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Tea with Phryne

Phryne prefers a light refreshment at tea, rather than the meat and egg meal of a High Tea, which was a working family's main meal. She can't stand pressed tongue and doesn't like fish paste but otherwise she is a dream to cook for, as Mrs Butler is willing to tell anyone who asks.


Ten Eggs
salt and pepper
loaf of firm wholemeal bread, all crusts cut off, buttered

Boil new laid eggs for ten minutes. One egg per sandwhich. Immediately plunge them into cold water so that the yolks do not darken. When almost cold peel them and slice or chop them. Mix the eggs with a tablespoon of minced parsley and enough mayonnaise to make a nice texture. Add salt and pepper and lay the egg mixture on the buttered bread. Egg sandwiches are traditionally cut into squares.


two western ( ie, ordinary) cucumbers
loaf of fine white bread ( millet bread is very good) with all crusts cut off, buttered
kitchen towels
1 tablespoon salt

Peel the cucumber, de-seed it, and slice it into fine slices. Sprinkle with salt and leave for a couple of hours. Drain off the moisture, rinse off the salt, and then dry each slice with kitchen towels before you lay it gently on the bread and make up the sandwiches. Traditionally the cucumber sandwhich is cut into fingers.


Rinse the largest kitchen tea pot, then scald it with boiling water. Into the pot put one spoon of tea for each guest and one for the pot. Pour in water at a rolling boil and clap the lid on quickly. Allow to brew for two minutes. Turning the teapot is permissible but it must be turned clockwise. Strain the tea into the silver company tea pot. This means that there will be no leftover bitter leaves and the last cup will be of the same strength as the first.

Mrs Butler loathes stewed tea.

If tea leaves are required for fortune telling, provide a silver strainer for those who do not wish to know about the future.


2 cups of self raising four
1 tablespoon butter
about a cup of milk
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to hot (220°C)
Sift the flour and salt ( this really does make a difference with scones). Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. With a knife, make a hole in the middle of the mixture and pour in milk a little at a time, mixing with the knife, until you have a dough.
Turn it out onto a floury board and knead very briefly. Roll out until flat and cut quickly into small rounds for the parlour or large squares for the kitchen. Glaze with milk, slip into the oven and cook for about seven minutes. Speed is of the essence with scones. Mrs Butler prides herself on being able to have the scones cooked by the time the big kitchen kettle comes to the boil.

DELICATE ICED TEA for very hot days

Brew a pot of tea and strain. Add two tablespoons of sugar and stir until dissolves.
Allow to cool in the icebox. When the tea is quite cold, add the juice of three oranges and a lemon. If an alcoholic punch is desired, add a large glass of French brandy just before serving. garnish with lemon and orange slices and mint leaves. Mrs butler, however, is of the opinion that on really hot days nothing cools you down and sets you up like a nice, really hot cup of tea.

Bon appetit!