What a marvelous end to Downton Season 5. The Christmas Special was like a perfectly laid out buffet with something for everyone. There were love stories, great injustice, selfless acts, grouse hunting, secret plots, reunions, touching farewells and Christmas carols.
It was a wonderful season, over for us in North America, but yet to be discovered in other parts of the world. Do come back and visit here from time to time as I continue to share the love of food from Downton era. Together we can get through Downton downtime together. I will be regularly sharing new recipes here, but you will find me more active on my Facebook and Twitter pages.
I was particularly delighted that one of the sub plot lines this episode featured “the challenge of the wooden spoon”. Dowager mentions the words of a previous maid ‘every good lady’s maid should know how to make a restorative broth.” When Miss Denker suggested that those days had not gone, Sprat pressed her to produce her own chicken broth. Seems fitting then that this week’s recipe is chicken broth.
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.
It’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.
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.
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.
December 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 [easyazon-link asin=”1250065380″ locale=”us”]A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes[/easyazon-link]. “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.
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 [easyazon-link asin=”1250065380″ locale=”us”]A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes[/easyazon-link]. 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.
A culinary historian and Downton fan (not officially connected to the Show or its producers) fascinated by the fine, yet simple food of the post Edwardian period of Downton Abbey. Great food has a history and connects us with our past. Wouldn't it be lovely to add a touch of elegance to your Abbey?