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Downton Abbey S4 Life Lesson: Electric Mixers Make Better Mousse

Ivy and Daisy check out a new mixer (ITV)

Whether you adorned your finest attire–sipping claret with fellow aristocrats– or snuggled on the comfy couch with a hot brew and  loved ones, all Downton Abbey fans across the US were glued to their televisions last night to celebrate the return of Downton for its fourth season on PBS.

In true American fashion, PBS once again broadcast a double dose of Downton episodes sans commercials; barely enough time to replenish teacups and wine glasses.

This week’s Downton dish is Chilled Tomato and Dill Mousse (a favorite of Princess Diana), paying homage to the introduction of an electric mixer at Downton. Embracing change is a good thing: you never know when you will be rewarded with praise from picky Dowagers.

Downton Dish

Wise words indeed
S4 wise words from Mrs. Patmore

At long last, S4 has arrived.  Each week I share Downton news, but if you haven’t seen all seasons (1-4) beware of spoilers below:

History of The Electric Mixer

Another modern brainwave Ivy and Daisy were excited to see an electric mixer come to Downton, a metaphor of how change was embraced by the young and distrusted by others like Mrs. Patmore.  Still, this modern brainwave took its time in coming. The poor toaster must have been thrilled to have a companion!

Invented in 1908, Herbert Johnson,  an engineer for the Hobart Manufacturing Company, was inspired by a baker mixing bread dough with a metal spoon. First adopted in commercial bakeries and for professional bakers, the home version was developed in 1919.  Large and expensive ($2000 in today’s currency) it took some years to reduce their size and weight.   The company name was later changed to Kitchen Aid after a house wife remarked “I don’t care what you call it. All I know is it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had”.  I still feel like Daisy and Ivy when I take my own Kitchen Aid out for a spin.

Upcoming Events

SoupFest 12 in Hamilton, Ontario: January 28, 2014

soupfest web header 2 Aside from chocolate, soup has to be my favorite dish so to be invited to be a judge at this year’s FirstOntario Credit Union Soupfest in Hamilton is a honour and a delight. In past years the local chefs blew me away with their creations. The local teashop produced a lovely Earl Grey soup, fit for the Dowager.

Soupfest is a community celebration where over 25 quality area restaurants compete for Best Soup, Most Creative Soup, Best Display and the Best Grow Local category.

All proceeds will support Living Rock Ministries efforts in responding to youth-at-risk. Each week Living Rock prepares 900 meals, provides emergency food to 200 youth per week, offers prenatal and parenting, crisis and housing support in addition to employment training and work experience offered 5 days per week. If you live in the Toronto area, check out the event website and head on down.

Downton fans note: Attendees will be eligible to download a free copy of my book, Abbey Cooks Entertains.

All About Mousse

Mousse is a lovely airy dish, which can be hot or cold, savoury or sweet.  Mousse actually means “foam”” in French so you can guess where it originated.  It was first seen on fine dining tables around the 1890s as a savoury dish.

Along came Chocolate:  It was the famous French artist Toulouse Lautrec who came up with the great idea of using chocolate in the 1900s.  It was first called  ‘mayonnaise de chocolat’. Seriously.

Anatomy of a Mousse:  The mousse has three parts:

  1. Base.  this is the main flavor of the dish, i.e. chocolate for chocolate mousse, or tomato in today’s dish.
  2. Aerator.  This is where the electric mixer comes in.  The mousse can be further lightened by folding in whipped cream or egg whites.  This produces the airy texture.
  3. Binder.  Gelatin is often used to bind and solidify the ingredients.  Popular with Edwardians, it was also the “go to” ingredient to make those popular jiggly jelly and aspic dishes.

Abbey Cooks Entertain: Only $7.95

Click here to preview

With 220 traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to to give for fellow fans planning holiday treats and meals.  This 432 page ebook sells for $7.95. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes each week. While the book is available on Amazon, you can only get a signed copy here on my site.

If you don’t have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which allows you to print recipes as you go, if you wish. Buy one for yourself, gift to another.  All you have to do is email the download link to your loved ones.

Chilled Fat Free Tomato and Dill Mousse

Loved by Lady Diana, Tomato Dill Mousse
Loved by Lady Diana, Tomato Dill Mousse

I spent a great deal of time trying to decide on the recipe to post today. I knew it was going to be a mousse since it did get an on-camera mention.  I was tempted to go with chocolate mousse (Lord D was quite keen on that choice) but opted with a savoury mousse as seen on the show.

In the end I chose a special dish to celebrate the Season 4 launch.  Literally, a dish fit for royalty.

From Darren McGrady’s [easyazon-link asin=”1401603211″ locale=”us”]Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen[/easyazon-link]

If you haven’t already discovered Chef Darren McGrady’s cookbook it is a great read beyond the recipes; he was the personal chef for Lady Diana. This delicate, subtle tomato mousse was often served at state banquets. It became a favorite of Princess Diana’s.  She loved it served alongside steamed lobster and had Darren create a fat free version which she would enjoy while her guests would be eating the original version which was full of fat.


  • 1 pound vine-ripe tomatoes (about 3 medium), chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped onion
  • 8 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • ⅓ cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill


  1. Put the tomatoes and onions in a food processor, and blend until they become finely blended and somewhat soupy. Strain through a sieve into a large bowl. Discard the remaining seeds and skins.
  2. Use your new mixer to incorporate the cream cheese, sour cream, and tomato paste until there are no lumps.
  3. In a small saucepan, add the gelatin, chicken broth, and lemon juice. Stir until softened, and then warm the saucepan over low heat until the gelatin has dissolved. Again your handy mixer will be used to incorporate the gelatin mixture into the tomato mixture, and season with the salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Fold in the dill, and pour the tomato mousse into six ramekins. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours.
  5. Serve as a side dish or appetizer in the ramekins, or dip the ramekins in hot water, run a knife around the edge of the molds, and invert onto the plates.

Your Downton S4 Survival Guide

You bought these for others, now stock up on the staples for yourself.   Click on the icons to take you to Amazon to order.

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2 thoughts on “Downton Abbey S4 Life Lesson: Electric Mixers Make Better Mousse

  1. That looks love and especially if Diana loved it!

  2. Thank you for mentioning my great uncle Herbert who indeed invented the electric mixer. However, I should like to correct you on one point. His name was Johnston, not Johnson. Wikipedia and everyone but the U.S. Patent Office have it wrong, so it wasn’t your fault that you had the incorrect last name.

    I know it is incorrect because his brother in law was my paternal grandfather. And, a very special Kitchenaid, one of the first home versions, was a part of my grandmother’s kitchen from about 1916 on. Tribute to its having been well made is that my aunt, her daughter, used that very model until about 1990. She was indeed a fabulous cook who understood what a marvelous tool it was.

    Because it was the standard wedding present in the family, Herbert’s daughter presented my mother and father with a wonderful Kitchenaid in 1942. My mother used hers until her untimely death in the 1970s and I used hers until about 2010 when I found they we not making the new attachments to fit it and I wanted the pasta maker. I still had the original ice cream maker with its wooden bucket for rock salt and ice and all the grinder attachments, but I really wanted that new fangled pasta maker.

    In the 50-plus years I had that marvelous machine, I suppose I didn’t oil it so it had sort of ground itself to a halt at that point anyway. I was bereft and finally my best friend couldn’t take the moaning any longer so gave me a brand spanking new one. Happy Day!

    Thanks again!

    Patricia B. Smith
    Sacramento, California

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