A Simple Tea for Mother’s Day

Where I live, there is an Antique Flea Market held on the second Sunday of every month. It is huge, several blocks long, under the freeway. Some of the vendors have old books or pieces of furniture. Others have bins upon bins of old flatware. To find matching pieces takes time and a lot of digging. Still others have china or crystal bowls. My guys gravitate to the old knives, or tools or other “guy” collectibles. I like the serving pieces, anything for entertaining or food-related. It’s a fun way for us to spend the morning – a combination Antique Faire and giant garage sell. You never know what treasures you might find. Since the Market is held on the second Sunday, it falls on Mother’s Day each year. This year I have been debating – spend the morning wandering about the Market under the freeway or host a lovely Mother’s Day Tea.

I asked the ladies at work – it was split. I asked Hubby, who said why not do both? I asked Kiddo, who said he would help with the tea party so we could do both. Naturally, the little tea sandwiches really can’t be done a day or two before the tea. I’ve read about different ways to keep the sandwiches fresh, but let’s face it same day sandwiches are always best. Now little cakes and pastries can be made in advanced. With Kiddo’s help, those can be done in an afternoon. The filling for the sandwiches could be made early, with the little finger sandwiches assembled Sunday afternoon. After much though, I’ve put together a menu that my guys can help me to execute with very little effort. This Mother’s Day I’ll be able to enjoy the best of both – a day hunting for new “old” things, and a late afternoon tea. Sounds like the perfect day for me.

I’ve decided to forego the scones, sticking to an assortment of little sandwiches, cute little cakes and some fresh fruit. If you are looking for a more elaborate Tea, may I suggest an earlier post – The Pleasures of Afternoon Tea. Some of the information contained here are a repeat of that over-the-top Afternoon Tea post. I have streamlined things and made the menu much more simplified.

Assorted Fruit Platter serve with Mimosas:
Pink Lemonade Mimosa
Assorted Berries (Strawberries, blackberries and Raspberries)
Mellon Balls (Honey Dew, Cantaloupe and/or Water Mellon)
Grapes and or Kiwi

Tea Service:
Selecting Teas

Tea Sandwiches:
Cucumber-Dill Canapés
Deviled Ham on Mini Croissants
Dill Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Feta, Roasted Peppers and Chive Tea Sandwiches
Red Pepper and Feta Roast Beef Finger Sandwiches

Cakes and Pastries:
Easy Boston Cream Cupcakes
Strawberry Cream Tartlets
White Chocolate Mousse Pastries

I though I would serve a nice, refreshing mimosa and an assortment of fruits as a “first course” to our Mother’s Day tea. This will allow time to mingle while the kettle warms for the brewed teas to follow.

Pink Lemonade Mimosas
1 Can Frozen Pink Lemonade
1 Bottle Pink Champagne
12 Strawberries (or as many needed for garnish)

Mix frozen Pink Lemonade according to package directions in a large pitcher. Chill well.
Chill Champagne.

When ready to serve, pour equal parts lemonade and champagne into a flute glass.

Rinse strawberries well in cold water. Pat with paper towels to dry. Cut a slit in strawberry. Place berry on rim of glass and serve.

Assorted fruits are always a nice touch. You can pick up ready-made platters at your local market or create your own with whatever fruits you like. For Easter, I made a lovely platter. I’ll be recreating the platter on a smaller scale for our Mother’s Day Tea.

****** Selecting the Teas ******

No Tea would be complete without the “Tea”. While coffee can be served, tea is an essential component of the whole “Tea” experience. a4dfdca5f90124c5cce25d28c8c20cdaHosting an Afternoon Tea, be it for two or twenty-two, requires a great deal of thought to presentation. The selection of a menu dictates all that follows while the preparation and presentation of the teas themselves are by far the easiest to deal with. Unless you are a huge consumer of teas, (which I am not) it really isn’t practical to have individual tea-pots with infusers and an assortment of loose-leaf teas in canisters for each guest. Yet you don’t want to brew a large pot of one kind of tea. Besides, in researching tea pots and the proper way to brew, I discovered that, unlike coffee, you don’t brew up a big pot. Tea truly is an individual experience. So how does the home-cook give guests variety? The best way to accomplish this might not be the “correct” way, but it is the easiest both in presentation and the pocket-book. First buy a selection of high-quality teas in bags. Arrange the tea bags in a basket. Fill a nice pot with hot water (for smaller groups, a silver tea-pot would be an elegant touch). Have teaspoons, cups and saucers arranged in front of the basket, flanked by a sugar bowl and milk saucer. Lemons would also be a nice addition, sliced thin and arranged attractively on a small plate or platter. Since there is always the issue of what to do with the bag once the cup of tea has steeped to the desired strength, there are several ways to handle this – one would be to place “disposal” bowls either on the tables themselves or near the tea station. The other would be to have a small, plastic lined basket for this purpose. It’s entirely up to you, to the space available and to where guests are seated (be it low or high). One thing is certain, the disposal bowls should never be with the food. If you wanted to, you could walk among your guests and offer the bowl, then remove it completely from the setting.

****** Afternoon Tea Sandwiches ******

Tea SandwichesThe tea sandwich may take a number of different forms, yet should be easy to handle, and be capable of being eaten in two bites. It may be a long, narrow sandwich, a triangular quarter-sandwich, or a small biscuit round. The sandwich, once made, may also be cut into different shapes using a cookie cutter. Traditionally speaking, the tea sandwich is made using thin slices of white bread that is “sealed” with butter or cream cheese to prevent the bread from becoming soggy. The crust is always removed once the sandwich has been made (unless using a baguette round, rolls or other bread that would make removing the crust impossible) but before serving. Modern renditions of tea sandwiches include breads such as wheat, pumpernickel, sourdough or rye. Fillings should always be kept light and delicate in proportion to the amount of bread.  The Cucumber Tea Sandwich is considered the quintessential tea sandwich. Other popular choices include tomatoes, pimento cheese, smoked salmon, curried chicken and egg salad. The sandwiches may be served closed (topped with a second slice of bread) or open-faced. Variety is the key to a successful tray of Tea Sandwiches. Five or six different sandwiches should more than suffice.

Make Ahead Notes: Cream cheese spreads or other spreadable fillings can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container. Let spreads come to room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches can be assembled earlier in the day, covered plastic wrap and topped with damp paper towels. They can then be placed in a covered container, and refrigerated. Put the final touches such as a pretty garnish just before serving.


Cucumber-Dill Canapés
5 slices white sandwich bread
20 very thin slices English cucumber
½ cup salted butter, softened
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh dill
Fresh Dill Sprigs for Garnish

Using a 1¾-inch square cutter, cut 4 squares from each bread slice. Set aside. Discard crusts.

Place cucumber on paper towels to absorb liquid. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine butter and dill, stirring well. Transfer butter to a piping bag fitted with a very small open-star tip (Wilton #15).

Pipe a decorative border around top edges of each square. Place a cucumber slice on top of each square. Pipe a star shape in the center of each cucumber.

Garnish each with a fresh dill sprig, if desired.


Deviled Ham on Mini Croissants
Deviled Ham
1 1/2 cups cooked ham (about 1/2 pound), chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons onion, chopped
1 teaspoon whole capers, drained
3-4 tablespoons curly parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or your favorite hot sauce, to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse in one second bursts, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Pulse until very well combined, but not quite a smooth paste (some texture here is good). Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld. Serve on crispy crackers or on white bread.

Mini Croissant Sandwiches
12 Mini Croissants
2 Tablespoons butter, soft
12 Green Lettuce leaves

Split croissants open. Spread a little butter on the cut sides, both top and bottom. Place a torn bit of lettuce on the bottom of each croissant. Spread a generous amount of ham filling on top slice. Press top over bottom slice of croissant. Arrange on a serving platter.


Dill Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
7 hard-boiled eggs, chilled
1/4 cup real mayonnaise
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped fine
1/4 cup chives, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon Sweet Pickle Relish
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced Bread – desired type

Chop eggs and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard, dill, chives, and sweet pickle relish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add chopped eggs to mayonnaise mixture. Blend well. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.

Remove crusts from bread. Spread egg mixture on half of the bread slices. Top with remaining slices and cut to desired shape.


Feta, Roasted Peppers and Chive Tea Sandwiches
1/3 cup Red peppers, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Orange Peppers, coarsely chopped
8 slices sandwich bread
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh chives, finely chopped

Core and chop bell peppers. Place in a dry, non-stick pan and saute until peppers are lightly roasted. Set aside until ready to use.

Toast the bread in a toaster, and then, using a round food cutter, cut 2 circles into every slice of bread.

Crumble the feta on each bread round. Top with roasted peppers and garnish with chopped chives.


Red Pepper-Feta Roast Beef Finger Sandwiches
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
¼ cup Feta cheese crumbles
¼ cup finely chopped roasted red pepper, divided
10 slices white sandwich bread
15 thin slices deli roast beef

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and heavy cream. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add feta cheese and roasted red pepper, stirring until incorporated. Set aside.

Using a serrated bread knife, trim crusts from all sides of bread slices. Cut each slice into 3 rectangles, approximately 3 x 1½ inches.

Spread approximately 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture onto each bread slice. Ruffle a slice of roast beef on top of half of bread slices. Top with another bread slice, cream cheese side down.

15 blanched long fresh chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped roasted red pepper

Garnish each sandwich by tying a blanched chives around it and topping with a piece of red pepper.

****** Little Cakes and Pastries ******

Boston Cream Cupcakes
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
4 Eggs
1 Stick of Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 mini muffin cups with paper baking cups. Set muffin tin aside until ready to fill.

Melt butter in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave. Let butter cool to room temperature without solidifying.

Empty boxed cake mix into the bowl of a stand-up mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until just blended. Add butter, mix for 2 minutes. Spoon batter into muffin cups.

Bake little cupcakes for about 15 or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in tin for about 5 minutes. Remove little cakes from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

To Assemble Cakes: Remove cupcakes from paper baking cups. Cut each cupcake in half crosswise using a serrated knife.

Spread 1 rounded tablespoon filling on bottom halves. Place tops back on filling.

Spread or pipe 2 teaspoons ganache over each top. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Remove from refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving to allow cakes to warm slightly).

Vanilla Cream Filling
1 (4 serving size) package instant French vanilla pudding & pie filling mix
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon water

Combine pudding mix, heavy cream and water in medium bowl. Whisk 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down onto pudding. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow mixture to thicken and set.

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Heat heavy cream in small saucepan on low heat until hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat.

Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Let stand 5 minutes before using.


Strawberry Cream Tartlets
1 orange
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
¼ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
24 Tartlet Cups
8-10 strawberries, sliced

Use a vegetable peeler to cut 2 strips of orange peel about 3 inches long and about 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide, avoiding the white pith.  Set peel aside until ready to use.

Add peel with milk in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to the boil over medium heat. Once milk has been heated, remove and discard orange peel.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Whisk in flour. Pour hot milk on egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return mixture to a clean saucepan, and stir with a whisk over low heat for about 2 mins, or until mixture bubbles and thickens. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir mixture occasionally. Once mixture has cooled to room temperature, cover surface with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator to cool completely.

Spoon custard into the pastry shells and top with a strawberry slice.


White Chocolate Mousse Pastries
1 Package (10 oz) Frozen Puff Pastry Shells
6 Squares (1 oz each) White Chocolate
1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream
1 Square (1 oz) Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
Raspberries for garnish, if desired

Bake and cool pastry shells according to package directions.

In a microwaveable bowl, heat white chocolate and ¼ cup heavy cream on high for 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring halfway through heating process. Stir until white chocolate is completely melted. Cool to room temperature, approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, chill a bowl to beat remaining cream. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. DO NOT OVER BEAT. Fold half the whipped cream into white chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whipped cream just until blended. Spoon into pastry shells. Drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Refrigerate 1 hour. Top with raspberries if desired for added color just before serving.


Here’s to wishing you a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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