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Sausages are also a much-loved breakfast fare, along with English muffins and toast, served with marmalade and strawberry jam. All served with tea or coffee.
At Thornton Park, morning tea is also served in the morning room or on the veranda. The Thorntons find Scones and Lemon Pound cake delicious. Served with tea – Earl Grey, Darjeeling or Ceylon teas. Black teas are preferred.
Luncheon, usually served on the wide veranda, weather permitting, often comprises dishes such as Asparagus Salad with Saffron Vinaigrette or Smoked Salmon. Often cold meats left from the night before are used. Mrs Preston always has her eye on the costs and her budget. A soufflé is a regular dessert. A light wine accompanies the meal, followed by tea and an assortment of cheeses.
A Banbury cake is a spiced, currant-filled, flat pastry cake, although the filling often includes mixed peel, brown sugar, rose water, rum, and nutmeg.
Dinner is a formal meal, even when the family is alone. A dinner party is a totally different and more elaborate menu. The family always dresses for dinner. They have sherry in the drawing room before they move into the dining room.
Hor d’oeuvres comprise Canapés à l’Amiral and Oysters a la Russe served with champagne.
The Main course is often Chicken Lyonnaise or Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. Served with white wine.
For Desserts, Mrs Preston excels at Charlotte Russe, a dessert invented in France by chef Marie Antoine Carême in the early 1800s. He named it in honour of his Russian employer Alexander I (russe is the French word for “Russian”). It’s a cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mould lined with sponge fingers. Lemon Soufflé is also favoured. A sweet dessert wine is served.
Coffee is served in the drawing room with a selection of cheeses. The men, in particular, enjoy brandy at this time. The ladies usually prefer port or liquor.
Mrs Preston is undoubtedly a remarkable cook, an equal of any chef in a five star restaurant of today. She has help in the persons of a kitchen maid and a scullery maid. The latter is the less desired job that entails going into the scullery and washing and drying all the dishes from the family dining room and the servants’ dining room. The family use crystal glasses, silver cutlery and fine bone china crockery, so the utmost care has to be taken.
Nevertheless, it is Mrs Preston who shines. Alexandra Thornton frequently takes the time to go to the kitchen and compliment this remarkable woman.
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