Alleluia! Lent is over, and, throughout this blessed Easter Season, we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. Unlike our two Lenten Teas, this Easter Tea Menu is loaded with sweets and treats and even a slice or two of savory ham. We turn to the Gospel of St. John the Evangelist for our narration, because he provides details, including the story of doubting Thomas, not included in the book of St. Mark.
Easter Tea Menu
Linen Cloth and Napkin
Peace be with You
Receive the Holy Spirit
Thomas' Thumbprint Cookies
Many Other Signs and Wonders
Recipes and Suggestions
1. "Stone Scones" (John 20: 1-3)
Scones, the most popular offering at any tea table, make the perfect representative of the stone rolled away from the tomb on Easter morning. I would not recommend that the scones be rock hard, as the name somewhat humorously suggests, although they could be made to look a bit like stones with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. Cinnamon serves the dual purpose of representing the spices used to prepare Jesus' body for burial as well. (John 19: 40.)
Scone recipes abound, but this is a fairly easy one:
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small cubes
cinnamon for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Sift together the flour and baking powder.
Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the chilled butter into the flour mixture. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the center and add the milk, stirring until the dough is just soft, but not overmixed. (Overmixing will lead to tough scones.) Knead lightly on a floured surface and pat into a circle half an inch thick.
(Here I like to chill a bit to make the dough easier to handle, but this is not a necessary step.) Cut with two-inch round or fluted cookie cutters, making about a dozen small scones. Dust with a bit of cinnamon for a stoney effect.
Bake on a lightly floured cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, and cool on a wire rack.
If you are blessed to have a local bakery that makes scones, you might be able to pick up a batch the morning of the Tea. Call ahead to request a sprinkling of cinnamon on top.
Quote: "Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb." (John 20: 1.)
2. "Linen Cloth and Napkin" (John 20: 4-10)
This is not a menu offering, but a suggestion to use a white linen tablecloth and napkins to represent the cloth and napkin found left behind in the tomb. Children will not mind if you do not have real linen--any white fabric will do.
Quote: "Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself." (John 20: 6-7.)
3. "Two Angels" (John 20: 11-13)
The most delectable thing that can be served with scones is raspberry jam and lightly sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche. Use this pairing to represent the two angels Mary Magdalene found in the tomb. Slather each split scone with raspberry jam and a dollop of whipped cream for a rare treat.
Quote: "[S]he saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet." (John 20: 12.)
4. "The Gardener" (John 20: 14-18)
Mary Magdalene mistook the risen Jesus for the gardener until she heard Him say her name. To represent this unforgettable moment, fill a bowl with an offering your children absolutely love. (Mine are wild about strawberries.) Secret the treat under something mundane and not especially appealing. The classic covering might be raw spinach, although my children enjoy a good spinach salad, so I might opt for something like cabbage or kale. Move the leaves aside at the moment you read the word "Mary" in the narrative to disclose a delight underneath. Remember, it is no longer Lent, so be lavish. If your children love chocolate pudding or rocky road ice cream or blackout cake, do not hesitate to use it. The hidden delicacy should be extravagant to represent Our Lord and perhaps draw a few gleeful gasps from the children to remind them of the joy and surprise Mary must have felt that blessed morning.
Quote: "Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). (John 20: 15-16.)
5. "Peace be with You" (John 20: 19-21)
It is impossible to imagine how this divinely reassuring greeting must have calmed and heartened the anguished apostles. Because an olive branch is universally recognized as a sign of peace and goodwill, I would suggest olive and cream cheese tea sandwiches, a favorite of mine since my father introduced me to them to me as a child:
Rye or other sturdy sandwich bread
Green olives with pimentos
Drain and chop the olives, folding into slightly softened cream cheese. Sandwich between slices of bread and cut into neat rectangles.
6. "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20: 22-23)
Having soothed them with His peace, Jesus next told the apostles, "Receive the Holy Spirit." To represent the burning love of the Holy Spirit and help the children anticipate the celebration of Pentecost, I would recommend creating canapes to look like flames:
Plain rectangular or round crackers
White cheddar or American cheese
Yellow cheddar or American cheese
Slivered grape tomatoes (optional)
I used a knife to thinly slice the cheese, cutting a large flame shape out of the white cheddar and a smaller flame shape from the yellow. When layered on top of the cracker, it created the look of a tongue of fire, with a small bit of red tomato for garnish. (Sliced American cheese is easier to work with than cheddar, and might be more palatable for children, especially young ones.) This photograph should give you a very rough idea of how this savory might look, but please remember that we here at Cottage Blessings have yet to hire a food stylist:
7. "The Twin" (John 20: 24)
Ham and cream cheese sandwiches on baguette rounds are always a favorite on our tea table. Here is a way to adapt these tea sandwiches to represent doubting Thomas, whose name means "twin":
If you are able to get French baguette at your bakery or supermarket, it makes a perfect open-faced sandwich base. Otherwise, Italian bread may be used as a substitute. Cut the loaf on an angle into round medallions. Spread each one with cream cheese. Tightly roll slices of Black Forest Ham, cutting the rolls to about the length of the baguette rounds, and place two small rolls atop the cream cheese. These little sandwiches are so good you will not be able to make enough of them!
Quote: "Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came." (John 20: 24.)
8. "Thomas' Thumbprint Cookies" (John 20: 25-29)
What could be more perfect for representing Thomas' vow not to believe, "[u]nless I see in his hands the print of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails," (John 20: 25) than classic thumbprint cookies? If at all possible, the children should help preparing these, so that they can make the thumbprints themselves.
Here is a recipe for these simple cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup jam
Beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla extract, continuing to beat until blended in. Turn the mixer to low and add flour one tablespoon or so at a time until combined. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and roll the dough into balls about an inch in diameter. Put the balls on a cookie sheet at least two inches apart.
Now here is the part that will remind the children of St. Thomas. Allow them to use their own thumbs to make a well in each ball of dough. Put about a quarter teaspoon of jam in each impression. A ruby red jam, such as strawberry or raspberry, would remind the children of the wounds of Christ.
Bake for 15 minutes until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, and then set on a wire rack to cool.
Quote: "Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." (John 20: 27.)
9. "Many Signs and Wonders" (John 20: 30-31)
Now is your chance to use up all those jellybeans, chocolate eggs, and marshmallow chicks that may still be brimming in baskets in your house. Put them on the tea table in a colorful bowl to represent the many wonderful signs Jesus performed before his disciples.
Quote: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book." (John 20: 30.)
Easter Tea Shopping List
Spinach leaves, or some other leafy offering for "The Gardener"
Fresh Strawberries, or whatever your children truly love for "The Gardener"
grape tomatoes (optional)
French baguette or other long loaf, such as Italian
Scones, if using store bought (if so, please be sure to remove scone ingredients from this list)
More jam for Thomas' thumbprint cookies
Green olives stuffed with pimentos
Sliced white American and sliced yellow American cheeses (if not using cheddar)
Sliced Black Forest Ham
Heavy whipping cream (or store bought whipped cream)
Cream cheese (two packages)
Butter (4 sticks)
White and Yellow cheddar cheeses (if not using American)
Miscellaneous leftover Easter Treats (jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow eggs)
* Do not forget to purchase tea, and perhaps sugar cubes, to include on the table. My children love Twinings Blackcurrant, but any kind of tea, preferably decaffeinated would work well. For an added treat, heat some milk with a vanilla bean or a bit of vanilla extract in advance. Allow the milk to cool, and add it to freshly brewed tea with a bit of sugar. This makes "Vanilla Milk Tea" a favorite with children and adults alike. The thing I appreciate about Vanilla Milk Tea is that the milk and sugar are added in the kitchen just before the tea is served. This makes for a peaceful tea table without little ones handling creamers and sugar tongs.