High Tea catering help

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Joined Apr 3, 2008
Hi friends, I am co-hosting my dear friend's baby shower next month and since she loves Downton Abbey we are having a tea party. It is in the early afternoon 1-3pm. I am not very good at baking so I won't be responsible for much of the sweet stuff like scones etc. But I will take on the sandwich making. Is there any other savoury food that is served at tea? This is Brooklyn so it will also be chalk full of gluten despisers, allergies, etc.

If anyone has any ideas how to make this event special please help.
 
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petite fours can be savory or sweet. Base, glue, and a topping. Way outside of NYC we do deviled eggs, pimento cheese, croutons with Tapenade, and salad tomatoes stuffed with crab salad. You can offer vegan, non gluten, and allergy free versions of many good dishes. I'm not much on high tea so I haven't answered before this good luck with the party.
 
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I already have to buy so much for this shower I don't want to buy a book too, though the cost is not high.
 
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there are so many things you could do. Just google "finger sandwiches" or "tea sandwiches."

Smoked salmon, cucumber cups filled with cream cheese, curried chicken, ham and cheese, egg salad...
 
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
Well yes, which sandwiches I should make is the least of my problems. I guess I want to know, is it customary to serve salad as well? I’ve never experienced a tea party and I don’t know what is appropriate aside from serving sandwiches, scones, and jams. Do I serve butter too? And salad and other side dishes?
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Unless you are serving British expatriates, I'd wager that none of the guests know either. Here's a link I found that may help. I apologize in advance if it doesn't work. I'm not so tech savvy. It seems a few sandwiches, some scones and sweets and a LOT of tea.
downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/05/22/online-guide-to-afternoon-tea/
 
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What time of day will you be serving?
Generally high tea is served later in the day with sturdier casserole type dishes.
Afternoon tea (served around 2-3 pm) will have on offer finger sandwiches as well as small cakes and cookies.
I always put softened butter out with the other condiments meant for scones or small biscuit sandwiches (try a sliver of good Virginia ham in the biscuits) such as jams and preserves and sometimes a simple chutney (if serving undressed meats).
Re salad...will this be a dressed greens salad?
High tea yes (as you will already have the forks out for casserole) regular pm tea no.

mimi
 
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Thanks for the link chefwriter chefwriter that is very interesting and helpful.
@fliipflopgirl it will be early afternoon around 2pm. I'm in charge of some finger sandwiches and a fruit salad, other people are covering the cookies and scones etc.

So I'll be making a fruit salad, it's the middle of winter so it may not be a very interesting salad but I'll add some booze to it and serve it with my famous mascarpone whipped cream.

These are the sandwiches I've settled on:

Smoked salmon and cucumber on rye.
Radish and herbed butter on white
Proscuitto, arugula, and asiago on baguette with fig jam
Waldorf chicken salad sandwich on pumpernickel

They sound so cute and simple but the prep is massive and has to be well-timed. I have to make fig jam, herbed butter, and chicken salad in advance. I have to allow the butter and the cream cheese to soften so that they can be spread. My main concern is cutting the sandwiches! I've heard it's possible to make them the day before by freezing the bread for a couple of hours which will make it easier to cut through, assembling the sandwiches and then storing in the refrigerator wrapped snugly. Will the bread defrost enough in the fridge over night?

Each sandwich should be a different shape right?
 
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Production isn't as hard as it seems. You can make the fillings a day or two ahead, the bread should defrost fine and you can cut them any shape you like. Triangles, rectangles, squares. The different breads will also act to differentiate the sandwiches.
Making the sandwiches will go pretty fast. Remember the high fat fillings like cream cheese and flavored butters will help keep any moisture from other ingredients making the bread soggy, so thinly coat both top and bottom slices on all the sandwiches. This also acts as a kind of glue and helps keep the sandwiches shape when cutting.
If you can find Pullman shaped, sliced loaves the job is even easier.
Otherwise everything sounds great. I'm sure you'll have a great time and be very successful.
 
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
Production isn't as hard as it seems. You can make the fillings a day or two ahead, the bread should defrost fine and you can cut them any shape you like. Triangles, rectangles, squares. The different breads will also act to differentiate the sandwiches.
Making the sandwiches will go pretty fast. Remember the high fat fillings like cream cheese and flavored butters will help keep any moisture from other ingredients making the bread soggy, so thinly coat both top and bottom slices on all the sandwiches. This also acts as a kind of glue and helps keep the sandwiches shape when cutting.
If you can find Pullman shaped, sliced loaves the job is even easier.
Otherwise everything sounds great. I'm sure you'll have a great time and be very successful.

Coat both sides, good tip!

I think the production will be the fun and creative part. It’s all the other stuff that takes time, like boiling and shredding a chicken etc. Which leads to my next question.

There will be 16 people to feed. Not sure how to plan out how much I should buy.
 
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
Scones has already been mentioned so I recommend adding biscuits to the mix.

I know, I’ve thought about that. But I’m already doing so much and the baker already has a lot on her plate too. And the thought is daunting since our lady of honor is from Georgia and is well known for her biscuits! But we’ve got scones, cookies, and there will be cake.
 
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Given all the food available and the size of the sandwiches, I think I'd plan on three or four sandwiches per person total. Some will be more popular than others of course. But you probably won't need much of any one ingredient. For example, English (seedless)cucumbers if you can find them. Two should slice up enough for what you'll need.
You could buy a couple of those hot roasted chickens at the store and shred them when you get home.
Of course, with a nice menu and good ingredients, you can round it up to twenty people total. All your ingredients would be nice to have around anyway. Then you'll have some leftover ingredients to bring with you and if necessary can throw a few extra sandwiches together if need be. If you don't need extra, then you have some nice ingredients on hand for a couple of lunches for yourself. You might as well make a couple pounds of the herbed butter, roll in plastic wrap and freeze to have on hand. Good for a nice dinner. Salmon makes a great omelet.
If you have some mini muffin tins, baked won ton wrappers make great cups for things like the Waldorf salad. Cherry tomatoes make nice apps filled with an herbed cream cheese.
Frilled toothpicks are great for holding together sandwiches that won't cooperate. And of course, stick some in any bits of whatever and you have another appetizer. Celery sticks filled with cream cheese or peanut butter. Roasted, thick zucchini slices cut out with a melon baller make nice little cups for something.
Okay, I may have had too much coffee.
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
I'd say four but you can determine that when you make them. They are called finger sandwiches because they are so small you only need two fingers to hold them while you drink your tea but how many cuts depends on the size of the bread.
A standard sandwich bread cut in four. Corner to corner for triangle shapes or straight across. They also have little pre sliced pumpernickel loafs for sandwiches. Those you might cut in two or not at all.
Then of course, cutting the crusts off the standard size loaf ( after the sandwich is finished) makes them a little fancier but also a little smaller.
You can also use a round biscuit cutter. One sandwich per bread slice but provides a different look.
Pullman loaves seem hard to find these days but if you can locate them unsliced then have them sliced lengthwise horizontally end to end, you can make more sandwiches quickly and the loss of crust doesn't matter so much. Although being in NY close to the city, you can probably find all kinds of specialty loaves for exactly what you need.
Anyway, all else being equal, wait until the sandwiches are finished. Then see which cut makes the most sense for what you have.
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2017
I vote for four triangles. Looks dainty, plates nicely, and people will take smaller food over larger at an event like that. Plus then they can try different kinds without eating too much.

If you are helping with the set up, the sandwiches would look very nice presented on stacked cake plates.

ETA - if you are offering any gluten free sandwiches, my dad finds the bread tastes better toasted. Toast and chicken salad go together well.

And if you really want to have fun, find sugar cubes for the tea, it always impresses.
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Sounds like a great menu...esp the booze...er...fruit salad lol.
I do a take on that chix salad and fill the smaller inner leafs of Romaine for service as have found the chunky veg pieces tear thru most breads .... another option is to serve open face on toast rounds ( great with a sourdough) or in pastry boats ( so so simple to make).

Don't feel like you have to have a bunch of tiny cakes .... a lovely buttercream iced 10 inch on a beautiful stand can be pretty impressive in its own right.

mimi
 

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