A New Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Surprise your sweetie with an elegant Valentine’s Day tea. Here are some ideas for traditional teatime goodies with a Valentine twist. You can make everything ahead (but you’ll probably want to rewarm the scones), so that all you need to do at teatime is open the champagne (or sparkling cider) and light the fire. So to speak.

Tea Sandwiches. Small sandwiches with two or three of your favorite fillings make a particularly nice presentation if you use different types of bread: dark rye or pumpernickel, whole wheat, and sourdough, for instance.

Here are just a few possibilities to tease your imagination:

  > Sliced turkey with cranberry mustard (Dijon mustard mixed with whole cranberry sauce).

  > Ham and Swiss cheese with herbed mayonnaise.

  > Poached chicken breast, sliced thin, topped with crumbled bacon; spread bread with tarragon butter (butter, tarragon, and a dash of fresh lemon juice).

  > Cream cheese blended with apricot preserves (3 to 1 ratio), topped with toasted chopped pecans.

Open face or not, as you like. And cut each full sandwich into smaller sizes — fingers (three vertical cuts) or triangles (two diagonal cuts). Make ahead, cover with plastic wrap.

Cherry Oysters. Whatever you think about the romantic qualities usually ascribed to oysters, they do make a delicious one-bite treat when prepared this way. And who knows, maybe the legends are true.

Drain one can of smoked oysters and blot off excess oil with paper towels. Toss oysters with 1/4 cup of vinegar (herbal, if possible). Wash a pint of cherry tomatoes and cut a large X in the rounded end. Fit one oyster down into each X. Arrange on a pretty platter with lemon wedges or twists.

Scones. Probably the best known of all teatime treats, scones are a rich, buttery type of biscuit just waiting for butter or jam. You’ll find some very nice commercial mixes in your favorite supermarket, next to the biscuit mix; or I’ll be happy to send you my favorite recipe.

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