It has been a hard day for me, the day after the PBS Masterpiece broadcast of S3E5 (or E4 if you go by PBS calculations: they showed ITV E1 & 2 together as one for the premier). As millions of Americans watched this episode, there were gasps of disbelief as events unfolded. The amount of chaos and mayhem was far too much for one to bear and many fans are consoling each other today as they struggle to digest what had happened. I myself wanted to jump through my TV set to comfort the characters. But of course, this is just a TV drama and it was all make believe.
I am of course referring to the horrible kitchen mishaps. There is nothing worse to a cook than when things go wrong, and this was excruciating to watch. What beginner and non-cooks don’t realize is that not all dishes turn out perfectly and some make it to the dining room undetected, like the salted raspberry meringue. Others are ruined. Tragedy can strike the experienced cook, just as easily as the novice. You never know. I know, it can be heart breaking. This week we witnessed two disasters, one dish thankfully was brought back to life, the other unfortunately did not make it.
The Hollandaise Sauce Curdled: Can you imagine cooking an important dinner and when you are ready to serve the hollandaise it has separated? I would have been mortified, as was Daisy and Ivy. Thankfully young Alfred knew some “tricks of the trade”. If a finished sauce starts to separate, a tablespoon of cold water beaten into it will often bring it back. If that fails, whisk another egg in a separate heated bowl, and then slowly whisk in the curdled sauce. Here is a recipe for Escoffier’s Hollandaise Sauce and other sauce pointers.
- Soufflé is Burnt AND Lands on the Floor: It wasn’t bad enough that Mrs. Bird was forced to hand in her notice when Isobel hired Ethel, former Downton maid and more recently a prostitute. Mrs. Bird’s soup kitchen alone spoke to her good character. I suppose tragedy was bound to happen. Ethel attempted a soufflé which was not only burnt, she dropped in on the floor. Not since the chicken in S1 have I seen such horror. Personally, I am not a fan of offals, but still it was tragic waste of food. A recipe for unburned kidney soufflé. The poor girl was trying so hard.
I was so traumatized by what happened in the kitchens that I blanked out the rest of the show. Or was it the other way around? There were some other major plot twists, but I wouldn’t want to spoil things for those fans who have yet to see it. Perhaps I can talk about it another day, but today I will just console myself with rice pudding.