This cookbook has a copyright of 2007. I bought this cookbook from Amazon (last summer for the Olympics). I have never cooked from this cookbook before.
Though I always "read" my cookbooks from cover to cover, checking out each recipe and what little tidbits might be given, this is actually a cookbook you can read. The author, Darren McGrady, started out as a pastry chef for The Royal Family before becoming Diana's personal chef for the last four years of her life. Yes, I'm one of "those people" who got up at a ridiculous hour to watch the royal wedding (er, all of them actually from Diana to Fergie to Sophie to Camilla to Catherine). I also will admit to a slight fascination as to what Catherine wears. I have a Charles and Diana wedding tea towel (my Grandma W. went to England two weeks after the wedding). I may have a British mug commemorating Andrew and Fergies wedding. I am not a fanatic but I do have a healthy appreciation for the British royal family. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. So what I'm trying to say is I loved reading this cookbook.
I found this book quite fascinating actually and easy to read (the chef did have some help writing it). Mr. McGrady explains how he became a chef and how he came to work for The Queen. I found the stories he told to be quite fun and informational. Who knew that The Queen ordered Tea Scones to be served every day...which she never ever ate...they were crumbled on the floor for the Corgis! Or that in Buckingham Palace it's a mile and a quarter from the kitchen to the Queens dining rooms. Loved reading about this kind of information. Most of the book is about feeding the royal family in general, it's only the last chapter that really concentrates on Princess Diana. No scandals here (unless you count the fact that The Princess often had two versions of a dish served...a low cal non fat version for her and a full fat tasty version for her guests).
The book is divided into sections per the house (or should I say gigantic castle) that the royal family is in at various times of the year. There is a certain tradition as to where the family might be (Windsor Castle from March to Mid-May; Balmoral Castle from August until early October) and certain foods are only cooked at certain times. There is even a chapter about food served aboard the Britannia (the royal ship that has now been retired). The book explains what might be happening at each residence during that time, the foods that were served and then gives recipes for the foods mentioned. The Chef does give little morsels of information about the royals, which foods they prefer, what happens while the family is there. He includes photos of himself and photos of the foods that would be considered personal snapshots. Not all recipes have photos.
Most of the recipes have information as to maybe how the recipe came about, which royal it was a favorite of or when it was served. Recipes seem pretty straightforward. Measurements are in English equivalents. Most of the ingredients would be easy to find at most well stocked grocery stores, though I found Marmite at Cost Plus.
The one interesting item is that on the front of the cookbook there is a note that says "Featuring Prince William and Catherine Middleton's Wedding Cake Recipe". But nowhere inside does it state which cake that is! You would have to know that the cake in question is a fruit cake (and the recipe really isn't anything close to the kind of fruit cakes that one gets at Christmas here in the states). They also make a big deal about the fact that he was the private chef of Princess Diana but most of the book is of the royal family in general.
When I first got this cookbook and did a cursory glance, there really weren't a lot of recipes I wanted to try. But after reading about each recipe and the traditions and stories behind them, I found quite a few that I want to try: Royal Tea Scones (the ones that get fed to the dogs); Croques Monsieur; Sausage Rolls; Gaelic Steaks (the one with the Marmite); Battenburg Cake; Chocolate Biscuit Cake; Earl Grey Tea Cake; Spring Asparagus Soup with Dill; Beef Wellington; Choux A La Cherbourg (Cabbage in a Creamy Garlic and Bacon Sauce); Brandy Snaps; Chocolate Perfection Pie; Framboises St. George; Lemon Refresher (English lemonade with, get this, Epsom salts); Yogurt Brulee with Mango and Papaya; Cottage Pie; Steak Diane; Tenderloin Steaks Stuffed with Boursin with a Rosemary, Bell Pepper Sauce; Glenfiddich Chocolate Mousse; Summer Pudding; Crathie Crunch; Bread and Butter Pudding (it has Amaretto in it!); Peach Princess; Treacle Tart; Traditional Irish Soda Bread; Christmas Cake (think fruitcake); Traditional English Trifle; Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad; Peach Panna Cotta; Iced Praline and Amaretto Souffle with Poached Pear.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, the recipes included were just the icing on the cake. Really made me want to go visit England!