Tea at the Palace – A Joyful Jubilee Cookbook – Not long now ‘till the much-anticipated Platinum Jubilee weekend and the celebrations that this will entail. Perfectly timed to coincide with Her Majesty’s (and the nation’s) celebrations is a fabulous cookbook: Tea at the Palace, by Carolyn Robb, former personal chef to TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales. It has loads of inspiration for a street party, garden fete or any afternoon tea occasion, with recipes suitable for all ages. Set against a backdrop of 12 of Britain’s most stunning palaces and residences, the recipes are a mix of traditional, contemporary, and whimsical; each with a unique twist.
With each chapter telling a tale, inspiration is drawn from sources as diverse as a 200-year-old royal banqueting menu, and Queen Victoria’s highland retreat! The book is published by White Lion Publishing (an imprint of The Quarto Group) at £14.99 for a truly delightful hardback souvenir of this important royal year.
I’ve chosen a couple of recipes from the book that you might like to try – especially if you’re organising or taking part in a street party.
‘Bunch of Flowers’ Biscuits
Makes 36 biscuits
“These delicious flower-shaped biscuits make a lovely centrepiece for a floral-themed afternoon tea. Present them in a jug or a vase, with or without some fresh green foliage, such as stems of rosemary, mint, sage or thyme. The biscuit dough contains golden syrup (or honey), which makes it pliable enough for you to insert wooden skewers before baking without the dough crumbling. Decorating the biscuits is a great activity for children, especially when you have icing in a range of bright colours and plenty of sprinkles and sparkles!”
85g caster sugar
85g butter, at room temperature
85g golden syrup
1 free-range egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
300g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Long, thin wooden skewers
FOR THE DECORATION
Selection of premade coloured icings
Selection of sprinkles
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, golden syrup, egg yolk and vanilla on low speed for about 3 minutes until well mixed and no lumps of butter remain. Sift together the flour and baking powder directly into the bowl.
Continue to beat until the flour mixture is fully incorporated and a dough forms that clings together and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Gather up the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Line 2 baking tray with nonstick baking paper or silicone mats. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out 6mm thick.
Using a 7.5-cm round or flower-shaped cutter, cut out as many biscuits as possible and transfer them to the prepared trays. Carefully insert a thin wooden skewer into each biscuit to create the ‘stem’ of the flower, pushing it all the way to the centre. Arrange the ‘flowers’ well-spaced on the baking trays to allow for the skewers and for slight spreading during baking.
Gather up the scraps, press together, reroll, cut out more biscuits and add them to the trays. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150°C (Gas mark 2)
Bake the biscuits for 15–18 minutes, rotating the trays back to front halfway through baking, until golden. Leave to cool on the trays on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer to the racks to cool completely.
Using the icings and sprinkles, decorate the cooled biscuits as desired.
Asparagus Spears Wrapped in Prosciutto with Chive Cream Cheese
“The traditional season for asparagus in England runs from St. George’s Day (23 April) to Midsummer’s Eve (21 June). It’s not surprising that English asparagus wrapped in dry-cured Cumbrian ham, a speciality of far northwestern England, was served at Harry and Meghan’s May wedding; there is nothing to beat British asparagus, and it is a favourite of the royal family. In this recipe, prosciutto – a stand-in for the Cumbrian ham – wraps neatly around the asparagus spears, and the concealed chive cream cheese is a delicious surprise.”
Makes 12 ‘bunches’
36 small asparagus spears
90g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Pinch of paprika
6 slices prosciutto
Fresh chives and chive flowers, for garnish
Snap off the slightly tough, woody bottom of each asparagus spear. Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom 5cm or so of each stalk.
Have ready a large bowl of ice-cold water. Fill a saucepan with salted water, bring to a boil and add the asparagus. Cook for 1–2 minutes until just tender, depending on the size of the spears. Drain and immediately refresh in the iced water. Then drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, chives and paprika. Cut each slice of prosciutto in half crossways, then fold each half lengthways to a width of about 4 cm. Spread 1½ teaspoons of the seasoned cream cheese onto the folded ham, then gather 3 asparagus spears and wrap the ham, cheese side in, around them, securing them in a small ‘bunch’. Repeat with the remaining asparagus, prosciutto, and cheese mixture to create 12 ‘bunches’ in all.
Arrange on a platter, garnish with chives and flowers and serve right away.