My friend Gregg has an adorable daughter named Simone decided to come spend the weekend with us. Chris just adores Simone so Gregg and I like to get them together for play dates. I suggested to Chris that we have a tea party and he became very excited. We spent two days planning the menu, changing our minds and deciding what to do. Since the weather is so hot I decided to do as little baking as possible. Except for scones, you just have to have scones.
Here is the menu:
- Huckleberry tea and Earl Grey tea (Chris’s favorite)
- Sassy Water
- Cucumber, Pickle, and Egg salad finger sandwiches
- Apple Cinnamon Scones with clotted cream
- Caramel brownie bites
- Fresh fruit
The tea party was a hit and the food turned out great. The sandwiches can easily be made ahead of time but try to bake the scones fresh, they were so good fresh out of the oven. Over the next week I will share and link to the recipes outlined above.
First tip- When planning your menu keep in mind who your guests are, Greg and Simone are vegetarians but they will eat cheese and eggs occasionally, Simone is also only 7 years old so I didn’t want to make anything with complex flavors or too unusual. I thought the pickle sandwiches would be her favorite but she couldn’t get enough of the cucumber ones and of course the brownie bites. I had water and apple juice in case she didn’t like tea but she loved the Huckleberry.
Planning the Menu – Well before the party outline your menu, and make a list of recipes. I often find that I have way to many desserts or sweet treats that I plan on making. By outlining my menu I am able to limit myself and see how all the foods fit together. Don’t try too many new, complicated, or unusual recipes. Keep it simple, my specialty is desserts and I always have 2-3 choices but have learned to make only 1/2 a recipe or single serving sizes so I don’t have as many left overs. After the menu is set, I print out each recipe and make the shopping list.
Prepping for the party – Go shopping a day or two before the party. It never fails when I go shopping I come up with several new ideas such as the brownie bites above (Originally I was going to make a strawberry trifle). Lay out your printed recipes and set the ingredients next to the recipe. Prep as much as you can the day before. If I am baking I will measure the dry ingredients and put them in containers so it is one less thing to do the day off. Chop vegetables and mix what you can. Wash the dishes so every thing is clean and ready the day of. When possible I like to make up as much of the food as I can the day ahead. The cucumber spread, egg salad, and Brownie bites can easily be made the night before. You do want to allow enough time for them to at least chill in the fridge.
Setting the table – When choosing what dishes I use I think about how much time I will probably spend in the kitchen doing the dishes. I save old butter and yogurt containers through out the year and use those in my prep so the day of I can just throw them out. They are also nice if guests want to take home left overs. I have no problem using paper plates, just buy the nice ones so they hold up better. Since there were only 4 of us I brought out my best china, silver, and depression glass.
The china is a set my Father bought for my Grandmother when he was in Vietnam. I remember seeing the set in my Grandmothers china cabinet but I never remember her using it. When she died much of it was still in the original boxes, wrapped in what looked to be the original paper. I thought it was sad that such a beautiful set was never used and possibly enjoyed. It reminded me of an episode of Little House on the Prairie. The mother got a set of china and packed it away for a special occasion. At the end she served dinner to the family on the china and said special dishes are for special people. I loved that idea and am always looking for excuses to pull out my special dishes. Over the years some have broken, chipped, and become scratched but the memories I have of the special people will always be there. They have helped me create memories instead of collecting dust. So I encourage you to surprise your loved ones by pulling out those special dishes and make a simple dinner or lunch an event.