Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Year's Eve Tea Party

After such a busy 2006, we decided to have a low-key, quiet little afternoon tea to mark New Year's Eve.

"This is low-key?" my Omnivore inquires as I prep yet another thing and start mentally planning out the table layout. Maybe it's neurological disorder, my inability to envision small, quiet parties.

But for us, this was pretty restrained...

On the menu this time:

  • Sesame-Crusted Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
  • Cucumber Radish Smorrebrods with Lemon Pepper Cream Cheese
  • Chestnut Minicakes dipped in Chocolate
  • Buttermilk Currant Scones
  • Shortbreads & Madeleines
In addition, Ms. Art Attack brought us a lovely selection of teas from our favorite local tea parlor, Leland Tea Company. Will, the proprietor, creates the most amazingly delicious blends all himself, and for our tea, Ms. Art Attack chose the pleasantly spicy Tiki Tiki Chai, a batch of Kisses (chocolate from Scharffen Berger and rose). She also brought us more of our current favorite, Organic White Peach. Utterly perfect on a cold day.

The Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches are a favorite of mine and are based on Martha Stewart, as are the smorrebrods. I got to use my newest gift item, a mandoline, to get lovely paper thin slices of cucumber and radish -- I love cool kitchen gadgets.

Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
Makes 2 Dozen

The chicken salad may be made a day in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • 1 roasted 3 1/2-pound chicken, meat removed and shredded
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons homemade or prepared mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chpped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise to yield 1/4 cup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 very thin slices of white sandwich bread
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • Mizuna leaves, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and sesame oil. Add this to the chicken and combine well. Add the cilantro, chives, and scallions and combine well. Add salt annd pepper to taste. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

Spread each bread slice with butter, reserving some butter for garnishing. Spread and even layer of chicken salad onto half of the slices of bread. Top with the other half of the slices to make sandwiches. Trim the crusts. Cut each sandwich on the diagonal. Arrange the sandwiches long-edge down in a row to form a horizontal pyramid. Spread the remaining butter along one side of the pyramid. Spread the toasted sesame seeds along the buttered edge to cover. Garnish the platter with mizuna.

Cucumber Radish Smorrebrods

Lemon-Black Pepper Cream Cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

16 thin slices white bread
1 cup very thinly sliced radishes
1 cup very thinly sliced English cucumber
Thin lemon zest strips, for garnish

Stir together cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, and pepper in a bowl. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week; let soften before using.

Spread each bread slice with about 2 teaspoons Lemon Pepper cream cheese. Arrange radish and cucumber slices on top. Using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds; discard scraps. Garnish with lemon zest.

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