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need suggestions for British themed get together....

I'm hosting my book club in May and we're reading "Great Expectations." I'd like to offer a British themed menu. Any suggestions, welcome but I won't cook kidneys. Maybe a hunk of Stilton and bread (or Welsh rarebit) as an appetizer, but I'm drawing a blank after that. Any other suggestions welcome.

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  1. I would suggest shepherd's pie and, for dessert, a trifle.

    1. You could also go the high tea route. I had one for the church lady get together one time and everyone loved it. Buy a couple of china teapots if you don't have any (from goodwill or thrift stores). I offered several types of tea, crumpets, finger sandwiches etc.

      1. Thinking of hearty Victorian food...look up Mrs Beeton. Could start with a welsh rarebit, perhaps oysters or a nice soup. For main a steak and ale pie or a roast stuffed chicken with a selection of vegetables. For dessert anything with custard (creme anglais) bread and butter pudding, syrup pudding, jam roly poly, bakewell tart, ginger sponge - take your pick.

        1. For all food things British : Meyers of Keswick. Here's their Yelp link: http://www.yelp.com/biz/myers-of-kesw...

          1 Reply
          1. re: bobjbkln

            thank you everybody. Since I am, like many people, low on funds, I must forego the oysters. I like the idea of shepherd's pie, though....thank you, all....

          2. "Maybe a hunk of Stilton and bread (or Welsh rarebit) as an appetizer".

            No - either would be at the end of a meal. Welsh rarebit often figures amongst the desserts on restaurant menus these days but is, more traditionally, a savoury. But, certainly, it'd be a good way to finish the meal.

            As you're short of funds (and presume you're not in the UK), then you may find minced beef to be cheaper than minced lamb - in which case cottage not shepherds pie.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Harters

              I remember a scene in a scrupulously-researched movie where the cook, preparing alternate dishes for a pushy American vegetarian, says she'll do a "Welsh rabbit for the game course." It was set in the 30s, though. Fascinating that y'all would have it at the end of a meal when I think of it as an open-faced grilled cheese! :)

              1. re: LauraGrace

                Aww, that's a great story. As you obviously know, "rabbit" is the original name for this, but much more usually called "rarebit" nowadays. I guess people have been eating cheese on toast as long as there's been cheese and bread. It comes from the very odd way in which traditional British meals (by which I mean Victorian and Edwardian) were constructed - with cheese coming after the main course, then dessert, and the meal ending with a savoury. Other than the rarebit, it's very rare to see a savoury on menus - there are some really good ones about - like Scotch Woodcock or angels on horseback.

            2. bread and butter pudding is a cheap dessert.

              I second cottage pie with cabbage and gravy.

              1. You can't go wrong with "bangers and mash"!

                8 Replies
                  1. re: jhbutash

                    my mum would approve. especially if you served a side of English peas... very different than american peas.

                    1. re: Emme

                      Now that's interested me. How do American peas differ from what I would just call "peas" but, presumably, you call "English peas"?

                      1. re: Harters

                        Maybe Emme is referring to "mushy peas" which we simply don't do in the US.

                        1. re: Harters

                          canned and frozen peas are exactly the same, must be mushy peas.

                          1. re: Harters

                            i'm going to call Mum tomorrow and confirm, but i believe she DOES NOT do mushy peas :)

                            1. re: Emme

                              ah there are also marrow fat peas - which are really big tinned peas.

                              1. re: smartie

                                yup http://www.englishteastore.com/bamape... marrowfat peas are the ones that mum loves. they're not as sweet as garden or english peas. she's not a big fan of mushy peas.

                      2. When I lived in England, my favorite meal was definitely breakfast from the beans to the fried tomatoes (although I never did enjoy black pudding). Breakfast might be kind of interesting, even if it is for dinner!

                        1. My favorite dessert is Bakewell tart but the post on breakfast got me thinking. Many, many years ago I saw "Fried Bread" on a British breakfast menu. Must be a Britishism for French Toast, I remember thinking. Nope. It was simply a thick slab of deep-fried bread. And, of course, it came with tinned baked beans. Now there's a Dickensian meal for you, fried bread and baked beans.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: rockycat

                            years since I've had fried bread but it's not deep fried, its done in a pan.

                            1. re: smartie

                              it's a good pub breakfast. some pubs you can also get other vegetables besides the beans-- i usually got mushrooms on fried bread when i was living in london-- i was always broke and it was cheap. delicious. i can confirm it's done in a pan, as they cooked it right in front of us at the bar.

                              i know it's a breakfast food, but the op could maybe play on the beans on toast thing to make a tasty starter that wouldn't be too expensive? i think it might be fun.

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                "but the op could maybe play on the beans on toast thing to make a tasty starter that wouldn't be too expensive? i think it might be fun."

                                Agreed. Easily done - and cheap - and delicious. Take a tin of, say, cannellini beans. Make a tomato sauce. Mix. Top onto toasted bread (sourdough would be good). Although you've then got something much more like an Italianesque brushetta than a British beans on toast.

                            2. re: rockycat

                              "Now there's a Dickensian meal for you, fried bread and baked beans"

                              Well, not really. The baked beans are a very recent addition to the British cooked breakfast - and you won't see them at all on "upmarket" breakfasts (or generally in the Harters household). And smartie's right - bread's fried in the pan till crisp (and very delicious).

                              1. re: Harters

                                I didn't mean Dickensian so much in terms of authenticity to the era as much as how mean and bleak a meal like that seems. I don't doubt that it can be comfort food to someone who grew up on it, but to a bemused visitor it seems more like what you eat when you can barely scrape a few pence together.

                                1. re: rockycat

                                  wow in that case I would do boiled potatoes and some cabbage water! Maybe a little stale bread and gruel. And dare someone to ask for more.............

                            3. I'd actually suggest the Welsh rarebit for a main course - the way my English parent served it was to plate one or two pieces of good quality bread/toast with two pieces of bacon per piece and a handful of sliced tomatoes (good cherry tomatoes if big ones are out of season) on each piece and then pour over the cheese/beer sauce. Total comfort food. Also easy for company because you can make the bacon/toast ahead, keep warm in a low oven, and keep the rarebit warm in a double boiler over low heat. Serve that with a big salad with a good oil and vinegar dressing and you have a nice, good, simple meal.

                              "Pudding" is a next step which means all British desserts. Trifle is a classic one which combines lady fingers, fresh fruit, custard and jam. (I've never made it or eaten it, but I keep reading about it.) Or you could serve Cadbury Chocolates with tea.

                              Princess Diana and Prince Charles' cook published a fabulous book with pictures about the food he used to make for the royal family.... some great pictures. Unfortunately I can't post a link - computer a little dicey right now - and my copy was loaned out and I haven't gotten it back, but I bet you could find it through the library. But do a google search and I I think you'll find it and maybe get some ideas.

                              1. I've always found salmon mousse to be a killer dish..

                                1. And a British cheese board with
                                  Cheddar or Farmhouse Cheshire;
                                  Stilton or Shopshire Blue or Cashel Blue or Lanark Blue,
                                  and Caerphilly or Leicester or Malvern.
                                  I've never run into a soft Brie-like cheese from Great Britain, but that doesn't mean there isn't one among the hundreds of British cheeses I haven't tried yet. In the meantime, I'll suggest for a dessert cheese: White Stilton with Mango and Ginger.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: DonShirer

                                    there is a Somerset Brie - maybe a little milder than French brie

                                    1. re: smartie

                                      Not necessarily milder when it's served at the right state of maturity. Had some at a restaurant last week that had a superbly kept cheese trolley - and all British or Irish.