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Downton Soup Kitchens Serve Borscht to Russian Refugees

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Downton wins NTA and SAG awards this week.

January is almost behind us but we have had plenty of distractions to keep our mind off the short days and long winter nights.  Not only did Downton Abbey won Best Drama at Britain’s National Television Awards last week, they picked up the Drama Ensemble Award at last night’s SAG awards.  Joanne Froggatt was so kind to specifically thank us viewers for our support.  You can view the “ensemble” acceptance speech below in the Downton Dish section.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, Scots around the world celebrated poet Rabbie Burns this weekend (more below).

In tribute to the Russian refugees who Rose adopted and whom Violet has a connection with, this week’s dish is Beef Beet Borscht, a traditional Russian dish.  It is hearty healthy and inexpensive soup, perfect to feed your own army during the cold winter months.

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Care for Some Spotted Dick With Your Downton Abbey?

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Spotted DickIt’s Blue Monday, apparently the most depressing day of the year.  It is a British thing.  While Americans celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King on the third Monday of January, a 2005 promotional campaign for Sky Travel decided we needed to be reminded just how long and bleak winter can feel after the holidays are over, the credit card bills have come in and Spring is far off. It has been scientifically disproven as nonsense, but still lingers.  When I lived in Atlanta I was at ground zero for Martin Luther Day, but I should think we should all spend our time today focussing on how we can influence positive outcomes that Dr. King was so passionate about.

And to add more levity to your day, I suppose Julian Fellowes couldn’t hold out any longer. It was finally time to bring out the spotted dick, a classic English pudding served this week on S5E3.  Mrs. Patmore delivered the line so quickly there wasn’t much time for snickering.  Considering how this episode opens (with Mary in bed with Tony) a little sexual innuendo is not out of place.

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Downton Abbey Season 5: As Satisfying as a Good Pudding…or Golden Globe

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A well deserved win for Joanne Froggatt who plays Anna

It was a great night for American Downton Abbey fans. We had prepared ourselves to watch another great episode of Season 5, but were so thrilled to share in the joy of Joanne Froggatt’s win at the Golden Globes. She won for best supporting actress in a TV series. In her powerful acceptance speech she addressed her controversial storyline in Season 4.  “After this storyline aired I received a small number of letters from survivors of rape and one woman summed up the thoughts of many by saying she wasn’t sure why she’d written, but she just felt in some way she wanted to be heard,” she said. Her acceptance speech can be viewed here.

This week’s Downton Dish is pudding. In this week’s episode, the Downton kitchen prepared a Charlotte Russe for the Crawley family, so we will be making a Chocolate Charlotte Russe. A french dessert, it is my small act of solidarity with the French people in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week. On a lighter note, why not serve this dish to your Valentine this year.  Lord D loves anything chocolate.

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Celebrate Return of Downton Days With Classic Cherries Jubilee

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My favorite word of the Season: Donk

Downton Days are here again on PBS. A brand new year with a brand new glorious commercial free season of Downton, just the way we like it. I was particularly thrilled that the great chefs at PBS didn’t mess with the UK version or  feed us extra portions; in past years they would edit the shows and serve E1 and E2 together, which is ever so delicious, but makes the season so much shorter. Season 5 promises to be a great season, full of secrets and love in the most unexpected places. Lord D particularly enjoyed the  Manners of Downton Abbey special which followed Episode 1.

Over the past few weeks, many fans approached me for food pairing ideas to celebrate the launch of Season 5.  My Online Guide to Hosting a Downton Abbey Party has plenty of ideas. When pressed for a specific dish for this episode, I suggested a flambé (but not disclosing Edith’s bedroom fire), since any time you set fire to food, it is a special occasion.  I chose Cherries Jubilee for its simplicity, grand effect, and the connection of its creator, Auguste Escoffier, to Downton Abbey.

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Your Online Guide to Hosting A Downton Abbey Themed Party

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Here’s a fun party game: who in this picture is no longer with us? (photo ITV)

Downton Abbey fans love to share the show with their friends and family.  The fabulous food lends itself to themed parties.  In this post, I include a few specific ideas for planning a Downton party.  Whether you are serving 2 or 200 there are plenty of recipe ideas to make in your own Abbey.

In 200 posts over three years, I have posted over 250 recipes for foods which would have been served upstairs and down at Downton Abbey and other great English country houses from the Edwardian era through to the early 1920s. All for the love of Downton and those who love the show.  For a full list of dishes by meal or occasion, check out my Recipe Index.

Entertaining is Much Simpler in Season 5

We are now in the 1920s and if you are planning to host a Downton Dinner, you will be relieved to know that family dinners during this period are now only 3 courses…unless of course you are entertaining your fellow aristocrats.  And the cocktail party finally comes to Downton. Carson finally gets with the times!

Check my Press Clippings

Don’t just take my word for It:  I have given a number of interviews in the national press,and my recipes have been posted in papers around the world.  I even prepared Afternoon Tea for national TV. Check out my Press Page.

Why not buy the Book?

Want it all and more in a pretty package?  My ebook, Abbey Cooks Entertain, is available for download here (click on the image in the right column), or you can order from Amazon. I also include a cocktail section with authentic cocktails from the era. My 2nd Edition is now available with recipes from Season 1 – 5 with both imperial and metric measurements.

I hope to provide inspiration for fans of all cooking ability who want to take a Downton twist on casual or formal gatherings.  It is pretty rare to get rich selling books, but every penny helps offset my food costs so I can continue to share new recipes with you throughout the year.

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Your Downton Holiday Baking Should Include Easy Cranberry Torte

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downton-abbey-christmasDecember means Christmas in the UK, and in many other countries around the world. Many of the traditions we enjoy were today were introduced by Victorians.   Jessica Fellowes goes into some detail in her new book A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes. “It’s Christmas at Downton Abbey: the mistletoe hangs quietly, hoping to witness a kiss beneath in white berries, pine and holly are laid on every surface, a yule log crackles in the fireplace and stockings are hung on the mantlepiece.”

Many holiday traditions include food. Today we review my favorite traditional holiday recipes, and one of my own traditions. Also known as fenberries in the UK, cranberries not only find themselves on our Christmas tree, but in Cranberry Torte,  a crowd pleasure which is quick and simple to make. And once the holidays are done, you can use my online guide to start planning your Season 5 parties.

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‘Tis Sporting Season at Downton, Warmed by Eve’s Pudding

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The Hunting Season
We are deep into November. For most Americans, it means that plans for Thanksgiving are well under way.  And while many are strapping on their aprons to get a head start, others don camouflage gear to hunt turkey for the table.  It is hunting season after all.  Duck Dynasty may come to mind when you think about hunting, but Downton Abbey reminds us that British aristocracy took great pride in “sport”.  Jessica Fellowes goes into some detail in her new book A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes. And yes, women like Lady Mary, also loved to hunt.

 A Year in the Life is sprinkled with delightful recipes and today we try her Eve’s Pudding, an apple cobbler to warm up with after a cold day outside.  It is an easy dessert to make to add to your Thanksgiving weekend menu.

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Soul Cakes, the Original Halloween Treat

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Turnips were the original lit jack-o-lanterns

Turnips were the original lit jack-o-lanterns

It is November 1st and it has started snowing outside. Yes, Summer is over and harvest celebrations are coming to a close.  Winter is not far behind. I love tracing traditions, and the foods that are an important part of the celebrations.

Did you know that Halloween has ancient origins in Ireland? It was originally called Samhain, and the day marked the end of the harvest season for Celtic farmers. As immigrants brought their traditions to America and adapted to their new surroundings. Originally, turnips served as Jack o Lanterns, but pumpkins are so much easier to carve.

Halloween also has religious connections.  The root word of Halloween – ”hallow” – means ”holy.” The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” It refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before the Christian holy day that honors saintly people of the past.All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, which is followed by All Souls’ day on Nov. 2.   “Souling” was the original trick-or-treat activity held around the same time.

This week’s dish are Soul Cakes, the original “treat” traditionally made for All Soul’s Day, celebrated on Nov. 2nd.

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Downton Cooking Lesson: It’s All Gravy

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S5 MrsHughesIt is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.  The Dowager might very well have asked her American nemesis Martha Levinson “What is Thanksgiving?” The British do not celebrate a one day feast; instead there is month of Harvest Festival events.

The Canadian Thanksgiving holiday was officially proclaimed by  Parliament in 1879 and draws upon three traditions: European harvest celebrations; the first North American Thanksgiving (1578) observed by Martin Frobisher in the Arctic Circle; and the Pilgrims’ 1621 first celebration in Massachusetts.  In 1957, the date was set for Second Monday in October, and of course Americans know that US Thanksgiving is the held the 4th Thursday in November.

In light of the harvest which leads to the holiday season, this week features an easy turkey gravy, the pièce de résistance of the turkey dinner. “It’s all gravy” is an English idiom, one of many we will explore over the coming weeks to share at the dining table.

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Celebrating the UK Launch of Downton Season 5 And My 200th Post

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Someone learns a new word in S5E1.

It is time to celebrate. Scotland is still part of the UK (apologies to those who wished to separate,  but we would have really missed you), and ITV has begun broadcasting Season 5 of Downton in the UK.  I won’t comment on E1 other than to say that Season 5 starts off like a wonderful stew set on simmer, which is key to blending flavors, and that “donk” is my new favorite word.

It is also my 200th post here. I still wonder about where my passion for this show and its food comes from. So many stories, glimpses into food history, and  wonderful Downton inspired dishes. The dishes are catalogued in the Recipe Index.  Some of them and many others are perfectly packaged in my online cookbook Abbey Cooks Entertain, always at the ready on your smartphone or tablet.

I can’t believe I haven’t already shared this recipe from my cookbook, but I can’t  think of any better recipe to celebrate than Lord D’s Pork Roast.  

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