"That's awfully nice raspberry cordial, Anne ..."
January 24, 2011 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Hosting an Anne of Green Gables dinner-involving shindig. What should I serve?

Since you guys came through for me so spectacularly when I asked what to serve at a Great Gatsby tea, I have decided to return to you now that it's my turn to host book club again, and the book is Anne of Green Gables.

We are having dinner. I've already decided to make raspberry cordial and serve it alongside currant wine (a local wine store carries it, I checked). I need a main course idea! And while lots of desserts are mentioned in the books, not many I've made before and I don't know what would be good! And sides!

We'll probably eat more buffet or family style than sit-down, if it matters, and I'd love suggestions that are IN the books (any of them), that capture the feel of the books (or pun on the books, I know you all want to), or that are appropriate to PEI during the period. (Except, no fish.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't read the books (only seen the movies), but PEI is famous for potatoes. Perhaps you could incorporate those?
posted by yawper at 7:21 PM on January 24, 2011

You could put a rubber mouse in the pudding sauce?
posted by Jazz Hands at 7:25 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

These are apparently recipes from the official Anne of Green Gables Cookbook. Heavy on the desserts, but there's a few non-dessert foods.
posted by castlebravo at 7:26 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Amazon sells an Anne of Green Gables Cookbook!
posted by Jazz Hands at 7:28 PM on January 24, 2011

Plum pudding? There is some part in the first book where a mouse gets into some plum pudding. A carrot dish should also be worked in there (since Anne was teased about her hair).
posted by shinyshiny at 7:29 PM on January 24, 2011

Yes, I've looked through the cookbook; mostly desserts. (I may pick it up anyway just because I'm such an Anne completionist.) I also have the "Anne" treasury which has a few recipes. Mostly desserts.

I wasn't planning on making pudding with pudding sauce BUT I TOTALLY AM NOW. Now to locate a rubber mouse ...
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:30 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anne of Green Gables (and other books by L.M. Montgomery) is up on Project Gutenberg--a quick CTRL + F for food-related words might be helpful. I did a search for "chicken" and got this:

"We're going to have jellied chicken and cold tongue. We're to have two kinds of jelly, red and yellow, and whipped cream and lemon pie, and cherry pie, and three kinds of cookies, and fruit cake, and Marilla's famous yellow plum preserves that she keeps especially for ministers, and pound cake and layer cake, and biscuits as aforesaid; and new bread and old both, in case the minister is dyspeptic and can't eat new."
posted by junques at 7:40 PM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

In Anne of Avonlea, there's a chapter entitled "A Chapter of Accidents," and that and the preceding chapter have exactly the foods you want. Anne, Diana, Marilla and Rachel Lynde are all cooking up a feast for a famous author. Everything goes wrong. The peas have sugar in them -- about four times too much. And the famous author doesn't show up that day, though I hope I'm not spoiling things terribly by telling you she does show up on another day, and they eat much simpler fare.

You must have flowers on the table, of course, possibly too many. "I mean to have the parlor simply a bower of blossoms," Anne says.

The menu for the ill-fated meal was: cream of onion soup, two roasted roosters, "peas and beans and creamed potatoes and a lettuce salad, for vegetables." For dessert there was lemon pie with whipped cream, and coffee and cheese and lady fingers.

And of course you must wear your white muslin dress, says Diana.

You could also make some of the indigestible things Miss Lavendar and Charlotta the Fourth are always eating. They feasted a lot on doughnuts and other sweets.
posted by brina at 7:42 PM on January 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

Baking powder biscuits, made with "ROLLINGS RELIABLE" baking powder.
posted by hooray at 7:42 PM on January 24, 2011 [8 favorites]

Oh! And do some cream puffs or use puff pastry in something, in reference to Anne's wish of puffed sleeves.
posted by hooray at 7:49 PM on January 24, 2011

It looks like you may have dessert covered, but I think it would be great if you made Maud Montgomery's signature mock cherry pie (self-link ahoy!).

Maybe baking powder biscuits (with a nod to Rollings Reliable and Averil's Atonement?)

Other foods mentioned in the books:

crab-apple preserves
a broiled chicken (that Marilla bakes for Anne after a visit to Mrs. Barry)
nut cake with pink icing and walnuts
ham and toast

In fact, here's a great description of Anne's ideal dinner:

"Oh, I'm not going to put on any 'style,' if you mean trying to do or have things we don't usually have on festal occasions," assured Anne. "That would be affectation, and, although I know I haven't as much sense and steadiness as a girl of seventeen and a schoolteacher ought to have, I'm not so silly as THAT. But I want to have everything as nice and dainty as possible. Davy-boy, don't leave those peapods on the back stairs . . . someone might slip on them. I'll have a light soup to begin with . . . you know I can make lovely cream-of-onion soup . . . and then a couple of roast fowls. I'll have the two white roosters. I have real affection for those roosters and they've been pets ever since the gray hen hatched out just the two of them . . . little balls of yellow down. But I know they would have to be sacrificed sometime, and surely there couldn't be a worthier occasion than this. But oh, Marilla, I cannot kill them . . . not even for Mrs. Morgan's sake. I'll have to ask John Henry Carter to come over and do it for me."

"I'll do it," volunteered Davy, "if Marilla'll hold them by the legs, 'cause I guess it'd take both my hands to manage the axe. It's awful jolly fun to see them hopping about after their heads are cut off."

"Then I'll have peas and beans and creamed potatoes and a lettuce salad, for vegetables," resumed Anne, "and for dessert, lemon pie with whipped cream, and coffee and cheese and lady fingers. I'll make the pies and lady fingers tomorrow and do up my white muslin dress. And I must tell Diana tonight, for she'll want to do up hers. Mrs. Morgan's heroines are nearly always dressed in white muslin, and Diana and I have always resolved that that was what we would wear if we ever met her. It will be such a delicate compliment, don't you think? Davy, dear, you mustn't poke peapods into the cracks of the floor. I must ask Mr. and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy to dinner, too, for they're all very anxious to meet Mrs. Morgan. It's so fortunate she's coming while Miss Stacy is here. Davy dear, don't sail the peapods in the water bucket . . . go out to the trough. Oh, I do hope it will be fine Thursday, and I think it will, for Uncle Abe said last night when he called at Mr. Harrison's, that it was going to rain most of this week."

posted by mynameisluka at 7:50 PM on January 24, 2011

On (non) preview, I see that many Anne fans have this well in hand!
posted by mynameisluka at 7:51 PM on January 24, 2011

I you're having a hard time finding specific Green Gables fare you could just look for some Edwardian foods. Canadian would be best, but British would probably work well too. If you want to get complicated you could look up some of the big, fancy hotels and see what they would have served at the turn of the century.

From what I understand roast birds are always appropriate, and basic side dishes using fresh vegetables would be good too.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:54 PM on January 24, 2011

Oh, good. I just wanted to make sure there was going to be raspberry cordial/current wine.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:04 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I had that Anne of Green Gables cookbook as a child. Full of win.

For dessert you have to make the liniment cake.
posted by Sara C. at 8:19 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the cookbook - it's awesome. We made plum pudding and the caramel sauce (without a mouse). It's aimed somewhat at kids (they had all the recipes tested by a 12 year old), and I was about 12 when I got it, but I still think it's neat.

I also thought of the fancy dinner for the writer -- roast chicken would have been a special treat then (because people only rarely killed a chicken). The side dishes from that chapter are good ideas too.

that said, one of the things that it would be wrong to serve would be lobster. I have family from PEI -- my great-grandmother was years younger than LM Montgomery and from the SW end instead of the north shore, but she still came from the same kind of middling Anglo farmer community -- even went to the same teacher's college in Charlottetown that Anne was supposed to have. And she would never serve lobster to guests -- that's poor people's food (to be xenophobic - French people's food). Did you ever notice how Avonlea is near the sea but they never seem to go clamming or eat lobster? (maybe the shellfish aren't so common on the North Shore -- Belfast county has plenty of clams).
posted by jb at 8:52 PM on January 24, 2011

Flourless cake
posted by Sara Anne at 9:04 PM on January 24, 2011

When Anne and her friends go on a springtime picnic in Anne of Avonlea, they definitely have sandwiches, which Anne mourns as "unpoetic" but necessary. She and Diana also have cucumbers for tea when she falls.through the duck house roof. I love the idea for this party!
posted by corey flood at 11:30 PM on January 24, 2011

What a lovely idea! Just don't mix up the sugar and the salt.
posted by Coaticass at 11:53 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Its been a long time since I've read the books, but isn't there a plotline in one of the early books (post Green Gables, pre-House of Dreams) that goes like this: Anne is invited to dinner by one of her student's parents and enthusiastically praises the pumpkin preserve they serve her. Word gets around that she loves pumpkin preserve, and she gets served it at every dinner she attends until the sight of it makes her ill. Finally, she attends a dinner and is relieved to see that the hostess has prepared a dish that would be inappropriate to pair with pumpkin preserves- only to be served with a pumpkin preserve in a separate dish, just for her.

Short version: perhaps a little side dish of pumpkin preserve for each guest.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 3:07 AM on January 25, 2011

PEI potatoes
posted by segatakai at 3:25 AM on January 25, 2011

Would it be rude to invite myself? This sounds so fun. I could bring a plate of russet apples.
posted by Kangaroo at 3:56 AM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Well, you'll need cake. And pie. Your Victorian/Edwardian Maritime hospitality would be questionable at best if your pantry did not have at least two kinds of each (a layer cake and a sponge, and a fruit plus a cream pie). You will need to serve properly made looseleaf tea (an Oolong, maybe) in a china or silver pot with the appropriate cup tailorings (milk, sugar, and lemon for those who do not take milk). You must have home-made bread, and some good butter.

A buffet serving cold roast beef, ham or tongue slices, a carved roast fowl, potatoes, peas, preserved green beans, an assortment of jellies, pickled beetroot or preserved fruit, and some cheese would be reasonably authentic. I'd want to put some kind of aspic on the table for the time-travelishness of it all -- since you have enough dessert, you could do a meat broth one with mysterious shredded root vegetables suspended in it -- and I would want to nerd out and use seasonings and condiments available to the average household at the time, like sage, onion, powdered mustard, vinegar, dried lemon rind, home-made egg and oil mayonnaise, caraway seed, powdered ginger, nutmeg, peppercorns, grated horseradish root and fruit relishes. (Other main-dishy ideas: meat pie, chicken salad, deviled lamb's kidneys.)

Here is a long list of Anne-related recipes, from Anne's first taste of church picnic ice cream to the pretty cake her youngest daughter throws off a bridge seven books later.

Obligatory cordial, and currant wine.

Each recipe comes with chapter and verse (and recipe provenance if from a cookbook) if you need to assemble bibliographical information for your eaters. It looks like some of them are from the cookbook mentioned above, and some of them are adapted from regional Victorian recipes, but there are a few that come from Montgomery's own family cookbook.
posted by Sallyfur at 6:32 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you serve something on a slate somehow?
posted by lettersoflead at 8:10 PM on January 25, 2011

The Anne dinner came off tonight. I had one big constraint, which was that the party began at 5:30 and I teach from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays. So I cooked all morning, cleaned like crazy, left my husband with VERY STRICT INSTRUCTIONS on when to preheat the oven and when to put the roast chickens in, and then came home and cooked again. So everything either had to pre-make fairly easily or had to fit into that 90-minute timeframe.

Here's what I served:


Roast Chicken (2 of them, 5 lb. each), rubbed with butter, stuffed with onions, sprinkled with rosemary (I like rosemary) as the main dish

Gratin Dauphinois from the Julia Child cookbook; this served both as a hearty side dish and as a vegetarian main dish; I figured while not strictly authentic it counted okay because PEI is (as someone noted above) known for its potatoes and both Anne and Diana's families farmed potatoes (mentioned in the Aunt Atossa conversation). Plus LMM writes a lot about dairying in some of her other books, so a potatoes au gratin seemed to fit the spirit even if I had no specific recipe mentioned. These went in with the chickens the last 30 minutes.

Cream of Onion Soup; I cheated and got Campbell's, which was well-received; it was too fiddly to muck around with on my first try in that 90-minute window


Other dinner dishes contributed by the attendees included:
Baking Powder Biscuits

Lettuce Salad, following an Edwardian recipe (radishes and hard-boiled eggs, basically, added to the lettuce)



Lemon Meringue Pie, which I made, and my meringue cracked! Which I've never had happen before! But I figured it was an Anne-ish sort of problem and served it anyway.

Contributed by others:
Cherry Pie

Plum Puffs (also a few raspberry puffs hiding in there)

Walnut Cake with Pink Icing

Lemon Tartlets

Nut Tart



Raspberry Cordial, from this recipe, and OMG it's so easy and delicious. I will definitely make it again and you should go make it RIGHT NOW.

Cherry Wine -- wait, what? It turns out currant wine is seasonal where I am and it is not the season! But the cherry wine, which we've had before and I know my husband will drink, was the right rich red color to be confusable with the raspberry cordial and I felt it was in the proper spirit of the thing. I've promised to produce currant wine later in the summer.

Red Wine and White Wine, because not everyone wants sweet drinks


And then we discussed the book (a little bit) and everything else under the sun (a lot) and a good time was had by all, in particular my husband who snuck in to eat like 12 servings of dessert and my toddler who kept saying, "Mmmmm!" from the other room as he ate the fancy food. (He and dad ate in the kitchen.) I think Mr. McGee deserved his 12 servings of dessert, though, since he not only did a lot of cleaning AND put the birds in properly and on time, but he carved them really beautifully and laid them out on platters in a very fancy fashion.

Even the first-time Anne-readers had fun and everyone enjoyed the challenge of preparing a dish from the past and related to the book, so I can recommend it as a party theme for the cooking-inclined. :)

I had wanted to have raspberry tarts (but nobody wanted to make them and I'm no good with pastry!) and plum pudding (but it was too much for my 90-minute window), but we had such good food that I don't think anyone missed them!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:07 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, and OF COURSE it was all served on my best china ... not the second-best!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:11 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

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