Tea tasties: the longer days and sunny afternoons of springtime make the garden a perfect setting for relaxing tea parties – includes recipes

Inger Skaarup

A Teatime Party Has Special Appeal: As Slowly steeping — tea and treat-filled trays beckon, one can forget the hurried pace of spring planting chores and indulge in one lazy afternoon.

It isn’t a lot of work to create a tea table that will leave your garden guests feeling relaxed and pampered. Follow our recipe suggestions for a teatime menu, or use a similar selection of your own favorite treats. Though a tea menu may be rather unstructured, it benefits from featuring something savory along with something sweet. And don’t forget the all-important tea accompaniments, such as sugar cubes or raw sugar, milk or cream and lemon slices.

If you work with your own recipes, be sure they, as the recipes given here, can be prepared in advance, so you are free of last-minute preparations and may devote all your attention to your guests. Also, before your friends arrive, set the table with some pretty china, good silverware and real cloth linens. In keeping with the genteel tea tradition, a garden setting provides a lovely backdrop for the occasion. Gardening guests will love admiring the flower borders from this comfortable vantage point. If the sometimes fickle spring weather doesn’t cooperate, bouquets of flowers can lend garden atmosphere indoors.

When your guests arrive, you’ll be amazed at how easily you have set the stage for friendly chatter and easy laughs. Your friends will want to be invited back to your garden soon.


Makes 48 small sandwiches. 8 ounces plain cream cheese, at room temperature 2-4 T. rose petal honey (recipe follows) 1/2 C. slivered almonds, toasted 24 slices white bread

Combine cream cheese, honey and 1/4 cup of almonds. Spread cheese mixture on half of the slices of white bread, top with remaining bread slices. Cut off crusts. Cut sandwiches into halves, quarters or desired shapes.

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on top of each sandwich. Garnish by gently pressing remaining almonds into the top. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, for up to four hours.


Makes one cup. 1 C. unsprayed rose petals, preferably the fragrant oil-fashioned types 1 C. honey

Rinse the rose petals briefly in cold water; dry in a salad spinner. In a non-aluminum pan, slowly heat the honey until runny. Stir in rose petals with a wooden spoon, cover, and steep over the lowest heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let cool 15 minutes. Pour the honey through a fine sieve into a sterilized jar. Reserve the honey rose petals to flavor ice cream, mustards, baked goods and chutneys. Recipe from Tea: Delectables for All Seasons by Maryjo Koch (Collins Publishers San Francisco, 1995, 80 pp., $15).


Makes 30 sandwiches. 2 whole smoked chicken breasts 1/4 C walnuts, chopped 1/4 t. fresh thyme 1/8 t. fresh garlic 1/2 C mayonnaise Salt and pepper to taste 30 slices of bread, crust removed

Puree all ingredients, except bread, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Spread mixture on half of the bread. Top with remaining slices. Cut each sandwich in half or quarters. Recipe from Tea-time at the Inn: A Country Inn Cookbook by Gail Greco (Rutledge Hill Press, 1991, 224 pp., $24.95).


Makes 4 sandwiches. 6 ounces crab meat, cooked 2 ounces lightly seasoned crime fraiche 1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped (about 1/4 C) 4 slices fresh zucchini bread (recipe follows) Fresh watercress for garnish

Toss crab meat with creme fraiche and chives. Set aside. Thinly slice zucchini bread and remove crust. Spread crab mixture on half of the bread slices. Carefully top with remaining bread slices. Cut in half diagonally; garnish with fresh watercress.

Zucchini Bread

Makes one loaf. 3 eggs 1 C. vegetable oil 2 C. sugar 2 C. grated zucchini 3 C. all-purpose flour 1/4 t. baking powder 1 T baking soda 1 t. salt 1 t. cinnamon 1/2 C. nuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs. Add oil, sugar and zucchini. Sift dry ingredients together; add to zucchini mixture. Stir in nuts. Pour into a greased 9×5-inch pan. Bake for 1 hour or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Recipes from Tea-Time at the Inn: A Country Inn Cookbook by Gail Greco.


Makes 2 dozen 1-1/2-inch mini cakes. ALmond Cake Batter 8 ounces (1 scant cup) almond paste, at room temperature 1/4 C. granulated sugar 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1 t. lemon zest 1/3 C plus 1 T. sifted cake flour

Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 7-inch square baking pan.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the almond paste at low speed to break it up, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar in a steady stream, and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs, one at time, and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the zest. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture from the sides into the center of the bowl when necessary. Lower speed, and blend in the flour until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined. Spread evenly into pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Remove pan to a wire rack until completely cool. Decoration: White Chocolate Glaze 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced 1 T. vegetable shortening 8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Melt the butter, shortening and white chocolate in a bowl that fits snugly over a pan of 120-degree water. Stir until glaze is smooth and liquid.

Using a 1-1/2-inch round cutter, cut out rounds from the cake in the baking pan. Transfer the cake cutouts to a wire rack, spacing them 1 inch apart. Place racks over a jelly roll pan to catch drips when glazing. Ladle about 2 tablespoons of the glaze over each pastry, masking it completely.

When no more glaze remains in the bowl, pour glaze from the jelly roll pan through a strainer back into the bowl, and reheat over hot water.

After all the pastries have been coated, move each pastry gently from its base with a small metal spatula so that any drips are cut from its undersides while the coating is liquid.

Melt the semisweet chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of 120-degree water. Stir 1/4 cup of the remaining glaze into the melted chocolate. Replace bowl over hot water and stir until completely smooth and liquid.

Half fill a small handmade paper cone with the dark chocolate glaze. Before the white chocolate glaze sets on the pastries, pipe several tiny polka dots on the cakes with the darker chocolate glaze. As an alternative to chocolate polka dots, icing flowers may be piped onto top of cakes (as shown in photo).

When the glaze has set, carefully lift pastries, one by one, with a small metal spatula, and transfer them to a foil-lined container. Store, covered, in a cool room up to 1 day. Recipe from Sweet Miniatures: The Art of Making Bite-Size Desserts by Flo Braker (William Morrow and Company, 1991, 354 pp., $25).


Makes 24 to 30 mini cheesecakes. Crust: 1-1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs 4 T. sugar 1/4 t. ground cinnamon 1/4 C. butter


1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature 2/3 C. sugar 3 small eggs, at room temperature 2 t. vanilla

For the crust, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

For the filling, fit a food processor with the metal blade and process cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and let the machine run for another minute until the mixture is smooth.

Carefully press about 1 to 2 tablespoons of crust mixture into each cup of two 12-cup mini muffin pans. Gently spoon about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoon of cheese mixture into each crust. Be careful not to overfill.

Set the muffin tins on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The cheesecakes should be set, but not begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Then place the muffin pans in the refrigerator for two hours. To remove the cheesecakes from the muffin cups, carefully slip a knife between the crust and the pan to pop out the cakes. Store cheesecakes in the refrigerator until serving. Garnish, if desired, with fresh mint or berries.

COPYRIGHT 1996 KC Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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