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A Literary-Inspired Cookbook for Voracious Readers at Teatime
Tea and books: the perfect pairing. There's nothing quite like sitting down to a good book on a lovely afternoon with a steaming cup of tea beside you, as you fall down the rabbit hole into the imaginative worlds of Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, and Sherlock Holmes . . .
Fire up your literary fancies and nibble your way through delicate sweets and savories with A Literary Afternoon Tea, which brings food from classic books to life with a teatime twist. Featuring fifty-five perfectly portioned recipes for an afternoon getaway, including custom homemade tea blends and beverages, you will have everything you need to plan an elaborate tea party.
Cook up and enjoy:
Turkish Delight while sipping on the White Witch’s Hot Chocolate from The Chronicles of Narnia
Drink Me Tea with the Queen of Hearts’s Painted Rose Cupcakes from Alice in Wonderland
Eeyore’s “Hipy Bthuthday” Cake with Hundred Acre Hot Chocolate from Winnie the Pooh
Hannah’s Sweet Potato Bacon Pastries and Jo’s Gingerbread from Little Women
Tom Sawyer’s Whitewashed Jelly Doughnuts from Tom Sawyer
Accompanied with photographs and book quotes, these recipes, inspired by the great works of literature, will complement any good book for teatime reading and eating.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
This lovely collection of literary-inspired recipes for savories, breads, and desserts is inspired by familiar children’s and high school classics. Enjoy a hearty Deeper’n Ever Turnip’n Tater’n Beetroot Pie (served to the moles in Redwall), Savory Apple Rose Tartlets (a rose was The Phantom of the Opera‘s calling card), or Miss Marple’s “Pocket Full of Rye” Tea Sandwiches. Feast on Blood Orange Scones (for “The Five Orange Pips” in Sherlock Holmes’s fifth case) or Beorn’s Honey Nut Banana Bread (inspired by The Hobbit—though it does puzzle me where Beorn would have acquired bananas!) Finally, delight your palate with Jo’s Gingerbread (Little Women), Candied Flower Cookies (inspired by The Secret Garden), or Delicious Death Chocolate Cake (Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced.)
The food recipes are fairly clear, and range from simple (deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped dates) to more complex (lavender lemon eclairs.) While most can be made with commonly-available ingredients, pans, and utensils, a few require more esoteric tools, such as a mandoline, or ingredients you will only find in an upscale or gourmet grocery store.
There are a few tempting non-tea beverages included, from Hundred Acre Hot Chocolate (flavored with coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, and caramel sauce) to a nonalcoholic Raspberry Cordial such as the one Anne of Green Gables thought she was serving Diana.
Alas, the tea blend recipes may prove more difficult to replicate, particularly if you’re not already a tea aficionado. After reading the entire section, I realized that all or at least most of the ingredients are loose teas, but if you’ve skimmed past the first paragraph in the “Note about Tea,” that isn’t entirely clear. And unless you have access to a specialty tea shop or are willing to buy your ingredients online, you will find it nearly impossible to come up with some of the suggested teas in “teaspoon” form, though you might luck out and find teabags. The author does give a little guidance on brewing tea, but not nearly enough for a novice. However, longtime tea lovers (like me!) will have fun recreating the suggested blends.
Finally, cooks who prefer metric measures can relax; there are two handy conversion tables at the end, one for quantities and the other for oven temperatures.
All in all, while there are a few recipes that made me lift an eyebrow—Hercule Poirot did love chocolate, but his teas were always “tisanes” or herbal teas, never maté—I heartily recommend A Literary Tea Party for anyone looking to throw a literary party, or just curl up with a cup of tea, a good book, and the perfectly-paired snack.