A Membership Tea

This afternoon tea was held at Lady J’s house.  The purpose of this tea was to recruit and welcome new members to a local women’s philanthropy group.  Our very own members put together all the table settings and made the food.  There were 50 women in attendance and the event took 3 months to plan.

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Miniature garden

Miniature garden

Feast your eyes on some beautiful table settings!

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DSC03964 (Small) DSC03967 (Small)DSC039462 (Small) DSC03958 (Small) DSC039502 (Small) DSC03951 (Small)DSC03957 (Small)DSC03949 (Small) DSC03962 (Small)DSC03947 (Small)DSC03948 (Small)DSC03953 (Small)DSC03944 (Small) DSC039442 (Small)DSC03942 (Small) DSC039422 (Small)DSC03941 (Small)js table DSC03954 (Small) DSC03955 (Small)DSC03940 (Small)Old and new members alike were impressed with the quality, variety, and creativity of the food.  Some asked who catered the tea and they couldn’t believe it when we revealed that all the foods were made by our own members that very morning!

Fresh fruit and arugula salad with cashews

Fresh fruit and arugula salad with cashews

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Pinwheel sandwiches with cream cheese and olives, Calla lily sandwiches, and curried chicken salad on rye

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Stuffed mushrooms, Cucumber with salmon mousse, and Rosemary, Parmesan, and walnut savory shortbread

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Pecan bites with goat cheese and honey, mini Black Russian cakes, and lavender tea cookies

Ginger scones

Ginger scones

condimentsBy all accounts, it was the most successful membership drive in the history of our organization as we recruited 10 new members!  Congratulations, Ladies!

teahugger

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Afternoon tea potluck

Lady J. hosted an afternoon tea potluck at her house for 20 lucky ladies.  The food, company, and ambiance were delightful!  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  Enjoy!  🙂

Teapot table fountain

Teapot table fountain

My personal favorite!

Yay, votes for women!

Pretty china (plates, serving utensils, and soup bowls)

Pretty china (plates, serving utensils, and soup bowls)

A closeup of the lovely soup bowls

A closeup of the lovely soup bowls

Pick your own tea cup!

Pick your own tea cup!

More cute tea things! Teapot salt and pepper shakers and serving utensils

More cute tea things! Teapot salt and pepper shakers and serving utensils

D. and I have a running debate about salt and pepper shakers.  D. agrees with the offering in the photo above.  I say that the pepper goes into the shaker with more holes in order to get a more even distribution of pepper onto a dish.  The salt goes into the shaker with the least number of holes so that one doesn’t overdo the salt.  What do you think?

Table setting

Table setting

Table setting

Table setting

Crustless spinach & mushroom quiche

Crustless spinach & mushroom quiche

Chilled cantaloupe soup

Chilled green tea and honeyed cantaloupe soup

Chilled green tea and honeyed cantaloupe soup

3/4 cup cold water
1 green tea bag
6 cups cubed cantaloupe (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup apricot nectar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lime juice
6 tablespoons plain fat-free yogurt
Lime peel twists

 1. In a small saucepan bring the water just to boiling. Remove from heat. Add tea bag to hot water; steep for 2 minutes. Remove and discard tea bag.

2. In a food processor or blender combine half of the cantaloupe, half of the 3/4 cup yogurt, and half each of the apricot nectar, ginger, honey, lime juice, and brewed tea. Cover and process or blend until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining half of the ingredients. Stir into processed mixture in bowl. Cover and chill soup in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

3. Ladle soup into chilled bowls. Garnish each with 1 tablespoon yogurt and a lime peel twist.

Kale and Brussels sprouts salad with sesame seeds

Kale and Brussels sprouts salad with sesame seeds

Quinoa and bulgar salad with cranberries and pistachios

Quinoa and bulgar salad with cranberries and pistachios

Quinoa and bulgar salad with cranberries and pistachios
(adapted from Cooking Light (December 10))

1 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup uncooked bulgar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 cup water
1 cup reduced sodium chicken or veggie broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  1. Rinse and drain quinoa and bulgar. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Add water, broth, and salt to pan; bring to a boil. Add quinoa and bulgar; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and grains are tender. Remove from heat; set aside, and cool slightly.
  2. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add quinoa, cranberries, and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine.
Fruit salad

Gingered fresh fruit salad

Gingered Fresh Fruit Salad
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings (3/4 cup each)

Honey lime dressing
2  tablespoons honey
1  teaspoon chopped crystallized ginger
1/4  teaspoon grated lime peel
2  Tablespoons fresh lime juice

Fruit Salad
1  cup watermelon cubes
1  cup cantaloupe cubes
2  cups fresh pineapple cubes
1  cup seedless green grapes
1  pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries

1. In 1-cup microwavable measuring cup, mix dressing ingredients. Microwave uncovered on High 20 to 30 seconds or until hot. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

2. In very large bowl, mix salad ingredients. Pour dressing over fruit; toss gently to coat.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches: Chicken salad croissant, salmon and cream cheese on pumpernickel cocktail bread, cucumber, hummus, and lemon sandwich, and carrot cream cheese on raisin bread

Carrot-Raisin Tea Sandwiches
(From What’s Cooking America)
Yields: 8 whole sandwiches
Prep time: 10 min

1 cup grated carrots
8 ounces (1/2 can) prepared cream cheese frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
4 slices cinnamon raisin bread*

*Choose the best-quality bread as possible. Never serve end slices. Freezing the bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.

In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots, cream cheese frosting, cream cheese, and chopped walnuts or pecans.

Spread one side of two slices of bread with the carrot/frosting mixture (about 1/4-inch thick). Top with the remaining two bread slices.

Carefully cut the crusts from each sandwich with a long, sharp knife. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and then cut in half again. If desired, decorative shapes can be made with cookie cutters.

Yields 2 whole sandwiches or 4 halves or 8 fourths.

Tea shaped butter pats

Tea shaped butter pats

Strawberry blueberry scone

Strawberry blueberry scone

Strawberry blueberry coconut scones
(Makes 8. Takes about 50 min. to make.  Best served the day they’re baked)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 c. fresh strawberries, diced
1 c. fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp sugar

Good with: softly whipped cream and sprinkling of coconut.  Serve with lemon curd and Devonshire cream.

1.  Heat oven to 375F.  Coat a large (14-in) baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2.  Mix first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, use a fork to blend cream and eggs.  Pour over flour mixture, add strawberries and stir just until mixed and dough clumps together.  Scrape onto center of prepared sheet.  Pat into a 9-in. round (dough is very sticky).  Sprinkle with the 2 Tbsp sugar.  Coat a long knife with nonstick spray; cut round into 8 wedges (don’t separate wedges).

*Bake in a greased muffin pan or drop the dough one large tablespoon at a time to make individual scone rounds, instead of the one large round.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until puffed and well browned and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (berries will caramelize on baking sheet).

Serve warm or at room temperature.  290 calories per scone.  Enjoy!

Condiments

Scone condiments: Homemade clotted cream, strawberry jam, and homemade lemon curd

Desserts

Desserts: Chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate chip date cake, and lemon bar

Chocolate chip date cake

1 cup of chopped dates
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
Mix together and allow to cool

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together in a large mixing bowl the following ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla flavoring

Beat until smooth then gradually add 1 3/4 cup of flour and the date mixture from above and beat for another 30 seconds. Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish or into muffin cups.  Before baking sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over the top of the batter then do the same with 1/2 c of chopped nuts and 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Bake large cake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Bake cupcakes for 26 minutes.

Cake can be served warm or cold.

steepMy friend S. shared this tea inspiration from a New Zealand brand tea called Healtheries!  You’ll be seeing a few more of these, in lieu of the tea quotations!

My first tea

I had my first experience with afternoon tea on May 6, 2006.  My friend, Lady J., hosted an afternoon tea for 40 ladies at her house, and I had volunteered to be one of her co-hostesses.  I didn’t know what to expect but I learned just about everything I needed to know about afternoon tea that day, from behind-the-scenes production to enjoying the actual event!

To make a long story short, I was smitten with everything about the afternoon tea experience: The delicious tea (why hadn’t I given tea a chance before?!), the guests (I couldn’t ask for better company), the lovely hats and tea attire (oh, I felt so pretty and proper!), the scrumptious and dainty epicurean delights (can it get any more delightful?), the china (I regretted not asking for china on my wedding registry!), the table setting details (who knew that a table could look so inviting?), and tea etiquette (thank goodness manners still exist in this day and age!).

Looking back, I don’t know why I had never been interested in afternoon tea before except that the price of tea houses deterred me and I didn’t really have anyone to go with.  Since my first tea, I have visited a few tea houses, enjoyed many afternoon teas, and even hosted some tea parties myself!  With this blog, I am documenting and sharing what I have learned and experienced since my first tea:

The first and foremost thing I learned about afternoon tea was to …

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From the collection of Lady J.

After relaxation, the most important thing about afternoon tea is to keep the tea brewing, flowing, and hot!  (Please learn how to brew it properly!)

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Always wear a hat or fascinator to afternoon tea (unless you are the hostess)!

Lady J's hats

Lady J.’s hats

Experience the pleasure of eating and drinking out of delicate and fine china …

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Creamers and sugar bowls

Learn how to set a tea table with all the right details such as tableware, serving ware, decorations, doilies, centerpieces, place cards, tea warmers, table toppers, tablecloths, etc.

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How to decorate with non-edible and edible flowers and other plants (e.g., herbs) …

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Non-edible flowers

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Edible flowers

Food should also be a treat for the eyes …

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Brownie bites on top of nasturtium leaves and topped with organic mini roses

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Chai tea creme brulee topped with gerbera daisies (non-toxic but non-edible!)

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Chai tea creme brulee topped with nasturtium flowers (flowers, seed pods, and leaves are edible!)

Appreciate the charm of tea caddies and how they dictate the order of tea courses …

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Top tier: Desserts (chocolate dipped strawberries, brownie bites) Middle tier: Scones and creme brulee. Bottom tier: Chicken salad croissant, salami and basil on rye, tomato on bagel slice with herbed cream cheese and lemon pepper salt, smoked salmon sandwiches, calla lily apricot cream cheese sandwiches

Begin afternoon tea with a cup of hot tea accompanied by a biscuit/cookie (optional), followed by:

1. Soups, salads (optional, for “high tea”)
2. Savories/sandwiches (savories, if served, should be eaten first while still warm)
3. Fresh fruit (the palate cleanser)
4. Scones (precursor to dessert!)
5. Desserts

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Fresh fruit course

And of course, collecting recipe ideas for great food!

May 077 (Small)Every day is deserving of tea time!  Please visit Tastes like tea often!