Friday, October 23, 2009

HIGH TEA

Entertaining is part of life growing up in an Army family.
Add to that, having a Dad who was in the British Army before it became the Indian Army, and you have a plethora of rich experiences related to entertaining.
As far as entertaining and being entertained is concerned: as a child I didn't enjoy the fact my parents were out almost every evening. As an adult and married to a civilian, I entertained and went out on a moderate scale, keeping in mind that I didn't want the kids to be alone at home all the time.
Now as a senior with diabetes, it isn't easy to entertain. However, we really want to repay all the hospitality extended to us throughout this year. The summer heat makes me dizzy and the winter cold makes me stiff. I have a small wedge of time in the Fall to do the things I want to, so I decided to do something quickly.
I've come up with the idea of having a HIGH TEA, and am looking forward it.

But our High Tea is going to be easy on us (I hope) with make ahead dishes and one last minute standing-by-the-stove fried item.
It is going to be in the comfort of our home and though I plan on using Corelle plates, I will concede to using paper cups and disposable glasses. The plates will go in the dishwasher with the dishes, and I have helped the environment by using them.

Planning this High Tea brings back memories of my varied experiences with them.
I've always loved High Teas, and have enjoyed them in Singapore at Raffles, in London at Claridges, in Victoria BC at The Empress, besides a lot of places in the USA.
Of all these places, The Empress wins hands down for the best tea.
The incredible quality of the high tea at the Empress though expensive, has to be experienced to be believed. Each and every dish was fresh and superb in taste and presentation.
The quantity filled us up and there was a mix of dishes for vegetarians and non-veggies.
An excellent tea selection was served with each cup freshly made not over stewed.
The attentiveness of our waiter throughout the meal topped it off perfectly.

The usual High Tea is made up of scones with clotted cream and a variety of jams, an assortment of sandwiches (I hate the ones made with chicken paste, salmon paste, preferring the actual fresh meat instead), miniature cakes and biscuits and of course a selection of different teas.
Raffles in Singapore with the most extensive menu I have seen of any High Tea, combining tastes and flavors of East and West with huge tables groaning under the weight of the food.
The curried chicken puffs stand out in my memory.

This is what I intend to do for my High Tea: combine Indian sweets and snacks with the cakes and sandwiches to please the palates of all my guests and fill them up as this was what High Teas were originally intended for.

A brief history of High Tea: Low tea was the normal tea served with dainty treats, whereas High Tea was what the farmers and working class wanted when they came in from work. It was filling, it took the place of dinner, and there was nothing 'dainty' about it. High Tea was also known as Meat Tea in early England.

Here I've gone out for High Tea at 10 a.m, noon, mid-afternoon, evening and dinner time!
For mine this year, I'm inviting my guests at 3 o'clock, knowing most of them will show up at 4 (Indians have their own standard time). My High Tea menu is going to be a mix of the menus of low and high teas, so it fills up my guests. That's what a good party is all about, to me: good food, good people, good conversation and nowadays a good chair to sit in!

If you have any easy make ahead sweet or savory suggestions, please send them to me.
I really would appreciate time-saving recipes with great results and I will give you full credit here.

In the meantime while I invite you to stick with me while I plan this event, I'll give you my tentative menu. The recipes will follow when I make the dishes.

Sweet dishes:

1. Scones with lemon curd.
2. Cake
3. Biscuits/cookies/tarts.
4. Fruit salad
5. Brownies (a friend is bringing them)
6. An Indian mithai (sweetmeat)/dessert.

Savoury dishes:

1. Chicken and vegetable puffs
2. Sandwiches
3. Matri/chakli/kodbilla (make ahead dish)
4. Salmon dish (my neighbor is bringing that)
5. Chips/crackers/dip (bought and set up).
6. My last minute fried dish...tikkis/vades/?

Beverages/Drinks: Tea, coffee, soda, punch.

Let me know what you think of the menu and especially if you have GREAT suggestions for easy dishes.
I look forward to hearing from you with anything from sweet, snack, drink recipes and I will be haunting the cooking blogs for ideas too.

12 dishes with an assortment of tea, coffee and soft drinks/punch should make 30-35 people happy. I had a list of 20 but that was too much and I cut back. As a foodie, I want each dish to taste it's best, be really fresh and make my High Tea a 'moment on the lips but forever in their memory' type party.

10 comments:

lan said...

wow geeta! this sounds so good. i am just familiar with 4PM tea time with scones and snacks but i guess what we had was high tea since it was rather heavy and the 8PM dinner was not all that necessary after the tea time. wish i could be one of your guests.. let me recommend this cooking blog page for appetizers. scroll down the whole page.
http://arcthomas.blogspot.com/search/label/Appetizers
i have made the rasa vada sans the rasam and the meat puffs and they came out very well. i think you will find making the meat puffs from here easy. i have blogged about the fruit cake I made from spicyana but never got around to blogging about the other stuff i had tried out. banana fries will be an easy last minute snack depending on your guest group and tastes better if prepared one day ahead. the puffs are a good choice and if you time it right, they will be warm getting ready in the oven and can be served right out of the tray as guests arrive. hope this helps. let us know how it went with pics of the snacks you ended up making..

whitefieldbb@gmail.com said...

Thanks so much for the help lan. Already visited the site and looked at the yummy recipes.
Not sure which banana fries you are talking about. Thanks for the help.
Wish you were close by and could come but you'll have to be my virtual guest.

Geeta

lan said...

geeta, from the link i gave, you could click on the desserts and you will see a grilled ripe banana there without the batter or you can do the pazham pori from my pages. in spicyana's dessert page there is also a simple fried dough that looks yum although i have not tried them.
then there is the surefire fried potato that i have yet to blog about. steam (not boil) red potatoes after cubing them with skin on. saute crushed (not sliced) garlic , add salt, potatoes and then enough pepper powder and voila you have a great dish for snacking which is very filling.

whitefieldbb@gmail.com said...

Thanks lan:

Visited the site following the link, but didn't think to look at the desserts. Thanks for all your help.
The potatoes sound yum and easy.
Did find a recipe for banana chips online: I'm a making a file of all ideas recipes so it will be easy to come up with a final, healthy, filling, pleasing to the eyes menu.
Can't tell you how much I appreciate your help.

Geeta

Cynthia said...

I wish I could attend this tea!

Mallugirl said...

Geeta, ur high tea sounds so good.. my friends and I always toy with the idea of an appetiser only meal but it never works out.
My suggestions to ur menu..there is a Kothambmir vadi which is steamed and friend.. but very make ahead and takes nice..the recipe is here.http://onehotstove.blogspot.com/2005/11/k-is-for-kothimbir-vadi-and-koshmibir.html
then there is vegetable cutlets that u can make ahead and freeze and just take out and fry .

a sweet delicacy is an ada.http://kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com/2008/05/ela-ada-sweet-rice-flour-parcels-in.html
would be fun to see ur final products.

lan said...

geets, so how did it go? my graduate advisor visited this weekend and we fried fresh fish cutlets warm and toasty for him. i was thinking about your high tea when i was frying them. let us all know how it went and do post pics.

whitefieldbb@gmail.com said...

Mallu Girl:

Thanks for the tip.
I'm trying out the recipe for Kothimiri Vade as we speak, early morning.
Allow me into your blog please...as it says I cannot get in. Thanks.
Miss not visiting.

Geeta

whitefieldbb@gmail.com said...

lan:

High Tea is next Sunday.
Thanks so much for all the help.
I'm trying out new recipes in small quantities to make sure they come out right on that day. Can't tell you how much your interest/suggestions mean to me.
Would love to have you, Mallu Girl and Cynthia at my tea.
Will post with pics when it's done.
Right now still in the 'getting the house ready' and planning stage.

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