Celebrate Friendship with a Spring Luncheon

Celebrate Friendship with a Spring Luncheon
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A spring luncheon is the perfect way to celebrate friendships and rejuvenate our spirits. You can take the old fashioned idea of a simple tea and lunch and modify it to reflect the personalities of your dearest friends. These dishes can be prepared ahead and served at the table starting with soup and tea bread and ending with dessert. You can also set it up as a small buffet, and scatter rose petals and candles among the dishes on a table where guests serve themselves. This would also make a wonderful baby shower buffet. Finally, you can gather your ingredients and recipes, then invite your friends over for a hands on luncheon where everyone pitches in and you visit while cooking!
Regardless of how you serve the dishes at your luncheon, the end result is an afternoon of relaxation, accented with the beauty of herbs and friendship.

Tomato and Herb Soup

2 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
extra basil leaves, whole
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk

In a large pot of boiling water blanch the ripe tomatoes for 10 seconds. Cool slightly and peel off the skins. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds and chop. In a large saucepan, cook the onion in the olive oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Spoon 3/4 of the mixture into food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Return to pan, add the basil and milk. Simmer until JUST heated through. Stir in chives and divide into bowls. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf. Makes 6 servings.

Thyme-Rosemary Tea Bread

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix in the thyme and rosemary and set aside. In large bowl, mix egg, sugar and oil with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until combined. Add in milk and blend well. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into a buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when tested.Brush with melted butter, remove from pan and serve warm with additional butter.

Herbed Chicken Salad

2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped

2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
Spring lettuce mixture

Stir mayonnaise, lemon juice, milk, mustard and pepper in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in herbs. Add chicken, celery and almonds. Stir gently to mix. Line a platter with the spring lettuce (one small bag will be plenty) Place the chicken salad in the center of the platter and arrange the pansies around the edges. Note: Pansies, nasturtiums and violets are edible. Whether you buy them or use your own be sure they are chemical free.

Orange Iced Tea

6 oranges, washed
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
4 cups black tea, chilled
ice cubes
fresh mint sprigs

With sharp knife, cut peel from one orange in a spiral motion so it's all one piece. Cut spiral into 6 long narrow strips; set aside. Slice peeled orange and 2 unpeeled oranges into a large bowl. Add sugar; crush with large wooden spoon or bottom of a glass until sugar is dissolved. Add water; crush the slices again. Let steep 15 minutes. Strain the mixture and combine with the tea. Fill glasses with ice cubes and add tea. Garnish by twisting reserved peel around straws or dropping in the ice tea with a sprig of mint. 6 servings.

Sponge Cake with Raspberry Sauce

6 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon or orange peel
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cake flour
2/3 tsp. salt

1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease and flour the bottom of a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan. Sift flour and salt. Set aside. Break eggs into a large bowl. Add lemon juice and grated rind. Beat at high speed with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 12-16 minutes. Add sugar to egg mixture in a fine stream while beating eggs for about 2 more minutes. Change to lowest speed and add flour mixture. Scrape sides and beat for 30 seconds. Pour batter into pan and bake 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Place pan upside down on cooling rack, but do not remove cake until cooled.

Sauce: Combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water; stir to make a smooth paste. Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in sugar, raspberries, and cornstarch mixture; bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool. Cut the cake into slices and top with sauce. You can sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and top with chocolate shavings for an extra touch.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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