Posts Tagged ‘tea party’

British High Tea Party: Part 3

June 1, 2009

BREAD PUDDING

The bread pudding is where, in my opinion, the entire menu becomes complete. It uses the crusts from all of the bread and the rest of the whipping cream and some simple readily-on-hand ingredients to make a fluffy and delicious bread pudding – which is still very much in keeping with the theme of British high tea. With the amount of bread crusts I had accumulated, I was able to make two casserole dishes of bread pudding. This recipe is based on one from MomsWhoThink, but I’ve doubled it and replaced the raisins with dried apricots. Also, you need a total of 4 cups of liquid, so I basically used the rest of the whipping cream and used milk I had on hand to replace the rest of the liquid. I keep skim milk at home, so that’s what I used. Also, the receipe on MomsWhoThink calls for an extra sauce to add on top. I skipped it and the pudding was still moist, perfectly sweet and had a great balance of flavor from the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients:

½ cup whipping cream (or whatever you have left from the scones)

3 ½ cups milk (whichever kind you have on hand)

1 stick butter (cut into slices)

1 ⅓ cups sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon nutmeg

6 cups (approx) bread crusts

6 eggs

¼ cup dried apricots diced

Special Hardware:

2 1.8L baking dishes*

*If your baking dish is slightly deeper, you will end up with a more moist bread pudding.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Use some of the butter to lightly grease the baking dishes, and then arrange the bread crusts into them. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk until just simmering. Add the butter and stir until melted. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slowly add the milk mixture, only adding a little at a time at first to avoid curdling the eggs. Pour half of the egg and milk mixture over each baking dish filled with bread. Sprinkle half the apricots over the bread as well. You can use raisons or any other dried fruit if you like. I just prefer apricots. Bake 45-50 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, but serve warm.

TIPS ON SERVING TEA

While I highly enjoy a cup of good tea, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an expert just yet. I tend to stick with more basic selections such as English breakfast or Earl Grey. So, to help me make the harrowing decision of what to serve at my party, I headed to McNulty’s Tea and Coffee Company in the West Village. Walking into the shop is a wondrous experience. The earthy aroma of tea and coffee is the first sense to hit you as try to take in the varieties of teas kept in clearly labeled clear jars and burlap sacks. While the variety can be a bit overwhelming, it is also most certainly impressive. And the friendly, knowledgeable staff will answer your questions, taking you from one jar or sack to the next, waiting while you smell each tea and make your decision.

For the party, I settled on Assam tea – a stronger full-bodied tea with a “malty” flavor. It is actually used in a variety of blends including English breakfast and Early Grey (though the distinguishing factor for the latter being the bergamot oil). Assam tea is pretty typical for a high tea. I also wanted to serve a milder and less well-known tea. For this, I was pointed toward Golden Nepal tea. It has somewhat fruity notes and is not over-powering. It also has a bright reddish-golden color when it is brewed.

Serving tea to a large group can be difficult to manage. I recommend investing in a set of tea mugs where each mug has a different color or pattern. That way, guest can easily identify their mugs. Also, in terms of logistics, this is what worked for me:

  1. Measure out about 6 mugs of water and pour into a large pot. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  2. Add the loose-leaf tea (about 1 heaping teaspoon per mug) and let sit for a few minutes and then pour into a serving jug, using a sieve during the transfer to remove all of the tea leaves.
  3. Heat the next pot of water over medium-low heat. This way you don’t have to wait so long when you are ready to make the next batch. You can do two pots /jugs at a time for the two varieties of tea. If you do this, make sure you can identify which jug is for which type of tea.

Remember to keep out some milk, sugar and lemon so your guests can decide how to make their own tea.

Since this post was a 3-parter, I won’t add much else, except to say Cheers!

British High Tea Party: Part 1

June 1, 2009

Don’t you just love when things come together? You know, those days when your friends come over and you can just sit around, enjoy a bottle of wine and sample some new culinary ambition that you pray turned out delicious (and somehow, magically, it did). But sometimes, cooking for friends requires a lot more planning. Enter: the perfect menu for a British tea party! The thing I love about this menu is that it all comes together and I’m not left with any random ingredients that I’m going to struggle to figure out how to use up in the next week before they go bad. I guess that it partially has to do with using a lot of basic items, like bread, cheese, milk, etc. But still, it’s so satisfying! I recently used this menu for party of 25 people. The menu and recipes follow:

Menu
Cream Scones

Selection of finger sandwiches:
-Egg & Cress
-Cucumber & Mint
-Apple & Boursin

Bread pudding

Selection of Teas:
-Assam
-Golden Nepal

Champagne


CREAM SCONES
The recipe I used here comes from the Joy of Baking website. Making these scones was a brilliant idea. I have tried scones in all types of bakeries in New York and have yet to try any that are as close an approximation to what I used to have in England (If you know of any good ones, please let me know in the comments section. Though not available for takeaway Alice’s Tea Cup serves some excellent scones). They came out golden on the outside with a creamy, flaky center. Yum…

The recipe below makes about 12 – 14 2.5 inch rounds. I made two separate batches for the party. If you too plan to make them for a large group of people, I recommend measuring out the dry ingredients the day before and storing in the refrigerator. That way your ingredients will remain cold longer into the process (especially if you sift the flour), and you can save yourself time the day of the party by having it ready to go. Likewise, I would cut the butter into small cubes and store in the refrigerator.

My recommendation is serve them with clotted cream or butter, and lingonberry jam.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour (and a little extra for kneading)
¼ cup granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup

Special Hardware:
A 2.5 inch cookie cutter
2 silicon mats or parchment paper
2 cookie sheets

Directions:
Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°. Mix the dry ingredients together (if you haven’t already) and then add the butter and the wet ingredients. If you have a pastry blender, add the butter first and then knead in the wet ingredients. If not, then just add all at once and knead together until just combined. You don’t want to over mix. Flour your surface and your rolling pin, and roll the dough into a 7-inch round. Use the cookie cutters to cut out your scones. Twisting the cookie cutter through the dough supposedly helps them to rise higher. Place the scones onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with either parchment paper or silicon mats, positioning them a few inches apart. Brush the tops with a little bit of the cream. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Let them cool before serving.