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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Scrivener's Tea Room Recipes

Scrivenir's was a wonderful department store a couple of miles away from my beloved grandmother's house.  They closed about ten years ago and the building was torn down.  Now a Chili's resides there.  

Ernie Scrivener opened a lumber yard there not long after WW II which grew into a hardware store, which, like Topsy grew into gorgeous things for the home. At Christmas time, it was an absolute wonderland of ornaments and decorations. Finally, it had fantastic fabrics, buttons and ribbons, a children's shop, bath shop, silver, china and crystal. I've got to stop before I tear up.

Along the way, about 1963, Ernie opened a Tea Room and their sticky rolls (recipe lost) became famous as well as their cup of bouillon with cheese cookies, spinach souffle and their shrimp salad. Everyone was given a cup of bouillon with cheese crackers as soon as they sat down.

Here are a few recipes from Scrivener's. I've tasted them all in the Tea Room and loved them. These are as given in an interview with former Scrivener's employees and are a little sketchy. It's easy, I think, to figure out what to do though. Here is what has been salvaged from a San Antonio icon (that included Joskee’s and Frost Department Stores).

Scrivener's Cup of Bouillon

 Mini Victorian Porcelain Tea Cup

Equal Parts: Chicken and Beef Base -- diluted with water as directed
cinnamon -- to taste
garlic powder -- to taste

Mix the diluted bouillon. Put the mixture into a pot with cinnamon and garlic powder. Bring it to a boil. As the mixture boils, it will form a skin on top. Continue to cook until the skin boils away.

Scrivener's Cheese Cookies 


equal parts of shredded Cheddar and flour
cayenne pepper -- to taste
butter or butter flavored oil

Mix the cheddar, flour and pepper until well blended. Add enough butter flavored oil or butter to make the mixture the consistency of pie dough.

Roll the mixture into a cylinder about 2" in diameter. Put the cylinders into wax paper or foil. Refrigerate overnight, then slice and bake as needed.

NOTE: Most recipes call for different proportions using 1 cup cheese to 1/2 cup flour to 1/4 cup butter.

Scrivener's Spinach Souffle

Spinach Souflee 
20 ounces frozen spinach -- two 10 oz pkg *
1 cup chicken bouillon -- or 2
1/4 cup butter -- 4 T.
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cups Velveeta
4 eggs
1/2 each onion -- chopped

Preheat oven to 350. If using fresh spinach, wash it well, then cook briefly with a small amount of water, along with dissolved bouillon cubes. Drain and set aside. If using frozen spinach, thaw and drain

In saucepan, make a roux by heating butter and adding flour. Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add water and milk and blend well Add cheese and continue to cook, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

Place eggs and onion in blender and blend well. Combine cooked spinach, cheese sauce and egg mixture and stir well. Pour mixture into a 9 x 12" baking pan and bake 30 minutes.

*NOTE: You can use fresh or frozen spinach. Scrivener's recipe called for 8 oz pkg but the pkg we found were 10 oz and they worked very well. Makes 8 - 10 servings.

Scrivener's Shrimp Salad

Shrimp salad 
2 1/2 pounds cooked shrimp -- peeled and deveined
5 hard-boiled eggs -- diced
1 1/2 cups celery -- finely chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
3/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice -- approx., but no more than 1/4 t.
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt -- or to taste
1/4 teaspoon onion salt -- or to taste

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients gently. Taste and add additional garlic salt and onion salt if needed.

Scrivener's Poppy Seed Dressing

Poppy Seed Dressing I 
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons onion juice
2 cups salad oil
3 tablespoons poppy seeds

Place sugar, dry mustard, salt, vinegar and onion juice together in large bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Add oil very slowly, beating constantly till thoroughly emulsified and thick. Stir in poppy seeds and continue to beat for a few more minutes.

Scrivener’s German Chocolate Pie
 German Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 4-oz. box German chocolate bars, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 ready-made pie crust (unbaked)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a mixer, beat together eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla for about 2 minutes. Add melted chocolate, melted butter and evaporated milk and mix well until thoroughly combined. Scatter pecans and coconut evenly over bottom of unbaked pie crust. Place pie pan on a baking sheet, and then pour chocolate filling mixture over pecans and coconut. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove and let cool thoroughly. Refrigerate to store.


  1. I too, absolutely loved Scriveners. I started baking gooey Cinnamon rolls right after having one in their Tea Room. I was in awe of them and probably could have eaten half a tray! I started baking Cinnamon rolls that weren't out of a can not long after that first taste/visit!! I was in my early 20's and loved that place. Christmas time was wonderful there, plus you could find very old plumbing pieces and more if you were working on an older home. (my mother restored houses) I loved the Tea Room, but was enthralled with the room with the China, Crystal and Silver. The first time I saw Limoges china has stayed with me. Even in the early 80's while wearing my neon colors, I knew the romantic roses and delicate colors of that china were me. I still love that look, and cherish the memories of that wonderful store. I so wish it was still up and running, as well as Earl Able's!! Two legendary businesses that should still be with us!!

  2. Earl Abel's is good as ever on Austin Highway....miss Scriveners much

  3. I bought the button cabinet and buttons. In my book that I documented those as well as many recipes from the tea room...

    1. Did you publish a recipe book, or is your book a personal diary?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Where can we find your book and what is the name please. I remember what a special treat to go to Scriveners It is still missed by many

  4. I'm still mourning Scriverners. Frost Bros and Joskes. I modeled at Joskes in the late 70s. But I'm looking for the cinnamon roll recipe from Scrivners. Anyone?

  5. Anyone have that cinnamon roll recipe?

  6. I am still searching for the cinnamon rolls recipe.

  7. Is there a recipe for the cinnamon rolls? I still dream about them.

  8. Berniece did not have a recipe, according to a Scriveners staff member.

  9. My mother bought fabric and notions from Scriveners, and Vogue Designer Original patterns. She modeled for them in their spring and fall fashion shows, as well. She was a lovely woman and an excellent seamstress. She worked full time, but took the time to do this because she got a huge discount on the fabric, patterns and notions for the outfits she made and modeled. I loved going there with her and having lunch in the Tea Room.