Monday, February 27, 2012

A very, very, very, late Christmas Tea Post Continued!

So I had a lovely weekend down in Texas and while I was there I got to visit a lovely tearoom! Loveliness all around. That post will have to come another day though because my class is about to start so I will just be finishing up the Christmas tea post.

It was time to set the table finally. I decided to use the momster's china and start off with a cream table cloth followed by a green and white checked cloth with printed pine cones. The silver tea service also made an appearance as the center piece. 
Silver tea service with oranges and greenery. 
The greenery was cut from the cedar trees down the street. I always wash them in the sink and quarantined the stems so we aren't bugged by extra guest...get it...bugged! The oranges were not only there for a touch of color; every Christmas we had at my Mimi and Papa's house (my dad's parents) we would each get a giant orange stuffed down in the toe of our stockings. This relates to the tradition when oranges were a luxury item and would be stuffed in the toe of stockings along with other nuts, sweets, and candies. The stockings we used at their house were always traditional stockings that we long and white and probably older than me!

Noel Log in its full glory! I am already looking forward to making this again next year with fancier decorations. 
The Noel log also got the greenery treatment and a few holly springs to liven up the presentation! The meringue mushrooms were placed on right before serving so they wouldn't dissolve in the whipped topping.

The final table was full but not overstuffed. I thought it turned out fairly pretty. Each time I set the table I get a little better. I look forward to my own space one day.
Starting from the left: sugar cookies on the triple tray, scones with butter and jam, Noel log, cheese and summer sausage plate with crackers, finger sandwiches (turkey cranberry and cucumber) and finally plates, teacups and saucers!
This tea was planned for six people and we ate in the other room around the coffee table which was spruced up with a lace tablecloth and a real noel log center piece complete with two red taper candles! A elephant tea cozy made his grand debut! Sadly my friend was still at her dad's house out of state at the time of the tea so she could not admire her handiwork.
The elephant tea cozy of joy! He needs a proper name. 
Well that about wraps it up! I will have to do better on documenting everything next time. I am now going to get ready for my class....but I will be thinking about watching the Carling Cup when I get home.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A very, very,very late Christmas Tea Prep Post

Howdy Y'all!

Ever since this semester has started I have been running around like the White Rabbit screaming "I'm late!" Between classes and trying to workout 6 days a week all I want to do when I come home is curl up in bed and watch Downton Abbey over and over. Well, now that the excuses have been made on to the post.

The menu for this tea can be found here!

I always have trouble finding a balance between sweets and savories. Baking is my thing so I always want to make all these pretty deserts I have been drooling over. I limited myself to 3 baked goods this time: cranberry scones with orange zest & plain scones, some cute teapot sugar cookies, and the crowning jewel...Bûche de Noël!

This was the first time I have made cut out sugar cookies in a long time. I followed Sugarbelle's Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe which was a cinch! I tend to like a softer chewier cookie so I rolled mine out a bit thicker and added a few mintues to the cook time.
Cutting out the cookies. I received this cutter as a gift from my friend Misty! Since then I  got a whole set of 3 different shaped teapot cutters from my friend Carly. Seriously my friends rock and that is coming from a geologist!
I had to watch the spouts of the teapots so they wouldn't burn, they were a little browner than the rest of the cookie but not too crispy! I whipped up some Royal Icing using meringue powder, powdered sugar, and some almond extract. *I will find the recipe and post it later* I decided to just stick to green and white icing this time because I was trying to keep things simple. I did do a bit of marbling technique. Let us just say I need practice piping! 
The sugar cookie process from out of the oven to frosting. I was glad how the frosting dried but I need to work on technique! Once again, check out Sugarbelle's blog for great step-to-step guide. 

Overall, the sugar cookie process was an easy one. The mess I left behind however was quite enormous! I was using the boyfriend's kitchen because the stand mixer lives there...thankfully he didn't see the full amount of mess I made. Plus, I always try to leave the kitchen cleaner than when I found it. Boyfriend had to go out of town and did not get to witness or taste the rest of the baking madness. Does anyone else turn into a rabid squirrel when using powdered sugar and flour? According to the mess I made...I do. 

The Bûche de Noël was much easier than I expected too! I got the recipe for the cake and the meringue mushrooms off my go to recipe site, all recipes. I highly recommend reading the reviews  because they have helpful tips! I was so nervous about rolling the cake up but it went much better than expected. I did have a few problems when removing the cake from the parchment paper but, all in all I gained some good experience. 
The noel log before and after photos. I cut a bit off the end at a 45 degree angle to make it stumpy. The frosting is the same whipped chocolate as the filling with a fork run through it to make it look like bark. Mushrooms will be added right before serving so they won't dissolve! 

I have to say I am absolutely addicted to meringues, seriously. I talked about the magic of egg whites for weeks. I look forward to whipping more egg whites into shape in the near future. 

The little guys. Super easy and very crowd pleasing! My cocoa powder sorta dumped over the top of them  but hey who has ever complained of more chocolate! 

I also used my basic scone recipe and divided the dough in half. I put cranberries and orange zest in one half and left the other half plain. Sadly, this blogging thing is new and I didn't take any pictures but they were some tasty scones!

 I will probably deticate a whole blog post to the process of making scones that aren't a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale (BAM GEOLOGY JOKE!).