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Fireworks at last night’s Jubilee Concert.     PHOTO: REUTERS

A very special Tea Tuesday today as the 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.  The concert will be broadcast tonight in the US and Canada (check your local listings).

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.

My subscribers (please do subscribe) know that I host Tea Tuesday each week, a virtual tea party which was inspired by Christine, a follower who lives in France, who was curious about English tea traditions after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey. The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual. Join me every Tuesday as 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

click to order from Amazon

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 (we made that on Friday, yum!) 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, www.royalchef.com 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.

Coronation Chicken:  Recap

Coronation Chicken: God Save the Queen

While I very much enjoyed Darren’s Flora Celebration Jubilee sandwich (I adore beets!), you have likely heard much about the Coronation sandwich.  We covered the traditional recipe for Coronation Chicken awhile back as part of many types of tea sandwiches served, but will recap here.

It is actually a recipe that was created in 1953, for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Coronation chicken has been said to have been inspired by Jubilee Chicken, a dish  prepared for the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935. Jubilee Chicken consisted of a chicken marinated in lime and ginger and mixed with a sauce made of creme fraiche and mayonnaise, dusted with parsley and lime segments.  It was served as a salad.

There are a number of variations of Coronation Chicken, but the essential ingredients are curry and mango chutney, reflecting the English love of Indian cuisine. You can serve as a salad, but today we will use as sandwich filler.  This is a lighter version of the traditional Coronation Chicken, replacing mayonnaise with low fat alternatives.

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts
  • 1 cup low or fat free mayonnaise, sour cream, or plain strained (greek) yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • ¼ – 1/3 cup mango chutney
  • slices of bread, white or whole wheat


  1. Chop, grate or shred chicken coarsely. In a large bowl, mix the chicken with sour cream or yogurt.
  2. In a small cup, make a paste with the curry powder and water. Stir the curry into the chicken mixture. Add the mango chutney to taste.
  3. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to blend.
  4. Spread the mixture between slices of bread. Cut off the crusts and slice into squares or rectangles.
  5. If you are serving the Queen, the protocol is to cut off the corners on the corners to form a rough hexagon.  As Darren explained, to do otherwise would leave a sandwich which resembles a coffin, suggesting you meant ill will for the Queen.

Chocolate Perfection Pie

Darren McGrady’s Chocolate Perfection Pie

This is one of the Queen’s favorite sweet dishes, but it definitely is not a tea treat for those watching their weight.  Darren shares an interesting tidbit about how Diana managed to navigate such rich menu items; while her guests were served full fat versions, she was served a fat free variation.  Now there is a great idea for Darren’s next book. You can reduce some of the fat by substituting the cream and not eating the crust, but I would imagine the Queen would not be amused if you made these substitutions, so I will present the recipe essentially as Darren prepared it.


For the pastry

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream

For the filling

  • 2 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 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream (you can try Greek yoghurt to make a lighter version)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 ounces white chocolate – Grated (1/2 bar)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then prepare the pastry case/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.
  2. Roll out the pastry and line a 9-inch flan ring, then part bake the flan.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow the flan to cool completely. This is the second layer of the flan.
  8. Beat the cream (or yoghurt) and cinnamon until stiff and carefully spread half of the mix into the flan. This is the third layer.
  9. Fold the remaining cream and cinnamon mix into the remaining chocolate mix and spread into the flan. This is the fourth layer.
  10. Sprinkle on the grated white chocolate; you can also use grated dark chocolate to create the effect shown.  Refrigerate until set — about 1 hour.