Hye Tea Social – a 10-year tradition at St. Leon Armenian Church, NJ

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’ – 10
th 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 …

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.

: 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.

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous June 18, 2017 at 4:06 am

    That's interesting about the Zhazhig/Jajig. Although I often eat it ON celery, I've never seen it made WITH celery. I almost made a batch just this past Wed because I was at one of the few local grocery stores that sells the Farmer's Cheese, but I knew I'd eat it all! 😉


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