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Release day for Felicity at the Cross Hotel – and a special Tudor recipe to celebrate!

Today is release day for my feel good romance, Felicity at the Cross Hotel. Hooray! And to celebrate I have an old (secret) Tudor recipe with a strange ingredient, and a legend about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Felicity at the Cross Hotel is set in the Lake District – a romance writer’s dream for a setting, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to be sitting beside one of those lakes right now :)

Helena fairfax, feel good romance
                Photo by Perminder Klair on Unsplash

The Cross Hotel is an old Tudor building in the Lake District. It belongs to the hero, Patrick Cross, and has been home to the Cross family for many years.

The Cross Hotel is a romantic place, in a wonderful setting, but an old hotel like this needs a lot of money to maintain, and things haven’t been going well at the Cross Hotel.

And here is where my heroine, Felicity Everdene, comes to the rescue…

helena fairfax feel good romance
Tudor building – Photo by Michael D Beckwith on Unsplash

Felicity has lots of ideas for restoring the hotel’s fortunes, and one of her ideas is to throw a Tudor feast, and have all the guests come in fancy dress. The hotel’s chef loves the idea, and he comes up with a fabulous menu.

I thought it would be fun to celebrate release of Felicity at the Cross Hotel with the recipe for a famous Tudor dessert called Maids of Honour. There is a legend that Henry VIII once went to Ann Boleyn’s chambers and found her and her maids eating little spiced tarts. The king tried some of the tarts and declared them so fine, they were fit only for royalty. According to legend, he confiscated the recipe from the Queen’s maids of honour and placed it in an iron box, under lock and key. The recipe remained a secret for many years!

There are lots of slightly different versions of the recipe for Maids of Honour. Here is one I like, as it’s quite similar to curd tarts, which are a Yorkshire speciality (Yorkshire is my home county :) ).

For 24 Maids of Honour tarts

(Please note weights are all British convention. To convert to US, try using this cooking units conversion site)

450g (1lb) shortcrust pastry – either home made or frozen

100g (4oz) curd cheese

75g (3oz) butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten

65ml (2½fl oz) brandy

75g (3oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)

75g (3oz) cold mashed potatoes (I’m not sure if Henry VIII would have had this in his day. Weren’t potatoes brought to the UK by Walter Raleigh, for Elizabeth I?)

25g (1oz) ground almonds

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Grated rind of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

helena fairfax, maids of honour recipe
Egg custards. Not quite Maids of Honour – but the nearest photo I could find! (Courtesy of Pixabay)

If you’ve made your own pastry, make sure it’s nice and chilled in the fridge for a while. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4. Grease 24 bun tins.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board and cut 24 circles using a 7.5cm (3in) plain cutter (or an upside-down mug or cup works well, too). Line the prepared bun tins with the pastry rounds. Beat together the curd cheese and butter. Add the beaten eggs, brandy and sugar and beat again. In a separate bowl beat together the mashed potatoes, ground almonds, nutmeg, lemon rind and juice, and gradually mix in the cheese mixture. Beat thoroughly.

Spoon into the pastry cases and bake for 35–40 minutes until risen, golden and firm.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5–10 minutes before lifting carefully on to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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There – a Tudor recipe fit for a king! And despite the strange ingredient of the mashed potato, they are absolutely delicious!

The Tudor feast in Felicity at the Cross Hotel is an evening of fun and drama. In fact, it’s so dramatic, one of the guests calls it “better than one of Shakespeare’s plays”.

Here is the blurb to Felicity at the Cross Hotel:

A quaint hotel in the Lake District. The Cross Hotel is the perfect getaway. Or is it?helena fairfax fiction set in hotels
Felicity Everdene needs a break from the family business. Driving through the Lake District to the Cross Hotel, past the shining lake and the mountains, everything seems perfect. But Felicity soon discovers all is not well at the Cross Hotel …
Patrick Cross left the village of Emmside years ago never intending to return, but his father has left him the family’s hotel in his will, and now he’s forced to come back. With a missing barmaid, a grumpy chef, and the hotel losing money, the arrival of Felicity Everdene from the notorious Everdene family only adds to Patrick’s troubles.
With so much to overcome, can Felicity and Patrick bring happiness to the Cross Hotel … and find happiness for themselves?

Felicity at the Cross Hotel is available now (yay!) on Amazon

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Tudor recipe. Have you ever tried Maids of Honour? Or curd tarts? And have you ever been to a Tudor banquet? If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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13 thoughts on “Release day for Felicity at the Cross Hotel – and a special Tudor recipe to celebrate!

  1. Helen, many congratulations in the release of your book today!🎉🎉🍾🍸 I love the sound of it and already feel for Felicity and Patrick…enticing characters, great plot and wonderful location is a recipe for a hit! Talking of recipes I enjoyed reading about the history of these tarts and am printing the recipe to try later…they look delicious! Best of luck and have a fantastic weekend celebrating! 😀💐

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Annika. I hadn’t realised the history of Maids of Honour until I came to write this post. A fascinating story! I’ve made our Yorkshire curd tarts, but I’ve never had a go at making these. I’m looking forward to trying them. If you do try the recipe, please let me know how it worked out. Thanks for dropping in, and for your lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, James! And you’re one of the few to note the name. My hero is actually a “cross” man – so I gave his hotel a cross name. And the heroine is called Felicity for a reason, too :) Thanks for dropping in and for your comment!

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  2. Recipe sounds delicious. Years ago I made Scottish macaroons, mixing (unlikely as it sounds) cold mashed potato with icing sugar, rolling out, cutting, and dipping squares in chocolate and toasted coconut. (Yum – just don’t think of the calories!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. Yes, you’re right – they are Portuguese tarts. They look delicious, too. I couldn’t find an image I could use for Maids of Honour. These look pretty close – but a bit more egg than curd. Thanks for dropping in, and for your comment!

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  3. Congratulations on your new release!! Thrilled for you. What a lovely setting for a romance indeed! I’m sure amazon has whisked it over to my kindle, so I’m looking forward to opening it up tonight and meeting Felicity. Would curd cheese be the same as what we call cottage cheese? I love egg custard. Thanks for the recipe. Enjoy your launch day!! Please join the Readers Circle on my blog when you’re ready to shout about this new book!!
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, JQ. And thank you for pre-ordering Felicity at the Cross Hotel. I do hope it’s arrived on your Kindle! Curd cheese is different from cottage cheese. If you imagine just the lumps in the cottage cheese, blended smooth, then the texture is similar, but curd cheese is sweeter. It’s also like marscapone cheese, only thicker. Some people also call it quark. It’s very popular in Europe, especially in Germany and Austria.
      I love egg custards, too. One of my favourite tarts of all!
      I’d love to be part of your Reader’s Circle. Thanks for the offer. I’ll be in touch!
      Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your comment. I hope you enjoy Felicity!

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    1. Thanks very much, Shaz! I had a lovely day and it feels great to relax a little bit now…before I crack on with the next book :) Thanks for dropping in, and for your lovely comment! (I’ve rescued you from the spam box now! :) )

      Liked by 1 person

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