Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Tea Party Bridal Shower

Last Saturday was (hopefully) the final bridal shower of the year. If I could do it again, I would have changed a thing or two, but the food was a resounding success. It got eaten, every crumb (even though I thought I had way over-planned), and praised so much I felt awkward.

The menu was the flourless chocolate cake and lemon curd pavlova I've made before, plus two kinds of tea sandwich and some gluten free financiers. (The bride does not eat gluten; some of the tea sandwiches were even made on gluten-free bread). I will post the recipes for the tea sandwiches, as they might be useful in the future, but not the financiers. I knew the financiers were a bit of a risk. The brown rice flour I used was gritty and made for a gritty pastry, and I messed up and only used half the amount of egg whites. The were terribly ugly and had to be redeemed with spots of jam in their middles. But the funny thing is: they were the favorite thing there. They are what people are still mentioning. Why, world, why? I suppose I should learn to make a proper financier... it could be the new cupcake/macaron/whoopie pie trend in New York!

This menu, of course, was selected to be tea-partyish: the 'main event,' I suppose, was the selection of herbal teas and fancy flavored honeys. Or was it the decoration scheme, with flower arrangements in tea pots, doilies, cake stands, and tiered dessert trays?

A note about the tea sandwich recipes: recipes for sandwiches are funny things, aren't they? The proportions did not come out the way they said they would in the recipe. I made fewer sandwiches, which I suppose means that I filled them more fully (in the case of the chicken salad); on the other hand, I had tons of smoked turkey left over.

Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches with Smoked Almonds

3 c chicken broth or water
2 boneless chicken breasts, halved, about 1 1/2 lbs
1 c mayonnaise, plus extra
1/3 c minced shallot
1 t minced fresh tarragon
24 very thin slices of white bread
1/2 c finely chopped smoked almonds (I used much more than 1/2 c)

Poach chicken 10 minutes (Boiling meat gives me the heebie-jeebies, and I told my helper, Amy, to feel free to cook it in a different manner. But boiling doesn't give her the heebie-jeebies, so this is how she did it. I suppose it does give it a good shredding texture). Cool in liquid 20 minutes.

Discard skin, if present, and shred chicken well. Stir together chicken, mayonnaise (perhaps not the whole cup-- as little as 1/2 c), shallot, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Do not make it as salty as you might otherwise; the sandwiches will have smoky, salty almonds on them. Of course, the chicken salad should still taste good.

Make sandwiches, and press the bread together gently. Trim off crusts and cut into triangles. (The recipe says to cut out rounds with cookie cutters, which creates more waste. This is probably why I used way more almonds.) Spread the edges of the sandwiches with mayonnaise and coat the edges with chopped smoked almonds.

Smoked Turkey Tea Sandwiches with Arugula Mayonnaise

1/2 c mayonnaise
1/3 c packed coarsely chopped arugula, plus whole arugula leaves
1 T (or a little more) minced shallot
1 T fresh chopped parsley
1/2 t fresh grated lemon peel
12 slices thinly sliced white bread
10 oz thinly sliced smoked turkey

Mix mayonnaise, chopped arugula, shallot, parsley, and lemon peel; season with salt and pepper. You can fridge it a while to blend the flavors. Make sandwiches with both sides spread with the arugula mayonnaise, smoked turkey, and arugula leaves. Trim crusts and cut diagonally into quarters.

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