I recently hosted an afternoon tea for a few of my girlfriends so we could while away a beautiful fall afternoon with savory treats and warm conversation. Unlike the expansive displays at tea houses like Lovejoys or Samovar, all you need are a few sandwiches and scones to create a lovely meal and everything was easy to put together.
Normally, the events I host are light on decor since I’m usually focused on food. However, afternoon tea must be a civilized affair, so a proper table was necessary. I took this opportunity to use a few things I had amassed over the years, including a cheery table cloth I bought from a grandmother in Óbidos, Portugal and a set of Paris themed plates I found at a local vintage store. I don’t own a tea service so I threw in a hodgepodge of mugs and used my handy french press to brew the tea.
The menu consisted of the following:
Blue Hill’s Egg Salad Sandwich
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwich
Buckwheat Scones with Fig and Apricot Butter – served with plum jam
Simple Spring Mix Salad
Lemon Verbena Tea (A gift from meandfrenchie from the south of France)
With the exception of the scones, everything was easy to prepare and assemble. I’m looking forward to having future tea parties. Anyone have recipes they can suggest?
Blue Hill At Stone Barns Cafe’s Egg Salad is one of the best egg salad’s I’ve ever had and would gladly walk through fire for a small bite. This yummy recipe by Dan Barber was given to me by the GM there and I am posting it here verbatim.
6 Stonebarn Eggs
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 and 1/2 shallots, diced
3 tablespoon chopped chives
1 and 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 8 minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready, and when the eggs are done cooking, place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so — long enough to stop the cooking.
Crack and peel each egg and finely chop. (Don’t worry if the egg is a little runny.) In a medium mixing bowl, combine chopped eggs with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
(My notes: If you can’t find crème fraiche, you can try sour cream or greek yogurt. Obviously, if you don’t live near Stone Barns to get their fresh eggs, any eggs from your local grocer will do! Also, based on the cooking instructions, I’m assuming that the eggs were at room temperature before cooking. At Blue Hill, the egg salad sits atop a baguette half as an open faced sandwich but I made mine daintier with regular sliced bread. The recipe is enough to fill three sandwiches made from regular sliced bread, which I then cut into fourths.)
Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese is as easy to assemble as it is to eat. All you need are: your favorite smoked salmon (I got mine from Trader Joes), cream cheese, capers, and thinly sliced red onions.
Assembly: Take two slices of bread and spread a thin layer of cream cheese on both slices. Sprinkle a teaspoon of capers(drained) one slice. Place a layer (or two!) of smoked salmon on top and finish with a few slices of the red onion and put the other slice of bread on top. Cut off the crusts and slice the sandwich into four finger sandwiches. That’s it!
Buckwheat Scones with Fig and Apricot Butter. This earthy recipe is too long to reprint but is adapted from “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce. You can find the recipe by clicking here. The recipe calls for 100% fig butter but I adapted it by using a 50/50 ratio of dried apricots and dried figs at my friend’s suggestion. The fig butter is the most time consuming part but can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. I highly recommend making the butter in advance.