Toasted cheese and ice tea….Happy Birthday Emily!
This week was my very dear friend Emily’s birthday, so I decided to allow my overworked brain a full day off to prepare a birthday tea party for her.
I spent quite a bit of time deciding what sort of party would be suit Em, in the end, I stalked her Pinterest boards and tried to incorporate as many of the things she’d pinned as possible. It started with the central concept of toasted cheese sandwiches – a favourite of us both. Inspired by this wonderful blog: Grilled Cheese Social, which Em had shared with me, I set about creating my own grilled cheese recipes for the tea party.
In addition to the revamp of the traditional sandwiches, I decided we had to have tea with a twist, so Ben came up with several ice tea based cocktails using the rooibos based BOS ice tea.
Apple Mar ‘tea’ ni
For this sour and fresh cocktail, we added a shot of gin and a shot of vodka per serving and topped with BOS apple ice tea and mint.
I think this was the favourite cocktail of the party. We added a double shot of gin per serving and topped with half lemon BOS ice tea and half stoney ginger beer.
This was a version of BOS’ recommended recipe, where we swapped the honey syrup for rosemary and honey syrup.
Served in tea pots to pour over ice containing edible flowers, the cocktails were a big hit!
For the toasted cheese sandwiches, I settled on the following 8 filling combinations. They’d probably be at their best with different types of bread for each, but as I was making lots, I settled with doing half wholemeal, half plain white bread. I’ve included an ideal bread you could try if just making a few.
New York style
Inspired a delicious salt beef sandwich I had at the Biscuit Mill recently. This sandwich contained sliced of bresaola, emmental cheese, gherkins and a spread of mustard mayo. Slices of sourdough would be perfect with this filling.
The green goblin
Named for Bens love of all things green, but general dislike of eating green things. I mixed 4 tbs ricotta with raw broccoli chopped very fine, 2 tbs of coriander and parsley pesto mayo (made by blending parsley, coriander, almonds and olive oil to form a pesto, then adding 1 tbs to 3 tbs of mayo). Perfect on seeded wholewheat bread.
Chilli poppers are the pub snack of choice in Cape Town. Many bars and pubs now sell these spicy, stuffed jalapeno peppers, often with a twist of different cheeses/wrapped in bacon etc. To make a sandwich to replicate this deliciousness, I mixed feta, grated mozzarella and chopped jalapenos together, then topped this mix with sweet chilli doritos (I know, it sounds odd, but trust me!). This would be awesome in a tortilla – like a quesadilla.
One of my favourite dishes is sweet potato gnocchi and sage butter. But putting gnocchi in a toasted sandwich may be a step too far even for me. So, instead, I cooked up some saute sweet potato slices, in butter with sage, then stacked these up in the sandwich with emmental, cheddar and some thinly sliced white onions. Nice on wholewheat bread or slices of ciabatta.
Loaded potato skins are one of my mums favourite things and I figured why not try and immortalise their tastiness in a toasted sandwich. Again I used saute potato slices (just normal white potatoes) and topped them with sliced, cheddar, mozzarella and crispy bacon bits. Each slice of bread was spread with a chive mayonnaise. A crunchy, white roll or ciabatta would work well with this.
Nuts about blue cheese
When we have a braai (South African bbq for non-SA folk), we often make a delicious salad with pear, walnut and blue cheese. This toasted sandwich takes that salad as inspiration, swapping the pear for slices of more robust red apple and topping with blue cheese and chopped walnut mix. Good on a rye bread or even a brioche roll.
There is a prego sauce made in Cape Town that I’m certain surpasses any other in the world. Chippies is a store cupboard essential in our house and I’ve caught Ben having it on toast in the morning and Em eating it with a spoon. So, to prevent a riot, I thought I’d best make a cheese and chippies toastie. Short and simple – slices of cheddar and an unreasonable amount of chippies. Perfect on a thick portugese roll to absorb all the chippies oils.
Straw ‘brie’ melt
To add a sweet touch to the menu, I divised this beaut of a sandwich. Strawberries, sliced and soaked in balsamic vinegar, combined with slices of brie. Particularly good on wholemeal bread.
Our party spread was finished off with some home made scones (with fig jam and whipped cream with vanilla pods), some delicious macaroons from cassis, tiny cupcakes in beautiful colours from Woolworths and some of our friend Bretts famous shortbread.
For decorations, Ben made lots of origami birds, which were displayed around the flowers we bought for the occasion.
It was such a pleasure to run wild with party recipes and ideas, and I think the party was enjoyed by everyone. It might be a while before I can face toasted cheese sandwiches again though…or maybe not