From perfectly plated finger foods to toasty English breakfast tea, it takes many elements of precision to ensure a successful High Tea event at Newman University.
Following the annual St. Newman Mass, Newman hosted the special Heritage Month teatime event Tuesday, Feb. 21. Alumni, current students, faculty and staff took part in the afternoon High Tea, which celebrates the English tradition of the university’s namesake, St. John Henry Newman.
“I think a successful High Tea requires community participation,” said High Tea coordinator Sheryl Stanley. Stanley is the proud parent of five Newman alumni, heads the planning committee each year and provides many of the unique tea sets that High Tea is known for.
A huge amount of behind-the-scenes efforts contribute to High Tea. Several student volunteers helped with set-up, service during the event and tear-down. Several Newman community members prepared recipes at home and contributed to the event with their volunteer services.
“We also have community involvement with The Spice Merchant donating the tea and Great Western Dining loaning us things as well, such as the linens,” Stanley said. “I think that’s what made it successful — it involves everyone here and it’s a community.”
Of all the efforts it takes to bring High Tea to life, there’s one aspect that ties it all together: the food.
In the case of the 2023 High Tea, it was 84 plates of food, to be exact.
“It all revolves around the food, and the tea, of course, but really the food,” said Shirley Rueb, a Newman graduate, past employee and active volunteer.
In all the years Rueb has participated in High Tea, her favorite dishes to make are the currant scones, the strawberry trifle and the shortbread.
“The currant scones, which use baby raisins, are my favorite. They’re sometimes hard to find and that’s the one disadvantage. I always bring honey butter to go with it. You can eat them plain and they’re just fine that way, too. The strawberry trifle is fun to make, too, and I think it’s a special showpiece. There are two kinds of liquor in it, too, and everyone seems to like that aspect,” Rueb said with a laugh.
“My understanding is if you tell the students there’s free food, they will come,” Stanley added.
Abigail Klausmeyer, a biochemistry major, was one such student.
“The event was very hyped up and definitely lived up to the expectations,” Klausmeyer said. “Everybody who I know who’s been here for a while was like, ‘You have to go to High Tea.’”
Klausmeyer tried one of each of the sandwiches — curried egg, potted shrimp and cucumber sandwiches with mint butter — as well as some sweet treats. Of all the exciting flavors, the cucumber sandwiches were her favorite dish of the day.
Elias Belton, an advanced standing high school student, was working in the Dugan Library when a group of students invited him to High Tea. Belton said the best dish was clear as day.
“All the lemon was great,” Belton said with a smile. “There were lemon curd tartlets, lemon bread, lemon ginger pound cake and poppy seed bread. … It was all so good.”
The food and festivities didn’t just attract college students, however. Guests also included one of the founders of High Tea at Newman, Deanna Zitterkopf, along with a table of special guests with Rueb, Professor Emeritus Surendra Singh, alumni Fred Corner, Dennis Schmidt, J. C. Moore, Joan Felts, Sister Therese Wetta, ASC, and Betty Adams, ASC.
With Carole Pracht’s piano playing, smiling student volunteers and fellowship felt all around the room, it’s no wonder that High Tea is a fan-favorite event during Newman Heritage Month.
“It feels like coming home to a community,” past president Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., said of returning to campus for High Tea.
Experiencing treats like the currant tarts doesn’t hurt, either, she said.
“The currant tarts were the best, just wonderful,” Carrocci said with a big smile. “And the tea is always spectacular.”
Senior Marissa Freshour, who volunteered for eight hours as both a server and dishwasher, couldn’t agree more.
“I think everything is pretty good if you have a normal palette of liking, but my favorite thing has to be the tea,” Freshour said. “It’s called High Tea for a reason because that’s some good tea.”
Recipes of the day
Cucumber sandwiches with mint butter
Simple and elegant, cucumber sandwiches are the stuff of tea time. With a handful of mint leaves added to the butter, these are especially tasty.
YIELDS: 4 sandwiches or 16 quarters.
Seal tightly to prevent drying.
- ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
- 2 TBSP fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 8 very thin slices white bread, crusts removed
- ½ large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
In a small bowl, combine the butter and mint. Mix well. Spread the mint butter on the bread slices. Lay the cucumber on 4 of the slices and top with the remaining bread to make 4 sandwiches. Cut them in half diagonally.
A sweet, buttery dessert that’s a snap to make. It’s excellent with tea.
YIELDS: 8 servings
- 2 cups dried currants
- ¼ cup ruby Port
- Premade pie crust
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 TBSP unsalted butter, room temp
- 2 large eggs
Combine currants and Port in small bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 F. Press out crust on lightly floured work surface to remove creases. Transfer to 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Line crust with aluminum foil. Fill foil-lined crust with dried beans or pie weights and bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and beans from crust. Bake crust until pale golden, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to rack. Reduce oven temp to 375 F. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in medium bowl until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in currant mixture. Spoon filling into crust. Bake until filling is golden brown, covering edges with foil, for about 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 15 minutes. Remove tart from pan.
YIELDS: 1 loaf
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup milk
- 6 TBSP soft butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1TBSP)
Mix first four ingredients in a mixer. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bake in greased and floured loaf pan. Bake 1 hour at 325 F. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Pour lemon glaze slowly over surface.
Lemon Glaze: Mix and heat ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup fresh lemon juice until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot.
Poppy seed bread
YIELDS: 2 loaves
- 3 cups flour
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp almond extract
- 2 ½ TBSP poppy seeds
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 ¼ cups oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla
Mix all ingredients for 2 minutes. Bake in two greased and floured bread pans for one hour at 350F. Remove from pan. While hot, brush on glaze. Glaze: ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup orange juice, 3 TBSP melted margarine, ½ tsp vanilla, ½ tsp almond extract.
Lemon ginger pound cake
Lemon and fresh ginger are a perfect marriage and nowhere is their compatibility more apparent than in this buttery pound cake glazed with sweetened lemon juice.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2sticks) butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice for glaze
- 4 eggs
- 1-cup milk
- grated zest of 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- ¼ cup confectioner’s or powdered sugar for glaze
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 4 71/2 x 3 ½ inch loaf pans or tow 9 x5 inch loaf pans. Shake out any excess flour. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at a medium speed until they are fluffy, scraping the side of the bowl often. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the batter, alternating it with the milk and beating at low speed until blended. Fold in the lemon zest and ginger. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes for small loaves or 60 to 65 minutes for large loaves, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes still in the pans for 10 minutes on wire racks. While the cakes are cooling in the pans, combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix well. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on the racks placed over sheet pans for foil. Bush the lemon glaze on the cakes while they are still hot.
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