Crowning Inspiration... Valentine's Day Bridal Shower

sa la saison d'amour!
And no better time than to host a Bridal Shower with a Valentine's Day theme Tea Party

Rose Petal Tea
Tea Sandwiches
Heart-Shaped Lemon Scones
Orange Poppy Seed Bread
Creme Fraiche
Candied Orange Rinds
Strawberries in Lemon-Lavender Syrup

Rose Petal Tea
2 cups fresh fragrant rose petals (about 15 large roses)*
3 cups distilled water
Honey or granulated sugar to taste
*All roses that you intend to consume must be free of pesticides. Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops. The tastiest roses are usually the most fragrant.
Clip and discard bitter white bases from the rose petals; rinse petals thoroughly and Pat dry. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, place the prepared rose petals. Cover with water and bring just to a simmer; let simmer for approximately 5 minutes, or until the petals become discolored (darkened).
Remove from heat and strain the hot rose petal liquid into teacups. Add honey or sugar to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Tea Sandwiches
Four key parts to perfect tea sandwhiches: petit, crustless, thin and savory!

Deviled Egg Sandwiches
3/4 cup soft butter or cream cheese
20 slices bread of your choice
4 or 5 hardboiled eggs
8 ounces canned sardines in oil, oil reserved
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Spread 1 side of each slice of bread with butter or cream cheese. Place all the remaining ingredients except reserved oil in a food processor. Whirl until a spread is formed, adding reserved oil and/or mayonnaise to bring it to spreading consistency. Spread the mixture evenly over 10 slices of bread, top with the other 10, remove the crusts and cut into tea sandwiches. Makes 40 quarters or 30 finger sandwiches.

Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
1 cup soft cream cheese
20 slices bread, your choice
1/2 cup capers
12 ounces thin-sliced smoked salmon
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper
Spread the cream cheese on one side of each slice of bread. Dot with capers. Arrange the smoked salmon on 10 of the bread slices and brush with lemon juice. Pepper generously. Top with the other 10 slices, remove the crusts and cut. Makes 40 tea sandwiches or 30 fingers.

Cucumber Tea Sandwich Recipe
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced very thinly
3/4 cup soft butter
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
20 slices bread
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pepper to taste
Lightly salt the cucumber slices and place them in a colander to drain for 1 to 2 hours. Then combine the butter and garlic and apply to one side of each slice of bread. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Add the cucumber slices, coating them well. Arrange the cucumber on 10 of the bread slices, top with the other 10 slices, remove the crusts, and quarter. Serve immediately. Makes 40 tea sandwiches.

Crab Tea Sandwich Recipe
3/4 cup soft butter or cream cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
20 slices bread of your choice
2 cups finely chopped crab (or shrimp or lobster)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the butter and chives and spread the mixture onto one side of each slice of bread. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl, then evenly spread the mixture over 10 of the bread slices. Top with the other 10 slices, remove the crusts, and cut. Makes 40 quarters or 30 finger sandwiches.

Creme Fraiche
the perfect accompaniment to fresh fruit, scones and breads
1 to 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
2 cups heavy cream (pasteurized, not ultra pasteurized or sterilized, and with no additives).
Combine the buttermilk and cream in a saucepan and heat only to tepid (not more than 85 degrees on an instant reading thermometer). Pour into a clean glass jar. Partially cover and let stand at room temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees) for 8 to 24 hours, or until thickened. Stir and refrigerate at least 24 hours before using. The cream will keep about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Heart-Shaped Lemon Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
1/2 cup sour milk*
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel Additional sugar

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add milk and lemon peel, stirring just until mixed. Turn onto a floured surface; knead gently six times. Shape into a ball. On a greased baking sheet, pat dough into a circle about 1/2 in thick and 8-1/2 in. in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut wedges in the dough, being careful not to cut all the way through. Or cut out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Candied Orange Rinds - tasty in both coffee & tea

3 or 4 thick-skinned navel oranges
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup of cold water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 teaspoon orange or almond extract, optional
Granulated sugar, for rolling the orange rinds in

Quarter the oranges and remove from the rind. Scrape to remove the flesh and all white pith. Cut lengthwise into thin 2-inch strips. In a large saucepan filled with cold water, place orange rind strips. Bring just to a boil, remove from heat, and strain. Repeat this step two times. In a saucepan over a medium heat, completely dissolve the 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water. Optional ingredients of orange or almond extract may be added to sugar syrup if desired for flavor. Reduce heat to low; add the orange rinds and let simmer approximately 1 hour or longer or until the orange rinds are translucent. Using a slotted spoon, remove candied orange rind, shaking off excess syrup. Immediately toss with sugar, using fork to separate pieces so they do not touch. Place on a wire rack to cool and dry.
Store in an airtight container for one week. When ready to serve candied orange rinds may be dipped in chocolate.

Orange Poppy Seed Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds, toasted*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Orange Glaze (see recipe below)

* Toasting Poppy Seeds - Toast poppy seeds in a 350 degree F. oven or in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, toasting only until seeds begins to brown.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, milk, vegetable oil, orange zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract; stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake approximately 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire racks.
While still hot, using a long-tined fork, poke holes in the top of the baked loaves. Pour Orange Glaze over loaves. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans.
Cool completely before slicing. Yields 2 loaves.

Orange Glaze:
3/4 cup sifted powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract; stir until well blended.

Strawberries in Lemon-Lavender Syrup
1 pound fresh strawberries
6 tablespoons water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
Whipped cream or Creme Fraiche (optional)

Rinse and drain strawberries. Hull and cut into halves or quarters into a large bowl and set aside. In small saucepan over low heat, combine water, lemon juice, sugar and lavender and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and lavender is infused. Remove from heat and strain syrup, discarding the blossoms. Pour strained syrup over strawberries and toss gently to mix. Serve berries and syrup right away in pretty glass bowls or stemmed glasses. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.
Note: You can prepare the syrup in advance and let it cool. Toss with berries just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

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