FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Recipes for a Royal Wedding party

Alexandra Peppitt, dear young friend visiting from England, invited me to her Royal Wedding party on Friday, tiaras and hats optional. Of course I accepted. Then she started talking about bunting and baps and I couldn’t understand a word the girl was saying. “Slow down, and speak English.”

Baps are savory buns, for sandwiches, but not for Cream Tea. Bunting are triangular flags strung together, much like one would string streamers across a room. That sorted, Alex went on about tea. “Earl Grey,” she said, “Was responsible for bringing tea to Canada.”

Earl Grey or Lady Grey is the tea traditionally served at afternoon tea, known as Cream Tea, taken at 3 or 4pm. Earl Grey, with no milk, just slices of lemon on the saucers, served with scones, clotted cream (Devonshire cream) and jam. Cream then jam, or jam then cream? Depends on where you are from. In Cornwall, it’s cream then jam; in Devon, it’s jam then cream.

High Tea refers to a meal. White bread finger sandwiches of cucumber, ham, and poached salmon. Traditionally no mayonnaise, just butter. (Alex is making a bacon sandwich for the party – bap with Canadian back bacon and butter.) Crab pate. Chocolate éclairs, fruit tartlets, and lemon tarts.

Morning tea is an entirely different sort of the event. English Breakfast or Darjeeling tea are preferred. According to Alex, the proper way to make the morning tea is to add milk to the tea cup first, then tea, then boiling water. China tea cups are optional. The reason for the milk being added first goes back to when class and position mattered. Pouring boiling water into porcelain would crack it, so the upper class would add milk before boiling water in order to prevent breakage.

And Marmalade at breakfast, not jam.

When in England, Alex cares for her niece, and they take their tea every afternoon. “For anyone wanting to create tea, just imagine the Secret Garden,” Alex said. “That’s what it should be like.”

If you haven’t been invited to a Royal Wedding Party, at least make a batch of scones. If you don’t have Devonshire cream, substitute with cream cheese or whipped cream. Add jam and put the water on to boil for tea.

Or make Coronation Chicken Salad, served at the Queen’s coronation lunch in 1953. Royal is royal.

By the way, Alex isn’t serving tea at her party, she’s serving lavender martinis and serving them in a tea cup. (Make a simple syrup by adding boiling water to sugar and lavender petals. Let cool, strain, and add to vodka and triple sec.)

Buttermilk Scones

1 cup self-rising flour

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup butter, room temperature, cut into small lumps

2 tbsp sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp buttermilk

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and lightly rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix in.

In a bowl, beat egg with buttermilk and add to the flour mixture.  Mix together, and when dough starts to form finish off by working it with your hands. Dough should be soft but not sticky. The dough should come together and leave the sides of the bowl clean.

Shape down into a round and place on a lightly floured surface. Flour the rolling pin and lightly roll out the dough to 1-inch thick.  Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut out the scones. Carry on until you are left with the trimmings. Bring the trimmings together and roll out again.

Place scones on a lightly greased baking tray that has been dusted with flour. Brush the scones lightly with a little more buttermilk then dust with flour. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with clotted cream (Devonshire cream) and jam, preferably strawberry.

Coronation Chicken Salad

1 grilled chicken

1 tbsp oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp curry paste

1 tbsp tomato paste

100 ml red wine

Bay leaf

Juice of half lemon

4 apricot halves, finely chopped

300 ml mayonnaise

100 ml whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Salt and pepper

Watercress (fresh sprouts or lettuce can be substituted)

Shred the cooked chicken. In skillet, sauté the onion in oil until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the curry paste, tomato paste, red wine, bay leaf, and lemon juice. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes, until well reduced. Strain and allow to cool.

In food processor, puree the chopped apricots. Beat the cooled sauce into the mayonnaise with the pureed apricots. Fold whipped cream into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in chicken. Garnish with watercress.

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