A Comforting Tea Party

A Comforting Tea Party

A Comforting Tea Party

By Renee Van Hoy

Pamper yourself, your family and friends with these home and hearth-warming recipes, perfect for cool weather entertaining. Whether it's warm from the oven Orange Bread Pudding, or Butternut Ginger Tea Bread topped with Maple Pumpkin Butter, this menu will be a delight to prepare and serve.

-Pots of cinnamon tea and mulled spiced cider with cinnamon stick stirrers

-Place cards made on leaves

-Small pumpkins scooped out and filled with flowers for the table

-Jars of maple pumpkin butter so that your friends can take the comfort of your home to theirs

THE MENU

CINNAMON VANILLA SUGAR TEA TOASTS : Cinnamon toast comes for tea, elegant and easy.

Wedgwood Floral Tapestry Tea Saucer SPICED PECANS: Delicious caramelized pecans can be made up to a week ahead and kept tightly sealed (and well hidden) until served.

BUTTERNUT GINGER TEA BREAD: A beautiful golden loaf, perfect with Maple Pumpkin butter. It can be made 1 week ahead and frozen.

MAPLE PUMPKIN BUTTER: You will want to eat this by the spoonful. It is quick and easy to prepare, and the maple syrup gives it a wonderful flavor. The butter can be made well in advance and kept chilled for several weeks.

OATMEAL CHERRY CHIP COOKIES: Oatmeal cookies elegant enough for a tea. They can be made several days ahead (if they are not eaten right away!)

ALMOND COFFEE CAKE: Perfect for the busy hostess, this is a no fail cake that comes together in a snap. It can be made 1 day prior to serving.

BAKED RAISIN RICE KUGEL (PUDDING): My mom's rice pudding, this bakes into a firm pudding that can be cut into squares. It can be a dessert or a sweet addition to your main meal. The pudding can be prepared one day ahead.

ORANGE BREAD PUDDING: This is a fragrant, custard pudding, rich and delicious, a real treat. It can be prepared up to 4 hours before serving.

Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar Tea Toasts

Brew a pot of cinnamon tea to serve with these little tea sandwiches. Be sure to include a cinnamon stick to stir the tea.

List of Ingredients

· 8 slices of firm white bread, cut into triangles and lightly toasted

· 3 ounces of cream cheese, softened

· 1 TBSP. powdered sugar

· Vanilla cinnamon sugar*

Instructions

Combine the cream cheese and the powdered sugar until smooth and easy to spread. If necessary, add a few drops of milk to smooth out the cream cheese.

Spread the toasted bread triangles with the cream cheese. Top with a sprinkling of vanilla cinnamon sugar.

*VANILLA SUGAR:

Slice one whole vanilla bean in half, leaving it attached at the stem end. Place it in a 1-pint mason jar (or a tightly sealing container). Fill the jar with enough sugar to cover the bean. Let sit several weeks, shaking now and then, until the sugar is infused with the vanilla. Leave the bean in the jar, and add more sugar as you use it up.

CINNAMON VANILLA SUGAR:

Blend approx. 1-tsp. cinnamon to 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar. Add more or less cinnamon, to taste.

Spiced Pecans

Make these yummy pecans a few days ahead to let the flavors blend together. They are wonderful by themselves, or in a salad with a little blue cheese.

List of Ingredients

· 2 cups pecan halves

· 1/2 cup sugar

· 3 TBSP. water

· 1 tsp. salt

· 1/2-tsp. red pepper or cayenne pepper

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat (or line with parchment and butter well.)

Combine the sugar, water, salt and pepper. Add pecans and coat thoroughly. Spread the pecans on the prepared sheet in a SINGLE LAYER and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until browned. Cool. Remove and store in a plastic container.

Butternut Ginger Tea Bread

A beautiful golden loaf just meant to be slathered with Maple Pumpkin Butter and enjoyed. The bread can be made one week ahead and frozen, defrosting overnight before serving. The instructions are for a food processor, but this can also be made with a mixer.

List of Ingredients

· 1 3/4 cups flour

· 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

· 2 tsp. baking powder

· 1/2 tsp. salt

· 1 tsp. ground ginger

· 1 TBSP. candied ginger, coarse chopped

· 1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

· 1/4 cup milk

· 1 cup packed cooked butternut squash*

· 2 large eggs

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Fit a food processor bowl with the metal blade attachment. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ground ginger and candied ginger in the bowl. Pulse a few times to combine. Sprinkle the butter over the flour. Pulse a few seconds until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Add the milk, eggs, and the squash. Pulse just until a smooth, thick batter is formed. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 40 - 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

*To cook the squash, cut the ends off of the butternut squash and cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. Place the two halves cut side down in a close fitting shallow baking dish. Add 1/2-cup water and cover with foil. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, until the squash is fork tender. The shallow end will cook faster, but do not be concerned about this. The squash just needs to be tender enough to scoop out. The food processor will puree it for a smooth batter.

Maple Pumpkin Butter

Maple syrup and pumpkin combine to make this a richly flavored butter that is simple to prepare. You may want to make double, as it tends to disappear quickly! The butter would also make a delicious tart filling.

List of Ingredients

· 2 cups pureed, cooked pumpkin

· 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP. pure Grade A maple syrup

· 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

· 1 tsp. cinnamon

· 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

· Pinch of mace

· 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook on lowest heat, stirring often, until very thick and no excess liquid remains, about 30 minutes. If you are using fresh pumpkin, you will have a longer cooking time, because it has more liquid.

Cool and refrigerate for up to 1 month, or pour into clean, hot canning jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Makes approx. 2 cups.

Oatmeal Cherry Chip Cookies

These cookies are so good, even those of you who are not oatmeal cookie fans are going to love them. They will keep a few days if stored in a tightly sealed container between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.

List of Ingredients

· 1 3/4 cups flour

· 1 tsp. baking soda

· 1 tsp. cinnamon

· 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

· 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar

· 1/3 cup sugar

· 2 large eggs

· 1/4 cup milk

· 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

· 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

· 3/4 cup dried cherries

· 3/4-cup chocolate chips

Instructions

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla, and beat well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Add slowly to the butter mixture on low speed. Stir in the oats, cherries and chocolate chips.

Divide the dough into 4 portions, and roll each up in plastic wrap to form a log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Chill until firm (about 20 minutes in the freezer).

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silicon baking mat or parchment paper. Slice the cookie logs about 1/2 inch thick. Bake 10 - 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 5 dozen. Will keep up to 1 week.

Baked Raisin Rice Kugel (Pudding)

This sweet rice pudding is often served as a side course in Eastern European Jewish meals. This recipe is my mom's, and it is a family favorite. The pudding can be made 1 day in advance, and can be served warm or at room temperature.

List of Ingredients

· 2 cups uncooked white rice

· 1 stick unsalted butter

· 2 cups powdered sugar

· 1 tsp. cinnamon

· 6 large eggs

· 1 cup golden raisins

· 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted

· zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 quart casserole. (I like to use a 10-inch Pyrex type quiche pan.) Cook and drain the rice. Set aside. In the large bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the cinnamon and lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the nuts and raisins, then add the rice. Pour into the prepared casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. To serve, cool slightly and cut into squares.

Almond Coffee Cake

Delicious and easy to make, this coffeecake is always a hit. It also makes a nice breakfast/brunch cake. It can be made a day ahead of serving and kept well wrapped at room temperature.

List of Ingredients

· 1/4 cup canola oil

· 1 large egg

· 1/2 cup milk

· 1 1/2 cups flour

· 3/4 cup sugar

· 2 tsp. baking powder

· 1/2 tsp. salt

· 1 tsp. almond extract

· TOPPING:

· 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

· 1 tsp. cinnamon

· 1 TBSP. melted butter

· 1/2 cup chopped almonds, lightly toasted

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 inch round (or square) cake pan. In a mixer, combine the oil, egg, milk and almond extract. In a separate bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add to the milk mixture on low speed until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Make the topping: Combine the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and almonds. The mixture will be sticky. Sprinkle in small clumps over the batter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool before serving.

Orange Bread Pudding

This is a rich, wonderfully scented dessert, perfect for warming up your friends and family. The pudding can be made 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

List of Ingredients

· One 1 pound loaf of Challah (egg bread)

· 4 cups of whole milk (do not use low fat)

· 1 cup sugar

· zest of 1 orange, very finely grated

· 5 eggs

· 2 tsp. vanilla

· Optional: 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins

· cinnamon sugar

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 3 quart/3 liter deep baking dish. Remove the ends from the bread and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Layer the bread into the baking dish, about 2/3 deep. (If you use too much bread, the top will be dry.) If adding the fruit, place it between the layers of bread.

In a large, heavy bottom saucepan combine the milk, sugar and orange zest. Cook on medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the milk starts to simmer (bubbles form on the sides of the pan). In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs. SLOWLY add the hot milk to the eggs, whisking constantly.

Strain the custard to remove the orange zest and any cooked egg particles. This ensures a smooth custard. Pour the custard over the bread. Press the bread down into the custard. Top with cinnamon sugar.

Place the baking dish in a larger pan and place it in the oven. Fill the larger pan with hot water to a depth of 1 inch. Bake for 45 minutes at 300 degrees, until a knife inserted into the center comes out barely clean. Remove from the water. Serve warm or cooled. Serves 8.

Copyright 2000-2001 by Renee Van Hoy, all rights reserved

About the Author

Renee is the owner and author of a Renee's Tea Party, a website full of wonderful recipes and tea party menus. She is also a wife and mom, as well as a gracious hostess. Visit her at Renee's Tea Party

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