Clara's Tea Party

December 7, 2010

The production this weekend marks the first time in three years that "The Nutcracker" has come to the Elgin area. New for this year are pre-show Clara's Christmas Tea Parties where guests will be able to treats prepared by ECC Culinary Arts and Hospitality program. They're not your standard cookies and juice kind of party. These parties will feature holiday fare including hot chocolate and festive pomegranate cranberry "mimosas;" a selection of tea sandwiches including peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cranberry, smoked salmon and chive cream, roast beef and horseradish cream and sundried tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil pesto; plus assorted scones and Christmas cookies.

This gourmet "Nutcracker" inspires visions of little girls in party dresses with black patent leather shoes with their mothers and grandmothers. For the moms and nanas its sure to bring back memories of visits to Marshall Field's Walnut room, and for the little ones, it will be an event to savor now and in memory years from now. "The Nutcracker" returns to the Blizzard Theater Elgin Community College (ECC) Arts Center, located at the ECC Main Campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin, on Saturday, December 11 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, December 12 at 3 p.m. Ruth Page's' "Nutcracker" has delighted thousands since its first performance at Chicago's Arie Crown Theatre in 1965. Civic Ballet of Chicago's production of Page's full-length holiday classic features eight guest artists in feature and solo performances; and more than a dozen company dancers from Chicago and surrounding suburbs in the roles of Snowflakes, Waltz of the Flowers, Corn Flowers, Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Marzipan and Dolls. They will be joined by 30 talented young dancers ranging in age from 6 to 13 performing the roles of Soldiers, Party Children, Candy Canes and Angels.

ECC's Culinary Arts and Hospitality program hosts Clara's Christmas Tea Parties, Saturday, Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. and Sunday, December 12 at 1 p.m. in the Spartan Terrace dining room, just down the hall from the theater. The deadline for reservations is Wednesday, December 8.

Tickets to Civic Ballet of Chicago's "The Nutcracker" are $25 for adults; $15 for children 12 and under. Tickets to the pre-show Clara's Christmas Tea Parties are $15 for adults; $12 for children 12 and under. Tickets for both "The Nutcracker" and the Clara Christmas Tea Parties are available by calling the Elgin Community College Arts Center Box Office at 847-622-0300, in person at the ECC Arts Center Box Office, 1700 Spartan Drive in Elgin or online at

For more information about the ECC Arts Center, visit Video clips of upcoming artists and events can be found at Connect and talk to the arts center on Standing Room Only, a blog at The arts center also can be followed on Twitter at Become a fan of the arts center on Facebook at


The Nutcracker Performances:
The Blizzard Theater
Elgin Community College
1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin 60123-7193

Saturday, December 11, 1 PM;
Sunday, December 12, 3 PM;
Performance: $25 adults / $15 for children 12 and under

Clara's Tea Party (separate ticket item)
Spartan Terrace dining room, just down the hall from the theater.
Saturday, December 11 at 11 a.m.
Sunday, December 12 at 1 p.m.
Clara's Christmas Tea Parties: $15 adults /$12 children 12 and under

For information and tickets visit: or call 847-622-0300


Courtesy Chef Patrick Stewart, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program, Elgin Community College, Ho

Cranberry Orange Scones

  • Unsalted Butter 8 ounces
  • Cake Flour 9 ounces
  • All Purpose Flour 9 ounces
  • Sugar 4 ounces
  • Baking Powder 4 tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Orange Zest 1Tbsp
  • Heavy Cream 12 oz
  • Dried Cranberries 6 oz


1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add zest.

3. Cut in the butter until it resembles the size of peas.

4. Gently add the cranberries.

5. Stir in the cream and knead and fold several times.

6. Pat into a round that is 1" thick.

7. Cut into 8 wedges.

8. Place each wedge on a parchment lined sheet pan.

9. Brush with additional heavy cream or egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

10. Bake until lightly golden around edges.

Cranberry Pomegranate Mimosa

  • 3/4 cup Pomegranate juice
  • 3/4 cup Cranberry juice
  • 1 - 750 ml bottle sparkling wine
  • frozen cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish

Combine juices and wine in a pitcher. Place frozen cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds in the bottom of a champagne flute. Fill the flute with wine and juice mixture. Enjoy!

Cranberry - Orange Relish

  • frozen cranberries 1 lb
  • sugar 1 cup
  • Zest of one orange (chopped fine)
  • Juice of one orange (no seeds)
  • Salt 1 tsp


1. Place frozen cranberries in a food processor and "pulse" until finely chopped.

2. With a rubber spatula, transfer the chopped cranberries in to a large mixing bowl.

3. Stir in the sugar, orange zest, orange juice and salt. Place into a small plastic container, cover, label and refrigerate overnight.

4. The following day stir, taste and adjust the sugar to your liking. Enjoy with roast chicken or turkey.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

  • 1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (one 8 1/2 ounce jar), drained, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped very coarse
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 6 minutes
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 3/4 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium bunch fresh basil (about 10 ounces), washed, dried and stemmed
  • salt and pepper


In food processor, pulse basil, sun-dried tomatoes, oil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until smooth, about fifteen 2-second pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Add more oil to adjust consistency.

Horseradish Cream

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (or more to taste), drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients. Adjust seasoning.

About Chef Patrick Stewart, C.E.C.

Patrick Stewart has been an Executive Chef for over seventeen years. He started his professional career in private clubs with C.C.A (Club Corporation of America) working in various clubs including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Club, The City Club of Washington D.C. and The Plaza Club. From there Chef Stewart progressed into high volume white table cloth restaurants including the world famous Walnut Room where he was awarded the title "Chef of the Year". Recently at the helm, as Executive Chef for five years, at Lawry's the Prime Rib in Chicago.

Patrick received his A.O.S. degree from the Culinary Institute of America and a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from Roosevelt University. Chef Patrick Stewart is presently a full time instructor of Culinary Arts at Elgin Community College.

Professional affiliations include the American Culinary Federation, which has Certified Patrick as a Certified Executive Chef C.E.C. He is also a member of the Research Chefs Association and has taken classes in Culinology at Rutgers University.

Patrick lives in Oak Park with his two daughters.

About ECC's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program

ECC offers four study options in culinary arts, emphasizing food preparation, cooking, menu planning and costing procedures; four study options in baking/pastry arts which emphasize yeast breads, baking basics and decorative pastries; and three study options in restaurant management which prepare students for positions in food and beverage outside of the kitchen setting. For more information, visit

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