A very special day for virtual Commonwealth celebrates the final day of official Diamond Jubilee Central Weekend events in London. Last night, the Queen enjoyed 60 years of music at the Jubilee Concert.
I have been enjoying live coverage all morning via CBC in Canada, although 4:30 am was a bit early to be up for Church: the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral was broadcast live. The Queen will have enjoyed a lunch of lamb at Westminster Hall with 700 attendees, but most royal watchers were looking forward to the “money shot” of Her Majesty and her family from the Royal Balcony watching the Flypast. Sadly, Prince Philip was not at her side, as he is recovering in hospital from a bladder infection.
I do enjoy hosting virtual tea parties. The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual. Here I dish on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe. Today it’s all about the Queen.
My Online Guide to the Tea Ritual
Many of you will be traveling to the UK, perhaps for the Olympics, or are already there for the Jubilee, and will likely have “afternoon tea” on your bucket list. To help avoid disappointment (there is a difference between afternoon and high tea), I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience: Downton Abbey Cooks Online Guide to Afternoon Tea. My guide also gives pointers on how to hold your own tea party at home, now that many of you may have morphed into Anglophiles this past weekend. And yes, the Queen loves Afternoon Tea.
Former Chef Darren McGrady Dishes on the Queen
As part of my own Diamond Jubilee tribute, I have spent time on the work and service of Darren McGrady to the Queen. On Friday we reviewed his book, Eating Royally, which includes favorite recipes of the Royal Family. He served the Royal Family for 15 years: from lowly chef peeling carrots for the Queen’s horses to his last four years as Personal Chef to Diana. Darren donated ALL of the advance and ALL of his royalties to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (two of Princess Diana’s charitable goals were children and HIV/AIDS).
In the book, and in other media, he shares a number of interesting anecdotes about the Queen and the Royal Family:
- His first contact with the Queen was at a distance as he unexpectedly came across her walking her corgis at Balmoral. He fled as the dogs ran barking towards him, the sound of the Queen’s laughter following.
- The Queen loves chocolate, tea time, and game.
- She will start her day with simple cereal with fruit: Cornflakes or Special K.
- The kitchen would send a menu book to the Queen for her approval every 3 days and she would delete dishes and often add a dessert like crème brulee if she was lunching with Prince Andrew, chocolate biscuit cake if she was having afternoon tea with Prince William.
- New dishes had to be accompanied with the whole recipe so the Queen could see if she liked the ingredients.
- We learned when we made the Oeufs Drumkilbo that all tomatoes have to be seeded so as to avoid getting wedged in royal gums.
- The chefs never knew which dish would be served to the Queen, so all plates had to be made perfectly.
- Her Majesty ends her day with drink of 1 part gin to 2 parts Dubonnet.
- Here is a wonderful video of other tidbits Darren shares while having tea having tea with Oprah.
His website,”The Royal Chef” shares other information and a few recipes. He currently lives in Dallas and provides information on how you can book him for a personal appearance at your own function. He tweets @darrenmcgrady.
The Queen’s Favorite Chocolate Perfection Pie
The Queen's Chocolate Perfection Pie
For the Pastry
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup vanilla sugar (blitz sugar with vanilla bean)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
For the filling
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp. white wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 6 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate (1 ½ bars)
- ½ cup water
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 ounces white chocolate grated
- 2 ounces dark chocolate grated
Prepare the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Prepare the pastry shell. In a large bowl add the flour and sugar and rub in the butter to resemble fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and cream and form the paste into a ball. Roll out the pastry and line a 9-inch flan ring, then part bake the flan for 15 minutes.
- Prepare the filling. Place a mixing bowl over a pan of boiling wate and add 2 eggs, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ cup sugar, ½ tsp vinegar and the salt.
- Whisk until the mixture starts to foam and then remove the bowl from the top of the pan to a cool surface. Continue whisking until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage.
- Pour onto the base of the flan and return to the oven until the filling has risen and is firm to the touch — about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to allow the filling to sink back into the shell. This is the first layer of the flan.
- Melt the 6 ounces of dark chocolate and add the water and egg yolks. Whisk until combined. Spoon half of the chocolate mix over the top of the sunken filling and return the flan to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow the flan to cool completely.
- Beat the cream and cinnamon until stiff and carefully spread half of the mix into the flan. This is the third layer.
- Sprinkle on the grated white chocolate and dark chocolate in decorate manner. Refrigerate until set — about 1 hour.
Books By Darren McGrady
Where to Find
Books By Darren McGrady