May I Suggest A Mother And Daughter Tea?

May I suggest a Mother And Daughter Tea?  Some of the most endearing moments of being a woman, are the intimate tête–à–tête moments between mother and daughter.  Such moments often occur at any time: over a casual cup of coffee, shopping together, a lunch, a birthday–even a short ride in a car.  

Photography Shirley Byrd
Photography Shirley Byrd

In the U.S., there is an official day to honor and celebrate Mother’s Day, and an unofficial day to celebrate daughter’s day.  But I say, any day you’re alive is a good day to celebrate the relationship between mothers and daughters.  Do it with a special tea! 

Setting Up Your Own Mother And Daughter Tea occasion can be up scale or simple or somewhere in between.  It can be for a late morning, lunch or afternoon.

To Create A Basic or Somewhere in Between Tea Occasion

Here’s a list what you’ll need to create a successful basic or somewhere in between tea occasion:

Click to enlarge image.
Click to enlarge image.
  • A plan with a schedule is really critical!
  • Number of guests and invitations
  • A Menu (see menu ideas below)
  • Tea (see how to make a pot of tea at the end)
  • Arangement of flowers for a centerpiece (Optional: add several bud vases with a flower that become a take away gift for your guests)
  • Chinaware to include a lovely tea pot, tea cups and saucers
  • Flatware to include teaspoons and butter knives
  • Servers (three-tier or cake plate/platter), sugar and creamer, and a small bowl if you are serving plotted creme 
  • Linen to include cloth napkins and tablecloth

I always like to have sufficient small plates for just the tea sandwiches and then another for the dessert

 

If you want to serve a grand finale, which I highly recommend, serve a beautiful cake or a fabulous torte.

I promise you, there won’t be a crumb left!

To Create An Upscale Tea Occasion

To create an up scale mother and daughter tea or any tea occasion, follow the list above.  But here is where you break out the fine china ware, the sterling silver flatware, and the very best linen. Definitely include a statement bouquet of flowers.  Your menu items may even be more elaborate.  Without a doubt, I strongly suggest a three-tier tea tray.  Use the very best and elegant tier tray your budget can afford. In short, pull out the stops.

Styles And Where To Buy Tea Sets, China and Flatware

When it comes to styles, you won’t be disappointed with the wide range of designs from the very traditional to contemporary and minimalist to Asian, material contents and price points.  You can go with a very traditional style and purchase so that every piece matches as a unified collection.  Or just have a lot of fun and create a tea collection that is eclectic, such as different tea cup designs.  

White there are so many designers and companies to choose from, here are just a few to get you started:

Wedgewood Butterfly Bloom Teapot
Wedgewood Butterfly Bloom Teapot
  • Royal Albert of England for the traditional flower patterns in fine china. The company has been around since 1904 and the selections are simply divine. 
  • Lenox ™ carries beautiful fine china tea sets in the traditional floral and butterfly patterns to the solid colors for the more contemporary look.
  • A. Raynaud & Co from France offer an exquisite limognes collection 
  • Wedgewood Tea & Teaware, since 1759, offers a selections tea china that is simply to die for!!  You’ll find selections from the traditional to the traditional patterns with modern interpretations to contemporary.

Replacements, LTD is a company that offers an extensive selection in finding replacements pieces for china, crystal and silverware, old and new. You will need to know the brand and pattern name.

Menus Ideas

One of the fun activities for a mother and daughter tea is deciding what to serve.  A classic serving will of course include a tea often black or green.  Herbal teas are also available.  But frankly, I must say black is the first choice with green coming in second.  Why waste a perfectly good tea occasion with a herbal tea.  Okay, I’m probably just a tea snob!!

Want to know how to make the perfect pot of tea?  Start with instructions from Yorkshire Tea, U.K.  There are of course instructions on the box of tea bags, which I would recommend.  If using loose tea, The Tea Spot is a great site that even breaks down how much to use based on the type of tea.

Next high on the menu list should be scones, jam and clotted cream. In the U.S., clotted cream can be difficult to find, especially when you don’t live in or even near a big city.  I did find a wonderful recipe on All Recipes.com for a ‘mock’ clotted cream.  It was labeled easy clotted cream but that’s simply not the case.  I made it and followed a reviewers suggestion to strain the sour cream over night.  I loved it.

Ingredients for a mock clotted cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar 

Preparation:  Using a wish attachment on the mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Remove from mixer.  Hand wisk in sour cream and confectioner’s sugar until just combined.  Store in refrigerator.  

 

Tea sandwiches and pastries are an absolute must.  Your choices are huge and will depend on your taste.  Here is what I had included in my mother and daughter tea party above.

  • Vegetable Medley (from MyRecipe.com): thinly sliced cucumbers, summer squashes and radishes on *white bread. Bread should be buttered then add a layer of mayonnaise. Arrange vegetables on bread, slice to form two triangles and top with salt and coarse white pepper.
  • Egg tea sandwich: Sliced hard boiled eggs.  Cut bread into rectangle about 3″ long for (for 3 slices of eggs) and 1-3/4″ wide.  Butter top of the bread and one side.  Add a layer of mayonnaise to the top.  Dip the buttered side into finely chopped curly-leaf parsley. Top with sliced eggs, add salt and coarse white pepper.
  • Smoked salmon: Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out a piece of white bread (or try a lovely wheat bread).  Top with butter, then mayonnaise, smoked salmon and garnish with dill.  Or try a garnish of thinly sliced of the part of a spring onion.
  • Miniclub sandwich (idea from Traditional Home magazine, May 2001): Generously butter sliced white bread; spread mayonnaise on both top and bottom slices.  Layer bacon, lettuce, tomato, and turkey on one slice.  Add the top bread layer. Cut each sandwich diagonally in quarters to make four triangles.  Use a decorative tooth pick if needed to hold the sections together.  I had used garnished each section with spouts.

Unless you’re a pastry chief, I strongly suggest that you go to a good bakery and buy a cake and pastries until your heart’s content.  As you can see, I had purchased petite fours and a chocolate torte.  I had planned on baking scones (even had dry ingredients already mixed) but ran out of time and found myself dashing off to Starbucks!

*A note on the bread:  use thin sliced bread and always, always, always slice off the ends!  Did I stress this enough?  So now you know my second pet peeve on tea occasions.

Blog Post Wrap Up

I so hope you enjoyed this blog post on mother and daughter tea parties.  Don’t wait just for mother’s day or some special occasion.  Make any day you’re alive a special get together over tea.  Have fun and dress the occasion if you like.  What’s the fun dress attire?  A lovely dress, an adorable hat and white gloves.  Okay, in the U.S., white gloves may be a bit over the top depending upon where you are (home, a friends or some lovely swanky place.)  However, if the spirit moves you, do it!!

But If you have never experienced a tea occasion, first go to an upscale hotel that serves tea, particularly those in major cities, such as New York, Chicago and Washington D.C..  Admittedly, even some upscale hotels can be wanting on serving a good tea. (I must decline to name the one that comes to my mind.) If you’re fortunate enough to travel to England, don’t miss an opportunity to go to tea.  You’ll find many excellent places for tea. (Perhaps some of my English readers would be wiling to name one or two places?  On please do!)  I can also suggest, the Ritz Carlton at Pentagon City in Washington D.C.  

Please do feel free to share your experiences in having had a mother and daughter tea
or any other occasion you took to have tea.

Comments can be left in the little boxes below!

XoXo
Shirley

A Perfect Way To Crush Ice In A Blender

Annsliee Frosty Margarita
Annsliee Frosty Margarita

It’s really quite easy to perfectly crush ice in a blender when you know the right steps:

  1. Drop ice cubes into the blender glass.
  2. Let them rest for 5 minutes.  A tiny bit of moisture or melting will occur.  This will aide in giving friction with the blades once you start.
  3. Pulse using the chop setting about 5-10 times depending upon how many ice cubes you add.
  4. Pour in your flavor content, such as alcohol mixture.
  5. On chop setting, blend until all ice cubes are completely crushed.

Some Important Notes:

  • On Blenders:  If you are in the market for a blender, get one that has a narrow glass base.  The blades will better push the content up into the glass. This better circulates the content upward.  A wide base glass allows some content to settle under the blades.  Thus, it is necessary to frequently stop and using a wooden spoon manually stir up the content under the blade to above the blade.  Very annoying.  
  • How much Alcohol to use:  Because you will be using lots of ice, you may need to add extra alcohol than what your recipe calls for.
  • First chill your glass(es) and your alcohol.  This will really keep your drink chilled.

How I made my Frosty Margaritas

I used 35 ice cubes and 3.5 ounces of a margarita mix per 10 ice cubes.  My glasses and the alcohol mix were pre-chilled.  I lined the rim of the glasses with lime and dipped the rim into coarse salt.  Following the steps above, I used a Jose Cuervo Golden Margarita ™ mix.  This approach turned out to be a bit pricey.  This is a wonderful margarita mix that includes Grande Marnier(r).  But the frosting really required a lot of the mixture, at least for my taste.  Generally, I just shake the mixture in ice in a glass jar and then strain it into a rim salted martini glass.  When frosting, I think I would just make the margarita from scratch.

Cheers:)!

Know of a better way?  Or know another trick to crushing ice in a blender?  
Please do share.  Would love to hear from you!

Dressing Up The Little Brownie Dessert

annsliees.com brownie dessert 
annsliees.com brownie dessert 

When I think of brownies, it often conjures of images of my grandmother taking a tray of them out of the oven.  I was the little girl who sat waiting for brownies to cool.  Such images, I suspect, is probably most common:  little fingers of children eating brownies.   Thank goodness, images of the little brownie has grown up for us grown ups!  

Here’s one of my versions of dressing up the little brownie for a classy dessert–worthy of white tablecloth and and napkins.  I use a light brown brownie recipe loaded with nuts, pour a ganache or dark chocolate syrup over brownies and add raspberries.  

Brownie Recipe

1/2 cup (113 g) salted butter
1 cup (202 g) granulated sugar
2 raw eggs
3/4 cup (116 g) white flour
3 TBS (19 g) power cocoa
6 TBS (1/3 cup) half-and-half, fat free
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (or some other nuts of your choice) 

Directions

Preheat oven at 350 degrees (176.67 C).

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add flour, cocoa, half-and-half milk, salt, and vanilla.  Blend thoroughly.  Stir in the chopped nuts.  With parchment paper, line a 8 x 10 inch or 8 x 8 square inch glass baking dish.   Spread brownies mixture in the dish.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Dressing Up Notes:  

Here are some other ideas for dressing up the little brownie:  

  • Sprinkle powdered sugar over the brownies
  • Add a little more nuts on the top 
  • Add other types of fruits such as strawberries
  • Garnish with a few mint leaves
  • Add chocolate sauce or syrup decoratively on the plate 
Estimated brownie nutritional value
Estimated brownie nutritional value

 

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS AN ESTIMATED NUTRITIONAL VALUE FOR ONE SERVING SIZE (696 G) AND IS INTENDED ONLY AS AN ESTIMATE. 

 

BON APPÉTIT

If you’re looking for a quick, decadent dessert, you don’t have to pass up the little brownie.  Make it yourself.  Or you can just buy them.  Either way, why not dress them up!  

If you liked this post, please do let me know.  Share with a friend too!

Following A Reader’s Tip On Rachel Khoo, The Cook

I love it when my readers leave me a tip on something new or something I didn’t know existed.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on Apartment Living: Shedding My Kitchen Snobbery, my silly lament on apartment living with a tiny kitchen.  Rosalind, from Rosewarne Gardens (a landscape and design planting company in the U.K.) left this comment:

My goodness for small kitchen wonders you must watch Rachel Koo’s first few series in her Paris ‘restaurant’ which is in fact her tiny flat, she can stand in the middle of the kitchen and touch all the walls. It has incredibly basic equipment and yet she turns out mouthwatering cuisine. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01dy7yt

— Rosalind of Rosewarne Gardens

So off I went to find Rachel Khoo.  It’s been an exciting adventure for me to learn about Ms. Khoo.  I couldn’t get to the BBC programs. Thank goodness for the internet.  Indeed, Ms. Khoo had a tiny, tiny kitchen living in Paris.  There, she made her name for her wonderful meals, and there she was able to produce her first cook book, The Little Paris Kitchen.  Although she still has her Paris apartment, she moved to London where, as she puts it, “Paris is not good for business, it’s not international enough.  France is very traditional, whereas London is really dynamic, people  take risks.”  

In demonstrating that the size of a kitchen isn’t important, Ms. Khoo illustrates that creativity, dedication and skills of the cook is what makes the difference for a beautiful and delicious meal.   As for me, I’ll be following Ms. Khoo for one of her recipes on some of my favorite foods.  You may even see a dish on one of my Monday Eats series, like her lemon kurd dish.

Psst, If you get the Cooking Channel TV, you may be able to see one of Ms. Khoo’s episode Wednesday 9:00 am ET.  Or you can check out her website Rachel Khoo.  

Thank you Rosalind for this wonderful tip!

Have you heard any great tips lately on tiny kitchens and cooking?  Oh, please do tell!

Apartment Living: Shedding My Kitchen Snobbery

Recently, I bought the movie  “Julie and Julia.”  I had seen it before but decided I wanted to own the movie and watch it again and again.  Have you seen it?  If not, it’s excellent with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.  It’s a true life story of two cooks:  Julia Child and Julie Powell.  Julie takes on a self-made challenge of preparing 524 in 565 days from Julia Child’s book called, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961).   Julie Powell blogs about her experience as she completes each dish.  The blog is noticed by The New York Times and gains the attention of a growing audience. Even if you hate to cook, the movie is funny and refreshing.  The acting is excellent, earning a long list of awards.

from denoxa.com
from denoxa.com

One thing that fascinated me was the small kitchens that both cooks had to deal with, especially that tiny kitchen in which Julie made fabulous dishes.  As I sat through the kitchen scenes, it began to occur to me that I had become a kitchen snob

You may already be aware that I had downsized from a three bedroom home with a gorgeous garden to a two bedroom apartment with a screened in porch.  No, I did not have one of those humongus $100,000 kitchens where the pantry can outdo the closet space of an average apartment bedroom–or the living room.  My previous home had a somewhat small kitchen but with 42″ cherry cabinets, full height granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, etc, etc.  And I loved it with as much love I had for cooking and testing healthy meals. 

my former kitchen
my former kitchen

The apartment I now live in has been upgraded although it is still a very small apartment kitchen.  Still, I do have a nice kitchen, although the range is has an electric oven.  (Sorry folks, I hate electric ovens and I guess I’ll never get over that.) So my snobbery had focused on what my small apartment kitchen didn’t have, especially those small kitchen cabinets.  

What also occurred to me was that while I love to cook, I had simply stopped making so many of the lovely dishes I used to make.  Instead, I ate junk food, bought oven-ready, quick-cook packaged meals–not necessarily healthy meals.  

My kitchen snobbery got in the way of the pleasure I had in cooking: the challenges; lovely trips to fresh food markets; learning about and trying new foods; browsing and shopping in kitchen stores for new small appliances and kitchen gadgets; the excitement of trying out a new recipe or just an old one; and most of all, sharing a lovely evening with friends over a well cooked, beautifully presented meal that I had made.  

The wonderful thing about life, for me, is I can change that.  So stay tuned as I start to share with you more of my adventures in apartment living to include what’s going on in the kitchen: from making a dish and drinks to menus to kitchen tools and resources to more table setting ideas.  

If you are wondering will I try to repeat the challenges of Julie Powell, NO and again NO.  That was truly courageous.  I do hope to inspire those of you who love to cook or would like to give it try but live with the limitations of a small apartment kitchen to not be deterred by the size or even lack of amenities in it.  Great cooks, even good cooks do it every day.  

First Stop for me: shopping online at Sur La Table for a new mandolin slicer and getting my camera ready!

HOWEVER, this adventure will be much more exciting
when you share your in the kitchen adventures.  Hope to hear from you.