Ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials on Saturday, we put together recipes that draw on American and British influences
Combining cuisines to create a menu fit for a royal wedding
If you’re planning on watching the royal wedding unfold this weekend, then amid the bunting, Union Jack flags and speculation about the outfits, it seems only fitting to serve a themed menu.
Rather than attempting to emulate the formality and finesse that will no doubt accompany the official wedding breakfast, our ideas are inspired by the couple themselves. We’ve provided a nod to Meghan’s American background, a few twists on tradition (the two can, after all, be credited with bringing a sense of modernity to the royal family) and even incorporated what’s believed to be the official scent of the day.
Crucially, though, these dishes are all simple to prepare, perfect for sharing and easy to eat, meaning that you can devote your full attention to getting a first glimpse of that dress.
Avocado ranch dip with crudites
Ranch dip or dressing is considered a pantry cupboard staple in the United States, yet it might not seem like the obvious choice for a meal that pays homage to the royal wedding. Think of this addition to the menu as the quiet guest that no one expects much from, but who turns up with their glad rags on and almost upstages the bride. The addition of avocado helps this dip to dazzle, as does the herbal kick from the parsley and dill, and the tang courtesy of the lemon juice. Accessorised with a bevy of brightly coloured crudites, this is picnic-style party food with a sophisticated edge – just the thing for grazing on while watching the carriages arrive at Windsor.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
2 avocados, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 bunch parsley leaves, picked and chopped
1/2 bunch dill leaves, picked and chopped
150ml buttermilk or 120g labneh mixed with the juice of ½ lemon and 30ml milk
1tsp Dijon mustard
A selection of crudites such as raw cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, carrot batons, cherry tomatoes and breakfast radishes
Put the avocados in a blender or food processor and squeeze over the lemon juice.
Add the garlic, parsley, dill and buttermilk (or the labneh mix) and mustard. Blitz well, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go, until you have a smooth dip.
Season with salt and black pepper, transfer to a serving bowl and chill in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, arrange the dip on a platter or board and surround it with the chopped-up crudites.
Cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese mini club sandwiches
When it comes to tea party fare, it really doesn’t get more quintessentially British than dainty finger sandwiches filled with wafer-thin slivers of cucumber, or waves of smoked salmon and cream cheese. The club, meanwhile, is an unabashedly American contribution to the sandwich canon, yet often proves really rather messy to eat, which just wouldn’t be acceptable in this situation. By combining these two sandwich greats, though, we’ve brought about a truly happy union: a diminutive bite that references the Stateside favourite, while still maintaining its altogether elegant, thoroughly British appeal.
Makes 27 mini sandwiches
Preparation time: 15 minutes
2 small UAE cucumbers
150g cream cheese
1/4 bunch chives, chopped finely, plus extra to decorate
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, plus extra to serve
9 slices brown or white bread
Softened butter, for spreading
100g smoked salmon, plus extra to serve
Thinly slice the cucumbers into rounds. Place in a sieve suspended over a bowl, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside for 10 minutes.
Stir together the cream cheese, chopped chives, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and black pepper.
Spread each slice of bread lightly with butter. Cover three slices of bread with a layer of the cream-cheese mix, followed by a layer of sliced cucumber. Top each one with another slice of bread, then add a further layer of cucumber, followed by the smoked salmon. Finish with the remaining bread.
Remove the crusts, then slice each sandwich into three fingers. Cut each finger into three small squares.
Arrange on a plate or serving platter, and garnish with the extra chopped chives, lemon slices and smoked salmon.
Ginger, orange blossom and citrus iced tea
There are of course myriad ways in which the nuptials of a prince vary from us commoners. Case in point: Harry and Meghan’s big day has already been given its own bespoke smell. The company responsible is Floris London, a perfumery long associated with the royal family – it is believed to present the queen with a new scent each year, and concocted a Wedding Bouquet fragrance for the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
While this signature perfume won’t go on general sale, it is believed to be based on one of the brand’s most popular products, Bergamotto di Positano, and is described as being a unisex scent that “evokes the warmth of a Mediterranean sea breeze, sunshine and clear shimmering water”, with notes of ginger, green tea, mandarin and orange blossom. Those flavours must smell fantastic in combination, but we couldn’t help thinking that they’d taste rather good, too, hence our suggestion for keeping cool by sipping a tall glass of ginger, orange blossom and citrus iced tea.
Preparation time: 10 minutes plus chilling
4 green tea bags
750ml ginger ale, chilled
150ml soda water, chilled
1tsp orange blossom
3cm x 3cm piece ginger, sliced
1 mandarin, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Handful of mint sprig leaves
Put the teabags in a large bowl and pour over 250ml boiling water. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then strain.
Discard the teabags, allow the liquid to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the fridge to chill.
Put the ginger, mandarin, lemon slices and mint leaves in a large ice-filled jug. Pour over the chilled green tea, followed by the ginger ale, orange blossom and soda water. Mix well.
Elderflower and lemon syllabub meringue
Although very little has been revealed regarding what exactly the bridal party and their esteemed guests will be tucking into on the big day, we do know that, in a break from tradition, the wedding is likely to be a fruit-cake-free affair. Instead, the all-important centrepiece, created by Claire Ptak of London bakery Violet Cakes, is going to be flavoured with lemon and elderflower, and decorated with buttercream and fresh flowers.
It will, no doubt, be delightful, a true sight to behold and, dare we say it, a bake best left to the professionals. With that in mind, our party dessert incorporates those spring-like flavours and uses them to create a frothy syllabub-style topping for an airy meringue in a wedding-dress shade of white. Syllabubs are one of the oldest English puddings – they were first enjoyed in Tudor times – and when matched with a crisp-shelled, chewy-in-the-centre meringue, the result is a dessert worthy of the royal seal of approval.
Meringues have a reputation for being difficult to make, but that really isn’t the case, provided you follow a few rules. Ensure that the bowl used to beat the egg whites in is sparkling clean and completely dry; add the sugar to the mix gradually; and leave the cooked meringue to cool in the oven with the door firmly shut.
Preparation time: 20 minutes plus cooling
4 egg whites
260g caster sugar
1tsp white rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
45ml sparkling elderflower juice or presse
250ml double cream
50ml thick Greek yogurt
25g icing sugar, plus extra to dust
150g mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
2tbsp chopped pistachios
Preheat the oven to 120°C, gas mark 1/2. Line a rectangular baking sheet with baking paper.
Put the egg whites in a dry bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk to form soft peaks.
Add the caster sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, beating until the sugar is incorporated, for a thick and glossy mixture. Stir in the cornflour and vinegar.
Spoon the mixture on to the prepared baking tray to form a rectangular shape with slightly raised edges – don’t worry about making this look too neat.
Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool.
Mix the lemon juice and elderflower juice. Put the double cream and Greek yogurt in a bowl and beat to soft peaks with an electric hand whisk. Sieve in the icing sugar, then add the lemon and elderflower juice, whisking continually.
Spoon the elderflower syllabub over the cooled meringue and top with berries, chopped pistachios and icing sugar.