Afternoon tea. Your Grandmother’s lace tablecloth. Delicate bone china cups. Tiny sweet & savory treats. The essence of refined elegance. Classic. Timeless. Almost a lost art. The Brits had it right by having tea & a nosh in the late afternoon everyday. Sort of signals the end of another day. With the evening meal still impending, a nice way to segue from day to-night. Fill the tummy with something light and yummy until a proper meal arrives.
I think its high time (no not the magazine, though it’s still an entertaining read :O) to bring back this little afternoon ritual. Though really tea can be served any time of day. Not a hurriedly gobbled lunch, nor a show stopping dinner, or an over the top cocktail party, a “tea” falls somewhere in between. When one thinks of a tea, they almost always think of ladies. Not so anymore. Feel free to invite as many men as you’d like. Not only will the conversation (and the company) be better for it, they too deserve a bit of pampering now and again. Trust me, they will enjoy it as much as your girlfriends, maybe even more. So dust off the china cups, polish the silver and press your best lace tablecloth and napkins and prepare to spend a leisurely afternoon returning to a time and place when the world moved at a slower pace. Just be sure to turn off the Mac & iphone. 🙂
So whether it’s a tea party in the garden, a cozy gathering around the fire or just quiet afternoon with friends here is my idea of the ideal tea. Grandma never thought tea could be like this. Though she might be pleasantly suprised.
Assemble a nice assortment of teas. My current favourite being Trader Joes Candy Cane Green Tea. Its yum! Though I had a tea in Beverly Hills at The Mosaic Hotel that was simply exquisite. When I go back next week I plan on asking them for some to bring back! The tea bag was in the shape of a pyramid with a small green leaf at the top. Not mention it was one of the smoothest english breakfast teas I have ever had. I digress. Heat or have a large kettle of hot water and a few tea pots or just individual cups. Set out lemon, sugar, honey and a small pitcher of milk. I am partial to soy milk myself. If your making tea in a pot, be sure to heat the pot under warm running water first, add your tea ball of loose leaves or tea bags. Fill with not quite boiling water and steep. A tea cozy serves the purpose of keeping the tea & the pot warm, so if you have one, by all means use it!
The goodies can be as varied as you’d like. A nice mix of sweet and savory works best. Forget the idea of cucumber sandwiches and scones this is a brave new world. New decade too, so get adventurous. So here is my idea of the perfect afternoon “Tea”.
The Nibbles ~ The Savory
I like to start with a small “shooter” of a super smooth soup. In this instance a Fresh Tomato w/ a drizzle of basil oil. Gets the palate awake and ready for whats to come.
Tiny tea sandwiches of : Prosciutto/ Fig & Arugula w/ smooth and creamy goat cheese on baby brioche buns. I have also done the baby brioche w/ fig jam & a slice of foie gras terrine.
Stilton & Pear w/ sweet cream truffle honey butter on whole wheat.
Smoked Salmon & Asparagus w/ lemon mayo on crostini.
Baby Cheese Scones w/ watercress/ cream cheese & grapes
Tiny puff pastry rounds w/ caramelized onions & sweet ham
Won Ton Chips w/ ahi tuna tartare/ avocado/ wasabi crema
The Sweet ~
Assorted Macaroons : chocolate/ almond/ vanilla
Summer Berry Tartlets
Dark Chocolate Coffee Truffles
Toasted Tea cakes w/ clotted cream & strawberry jam
Dark and White Chocolate Florentines
Now you have the perfect assortment of savory/ creamy/ crunchy/ crispy/ smooth/ sweet/ delicate and rich. If that doesn’t guarantee a good time I don’t know what will. And lastly , always I repeat, always have a few bottles of ice-cold bubbly at the ready. Splurge on the good stuff. Veuve Clicquot being a sure thing. It pairs perfectly with the sweets and it can only help to improve the mood! There doesnt it feel good to pamper yourself and your guests. Just remember to put on your pearls.
Since to include recipes for everything would be rather tedious, I shall include my recipe for baby brioche buns. The rest being rather self-explanatory.
Baby Brioche Buns:
2 1/2 cups ap flour
1 tbsp gran. sugar
1/2 tsp sel
1 tsp yeast
5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
veg oil for greasing
Sift dry ingredients. Whisk together wet. Incorporate in to the dry. Make a soft dough. Knead 5 minutes. Use a little more flour if to sticky. Place in a greased warmed ( run under hot water first & dry) bowl. Brush the dough w/ veg oil. Cover bowl w/ Saran wrap. Let rise 1 hour. Turn dough out and knead briefly. Form into 12 small ball. Lightly spray a mini muffin tin. I like to place a small piece of parchment paper in each tin. Making sort of “cup”. Place dough balls in each tin. Wrap w/ Saran and let rise 30 minutes. Brush the tops of each bun w/ milk or cream . Bake @400 degrees for about 15- 20 minutes. Let cool. Split and fill. If you want to use them for something sweet .. sprinkle the tops w/ demarra sugar before baking.