Tea & Books, what more can you ask for?

Maybe some delicious finger foods, a small room full of girls, old friends, new friends, and lots of great conversation. I think we had it covered. A couple of weeks ago my good friend Joey and I hosted what we called the Tea & Book exchange. Our intention was to get a bunch of girls together to exchange books. Yes, that simple. Joey and I have been exchanging books back and forth for a while now and we decided it was time to branch out. We had a lot of girls show up (just over 20) and they brought the expected chick lit, some books stolen from husbands, and a few serious books. It was a hit. We requested each lovely lady bring one book but most people brought a lot more.

Joey and I concocted a menu that may have been a little over zealous but we pulled it off just in the nick of time. Here is what we had:
Cilantro Mint Chutney and Cucumber Sandwiches
Tomato and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Brie with Apples and Crackers
Asiago and Parmesan Cheese Crisps
Chocolate Strawberries
Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
Blueberry Crumble
We also had an assortment of treats brought to us by friends for the event which were delicious (Thanks Girls!). Joey cracks me up – she doesn’t really bake or cook much – and to this she states, “If you don’t cook, you have to be a really good shopper – and I’m a really good shopper.” So I coached her through her green tea cookies (the hard way since my mixer died) and they turned out perfect! She also had a lot of great ideas up her sleeve, like the Chutney (which she used to make in Boston and says is good on fish too).
I think we had a great assortment of sweet and salty with some of my favorites. In order to keep my rambling short I am going to give you some of the recipes we used and invented. We plan on doing this again in a couple of months to switch books again. If you really liked this idea, I think you could turn it into something that suits your style: Children’s Book Exchange – for Mom and Dad, or older kids who enjoy reading, a magazine exchange, recipe exchange, whatever you choose I assure you it will be great fun! Joey also found this great little site that is still beta testing for online invitations, they are beautiful (more fun than Evite) and you can personalize them to suit your party, I hope you check them out.

Cilantro Chutney

1 cup packed cilantro ( leaves and stems)

1 cup packed mint (leaves only)

1/4 small red onion coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Up to 2 tablespoons water


Blend it all in a blender until you get a smooth paste. Add water if

needed to aid on the blending. Refrigerated chutney will keep for 4

day. Smear on bread with cucumber for a tea sandwich or add to fish too.



Tomato and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
super simple – no real recipe here

1 baguette sliced and lightly toasted
5 oz goat cheese
2 large tomatoes diced
handful of fresh basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

add garlic, basil, and some olive oil to a food processor and blend until pieces are small but not pesto! salt and pepper to taste. toss with tomatoes and set aside. Spread a little goat cheese on the toasts and top with a little of the tomato mix.


Green Tea Shortbread Cookie

2 cups flour

1-2 tblspns green tea powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar


sift the flour, powdered tea and salt into a bowl. In a mixer bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add flour mixture to mixer bowl and mix slowly until dough just comes together.


Pull dough into a log aprox. 2″ in diameter. Wrap dough log and place in freezer for 30 minutes until dough has firmed to the touch. Slice dough into 1/4″ rounds and place on silpat lined cookie sheet, aprox 1″ apart.


bake on preheated oven at 325 for 16 to 18 minutes or until cookies

start to turn golden


Blueberry Crumble
1 1/2 C quick oats
1 C flour
3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C butter, cut into small pieces

1 C blueberries, frozen
1/2 C raspberry jam
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla

Line a 8x8x2″ pan with foil and preheat oven to 350*. In a small bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, and butter. Using your fingertips cut in butter until it resembles peas and flakes. Reserve 1 C of the mix. Press the mix into the bottom of the pan. Bake 25 minutes.

In another bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Gently pour onto half baked crust and top with the reserved crumble. Return to oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack and cut into bars.

I like to make this one in individual cups (muffin tins work well) when I am not making them for a large crowd. Use foil for the lining. Bake as directed above separating the mix equally between the 12 muffin tins. Unmold and serve with a small scoop of great vanilla ice cream or raspberry gelato – or both!
click here to see all of the pictures from Tea & Tales
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