Spring tea

Afternoon_Tea

March went by in a flash and April flew right in. Despite the mild temperature difference, it does feel a bit springy here in Maui. The orchard blossoms are blooming with delicate pink buds and the bees couldn’t be any busier with all the fresh flowers in bloom. It’s such a subtle change but I can’t help but think of the quote by Margaret Atwood, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” It’s so true, with the muddy ground and fresh dirt unearthed under the snow, springtime always smelt like dirt at home. It’s a time where you just want to be outside all day as long as it’s light. The upcountry farmer’s market is bursting with the fresh, delicate spring vegetables — asparagus, artichokes, peas, and fresh herbs.

Afternoon_Tea

It’s also a time of new projects and plans, which have kept me quite busy. I’m currently working on a book proposal for submission to a literary agent, wish me luck! Also I’m navigating the tricky territory within Maui County to offer styled picnics for elopements and proposals. It’s something that I’ve been mulling over and finally decided to just give it a go.

With the warmer temperatures, I couldn’t think of a lovelier way to spend an weekend afternoon with some tea and all the trimmings. The traditional tea service was quite the elaborate affair, however it doesn’t take such a production to put together a little gathering for your friends. I like to include a few sweet treats with the traditional tea sandwiches using seasonal ingredients. Right now there are so many beautiful fresh herbs in bloom and green vegetables which a delicate in flavor to balance a rich tea. Blanching asparagus spears, crisp cucumbers, spring radishes, fresh goat cheese, and smoked salmon are all lovely sandwich ideas. Traditionally, tea sandwiches use white bread, although I like to add a bit of texture by using rye, pumpernickel, or another nutty bread.

Afternoon_Tea


Here is one of my favorite sandwiches, a classic combination but with a spring herb twist. The beauty of the tea sandwich is that it lends well to improvisation if you’re mindful of the flavor balance, while still keeping it neat and light!

Nordic Rye Tea Sandwich

Makes 8 dozen

2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup minced green onions

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, reserve a few springs for a garnish

2 tablespoons of butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup of thinly sliced red radishes

1 cup peeled and finely sliced cucumber

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 loaf of rye bread



Mix the cream cheese, green onions, dill, butter, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Layer the cream cheese mixture on one slice of bread. Thinly layer the cucumber and radishes in a gratin-style pattern or however you like and add a few springs of dill on top. Finish by topping off with the second slice of bread, removing the crusts. Finally cut the sandwiches into 2” x 2” squares of 2” x 4” rectangles. Do your best to keep it neat and tidy. Serve on a pretty platter with other tea sandwiches for variety!