HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


A Brunch fit for Jane Austen?

Any ideas for an English-themed brunch for my book club get-together in a few weeks?

I was thinking of:

Covent Garden Quiche

Cucumber sandwiches
Watercress sandwiches
Blueberry Scones

When I stayed at a B&B in England a few years back, I remember having a "traditional English breakfast" consisting of just fried eggs, ham and sliced tomatoes. There has got to be something else, right? Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You need some sensual items too, I think... after all, she was a very sensual writer! Maybe some chocolate truffles or chocolate dipped strawberries. Of course, tea is necessary at an English brunch! I'll think about it some more...

    1. baked beans, black pudding re English breakfast

      I had a similar get together recently (for a book club too) and I made sharp white cheddar, green apple sandwiches on thinly sliced crusty raisin bread - you could also do a variation on the cheddar/pickle sandwich
      I also made scones. I also did a trifle for dessert.
      Of course, there's always tea.

      1. I bought a used book on English country cooking, but it is en route to me via media rate (along with far too many other cookbooks) from Wisconsin - I'll be happy to report back w/ some ideas when it arrives.

        1. I love the combo of chicken, grapes and walnut salad. Either on soft wheat on just plain for the dish. Also a COLD jar of white asparagus - inexpensive yet, decadent, Fresh cornichons too. Smoked fish??? Don't forget Devon Cream for the tea and scones.

          1. Sherry!! Must sip some sherry while discussing.

            What about strawberries and cream?

            1. Reminded me of a book I read a long time ago...

              Check it out from your library.

              1. Greenwood Publishing has a Jane Austen Cookbook...filled with authentic recipes like Syllabub and mushroom jam (which sounds like duxelles). You might be able to find that in your local library.

                1. The English breakfasts I had for 3 months in England many years ago almost always consisted of eggs, bangers/bacon/ham, sauteed tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, toast served in toast holders without crust.

                  Totally agree with above re sherry; in fact the first time I ever had sherry was in England.

                  1. have to have some clotted cream to go with the scones. and some strawberry jam.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Funny that something so Spanish has come to mean something so English, eh?

                      Port also.

                      1. Hello Foodrat

                        So a brunch fit for Jane Austen?

                        Fab idea. Seeing as you are talking about English food of years gone by, you could more accuratly say elevensies. Which really now equates to morning coffee.

                        I think it was one of those social get together times of the day when ladies used to call in on each other, like high tea. Lots of gossip, not a lot of eating. Modern brunch is more about food than anything else.

                        I've not really had proper elevensies, it's very outmoded. I will ask my Mum over the weekend for you, I'm sure that she has memories of her grandmother stopping for elevensies.

                        I just don't know what was tradition fair, I'm sure that it wasn't a full english breakfast, certainly not in Jane Austins time anyay.

                        Just as an idea, you could have the get together in the afternoon and call it high tea. You could serve small salmon and cucumber sandwiches, (with the crusts cut off,of course!), quiche, scones, fruit cake, fairy cakes, shortbread and of course real tea from a china teapot.

                        I hope this helps.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: lympicita

                          Lovely idea... as long as you call it afternoon tea and not high tea. :) Afternoon tea is what you described. High tea is traditionally what the working-class men coming in from work have as a light supper -- pasties, scotch eggs and such.

                          Here's a good description:

                          "In the past whether you took "afternoon tea" or "high tea" was a peek into your social standing. Afternoon Tea was a light elegant meal served between a light lunch and late dinner, usually between 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock, and was mainly confined to the aristocracy with their leisurely lifestyle. High Tea was a more substantial meal, including meat and/or fish, and was really a early dinner which well suited the middle and lower classes after a long day at work."

                          1. re: TorontoJo

                            Yes! i don't know why people can't make the distinction between the two. I guess to the uneducated the name High Tea sounds spiffier.

                            1. re: Candy

                              It does, I thought it was the other way around! So I have been saying the wrong thing, not that it comes up often for me.

                          2. re: lympicita

                            Please give me more information on fairy cakes--my Brit friend insists they are nothing more than what we call cupcakes; is this true?

                            1. re: lympicita

                              Oops, I appear to have replied to the wrong post; I was asking about fairy cakes - are they what we call cupcakes?

                            2. I would update kippers with a kipper pate. Welsh rarebit on toast and finish with a summer pudding.

                              1. Look for the Barbara Pym book on tea. You will gegt some marvelous ideas there.

                                1. If not fried eggs, soft-boiled eggs are also popular, but you got to serve them in egg cups. Some fresh fruit and cheese would be a great addition. Another item is crumpet, which can be served with lemon curd. Petit four would make great sweets.