Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Mad Hatter Tea Party!

 As anyone who follows me on Facebook knows, I spent last weekend preparing for, and enjoying, Kristina's baby shower. Specifically, I was in charge of the menu.
Kristina is the first of my oldest group of friends to have a baby, so to say we're excited is an understatement. I am SO glad I got to be a part of it!

The surprize theme of the party was "Mad Hatter Tea Party", and the room was decked out in crooked art on the walls, teacups everywhere, fun colors and more than I can remember to add to the charm. It looked perfect!

For my part, I had hoped to get some photos, but unfortunately I was a little side tracked and never took pictures of the food. So, I'll just have to do my best to describe it:

Menu:

Mad Hats - These were mini Black Olive & Gorgonzola quiches. I struggled a little with the execution of these. First, I was hoping to use biscuit layers as a bottom of the hat, and then put the quiche on top to become the hats. When it came down to it, there just wasn't enough time to make that happen. so as a plan B, I put a little biscuit dough on top of each quiche as I baked it. This didn't really have the effect I was going for, and so finally, I just added flour to the quiche mixture and made free-standing quiche muffins. They worked just fine - Third time's the charm! If I had to do it again, I would probably tone down the black olives. Although they were quite tasty, the moisture from the black olives kept the quiche a little soggier than I would have liked.

Pocket Watch Bruchetta - These were a big hit, and incredibly easy to make.Essentially, take a couple cans of quartered artichoke, puree, add in 1 egg, & 1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. I don't know the exact measurement of the cheese, because I eyeballed it.  Anyway, that whole mixture went into a gallon ziplock bag. Then, it gets piped onto those little french bread toast slices (the round medallions you can find in the bakery section of almost any grocery store).
Then, on top, 2 strips of zucchini peel chiffonade to make the clock "hands".
Set them in the broiler for a few minutes, and done!  These were a big hit!

Bread and Butterflies - For the bread portion of this, I made 2 types of scones. Cranberry Orange Scones were very simple, and in my opinion could have used more flavor. If I were to make these again, I probably would have added sugar to the dough, and maybe some orange juice. But, they were great with the toppings i'll discuss later.
Cheddar Garlic Scones were the beginner version of a cheddar-herb biscuit you'll find at a large seafood restaurant chain. These were quite tasty!
I actually rolled all of the scone dough, cut it, and then froze it, and baked some of it on the spot at the party location. This worked out really well, so the guests had freshly baked scones, and I had leftover frozen scones to bake whenever I had a hankering! I tried the Cheddar Garlic scones later with some butter brushed on and shredded cheddar cheese  on top. Deelish!
Butterflies - These were just butter pats in the shape of butterflies. I was hoping to find butterfly shaped candy molds that I could chill softened butter in to create these butterflies. In the end, I had to roll softened butter in a small layer, and cut it like a cookie with a butterfly shaped fondant cutter. THen, I stuck them in the freezer to keep their shape. I made WAY too much of this, and I also put too much of it out too early, and it ended up sticking together and becoming a buttery butterfly mess. It got the point across though!

Yesterday Jam, Tomorrow Jam, but Never today!
The first two were smuckers jams from the jar, put into little bowls with "Yesterday" and "Tomorrow" labels.
The last was in a similar bowl with "Never", and was, as might be indicated, NOT jam. It was actually greek yogurt with fig preserves and is HEAVENLY.
Greek yogurt, for those that don't know, is strained. This makes it thick and creamy, even when it's fat content is lowered. I am not a fan of American-style yogurt, especially the fat free variety. To me it tastes too fat free. Greek yogurt does not, and has twice the protein of American yogurt.
Fig preserves are a relatively new addition to my small-town grocery store, but I know they're readily available at home. A magical jar full of flavor that is not unlike honey or apple butter.
So the two ingredients on their own are pretty tasty, but when combined, WOW.

These spreads were all served with crumpets, because I thought any good tea party should have crumpets. Although they were certainly used interchangeably with the scones.
In hindsight, I probably should have left the jams in jam-like jars. A lot of people steered away from the blobs in bowls, and probably because they didn't know what it was. I had labels on everything, but if people didn't have hands to move the labels to reading distance, then they wouldn't have known.

Wonderland swirls - These were just simple appetizer swirls that you can find at the grocery store freezer section. Just Thaw & Serve - a great way to save me some time. I think it's important to have something quick and easy like that with any menu. Just a simple way to keep the pressure off.

Croquet Mallets - These were checken skewers and mixed veggie skewers, with a side of tzatziki sauce. The skewers turned out just fine, and I had plenty of them (in fact, I had the leftovers twice for lunch the following week). I was not thrilled with the seasoning, and probably would have prefered just plain salt & pepper, instead of the greek seasoning I used. It was a little too bright for my taste, and I wanted something earthy. Especially since it was paired with Tzatziki sauce, which is a greek cucumber/yogurt sauce. This was actually my way of making use of the leftover container of greek yogurt from the "NEVER". It's the same sauce you'd have on a Gyro or greeek cucumber salad. I switched the traditional dill to mint, and probably will not do that again. Again, a little too bright in the flavor department, and just didn't provide the right depth of flavor when mixed with the skewers. Not bad for a first try though!

Rose Petals (painted red, of course) - This was just orreciette pasta, in a homemade red-pepper pesto. This was REALLY tasty when I tried it before the party.. but then I panicked, and was concerned that I wouldn't have enough, so I added another pound of pasta, but didn't have any more pesto. The result was that I simply didn't have enough sauce to go around in the end, and it was kinda bland. There was also LOTS leftover, which I donated to the hosts. If nothing else it'll make a decent side dish. Oh well, next time I'll know.

To drink, I made 2 different varieties of iced sweet tea.
Drink Me Red - Madagascar Vanilla Red Tea from Celestial seasonings. with about a 1&1/2 cups of sugar per gallon. This went FAST and I had less than a cup leftover at the end of the party. This was especially tasty with a little splash of vanilla rum or coconut milk.
Drink Me Green - Plain Green Tea, with less than 1 cup of sugar per gallon, and 1 lemon, sliced. I'm not a huge fan of green tea, but I think it should have been stronger... but I think that about every drink, haha.

Then I made punch, which was a HUGE hit. It was really simple also - I took Lipton Iced tea mix with peach flavor (its a canned powder in the tea section) and made it with half the recommended amount of water. then I froze it in bundt pan rings. When the party started, I set the frozen ring in the punch bowl, and poured ginger ale on top. This was actually an idea I got from a punch my mom makes at baby showers, only she uses lime sherbet instead of frozen tea. I think I prefer the taste of hers, but mine fit the theme better!

Last, but not least,
Rabbit Hole Cupcakes - I actually do know that we got some pictures of these, but I haven't seen them yet. They were just funfetti cupcakes, decorated to look like a field of grass with some bunnies jumping down a hole. There's no way I can describe them better than a photo, so just trust me til I get a pic up.

All in all, a pretty good feast!

Kristina had presents all over the place, lining an entire wall. She & baby were very well spoiled, and I got to see friends that I hadnt seen in years. It was a great day!

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