Welcome back Downton. After a long wait fans across the US and Canada were finally rewarded with Masterpiece’s presentation Sunday night of not one, but 2 episodes of Season 3. It was like having two pieces of wedding cake at Mary and Matthew’s reception: they finally made it to the altar!
It was disappointing that we were never treated to the experience of the wedding reception, and if you blinked you missed a shot of the wedding cake which barely made it into frame. Luckily I am able to provide a photo of this gorgeous cake which certainly suits the exquisite taste of Lady Mary. Fruitcake was the traditional choice for weddings in that period. We made a great traditional fruitcake which is great to serve at weddings and other special occasions.
The Titanic Canadian Connection
There are many ways to lose a fortune. For the majority of the English aristocracy at this period it was the land and death taxes which threatened their beloved country homes. Rents from land tenants were also dropping and many had to sell to the noveau riche. However, we discover in Season 3 that for the Crawleys, the way of life was threatened in another way. Lord Grantham made a terrible investment decision, putting all his eggs in a Canadian basket, the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada. Certainly many of us have learned the lesson that a balanced portfolio is the safest investment strategy.
You may already know that Julian Fellowes is a self-proclaimed Titanorak, meaning someone who is fascinated by Titanic. I myself jumped on the Titanic food band wagon cooking my way through the last meal served in 1st Class, 2nd Class and 3rd Class/Steerage for this year’s 100th anniversary. The reason that the investment in the Grand Trunk Railway went sour is that the grand plans of Charles Hays who was the mastermind of the railway perished on Titanic. Without his vision the railway was worthless. It is interesting that the Titanic threatens the family not once but twice.
Vermont Public Television Season 3 Premier Experience
Lord D and I celebrated the new season with an intimate group of 400 Downton fans at the Essex Resort in Burlington, Vermont. My Aunt Lady M. and Cousin M. also joined us for the incredible Vermont Public Television two day culinary event which featured the S3E1 screening on Saturday afternoon and fabulous food worthy of the Crawley family.
There was a green screen photo booth which placed you right on the Downton Abbey set. The Emily Post Institute was also on hand to test table setting skills.
Many fans dressed for the occasion with stunning period costumes. Prizes were awarded in categories like best Lord and Lady Grantham, best Crawley sister. Aunt M. was in the running for the best Dowager in a lovely purple ensemble.
The food emporium was filled with period food from fine cheeses to decadent desserts. Some patrons took up the challenge of a six course Edwardian meal (a different wine with each course) executed by the crack team lead by talented Executive Chef Shawn Calley. Lord D and I managed to spend some time with Shawn who said he quite enjoyed the challenge of recreating a menu from the past.
Sunday morning was filled with presentations which included scotch (from fellow Canadians Oui Dram) and cocktail tastings for the brave of heart in the Tavern. Downstairs saw fashion presentations by Karen Augusta, a cooking demonstration provided by the Essex Resort. My contribution was an article for the program and a presentation titled “Great Food has a History”. The event was topped off with more food, a fabulous period brunch. Did you know that brunch evolved from the hunting luncheon?
Check out the VPT Facebook page for all the fabulous photos of what you missed. It was wonderful to meet so many wonderful people who also share a love of Downton Abbey.
Thank you to Vermont Public Television (VPT) for including me in this wonderful program and the Essex Resort for the amazing cuisine. Special thanks to Michael Ellenbogen and his beautiful wife Carolina of Eons Creative who worked tirelessly with Chuck Bongiorno of VPT to create an experience which will long be remembered. Many hope this might become an annual event.
The Food of Season 3
It is now 1920 and the war is over. Food rationing is no longer an issue, and in spite of the money troubles, appearances had to be maintained so it would appear the food budget was maintained. Cora’s mother averted disaster though when the old coal stove broke down, suggesting a picnic of cold meats. Note the larder where Miss Reed stole a kiss from Alfred. There was still no refrigeration, but the meat larder was cold enough to help keep preserved meat from spoiling.
The first dish served in Season 3 was Treacle Tart which Mrs. Patmore served in the Servants Hall. Treacle means molasses and the tart is a mixture of golden treacle syrup and bread crumbs. Canadians will find it looks like butter tarts, but ever so sweet. Here is the treacle tart recipe we prepared this Fall which is also available in my cookbook. I like individual servings which make it much easier to serve at tea.
As we noted above, we don’t see the actual wedding feast. But if you are looking for an appetizer to serve at your next Downton Abbey party, deviled eggs should top your list. You will often see them on Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen table when preparing for a party.
You can make regular devilled eggs or try the Marbled Tea version from my new book Abbey Cooks Entertain. Deviled eggs are always found on Edwardian appetizer platters and you will often see
them on camera when the Downton kitchen staff are preparing for large parties.
- 6 Marbled Tea Eggs or hard boiled eggs
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. shallot, finely minced
- Dash, hot sauce
- Salt and freshly ground
- pepper to taste
- Black sea salt
- Chives, finely chopped
- Dill, chopped or use little sprigs
- Parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp. red pepper, finely chopped
- You don’t need an deviled egg tray to serve eggs. You can make a bed of greens for them to nest in. I prefer to make a flat base for them and stand them on end. Using a sharp knife, slice a small piece off of either end of each egg, then slice each egg in half, width-wise.
- Gently remove the yolk halves and place in a small mixing bowl.
- Arrange the egg white halves on your serving platter.
- Mash the yolks and add mustard, mayonnaise, onion, hot sauce, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Spoon, or ideally, pipe the filling using a star tip, into each cavity. Garnish to your liking to add a decorative touch. Keep at, or just below room temperature.
For more Entertaining Recipes
My new ebook, Abbey Cooks Entertain contains 220 recipes for entertaining Downton. You can only get a signed copy here on this site by clicking on the book image on the right, but you can also order from Kobo or Amazon.