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From blogging in my home office to appearing on National TV, never underestimate the power of Downton. Downton’s fan base extends from teenagers to gushing celebrities. I have always said that food brings people together. When fans include TV hosts, things happen.
I appeared on CanadaAM, Canada’s top national morning show on Valentine’s Day. I have been a fan of the show for the 40 years it has come into Canadian homes. I am so blessed to have been invited to visit them to share my passion for Downton Abbey food.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to show how quick and easy it is to pull together a Downton inspired meal for a loved one, namely afternoon tea party. British cuisine has endured a great deal of bad press, but can proudly claim Afternoon Tea as their own.
A simple meal of scones, tea sandwiches, sweets and tea, you can easily turn the meal into a Valentine’s Day treat. It is as simple as using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Perhaps there has been Valentine’s Day cookie baking for school and you already have a cookie cutter lying around. Make a few heart shaped sandwiches and treats and you are done. Once you get the hang of tea, check out my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea to host all of your friends. Not just for ladies anymore men are even doing business over tea in London, in lieu of lunch or cocktails.
You can’t eat Roses…or can you?
Flowers are a traditional and safe gift to buy, but if you have left Valentine’s Day shopping until the last minute, it is probably too late. Lord D buys me roses at least once a month so he never has to buy them for me on Valentine’s Day to make up for all the times he didn’t. And much cheaper. So save your money for next month and buy flowers for no reason.
Besides, you can’t eat roses. Well, if you are able to find an organic florist which can provide you with pesticide free roses, you can make rosewater and jam from the petals which you can use in baking.
Food is the Language of Love
Remember when Matthew first proposed to Mary over sandwiches in Season 1? Sharing even a simple meal can be special, and when you make it yourself you literally are taking the time to show your love. If you are challenged in the kitchen and your partner loves Downton Abbey, a tea party is the perfect gift on Valentine’s Day or any time of year. And yes, there is such a thing as ‘champagne” or “celebration” tea.
My Book on Entertaining Downton
I wrote this book for fellow Downton Abbey fans who wish to bring a touch of English tradition to their own Abbey combining food, history and healthy eating.
Great food has a history. There are 220 recipes and color photos which provide suggestions for entertaining at brunch, afternoon tea, cocktails, and dinner upstairs and down. In addition, there is a selection of recipes to host a traditional garden party, and to celebrate English holidays throughout the year. Finally, taking a page from the country house cooks of the era, there is a section which provides a number of base recipes to help stock your larder. Check out the press coverage the book has attracted.
Where to get Tea Stuff
Most everyone has a teapot and likely have inherited a tea cup or two from a relative. If not, pay a visit to your Visit your local charity retail store where you can easily pick up tea cups, a teapot, and even silver pieces that people don’t want anymore. A stacked tea tray can be hard to find, so you can simply use plates, or pick up a cardboard stacked tray stand from a dollar store which many people use for fairy (cup) cakes.
How to make a Proper Cup of Tea
To distinguish yourself as a tea aficionado, however, just follow the time honored tradition of first warming the tea pot.
- Warm the pot: Add a bit of boiling water to the pot, give it a swirl and pour it out before adding your tea.
- If you go with loose tea, the general guideline is to allow for 1 tsp per person, 1 tsp. for the pot, and allow 10 ounces per person. You may wish to fill your tea pot with tap water, pour into a measuring cup to determine how many cups your pot will hold.
- Steep 3 or 4 minutes and don’t let the tea steep too long or it will become bitter.
Anatomy of the Stacked Tea Tray
What I brought with me to CanadaAM. Click on the name (in red) below the picture to link to the recipe.
Top Layer: Scones
Middle Layer: Tea Sandwiches
Bottom Layer: Sweets