Last weekend, my friends and I gathered to have a tea party. Yes, I’m serious. We had a tea party. I brought hats. And, of course, cake. MG leaves one very important kind of cake out of ACC. My favorite kind of cake, in fact. But it doesn’t quite fit in with the other cakes. It’s different. It’s better.
Rich, creamy, smooth, wonderful cheesecake. How can you go wrong with cheesecake?
A little more than two years ago, I was living in a house with 6 guys. My friend Kristen, who is also my housemate David’s girlfriend, brought the guys a strawberry cheesecake. It was fantastic, and looked gorgeous, so of course I got the recipe. It’s a very simple, and I’ve made it a number of times- mostly without the strawberry, but sometimes with. It looks pretty fantastic with the strawberry.
You can find the recipe here. I love allrecipes.com- you can save your favorite recipes in your Recipe Box, rate recipes, leave reviews and modifications. I’ve found some great recipes on there and have found great improvements and tips in user reviews.
This might look a little familiar- the picture on the right of my hastily-put-together banner up at the top is this cheesecake, before I did the swirling.
Concerning this recipe, it’s great with or without the strawberry stuff, but it sure is pretty with it! I like to use water baths when making cheesecake, but I have made this one without one of those too, and it turned out great that way too. [[Random factoid here: the french term for “water bath” is “bain marie.”]] They say that water baths prevent cracking, but I have made cheesecake without them that were crack-free. If you decide to use one in your cheesecake baking, be careful to wrap the bottom of your springform pan with foil so prevent water from getting in!
Also, when swirling around the strawberry stuff, don’t go too deep into the cheesecake. Stick to the top layer. I think going too deep caused this cheesecake to crack (it cracked right along one of the swirls). Cracks don’t cause any problems with the taste- it’s purely an aesthetics issue. Luckily for me, my friends didn’t mind and were pleased with the outcome. One of my friends, Jeff, really likes cheesecake and after taking a bite, said, “That’s better than sex.” (This was the only audience-friendly quote he provided. There were a number of other comments, but they are not really blog-appropriate, if you know what I mean)
I also made tea sandwiches for the party, since we were having a tea party. I made three kinds: cucumber and chive cream cheese, wine country chicken salad, and rosemary apricot chicken salad. The two chicken salads are from Trader Joes.
These were a bitch to make. Cut off the crust, then make the sandwiches, then cut them down to size. The chicken salad went everywhere. Also, I tried really hard to cut thin slices of cucumber, and- I’m pretty sure- made them too thin. I also have a ton of bread crusts leftover now- someone suggested I make some bread pudding, so I might give that a go.
The tea party was fantastic. We started out with BG’s chai tea- he’s it made it for me before and it’s fantastic. Then we moved on to Katie’s selection. She works at a tea company called Art of Tea and she put together a nice “flight” of teas for us to try. I may suck down coffee at work, but I really enjoy tea, and I thought it was great to try the teas and taste the differences. I couldn’t pick a favorite, there were so many great ones. I learned a lot too- the differences between white, green and black teas, what puerh is (fermented tea), what Oolong means (black dragon- and it does kind of look like a dragon). The blooming tea was gorgeous and fun to watch. I will definitely be ordering some tea from them… if I can decide which to buy!
We tried: White Coconut Creme (you can really smell the coconut in it), Green Pomegranate, Jasmine Pearls (the pearls are hand-rolled!), Orchid Oolong, Halo (this was the blooming tea), Chocolate Monkey (it really has chocolate in it!), Darjeeling, Earl Grey Creme, Lapsang Souchong (a smoked tea that smells like campfire and reminds me of beef jerky- a very strong, smokey flavor), Puerh Tuo Cha (which smelled like fish and didn’t taste like that, but the smell totally did me in. This was the only tea I poured out, but some people really liked it), and finished with Moroccan Mint (we put a touch of honey on a spoon and stirred it in, mmm).
I wasn’t the only one to make food for the tea party: Josh made tea sandwiches as well, Katie made amazing scones (that I was completely jealous of because the last time I made scones they were horrible- I’m requesting the recipe and will try again) , and Emma made chocolate biscotti (which were really great and I want to try them with coffee- Emma, send me the recipe!).
After sitting around and trying all the teas things devolved into kicking around a soccer ball in the courtyard until well after sundown. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty fantastic Sunday.