Celebrate spring with a tea party in your garden! Nothing says "garden party" like having afternoon tea outdoors on a warm afternoon when your garden is in bloom. You can also celebrate in other outdoor spaces, including balconies, and even supplement the garden feel with an armful of flowers from a farmer’s market or found along the roadside.
Check your china closets for some dessert plates, cups and saucers and of course a big teapot in a flowered pattern – they don’t have to match, in fact a different pattern for each person makes a lovely table or invite each guest to bring their favorite teacup with them. You will also need linens, silverware and serving trays and you’re ready to set the table. While a crisp white tablecloth with crisp white napkins is elegant, pretty paper tablecloths & napkins are also a great choice!
For a classic English afternoon tea consider three courses – savories, scones and sweets. Generally I serve soup or salad, 3 plates of tea sandwiches (combos of triangle or finger sandwiches around edge w/pinwheels in center or plate of sandwich rounds or filled phylo cups) and 3 sweets plus an individual dessert (teacake). Serve light fare with fresh herbs, fruit and veggies in abundance. Teas should be served either hot or iced. It is nice to serve fresh brewed ice tea, embellished with fruit or mint leaves, with the savories and then a relaxing cup of hot teas with the scones and sweets. Remember to use loose tea for the best flavor and try some different varieties or blends. Spring is coming, so show off your garden and schedule your tea party now.
These recipes generally are for 12 guests:
CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP: Sauté 4 peeled & seeded cucumbers, 1 chopped Vidalia onion and 2 minced garlic cloves in 2Tbs oil for 5 minutes until onions are transparent. Stir in 2 c vegetable or chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until cucumber is soft. Transfer vegetables to food processor with 1/2c liquid and process until smooth, then stir in 1/2 c chopped DILL and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours. Stir in 1/2 c half & half before serving and garnish with dill sprigs.
LEMON-PECAN SHRIMP SALAD: Combine 1lb cooked shrimp, 1/2 c pecans and 1/2 c diced celery in a food processor and process to form small chunks. Place shrimp mixture in bowl and add 2 tsp lemon zest, 2 chopped green onions, 1tsp fresh DILL and 1/4c mayonnaise to hold mixture together. To serve: Place in a small cup and add cracker butterfly (2 whole & 2 cut half’s) with green onion top antenna.
AFRICAN MINT TEA
3Tbs green rooibos
Brew in boiling water then strain and add cold water to make 1 gallon and chill. Serve iced with lemon slices or mint leaves.
Any of the following filling combinations can be used between bread and cut into shapes (triangles, fingers or rounds) and decorated on the edge with fresh herbs or nuts. If I use bread for all, I use different breads for each of the three sandwiches. They can also be spread on flour tortillas, rolled up, wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight, then cut into 1”serving pieces. They can also be used to fill phylo cups (available ready to use in the frozen food section) to serve & garnished.
CHEDDAR CHUTNEY: Combine a (9-ounce) jar mango chutney, 2c grated Cheddar cheese and 4oz cream cheese, then season with salt and pepper.
PINEAPPLE-ALMOND: Combine 8oz softened cream cheese, 1 can drained crushed pineapple and 1/4c chopped toasted almonds. Great with raisin bread.
CHICKEN SALAD: Combine 2c cooked chicken, 1/4c mayonnaise, 1/4c finely chopped celery and 1/2c chopped red seedless grapes, season with salt and pepper and refrigerate overnight.
CRAB PARTY SPREAD: Cream together 8 ounces softened cream cheese, ½ cup mayonnaise and 2 ounces grated cheddar cheese. Add 1Tbs HERB SPRINKLE, 1tsp Worcestershire sauce, a dash of salt & pepper and a 6 ounce package of frozen crabmeat, thawed and drained.
HAM SPREAD: Blend 8oz cream cheese, 1tsp HERBAL ESSENCE, 2Tbs mayonnaise and 2Tbs sweet pickle relish, and then add 1 finely diced apple and chopped thin ham slices.
CARROT RAISIN: Combine 8oz softened cream cheese with 1/2c shredded carrots and 1/2c golden raisins.
DEVILED EGG: Hard boil a dozen eggs, shell and cool. Chop other eggs and combine with 1/2c mayonnaise, 1Tbs prepared mustard, 1Tbs GOURMET HERB SALT, 6 chopped olives and 1/2tsp paprika.
DILLY CUCUMBER: Peel and dice a cucumber, then salt and set aside to drain overnight in refrigerator. Blend 8oz cream cheese & 1tsp DELIGHTFUL DILLY and add drained and blotted cucumber.
Serve two hot teas – one plain and one flavored, caffeine free.
OVER THE RAINBOW
2Tbs red rooibos
1tsp orange peel
To brew: use 1 heaping tablespoon for a 4-6c pot of tea or 1tsp for a cup. Steep in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, strain and enjoy!
LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONES: Combine 2 c flour, 1/3 c sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in 8Tbs butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add grated zest from a lemon and 1/2c blueberries. Combine an egg and 1/2c sour cream or yogurt until well blended, and then add to dry ingredients until they are moistened. Knead on floured surface until dough holds together. Divide dough in half and pat out each into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6 wedges. Place on greased baking sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with a combination of 1/4c quick oats, 1/4c brown sugar. 1Tbs melted butter and 1Tbs flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 mins. or until golden brown. Let scones cool a bit before drizzling with the lemon glaze of juice from a lemon, 1Tbs melted butter and as much powdered sugar as it takes to make a drizzling consistency
EASY LEMON CURD: Combine zest of 3 lemons and 1/2c fresh lemon juice in a 4-cup microwave safe bowl. Whisk in 3 eggs, 1c sugar and 1/2c melted butter until well blended. Heat in microwave for 1 minute then whisk again and repeat 3 times so that it has cooked a total of 4 minutes. The curd will thicken and puff as it cooks. Cover and chill in fridge where it will keep for a week
DOUBLE ORANGE SCONES: Combine 2 c flour, 1/3 c sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in 8Tbs butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add grated zest of an orange and 1/2c chopped mandarin oranges. Combine an egg and 1/2c sour cream or yogurt until well blended, and then add to dry ingredients until they are moistened. Knead on floured surface until dough holds together. Divide dough in half and pat out each into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6 wedges. Place on greased baking sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 mins. or until golden brown.
ORANGE BUTTER: Beat 1/2c butter until light and fluffy; stir in 2Tbs orange marmalade.
FESTIVE BERRY SCONES: Combine 1c whole wheat flour, 1c all-purpose flour, 1/2 c sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in 8Tbs butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1/4c raspberries and 1/4c blueberries. Combine an egg and 1/2c sour cream or yogurt until well blended, and then add to dry ingredients until they are moistened. Knead on floured surface until dough holds together. Divide dough in half and pat out each into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6 wedges. Place on greased baking sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 mins. or until golden brown.
DEVONSHIRE CREAM: Beat 1c heavy cream past creamy but before butter! Blend in 1c sour cream, 1tsp vanilla extract and 1/2c powdered sugar. Chill and serve.
ORANGE-COCONUT BALLS: Mix 1 c graham cracker crumbs, 2 c powdered sugar, 1/4 c frozen orange juice concentrate and 1/4c melted butter and refrigerate 10 mins. Roll into 1 inch balls and then roll in coconut.
BASIC THUMBPRINTS: Mix 1c butter, 1/2c powdered sugar and 1tsp vanilla until fluffy then add 1/8tsp salt and 2 1/4c flour. Refrigerate for an hour. Roll dough into balls then place on greased cookie sheet and press centers with your thumb to make an indentation and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 mins. Cool and then fill with jam or jelly.
Lemon-Coconut: Add 1/2c shredded coconut and 1tsp lemon zest
Filling: lemon curd
Orange-Rosemary: Add 2tsp orange zest and 1Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
Filling: rosemary jelly
EASY PETIT FOURS: Spread a combination of 4oz mixed berry cream cheese spread and 1/2c powdered sugar between vanilla wafers. Dip in melted chocolate and then top with additional spread, half a strawberry and then drizzle with additional melted chocolate.
MINT MERINGUES: Combine 2 egg whites, 1/4tsp cream of tartar and a dash of salt and beat until soft peaks form. Add 2/3c sugar gradually and beat until stiff. Add 1Tbs mint, green food coloring and a 6oz pkg of chocolate chips. Heat oven to 325. Drop cookies onto greased sheet, place in oven and turn off. Leave overnight.
BASIC TEA CAKES: Combine 1 cake mix and 1 1/2c combined liquid then whisk until just mixed. Pour into lined muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins.
CHOCO-RASPBERRY TEA CAKE: Combine 1 1/2c raspberry yogurt and add to a German chocolate cake mix with 1c mini chocolate chips. Half fill lined muffin tins, add seedless raspberry jam and top with batter. Cool and ice with buttercream.
GLAZE: drizzle with chocolate ganache and garnish with fresh raspberry
ROSE-STRAWBERRY TEA CAKE: Combine 1c vanilla yogurt and 1/4c rosewater and add to a yellow cake mix with 1/2c chopped rose petals. Half fill lined muffin tins, add strawberry preserves and top with batter. Cool and ice with buttercream.
GLAZE: drizzle with white chocolate ganache and garnish with a sugared rose petal
LEMON-THYME TEA CAKE: Combine 1c vanilla yogurt, 1/4c honey and the juice and zest of a lemon and add to a yellow cake mix with 2Tbs lemon thyme leaves. Half fill lined muffin tins, add lemon curd and top with batter. Cool and ice with buttercream.
GLAZE: drizzle with white chocolate ganache and garnish with lemon zest
“Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
I Peter 4:8-9