Darren McGrady's includes his summer pudding recipe from his book, "Eating Royally." McGrady spent four years working as Princess Diana's personal chef and 11 years cooking for Queen Elizabeth.
Total time: 45 minutes
2 lbs. mixed berries -- cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, red and black currants
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla paste (see note)
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 slices dense white bread, several days old
Sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish
Prepare the fruit by pitting and halving the cherries, removing stems from the red and black currants, and hulling and quartering the strawberries. Keep each type of fruit separate at this stage.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, add the cherries, water, vanilla paste and sugar over a low heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let the cherries simmer until they start to soften.
Add the strawberries and blackberries and stir, simmer 2 to 3 minutes and then add the blueberries, red currants, black currants and finally, the raspberries. Remove from the heat, and carefully strain the fruit into a colander, reserving the poaching syrup in a separate bowl.
Cut the crusts off the bread and cut a circle from 1 slice of the bread to fit the bottom of the pudding mold. Dip the bread into the poaching syrup and place it in a 1-quart pudding mold or souffle dish.
Cut all but 2 of the remaining 7 bread slices in half, dip them into the syrup and line the sides of the basin, overlapping each piece slightly.
Once the mold is completely lined, spoon the fruit into the center and fill the basin to the top. Place the 2 remaining pieces of bread on top of the fruit.
Place a saucer that fits snugly inside the mold on top of the bread. Weigh down the top of the pudding by placing something like a large can of tomatoes on top of the sauce. Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight, along with any remaining poaching syrup.
Run a spatula around the edges of the pudding, and invert it onto a serving plate. Pour the remaining syrup over the top, and allow the syrup to run down the sides. Garnish with sprigs of mint and serve with clotted cream.
Q&A with Chef Darren McGrady, personal chef to Princess Diana
Q. If you could cook for Princess Diana one more time, what foods would you prepare? Something new or something old?
A. I'd make the foods she absolutely loved the most -- my stuffed eggplant and a ramekin of bread and butter pudding.
Q. What would you cook for Prince William and Prince Harry if they called and asked you to do it?
A. Since they loved American-style barbecue, I'd invite them to Texas and make them some real Texas brisket and maybe some beer-can chicken, too. But they'd have to come here. I'm not moving back to England.
Q. What were your impressions of "The Queen," the movie starring Dame Helen Mirren?
A. It was a fabulous movie. I was amazed, first of all, by how full the theater was and how many people still are interested in this story of Princess Diana's death and how it was handled by the Royal Family.
I got a lump in my throat again when I saw the BBC film clip announcing her death to the world.
Mirren did an amazing job of taking on the Queen's mannerisms, right down to her walk. When she was on-screen, I felt like one of Pavlov's dogs. I wanted to stand up, bow and say, "Yes, Your Majesty," every time she looked toward the audience from the movie screen.
Prince Phillip and the Queen Mum were a bit "hard done" by the film. The Queen Mum, in particular, really was a sweetie. Always kind and pleasant.
The film's producers took some license with the Blairs, too, "probably to make the contrast between the royal household and the commoners' more obvious. Mrs. Blair does not cook fish fingers for the family in her kitchen. The Blairs have their own chefs, too.
Q. Was making money for charity your only reason for writing the book?
A. No, it's a legacy that I want my children -- Kelly, Lexie and Harry -- to have when they want to remember me.
Q. Is your son named for Prince Harry and, if so, why?
A. One day when I was out on a date with Wendy (now my wife), we were in my car near Kensington Palace. Princess Diana, with her bodyguard in the seat beside her and the boys in the backseat, drove up beside us and rolled down her window. While she was talking, a little voice could be heard from the back seat. It was Harry, asking, "Mummy, who's the blonde with Chef Darren?" Diana looked back at him and scolded, "That's enough, Harry Windsor!" We decided that if we ever had a son, he'd be named Harry.
Q. Did you miss cooking game after you became Princess Diana's personal chef?
A. She hated the thought of animals and fish being killed. I wasn't far behind her on that. I particularly hated being the last chef on duty in the kitchen at Balmoral because that's when Prince Charles would show up with a huge salmon he'd caught after fishing all day in the River Dee. It would still be flopping around on the counter when I had to pick it up and carry it downstairs, with its eyes still looking at me, and then do something with it.
I didn't miss having to prepare grouse either. Prince Phillip liked his chefs to hang the grouse for a week or so, till maggots were crawling out of them, because he believed that improved their flavor.
Q. Of all of the places you cooked for the Royal Family -- from Windsor and Balmoral castles to Buckingham, Sandringham and Kensington palaces and the royal yacht HMY Brittania -- which were your favorites?
A. Balmoral, where many scenes of "The Queen" were filmed and where the family always vacations in Scotland from late August to early October. It is like a fairy-tale castle. Everything there is so fresh and beautiful.
But Kensington still is my all-time favorite. Life was so relaxed there. The princess came through all the time to chat and I could hear William and Harry playing upstairs in the nursery, thundering about in their army uniforms or doing their Playstation games.
Q. What's one of your favorite memories from cooking for Queen Elizabeth?
A. I was a junior chef, and was sent to Balmoral about two weeks after I was hired. The head chef there showed me the right way to make the Queen's carrots. It involved peeling, trimming and topping three very large carrots. Then each one was to be halved once lengthwise and once horizontally before tucking all of the finished carrot sticks into a white paper bag.
When I asked the chef why they were left so large and uncooked, he told me the carrots were for the Queen's horses. He warned that I'd better follow instructions carefully or the Queen would blame us if the horse bit her fingers.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun