Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Black Hat Society Tea

Last year, the spouse started a tradition of doing a tea for Halloween. Riffing on the Red Hat Society and their penchant for teas, she decided there needed to be a Black Hat Society tea for witches. The picture to the left was the inspiration for the party. We borrowed a friend's new place, which is a retired firehouse, to have room for 30 people. The ladies wore a great variety of hats; witches' hats, top hats, classic ladies' hats, and more.

For the food, we wanted to focus on fall flavors. Last year, we made pumpkin the theme, with a pumpkin dish in each course. This year, we chose apple as the theme flavor.We followed a traditional order of courses; savory, scone, and sweet. In this post, I will put up pictures and descriptions of the items, detailed recipes will follow in additional posts.

Savory Course

We made four items for the savory course; cold apple soup,pumpkin bread with walnut butter and pear, broiled open face Swiss and Canadian bacon sandwiches, and stuffing rounds with roast turkey. The savory course was paired with Scottish Breakfast tea. This is a hearty, robust blend of black teas.

Cold Apple Soup with Apple Schnapps Creme

This soup is based on granny smith apples, flavored with moscato, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and honey. The cream is lightly whipped, with some sour apple schnapps to kick up the apple flavor. It was served chilled. The most frequent comment was that it tasted like a really kick-ass apple sauce.

Pumpkin Bread with Walnut Butter and Pear

I made pumpkin bread, which we sliced thin, and topped with a homemade walnut butter, and a slice of fresh pear. This had a great balance of textures and flavors. The crispness of the pear contrasted well with the soft bread and creamy walnut butter. The little touch of bitterness in the nut butter helped balance out the sweetness of the pear and bread.  I think this was a really nice bit of fall in a bite.

Open Faced Canadian Bacon and Swiss Sandwiches

This is a variation on a sandwich my grandfather used to make. The base is one half of an English muffin. A thin layer of a spicy condiment goes next. My grandfather used Mrs. Renfro's Chow Chow, but that is very hard to come by outside of Texas. For this version we used chipotle jelly. Next is a piece Canadian bacon, topped with a piece of Swiss cheese. Finally, a thin layer of spicy mustard. The sandwich is then broiled until the cheese is bubbly and a little caramelized. We  quartered the sandwiches, as the point of the event was small bites.

Stuffing Rounds with Roast Turkey and Cranberry Mustard

I wanted to create a taste of thanksgiving in one bite. I also wanted to continue to expand on what can be used as a base for tea sandwiches. Sage stuffing is one of my top comfort foods, and will definitely be a future post. The round is a little savory bread pudding, flavored with basil, oregano, thyme, onion, celery, and sage. It's topped with a slice of roast turkey, and a little cranberry mustard.

Scone Course

We made three scones for the scone course. I wanted to use the scone course to transition from savory to sweet. We started with a savory cilantro-pepita pesto scone. Next, we presented a pecan-brown sugar scone with molasses butter, and ended with a caramel apple pie scone. A friend made some Devonshire cream to go along with the sweet scones. The scone course was paired with a white tea. This is a light, delicate tea.

Cilantro-Pepita Pesto Scones

For this scone, I made a pesto of cilantro, pepitas, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. This was then incorporated that into the batter for the scones. The cilantro was prevalent but not overwhelming, and gave a great flavor.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Scones

The first sweet scone was a brown sugar-pecan scone. It was mildly sweet, and very nutty. I made a molasses butter to go along with it, to get that pecan pie flavor. They were a hit. They also went well with the Devonshire cream.

Caramel Apple Pie Scones

The final, and sweetest, scone was a caramel apple pie scone. Made with chunks of apple, and with apple juice and buttermilk as the liquid, they were very moist. They were flavored with typical apple pie spices, then glazed with an apple juice powdered sugar glaze, and finally lightly drizzled with homemade caramel. They were a huge hit. The under ten crowd, in particular, loved them.

Sweet Course

We also did three items for the sweet course. These were all the work of the spouse, I can only take credit for final assembly. Continuing with the apple theme, the first sweet was a sparkling cider pound cake, followed by sweet potato tarts with vanilla whipped cream, and finishing on a light note with Lady Grey tea cookies. The sweet course was paired with a Papaya and Passion Fruit tea. We wanted something sweeter, and a little fruity, for the sweet course.

Sparkling Cider Pound Cake

These are a lovely cake, both flavored and partially leavened by sparkling apple cider. The spouse also added a bit of sour apple schnapps, to up the apple flavor. The spouse used a mini bundt pan, to produce delightful little individual cakes.

Sweet Potato Tarts

The next sweet was a sweet potato tart with vanilla flavored whipped cream. The spouse used a biscotti crumb crust on the bottom. The sweet potato was rather laboriously shoved through a sieve, to remove the more fibrous material, and lighten the tarts.

Lady Grey Tea Cookies

We wanted to end on a light note, so the final sweet was Lady Grey tea cookies. This is sort of a shortbread, flavored with Lady Grey tea. The more delicate citrus notes of that tea are very refreshing, and a bit subtler than Earl Grey tea. They are lightly frosted.

Recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

This was a great event, and I'm already looking forward to next year.

Happy Eating!


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