Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear
I love having Tea Parties. I used to have them quite a few years ago when my son was younger. I guess so many things were going on and I just never did get around to having another tea party until a few years ago. Now that I have reinstated this fun tradition, I have been having a Tea Party once a year, usually in the summer. It started with an English Tea Party, then a Southern one and last year a French one. This year I decided to do a little less work, or so I thought, so I made a “simpler” Crepe Tea Party.
To set the mood I sent out a formal invitation via e-mail. I made the invitation using a program called Print Shop. It is also possible to make them with the document program that comes with your computer. Of course, you can use real paper and snail mail the invitations.
|This years e-mail invitation.|
No matter how simple the party, it is important to plan. First I make a theme and a menu. I gather all the recipes together and make a shopping list. The week of the tea I plan out the execution of the event. I make a list by day of the week of what needs to be done. My list includes, shopping, setting the table, making place cards and menus, making favors as well as the actual food preparation schedule. At this point, as I see on paper what needs to be done each day, I edit the menu. If there is really just too much to do and I have no help, I eliminate something and streamline the menu.
Here is an example of what my to do list looks like:
TEA PARTY TO DO LIST:
Shop and Clean
Clean some more
Measure out dry crepe ingredients and place in baggies
Make Crepes - Sweet and Savory
Make Cheese Sauces
Make Strawberry Sauce
Clean and cut vegetables and fruit for Canapés
Make fillings for Canapés
Clean, prep and sauté Vegetables
Cook Mushrooms on Grill
Bake Pignoli Cookies
Run to the store to get fresh mozzarella balls, fresh corn and tomatoes.
Make the corn and tomato part of the salad and mix with the dressing
Prep the lettuce
Set up savory crepe making station - hot plates and serving dishes
Pick fresh herbs for canapés
Put together canapés
Plate the canapés
Heat the cheese sauces and put in serving station
Heat the vegetable medley and mushrooms and put in serving station
Warm the crepes in the oven and put in serving station
Boil tea water
Put together and plate the salad on individual plates
Set out desserts (cookies, strawberry sauce, fresh fruit, chocolate butters & crepes)
Set out the dessert serving dishes
Dessert crepes to be heated after the savory crepes come out of the oven
Ice Cream to come out of freezer when ready to eat dessert
Pignoli Cookies to be plated when ready to eat dessert
When guest arrive: Make tea & put plated salads and canapés on table
Clear salad plates and have guests go to make their own savory crepes at crepe station.
|Tea pots for hot teas.|
|Making the savory crepes a few days ahead.|
Note the fresh parsley pieces.
My party does get a bit complicated as I adjust for dietary needs and preferences. For example, I had a dairy free guest and I made dairy free versions of four items. I also knew that one person did not like to eat mushrooms, so instead of mixing the mushrooms with the sautéed vegetables, I cooked and served them separately. Two people do not eat cucumbers, so for my cucumber appetizer I used lightly steamed zucchini when making theirs. One friend was recovering from a recent foot surgery and had to keep her foot elevated. I set her up with a pretty foot rest and a corner seat so that she could be close to the table while still keeping her foot up. I like to make all my guests feel comfortable and welcome. Everyone appreciates all the extra effort and this makes for a truly special and memorable occasion.
|Crepes are separated with pieces of wax paper to keep them from sticking.|
|Sautéed vegetable medley, one of the savory crepe fillings.|
|Mushrooms cooked separately (on the grill) another one of the crepe fillings.|
It is necessary to do as much as possible in the days before the Tea so that you can be more relaxed and enjoy the party with your guests. Crepes can be made several days ahead and kept well wrapped in the fridge. Party favors can be made weeks before the party if you know who will be coming that far ahead. For this Tea the favors were small porcelain boxes with flowers on top. The boxes were filled with rose scented French pastilles and then were wrapped with tulle and ribbon flowers. With name tags attached to each favor they made pretty place cards. I print the menu and place cards the day before, because at that time I know who is coming and what I actually will serve. I set the table at the beginning of the week since I have a separate formal dining room that is not needed for weekday meals and won’t be in anyone’s way. If one person more or one less comes, it is easy to add or take away a place setting. I also look around the cabinets to make a mental note of what serving dishes I have that will work well with what I am serving.
|A corner place setting and foot stool for a friend with recent foot surgery.|
|One place setting with a name tag favor and a menu.|
Each place setting had a different plate and tea cup.
Photo by Kathy Graves
I do my shopping at the beginning of the week. Some items must be purchased the day before, but most things can be bought four or five days ahead. For this menu I made the crepes and set the table three days before the tea. I cleaned and chopped the vegetables, made the cheese sauces and the strawberry sauce two days before. The day before the Tea the vegetables were cooked, the fruits and vegetables for the canapés were cut, all the canapé fillings and toppings were made and the Pignoli Cookies were baked. The day before the tea I went to the store for a few items that had to be very fresh, mozzarella cheese, fresh corn and cherry tomatoes.
The morning of the Tea, the salad was made, the canapés were put together and plated, the crepes, vegetables and sauces were heated, and a crepe station was set up to serve the savory crepes first. Hot teas were made after guests arrived and we decided which ones we wanted. Friends brought prepared iced teas, some loose and flowering teas, and fresh cut up fruit. After the savory foods were devoured, the dessert crepe station was set up.
As usual, after I got a bit busy serving and eating I forgot to take some photos of things such as the savory crepe station and the savory and sweet crepes all put together on a plate. One friend was so proud of her dessert crepe that she took a photo, so you can get idea of how they looked from that one photo. Everyone’s crepes were a bit unique. Some had sauce on top, some inside, some with lots of filling some with less. Take my word for it, they all looked and tasted fabulous!
|The Dessert Crepe Station.|
The crepes were kept warm wrapped in foil and resting on a hot plate.
Guests would open the foil, take a crepe and then close the foil afterwards.
Much of what I served, were foods that I had made before and the recipes are already on my blog. The canapés and salad were chosen to be refreshing for a summer day and the recipes will be on my blog soon. The savory crepe recipe is a new one and I will be posting it shortly.
|Dessert Crepe with fruit and a Pignoli Cookie on the side.|
Photo by Carolyn Adelmann
|Watermelon Canapés in front. On left with Raspberry Balsamic.|
On right with mozzarella cheese balls and fresh basil from my garden.
In the back are the dairy free versions of some appetizers
and the zucchini version of the cucumber appetizer.
|Curried Egg Salad Canapés on GF Crackers|
topped with fresh parsley from my garden.
Photo by Kathy Graves
Here is my menu:
AFTERNOON TEA PARTY MENU
Dairy Free Cheese Sauce
Sauteed Vegetable Medley
with Dairy Free version
Dairy Free & Zucchini versions
Nutella or Chocolate Peanut Butter
Vanilla Ice Cream & Dairy Free Ice Cream
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
The GF Crepe Tea Party was a great success. We all had a wonderful time talking, laughing and, of course, eating. The Tea began at 12:30 and we were having so much fun that, when the party began to wind down, we were quite shocked to realize that it was already 6:00!