Let’s start the New Year with Afternoon Tea. Recalling the full title of our website, Sharing Tea: The Road Back to Civilization, can our New Year’s resolutions focus on living more civilized lives? Each person is welcome to define what a civilized life means to him or her. For me, a civilized person thinks about others as well as herself. He or she values honest work and ethical behavior along with the joy of celebrating with family and friends in life’s ordinary moments and appreciating the beauty of nature’s gifts and the glory of artistic expression. These are the simple elements of Afternoon Tea.
Since January is a winter month, (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere,) our new Year’s Tea will celebrate winter. I recently hosted a winter tea party in my home for five friends as well as my husband Wayne and myself. The connecting link among all of my guests was that they were all born or raised outside the United States and all worked in careers related to health and healing. Two are Danish citizens born in Africa, one South African of British ancestry, one raised in England and one Canadian. All of these guests are familiar with the customs and traditions of Afternoon Tea, and all were eager to celebrate these traditions in their current home, Hawaii.
Although the seasons change very little here in Hawaii, I chose menu items and ingredients that would remind my guests of the winter holidays in their homelands and add a bit of winter color, such as red and white, to the ambience. Here is the menu:
Twining’s Black English Tea, the Queen’s 90th birthday vintage
Taylors of Harrogate Earl Gray Tea
Sencha Green Tea form Japan (a gift from our friend, Yuki, who lives in Tokyo)
- (All of the guests chose the Queen’s 90th Birthday Tea, and all drank it with milk, although I offered both whole milk and half and half. I also offered lemon wedges, which none of them chose.)
Rum Raisin Scones (from the November/December 2019 issue of Tea Time magazine)
Served with: Cranberry Curd (Find the recipe in my November 2019 blog.)
And Mock Devonshire Cream (Recipe in the Free Recipes section of this
Website under Tea Menu Basics)
Cucumber and Watercress Sandwiches on White Bread
White Cheddar and Chutney (Major Grey’s) Sandwiches on Brown Bread
Artichoke and Cheese Frittata
Traditional Dark Fruitcake with Hard Sauce
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Pavlova (a sweet, cake-shaped meringue) with Whipped Cream and Sour Red Cherries
Winter Holiday Cookies:
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Spritz (Also called Danish Butter Cookies)
Orange Ginger Cookies
Maple Oatmeal Bars (Called “Crunchies” in South Africa and “Flap
Jacks” in England.)
Baci di Dama (Italian for Lady’s Kisses)
Dark Chocolate-Orange Truffles
Clearly, this is a lot for one person to do, but many of these items were very easy to make, and others could be made in advance and aged or frozen. The Fruitcake should be made weeks before it is served, and the Pavlova can be made the night before and stored in the oven all night. My guests loved both the Pavlova and the Cranberry curd, which added two touches of vivid winter red to the menu. The Cranberry Curd can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated or even longer and frozen. I whipped the cream for the Pavlova shortly before my guests arrived and colored it with a bit of the juice from a jar of American Spoon Fruit Perfect Sour Cherries (a gift from Kathleen.) Then I simply covered the Pavlova with whipped cream and arranged the cherries, right out of the jar, over the cream-topped Pavlova.
For your Winter New Year’s Tea, I recommend reviewing some of the key chapters from the Tea Book section of this Website: “The Philosophy of Tea,” “Guidelines for the Host/Hostess,” “Guidelines for the Guest,” and “A Checklist for Planning a Tea Party.” And as a little New Year’s gift to you, I am sharing one of the most popular items from my recent Winter Tea: Artichoke and Cheese Frittata. Happy New Year!
Artichoke Cheese Frittata
This recipe, adapted from the July 1983, edition of Sunset magazine, has never failed me. It can be mixed within seconds in a food processor, and it produces a delicious savory treat which can be enjoyed in all four seasons. I make it in a shallow 9” pie pan and let the guests cut their own wedges in the size they prefer, but you can serve it in squares on a platter if you wish. I perked up the original recipe by adding ½ teaspoon of Smoked Spanish Paprika, which adds both color and a tasty kick of flavor.
- 1 jar (6 ounces) marinated Artichoke hearts
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ -1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika, or to taste (optional)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
- 2 ½ cups (about 10 ounces) shredded Jack cheese
- Cooking spray for the pie pan
- Sweet paprika for sprinkling, optional
Makes: 8-12 wedges
Preheat oven to 350°F
- Spray the pie plate with cooking spray and set aside. Reserve ½ cup of the shredded cheese and set aside. Place all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor and push the “On” button for a few seconds until the mixture is smooth and well combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pie pan, scraping the bowl of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the reserved ½ cup pf cheese evenly over the top of the frittata.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the top is lightly browned and the center feels firm when gently touched, about 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
- Sprinkle with sweet paprika and cut into wedges to serve immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight to serve cold or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.