A Royal Cookbook
By Mark Flanagan and Edward Griffiths
Royal Collection Trust, £14.95
Not so long ago, life inside the royal household was very much a closed secret. But now, in the era of greater transparency and a few years after the opening of Buckingham Palace to the public, A Royal Cookbook has been written by two of the most senior members of the household.
Edward Griffiths, deputy master of the household at Buckingham Palace, and Mark Flanagan, the royal chef, have provided a fascinating glimpse into the working life of the kitchens at the Palace as well as Windsor Castle, Sandringham and Balmoral.
As a recipe book, its appeal is limited to just four three-course seasonal menus, adapted from those prepared by Flanagan and his brigade. The dishes are based
on French classical cuisine with presentation adapted to suit current tastes. Many use ingredients grown or raised on the royal estates, such as roasted loin of Balmoral venison or lamb cutlets from Windsor served with sauce paloise (a variation of béarnaise, using mint instead of tarragon).
From a historical point of view, the recipes I found most fascinating were those with a personal tale attached. Eggs drumkilbo, a favourite of the Queen Mother,
is a combination of the decadent and the everyday with chunks of lobster and prawns coated in a dressing incorporating aspic, mayonnaise and ketchup.
While the dish may appear old-fashioned, the chocolate biscuit cake is a reflection of the younger members of the royal family. The no-bake cake, featuring McVitie's Rich Tea biscuits, was served as part of the celebrations for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
However, the real joy of the book is the anecdotal information from the archives, be it the menus celebrating Queen Victoria's reign or the jottings of a kitchen
maid from the early 20th century.
There is also beautiful food photography by Lisa Linder, providing an insight into the collection of fine porcelain, silver gilt
and crystal in the royal residences.
By Janet Harmer
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