Valentine’s Day Par…TEA!

February 14th is around the corner. The holiday differs depending on where you are in life. If you’re raising kids, there are valentines to seal and deliver. If you’re in love, the day calls for flowers, chocolates – maybe dinner reservations if you’re okay with crowds.

In other words, the kind of stuff that makes you glad when it’s over.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It can be F-U-N! And here’s the truth from a self-described EXTREME PARTY PLANNER. In all my years of entertaining, I’ve come to see that the best thing you could do on Valentine’s Day is stay home!

But you can’t just do nothing, right? Not with an excuse like Feb 14 to have a party. So make it the easiest of parties…make it a TEA party!

The guest list is easy. Got grandkids? Invite ‘em! They will never stop talking about the time Nana hosted high tea. Just you and a significant other? Make it tea for two. Or you can just have a few friends come over and nibble crustless sandwiches, dunk macarons in Earl Gray and talk about Downton Abbey.

What you can’t make, can pretty much be bought. I’ve seen cases of macarons (in pinks and reds no less) for sale at the grocery store. It’s also kind of fun to buy crustless Pepperidge Farm bread (in white or pumpernickel) to make cucumber, chicken salad or pimento cheese sandwiches.

Cut them up small, so they fit on a 3 tier cake stand.

A roll of puff pastry dough from the frozen food aisle enables spur of the moment pastries, both savory and sweet. Idea: Make a Caesar salad and plop tablespoons into baked phyllo cups.

OR…Make my TRIO OF PICNIC Pinwheels, a SUNDAY BEST favorite. I’ve posted the recipe below.

On a tiered tray, I like to make the top level up with 4 to 6 savory items and up to 5 sweet ones on the bottom level – I’m talking desserts like mini slices of key lime pie, baby brownies, scones and lil’ cupcakes.

The middle level can have hand dipped chocolate strawberries, and ramekins full of clotted cream, butter, chutney, raspberry jam or any garnish your guests see fit.

And of course you need to have a tea pot standing by, either pre-made with a black tea blend that is a safe bet for most palates, or just hot water with array of teabags on offer. I also highly recommend offering pink and yellow lemonades – something cold and un-caffeinated.

I’ll be posting table-scape ideas and shopping lists, now through Valentine’s Day on all the social media channels. Find me @jorjmorgancooking! Be Mine always when you subscribe to the weekly blog. XOXO

Trio of Picnic Pinwheels
EACH RECIPE MAKES 2 WRAPS ABOUT 16 PINWHEELS

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels
½ pound medium fresh asparagus spears, trimmed, about 16
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
8 ounces smoked salmon
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons capers, drained
¼ small red onion, peeled
2 (10-inch) flour tortillas

Warm a grill pan over high heat. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the spears until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Place the salmon, cream cheese, capers and red onion into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Lay the tortillas onto your work surface. Spread each one with salmon spread. Lay the asparagus over the top. Roll up the tortillas over the filling. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to slice.

California Pinwheels
4-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
1 large avocado, pitted and peeled
Juice from ½ lime, about 1 tablespoon
8 slices Provolone cheese
8 slices roasted turkey
10 to 12 cornichons, chopped

Place the cream cheese, mayonnaise and avocado into the bowl of a food processor. Sprinkle with lime juice. Pulse to combine. Lay the tortillas onto your work surface. Spread each one with avocado spread. Lay the cheese and turkey slices over the top. Sprinkle the cornichons in a line over one edge of the filling. Roll up the tortillas over the cornichons and filling. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to slice.

Ruben Pinwheels

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sauerkraut
1 tablespoon prepared Thousand Island dressing, plus 1 cup for pinwheels
8 slices corned beef
8 slices Swiss cheese

Place the cream cheese, sauerkraut and 1 tablespoon Thousand Island dressing into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Lay the tortillas onto your work surface. Spread each one with sauerkraut spread. Lay the corn beef and Swiss cheese slices over the top. Spread with another layer of Thousand Island dressing. Roll up the tortillas over the filling. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to slice.

 

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