You are invited to The Abbey for an English Country House Party
(well, vicariously through television anyway)
If you WERE actually invited you would be expected to arrive on time, and according to Emily Post’s Etiquette, Chapter XXV, “The Country House and Its Hospitality,” published in 1922:
“A week-end means from Friday afternoon or from Saturday lunch to Monday morning.
On whichever day the party begins, everyone arrives in the neighborhood of five o’clock, or a day later at lunch time. Many come in their own cars, the others are met at the station—sometimes by the host or a son, or, if it is to be a young party, by a daughter.
The hostess herself rarely, if ever, goes to the station, not because of indifference or discourtesy but because other guests coming by motor might find the house empty.”
Before dinner (for which you will be dressed to the nines by your lady’s maid) you might be served canapé which is a type of hors d’oeuvres: a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite.
Or what Mrs. Patmore has referred to as “fiddley bits” in a previous episode. (See Deviled Ham Tea Sandwiches.)
A canapé consists of a base (e.g., bread or pancake), a spread, a main item, and a garnish. The spread is traditionally either a compound butter or a flavored cream cheese. Common garnishes include finely chopped vegetables, scallions, chives, herbs and caviar (Source: Wikipedia).
Asparagus and Herb Butter Canapé
- 12 asparagus spears (thin spears, stalks trimmed of their woody bottom)
- 12 slices thin white bread, crusts removed (I use Pepperidge Farm)
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened for the compound butter
- 2 tsp. additional butter for sautéing the shallot
- 4 T. additional butter for melting and brushing on the asparagus rolls
- 2 T. chopped shallots
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. salt, to taste
- Snipped chives for garnish (optional)
- In a large skillet, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add asparagus and boil for 3 minutes, until tender. (This will depend on how thick or thin your asparagus spears are.)
- Drain and immediately plunge asparagus in ice water bath to retain their color. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
- Flatten bread with a rolling pin.
- In a small skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of butter and sauté the shallot until softened, about 2 minutes. Watch the heat as you do not want the shallot to burn.
- Combine the softened butter (1 stick) with the cooked shallots, add the chopped parsley and dill, 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, and the salt to taste.
- Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons herbed butter on each slice of bread. Top with an asparagus spear. Roll up tightly; place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Pinch slightly to seal the edge.
- Melt the remaining 4 T. of butter and brush the asparagus rolls all over with butter.
- Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut rolls in half to serve. Sprinkle with snipped chives.
Makes 24 appetizers.
Tune in tonight, January 12, 9 pm ET on your local PBS station.