Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tea Party Anyone?

Last week Saturday it was my turn to host our new 'round-robin' tea party. There were 6 of us ladies for tea. My close friends know that I am not comfortable entertaining in my home, so having 5 people over is near anxiety-attack producing. As you can see, I survived. I think it was a fun party. I know I stressed way more than necessary and I can't wait to do it again. I even ran across a site that advocates having three friends over for tea and invite one extra person who is a practical stranger to you, so that you can get to know her better and introduce her to your friends. That's nice. I'd also like to have some people from my knitting group over for a relaxing evening of tea and knitting. That would be so lovely!

In case you're wondering, here was my tea party menu:

Tea Sandwiches:
1) Cucumber with Italian cream cheese on white bread
2) Roast beef with Gorgonzola cheese spread and spring greens on multi-grain bread
3) Chicken salad with cranberry mayonnaise on Hawaiian sweet bread

1) Cream scones
2) Blueberry
3) Orange Cranberry

Served with sweetened thick whipped cream, lemon curd, and ginger preserves

1) Lemon Loaf
2) Chocolate raspberry brownies
3) Fresh strawberries and seedless red grapes
I think there was one more, but I can't remember now.

1) Assam
2) Jasmine Green tea

I must have checked out about 12 books on tea and tea parties from my local library in preparation for this party. It was fun reading all those books but I didn't use a single recipe from any of them. I wound up getting the recipe for the Italian cream cheese online, but I modified it to my taste. It involved mixing a portion (to taste) of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix into a 12 oz. tub of whipped cream cheese, then adding one peeled, grated and thoroughly drained cucumber. I let this mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. For my Gorgonzola cheese spread, I took 4 oz. of crumbled Gorgonzola and mixed in 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, minced dried onion, dried parsley flakes and pepper, to taste. I also let this sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors develop. This sandwich also tastes amazing with thin slices of fresh pear. For the chicken salad, I cooked the chicken breasts in my pressure cooker with some onion, carrot, and seasonings. When cool, I diced them and mixed in some mayo (not too much) and celery, then seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. I mixed canned whole berry cranberry sauce with mayonnaise for the spread.

I learned that day old scones can be refreshed in the toaster oven for 3 minutes and taste like they just came out of the oven! My kids prefer the maple scones I've been making (see picture below, recipe in previous post) and that's the only reason I had any left after the party. That's okay...more for me!

Did you know that you can make tea concentrate if you're planning to serve tea to a bunch of people? It's so easy and tastes great! Here's how:

Add 1/2 cup (dry measuring cup) of loose tea leaves or 12 tea bags to one qt. water (4 cups) at the correct temp. (boiling for blacks & herbals, gently steaming for green tea-170 degrees). Steep black tea and herbals for 4-6 minutes, green tea for 2–2.5 minutes. Strain or remove the leaves. Don't squeeze the bags or leaves as this will produce a bitter brew. Use 2 tablespoons of tea concentrate to make each cup of hot tea, using hot water, not boiling and 3 tablespoons per glass for iced tea. Makes approximately 25 cups. Keep in a covered container in the refrigerator. Don't worry if your brew appears cloudy. This will go away when you add hot water.

Come on and dust off those beautiful tea cups you've got languishing on a shelf and invite some friends over for tea! Even if you just make a cuppa for yourself, it will uplift your spirits and relax you. You're worth it.

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