High tea at the Mansion House with “Edith Kingdon Gould” is an ongoing tradition at Georgian Court University in Lakewood where, over the years, the theatrical crew of St. George Productions has concocted sweet menus out of affable stories, good voices, charming personalities and lovely cuisine that harks back to gentler times.
Set against the back drop of the great hall, where once the real Edith and her guests amused themselves with costume galas and other entertainments, the teas always feature a guest drawn from history — yesterday the infamous “great profile,” aka “John Barrymore,” came calling.
The events are spiced with mild and amusing banter, rousing songs and delightfully delicate platters of tea sandwiches and pastries, washed down by brewed tea and accented with good conversation at the wide, round tables.
Yesterday’s tea was no exception. The performances by Tamara Lynn Leonard as Edith, Kermit Gregg as her personal butler, Mister Charles, and Eric J. Rolland, a rougish John Barrymore, spiced the atmosphere with lots of sparkle and sass.
The tea was lovely. The traditional finger sandwiches included cucumber, tuna salad, turkey with cranberry spread, sweet & savory ham and tomato and mozzarella on a variety of breads. From a selection of pastries, I really enjoyed a small creme tart topped by fresh fruits. The tea is running through Oct. 17 but because the event is so popular, tables book up fast.
Look for Mrs. Gould to welcome guests again for her Ninth Annual Holiday Social beginning November 10 and running through Dec. 19. Tickets are $42. Call the Georgian Court University Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732-987-2263 or go to www.georgian.edu
Our house isn’t grand like Georgian Court but high tea is a treat we’ve enjoyed all our lives. It was a custom, on the U.K. side of the family, to treat visitors to such a repast and I remember enjoying this dainty finger food with my great aunts — grandpa came from a family of 10 children — and cousins up in North Jersey whenever we visited.
Early on when I entertained, I took to making tea sandwiches for friends and their children. The children especially seemed to enjoy the teas just as I always had. Our nieces, when they were young, would often ask for a “cup a sip of tea” and sandwiches as soon as they arrived at our house.
The sandwiches I enjoy making today vary a bit from the standard tuna, chicken, crab and ham salad though. Smoked salmon dusted with (inexpensive caviar — the kind you find in the canned fish section at the supermarket) is a favorite as are sandwiches composed with hummus.
Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
Ingredients: 1 cup soft cream cheese; 20 slices of bread (your choice); small jar red or black caviar; 12 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon; juice of one lemon; 1 sweet onion chopped as finely as possible; black pepper
Directions: Spread the cream cheese on one side of each slice of bread. Arrange the smoked salmon on 10 of the bread slices and brush with lemon juice; pepper generously and dust with caviar and onion. Top with the other 10 slices of bread, cut off the crusts and cut into quarters. Makes 40 tea sandwiches.
Tea sandwiches with hummus & pita bread
Ingredients: 1 cup canned chickpeas, liquid reserved; 1/3 cup tahini paste; 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil; 1 clove garlic, minced; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1/2 teaspoon paprika; 1/4 cup chopped parsley; chopped olives (black pitted or green with pimentos or both) and chopped tomatoes; 12 mini pitas
Directions: In a food processor, puree the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, and garlic until smooth, adding a little of the reserved liquid if the mixture seems too thick. It will be slightly grainy. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the pita pockets in half and fill each with about 2 tablespoons of Hummus. Top with chopped olives and tomatoes. Makes 24 tea sandwiches.