What a more peaceful way to ring in the New Year than with a beautiful fuss-free afternoon tea? Most of the preparation can be store bought, ready-made or done during the day before or the day of and just kept in the fridge until time to serve.
Invite a few friends in, get out your best china teacups, a couple pretty teapots, some attractive plates and silverware and your best linens. Set a pretty table and plan to relax because all the work will be done ahead.
Some of our favorite tea sandwiches ever; veggie squares, salmon roll ups and Caprese open-face sandwiches. These little colorful sandwiches add so much to a tea tray and brighten up every plate.
Veggie squares are simple: Bake a tray of Pillsbury crescent dough, the one without perforations using package directions. While that is baking, finely chop broccoli tops, red bell pepper, carrot, purple cabbage; mix together and set aside. You can use a prepared veggie dip for a spread or mix together, sour cream, dry ranch dressing mix and dill for a spread. Once crescent dough is baked and cooled, completely cover with spread then sprinkle with chopped veggies. Cut into small (1 1/2 inch) squares and chill.
Salmon rolls can be purchased at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or your local grocery store in the freezer section. If they do not have salmon, or you’re not a fan of salmon, substitute other roll type sandwiches from the freezer section.
Caprese sandwiches are so easy. You will need toast rounds. They can be thin slices of French bread toasted in the oven or you could purchase toast rounds at the store. You will need fresh tomatoes (I like the tomatoes on the vine this time of year they have better flavor), fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and a good balsamic vinegar. Layer a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf on each toast round. Sprinkle lightly with balsamic vinegar and chill.
Choose a few other sandwiches based on your guests’ preferences. Try to include different textures and tastes. Just remember to cut them into 3-bite sandwiches and vary the types of breads. At the Pickwick Tea Room we always said, “You eat with your eyes first” so give some consideration to presentation. Use footed pedestals, a three tiered rack, or especially pretty plates to present your tea treats and garnish with a little parsley, some fresh fruit or veggies, and if you have them, put paper doilies under your tea treats.
Sweets can all be bakery made or some of your Christmas cookie left overs. A variety of sweets always looks lovely and is a welcome change.
The most important thing to remember about any tea party is that your guests are coming to spend time with you. If the table looks lovely, the tea is tasty and the company is congenial your guest will stay for hours sharing a relaxing time and looking forward to the next time they can get together in such a relaxing atmosphere.
Happy New Year!