Clearwater, Dahlia. Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton—75 Sinfully Delectable Recipes. Skyhorse, 2021. ISBN 978-1510767294 $19.99
What’s unique about this teatime cookbook is that every recipe is introduced with an allusion to the Bridgerton series, referencing a character’s favorite food, color, or personality as it connects to the recipe. For example: “Like Madame Delacroix, these gougeres sound much more chic than they actually are” is a lovely and witty reference to the modiste posing as a fancy french dressmaker.” and “Salty, sweet, buttery, and beautiful to look at–but enough about the Duke of Hastings.” i was disappointed there was no allusion to the king of devouring all the sandwiches, It may just be trying to capitalize on the popularity of the romance novel and web series, but the recipes are delicious no matter the context.
Organized by type of recipe, the book opens with canapes: appetizer bites like fig and ricotta crostini, avocado mousse crostini, vegetable tartlets, dill cream cheese vol-au-vents, and classic, rich gougeres with gruyere or parmesan cheese, and classic open faced and double bread sandwiches of cucumber, egg salad, and salmon and cream cheese.
Scones, a teatime staple, get their own chapter along with spreads. We tried the Cinnamon Honey Butter and found it to be perfectly balanced with sweet, spice and salt.
Teatime sweets is puddings, cakes, and cookies from bite-sized cookies to full sized cakes, fruit or nut filled mini-tarts, ice cream and toppings like berry jam.
Dinner party is a nod to dinner parties and includes hot vegetable dishes, soup, roast duck (note: you could confit and make finger sandwiches from the shredded meat!), baked ham with pineapple (use the leftovers for ham salad, maybe?). Beverages and cocktails include drinking chocolate, and regency era cocktails such as punch and mulled wine.
With a few exceptions (quail eggs are hard to come by in my neck of the woods), the ingredients are generally household staples or easy to procure ingredients, the directions are clear, and the photographs are beautiful.
We made a high tea spread for a recent Shabbat dinner. In the interest of time, we bought the sweets (macarons from Costco, Mini chocolate mousse cakes and gingerbread sandwich cookies from Trader Joes, but made the Lemon and Cream Trifles, which is just eight ingredients we always have on hand (cream, sugar, lemons, vanilla, blueberries). The lemon pudding was a clear, pure tangy sweet flavor, while the whipped cream was not too sweet and delicately scented with vanilla. We garnished with some leftover zest and the bitter citrus was a perfect foil for the sourness and sweetness.
Our salmon and dill rosettes were arranged on cut outs of white bread with a simple cream cheese, and we skipped toasting the bread. We also slathered some bleu cheese and pecan spread on honey sunflower tuscan bread. All the leftover bread scraps, including the puff pastry, went into an eggnog chocolate chip bread pudding based on this New York Times recipe the next day (I recommend doubling the liquid).
The cookbook was also useful for inspiration–in addition to tomato pies, I used the cheese/vegetable/cheese layering to make boursin and mushroom pies, using store-bought puff pastry and substituting dried basil for fresh.
We added watercress and dill to our traditional cucumber sandwiches, and kept the filling simple for a less sophisticated palate, opting for what Barefoot Contessa would call “very good butter” instead of a herbed cream cheese and mayonnaise spread. The leftover watercress and cucumbers, and seasoned tomatoes were served as a side salad (and later the tomatoes were incorporated in a delicious savory frittata).
The index is serviceable, and the volume includes metric and imperial conversions for measuring, and oven temperatures in Fahrenheit, Celsius and gas marks.
My nephew received a copy of this book as a gift from finishing an college-level intro to baking class, and it’s one I will pull out again and again to make a tasty treat.