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(l-r) Scones, gougeres, (partially hidden) crab rangoons, madeleines, peanut butter kisses with Dove chocolates.
When serving buffet-style as is necessary for a group too large to sit at one's table, it's helpful to make sure no one finds it too difficult to handle both a cup and saucer, and a small plate. Other than teaspoons for stirring their tea, guests shouldn't need to cope with flatware. So foods need to be truly "finger foods" and not messy to eat.

Traditional sweets at a tea include scones (at an English tea) and madeleines (at a French tea). Russian teas might have little Russian Tea Cakes (also known in the US as Italian Wedding Cookies). Madeleines, shortbread, the wedding cookies, and other small, non-crumbly cookies can be purchased in most supermarkets.

Here is the scone recipe I used. I made the dough the evening before and refrigerated it, making sure the butter in it would stay cold. I baked them the next morning. (I found this on Allrecipes.com, submitted by "Donna"). I added the currants.

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, very cold and cubed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup golden raisins or currants

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the cold butter until it is the texture of small peas.

Mix the milk and egg in a small bowl, and stir into the flour mixture until combined but not smooth. Stir in the golden raisins.

Divide the mound of dough into two pieces for ease of handling, and turn one at a time out onto a floured surface. Knead very briefly (or fold over in thirds upon itself) and pat into a rectangle of about 4"x8", about 1/2 an inch thick.

Mark and cut the rectangle into 8 squares and set upon the cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes until just golden brown.

If you wish to refrigerate them overnight, don't bring them up to room temperature before baking. Making sure the butter is still cold is a key to light and fluffy scones. Don't handle the dough too much, either. The dough can also be frozen, before adding any fruits or nuts. Bring it to just barely room temperature but don't defrost in the microwave!

Serves 16.


 
 
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Tea cups, tea pots, and a rosy Eiffel Tower centerpiece are the stars of the table.
It's been a long time between posts, and I apologize. However, this topic is the first compelling subject I've had to write about in all this time!

Recently I decided to host a tea party in my home as a fund-raiser for an organization that is dear to my heart. The Syracuse Symphony's demise meant that our SSA (the volunteer organization that supported the symphony) would need to reinvent itself. Over the course of the last year, we've changed our name and our bylaws, and our mission. But there had been no major fund-raising activities other than two luncheons for our members.

So as a beginning, I thought a more personal and intimate group setting would work to launch our new mission. Hence, a Valentine's tea party.

It also helped that I've discovered the joys of drinking tea! Until just a couple of years ago, I scorned any kind of tea, including iced tea. Now I drink a variety of types of tea, all the time. Imagine!

I was able to find in my possessions enough vintage teapots and teacup sets, silver and silverplate, luncheon dishes and silverware, and linens, to accommodate about 15 guests. I invited 22 ladies who are personal friends of mine, however in the end only 12 were able to attend. Several who did not attend were gracious and sent donations anyway.

I designed the invitations myself, printed them out and mailed them about 3 weeks ahead of time.

My house is small, and frankly, I can't imagine what I was thinking when I anticipated 22 people in these tiny rooms! I created seating for 15, and it was tight. But everything looked so cozy, filled with antiques and soft colors and fabrics, fresh flowers and glinting silver!

I worked for a week polishing silver, but your mileage may vary! If you own silver or silverplate, no doubt you keep it shined much more frequently than I do!

The menu was an eclectic mix of French dainties like gougeres (cheese puffs), madeleines (shell-shaped sponge cakes), store-bought dainty cookies, and English favorites like scones with Devon cream and strawberry jam. Of course there were several kinds of tea, including Vanilla Chai, Irish Breakfast, and Green Tea. And there were sugar cubes, honey, and cream.

Savories included crab rangoons, chicken and ginger salad on puff pastry, and crostini with ham and mustard.

Valentines cookies (peanut butter cookies with Dove chocolate hearts) and chocolate candies also appeared.

Although there were few leftovers, I gave them away to my "helpers" in thanks. I did not want to be tempted to devour them myself!

Guests received their donation receipts in thank-you notes within a few days. The fund-raiser was very successful and netted over $250 for the Association's mission of supporting music education in Central New York. Future fundraising activities include a champagne party, a taco party, and another tea party. Members of the Association are motivated!

I am posting some recipes in a separate blog entry. I am also posting some photos taken at the tea party!
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Dainty Treats for a Valentine's Tea Party