Do it yourself tea party:
Ridiculous tea pot
Ladies to outnumber the gentlemen
Hats or sun-brellas if required
Pretty and small nom-noms
Quality black tea
Once you have checked off all items on the list- you may read on: I will focus on pretty and small nom-nom advice, and you can read Best Cup of Tea Ever for comments on tea.
When making tea party fare use all the flavor you can and be creative! You should still be able to taste the tea and so may want to stay away from overpowering tastes: curries, spice or smoky tastes should be light and minimal, so that they do not monopolize your mouth.
Some general preparation pointers:
Cut the crusts off the bread. Tea parties are indulgent affairs: this is no time for crust.
Make sure to spread butter, margarine or cream cheese on your bread first so that the bread doesn’t get soggy, if you’re using a dressing or wet vegetables (like cucumbers).
Make larger sandwiches and wrap the sandwiches tightly in saran wrap and chill. Then, cut them into one or two bite pieces.
Cutting is easy while they’re still in the wrap. There is a note about assembling the wrap bites below.
You may want to prepare the dressings and the fillings the day before, so that they can set up for flavor, and you can even assemble the sandwiches later at night and leave only the cutting to an hour or so before tea. That way, you can feel nice and relaxed during.
Mix and match your fillings. It makes things easier to prepare and ensures that you will find a favorite.
Garnish! It helps if your garnish is actual usefully, but anything that will help dress up your plate is necessary.
Our wraps and such were filled with:
Smoked Salmon with Cucumbers, Arugula dressing, Wasabi Horseradish dots
Smoked Salmon, Arugula dresing, capers
Swiss Cheese, Arugula dressing
Watercress, Waterchestnuts and Watercress Creamed Cheese Spread.
Goat Mozzarella, Cucumber, Arugula dressing
Cucumber, Watercress, Arugula dressing
Waterchestnuts and Watercress Spread:
1 bunch of watercress, stems trimmed, and chopped to bits.
1/2 cup chopped, cooked, waterchestnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced to a paste
1-2 stalks fresh oregano, leaves pulled off and chopped (probably 1 tsp dried)
1-2 stalk fresh thyme, prepared the same way as above (about 1 tsp dried)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup cream cheese (whipped if you can find it)
salt, black pepper,
Direction: Combine. I also wanted to roast pine nuts, but had some difficulties procuring the particular ones I wanted. Its too complicated to explain, really.
2-1/2 C baby arugula, washed and dried
1 lemon, juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
Direction: In a hand blender, process all the ingredients.
Wrap Bites Assembly:
Lay a tortilla flat and top with the smoked salmon, or cheese leaving about an inch of space at the end; when you roll a tortilla tightly, the filling tends to move downward. Add watercress or cucumber and top with the dressing.
As tightly as possible (using a straw laid lengthwise might help you get a well distributed grip) start rolling the wrap. Seal the end with margarine (there’s no point in wasting butter) or cream cheese, if using. The more filling you use, the rounder the roll will look. You can also make the roll square or flatter.
Wrap the roll as tightly as possible using kitchen plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
While still in the wrap, cut the roll into about two-inch wide pieces using a very sharp knife. Our page on fish prep warns not to use a serrated knife on raw fish- the same applies for smoked salmon: it may pull out your salmon and ruin the roll.
Keep chilled and covered until serving.
Place a colorful assortment of sandwiches on a nice chilled platter.
*The arugula dressing was adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe for Arugula Mayonnaise I used from the Foodnetwork.com