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.
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.
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.
Summer is over and harvest celebrations are coming to a close. Winter is not far behind. I love tracing traditions, and the foods that are an important part of the celebrations.
Did you know that Halloween has ancient origins in Ireland? It was originally called Samhain, and the day marked the end of the harvest season for Celtic farmers. As immigrants brought their traditions to America and adapted to their new surroundings. Originally, turnips served as Jack o Lanterns, but pumpkins are so much easier to carve.
Halloween also has religious connections. The root word of Halloween – ”hallow” – means ”holy.” The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” It refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before the Christian holy day that honors saintly people of the past.All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, which is followed by All Souls’ day on Nov. 2. “Souling” was the original trick-or-treat activity held around the same time.
This week’s dish are Soul Cakes, the original “treat” traditionally made for All Soul’s Day, celebrated on Nov. 2nd.
It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. The Dowager might very well have asked her American nemesis Martha Levinson “What is Thanksgiving?” The British do not celebrate a one day feast; instead there is month of Harvest Festival events.
The Canadian Thanksgiving holiday was officially proclaimed by Parliament in 1879 and draws upon three traditions: European harvest celebrations; the first North American Thanksgiving (1578) observed by Martin Frobisher in the Arctic Circle; and the Pilgrims’ 1621 first celebration in Massachusetts. In 1957, the date was set for Second Monday in October, and of course Americans know that US Thanksgiving is the held the 4th Thursday in November.
In light of the harvest which leads to the holiday season, this week features an easy turkey gravy, the pièce de résistance of the turkey dinner. “It’s all gravy” is an English idiom, one of many we will explore over the coming weeks to share at the dining table.
It is time to celebrate. Scotland is still part of the UK (apologies to those who wished to separate, but we would have really missed you), and ITV has begun broadcasting Season 5 of Downton in the UK. I won’t comment on E1 other than to say that Season 5 starts off like a wonderful stew set on simmer, which is key to blending flavors, and that “donk” is my new favorite word.
It is also my 200th post here. I still wonder about where my passion for this show and its food comes from. So many stories, glimpses into food history, and wonderful Downton inspired dishes. The dishes are catalogued in the Recipe Index. Some of them and many others are perfectly packaged in my online cookbook Abbey Cooks Entertain, always at the ready on your smartphone or tablet.
I can’t believe I haven’t already shared this recipe from my cookbook, but I can’t think of any better recipe to celebrate than Lord D’s Pork Roast.
It is a historic week in the UK. While American Downton Abbey fans might be envious about the launch of Season 5 on ITV this Sunday, it is the Scottish Referendum which has the captured the world’s attention. This Thursday, September 18th, Scots will vote on a simple question “Should Scotland be an independent country? To keep up to date, follow BBC coverage at Scotland Decides.
In this last week of Downton Downtime in the UK, today’s dish is Made Over Pork Stew. I prefer to use the term “made over” over “left over” when creating a downstairs dish from the remainders of an upstairs meal.
The end of August marks the unofficial end of Summer, and the last long weekend before school and work brings up back inside. Sadly, this year served up more cool and rainy days than many would have preferred for our summer. The UK experienced the chilliest August bank holiday on record this week, and fingers are crossed in North America for one last burst of sunshine as we celebrate Labour Day.
This year’s harsh winter delayed the start of the growing season, but our local markets are overflowing with wonderful fresh produce. My own little garden flourished once it got going, but it is the fruit I really look forward to this time of year. All those lovely tree fruits for wonderful summer desserts.
This week’s dish is peach and blueberry galette. No need for pie plates or tart forms. This is a simple recipe with a no fuss crust, and easy to find fillings, to finish your off your Labour Day meal.
Much to the surprise of Downton fans everywhere, our favorite show has been getting some unexpected press this week. Known for their attention to historical accuracy, sharp eyed fans were aghast when a plastic water bottle was spotted on the Crawley mantle in a Season 5 promotional photo released on Instagram. The photo has since been taken down, but has the damage was already done. It has since made the rounds on social media and broadcast news shows across the country. Alastair Bruce, the show’s historical advisor, will certainly have been in a huddle with Julian Fellowes over this slip up. Even if they have a bit of egg on their face, in the end though, there is something to be said for the saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. In fact, lemons have now been turned into lemonade as the cast has now posed in a fun photo to help support the UK agency WaterAid.
Speaking of eggs, today’s dish is a simple one: poached eggs. Poached eggs are easy to make and keep for a larger group for your weekend brunch. It is one of those dishes that Mrs. Patmore would have taught Sybil once she mastered boiling an egg. I make them almost every week for Lord D, and it is one of the 220 recipes in my book, Abbey Cooks Entertain, but for some reason I have not shared it here. A simple dish, all you need is fresh eggs, a pot of water, a bit of vinegar and 4 minutes.
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?