Although you never need an excuse to have a tea party, this one has a special purpose. The folks at Foodbuzz have joined forces with Kelly Confidential to raise money for The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and are donating $50 for every tea party posted today. And on Friday, these tea parties will be the subject of a Foodbuzz "Top 9 Takeover"! Fun stuff... and all for a very important cause. You too can help raise money by going to Kelly Confidential and simply voting for an outfit for Kelly to wear to her "virtual tea party".
So welcome to my tea party....southern style!
A southern style tea party needs iced sweet tea, of course!
Pimento Cheese, Tomato and Chive Finger Sandwiches
Two of the South's favorite sandwiches in one. How can something so simple be so sublime? When I was little, I used to pick the slivers of red pimento out of my pimento cheese sandwich so I appreciated the version that my Aunt Caroline made in a blender. My version uses mild yellow cheddar and those wonderful sweet fire roasted red peppers that you find in a jar. And although I no longer have an aversion to colorful specks in my food, I still like to blend my pimento cheese. It just seems to take that lovely pimento flavor all throughout the spread.
For the pimento cheese:
1/3 pound mild cheddar
2 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
several strips of roasted sweet red bell peppers (I use the equivalent of 1/2 of a med. red pepper)
Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, adding more mayo if needed to get to a nice consistency for spreading.
For the sandwiches:
Very Thin White Sandwich Bread (I use Pepperidge Farm)
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced very thinly
1 bunch fresh chives, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Stack the bread and trim it so that each piece is approximately 3x3 inches. To construct a sandwich, spread one slice of bread with mayonnaise and top with one or two slices of tomato. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread pimento cheese on second slice of bread and set that on top of the tomato. Top with a third slice of bread and press slightly. Wrap sandwich in plastic wrap until all sandwiches are assembled and you are ready to set your tray.
To serve: Cut each sandwich twice on the diagonal to create 4 equal triangles. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise onto the long end, the "uncut" side, of the triangle and gently press this side into your minced fresh chives. Repeat with remaining sandwiches and arrange on a platter.
Brown Sugar Shortbreads with Smashed Blackberries and Sweet Cream
Slightly sweet flaky biscuits slathered with smashed fresh blackberries and whipped cream...a southern take on the traditional British scones with jam and clotted cream.
For the shortbread:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing tops of biscuits
coarse brown sugar for sprinkling (such as Sugar in the Raw or Demerara Sugar)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder sugar and salt. Cut cold butter into small pieces and toss into the flour. Then, with a pastry knife, two table knives, or your fingers, blend butter into flour mixture until it is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Add the cream and stir quickly with a fork until flour is just moistened (do not over work the dough) then turn it onto a lightly floured surface and pat it gently to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out shortbreads and place them 1 inch apart onto baking sheet. Brush with additional heavy cream and sprinkle generously with coarse brown sugar. Bake 12-14 minutes or until puffed and just lightly brown. Remove from oven and cool.
For the berries and cream:
1 pint fresh blackberries
3/4 cup heavy cream
sugar to taste
Wash the blackberries (don't dry) then toss them with a tablespoon of sugar (or more, to taste). Using a table fork, smash berries, leaving some whole until you get a nice chunky jam-like consistency.
Whip cream with a couple of teaspoons of sugar (once again, you can use more if you like). With this amount of cream, I prefer to whip it by hand with a whisk. It only takes a few minutes and is good exercise...at least for one arm!
Serve and shortbreads with the smashed berries and cream.
Hush Puppy and Deviled Crab Bites
There is nothing dainty about the flavor of this little treat. Crispy hush puppies, hollowed out slightly and filled with a cool and creamy crab salad.
1 package frozen hush puppies (I use Savannah Classics original recipe)
8 ounces jumbo lump crab meat, picked over for shell fragments
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon coarse grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Prepare hush puppies according to directions on package. Let cool slightly then cut top 1/3 off of each hush puppy and remove some of the interior to make room for a nice portion of crab meat. You may also want to take a tiny sliver from the bottom of each hush puppy so that the finished product will stay level on a serving tray instead of rolling about.
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and horseradish. Gently stir in crab until it is well coated then taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, fill hush puppies with crab salad and top each with a fresh parsley leaf.