Downton S6E8: Downton Abbey Has Gone Completely Bananas

Bananas was a great word to describe this episode: that Spratt!

Wow, there was quite a bit of drama to absorb this week on Downton; I am sorry to have to spoil the fun, but there is only one episode left of Downton Abbey. It is the traditional extended Christmas Special that we have come to love over the years, but this one will be bittersweet. Mark your calendars (or keep tabs on the countdown clock at right) and bring out the good silverware, the finale is March 6, 2016. It also happens to be a couple days after my birthday, so thanks PBS for making my year. Be sure use my handy index to help plan your own fabulous finale party.

In keeping with tradition, I will continue to share one recipe from each episode as my love letter to the Downton kitchen staff and to those fans who love the food on the show. This week’s recipe is a mashup of two story lines. The Crawleys saved Mrs. Patmore’s Bed & Breakfast with Afternoon tea, so I knew we would be baking something for tea.  We already have a delicious scone recipe, so I thought traditional Cornish Banana Cake would be appropriate, considering “banana” was used as a code word at the magazine. If you are looking for a more health conscious banana recipe, there is always my fabulous banana breads.

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Valentine’s Day Love at Downton Abbey is Served with Victoria Sandwich

Downton’s latest couple: Rose and Atticus (ITV)

Love is in the air as we count down the days until Valentine’s Day. This season of Downton Abbey is certainly filled with love connections, some in the most unexpected places. While we see sparks fly between Rose and Atticus, it is lovely to see Isobel and Lord Merton find new love in their golden years.  And who knew that the prim and proper Violet had a secret past with a dashing Russian Prince?  While she might be tempted to run off with Prince Kuragin, she does make a good point that there is no one run from. Mabel Lane Fox is certainly trying to rekindle her love with Tony with Charles’ help. And Mary is just happy being Mary.

Sadly there is no dish which gets on-air mention in this week’s episode (unless you count ice cream, but it is not really the season for it), but we do see Daisy putting the finishing touches on a Victoria Sandwich.  If you notice this season (see below) it is the favorite tea cake of choice at Downton, a regular cast member often sitting demurely on camera. So for the love of a good cake…

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Downton Soup Kitchens Serve Borscht to Russian Refugees

Downton wins NTA and SAG awards this week.

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.

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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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Downton Cooking Basics: How To Make The Best Scrambled Eggs

Tea at the Cadogan
Granny would have had tea Cadogan, serving Afternoon tea since 1887.

It has been an interesting few days in the online world of Downton Abbey.  There is another  plot twist afoot in Season 4, so if you don’t want to know anything about Season 4 before January’s launch, I would strongly advise you stay away from social media for the next three months.

For all fans of Downton I thought you might enjoy travel back to episodes we have all seen and take a cooking lesson in memory of dear Lady Sybil.  Today we learn how to make creamy scambled eggs, fit for the Downton upstairs breakfast room, but easily made in your own Abbey.  Save your milk.  Properly made scrambled eggs are a simple mixture of eggs with a little butter, prepared in a saucepan, not a skillet.

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Tea Tuesday: Servants Serviceberry Pie

Delightful afternoon tea in Edinburgh at the Balmoral Hotel
Delightful afternoon tea in Edinburgh at the Balmoral Hotel

No sooner than the cooler weather had me pulling out my light sweaters, we experienced a resurgence of summer wither in our part of the world.  I won’t be fooled, though, summer will be ending soon, for me marked by all the back to school sales.

We did enjoy a wonderful summer day this weekend though,  celebrating a family member’s birthday who turned 4. I am so blessed to have married into a family of great cooks who share a passion for food.  Nephew Lord C, did not disappoint in providing an amazing, yet light feast.  One day I hope to convince him to co-author a cookbook on Italian cuisine.  He could pass as relative of the red haired Mario Batali and is so incredibly talented and passionate about food.

Dueling Chefs
Dueling with Lord C.

As you may know, Tea Tuesday is a weekly tradition I started, celebrating the era of “Downton Abbey”, the popular TV show, featuring a new “Downton” era recipe.  Refer to my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea, helpful in understanding the traditions and dishes served at tea.

You can’t beat pie made with fresh berries. While Lady Mary might turn her nose up at it, there would be many takers downstairs in the servant’s hall.  Today we make serviceberry pie. You may know serviceberries as Saskatoons as they are called in Canada.

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Downton Abbey Fans Could Use the Comfort of a Good Rice Pudding

Tragedy strikes Downton (ITV)

It has been a hard day for me, the day after the PBS Masterpiece broadcast of S3E5 (or E4 if you go by PBS calculations: they showed ITV E1 & 2 together as one for the premier).  As millions of Americans watched this episode, there were gasps of disbelief as events unfolded. The amount of chaos and mayhem was far too much for one to bear and many fans are consoling each other today as they struggle to digest what had happened. I myself wanted to jump through my TV set to comfort  the characters.  But of course, this is just a TV drama and it was all make believe.

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Welcome Fellow Canadians: You will Love Downton Abbey More than Scones

Welcome to Downton Abbey (photo ITV)

Welcome Canada, to the world of Downton Abbey. You may have heard about Downton, (not Downtown), the British produced period drama. Perhaps you have heard a bit about the story line, the quotes (“what is a weekend?”), the critical acclaim, as well as the awards it has won. You might have heard that PBS carried it on Masterpiece Theare–that sounds about right–and some fuss this past weekend with a grand finale: a Christmas episode…in February, that’s odd. If you are like me, you hate jumping into show mid stream–or worse–when it is all over. So you may have not been convinced that this was a show to invest your time on.

Well, Canada, its not too late for you to watch Downton the old fashioned way (on broadcast televison) because starting tonight, Vision TV is broacasting the show right from the beginning. It will be seen Wednesday nights from 9 pm EST, 7 pm MWT. We hibernate in Winter anyway, so enjoy your time inside and make friends on Twitter at #Downtoneh .

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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