Didn’t receive an invitation to dinner at Lady Granville’s nor to Lady Danbury’s party? They must be lost in the mail. And no, you didn’t enjoy the bonbons at the Grand Buffet. That’s because no one asked you to attend. How infuriating not to be able to taste all those luscious foods while mixing with dukes and lords at fancy parties like on Bridgerton, the award winning costume series on Netflix series.
Unfortunately I have some bad news for you. Odds are almost 100% you’ll never get an invitation to any of the grand homes in Grosvenor Square like those you see on Bridgerton. Without an invitation, there goes you chance of snagging a duke or a duchess, but as for the food, well you can still dine like the characters on the show.
That’s because Lex Taylor has written The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook: From The Viscount’s Mushroom Miniatures and The Royal Wedding Oysters to Debutante Punch and The Duke’s Favorite … 100 Dazzling Recipes Inspired by Bridgerton (Adams Media; $21.99). It’s a very pretty book with lots of photos and drawings, all to make you want to put on your best tiara and low cut ballroom gown (or if you’re a man, your cutaway tuxedo and top hat) and dine on Taylor’s recipes for Spice Trade Biscuits and Lady Varley’s Special Chicken. Unfortunately though you’ll have to cook the dishes yourself as well and clean up afterwards. How unfair not to have a butler.
The cookbook’s release is perfectly timed as the show’s second season is starting and trailers for the series already show this year’s brooding handsome hero and the lovely young ladies whose mothers have told them to make sure they snag a lord or higher. That’s because Bridgerton is set in 1813 during England’s Regency period when marrying up was the equivalent of a woman earning a college degree today.
Taylor created and adapted recipes that could have graced the tables of the Bridgertons and other families in the series. And that’s surprising given Taylor is the type of guy who’s spent a lot of time fishing and hunting with the Inuit of Baffin Island, foraging for food in the Hudson Valley, immersing himself in cultures that rely on ancestral knowledge for survival, and hanging out in the Sahara and the Atacama deserts and the jungles of Central America and West Africa. His previous book, Grill Fire: 100+ Recipes & Techniques for Mastering the Flame shows, among other things, how to turn your backyard grill into a Brazilian churrascaria and the way to make your own chicken wing racks. He is, he says, “a wilderness- survival-outdoor-chef and barbecue guy.”
“I never expected that the editors would choose my proposal,” Taylor told me on the phone as I assume, he was on his way to fish with the Inuit, not to a high tea.
“I was a hundred percent certain that there were a large number of Bridgerton fans who had already published several books with Simon and Schuster and one of them would write the book,” he continues.
But obviously it worked out differently. Was that a mistake on Simon & Schuster’s part?
Not at all. Choosing Taylor actually makes a lot of sense. How he lives, is in ways, reflective of life during the Regency. He’s been asked to join the Explorer’s Club because of his extensive travels with their focus on the indigenous people and he loves delving into exploration and research. Indeed, inspired by trips to New Orleans, he won Esquire magazine competition’s “The Next Great Burger” for his meat patty creation using such ingredients as caramelized pears, a saffron aioli, and deep fried beignet bun. He also appeared on “Chopped” and the Food Network and was a judge on “Beat Bobby Flay.”
2022 may sounds like a different world than London during the Regency which was from 1811 to 1820. But Taylor sees the similarities.
“The Regency was a time when many of the ships that traveled for English companies were bringing back exotic ingredients and people were completely fascinated by the foods and spices they brought back with them,” he says, noting that he likes to cook wild and crazy stuff as well and stages large dinners in the Hudson Valley region after successful foraging trips. “It’s so me. The food of that time is like what I do—curing and pickling, collaborating with people who fish and hunt and cook with fire and who try new things.”
Taylor didn’t want his cookbook to be a half-hearted spin-off. That was one of several goals he had when writing—to riff off the foods eaten on the show, ensure the ingredients were readily available and the recipes easy to make. He also wanted to approach the project with a sense of humor. Take his inclusion of lavender as an ingredient.
“Not only is lavender a beautiful plant that was used for table decorations, but it was also used during the Regency as a perfume and a medicine because it was thought to help with romance and love,” he writes about the lavender drink he created. “Both men and women used considerable amounts of perfume, as bathing was not a major part of their hygienic practice.”
Rumor-Stirring Blueberry Lavender Fizz
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
- 1 tablespoon blueberry jam
- 1⁄2 ounce lemon juice
- 1⁄2 ounce lime juice
- 1⁄2 ounce heavy cream
- 1 large egg white, pasteurized
- 8–12 ounces cooled sparkling water
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Muddle lavender in a cocktail shaker.
Add remaining ingredients except sparkling water and lemon zest. Shake vigorously until texture changes to a foam, about 10 seconds.
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 15 seconds or until cocktail is well chilled.
Strain into a Collins glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with lemon zest.
Lady Featherington’s Society Sponge Cake
For the macerated berries:
- 1 pound fresh berries, sliced, (dry after rinsing)
- 1/4 cup Moscato or other sweet wine
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or amber honey
For the sponge cake:
- 8 cold large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup canola or other neutral oil
- 1/3 cup pulp-free orange juice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup fresh berries
- 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
Place all the ingredients for the macerated berries in a large bowl and stir gently, cover and refrigerate 24 hours or until the berries are softened. Next line to make sponge cake Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs and large bowl until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly add oil and juice.
On lowest speed, mix in flour and baking powder until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer immediately to a wire cooling rack, releasing from pan to cool upside down for about one hour.
Flip over so the rounded part is on top and cut into two equal rounds. Spoon macerated berries evenly over one cake round and top with the second cake round. Top with fresh berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
The above recipes are from The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook by Lex Taylor. Copyright © 2021 by Alexei Taylor. Photographs by Harper Point Photography. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.