Well, I haven't had any yet, so I can't very well take more.
August 20, 2009 12:29 PM   Subscribe

What are some of the most delicious, unique, and relatively easy to execute foods for a Tea Party?

I had Tea at The Peninsula in Chicago a little while ago and was impressed by their spread.
There was a quiche in a pastry shell, a few sandwiches (one with tomato jello!), an awesome souffle, and a handful of interesting desserts.
I'm already a huge fan of tea and have a decent collection and, inspired by The Peninsula, I'd like to host my own tea party.

I'd like finger-food sized sweet or savory recipes that are relatively easy and not too time consuming (hopefully nothing that requires setting out over night or beating for an hour)--but at the same time something that will make people say "wow."
posted by simplethings to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Scones! (I haven't tried this specific recipe, but will vouch for the general deliciousness of the cranberry-orange variant.)

The tomato jello was probably tomato aspic, if you're interested in recreating that.

You really can't wrong with pretty much any sort of sandwich if you remove the crusts and cut them into triangles. A curry chicken salad (or curry egg salad) on nice bread would be pretty and flavorful as a filling, and simple enough to make that you could devote some extra time to a few more effort-intense dishes.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:41 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, crusts removed and cut into quarters. That's my favorite! Tomato and brie sandwiches are tasty as well. If you want to be fancy, use wheat bread for one side of the sandwich and potato bread for the other.
posted by idiotfactory at 12:43 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Gah. "Can't go wrong," of course. And I should also say that I make no claims about that tomato aspic recipe - it was just at the top of the Google results.

Oh, and another sandwich that's easy to make and remarkably delicious is ham or turkey, cheese, and chutney.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:45 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: Cucumber sandwiches should be made with butter, not cream cheese, she said snippily.
Good call on using two breads though. Also you can use cookie cutters to make circles or other shapes if the classic rectangle is too dull. (Salt the sliced cukes briefly to avoid soggy tea sandwiches.) Watercress sandwiches and smoked salmon are also traditional.

Gougères will rock your world if you've never tried them. So easy. So good. And good done ahead.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:02 PM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've been holding on to this Prosciutto Dijon and Gruyere Puffs recipe for just such an occasion. I haven't had a chance to make it myself yet, but I trust the source, and they look fantastic. They also look super easy to make.

For dessert, you could make mini bite-sized cheesecakes topped with fruit, because they're easy, pretty, and delicious. You could make a big pan, cut it into small square and serve them in individual paper cups, like this, or you could bake them in mini muffin tins, like this.

Oh! And these Parmesan Thyme Crackers! Again, easy to make. You can make the dough several days ahead of time and just slice and bake them the day of. Plus, they're delicious :)
posted by geeky at 1:13 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you mean afternoon tea, or high tea?

The former is pretty much sweets-only in my experience. You might have extremely small savouries, like cucumber sandwiches.

High tea is a light dinner. Toast is usually involved, as is a cake as a centrepiece. Dainty mashed sardine sandwiches are always a hit.

Scones are pretty much essential in either case. Incredibly quick, too. But adding flavours and fruit (beyond the occasional sultana) is, well ... just not done.
posted by scruss at 1:31 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: As far as quiche recipes go, this onion, cheese, and bacon tart recipe has endured me overcooking it, changing the fillings, and throwing the egg/dairy ratio together by eye. I've also had it room-temp at a picnic, and it was pitch perfect.

I am not crazy about the crust recipe, though; Never Fail Pie Crust 2 really never fails, despite it's eponysterical numbering, and doesn't even need to be rolled out. Just nix the sugar for this savory application. If you have a favorite pie crust recipe, use that, or you can even just buy the ready-to-bake crusts from next to the canned biscuits.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:31 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: A tip for making tea sandwiches: put the bread in the freezer for a while first, which makes it much easier to work with. Soft thin bread at room temp can get rather raggedy looking after the all the handling, spreading, cutting, crust-trimming.

Another tip, can't remember where I picked this up: after you make the tea sandwiches, cover them tightly in stacks in wax paper, then put a damp paper towel on top of the wax paper, until just before you are ready to plate/serve. Otherwise, the very second the cut edges are exposed to air, the bread will start to get hard.

I did a tea menu for a party a couple of weeks ago and the most popular sandwich by far was this recipe: cream cheese, softened, mixed with a bit of dill, spread lightly on dark pumpernickel, topped with smoked salmon. AA+++ would make again.***** We also did a very simple salad of roasted chicken tossed lightly in a bit of mayo, bit of sour cream, with green onions and some curry and black pepper, on white bread.

I love pimiento cheese (homemade, please!) sandwiches at tea too. This is a good list of inspirations for sandwich fillings.

Second the gougères recommendation.

If you aren't much for the cooking, there are an infinite number of things you can do with a simple box of puff pastry to make lovely little hot savories. Little ham puffs with a sprinkling of Gruyere. Or buy an herbed cream cheese like Rondele and spread that inside. Then whatever you fill it with, give it a quick egg wash on time and bake at 350° for 10 minutes or till golden. So easy.

Petits fours are beautiful at tea but not that easy to make (in my opinion anyway).

If you get scones, you must also serve strawberry jam and clotted cream.

I want afternoon tea now!
posted by pineapple at 1:41 PM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

an egg wash "on time"? What?

On top, I meant.
posted by pineapple at 1:43 PM on August 20, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the delicious answers so far!
posted by simplethings at 2:32 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: Vol au vents - I like mushroom vol au vents but there are plenty of fillings. You should be able to buy the pastry cases pre-made in the frozen section of a good supermarket.
Mini sausage rolls - I buy frozen puff pastry and good quality pork sausagemeat (or sausages, then remove meat from casings) then add onion to the sausagemeat.
posted by Joh at 5:39 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: Macaroons!
posted by djgh at 7:18 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: I just had a smoked salmon sandwich made with goat cheese on one slice of the bread, herb aioli on the other, thin-sliced red onion, and capers on toast. Not sure if that would be more effort than you're looking for, but it was delicious!
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:29 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: These odd little quiches at Orangette are very easy and very good (lots better than they sound from the ingredients). I didn't have tomato paste, gruyere or creme fraiche on hand and used salsa, swiss cheese and yogurt instead and they turned out just fine. I had to make them again the next day because the pack of teenagers who were visiting ate them all and the adults didn't get any. I haven't tried them in regular muffin tins buts those silicon ones work really well.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:22 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Earl grey cookies. Bonus points for using Chicago-based Argo Tea's "Earl Grey Creme" tea for them. Best Earl Grey ever.

Martha's are good.

Also: Prosciutto pinwheels. Take a piece of waxed paper and make a big rectangle with sheets of prosciutto. Spread mascarpone cheese in a thin layer over this. Layer fresh basil leaves over the top. Roll up. Stick in the fridge to chill. Cut into pinwheels. Easy easy.
posted by IWoudDie4U at 10:53 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Tested the Gougères and Prosciutto Dijon and Gruyere Puffs recipes over the weekend on a few friends and they were a huge hit. The Gougeres were definitely the favorite.
Although, one of my friends hates prosciutto and couldn't stop eatting the puffs.

Thanks again everyone! I'll keep playing with all your suggestions!
posted by simplethings at 7:36 AM on August 24, 2009

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