In this special cooking column, we spotlight recipes enjoyed by the Royal Family
Castle Mey, built in the 16th century by the 4th Earl of Caithness, was purchased by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1952. In fairly poor condition at the time of purchase, the castle and its grounds underwent extensive renovation and restoration under The Queen Mother’s direction.
The Queen Mother would visit each year for three weeks in August and again for 10 days in October. In 1996, the Queen Mother established The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust and gifted the castle and gardens to it. The current Trustee is The Prince’s Foundation.
Today visitors can enjoy the castle and gardens from May through September. The Granary Lodge, with accommodations available year-round is located just steps from the property.
Several years ago, A Taste of Mey cookbook was published to commemorate The Queen Mother’s ownership of Castle Mey, a placed she loved and enjoyed yearly for over four decades. The recipes we share with you below are from a special dinner planned for the Queen Mother and her guests in late 1980. We hope you will enjoy trying these Royal dishes this winter!
The above menu card is on display in the Dining Room at the Castle of Mey. It was written by Michael Seeley RVM (Gold), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Head Chef for forty years, for a dinner party held by Her Majesty on Sunday, September 28th, 1980. The meal included:
- Chilled Lobster Halves with a Dill Mayonnaise
- Roast Fillet of Beef with Yorkshire Puddings and Horseradish Sauce
- Peach Gratin with Chantilly Cream
Demi Homard Froid (Chilled Lobster Halves with a Dill Mayonnaise)
- 1 cold, cooked lobster (approximately 1.5 lb/675 g)
- 1 round leaf lettuce
- ½ pint/300 ml of mayonnaise (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 dessert spoon chopped fresh dill or ½ teaspoon anchovy essence or 1 teaspoon tomato purée
- 26 slices brown bread and butter
- Chop the lobster in half lengthwise and remove the meat from the tail and claws and set aside. Discard the entrails from the center of the lobster.
- Replace and arrange the claw and tail meat into an empty shell.
- Wash and dry the lettuce and arrange with the lobster on a platter.
- Mix the mayonnaise and dill (or other seasoning) and serve in a sauce boat alongside the lobster and brown bread and butter.
Filet de Boeuf Rôti (Roast Beef)
- 1 ½ lb/675 g fillet of beef (at room temperature)
For the Yorkshire Puddings
- 4 oz/100 g plain flour
- 8 fl oz/230 ml
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
For the gravy
- 1/2 pint/300 ml beef stock (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
- 2 tablespoons cold water
For the horseradish sauce
- 4 oz/100 g hot horseradish sauce
- 4 fl oz/150 ml whipped cream
- For the roast beef: Heat a little oil in a roasting pan until very hot. Sear the beef on all sides until brown (about 2 minutes per side.) Place in a preheated oven at 180 C/375 F/Gas 4 (reduce temperature by 10 C/50 F if using a fan oven) for medium rare 20 minutes per lb/450 g well done 35 minutes per lb/450 g (approximately). Remove from the oven and cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place prior to serving.
- For the Yorkshire puddings: place the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg. Mix together and gradually add the milk. Whisk until it reaches the consistency of double cream. Strain through a sieve to remove any lumps and allow the mixture to rest for at least an hour in a cool place before cooking. Preheat the oven to 180 C/375 F/Gas 4. Oil a Yorkshire pudding or muffin tin to the oven and cook for 35 minutes. Check their progress through the glass in the oven door—try not to open the door at least in the first half of cooking or they will sink. Once cooked, remove the tin from the oven and arrange the puddings on a platter.
- For the horseradish sauce: whip the cream until soft peaks form. Place the horseradish sauce in a bowl, add the cream and fold it in gently. Serve in a sauce boat. For the gravy, having removed the beef from the roasting tin after the resting time, heat the tin on the cooker, and add the stock to deglaze the tin, capturing all the delicious juices and crispy bits into the liquid. Add the arrowroot powder to the cold water and mix until the lumps are gone. Gradually add this mixture to the gravy, whisking all the time. Simmer gently for 2 minutes until thickened. Serve in a sauce boat.
To serve the meal, thinly slice the beef, arrange on a warmed platter and moisten with a little gravy. Serve with the Yorkshire puddings, horseradish cream and gravy. Accompany with seasonal vegetables and/or salad.
Gratin de Pêche
Served with a Chantilly cream
- 6 ripe yellow-flesh peaches
- 1/2 pint/300 ml medium white wine
- 4 oz/100 g caster sugar
- 4 medium egg yolks
- Blanch and peel the peaches before cutting them into halves (or quarters depending on size) and place in a shallow ovenproof dish. Pour over the wine, sprinkle with the sugar and leave to marinate for at least one hour in a warm place.
- Just before serving, drain the marinade into a bowl, add the egg yolks and whisk together over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) until thickened and a ribbon like consistency is achieved. Do not heat too much or stop whisking – or you will get alcoholic scrambled eggs!
- Pour the marinade over the peaches and place under a hot grill until golden brown.
- Serve with whipped cream, slightly flavoured with brandy (if desired.)
If you enjoyed these recipes, you will love A Taste of Mey cookbook which you can order from Amazon. Buy your copy today at Amazon Smile today and remember to select Royal Oak as your charity so that Amazon will donate a portion of the price to Royal Oak!
You can learn more about planning a visit to the Castle during your next visit to the U.K. on their website: The Castle and Gardens of Mey.