)

In a deep 12-inch skillet bring broth or water to a boil
and add chicken breasts in one layer. Reduce heat and
poach chicken at a bare simmer, turning once, 7 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and cool chicken in cooking
liquid 20 minutes. Discard skin and shred chicken fine.
In a bowl stir together chicken, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise,
shallot, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Make
12 sandwiches with chicken salad and bread, pressing
together gently. With 2 inch round cutter cut 2
rounds from each sandwich. Put almonds on a small
plate and spread edges of rounds with remaining 1/2
cup mayonnaise to coat well. Roll edges in almonds.
Sandwiches may be made 2 hour ahead, wrapped in plastic
wrap, and chilled.

And also peanut butter and jelly. (Made with your choices of jelly. :-)).

For some sweeter treats (which you would set out right away with the sandwiches), have LEMON CRANBERRY SCONES ( http://home.att.net/~dfaglon/tearecipe.html#lemon ) -

Makes about 16 scones with Lemon Curd, Jam and Double Devon or
Clotted Cream

2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 3
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using
fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut
into bits
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse, or 1
1/4 cups dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 F. and line a large baking sheet
with parchment paper. With a vegetable peeler remove
the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons
for another use. In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2
cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, and zest until
mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large
bowl. In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries
and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture.
If using dried fruit, add to flour mixture. In another
small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just
combined. On a well-floured surface with floured hands
pat dough into a I-inch thick round (about 8 inches in
diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a
glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as
possible rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange
rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in
middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.
Serve scones with crème fraiche or whipped cream.
Scones keep individually in plastic wrap and foil,
chilled, 1 day or frozen I week.

And - Banana Streusel Bread ( http://joyofbaking.com/breakfast/BananaStreuselBread.html ). (Go to this site for more tips for when making it. :-)).

Recipe: Banana Streusel Bread

2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (100 grams) pecans, coarsely chopped

1 - 5.5 ounce (155 gram) package of Werther's Original Chewy Caramels, coarsely chopped

2 very ripe large bananas, mashed

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup coffee flavored yogurt (can also use plain, vanilla, or caramel flavored yogurt)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable spray) the bottom and sides of an 8-cup loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 inch) (23 x 13 x 8 cm). Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 2/3 cup of pecans, and half of the chopped caramels. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, yogurt, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients until just combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter. Over mixing the batter will yield a tough, rubbery bread.) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup of pecans and chopped caramels over the top of the batter. Bake until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 - 60 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes one - 9 inch loaf.

And Shortbread Cookies ( http://joyofbaking.com/shortbreads/shortbreadcookies.html ) -

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

Shortbreads: In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick. Cut into rounds or whatever shapes you wish using lightly floured cookie cutter. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly brown. Cool on rack.

Shortbread with keep in an airtight container for about a week or frozen for several months.

Makes about 20 shortbread cookies.

Part two coming soon with tea party game ideas and more! :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Recycling Tea Boxes

Spring is here, and spring means planting seeds and hoping that they sprout into cute little plants! But here is an eco-friendly (and fun) idea for planting seeds.

Once you've finished enjoying a box of your favorite Celestial Seasonings tea, tear off the top and the two inside flaps. Keep the white paper liner inside the box - it will keep your seedling starter from leaking. Cover the bottom of the lined box with ½ inch of sand to ensure proper drainage, then fill the rest of the box with a seedling-specific planting mix. That's it—you've made a seedling starter! Select a favorite flower, herb or veggie and plant seeds in your starter according to the seed packet's instructions.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Decorating With Tea Time Things

I like to decorate with tea pots, and tea cups and things! It can sure cheer up a room to place such things around! :-)
Why not try putting your tea things around the house, or a certain room? Maybe up on the mantle piece, or on the top of a book case, or on and end table! :-) It's fun to do little arrangements with them too, and when you have a tea party, you can simply take them down! :-)