TEA IS HOT, so to speak. In lieu of lunch, in lieu of brunch, even replacing the cocktail hour, it's the summer alternative in entertaining. Our version, non-traditional in attitude, is definitely cooled down: long drinks of icy-cool tea in place of steaming hot cups, combined with a simple, stylish, no-fuss menu. Bring out dishes that make a statement, linens with dash, glasses to mix and match. Rave reviews are in the bag.
THE ICED TEAS
The focal point of any afternoon tea is the tea itself. For great California iced tea, several hours before serving place 2 or 3 tea bags in one quart of distilled or bottled water. Place bottle in sun until tea is of desired strength, or place in refrigerator overnight. Try any of these combinations:
English Breakfast with a slice of lemon.
Darjeeling with a swirl of milk and sugar.
Earl Gray with a tiny bunch of grapes.
Jasmine with a fresh garden flower.
Lapsang Souchang with a celery stick.
Rose Hip with a few rose petals.
Black Currant with fresh currants or Bing cherries.
Orange-Spice with orange slices and a cinnamon stick.
Mint with sprigs of fresh mint leaves.
JAZZY TEA SANDWICHES
These sandwiches are fun to prepare! Delicious--and unexpected-- combinations on a variety of breads that can be rolled, layered, cut into checkerboards. (For rolled or stacked sandwiches, slice bread 1/2-inch thick horizontally; spread with fillings, then roll up.) All may be prepared 24 hours in advance, then wrapped in plastic wrap and sliced before serving. Some suggested combinations are:
Black olive tapenade with red-pepper butter and radishes.
Apple butter with Cheddar and watercress.
Thinly sliced cucumber with smoked salmon and dill.
Fresh basil pesto with prosciutto.
Roasted pepper puree with Italian-cured salami.
Smoked turkey with chutney.
Anjou pear slices with Gouda and cracked black pepper.
Sliced daikon with savory herb butter.
Date-honey butter with turkey.
Cold grilled chicken slices with plum jam and watercress.
Smoked salmon and sorrel butter.
Roquefort butter with tart apple slices.
Cream cheese with Bay shrimp and dill.
Purchase or make tiny 1-inch tart shells. Just before serving, fill with any suggested combinations of these:
Chocolate mousse with a single raspberry.
Lemon curd with thin slices of kumquat and lime.
Cream cheese flavored with orange liqueur and several slices of fresh strawberries.
Vanilla custard with kiwi.
MAD HATTER TEACUP MOUSSE
2 cups fresh pureed fruit
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fruit-flavored liqueur
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream, chilled and whipped
2 large egg whites, beaten stiff
Puree fruit, using a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add sugar, liqueur, gelatin and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Fold in whipped cream and refrigerate about 1 hour or just until mixture begins to set. Fold in beaten egg whites until no lumps remain. Spoon or pipe mousse into teacups or individual serving bowls, piling high. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 4 servings.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 12-ounce jar orange or lemon marmalade
3 tablespoons Scotch whisky
2 tablespoons finely grated orange, lemon or tangerine peel
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts tossed with 1 tablespoon flour
Powdered Sugar Glaze
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in medium bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until very light in color. Mix in marmalade, Scotch whisky and grated citrus peel. Blend in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts.
Pour batter into greased and floured 10-cup tube pan. Bake in 350-degree oven 45-55 minutes minutes or until cake is springy to touch (a cake tester inserted should come out clean and cake will just begin to pull in slightly from sides of pan). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 20 minutes; invert cake onto wire rack to cool completely. Ice with Powdered Sugar Glaze. Makes 1 10-inch tube cake.
Powdered Sugar Glaze
1 1-pound box confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Selected food colorings, optional
Place sugar in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. With motor running, add lemon juice and just enough water (1 to 3 tablespoons) to produce a thick glaze. Tint with food coloring if desired. Spoon glaze over top of cake over wire rack with a plate underneath to catch dripping. Allow to set until firm and dry.
PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER / PHOTOGRAPHED BY PETER HOGG / FOOD STYLIST: EDENA SHELDON / DISHES FROM NANCY EPSTEIN GALLERY, BEVERLY HILLS / GLASSES, FLATWARE, SERVICE PLATES FROM THE PAVILION AT TANNER MARKET, PASADENA