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So many stories to wrap up in Season 6

Those who garden realize the rewards of their efforts when the harvest comes.  While grocers can now ship produce to us year-round, the best taste still comes from the local harvest. So like Mrs. Patmore smart cooks prepare what is in season for the best taste.

And speaking of our favorite cook, PBS announced the launch date of Season 6 of Downton Abbey, and yes, this will be the last season of this wonderful show. If you have not been following along, Julian Fellowes, who writes the show, has signed a deal to write an American version called The Gilded Age. Since he cannot write two shows at once, it was finally decided that this will be the final season of Downton.  We will have to say goodbye, and let our favorite characters live out the rest of their fictional lives off camera.

There are still many months before the launch (The UK will likely see a Sept. launch date), and we should not let the summer harvest pass us by. I visited our family estate (farm) in July and remembererd just how sweet peas are, so today we will be making a simple classic dish of Peas in Béchamel. It can be served upstairs as a side dish or downstairs as Creamed Peas on Toast. 

Downton Dish

ThinkingOverRated

We must not over think how Downton will end.

Here are articles to help keep us to date until the final season launches.  While there is talk of a movie, musical or spinoff, we will have to wait for official word.

What’s Cooking Muskoka 2015: October 3rd

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A great event for food lovers.

What’s Cooking Bracebridge is back! Visitors and hollywood celebrities alike flock to the Muskoka region north of Toronto each year to enjoy the beauty of its lakes and trees. While cottage season ends in September there is a great reason return for a weekend in the Fall.

What’s Cooking Bracebridge has attracted some big names in the cookbook world. This year Jamie Kennedy will be the headliner, but I will do my best to entertain.

I will be hosting an Afternoon Tea and talk to a sold out crowd Saturday at 3 pm.  Drive up to see the fall colors and enjoy scones and those lovely crustless sandwiches. Who can resist?

LINKS:  For more information and to buy tickets to other events.

Canadian Fans  Rejoice!  Jessica Fellowes is coming to Toronto: October 10

PR shots 2014  www.sarahweal.com Jessica Fellowes, niece of Downton’s writer Julian Fellowes is a writer in her own right.   She now has 3 official Downton books from her extensive research with her all insider access to cast & film sets. Jessica is a wealth of Downton Abbey knowledge.

Jessica’s retrospective show had been a major hit is the UK & USA & garners rave reviews on her Downton Abbey multimedia presentation complete with Audience Q&A.

It will be a treat to finally meet Jessica, my email pal, in person.  Lord D and I will be at the Matinee, front row center.

To buy your own tickets, follow this link

My Year to Tour Downton’S home: Christmas 2015

The Christmas Episode

Christmas at Downton

My 2015 New Year’s resolution was to think seriously about planning a “Downton” trip to London this year. I have been to London many times, but have yet to see Highclere Castle. I have been approached by many tour companies in the past, but finally I have found a great tour company to customize the tour that I would like to take.  Season 6 will be the last for Downton, so a great way to say goodbye.

I will be travelling with Friendly Planet Tours for a Christmas at Downton tour. Sadly the tour is already sold out, but you an follow along as I blog about my adventures.

Abbey Cooks Entertain: 2nd Edition

2nd Edition is now Available!

2nd Edition is now Available!

Summer means entertaining. Have you held a garden party?  Whether you are hosting 2 or 20, this book has lots of ideas. Containing 220+ traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to create some simple or complex dishes for your Mary or Anna.

This 448 page ebook has been updated to include both metric and imperial measurements and now includes famous Downton dishes from Season 1-5.  Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to provide you new recipes on a regular basis.

This ebook is now available for download here (see right) and on Amazon:  Abbey Cooks Entertain: 220 recipes inspired by Downton Abbey, Seasons 1 – 5

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Now available in print from Amazon

Print Version is here.  The good news is that the 2nd Edition is available on Amazon. The full book is 450 pages and will contain famous Downton recipes from Seasons 1-5.

Relaxing Over Afternoon Tea:  Stay tuned for my latest book.

 

Béchamel: one of the five mother sauces

Sauces are what make French cuisine so distinctive. Hundreds of sauces were developed over hundreds of years. Auguste Escoffier, the famous Edwardian chef, was key to bringing French cuisine to the fine tables in the grand houses of the Edwardian era. He is credited for narrowing the list to five mother sauces. From these five, many variations, or daughter sauces can be made. One of these mother sauces is Béchamel. Recipes for all five are in my book Abbey Cooks Entertains.

There is some debate about who created this lovely creamy sauce, which contains milk and not cream.  Most likely, it was the invention of by Chef Francois Pierre de la Varenne (1615-1678), court chef during King Louis XIV’s (1643-1715) who dedicated it to Louis de Bechameil as a compliment. 

You may recall in Season 4 that Alfred jumped into help Mrs. Patmore during the big house party to make the Béchamel. He also “enriched the Béchamel” for the savoury in another episode. This is a very simple sauce and in our family Abbey it was used to enhance vegetables grown in the garden, including today’s recipe with fresh peas from the garden.

Don’t Be Commonplace: Peas are Best When Fresh

Fresh peas

field fresh peas

Chef Auguste Escoffier said it best:

Whatever the treatment to which peas are to be subjected, always take them very green and freshly gathered, and shell them only at the last minute.  Peas are one of the vegetables most pone to lose their quality through want of care. If prepared with care, the delicacy of their flavor is incomparable; but the slightest neglect on the part of the cook makes them savorless and commonplace.

 Peas in Béchamel aka Creamed Peas on Toast

Peas on Toast

A simple dish that most kids love.

This is a classic summer dish, best when peas are in season. Growing up our family garden produced so many peas they ended up in most of our meals in the summer. My favorite dish was creamed peas on toast, poor man’s comfort food for many families in The Great Depression.  If you don’t have access to farm fresh peas, frozen is your next best option.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk, heated close to scalding
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh peas, rinsed and drained

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but is not brown, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2–3 minutes more.
  3. Add the peas and cover to let the peas cook for about 5-10 minutes.  You know they are done-but not over done-when you see dimples.
  4. Serve on top of toasted french or other bread you have on hand, or serve alongside the roast beast of your choice.

For Your Downton Abbey Collection

Marvelous additions to your Downton Collection.

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