Afternoon Tea: AMI Style

Photo courtesy of Jackie Pepka

Inviting you to an afternoon tea extravaganza Anna Maria Island style. Courtesy of my glamorous stepmother who is ready to pour from her great-grandmother’s silver tea urn (circa 1850!)

 The Ninja Baker's Plum Wine and Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

But first I’ve got to tell you the backstory. While my stepmother, Barbara was at a reunion in France (of friends she’d known in Japan.) Husband, David and I were in Florida visiting my father. I love to bake and Dad loves my desserts. So, Barbara came back to a freezer full of leftover Ninja Baker cupcakes, cheesecakes and brownies.

Since my husband is on a health food kick, my kitchen isn't filled with an abundance of 50s comfort food aromas these days. Instead I’m diving into vats of garbanzo bean flours and coconut oils: Educating myself about, experimenting with the gluten-free, dairy-free craze of the New Millennium.


The Ninja Baker's Gluten-Free Ginger Cupcake and The Ninja Baker's Blueberry Muffins

I did whip up some gluten-free ginger cupcakes and gluten-free plum wine cakes with dairy-free buttercream while in Florida. Dad gave thumbs-up. But there is nothing like seeing the smile on dear Dad’s face as he revels in “regular” desserts like brownies and cheesecakes (made with real cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and poured into chocolate cookie and graham cracker crusts.)


Dad, cheesecake and me

Anyway you get the point. There were an abundance of leftover desserts. What do you do with leftovers? Save them? Give them away to neighbors?  Well, with her flair for the creative, my stepmother orchestrated an afternoon tea at their home on Anna Maria Island.


Photo courtesy of Jackie Pepka

Barbara had Anna Maria Island’s go-to lady for artistic cards, Laurie Crawford design and print formal invitations. The invites were sent exclusively to her female friends. No husbands were allowed at this “Hats Suggested, Hats and Pearls optional” afternoon tea.

Barbara arranged exquisite flowers for the table and living room. I suspect it’s an innate talent that has blossomed fully with time for my stepmother. I have fond memories of living in Japan and seeing the ikebana flower teacher showing Barbara how to place the elements of Mother Nature into perfect order. There was gentleness yet a quiet confidence in how the teacher handled the gifts of the garden. Nice memory.


Photo credit: The Ninja Baker

Anyway, looks like some happy moments were created at the afternoon tea, too. See the photos of the smiling ladies below. By the way the lady in white is the Holmes Beach Commissioner, Jean Peelen. She and another guest Joyce Kramer (and Renee Fisher) are award-winning co-authors of multiple books: Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50 as well as Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50.  Speaking of literature, a dramatic reading of Fractured Fairytales was given by Barbara’s actress friend, Miriam.

Barbara is also a gifted actress. (And director, ikebana flower arrangement artist, singer and interior designer.) However, she has yet to pursue the joys of baking and cooking in her lovely kitchen. So she recruited her friend (and aforementioned author) Joyce Kramer, owner of The Wholesome Table, to create tea sandwiches. Scroll down to see Joyce’s recipes. The recipes appear courtesy of Joyce Kramer, The Wholesome Table.

Cucumber & Mint Tea Sandwiches (Yield: 48 finger sandwiches)


  • 24  white bread  slices
  • 1 or 2 thinly sliced English cucumbers (peeling is optional)
  • The leaves from 4 large sprigs fresh mint (chopped or whole)
  • Softened butter
  • (Optional) lemon juice, to taste
  • (Optional) salt and pepper to taste


  1. Spread every slice of bread with a thin layer of butter.
  2. Cover one side of the sandwich with sliced cucumber in one to two layers.
  3. Add a thin layer of fresh mint leaves.
  4. Season with lemon juice, salt and/or pepper.
  5. Put the slices together, cut off the crusts and slice the sandwich diagonally two times to create four triangle finger sandwiches.


 Photo Courtesy of Jackie Pepka

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches (Yield: 48 small tea sandwiches)


24 small slices bread, one white, one brown, crusts trimmed

4 tablespoons minced fresh dill

4 ounces softened cream cheese

8 ounces smoked salmon


Remove the crusts from the bread.

  1. Mix the dill into the cream cheese. Spread the cream cheese on each slice of bread.
  2. Layer the salmon on the cream cheese on one slice of bread, and cover with other bread slice.
  3. Cut the sandwich on the diagonals to create four triangles.

Jackie Pepka, Photo Chronicler of the Afternoon Tea and Joyce Kramer, Proprietor of The Wholesome Table (and Provider of Barbara's tea sandwiches.) 

Watercress and Goat Cheese Tea Sandwiches (Yield: 48 small triangle tea sandwiches)


24  small slices thin sliced bread (I used Pepperidge Farm thin sliced white and wheat)

4 tablespoons salted butter, softened

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

2 cups watercress leaves picked off stems, plus extra sprigs for garnish

4 ounces toasted pecans, chopped


Trim crusts from bread.

Spread the goat cheese on the bread.

  1. Divide watercress leaves on the goat cheese.
  2. Cut the sandwiches into four triangles.
  3. Spread the softened butter around the edges of each sandwich.
  4. Place chopped nuts on a plate. Dip the buttered sides of each triangle into the nuts to coat.
  5. Place on serving dish and garnish with watercress sprigs.

Use grape tomatoes, fresh kale, and watercress to garnish the serving dish.


Photo courtesy of Jackie Pepka

So when life hands you a freezer full of leftovers – celebrate! Create an afternoon tea. Have a party Anna Maria Island style with your friends. Thank you, Barbara, for your ideas for inspirational living.

Wishing you inspirational visits from your Muses and with your friends.

The Ninja Baker

©Watkinson 2012










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