A Tea Party
images from Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland
Because it was a large gathering, I put out my collection of 1940s American Transferware and Blue Willow teapots and cups in various patterns
orange is her favorite color!
Happy Birthday Gabby!
add fresh herbs such as basil and parsley
can be a light and elegant way to entertain in your home. It is an opportunity to bring out your pretty china and silver, but not necessary to prepare labor-intensive gourmet meals to successfully pull it together. Much of the preparation can be done a day in advance so the morning of the event can be fairly relaxed - set the table and brew some strong coffee and tea. I like to make quiche in various flavors, homemade popovers or muffins and fresh fruit. I offer a variety of teas and juices, and sometimes serve frozen smoothies when children are in attendance. You can add more items for larger groups such as waffles, and if later in the day, a variety of chicken, seafood and vegetable salads. For this morning Tea I kept it light. It was a sunny spring day just after Mother's Day so a perfect time to host a Tea. As inspiration for my tea party, I located artistic illustrations and paintings depicting Lewis Carroll's story Alice In Wonderland. The latest release of the movie sparked my interest. Lewis Carroll certainly seemed ahead of his time in the 1800s with his creative take on life. I used these sentiments when planning my tea party, and tried to bring in some whimsy and fun.
For Mother's Day this year both of my children created homemade gifts for me - Miles hand carved a pineapple-shaped cutting board and lacquered it beautifully! Gabby designed a book of her own photographs, many of which I have utilized in my blog this year. Below is a sampling...
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll . It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures.The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the "literary nonsense" genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre."
a morning tea for twenty five guests
a fragrant way to start the event -pretty purple lilacs
homemade popovers add a nice touch and fill the room with a lovely aroma. A secret - I discovered Ina Garten's popover box mix
sparkling glass, an antique ice bucket and a self-serve bar cart allows the guests to refill their drinks often
these delicious glazed cookies were made by my friend Sharon Burns
a family celebration - a First CommunionWhen the host of a party creates a relaxed yet warm environment you instantly feel at ease. My friend Cheryl has that touch when putting together an event, and it certainly does not hurt that she is a fabulous cook! This past Sunday she and her husband Scott hosted a morning brunch to commemorate their twin daughters' First Communion. I am both the girl's Godmother so the day was very special to me as well. Following the church service, a small group of family and friends convened to celebrate this important passage in Caroline and Elisabeth's life. The food and Mimosas were delicious too!
The Brunch Menu
sugared fruit salad
homemade pancetta and three cheese quiche
penne with pesto
spiral ham with spicy mustard
homemade bread, muffins and bagels
a simple sheetcake with fifteen candles-just what she loves - no fuss and a box cake to boot (Duncan Hines all butter cake mix is my favorite). Beach pails as decoration, shells strewn about, rice paper lanterns and a starfish motif! A look ahead at summer with a weekend-long party with five close friends! For the birthday dinner Gabby's favorite meal - homemade spaghetti and meatballs.
Starfish napkin holders from HELLO JAMES, East Hampton
pique rice paper lanterns with lights usually hung on the outdoor pergola in summer as table decoration
how to make a flavorful quiche
quiche can be made with many different meat, cheese and vegetables. There are two simple rules for making quiche with extra flavor - use fresh herbs and saute the vegetables ahead of time before adding them to the quiche. For this Tea I made three - one ham, asparagus and with gruyere; mushroom and onion with cheddar; and a fresh tomato mozzeralla and basil.
Quiche is simple to make and expecially if you use pre-frozen pie crust in shells. Cook the pie shells in the oven until half done. In a bowl blend three eggs per quiche, 1 cup of milk and fresh herbs, salt and pepper. In the bottom of the pie crust layer thin slices of cheese. Mix your liquid ingredients together and pour into pie shell. Layer vegetables and meats on top and bake for 30 minutes on 350degrees or until brown on the edges. Delicious homemade quiche.
for evening dinner parties and as an accompanyment with other dishes, I sometimes make an onion tart rather than a quiche, which is basically the same but with less eggs and dark carmelized onions, fresh tarragon and gruyere cheese
other thoughts on cooking:
especially during the Spring and Summer months, I opt for fresh in-season herbs and vegetables to build my menu. I often stop into the local farmer's markets to get ideas and use the bounties of the season. Let's face it, most of us are busy so I offer some of my shortcuts to help put together a beautiful event with delicious food, but with ease.
never scimp on portions during this season and it is best to give a variety of optionswith lots of healthy choices and salads
Also in May, I will head over to the infamous New York Plaza Hotel to sample their Afternoon Tea. It has been one of my favorite places over the years and they recently reopened after a long renovation!
Jan's homemade loaves of bread cooling - I featured Jan last May on my first blog post. Check in the archives to see her beautiful pottery
Please check back to this section each week in May as I offer up my favorite places to get a little help from some culinary friends....
there are times I have the time and energy to make it all homemade and other times when I am simply too busy so I utilize the many professionals in the catering business. I sometimes do a combination of both for an Afternoon Brunch or Tea Party and prepare a few of my favorite staple recipes while tapping into the great resources out there. One of my favorite places to get sandwiches and salads that are delicious as well as nicely displayed is at Butterfields Market in New York City.