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Tea time: A feast fit for a king or queen, just in time for coronation

Tea party delicacies to celebrate the Coronation. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Tea party delicacies to celebrate the Coronation. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

When Queen Elizabeth was inaugurated in 1953, a dish called coronation chicken was the star of her celebratory luncheon. The dish incorporated curry powder and apricot puree. This Saturday, May 6, King Charles III will be crowned. Coronation quiche, a recipe that Charles and Queen Consort Camilla have shared with the world, will be served in many homes across Britain.

King Charles has been known for years for his passion for gardening and organic agriculture, so it seems fitting that “his” quiche includes fresh garden spinach, broad beans (fava beans) and fresh tarragon.

Quiche kind of peaked in the U.S. in the late 1970s, so it may not strike you as a particularly trendy or interesting recipe. But quiche is solid and always a good choice. And now seems as good a time as any to bring it back into fashion. My version of coronation quiche uses sautéed fresh spinach, sharp cheddar cheese, and a touch of nutmeg instead of tarragon. (With deep apologies to King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla.)

I’ve put together a menu fit for a king or wueen. This menu is also ideal for your mother or the mother in your life (Mothers Day falls on May 14) featuring a full-on British-style tea party: flaky, buttery apple and walnut scones, Coronation spinach quiche, and a variety of savory tea sandwiches.

Of course, you’ll need a pot of good English tea, a pitcher of milk, lemon slices and sugar cubes to celebrate the king or queen in your life.

Apple and walnut buttermilk scones. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Apple and walnut buttermilk scones

Making scones is quite easy and so much better than the dry, crumbly ones you find in most bakeries. Small cubes of tart apple and chopped walnuts flavor a cream-based scone. The dough needs to refrigerate for at least an hour, so plan your time accordingly. Serve with butter and jam and a pot of hot tea.

Makes 12 scones.


  • ½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups (344 grams) all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady or Macintosh, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts*

For the topping:

  • About ¼ cup heavy cream and ¼ cup sugar for topping

*For a nuttier flavor, place the nuts on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for about 8 minutes. Cool slightly and then chop.


  1. In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter cubes and using your hands, or a pastry blender, blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the apple and walnuts. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk/egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix the dough until it comes together; it will feel wet, and that’s fine. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and shape into a large ball. Chill the dough for at least one hour or place in the freezer for 30 minutes. The dough needs to chill properly.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet or sheet pan and set aside.
  4. Once chilled, working on a well-floured surface, divide the dough in half. Roll half the dough in a circle about 6 inches wide and about ¾ inch thick. Using a kitchen knife or pastry cutter, cut 6 triangular shapes out of the circle. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the circle in half and then cut each half into 3 triangles.) Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second half of the dough. You should have 12 triangular scones.
  5. Place the sheet on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Place the heavy cream in a small bowl and the sugar for the topping in another small bowl.
  7. After the scones have baked for 20 minutes, using a pastry brush, brush the tops with the cream and then sprinkle with the sugar. Place the scones back into the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the scones are golden brown and they aren’t soft or soggy; gently tap on the top to make sure they have crisped up. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Coronation Quiche (spinach and sharp English cheddar) (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Coronation Quiche (spinach and sharp English cheddar)

This is my adaptation of King Charles’ recipe for Coronation Quiche. Charles’ recipe uses spinach, broad beans (or favas) and tarragon. I use lightly sautéed fresh spinach, a sharp English cheddar in a simple quiche batter. You can add asparagus spears or fava beans or fresh peas and mix it up.

Serves 6.


The pastry (or one approximately 8-inch premade pastry shell):

  • 1 ½ cups (180 grams) all purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 stick butter, chilled, and cut into small cubes
  • About ¼ to ⅓ ice cold water

The quiche batter:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces (½ pound) fresh spinach or baby spinach
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg, optional
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Make the pastry: In a large bowl mix the flour, and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas. Add only enough water until the dough just comes together. Wrap in a ball shape in parchment paper and chill for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. After the pastry has chilled, roll it into a circle about 10 inches wide. Place into a 8 or 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom or a pie plate. Crimp the edges. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the pastry and fill with pastry weights, dried beans, or dried peas. Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool; carefully remove the parchment and beans.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg if using, and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted and just soft. Remove from the skillet and let cool for a few minutes. Coarsely chop.
  5. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, half the cheese, salt and pepper. Gently add the cooked chopped spinach.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining half of the cheese into the pre-baked pastry. Pour the quiche batter into the pastry shell.
  7. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake the quiche on the middle shelf for about 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Cucumber and watercress tea sandwiches. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Tea sandwiches

Each one of these recipes makes 1 sandwich which is then cut into 4 squares or triangles. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. Make an assortment of sandwiches and serve with a pot of tea.

Serves 1 to 2.

Cheese and Chutney Tea Sandwich


  • 2 pieces thinly sliced white or brown bread
  • 2 teaspoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mango chutney, sweet or spicy
  • 1 ounce thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Place the bread on a work surface and spread each piece with a teaspoon of the butter. Spread the chutney on top of one piece of bread. Add the cheese to the other piece. Place the chutney piece of bread on top of the cheese and press down gently. Cut the crusts off the bread and then cut the sandwich into 4 squares or triangles.

Cucumber and watercress tea sandwich


  • 2 slices white or brown bread
  • 2 teaspoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup watercress
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Place the bread on a work surface and spread each piece with a teaspoon of the butter. Place the cucumber on one piece of bread and top with the cress. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the buttered piece of bread and press gently. Cut the crust off the bread and cut the sandwich into 4 squares or triangles.

Other tea sandwich ideas:

  • Ham and cheddar cheese
  • Egg Salad and watercress
  • Tomato and basil on mayonnaise
  • Cream cheese and (pitted) olives
  • Butter and thinly sliced radishes

A tea party spread. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Tea tips:

Bring a pot of water to boil. Heat your teapot by splashing some boiling water inside and then discard. Add tea leaves (black, green, herbal) to the pot and cover with boiling water. Let steep for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the type of tea. Serve with a tea strainer, thin lemon slices, sugar cubes, honey, and a pitcher of milk or cream.

Click here for other tea party recipe ideas.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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