Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Jubilee Afternoon Tea, Part One - Coronation Chicken, and Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches, and Scones

I decided that I had to get on top of this themed dinner party business as part of my 101 Things challenge. Almost a year has elapsed since I began my challenge and not a single dinner party had been had. So I decided that I needed to relax my definition of "dinner party" to include all social gatherings that involve serving food.

So... afternoon tea's a theme, right?? *looks hopeful*

I decided that, what with the Queen's jubilee celebrations, that as a member nation of the British Commonwealth we ought to celebrate, British style. And that meant afternoon tea. There was suggestion that we should all be wearing tiaras, but I forgot, and someone else's broke, and a crown ended up serving as a table decoration.

I also decided that I need to start using my recipe books. I have (counting in my head) at least twenty-three cook books, not including the miniature ones, and there are at least five that I have definitely never cooked a recipe from. So I have decided that I will average one recipe per week for a year, making an effort to cook from a different book each week. I have decided that it's okay to cook partial recipes - for example, if I want to make creme patisserie then it is perfectly acceptable to use the recipe from within the croquembouche recipe. Hopefully this means that this time next year I will have 52 more recipes on my blog, and I will therefore be eligible to participate in the Secret Recipe Club.

I know, I have some odd goals in life.

For this afternoon tea, I only used one new recipe. Unfortunately. But there you go - it's my recipe for the week, and there are already plans afoot for the coming weekend. Delicious plans. Oh, yes.

I apologise for the photography. It was late afternoon on an overcast, wintry day and in circumstances like those, especially when there are five other hungry people waiting to dig in, setting up visually pleasing photos has to take a back seat. I will also be posting the cake and quiche recipes separately to the sandwiches and scones. It was too much recipe-ing for one post.

Here is the spread. There are a couple of things on the table that other people made - the yo-yo biscuits, and a chocolate slice (and there were some yummy lemon and lime tarts that someone else made that aren't in the photo), but the rest was my doing, including a batch of scones that aren't on the table in this picture (but the whipped cream and jam are. See that massive pile of white stuff? Yep. That's cream.).

I made the scones using the same recipe I used for these ones, back in the early days of my blog. I have since made these scones several times and they are generally thoroughly spectacular - light, fluffy and just mmmm. This time, I was a little disappointed by them. I think the problem was that I opened the oven just a minute too soon, and as a result they weren't as perfect as usual. Sigh. Better luck next time!

There are two types of sandwich in the lower left hand side of the photo - the first is my take on coronation chicken, and the second is cucumber and cream cheese.

I'd just like to go in to bat for cucumber sandwiches. I don't know whether the cucumber sandwiches people pick on have cream cheese in them or not, but if they do, then people have rocks in their heads. These are YUMMY! (but hey, white bread and philly - how can you go wrong??)

I made four complete sandwiches each of the coronation chicken and of the cucumber, then cut the crusts off and cut them into corners. I then finished the chicken ones with a smear of cream cheese and a wee dusting of sweet paprika down one side, and cucumber ones with chopped chives.

I went through about half a tub of light Philadelphia cream cheese spread, less than half a cucumber, a small bunch of chives and eight slices of bread for the cucumber-cream cheese sandwiches. Slice your cucumber thinly, and leave your philly out on the bench for a while before use to soften. Once no longer rock solid, whip the philly up in the tub with a butter knife to make it more pliable before you begin spreading, otherwise you'll put dirty great holes in your bread. Spread one side of each slice of the bread (make sure they're matched up so they join together evenly when sandwiched); place about 9 thin slice of cucumber on one side; give it a wee sprinkle of salt; sandwich together; cut off crusts and cut into 4 triangles; smear one side of the triangle with more philly; press into chopped chives.

For the coronation chicken, I lightly buttered eight slices of bread (paired as above). I went through the breast (both sides) off a ready-roasted whole chicken; two stalks of celery; somewhere between half and one cups of whole egg mayonnaise (I really have no idea how much I used, so if you're getting low in the jar you should probably buy a new one, just in case you run out half way!); and a little margarine/olive oil spread. Remove the skin from cooled chicken breast; shred with two forks; add finely sliced celery; start by adding about half a cup of mayonnaise and mixing that in, then taste-testing it for texture from there on in. I added more mayo a spoonful at a time (making sure to use a clean spoon for the mayo and not cross-contaminate it with chicken - mayo and chicken are two of the worst culprits in the world of food poisoning and I wanted to avoid that!), then, once it was sufficiently mayo-y, I added salt and pepper to taste. The whole sandwich making/presentation thing was as above, but using sweet paprika rather than chives to decorate.

Gosh, I write good recipes...

Oh, look! I found a photo!

Next up: Mini crustless quiches, and apple streusel cake. Yum.

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