A menu fit for a queen

by Sam Bilton on May 29, 2012 No comments

 

Spry's original coronation menuWhen Queen Elizabeth II was officially crowned on 2 June 1953 the staff and students of the Cordon Bleu School in London and Winkfield (run by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume) were asked to prepare a meal for 350 guests in the Great Hall of the Westminster School. This presented the cooks with a catering conundrum. The kitchen facilities were not large enough to prepare hot food beyond soup and coffee for this number of people. Furthermore, there was the inexperience of the students for Spry and Hume to consider when planning the menu (never mind the fact that rationing was still in force)

Their solution was to keep it “simple” and this was the menu that Spry and Hume chose:

Potage de Tomate à L’Estragon  (Tomato Soup)

Truit de Rivière en Gelée, Sauce Verte (Poached trout coated with aspic)

Poulet Reine Elizabeth with Cherry & Walnut Salad (Coronation Chicken)

Galette aux Fraises  (Strawberry Galette)

Mousse au Citron (Lemon Mousse)

The Constance Spry Cookery Book

If you fancy trying Spry and Hume’s menu yourself their recipes can be found in the Constance Spry Cookery Book.

This week I will be posting a series of recipes loosely based on Spry and Hume’s menu. The recipes are simple (no aspic, I promise!), can be prepared in advance and are served cold. In short, they are perfect for a street party which in Britain we appear to have a particular penchant for to celebrate any royal milestone. My first offering is a chilled soup served with some crisp cheese soldiers.

Strawberry Gazpatcho

Serves 4 – 6 as a small starter

Strawberry Gazpatcho

I know strawberries are traditionally associated with desserts but this tastes much better than it sounds. Think of how we use tomatoes (which are a fruit after all) in savoury dishes. In the Flavour Thesaurus Niki Segnit says that tomato and strawberry are “interchangeable, according to some scientifically minded chefs, as the two share many flavour compounds.”

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 450g strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • ½ large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • ½ small or ¼ large fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh basil or fresh mint
  • A few drops of tabasco sauce
  • 1 – 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Method

  1. Using 1 tbsp of the oil gently fry the garlic and onion until soft but not coloured.
  2. Gazpatcho ingredientsPlace all the ingredients in a food processor (but only 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. You can add more later) then blend until thoroughly mashed up. At this stage the consistency will be quite rough. Check the gazpatcho for seasoning adding more vinegar, salt or tabasco as desired.
  3. Refrigerate over night or for at least several hours before serving.
  4. When you are ready to eat it you can serve it as is, (gazpatcho is traditionally quite a rustic dish), or pass it through a sieve for a smoother version (which is my preference). The latter yields approximately 500ml. Alternatively, you could pass half of the mixture through a sieve then to stir in the remaining mixture. Serve with pink peppercorn and goat’s cheese soldiers.

Pink peppercorn and goat’s cheese soldiers

Makes 12 – 14

Pink peppercorns have a wonderful citrussy flavour which works well with this gazpatcho. If you can’t find pink peppercorns use 1 tsp crushed black pepper instead.

Ingredients

  • 1½ tsp pink peppercorns
  • 75g soft goat’s cheese (the rindless variety)
  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour, sifted
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Crushed pink peppercornsPreheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Lightly crush the pink peppercorns using a pestle and mortar or a small bowl and theend of a rolling pin.
  3. Place the ingredients for the soldiers in a food processor. Process until the mixture forms a bowl. Cover with cling film them refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Measuring the cheese soldiersRoll into a rough square approximately 14 x 14 cm (this should be around 5 – 8mm thick). Trim off the edges to create a more uniform square which should be roughly 12 x 12 cm. Using a ruler cut 1cm strips from the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone sheet or lightly greased with butter. You should end up with 12 soldiers. You can always re-roll the off cuts if you don’t Uncooked cheese soldiershave this quantity to begin with.
  5. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until golden. Leave on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Tomorrow I will tackle the fish course…

 

Sam BiltonA menu fit for a queen

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