Spring is in the air and nature is awakening from the its long slumber. The lakes are thawing and the birds are chirping. Soon the trees will be budding. It’s a time of renewal and growth and a great time to get together with friends again as the weather warms up. What better way to catch up than over a cup of tea.

Setting the table and planning the menu are always so much fun when hosting a tea party. Fine china and lovely lace linen that’s been sitting in the closet can finally see the light of day. Depending on the time of day, the food may be delicate or hearty.

For this brunch, I have made some turkey potpies and cucumber mint sandwiches. We’ll have Yorkshire Gold tea as it is a really good morning tea. It is a blend of Indian Assam and African teas with a rich, full bodied flavor. It is good with a little milk and sugar.

Ro-Ri’s Turkey Potpie
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup butter or shortening
7 to 8 tbsp cold water

1 lb cubed cooked turkey
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup frozen green peas
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1¾ cups low fat milk
½ tsp sage
salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, cook onions and carrots till tender. Stir in flour, sage, salt, and pepper. Add turkey and give it a good stir. Pour in milk. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Stir in green peas and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Remove and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose flour and salt. Cut in butter or shortening with a pastry blender or two forks until resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix using a spoon. Continue to add water one tablespoon at a time until flour is moistened. There may still be some dry flour at this point. Gather and knead dough just very slightly. To have a flaky pastry, dough should be handled as little as possible. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into two, one piece about ⅝ and the other ⅜ of the entire quantity dough. Roll out the larger piece on a lightly floured surface to a size sufficient to line 4 individual pie pans. Line pan with pastry. Trim off excess at the edge of a pan. Roll out the other piece of dough. Trim 4 pieces of pastry to the edge of pie pan. Cut a few slits on trimmed pastry. Spoon turkey filling into pastry lined pans. Top with trimmed pastry. Seal by pressing down onto the edge of pan with the back of a fork. Brush with egg wash and bake in a 350˚F oven for 45 to 50 minutes. To prevent over browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Remove and serve warm.

Cucumber sandwiches are very much a part of the English tea. Paper thin slices of cucumber are placed between two thin slices of bread spread with butter or cream cheese. These are may be served on its own for a light snack or afternoon tea.

Cucumber and Mint Sandwiches
20 slices of Pepperidge Farm very thin sliced white bread
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
4 oz of fat-free cream cheese
1 tbsp half and half
1 green onion, minced
a bunch of mint leaves, rinsed, and pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese and half and half until it is the consistency of soft butter. Mix in minced green onions. Spread bread with cream cheese mixture. Top 10 slices of bread with several slices of cucumber and mint leaves each. Cover with the other 10 slices of bread. Slice off crust from each sandwich and then cut into triangles or rectangles. Place decoratively on a plate. Serve sandwiches immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Black Tea
Always start by boiling cold spring or filtered water. Bring the water to a full boil. In the meantime, prepare one teabag per cup and an extra for the pot, if a strong tea is preferred. When water comes to a boil, pour a little into the teapot, swirl it around and then pour away. Put teabags into teapot and pour boiling water over teabags. Steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove teabags and serve immediately.

If using loose tea leaf, it is best to use a stainless steel or nylon tea infuser. The infuser should be suspended in the teapot with its rim sitting on the rim of the teapot. Measure out 1 teaspoon for each cup of tea and one extra for the pot, if a strong tea is preferred.

Pour a little boiled water into the teapot, swirl it around and then pour away. Suspend tea infuser in teapot with its rim resting on rim of teapot. Pour boiling water over tea leaves. Steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove infuser and serve immediately.

Care for some milk and sugar?

Have a slice of pie…..

…..and some cucumber sandwiches.

Finally, what’s crumpets and tea without friends.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!