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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Your Online Guide to Hosting A Downton Abbey Themed Party

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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Your Downton Holiday Baking Should Include Easy Cranberry Torte

downton-abbey-christmas 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.

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Soul Cakes, the Original Halloween Treat

Turnips were the original lit jack-o-lanterns
Turnips were the original lit jack-o-lanterns

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.

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Final Days until Historic Vote & Downton S5 in the UK

ScottishEnglish 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.

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Celebrate Labour Day with Peach and Blueberry Galette

Downton script meeting, pre water bottle gate*

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.

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Mother’s Day Tea is Always a Great Last Minute Idea

A simple cream tea
A simple cream tea makes a great gift.

Mother’s Day is tomorrow in the US and Canada.  Are you ready?  My mom lives across the country so I have my card in the post, with  a gift card for her favorite local restaurant, and a promise to Skype tomorrow.

For those of you blessed to have your Mother living within driving distance, it can be a struggle to decide how to celebrate the day with her.  If you missed out on brunch reservations, might I suggest that you try a tea party.  Your heritage might be linked to the British Empire, but I think I am safe in saying that Moms generally appreciate any meal they don’t have to cook, particularly if sweets are involved.  If you have siblings with little girls, you can gather the whole troop together, and let the kids experience a fun version of tea.

Today we recap tea ideas and continue our series on rhubarb with rhubarb ginger jam, a lovely mix of flavours.

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Carry on Birthday Traditions Despite Downton Downtime

Mrs. Patmore Birthday card on Etsy

While the cold weather is not helping to boost our collective spirits after the end of Downton’s Season 4, at least I have my birthday month celebrations to look forward to.  My birthday was yesterday but it has become a tradition for me to reach out to friends and colleagues I haven’t socialized with for some time to gather to collectively grumble about how long winter has lasted.  This year we really mean it.

In Season 3 The Dowager famously scolded Martha about the need to “understand the importance of tradition”.  Birthdays are a great time to enjoy traditions, like our favorite foods. Sadly, we never learned this season Robert’s favorite food which was served birthday, but mine is fish and seafood.  We have made a number of fish dishes here (many from fish I caught myself), but this week we travel to the Continent for Italian.  This week’s dish is Angel Hair Pasta with Lobster, a dish Lord D introduced to me.  The Granthams might have travelled to Italy for such birthday delights, but we can quickly and easily make this own dish in our kitchens for special occasions.

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Downton Season S4 Finale Deserves Crowning Roast of Lamb

S4American4hello Alas another season of Downton Abbey has come to an end. The timing of the finale was the perfect ending of a great weekend for Canadians who beamed with national pride as we beat the Swedes for Gold in men’s hockey.  Like the Dowager we took some pleasure poking fun at the Americans.  Luckily, there always seems to be a Martha Levinson around to defend the American honor.

I don’t particularly mind that the season is over, because now I am free to go back prepare other dishes from Season 4 and explore other culinary delights that Downton inspires.  Let Downton Downtime begin!

In celebration of the finale, I chose Crown Roast of Lamb as this week’s dish.  We see Mrs. Patmore preparing this simple, but elegant dish.  It is fitting since the Crawley family finds themselves at Buckingham Palace.  It is simple and elegant, the perfect dish to have in your repertoire to serve on special occasions.

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