Downton Downtime: Celebrating Garden Bounty and S6 Launch Date

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. 

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Things Heat up on Downton, Hot and Bubbly Like Croque Monsieur

Young love is in the air at Downton.

Emotions were heating up the small screen on Downton Abbey this past week. Good thing because it is frigidly cold in many parts of the country, and a cuppa Downton is just what we need. Secrets are revealed, servants are at odds, suitors are spurned,  engagements delayed, and a young romance blooming against the odds. We all look forward to celebrating another Downton Wedding.

While there was much drama bubbling this episode, there was not much food of note seen on camera. We do see Mrs. Patmore and Daisy discuss the Labour Government as they prepare a plate of appetizers for a big dinner, so this week we will be making Croque Monsieur, a french comfort food. It is a perfect hot sandwich for lunch or brunch, but this week we will be preparing it as an appetizer fit for the Queen.

Continue reading Things Heat up on Downton, Hot and Bubbly Like Croque Monsieur


Final Countdown to Hogmanay and Downton Season 4

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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Kedgeree, Mrs. Patmore’s First Dish

Welcome to Downton Abbey (ITV)

I often wonder whether my degree in History has any practical application in life, particularly since I ended up not pursuing law (sorry, Cousin Matthew) and became a corporate marketer.  I do think though, that studying history has impacted the way I view the world; I tend not to take things at face value and strive to understand how things came into being.

So when Mrs. Patmore places that first wonderful silver dish into the hands of the footmen to take upstairs, I had to learn more about what was in that pot and where it came from.   The Brits love the dish, that they now serve as a weekend brunch item.  It is simple to make, uses up leftovers and tastes amazing.  Mrs. Patmore was very clever indeed.  Continue reading Kedgeree, Mrs. Patmore’s First Dish