On Friday, April 29, 2011, over two billion people around the globe, myself included, are expected to tune in to watch Catherine Middleton marry Prince William of Wales, future King of England. Unlike the marriage of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, this is a union of two people who are genuinely and deeply in love – a modern fairytale that will unfold before our very own eyes.

Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton Official Engagement Photo.
Catherine wears Princess’s Diana’s sapphire engagement ring.

Westminster Abbey, the venue for the royal wedding.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles on their wedding day, 

No royal wedding would be complete without an elaborate wedding cake. Prince William and Katherine Middleton decided to serve two wedding cakes: a traditional fruit cake prepared by Fiona Cairns and chocolate biscuit cake prepared by British biscuit maker McVities.

Cake designer Fiona Cairns will design the couple’s wedding cake: a traditional fruit cake with icing
Cake Design and Development Head Chef Paul Courtney practices making a biscuit cake at the McVitie’s factory in Stockport.
Cake Design and Development Head chef Paul Courtney (right) and Manufacturing Manager Tom Kilcourse (left) perform a quality check on biscuits on the production line at the McVitie’s factory in Stockport.

The original family recipe for Prince William’s favorite chocolate biscuit cake can be found in Eating Royally, a cookbook by Darren McGrady, private chef to Princess Diana. McGrady made the chocolate biscuit cake many times for a young Prince William and has said that it is also a favorite of the queen. Any chocolate lover can see why – it’s a rich, decadent and buttery piece of chocolate heaven.

I adopted McGrady’s recipe into my own foul-proof, easy to make version, shown in detail below. This cake is rich and decadent. Try using all semi-sweet morsels if you’re not into the dark chocolate.

Fairytale Chocolate Biscuit Cake
(Serves 8-10)

For the cake:
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons for greasing pan
1 egg
3/4 cup of heavy cream
3 12-oz bags of Nestle dark chocolate morsels
11 oz of English tea biscuits (or cookies, sometimes called “digestive biscuits”)

1) Break the biscuits into small pieces, about the size of. Do not crumble.

2) Line the bottom of a 9 or 9 1/2 inch springform pan with a large sheet of wax or parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan.

3) Cream the butter and sugar until a nice light cream color.
4) Melt the chocolate chips in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the egg while melting.
5) Once melted, stir in the heavy cream.

6) Add in the biscuit pieces and stir gently.

7) Pour into the springform pan.

8) Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Gently remove cake from spring-form pan.

For the chocolate glaze:
10 oz of Nestle semisweet morsels (almost a full 12 oz bag)
1 tablespoon of light corn sugar
1 cup of heavy whipping cream.

Place the chocolate morsels in a medium sized metal mixing bowl. Simmer the corn syrup and heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan on medium heat. Pour over the chocolate morsels and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Stir with a spatula until well blended but pour-able. Pour over the chocolate biscuit cake. Let set in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before you glaze with white chocolate.

For the white chocolate glaze:
1 bag of Nestle white chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
1 cup of heavy cream

Melt the chocolate morsels in a small saucepan over medium heat. Drizzle the white chocolate with a spoon over the chocolate biscuit cake.  Serve immediately.

One way to mark the occasion of William and Kate’s romantical whimsical wedding is to serve an afternoon tea. (Pastries and cakes at 5 AM never hurt anyone).  An afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace is said to consist of the following: two types of sandwiches, scones, a plate of small pastries such as chocolate eclairs and fruit tartlets, and a large and small cake. Accompanying these pastries is the traditional tea, of course. Earl Gray is said to be the Queen’s favorite. 
I recreated my own Royal High Tea by preparing two different kinds of tea sandwiches. I purchased mini eclairs, scones, British shortbread and chocolate shortbread cookies, and chocolates to have on the table.
Fairytale Royal Tea Sandwiches

There are usually two kinds of tea sandwiches at a royal high tea.  Here, I made traditional cucumber tea sandwiches with Philadelphia whipped chive cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumbers. I used a biscuit cutter to cut perfectly round pieces of pumpernickel and rye bread to make the sandwiches pop on the traditional gold leaf platter. In England, the corners are cut off of tea sandwiches because the sharp edges are allegedly a bad omen for the queen. 
I also made a delicious curried chicken salad and again alternated the pumpernickel and rye bread. I mixed a large can of Member’s Mark shredded chicken breast from Sam’s club with low fat Hellman’s mayonnaise, diced celery, raisins, sliced almonds, and two tablespoons of curry powder. 

Fairytale Pudding Tartlets

Making fruit tartlets is EASY. Just use premade tartlet shells and Jello instant pudding. Make the pudding according to the box. Use a piping bag or plastic bag with corner cut to add pudding to the tartlet shells. Top with a dollop of cool whip, piece of fruit, and fresh mint leaf.

A cheese platter with cheese from England:
A Blue Cheese Stilton, a White Welch Cheddar, and a White Stilton with  Cranberries.

For my large tea cake, I just made a boxed Duncan Hines vanilla cake and frosted it with jarred frosting and cool whip. Don’t forget the most part of the Royal High Tea – the TEA!
My grandmother gave me this tea set when I was a little girl to play with and I’ve treasured it ever since.
Official royal wedding china: hand painted, gold leafed porcelain.
The Royal Collection has launched this line of offical royal wedding china to mark the occasion. It can be found at www.officialroyalwedding2011.org. 

Another way to celebrate the royal nuptials is by preparing a traditional wedding dinner. Over the past 100 years, royal wedding feasts have evolved from elaborate events featuring twelve courses meals to buffet style dinners and now to simple two bite canapes (appetizers) that William and Kate are rumored to be having at the Queen’s lunchtime reception, which will be held at Buckingham Palace. A poor economy and lack of space at the palace are rumored reasons behind the scaled down menu. Here are some highlights from royal weddings held within the past century:
Buckingham Palace, where the wedding procession route begins and the Queen will hold a reception for the newlyweds. Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837.  It presently serves as the administrative headquarters of the Monarch.
In 1923, Prince Albert (George VI) and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon had a traditional wedding feast that featured dishes named after them such as: Supremes de saumon Rein Mary (salmon filets), cotelettes d’agneau Prince Albert (lamb cutlets), and fraises Duchesse Elizabeth (strawberries).

In 1947, Princess Elizabeth (who is now Queen Elizabeth) married Philip Mountbatten and the couple also had a traditional wedding feast of Filet de sole Mountbatten, perdreau en casserole (partridge), and a bombe glace Princess Elizabeth.

In 1960, Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon). The wedding feast consisted of filet de boeuf Princess haricot vert, souffle surprice Montmorency.

In 1973, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips feasts on lobster, partdige, fresh peas, peppermint ice cream and had a 5 foot wedding cake, the same height as the bride.

In 1981, Princess Charles and Lady Diana Specner had a quennile brill in lobster sauce, chicken breast stuffed with lamb mousse and strawberries with Cornish cream.

In 1986, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson feasts on Eggs Drumkilbo (hard boiled egg molded with lobster, prawns and mayonnaise). This unique dish is said to be the Queen’s favorite.  The also had lamb with mint sauce and strawberries and cream.

In 1999, Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones opted to have a buffet of beef stroganoff, smoked haddock in a puff pastry shell, and rasberries and cream.

In 2005, at Prince Charles second wedding to Camilla Parker Bowels, the royal feast consisted of a lavish tea ceremony that included egg and cress sandwiches, mini Cornish pastries and a boiled fruit cake.
Since it’s difficult to fantasize about feasting on pigeons and puddings and eggs with lobster, here is a great recipe fit for those of you who are planning on having a dinner party to celebrate the royal wedding. This recipe is adopted from Eating Royally by Darren McGrady. 


Fairytale Salmon En Croute
(Serves 4)

2 4-oz filets of salmon, thawed
cups of fresh spinach
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 wedges of Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb Cheese
2 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, thawed
1 egg yolk

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) Add the extra virgin olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pan. Saute the garlic. Add the spinah in bunches and saute until wilted down. Drain of extra water.
3) Unroll a Pillsbury pie crust. Gentle spread the wedge of Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb cheese in the center.
4) Add a cup of spinach on top of the center of the crust. Spread into a thin layer.

5) Add the salmon filet face down to the center of the crust. Wrap the crust like a present.
6) Brush the ends with egg yolk. Gently turn over and brush the other side with egg yolk.
7)  Repeat steps 3-6 with second filet and crust.

8) Bake both salmon pouches in an oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with red roasted potatoes and a salad of mixed greens.

It’s time!!! Get out your best British china and big hats and  cheer to the happy couple! <3
Best wishes to Prince William and Catherine Middleton! 
Every region of Italy has a different version of Easter Pie, or as my family calls it, Easter Pizza.  These pizzas are traditionally made with a sweet homemade pie crust.  Some families use ricotta cheese or vegetables. Others use sausage and rice.  In my extended family, everyone makes their own version but they all include ham and some kind of cheese.  This “pizza” is an easy, versatile dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, whether it be for Easter brunch or as an appetizer before your Easter dinner.  We usually serve ours as a hot appetizer but we eat it throughout the week.  My mother’s version of Easter Pizza is savory and easy, and is a hit every year.  No one makes this delicious Easter better than my beloved mother!  And this Easter, I am sharing this secret family recipe with you!
Fairytale Easter Pizza
(Serves 8)
1 package of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
12-14 large eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 handful of chopped curly Italian parsley
1/2 pound of thin-sliced Munster cheese
1/2 pound of thin-sliced pepper ham
Salt + pepper
1) Roll out one Pillsbury pie crust and fit into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan.

2) Crack all eggs into a bowl. Add milk. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture becomes frothy and light.

3) Add the Parmesan cheese and parsley. Lightly beat again until combined.

4) Layer the bottom of the crust with a thin layer of the pepper ham.

 5) Add a layer of the Munster cheese on top of the ham.

6)  Top the ham and cheese layers with about 1/3 of the egg mixture, or just enough that the ham and cheese layers are covered.

7) Repeat step numbers 3 through 5 two or three times, laying the ham, cheese and egg mixture until the pie is filled. 

8) Once the pie is filled, roll out the second Pillsbury pie crust and gently lay on top of the pie, squeezing the ends of the two crusts together. Brush the top of the crust with an egg yolk.

9) Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out dry.

10) Serve and enjoy! This pie tastes wonderful at room temperature, but I also enjoy it reheated in an oven. Can be made ahead of time.

Hope everyone has a magical and happy Easter holiday!
For last years Easter blog, the Bunny Cake recipe, click here.

Recently I attended the 11th Annual Evening of Fine Food and Wine at the Scranton Cultural Center. This unique event showcased food and wine from fine dining establishments throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and guests were treated to an in-depth tour of the beautiful Scranton Cultural Center.

Here are some highlights of the dishes that I sampled throughout the night:

Gazpacho by Chef Kate Gabriel of the Rustic Kitchen at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Crisp, light, fruity and very refreshing (and healthy!) Perfect for Spring.

A ricotta and spinach ravioli in a red sauce from Angelo Bistocchi’s Restaurant.

Coopers Seafood featured a mini crab cake and it’s famous crab bisque soup, always a crowd pleaser. Click here for the recipe.

Chickpea salad from one of my favorite downtown Scranton restaurants, City Cafe.

A soba noodle salad from the State Street Grill in Clarks Summit.

Tortellini skewer in an Alfredo sauce from Constantino’s Catering.

Constantino’s Catering provides See my previous blog on “Dinner at the Theater,” a special event catered by Constantino’s.

The Hilton in Scranton featured a crisp prosciutto wrapped jumbo scallop with green wasabi caviar over roasted tomatoes. Loved the presentation!

The chef from Carmen’s Restaurant at the Radisson in Scranton gave a beautiful and informative presentation on their dish, sauteed shrimp with orange and fennel over polenta, seen below under the stage lighting.

Fire and Ice on Toby Creek presented a dish composed of each my favorite foods: New York Strip Steak, basil, parmegianno regiano, and shrimp all atop of it’s signature heath baked bread. Chef Gary Edwards never disappoints! See my previous blog on Fire and Ice on Toby Creek.

The French Manor served a grilled rack of lam with French chevre cheese and a roasted golden fig demi-glace topped with a duck confit a l’Orange, served over a Gogi Berry infused Red Quinoa.

Patsel’s served a flavorful Carribean spiced Ahi Tuna Steak and the chefs gave a unique demonstration on molecular gastronomy.  If only my high school science classes were this interesting …

Lastly, there was dessert.
Truely Scrumptious of Kingston displayed this beautiful summer beach cake! Truely Scrumptious featured large samples of different flavors of their delectable cakes. 

 Edible chocolate cups filled with mousse and strawberries by Accentuate Catering in Scranton.

A sample of cheeses from igourmet.com included my favorite Parmigiano Reggiano and a White Stilton with mango and ginger.

Epicurean Delight: Hot poached pear with Greek yogurt, sliced almonds and fresh raspberries – delightful! 
Chocolate mousse cocktail from Bella Faccias.
To see the photos of last year’s Evening of Fine Food and Wine event, click here.
If you would like to support our area dining establishments and the Scranton Cultural Center, save the date: the next Evening of Fine Food and Wine will be held  on April 12, 2012!
Enjoy! 🙂