Those who garden realize the rewards of their efforts when the harvest comes. While grocers can now ship produce to us year-round, the best taste still comes from the local harvest. So like Mrs. Patmore smart cooks prepare what is in season for the best taste.
And speaking of our favorite cook, PBS announced the launch date of Season 6 of Downton Abbey, and yes, this will be the last season of this wonderful show. If you have not been following along, Julian Fellowes, who writes the show, has signed a deal to write an American version called The Gilded Age. Since he cannot write two shows at once, it was finally decided that this will be the final season of Downton. We will have to say goodbye, and let our favorite characters live out the rest of their fictional lives off camera.
There are still many months before the launch (The UK will likely see a Sept. launch date), and we should not let the summer harvest pass us by. I visited our family estate (farm) in July and remembererd just how sweet peas are, so today we will be making a simple classic dish of Peas in Béchamel. It can be served upstairs as a side dish or downstairs as Creamed Peas on Toast.
Here are articles to help keep us to date until the final season launches. While there is talk of a movie, musical or spinoff, we will have to wait for official word.
- The Announcement from PBS: The final season will premiere Jan. 3rd, 2016
- What’s Going to Happen in S6? A few gentle hints
- The Downton Cast say goodbye after final filming: Party for the local villagers.
- So What do You Think Will Happen? Calculating the odds on weddings/funerals.
- Gareth Neame at Home: The Financial Times interviews Downton’s producer.
Canadian Fans Rejoice! Jessica Fellowes is coming to Toronto: October 10
Jessica Fellowes, niece of Downton’s writer Julian Fellowes is a writer in her own right. She now has 3 official Downton books from her extensive research with her all insider access to cast & film sets. Jessica is a wealth of Downton Abbey knowledge.
Jessica’s retrospective show had been a major hit is the UK & USA & garners rave reviews on her Downton Abbey multimedia presentation complete with Audience Q&A.
It will be a treat to finally meet Jessica, my email pal, in person. Lord D and I will be at the Matinee, front row center.
Abbey Cooks Entertain: 2nd Edition
Summer means entertaining. Have you held a garden party? Whether you are hosting 2 or 20, this book has lots of ideas. Containing 220+ traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to create some simple or complex dishes for your Mary or Anna.
This 448 page ebook has been updated to include both metric and imperial measurements and now includes famous Downton dishes from Season 1-5. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to provide you new recipes on a regular basis.
This ebook is now available for download here (see right) and on Amazon: Abbey Cooks Entertain: 220 recipes inspired by Downton Abbey, Seasons 1 – 5
Print Version is here. The good news is that the 2nd Edition is available on Amazon. The full book is 450 pages and will contain famous Downton recipes.
Béchamel: One of the Five Mother Sauces
Sauces are what make French cuisine so distinctive. Hundreds of sauces were developed over hundreds of years. Auguste Escoffier, the famous Edwardian chef, was key to bringing French cuisine to the fine tables in the grand houses of the Edwardian era. He is credited for narrowing the list to five mother sauces. From these five, many variations, or daughter sauces can be made. One of these mother sauces is Béchamel. Recipes for all five are in my book Abbey Cooks Entertains.
There is some debate about who created this lovely creamy sauce, which contains milk and not cream. Most likely, it was the invention of by Chef Francois Pierre de la Varenne (1615-1678), court chef during King Louis XIV’s (1643-1715) who dedicated it to Louis de Bechameil as a compliment.
You may recall in Season 4 that Alfred jumped into help Mrs. Patmore during the big house party to make the Béchamel. He also “enriched the Béchamel” for the savoury in another episode. This is a very simple sauce and in our family Abbey it was used to enhance vegetables grown in the garden, including today’s recipe with fresh peas from the garden.
Don’t Be Commonplace: Peas are Best When Fresh
Chef Auguste Escoffier said it best:
Whatever the treatment to which peas are to be subjected, always take them very green and freshly gathered, and shell them only at the last minute. Peas are one of the vegetables most pone to lose their quality through want of care. If prepared with care, the delicacy of their flavor is incomparable; but the slightest neglect on the part of the cook makes them savorless and commonplace.
Bountiful Peas in Classic Béchamel
Bountiful Peas in Classic Béchamel Sauce
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp. Flour
- 2 cup milk heated close to scalding
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups peas fresh or frozen, rinsed and drained
- 1 pinch black pepper, freshly ground
- Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but is not brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2–3 minutes more.
- Add the peas and cover to let the peas cook for about 5-10 minutes. You know they are done-but not over done-when you see dimples.
- Serve on top of toasted french or other bread you have on hand, or serve alongside the roast beast of your choice.
[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Peas in Béchamel Sauce – This is a easy classic summer dish, best enjoyed when peas are in season. We knew it growing up as creamed peas on toast. – tbsp. butter, tbsp. flour, milk (heated close to scalding), salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, fresh peas (rinsed and drained), , Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but is not brown, about 2 minutes.; Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2–3 minutes more.; Add the peas and cover to let the peas cook for about 5-10 minutes. You know they are done-but not over done-when you see dimples.; Serve on top of toasted french or other bread you have on hand, or serve alongside the roast beast of your choice.; ; – Growing up, our family garden produced so many peas they ended up in most of our meals in the summer. My favorite dish was creamed peas on toast, poor man's comfort food for many families in The Great Depression. If you don't have access to farm fresh peas, frozen is your next best option. – Main Course – Edwardian – English – French – *About the Show – Fun Food History – Season 6 – Abbey Cooks Entertain – Bechamel sauce – creamed peas on toast – Downton Abbey – Downton Abbey casting news – Downton Abbey entertaining – Downton Abbey Food – food history – fresh peas – The Five Mother Sauces – What's Cooking Bracebridge – Downton Abbey Cooks[/wpurp-searchable-recipe]