Food You Can Eat: Celebrity Sunday Matinee: I’m Not Done With the Platinum Jubilee Yet: Eton Mess

Break out your cricket flannels for this one!

Image and recipe via the New York Times.

Hay-LO! (Imagine me saying that in my plummiest Windsorian mimic voice.) I’m writing this in advance but if all goes according to sched we are now winding down from the frenetic Platinum Jubilee Spectacular. I hope the Platinum Party at the Palace comes together. I’LL be watching every moment, and by the time you read this it will have happened last night. I was interested to see that Diana Ross, who has no ties to Britain, let alone the Royal Family (although she says she’s met the Queen many times, and is kind of royalty herself) will be closing the show. She’s one of the few people who might remember when QEII ascended to the throne, since she was 8 at the time. Also, Queen + Adam Lambert. My personal opinion is that whatever Brian May might think, Queen is not Queen without Freddy Mercury, and if Brian May thinks so many of us were scooping up all those Queen albums in the 70s and 80s because of him, well, there’s not much that can be said about that.

So back to Eton Mess. Despite the fact that the famous Eton College (secondary school) was founded by Henry VI in 1440 and is but a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle, it has few modern royal connections. However, Wills and Hazza went, so that’s enough of a hook for me to hang this recipe on. According to wiki, Eton Mess was first mentioned in 1893 and is served at the annual cricket match between Eton College and Harrow School. Eton College is the most prestigious “public” (meaning fee-paying, and Eton is extremely selective and private) school in Britain. No fewer than 19 Prime Ministers have attended, including the current one, but Harrow is not far behind. Why Harrow is a School and not a College I don’t know. Lack of a royal pedigree maybe? 

Eton Mess is, yes, another trifle, the Brits can’t get enough, and this one is super-simple. I should have gone with the BBC Good Foods version, plenty of old Etonians rattling around the halls of the BBC, and believe me they weren’t the ones who were packed off to Salford, but it was a little fussy, needlessly so, so I went with the surprisingly unfussy New York Times version.

INGREDIENTS

5 ounces vanilla meringue cookies

1 ½ pounds fresh strawberries

2 teaspoons lime zest plus 1 tablespoon lime juice

2 to 4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

2 cups cold heavy cream

[The vanilla meringue cookies: If you’ve never seen them they’re these light, airy, extra-crispy snowdrop-looking things. You use them to spare yourself the bother of making your own meringue, which is a pain in the arse/bum (as the British would say) and then kind of difficult to work with in combination like this.]

PREPARATION

Transfer the meringue cookies to a large, resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to lightly crush the cookies. (You should have pieces of varying sizes.) [You can also do this with the palms of your hands, which is deeply satisfying, or kind of see-saw a frying pan or saucepan over them.]

Trim the berries, discarding the greens. Halve or quarter 1 pound of the strawberries; add to a medium bowl. Blend or mash the remaining 1/2 pound strawberries until you have a chunky purée. Add the strawberry purée, lime zest, lime juice and 2 to 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar to the chopped strawberries and toss to coat. (The better the strawberries, the less sugar you’ll need.)

In a large bowl, beat the cream with 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high until whipped cream holds stiff peaks. Fold the crumbled meringue into the whipped cream.

[If you don’t know how to fold it in, just ask Moira or David Rose.]

Starting and ending with the strawberry mixture, layer it with the cream mixture in individual serving dishes (preferably clear cups, bowls or jars), creating as many layers as you like. Serve immediately.

[I disagree. Unless you work very quickly, and your kitchen is meat locker-like, you’ll probably need to put these in the fridge for a little bit, but not too long, so that things don’t get frosty and possibly discolored.]

If you want to hold off and consume this during the Eton v Harrow cricket match, they’re competing once again at Lord’s Cricket Ground, as they have since 1805, on June 28th (28 June, as they write in Britain and here at Deadsplinter) at 11 AM British time. So, for us, it will be breakfast, perhaps a very early breakfast. This will be their last year there, though: the Marylebone Cricket Club binned them (gave them the boot.) Apparently racism is rife within the world of cricket, despite the fact that some of the most talented and enthusiastic British cricketeers are a diverse lot to begin with and lots do not even come from Britain but from its former colonies. In any event, they want to get away from things like the Eton/Harrow and Oxford/Cambridge events and be more inclusive and diverse.

I hope everyone had a very happy Platinum Jubilee!

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8 Comments

  1. This is 100% better than the last recipe. If the Brits wanted something to counterprogram classic continental pastry, this would be a much better choice than whatever that trifle was.

  2. I don’t eat stuff with added sugar, but strawberries in heavy cream is one of my favorite desserts.   Also, now that there are several brands of full-fat yogurt on the market (from 5% to 10% fat) I like using that with blueberries too.

    • Yeah when I started getting full fat yogurt a few years back, after years of thinking Yoplait or Dannon single serve containers were what yogurt tasted like, holy fuck game changer. Full fat yogurt is amazing.

  3. Because I missed Happy Hour on Friday and don’t want to wait five days before the next one, I’m going to share this important information here.

    One of the surprises about Spain is the amount of gin and vermouth they drink. Martini bars are not hard to find, but they prefer to drink vermouth on its own as a little aperitif, even before lunch, especially if it’s the weekend. In Madrid, gin-tónics are super popular. In Barcelona they drink refreshing, ice cold pomadas, which are gin and lemonade. Last night I’m afraid my salute to Barcelona went a little too far (pomadas are the perfect summer drink) so I got up at my usual hour this morning, Better Half finally returned, and instead of the joyous reception he was expecting of me, I said, “Thank God you’re home. Take the dog for his lunchtime walk. I have to take a nap.”

    But I’m back!

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