Winter continues to have a firm grip on many parts of the country. How well do you cope with change in the weather, or change in general? At Downton, it is Mrs. Patmore who appears to have a particular challenge of embracing new technology. First a mixer and now a refrigerator will be coming to Downton this season. Other than her corset, she clings to the comfort of the familiar.
Change can be a bit daunting. Lord D and I have recently brought home a new fridge. It can be a bit of a learning curve and while the young (like Daisy and Ivy) jump in with both feet to explore their new world, the rest of us grumble as we try to figure out how to turn on the ice maker or why the fridge keeps chiming at us. Lord D comforts himself by sitting in front of the Whirlpool to watch the pretty lights late at night.
Today’s dish is Vichyssoise, one of the four dishes Alfred is tested on at the Ritz. Not a hard dish to make, but a great test of basic cooking skills.
We are half way through Downton Abbey Season 4. Here are a few additional spices to heighten the experience of this season.
- After the Episode on PBS. Explore S4E4.
- What’s Cooking on Set? Lesley Nicol’s Recipe for creating Mrs. Patmore
- This is the year of Edith: The Evolution of her Character.
- Downton Abbey’s Plot Twists Spur Lawyers’ Debates.
- Who are the new men of Downton? Video from PBS
- Downton Costumes are coming to Toronto: The Spadina Museum is making it happen.
Speaking of soup, I am thrilled to have been invited to be a judge at this year’s FirstOntario Credit Union Soupfest in Hamilton. It is a honour and a delight. In past years the local chefs blew me away with their creations. I am looking forward to what the Taylor Tea Shop has in store for me. Who knew a tea shop could make such great soup?
Soupfest is a community celebration where over 25 quality area restaurants compete for Best Soup, Most Creative Soup, Best Display and the Best Grow Local category.
All proceeds will support Living Rock Ministries efforts in responding to youth-at-risk. Each week Living Rock prepares 900 meals, provides emergency food to 200 youth per week, offers prenatal and parenting, crisis and housing support in addition to employment training and work experience offered 5 days per week. If you live in the Toronto area, check out the event website and head on down.
Downton fans note: Look for me to get my scones recipe and a free download for my book, Abbey Cooks Entertains.
What will you you Make for Your Love on Valentines Day? Abbey Cooks Entertain: Only $7.95
With 220 traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to create some simple or complex romantic French dishes for your Matthew or Mary. This 432 page ebook sells for $7.95. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes each week. While the book is available on Amazon, you can only get a signed copy here on my site.
If you don’t have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which allows you to print recipes as you go, if you wish. Buy one for yourself, gift to another. All you have to do is email the download link to your loved ones.
History of Vichyssoise
Leek and potato soup is a simple dish which can be enjoyed two ways, hot or cold. There is some debate about whether it is a purely French or American creation, but the key players as told by the sous chef in this episode are Jules Gouffé and Louis Diat.
Jules Gouffé was the French Chef who created a hot potato and leek soup, published in Royal Cookery in 1869. Food historians often use cookbooks to give credit for a recipe’s creation.
Louis Diat was a French Chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York. He recalled the leek and potato of his youth. Apparently his brother used to cool it off in the summer by adding cold milk. So he recreated the dish, named after Vichy, a town not far from where he grew up in France. In the days without air-conditioning, cold dishes such as this helped keep wealthy patrons happily coming back for more.
This is a versatile dish and it is easier to make than it is to spell. You can have leek and potato soup hot in the winter and cold in the summer. It is simple and delicious to make. Yellow flesh or baking potatoes will yield the best results, and the finer you chop your vegetables the less work you have at the end to purée.
Traditionally this dish uses milk and cream, but you can do without the cream or substitute non fat yoghurt. A shout out to Lady M, a work colleague who reminded me that instead of milk you can also use canned low fat evaporated milk to keep the calories down without sacrificing taste.
Serves 6 – 8
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 4 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
- 5 medium potatoes (yellow or baking potatoes are best), peeled and finely diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1.5 – 2 cups milk
- 1 cup cream or non-fat plain yoghurt (optional)
- Garnish with finely chopped chives
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large heavy pot.
- Sauté the leeks, potatoes, onion for a minute or two and then reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally until the leeks are softened.
- Stir in the stock, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 min or until potatoes are tender. Cool for 15 minutes.
- Use a immersion blender in the pot or transfer to a blender/food processor and purée until the mixture is smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl and stir in the milk, using as much to give you the thickness you prefer.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hrs, or until chilled, or for up to 1 day.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve sprinkled with chives.
Your Downton S4 Survival Guide
You bought these for others, now stock up on the staples for yourself. Click on the icons to take you to Amazon to order.