Welcome Downton Abbey fans. The leisurely pace of summer has long left us.
When life does get hectic, taking time for tea and conversation is ever more important to help pace yourself. I love to 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.
Since the countdown to Christmas is upon us, today we are prepping for Christmas treats by preparing a large batch of Mincemeat.
Anyone can be a Downton Abbey Cook
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Season Three has now ended, and we look forward to the Christmas episode and what might be in store for Season 4. 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.
- Don’t Miss Downton Abbey Revisted on Nov. 25: PBS will be showing a special Season 1 and 2 recap on Thanksgiving weekend in the US.
- Michelle loves Downton: Apparently, Michelle Obama asked her people to ask for copies of the new Season 3 DVDs which haven’t been released in the US. It is nice to know the First Lady has such good taste in shows. I wonder she would enjoy a link to my cookbook?!
Interview with Jessica Fellowes: My good friend at Edwardian Promenade was fortunate to interview the lovely Jessica just as her book [easyazon-link asin=”1250027624″ locale=”us”]The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era[/easyazon-link] has been released in the US. Once I catch my breath I may have a chance to review her book for us foodies.
Mincemeat is Easy To Make
Nothing says British Christmas like mincemeat. Originally mincemeat was made with ground meat, offals, eggs and whatever else was on hand. The first mince pies were prepared by the Crusaders in the 11th century. Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) brought back from the Holy Land were added to the mince and baked into oblong cradled shaped pies, representing the gifts of the Magi and the birth of Christ.
By the Victorian era, savvy cooks like Mrs. Beeton were starting to make mince without meat, but the tradition of suet remains. You can substitute shortening to get a similar result. My local butcher gives it to me free so you may wish to give it a try.
Mince is best prepared in late November so it will be well-fortified for your holiday baking.
Easy Peasy Classic Mincemeat
- 3 large lemons
- 4 cups raisins
- 4 cups currants
- 1 ½ cups shredded suet* or 1/2 cup softened butter or shortening
- 2 cups brown sugar or sugar substitute
- 1 cup mixed candied peel
- 2 tsp. allspice
- 2 tsp. ground cloves
- 2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 cup brandy or rum
- 1 tbsp. orange marmalade
- Peel the zest off the lemons, avoiding the white pulp, then finely dice. Juice the lemons then add to a Dutch oven.
- Add in the remaining ingredients except the brandy. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer until it has thickened and is syrupy, about 45 minutes.
- Allow the mixture to cool, then add the alcohol.
- Store the mincemeat in a cool place until ready to use.