A Christmas Gala at Pemberley: A Regency Menu
Imagine a lavishly decorated hall, filled with charming guests
such as the sociable Emma Woodhouse, the elegant Jane Bennet, the amiable Mr. Bingley, and one impeccably
dressed and mysterious Fitzwilliam Darcy! A holiday ball thrown by Jane Austen herself for her
cast of memorable characters could only be topped by a delightful Regency-style desserts and delicacies!
This season, try your hand at throwing a holiday party in Jane Austen style.
Invite your guests to come dressed to the hilt in empire gowns and period attire, and consider assigning
each guest to emulate a character from one of Austen's novels for a fun role-playing event.
Baked Egg Florentine with Bechamel Sauce
Our recipe for baked egg Florentine serves one, so you may want to multiply quantities as needed.
1 teaspoon olive oil
2-3 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
1 or 2 eggs
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated onion
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
Ground white pepper
To make sauce:
1. In a small saucepan, melt 2 teaspoons butter.
2. Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated onion directly into tmelting butter.
3. Let the onion heat through, then add 1 tablespoon flour.
4. Reduce heat and stir with a whisk until lightly browned.
5. Add 3/4 cup heavy cream and a pinch of salt, ground white pepper and ground nutmeg.
6. Continue cooking over low heat for 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring with a whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat.
Cook's Note: When doubling, use milk
in addition to (or instead of) cream and be mindful that cooking time will
be approximately 7-10 minutes. Store any unused sauce in refrigera'
8. Cook gently for 7 - 10 minutes, or until the surface sets and is full of tiny bubbles.
9. Using an oven glove for protection, lift off the ring. If the base of the crumpet is pale gold, flip it over
and cook for another 3 minutes until the other side is just colored.
10. If the crumpet batter is set but sticks
slightly in the ring, push it out gently with the back of a wooden spoon.
11. Wipe, grease and heat the rings for each batch of crumpets.
Cook's Note: If serving immediately,
wrap the crumpets in a cloth and keep warm between batches. Butter generously
and serve at once. If reheating, toast the crumpets under the grill, cooking
the smooth surface first and then the top so that the butter will melt
into the holes.
Gingerbread cookies and Christmas celebrations have a long association.
These spicy treats have appeared on holiday tables for centuries, since Medieval crusaders returned
from the Middle East bringing back to Europe spices, sugars, almonds and citrus fruits.
Catholic monks began to bake gingerbread for saints’ days and festivals, constructing the dough
into specially designed theme "cakes." Often depicting celebrated saints and religious motifs,
they depended on large and elaborately-carved "cookie boards" that impressed an all-over
surface pattern onto a fairly stiff rolled dough. By the early 19th century,
gingerbreads were popular in households across Europe, at holidays and other times.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons cream
1. Sift together the flour, salt, and spices.
2. Cream the butter, add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Heat corn syrup and cream in a saucepan, stirring to blend.
4. Alternately add the corn syrup mixture and the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, stirring lightly. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.
5. Flour your hands and form 1-inch balls in any shape. Place on a floured baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until they are a spicy golden brown.
Plum pudding was an essential part of the Christmas feast during the 19th century.
It was often adorned with a sprig of holly.
Because they are steamed, plum puddings are
delectably moist and flavorful, dark, rich, and spicy. This fragrant version calls for a little Guinness stout as well as the traditional plump fruits and healthful nuts.
The recipe serves eight.
2 cups raisins
1 cup prunes, chopped
3/4 cup currants
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup mixed candied citrus peel
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
8 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of sea salt
1. In a ceramic bowl, combine the raisins, prunes, currants, golden raisins, and Guinness and allow the mixture to steep, covered, overnight.
2. Next morning, place the Guinness-fruit mixture in a large bowl and combine with the flour, brown sugar, citrus peel, chopped almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the bread crumbs, butter, eggs, and sea salt. Add this mixture to the ingredients in the large bowl and mix well.
4. Generously butter a 1 1/2 quart pudding mold or a heat-proof bowl. Spoon the batter into the mold and cover with a lid or with buttered parchment or aluminum foil tied onto the bowl with string.
5. Place a rack in a deep soup pot with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the mod when it’s set on the rack. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat and steam pudding for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Allow it to cool until just warm, then unmold.
6. Serve decorated with sifted confectioner’s sugar and a sprig of holly, or with a splash of warm brandy (light it for a fabulous flaming effect!), or with hard sauce, or surrounded by greens with a lit candle on top.
Manchester Chocolate Truffles
This is a recipe from Manchester, England from the early 1800s. It serves twelve.
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 package)
1 tablespoon raspberry flavoring or rum, almond, mint, etc.
1 decoration of cocoa, chocolate sprinkles, crystallized sugar, etc.
3 fresh egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1. Place chocolate chips in top of double boiler; bring water to boil.
2. Reduce heat to low; cook until chocolate melts.
3. Add butter and powdered sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating with an electric mixer after each addition.
6. Stir in flavoring.
7. Pour mixture into a bowl; cover and let sit for 12 to 24 hours in a cool dry place. (Do not refrigerate.)
8. Shape mixture into 1 inch balls; roll in cocoa or other decorative mixture.
9. Freeze 1 hour.
10. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
Wassail is a hot, spiced punch often associated with winter celebrations of northern Europe,
usually those connected with the Christmas holiday such as Christmas, New Year's and Twelfth Night.
Particularly popular in Germanic countries, the term itself is a contraction of the Old English
toast meaning "be thou hale!" (i.e., "be in good health").
While the beverage typically served as "wassail" at modern holiday feasts with a medieval theme
most closely resembles mulled cider, historical wassail was completely different,
more likely to be mulled beer. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl,
heated, and topped with slices of toast as sops.
1 gallon apple juice or apple cider
1 lime (optional)
1 tablespoon cloves
1 tablespoon allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 quart water
1 cup sugar
1. Heat the water to boiling. Cut the lemons and oranges (and lime if using) in half and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl to save, throw the skins and pulp into the boiling water.
2. Add spices and simmer for one hour.
3. Remove the cinnamon sticks and a few cloves and allspice and save to one side. Using a slotted spoon or strainer remove the citrus peels and pulp and the remaining spices.
4. Return the cinnamon sticks and saved spices to the water.
5. Add the apple juice or cider and return to heat.
6. When boiling, remove from heat and add the citrus juice and sugar. Simmer very lightly for another 10 minutes and serve.
The word "eggnog" literally means eggs inside a small cup, and was traditionally used as a toast to one's health. It is generally believed that eggnog was a traditional drink brought to America from Europe. There were various milk and wine punches that had been concocted long ago in the Old World, the first of which was recorded in the seventeenth century. In reality, eggnog as we know it today was first mentioned in the early nineteenth century and was popular in both Europe and America. In England, eggnog was the trademark drink of the upper class. Because the average British family rarely drank milk due to the lack of refrigeration, and the farms belonging to the large estates), those who could obtain milk and eggs mixed it with brandy or Madeira or even sherry. But it became most popular in America during the Colonial era, where farms and dairy products were plentiful, as was rum. Rum came to these shores from the Caribbean and was far more affordable than the heavily taxed brandy or other European spirits. At the time, rum was commonly referred to as "grog", so the name eggnog is likely derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, "egg-and-grog." Other historians surmise that the "nog" of eggnog comes from the word "noggin," a small, wooden, carved mug that was used to serve drinks in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is thought that eggnog started out as a mixture of Spanish "Sherry", eggs and milk, which the British called "Dry sack posset." Still others guess that eggnog was originally called "egg and grog in a noggin." This was a term that required shortening if ever there was one.
Regardless of its true origins, eggnog became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America, given the early settlers' enjoyment of rich, spicy concoctions. President George Washington quite enjoyed eggnog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try. During the early 1800s, eggnog was nearly always made in large quantities and offered as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, "Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging... It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended." Additionally, it was a tradition in the Northeastern states of America that young men called upon their friends on New Year's Day, and were offered a cup of eggnog at each home.
Eggnog remains a popular drink during the holidays. We suggest the following non-alcoholic recipes for your next holiday gathering that both children and adults can enjoy. These recipes are simple to prepare, with or without real eggs.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 quart cream
Dash of nutmeg
1. Separate eggs at room temperature. Beat yolks until creamy, with half portion of sugar.
2. Continuing beating until whites until peaked. Add other half portion of sugar, and beat cream until stiff.
3. Fold all ingredients together. Add vanilla to taste.
4. Pour into container and refridgerate for at least one day. Shake before serving.
8 cups milk
1 3-oz. package of French Vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1. In a large bowl, mix the pudding with 1 cup of the milk.
2. When pudding is formed, add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
3. Pour into container and serve chilled.