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Your Online Guide to Hosting A Downton Abbey Themed Party

DiningatDownton
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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Ease into Summer with Grilled Salmon & Boozy Rhubarb Sauce

Time to kick back and relax
Even Mr. Bates takes time to kick back and relax

Now that the US, UK and Canada have enjoyed long weekends this month (and other countries in hot pursuit) we can all in the mood for taking it a little easier at work and enjoying life outdoors. Less time looking for missing files, more time searching for gardening tools.  Your accounting skills now are put to use calculating your golf index and how much food to buy per person for the camping trip. Organizational talents range from BBQ grill management to pulling together details for your neighborhood street party.  Forecasting is all about looking up at the clouds. And then there is freezer inventory.

Our annual family”Fishing Like A Crawley” fishing trip is a month away.  We still have salmon and a bit of ling cod left in our freezer from last year (thanks to vacuum packing) so we have been gifting to friends and colleagues what we can’t eat ourselves.  In keeping with my rhubarb series, today we are making Grilled Salmon with Sherry Rhubarb Sauce using rhubarb in a main course dish, in a wonderful boozy sherry sauce.

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Hot Cross Buns are Still a Good Friday Tradition

MakeTime for Easter Tea
MakeTime for Easter Tea

This coming week Christians around the world are celebrating Easter.  A moveable feast, Easter occurs the First Sunday after the Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is late this year, just like Spring.

Marking the end of Lent, Holy Week leads to Good Friday which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross.  On Easter Sunday we celebrate His resurrection.  Easter is also linked to the Jewish Passover by symbolism and where it falls on the calendar.  Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif.

In the Western world, Easter takes on secular customs, such as egg hunts and the Easter Bunny.  The English tradition of wearing new clothes at Easter would have been gleefully followed by the women of Downton Abbey, although I am not so sure about the Dowager.  The Easter Bonnet, made famous by Judy Garland in Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade is the part of this tradition, which was to keep in harmony with the renewal of the year and the promise of spiritual renewal and redemption.  Any excuse to shop.

This week’s treat is a special one as I finally share one of  my most precious recipes:  my Granny’s sweet bun recipe which makes lovely light hot cross buns.

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Dating Downton With Ham and Eggs

Who knew she could cook
Who knew she could cook?

Love is in the air this week as the clock counts down to Valentine’s Day.  This is the day when many men make an Olympic sport of timing a visit to floral shops just before closing.  Thankfully, like John Bates, my Lord D showers me with romantic gestures throughout the year so the roses have already been hand selected and delivered with a cake from the baker who prepared our wedding cake.

This week on Downton Abbey (S4E6 or E7 by ITV count) a few of Cupid’s arrows fly.  Ivy now sees Alfred in a new light, and Lady Mary attracts the attention of Charles Blake as she rolls up her sleeves to help water the dehydrated pigs.  As a horse woman, she would know her way around livestock, but cooking, that is a skill we haven’t seen before.  However does she make it look so glamourous?

Since we have already made creamy scrambled eggs, this week’s dish is eggs en cocotte,  in honor of Mary and Charles’ late night with the pigs and early morning in the kitchen.  This is a simple baked egg dish; this version is made with every man’s favorite food, bacon.

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Downton Abbey Fans See Red When They Think About Green

S4E3BustaGut
The kitchen staff preparing for another party at Downton.

Just as Downton fans were starting to recover from the S3 shock of Matthew’s passing, Sunday’s episode confirmed that there are fates worse than death, and bad things still happen to really nice people on that show. When I first saw this episode on ITV this fall, I thought it was odd that “viewer discretion was advised”.  The same warning was broadcast last night.  By the end of the show we all understood why.  Anna Bates, played by Joanne Froggatt is brutally attacked by Mr. Green, a visiting valet.  The controversial scene was watched by more than 9 million people in the UK on ITV, prompted outrage among some viewers and a huge amount of coverage and debate in the media. A total of 244 complaints were made to Ofcom (media regulator), with around 200 received by ITV.  In the end Ofcom did not investigate the matter further.  We shall see how America reacts.  Sadly, the plotline reveals a darker side of servant life. 

This week’s dish is Syllabub, one of many dishes being served at Downton to their visiting guests that fateful weekend.  Simple to make and contains alcohol. You may find it helps calm frazzled viewer’s nerves.

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Final Countdown to Hogmanay and Downton Season 4

Hogmanay
Count down to Hogmanay

North Americans revel in Christmas celebrations and for us New Years is more of an after thought, one last party before getting back to business.  In Scotland however, Christmas is a low key celebration with a build up to New Years, called Hogmanay, the biggest party of the year.  This year’s Edinburgh celebration will attract 1 billion viewers, just as many as Americans who will watch the ball drop in Times Square. Chalk one up for Cousin Shrimpie.

Our final dish of the year is Lovely Little Mince Pies, a traditional dish served at Hogmanay a recipe from my book, Abbey Cooks Entertain.  Next week we will be diving into S4E1 as we move from darkness into light with the Crawleys.

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Downton’s Drop Scones are Simply Delicious “Pocket” Pancakes

Be safe out there this Black Friday
Be safe out there this Black Friday

The US will soon will be alive with the sights and smells of Thanksgiving cooking.  No time to dwell on Downton Abbey this week as shopping lists are being prepared from time honored recipes passed down from mother to daughter.  If you think cooking for your extended family a few times a year is tough, imagine Mrs. Patmore, Daisy, Ivy and the kitchen staff preparing  multi course meals every night. I really don’t know how they did it.

The Dowager should have every reason to ask “What is Black Friday?” since this is an American invention dating back to the 19th century.  Perhaps we can bridge the cultural gap with the introduction of today’s Downton dish: Drop Scones.  They are not like American drop biscuits, but rather delicious mini (pocket) pancakes.  Imagine tucking a few of them into your pockets as a snack during your Black Friday shopping marathon.

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Downton Downtime Comfort Food: Mince and Tatties

To all the UK fans
For all the UK fans

All around the world, Downton Abbey fans are longing for more, driving each other mad in anticipation of new episodes.  In the UK the taste of Season 4 is still lingering on the palate and there is great anticipation for the annual gathering of family and friends to watch the Christmas episode.  Of course in  North America fans are craving for Season 4 on PBS.  Some affiliates are rebroadcasting previous seasons while others are gathering fans for preview shows.

To help settle everyone’s nerves and for those who enjoy cheering for the downstairs staff, this week’s dish is servants hall comfort food:  mince and tatties.  Simple and satisfying.

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Celebrate Bonfire Night with Comfort Foods Like British Flapjacks

The Guy Mask
The Guy Mask- you may have seen the mask but not know its history.

“Remember, remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason & Plot. I see no reason why gunpowder, treason should ever be forgot.” Traditional British Rhyme A lesser known holiday to Americans, tonight is Guy Fawkes Day, aka Bonfire Night, celebrated across the United Kingdom marking the failed attempt of Guy Fawkes to blow up English Parliament on November 5, 1605.  Bonfires were set alight on that night when the plot was revealed, celebrating the safety of the King James I and the tradition has continued.  For four hundred years, the anniversary is commemorated fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on huge bonfires, and of course lots of warming foods and drinks. Today’s traditional bonfire treat are flapjacks. Flapjacks in the UK are not the same as pancakes.  They are a delicious granola bar which are as addictive as they are nutritious. You can imagine tucking into this treats around the bonfire, sharing insights on this season of Downton with friends, family and neighbors. Continue reading Celebrate Bonfire Night with Comfort Foods Like British Flapjacks

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Downton Cooking Lesson: Perfecting Your Pumpkin Pie

What is your downton night made of

You don’t have to be watching the latest episodes of Downton Abbey to enjoy a special night with fellow fans.  Granted the UK is currently dining on Season 4, but with fans in over 220 countries, and so many ways to watch from TV to Tablet, it is likely someone is savouring an episode right now with a cuppa.  Lucky us.

crest-centennial-180w
UELAC Centennial Celebration Crest
1914–2014

Big news in our family is that after the tireless efforts of cousin Lady L (her lovely place setting graces the cover of my book) tracing Lord D’s family back 32 generations, we have completed the paperwork to claim him as an Empire Loyalist.  United Empire Loyalists stayed loyal to British Crown during the American Revolution, moving north to settle into free land in British North America (Canada) King George III awarded his loyal subjects.  A certification ceremony will be held in a few weeks and Lord D is so proud that he will be sharing this moment with his Uncle J. who will also be certified. Stay tuned.

Today’s treat is low fat pumpkin pie.  Autumn is in the air and so are those lovely fragrant pumpkin spices.  With US Thanksgiving on the horizon, there is still some time to get in some practice to help you perfect your holiday pie.

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