Thursday, May 17, 2012

High Tea

As anyone who has read this blog knows, I like to take tea whenever possible. I also enjoy putting on a tea, which I did for our annual Twelfth Night party in January. (My usual practice is to hold a tea on the day of the Belmont stakes, if there is a possibility of a Triple Crown winner. This has been remotely possible for years. The last one was Big Brown.)

I happened to notice that Chefs, Inc., a cooking school on the West Side of Los Angeles, was advertising a cooking class for a Mother's Day High Tea. I thought I might be able to pick up a few pointers--like how to get things done in advance so I can enjoy my guests--so I signed up to take the class with my son, who loves to bake. One of my "adopted daughters," Dani, who also likes to bake, decided to join us, so we were three of the five students in a class with two teachers. We had a blast and then we had a lovely high tea lunch.

The menu consisted of curried chicken tea sandwiches, above. The curried chicken was then used to fill profiteroles when we ran out of sandwich bread. I used curried chicken to fill profiteroles at my tea in January. Fortunately, I had a kitchen full of volunteers that day, because a tea is last-minute labor-intensive, and more suited to a small party than a large one. The profiteroles are in the second photo, above.
We made two different kinds of crepes for the class. Fortunately, for future parties, both can be made in advance of the party. The egg crepes, above, were essentially very thin fried herb omelets that were then filled with creme fresh and slices of smoked salmon and folded into quarters. They can be refrigerated and brought back to room temperature for serving.

We also made flour crepes that were filled with spinach and bechamel sauce and then baked. Everyone took turns at making the crepes and all of us got an opportunity to improve our ability to flip them over without them landing on the floor. It gave me a great feeling of accomplishment.
No tea party is complete without scones. If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I got a great scone recipe from the long-gone Ticky-boo Tea Shoppe in Carlsbad about 10 or 11 years ago. But the ones we made on Saturday with dried cranberries were quite nice. No Devon or clotted cream was served, unfortunately.
Another entry on the dessert side of the ledger were individual cream cheese cakes. They were so easy, using a 'Nilla Wafer for the bottom crust and topped with cherry pie filling or jam (two above were reserved for my son, who cares for neither cherry filling nor jams.)
We also made a beautiful bacon and mushroom quiche, which I plan to make for the Sunday Super Supper Squad one of these days. It was amazing.

The small classroom size was a plus in being able to work on all the parts of the tea, but there was a lot of food left over. Cooking classes are no longer permitted to send leftovers home because of perceived liability issues if the participants fail to store food properly and then get sick. The instructor told us they keep the food for their staff to eat, but I'm surprised that the staff doesn't look overweight. This was a pretty rich menu.

The photographs above were all made with a Nikon Coolpix S8000 shooting available light with no flash at an ISO of 100 at the highest jpeg quality and auto white balance. The images were then run through Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 for some minor cropping and image adjustment, as well as watermarking. The S8000 is my carry-everywhere digital camera. I just wish it could shoot RAW.

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