The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mother's Day Tea, part 2

image from Grandma's Graphics.
For the past few years I’ve prepared a tea brunch for my mom on Mother’s Day, setting the table with her mother’s everyday dishes (1940s vintage Franciscan Desert Rose pottery, which lives in the cabinet most of the year), and putting a bunch of her favorite flowers, orange blossoms, in a vase on the table. Here is a menu that I’ve used in the past for my mom on Mother’s Day:

Twining’s Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea
Lemon-currant scones (purchased from a local farmer's market)
Homemade lemon curd
Savory Breakfast Casserole (from my grandma’s cookbook)
Cherry cobbler (from my grandma’s cookbook)
Dutch Baby with fruit

In my family we often make savory casseroles/bread puddings for special occasion breakfasts like Christmas and Easter morning, because they can be assembled the day before, covered and put in the fridge overnight, and taken out and baked the next morning, saving time on a holiday. Not only are sweet and savory bread puddings easy dishes to make, they have been part of American home cooking for many years, definitely among the ranks of “comfort food,” which is a good thing to have on a holiday.

Here are some of the vintage recipes I've used:

Plain Muffins:
Temperature, 400 degrees; Time, 25 minutes

¼ cup butter
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually, creaming while adding. Then add the well-beaten egg. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add them alternately with the milk to thebutter and sugar mixture. For variation 1 cup of blueberries or other berries may be folded into the muffin mixture. Or, if desired, add ½ cup of chopped dates and ½ cup of chopped nut meats. Bake in greased muffin tins at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Yield: 12 muffins, 2 ½ inches diameter, 1 ½ inches deep.
-- from Magic Chef Cooking, ca. 1925.

Breakfast Casserole:
Place olive oil in skillet and in it fry one piece of onion and one piece of garlic until clear. Add one can solid pack tomatoes, pour into a glass casserole and cover with half slices of bacon. Add six well beaten eggs on top and cover with pieces of bacon. Bake 45 minutes in a slow oven. Serve with hot corn bread.
-- from Burnt Toast: Victory Recipes, ca. 1942.

Cobbler (fresh fruit):
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk

[Mix together to form batter.] Pour batter in pan. Cover with fresh fruit (I used cherries for my Mother's Day tea breakfast). Pour syrup over dough. Syrup: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water [brought to a boil and then cooled]. Bake 45 minutes -- 350 degrees. Serve hot or cold with cream. [NOTE: like fruit pies, this dish will overflow and drip sugar syrup all over your oven. Put a cookie sheet underneath when you put it in the oven to catch the drips.]
-- from Burnt Toast: Victory Edition, ca. 1942.

Other recipes that would be a good addition to your Mother's Day tea brunch:

Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Dill

Alsatian Cottage Cheese & Onion Tart

Caramel Risotto

Lemon Rice Pudding from Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)