Welcome Downton Abbey fans. Christmas is only thirteen sleeps away, that time of year when we frantically try to cram as much merriment as we can into a few weeks. Why not start a new tradition and invite your friends for a relaxing afternoon tea to help calm the nerves?
Each Tuesday I dish on Downton Abbey and other topical issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a recipe with history. You may find my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to serve at your own tea party. Today‘s treat is Simply Mincemeat Cake, from my new ecookbook Abbey Cooks Entertain. A simple recipe which provides some of the flavours of Christmas without all the work.
VPT’s Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey: Jan. 5/6
Vermont Public Television is hosting a Downton inspired culinary weekend January 5th/6th to launch Season 3 at the renowned Essex Resort. Lord D and I look forward to this wonderful event of fabulous Downton food and festivity, with a Saturday night screening of S3E1 on a large screen. Tickets are now on sale.
ETIQUETTE: Anna Post from the The Emily Post Institute will be at the event to test one’s knowledge of proper etiquette:
- “Box-o’-China” Table Setting Competition
- Dowager Countess Impersonation Challenge
- Bow, Curtsey, and Hand-Kissing Demonstration
They will also present a tea demonstration showcase of some of Emily’s china, and raffle off prizes for guest participation. Learn how you can win her etiquette challenge!
This Week: Abbey Cooks Entertain
I have been working hard to finish my ecookbook, a collection of recipes to share with fans of Downton Abbey and other period dramas. It is a labour of love, and self-publishing is hard work, but my corporate background in marketing and procedural manuals has prepared me well. I hope the recipes will inspire you to become head cook in your own Abbey. Your comments have inspired me to share some of the best foods of that era which are still enjoyed today, making adjustments to make them healthier, but just as tasty.
The book will have lots of pictures of Downton era foods organized by specific types of entertaining in your own Abbey: brunch, afternoon tea, servants hall gatherings, cocktails, elegant dining, garden parties, and holidays from Easter to Hogmanay (New Year’s). I even have included a section for standard items to use in cooking or keep stored in your Larder (pantry).
Find it Here or on Amazon: Look for the download here, as well as on Amazon and other online retailers. This book won’t be released in hard copy initially, but perhaps in the future. I have tried very hard to cull my printed cookbooks in the same way I converted all my CD’s to digital. Plus, I really don’t want to be one of those authors begging people to buy their book because their basement is filled with copies. I learned my lesson selling chocolate covered almonds for school…at least I could eat those.
Cooking Downton? Just Ask.
As Season 3 looms closer I have been fielding more questions about what to serve at parties from all sources: from young women looking for simple ideas for their 18th birthday party to cooking magazines and news organizations searching for content for their Downton stories. I provided Zurich-based Saisonküche with help for their Downton Christmas dinner months ago and they were kind enough to share a few of their pictures for my book. My iPhone is OK, but a professional photographer can work magic with food.
I was thrilled to hear from The Washington Post this past week who interviewed me for their food site, testing the version of the apple charlotte which made the book.
I have been trying to behave by not give away too many spoilers, or passing along gossip, as Hugh Bonneville keeps reminding me you can’t believe everything you read.
- Christmas Episode: The UK viewed Season 3 this Fall and is looking forward to the Christmas Special which will be aired on December 25th. My Downton at Play post should be helpful in preparing for this show.
- Dan Stevens not Returning for Season 4: Rumours have been circulating that Dan Stevens who plays Matthew Crawley, was leaving Downton. The latest report is that he won’t be back full-time, but will be in a few episodes in Season 4.
- Season 4 is a Go: Associated Press has reported that Downton has been confirmed for Season 4. and discussions are in the works to close the gap between UK and US releases.
- Green Light for US Downton. Exciting news for US Downton fans. Julian Fellowes has been giving the nod on The Guilded Age, an American-based period drama. It appears nobody does Edwardian like Julian.
- Merchandizing the Downton Kitchen: this is my favorite news item of the lot. Downton Abbey kitchen items will be marketed sometime in the next year. Me, I’m saving up for a new coal stove.
Simply Mincemeat Cake
From my new cookbook Abbey Cooks Entertain this is a great recipe if you don’t have the time (or courage) to attempt a fruitcake or plum pudding. The cake will still give your holiday a taste of British tradition. If you already stocked your larder with our home made mincemeat and applesauce you have already put a lot of love into this cake.
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup mincemeat
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 3 tbsp. brandy/sherry
- Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin, 8 or 9 inch loaf pan, or bundt pan.
- Beat applesauce and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add eggs, mincemeat and brandy.
- Stir flour and baking powder together and add to the wet ingredients until well mixed. Scoop the mixture into the pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
- The cake is done when a skewer is inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool completely on a wire rack, slice and serve.
Tools you Can Use
Cooks, like other professionals, have their tools and as Mrs. Patmore says “it is a poor workman who blames his tools”. You can make do with the basics, but as you gain confidence and love for cooking, you should start to recognize items to help you cook. Mrs. Patmore didn’t electronic gadgets to cook with so be assured you can make do without the expensive gizmos. This section helps you identify some equipment that I use. If you wish you can order directly from Cooking.com or Amazon.com, both reputable stores I have used in the past.
Bundt Pans: having a couple types of bundt pans on hand is a great idea.
Loaf Pan: a great non-stick loaf pan is great to have on hand. I find there really isn’t much difference between the 8 1/2 and 9 inch pans in the final product, but having a great nonstick pan is a must. I love the handles on my Farberware pans.