My sister, Dawn, and brother-in-law, Ara, visited us in Florida last week. They brought several gifts as a way to thank us for our hospitality – specialty chocolates, 2 dozen of our favorite chorags, made by the women at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ, and a copy of their Women’s Guild ‘Hye Tea Social’ – 10th Anniversary recipe booklet created by Barbara Hovsepian, a long-time family friend. We couldn’t have been more pleased with these gifts – and, of course, their company.
The Women’s Guild at St. Leon has a large, incredibly active, membership which organizes exciting functions throughout the year.
For the past ten years the Guild has hosted a popular event generally held in the month of May called ‘Hye-Tea Social’. For their first Tea, each member was asked to bring their own favorite tea cup. Each year after that another item was requested – ‘hat, gloves, parasol, fan, nosegay, brooch, pearls, and shawl’. This year’s request was to ‘wear your Hye-Tea best!’ My sister reported that most came all decked-out for this festive occasion.
Besides dressing to impress, the bite-sized refreshment assortment really takes center-stage. There is a dedicated committee which plans and prepares countless recipes to serve the eager guests. The Hye-Tea fare includes ‘traditional English tea items as well as some Armenian dishes’. This year’s booklet contains many of the recipes they have served over the past ten years, and I understand the social attracted over 200 women (members with their mothers, daughters, and granddaughters). Very impressive!
The Hye-Tea is all about the eye-appealing food, assorted teas, fun entertainment, and lively comradery. The menu varies from year-to-year, but favorite bites make it onto the menu year-after-year.
Here are a few of the recipes that are easy to prepare and can be served for any occasion ...
Appetizer: Zhazhig and Crackers (Cheese Ball)
4 oz. softened cream cheese
8 oz. softened Farmer’s cheese
½ cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 stalks inner celery ribs, finely chopped
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Mix the ingredients together until well-combined. Spread on crackers or 3-inch lengths of celery stalks.
Tea Sandwich: Basturma and Egg Salad (Makes 24)
6 hard-cooked eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 slices of basturma, cut into short slivers
24 mini pitas
Peel and chop the eggs. Add the mayonnaise, salt and pepper; mix to combine.
Cut a small slice off the edge of each mini pita. Gently open and stuff with some egg salad. Gently push in some of the basturma slivers, leaving a little of the basturma exposed at the opening.
Dessert: Butter Balls (Yields 4 to 5 dozen)
1 cup butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
Powdered sugar – enough to coat butter balls
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix butter with sugar until creamy. Add salt, extract and flour; mix without over-mixing. Add nuts and mix lightly.
Place dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until light brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on rack. Shake powdered sugar over the cooled cookies.