Saturday tea for 2

My friend J. and I have been trying to get together for tea for awhile but we had both been sick and our tea date kept getting postponed. Well, we finally got healthy again and had our Saturday morning tea!
DSC02801 (Small)J. mentioned that she owned a set of Noritake china that had been in her family so I was very eager to see it and even more tickled to be afforded the opportunity to use it.  It’s beautiful!

Noritake bone china tea cup

Noritake bone china tea cup

I love J.’s creativity in setting her tea table and clever use of her china and napkins.

DSC02808 (Small)In addition to the crudites (J.’s specialty–she makes the most gorgeous arrangements of crudites which are the highlight of every party), J. also made cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and mackerel sandwiches with lemon and arugula which were delicious and savory.  The biggest surprise was discovering that I preferred mackerel over tuna!  Who knew that mackerel came in a can?!

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Blooming jasmine green tea

I brought a variety of desserts, including 2 of my favorite cookies (both happen to be based on my sister’s tried and true recipes), a teapot shaped sugar cookie (also tried and true), and Jello cheesecake.  The Jello cheesecake was a present from B., my Polish friend’s mother.  It was big enough to serve a small army so I decided to share some at tea with J.  She was so surprised to see the cheesecake.  She said that her grandmother made the same cheesecake and she didn’t know anyone else who also made it.  My initial thought was, “Is your grandmother Polish?” but no, her grandmother is Japanese …  How intriguing!  So I did a little bit of research and learned that the no-bake Jello cheesecake (or variations of it) is also known as a Polish cheesecake (sernik na zimno).  The traditional version contains a layer of fruit with gelatin poured over the top.  I also discovered that the Jello cheesecake is very popular in Hawaii (where there is a large Japanese population) and even appears on restaurant menus.  Regardless of its origin, J. enjoyed the cheesecake and memories very much.

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Big chewy oatmeal cranberry and white chocolate cookies, teapot shaped sugar cookies, Jello cheesecake, and my sister’s “famous” chocolate chip cookies

Big Chewy Oatmeal Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies
(adapted from my sister’s “Best raisin oatmeal cookie recipe”)
(Yield: 2 to 3 dozen big chewy cookies)

1 cup dried cranberries, divided
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup white chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips
1 egg
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 275 F.

In a blender or food processor, combine 1/2 c. dried cranberries with the water and blend until it forms a puree. Reserve the remaining 1/2 c. dried cranberries.

In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the cranberry puree, the butter, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla, until smooth.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Combine this mixture with the egg mixture, and beat until all the ingredients are evenly mixed. Stir in the remaining (intact) cranberries.

By hand, form the dough into golfball-sized balls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Flatten slightly to about 1/2-inch thickness.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom, but still soft in the middle. Don’t overbake or they’ll lose their chewiness.

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“A cup of tea shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent.”

Thanks J. for a lovely Saturday morning tea.

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