Queen for a day tea

Today, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 91st birthday.  In honor of her birthday, I’m posting Lady B.’s “Queen for a day” tea from last year! 

Lady B. surprised us all when she announced that she did not want any assistance with her upcoming tea for the Victorian Tea Society.  She said she wanted to pamper us and make us all feel like a “Queen for a day!”  Wow!  Talk about Royal Treatment!

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Royal invitation

Queen B.’s royal invitation instructed guests to “wear tiaras and bring (their) best manners.”  My favorite queen of all time is, of course, Queen Elizabeth I (isn’t she everyone’s favorite?!?).  I once went through a phase where I went crazy over everything Elizabeth I, especially books and movies.  I decided to pay tribute to Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, the epic poem dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, by dressing up in a Renaissance costume, complete with a garland of eucalyptus, peacock feathers, and green foliage for my hair.  I planned to arrive to Queen B.’s as the Faerie Queene!

The road to Queen B.’s was strewn with rose petals and a Fairy Crossing!  My heart danced a little jig and I knew then I was in for a special treat.  Queen B. sure knows how to make a Queene feel at home! 🙂

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Queen B.’s Fairy Crossing (click on photo to enlarge)

After the Fairy Crossing, the queens were invited to sit on this welcoming bench as their arrivals were announced.  Notice all the crowning touches from the pillow to the accents, the curtains, and the bench cover!

Queen B's crowning glory

Queen B’s crowning glory

Once inside the palace, we admired this enchanting table in the foyer while Queen B. made an unexpected grand entrance from the staircase!

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Enchanted welcome table made by Queen B. requiring 6 yards of tulle!

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Queen B's crowning touches everywhere!

Queen B’s crowning touches everywhere … including the “other throne” room (aka commode)! (click on photo to enlarge)

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More crowning touches and some Victorian flair!

Before Royal Tea was served, Queen B. instructed us on how to be queenly with “Her Royal Highness Lessons, course 101.”

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Click to enlarge

After we successfully completed the course, we made a Coronation Toast to Queen B. to initiate the Royal Tea.

Coronation toast

Coronation toast

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Her Royal Highness Butternut squash soup

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Enchanted broccoli avocado berry salad

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Starting at 12:00m, clockwise: Kensington Palace Turkey and Provolone, Her Majesty’s Ham and Swiss Cheese, Princess Diana’s Tiara Smoked Salmon Mousse Canapes, Once Upon a Time Egg Salad, and Royal Coach Curried Chicken Salad Croissant

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Queen’s Throne Shrimp cheesecakes (these were amazing!)

Royal scepter fresh fruit

Royal scepter fresh fruit

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Tea time double chocolate scones

Double Chocolate Scones
Yield:  12 scones

2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 c. unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder or unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. fresh orange zest
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c. dark chocolate chunks (I used chocolate chips)
1 c. heavy whipping cream
l large egg
3/4 c. pecans or nuts of your liking *optional
Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, and salt, whisking well. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add chocolate chunks, stirring to combine. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine cream and egg, whisking well.  Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.  Dough will be sticky.  IF mixture seems dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms.  Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet.
*Optional sprinkle scones with large decorative sugar or coarse raw sugar.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean, 8 to 12 minutes.  Cool on baking sheet for 5 min. and serve warm.
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Chocolate Cream
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/3 c. chocolate chips or more depending how chocolately you want it.
In a medium saucepan, heat cream til very hot, but not boiling.  Remove from heat and add chocolate chips whisking til melted.  Pour mixture into a heatproof glass or metal bowl and set in a larger bowl filled with ice.  Let cool whisking occasionally.  Using a hand-held mixer, beat chocolate mixture at high-speed until stiff peaks form.  That’s it.  Easy peasy!

After the scones course, we assembled outside to have dessert in Queen B.’s gazebo.

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Ha, I didn’t even notice until now that I captured a lizard running across the path in the foreground! 🙂

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Crown fold napkins, lace crowns on bottom of teacups. and embroidered crowns on lace coasters (stiched by Queen B. herself!)

Crown fold napkins, lace crowns on bottom of teacups, and golden embroidered crowns on lace coasters (stitched by Queen B. herself!)

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Dreams Do Come True strawberry cheesecake

A royal thank you!

A royal thank you!

To Her Royal Highness, Queen B.
I rarely venture out of my kingdom so imagine my delight and appreciation for the great efforts you made to make me feel at home with reminders of my beloved Faerie Land.  I was equally enchanted by your resplendent palace, scrumptious royal tea, and the company of charming visiting queens from other faraway lands.  Thank you Queen B. for the royal treatment and unforgettable afternoon.  I hope you will visit me in my kingdom someday.

Your humble servant,
The Faerie Queene

“It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.”

–Queen Elizabeth II

Happy birthday to The Queen!

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Spanish Flair Tea

Lady J. was on a Mediterranean cruise that took her to a shop in Spain where she found a teaspoon with a flamenco dancer on its handle. She was so enchanted by it that she wanted to buy a few more but there was only one lonely spoon available.  As Lady J. was leaving the shop, the excited owner called her back, “Señora! Señora!”  He rummaged through a drawer and managed to produce exactly 7 more spoons for a total of 8 spoons!  Lady J. couldn’t believe her luck and snatched up the entire lot.  This is how a special teaspoon inspired a theme for an afternoon tea!

The teaspoon that inspired an afternoon tea!

The flamenca teaspoon that inspired an afternoon tea!

“Bienvenido!  You are cordially invited to a Spanish Tea!  Come dressed with Spanish flair!  Add a rose, fan, Mantillla shawl and/or peineta and feel like you’re in Spain!”

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Lady J.’s creative invitation!

dsc07228-smallimg_3210-smallAfter sharing her story of how a teaspoon inspired her creative spirit, Lady J. wanted us to share a creative project we’d worked on in the past or were currently working on.  We were all very impressed to hear each other share about our creative endeavors in areas such as sewing, scrapbooking, making memories, baking, luncheons, home organization, and music!

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Photo by Lady K.

Photo by Lady K.

Really cute condiment dishes from Spain

Really cute condiment dishes from Spain

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Centerpiece of Spanish majolica plates, fans, and succulents in ceramic pots

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Salt and pepper shaker

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Notice this flamenca teaspoon! All the spoons were different!

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Sugar bowl

dsc07230-largeLady J. came up with a wonderful vegetarian Spanish tapas style menu and picked some delicious herbal teas for a siesta.  Lady J. served an iced hibiscus sangria (non-alcoholic) and 2 hot teas from Teavana: CocoCaramel Sea Salt (dulce de leche, anyone?) and Berry kiwi colada.

Hibiscus sangria iced tea

Hibiscus sangria iced tea (infused with blood oranges, lemons, strawberries, blackberries and pineapple) (photo by Lady J.)

Sopa de ajo

Sopa de ajo (Castilian garlic soup) by Lady Henni

Sopa de ajo
(Adapted from many recipes by Lady Henni)
Serves 4

4 c. veggie stock (or other stock/broth)
1 c. bread cubes (1/2″ cubes, rustic loaf of crusty bread)
10 cloves of garlic, minced
3 eggs, slightly beaten (yolks broken up and slightly mixed with whites)*
1 1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
Pinch of saffron threads
1/4 tsp. black pepper (optional)
Chopped red and yellow bell peppers for garnish (Viva España!)

Heat up some olive oil and add bread cubes.  When bread is slightly browned, add minced garlic and stir until garlic is fragrant.  Add veggie broth, saffron, paprika, and black pepper (if using).  Bring the soup to a boil and pour eggs into the soup slowly in a stream.  Stir the soup while the eggs cook.  Serve immediately.  Garnish with chopped red and yellow peppers and parsley.

* If desired, you can poach the eggs whole instead of breaking them up.

Spanish olive salad

Ensalada de Oliva (Spanish Olive Salad) (Recipe from Pillsbury) by Lady T.

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Veggie paella (made with couscous, onions, peas, carrots, and red bell peppers) by Lady J.

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Champinones al ajillo (Spanish Garlic Mushrooms) served with crusty bread (Recipe from Lovefoodies) by Lady MH

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Pan con Tomate (Spanish-Style Grilled Bread with Tomato) (Recipe from Serious Eats) by Lady K.

Pan con Tomate
(Recipe as taught by my friend S.)

Cut a crusty loaf of bread into small pieces and toast the bread.  Rub a clove of garlic on the surface of the bread.  Cut a ripe tomato in half and rub the open half onto the surface of the bread making sure to get tomato goodness and juices on the bread.  Discard the tomato skin.  Drizzle bread with olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Enjoy!

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Spanish Tortilla (Potato Omelet) (Recipe from Food 52) by Lady ML

Frutas Frescas (Fresh Fruits) by Lady J.

Frutas Frescas (Fresh Fruits) by Lady J.

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Churros Bollos (Churro Scones) by Lady S.  These scones were to die for!

Churro oat scones
(From the kitchen of Lady S.)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. oat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) very cold butter cut into small cubes or grated on a box grater
2/3 c. cream

Topping: 3 Tbsp. sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Sift together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender, fork, or food processor, add butter.  Work until texture is like lumpy oatmeal being careful not to overmix butter.  Add cream and work just enough for dough to come together into a ball.  Flatten and roll into a 1 inch thick circle (about 9″ in diameter) and cut into 8 wedges.  Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar topping.  Use a flat spatula to place scones 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet (these scones spread a bit so don’t put them too close together!). Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 mins.

Serve with clotted cream or Devonshire cream, fudge sauce, dulce de leche, chocolate cream, caramel sauce, lemon curd, etc.

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Tarta de Santiago (Almond Cake) (Recipe from The Bossy Kitchen) and Chocolate covered carquinyolis (Catalan biscotti) by Lady B. (photo by Lady J.)

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Tea favors from Lady J.: Custom shortbread cookies by Penny’s Place. Notice the cookies are shaped like fans!

After this wonderful feast, Lady T. declared she was so full she could not eat another bite and would have to skip dinner.  I laughed at her misfortune but, to my chagrin, later discovered that I too could not eat another bite so no dinner for me either!  Thank you Lady J. for hosting an unforgettable afternoon!  My only regret was that I couldn’t take a siesta in your garden after the tea. 🙂

La comida a reposar; y la cena a pasear.
(After dinner rest a while, after supper walk a mile)

–Spanish saying

Tea with the stars

On a recent trip to Europe, I stopped long enough in London to have afternoon tea but didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.  In Ireland, I also didn’t have afternoon tea but I did have some very nice lunches in hotels where afternoon tea was served.  I was sooo close!

In Belgium, however, tea is served so elegantly that it may as well be considered a mini-afternoon tea!  Not only is the tea served on a tray with all the necessary fixings (sugar cubes and a slice of lemon in a little ramekin) but it is also accompanied by a chocolate or a cookie!  The most impressive detail, however, is the loose leaf tea (how cute is that teapot strainer?!).

DSC04976 (Small) In fact, coffee and hot chocolate are also served elegantly!  These were served at a concessions counter at an ice rink in Leuven!  Makes me wonder how elegantly they serve hot beverages in restaurants and coffee shops?!

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Hot chocolate (according this article, hot chocolate tastes better in an orange or cream colored cup!?)

Towards the end of my trip, I started to feel the regret of my indecision of not taking the time to experience afternoon tea in Europe.  I awoke from a restless sleep on a British Airways flight where an attendant asked if I wanted to partake in their tea service. I looked around to see what others were having and realized they were having afternoon tea!  Ask me if I was giddy!  🙂

DSC05213 (Small)Oh my, hot tea in a bone china tea cup!  And look at the cloth napkin and white “tablecloth” lining the tray!

DSC05213 (Small) (2)The sandwiches were delicious (top layer to bottom layer): Wensleydale cheese with plum chutney on malted bread, Aberdeen Angus roast beef with English mustard and micro watercress on white bread, and North Atlantic prawns with lemon mayonnaise on oatmeal bread.  The desserts (chocolate eclair, lemon cupcake, and raspberry cream sponge) were only okay but heck, they were so cute and beautiful that I forgave them.  🙂

The warm fruit scone was served with Rodda’s clotted cream and a little jar of Wilkin & Sons strawberry preserves.  I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with scones because it’s hard to find a good scone.  [Digression: My first experience with a scone was on a British Airways flight over 20 years ago.  It was so dry and rock hard that I didn’t eat more than a bite.  An older, white haired gentleman sitting next to me asked if I was going to eat the clotted cream.  He was so happy when I said no and he expertly applied it to his scone which he seemed to enjoy very much.  I’m sorry to say that the best lemon curd or jam in the world cannot save a terrible scone!  Similarly, an excellent scone does not need condiments.  But scones are always served with condiments so I’m convinced that scones are an excuse to eat condiments!]  In this case, I’m happy to report that the scone was decent but I hate raisins so I meticulously removed them before consuming it.  The flight attendant noticed me doing this and offered me another scone, a buttermilk one without raisins!  My goodness, how nice is that?  She said I reminded her of her daughter who “likes” pepperoni pizza but always picks off the pepperoni before eating it.  Made me laugh.

What a happy coincidence that the very last meal I had on my trip was afternoon tea!

And what a nice tea it was! 🙂

“Flying has changed how we imagine our planet, which we have seen whole from space, so that even the farthest nations are ecological neighbors. It has changed our ideas about time. When you can gird the earth at 1,000 m.p.h., how can you endure the tardiness of a plumber? Most of all, flying has changed our sense of our body, the personal space in which we live, now elastic and swift. I could be in Bombay for afternoon tea if I wished. My body isn’t limited by its own weaknesses; it can rush through space.”

— Diane Ackerman, ‘Traveling Light,’ op-ed in the New York Times, 11 January 1997

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!

Japanese friendship tea

The second VTS tea of 2013 was a Japanese friendship tea hosted by Lady MH, complete with a cherry blossom theme that sang, “Spring!”  Can you believe that this was her first time hosting an afternoon tea?!

Lady MH's lovely origami invitation

Lady MH’s  creative origami invitation (Dress code: Kimono optional)

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Setting the stage for the Japanese Friendship Tea

To start, Lady MH regaled us with stories of the Japanese side of her family, including a moving one about her father-in-law who spent time in a Japanese internment camp.  During his internment, he carved wooden birds from scraps of wood to pass the time.  The birds now sit lovingly framed and displayed in the dining room.  His motto was, “Keep moving forward!” which he used to keep himself going and a guiding principle he passed on to his family.  If anyone is a model for that motto, it’s Lady MH!  🙂

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The special wooden birds

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Sunny table setting designed to bring the outdoors inside

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Tea cookie favor: Shortbread cookie with cherry blossom design by Lady P.

How lucky were we, to be drinking tea from exquisite Japanese Sōma-yaki pottery!  Sōma-yaki pottery originated about 300 years ago in Fukushima, Japan and in 1978, it was designated a national object of traditional craftsmanship (from Wikipedia).  Sadly, the Sōma-yaki pottery industry was destroyed in the 2011 tsunami which makes these pieces even more rare and special.  Lady MH received these heirloom pieces from her mother-in-law.

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Tea cup saucer: Soma-yaki pottery is characterized by its green color and blue cracks in the surface glaze. Many pieces have a stylized horse painted in metallic gold. This piece also has a cherry blossom.

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Soma-yaki stylized horse painted in metallic gold at the bottom of the tea cup

Another unique characteristic of Sōma-yaki pottery is its multi-layered structure.

DSC01804 (Large)The double walls of the pottery insulate hot liquids while keeping the outside cool, to prevent burned hands.  A hole is built into the bottom of the outer layer to allow drainage of water when washing.

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The green teas were aromatic and paired nicely with the food courses

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Soma-yaki sugar jar/bowl

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Japanese Friendship Tea menu

clever

I love Lady MH’s clever construction of the menu holder that consisted of an origami crane in front and a pretty river rock supporting the back.  The crane and river rock were glued to a flat mesh platform.

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Meditation miso soup by Lady T. (recipe adapted from Just One Cookbook)

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Japanese Friendship Garden soba noodle salad by Lady S.

Japanese Friendship Garden soba noodle salad
(inspired by the soba noodle salad at the Japanese Friendship Garden)

4 small bundles of soba (buckwheat noodles)

Assorted lettuce  red, butter, romaine, etc.
Cucumbers, sliced thin
Carrots, sliced thin
Green onion, chopped thin
4 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Pinch of toasted pine nuts (optional)

Dressing:
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. vinegar
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. finely minced ginger
1/2 c. salad oil

Mix dressing.  Break noodles in half for easy serving. Follow cooking directions, drain and rinse in colander.  Mix a little bit of dressing with the noodles to keep them from sticking together and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Layer salad ingredients on a small 7″ diameter salad plate in the following order: Soba on the bottom, topped with greens, and drizzled with dressing.  Top with a pinch of pine nuts if desired.  Serve immediately.

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(top to bottom) Mt. Fuji turkey river boats by Lady MH, Kabuki spam musubi by Lady ML, Zen-sational mushroom delights by Lady Henni

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Kabuki spam musubi by Lady ML

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Zen-sational mushroom delights by Lady Henni

Zen-sational mushroom delights
(adapted from Wonder bread Mushroom Appetizer Croustades recipe)

Makes 12 appetizer servings

12 slices white bread
2 green onions or leeks, finely sliced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, both dried* and fresh,  finely diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese
Truffle salt for finishing (optional)

*Rehydrate the dried shiitake and roast them for extra flavor before sauteing

Bread croustades: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut crusts from bread and flatten with a rolling pin until quite flat, about ⅛-inch thick. Cut circles from the bread with a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. (You can cut 2 circles from each slice of bread.) Lightly brush mini-muffin pan with melted butter. Gently press each round of bread into a mini-muffin cup, forming it into a bowl shape. Repeat, making as many croustades as specified in the recipe. Bake about 9 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly, then remove the croustades from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Mushroom filling: Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Melt butter in medium skillet over medium high heat. Cook green onions and mushrooms about 4 to 5 minutes or until moisture evaporates, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with flour and stir well. Add cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

Fill cups and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Serve at least 2 per person.

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Kushisashi (chicken on a samurai stick) by Lady MH.  For the zen centerpiece decoration, Lady MH stacked and glued together 3 river rocks.

Kushisashi (Chicken on a Samurai Stick)
(by Lady MH)

1 chicken breast, cut into marble sized pieces
6-7 in. bamboo skewer sticks
Panko crumbs

Prep skewers the night before.  Skewer, alternating 3 pieces of chicken.  Layer into a container and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Keep layering and cover container and refrigerate overnight.

Lightly dust chicken with flour, shake off excess.  Scramble 3 to 4 eggs in a large drinking glass (large enough to fit the skewers).  Put panko into a pie pan.  Dip chicken skewers into egg, then dredge with Panko crumbs.  Prepare all of the chicken skewers, then get ready to fry.  Fill a large frying pan about half full of oil.  Heat to med. high and start frying.  Cook until light brown, drain.

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Yes, it was as delicious for the eyes as for the tummy!

Scone condiments (lemon curd, Devonshire cream, and clotted cream) by Lady ML

Scone condiments (lemon curd, Devonshire cream, and clotted cream) by Lady ML

sakura

Sakura (cherry blossom) shaped butter pats for scones

Tranquil matcha green tea scones by Lady J

Tranquil matcha green tea scones by Lady J

Tranquil  Matcha Green Tea Scones
by Lady J.

1 8.3-oz. package of Matcha Green Tea Scone mix*
1 c. heavy whipping cream
¼ c. currants
¼ c. walnuts
¼ c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and pour in the heavy whipping cream, mixing as you pour. Mix until the cream is absorbed in the dough. Work dough around the bowl until all dry ingredients are incorporated and dough is already
sticky to the touch.

Place dough on a floured counter; press into 6-inch circle; then cut into 8 pie-shaped wedges. Place wedges on a baking sheet (grease or use parchment paper); sprinkle with sugar (optional) and bake for 20-24 minutes or until lightly brown.  Test by inserting toothpick into center of scone; it’s done if it comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.

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After the scones course, Lady MH asked us to share our favorite quotations about friendship.  On the table was a beautiful Japanese zen meditation bell that has been in her family for generations.  Lady MH instructed us to strike the bell before unveiling each of our friendship quotations.

Zen Bell

Japanese Buddhist Zen bell with a clear lasting tone

Lady MH read her favorite quotation which she received from her friend, Lady S., 30 years ago!  It is something she has cherished since and she wished to pass it on to all of us.

DSC01876 (Small)Lady J. contributed the following quotation: “Friends are special people.  We can’t pick our family, and we’re sorely limited in the number of them at any rate.  Society and mores (and often our own conscience) dictate we select a single mate.  But our friends can be as diverse and infinite as the adjectives we choose.  Our friends, in a very real sense, reflect the choices we make in life.”

Lady ML followed up with, “Friends are the family we choose.”  Great friends think alike, Lady J. and Lady ML!  😉

I surprised everyone with a friendship poem that D. wrote specially for this occasion.  It reminds us that friendship is the foundation of all love.

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Friendship poem by D.

In addition to the special quotations above, Lady KL played a song (theme from Friends), and Lady B. showed us a piece of artwork with a quotation about tea and friendship.  In addition to the sentimental moments, there were some funny moments too, like when Lady MH and Lady T. both simultaneously quipped, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold,” recalling their days in the Girl Scouts.  The exchange of friendship quotations was the icing on a lovely afternoon.  Lately, I had been feeling tinges of regret that I am not able to foster all my friendships on a deeper level but this day reminded me to be grateful for what I do have: I have many friends for which I am privileged to have in my life and I will enjoy and appreciate the moments as they are presented to me.  Thank you, Lady MH, for a memorable and special afternoon tea and for making me reflect on friendship this day!  I’m grateful for your friendship.

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Sakura strawberry dessert by Lady MH and Joyful fruit treats by Lady B.

Sakura strawberry dessert (aka Pink Stuff)
(by Lady MH)

1 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar

Stir together and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until crunchy.  Set aside with 1/4 of mix reserved for topping.

1-10 oz. box frozen strawberries (slightly thawed)
2/3 c. sugar
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
12 oz. Cool Whip (optional)

Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Stir in Cool Whip if using.  Spread the Pink Stuff over the crunchy mix in a 9 x 13 pan (or portion it into individual cupcake cups), and top with remaining topping.  Freeze until ready to serve.

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Origami cranes–we took one home for good luck!

May we all eat, drink, and be merry!

Come and share a pot of tea,
my home is warm and my friendship’s free.”

― Emilie Barnes