Only one more sleep until Christmas and all through the land last minute preparations are being made for the big day at hand. For UK fans this includes the annual Downton Abbey Christmas episode on ITV. US fans may debate the reasons why PBS broadcasts new episodes months behind ITV, but in the spirit of the season why not focus on the long-standing fruitcake debate.
CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) ran a fun story about the love/hate relationship with fruitcake today. I did my best to stick up for our favourite holiday treat, but more about that below. Today’s Downton Dish recipe will come in handy in a few days. It is what I call the Remains of the Day Turkey Soup which is a great way to use up leftovers, or what I like to call “made overs”. It is one of the recipes from my cookbook, Abbey Cooks Entertain. My holiday gift to you all.
The Great Fruitcake Debate
CBC is the national broadcasting system in Canada. I grew up listening to CBC radio and it is my family’s travel companion on our annual fishing trip through the mountains. One of my most favourite shows is The Current, a topic news event show which normally tackles more serious issues but today’s story dug deep into the mystery of the fruitcake and why so many people have an aversion to it.
In the Great Fruitcake Debate, I provided the historical context (the current version dating back to the Middle Ages and popularized by Queen Victoria), and as I did my best to praise the well-made fruitcake, it did occur to me that the debate really wouldn’t be taking place in the UK where fruitcake is revered. It is likely that most people who don’t like (hate) fruitcake have had a bad experience with a commercially prepared cake. I think that when the fruitcake began to be mass-produced, the quality dropped. Certainly, a factory can’t put the same love into a cake as a home cook can. There is also something magical about using alcohol to keep it moist and more flavorful. And when the cook can sip a bit of brandy after giving the cake a little drink, well that is just how it should be. I think I had host Piya Chattopadhyay almost converted to becoming a fruitcake fan.
In any event, this story was great fun…with “man on the street” opinions, a chef who has Canadianized the recipe, and a food scientist who spoke about how picky eaters don’t like all the inclusions (stuff) in the cake. suggesting that chocolate chips might bring people around. If you still don’t like your fruitcake, there were also some very helpful ways to recycle, such as using 2 as hand weights as part of your post-holiday workout regime. And there is always the Annual Fruitcake Toss in Colorado.
Downton Holiday Desserts
Christmas has its traditions and that always includes food. Here are links to recipes for traditional English favourites. Scroll down the post to locate the recipe, or you can purchase my book and you will have these and other recipes on hand.
- Fabulous Fruitcake
- Not Quite Traditional Mincemeat
- Mincemeat Cake
- Easy Mince Oatmeal Squares
- Plum Pudding
- Sugar Plums
- Classic Never Fail Shortbread
UK fans are in for a treat. The final episode for Season 4 is playing Christmas Day, and this year promises a much more happy ending.
- 3 Days till Christmas: The Official DA Eat, Drink & Be Merry Pinterest Board
- S4 Downstairs Delight: Daisy gets a Cinderella moment in the Christmas Special.
- Paul Giamatti on Downton: Copious tea-drinking scenes in Downton Abbey ‘very bizarre and English
Abbey Cooks Entertains for Downton Holiday Entertaining
With 220 traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to to give for fellow fans planning holiday treats and meals. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes on a regular basis. While the book is available on Amazon, you can only get a signed copy here on my site. If you don’t have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which allows you to print recipes as you go, if you wish. Buy one for yourself, gift to another. All you have to do is email the download link.
Remains of the Day Turkey Soup
Remains of the Day Turkey Soup
- 12 cups Hangover Turkey Stock (see below)
- 1–2 cups turkey meat
- 2 tbsp. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 3 medium carrots chopped
- 2 medium parsnips chopped
- 3 medium celery ribs chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 1 cup dried barley
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can white beans
- 1–2 cups stuffing
- 1–2 cups mashed potatoes
- 1–2 cups cooked vegetables,
- 1 sprig fresh parsley
- 1 tsp. Fresh or dried thyme
- 1 pinch Kosher salt and freshly
- 1 tsp. ground pepper
- Heat oil in a large stock/soup pot, then cook the chopped vegetables until softened. Add the turkey broth, lentils, barley, tomatoes, beans and spices simmering uncovered until the vegetables are cooked. I like to let the love flavors blend in so at least half anhour.
- Add the stuffing, potatoes and cooked vegetables, simmering another 20minutes, but you can leave on the stove longer to keep imparting those flavors. Season to taste and serve the love to your friends and family.
Hangover Turkey Stock
Hangover Turkey Stock
- 1 leftover turkey carcass (from a 12- to 14-pound turkey)
- 1 package turkey neck and giblets (if you didn’t forget to keep them)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 medium onions chopped
- 2 large carrots roughly broken
- 3 medium celery ribs roughly chopped
- 2 clove garlic
- 1–2 cups left over stuffing
- 3 stems broccoli roughly chopped
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 large Bouquet garni of flat-leaf parsley and thyme sprigs,tied together or tossed in.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Place all your ingredients into a large stockpot or Dutch oven and cover with water (about 10 to 12 cups). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and skim the foam off the top as you simmer for 2 or 3hours if you have the time.
- Remove carcass and cool, then pick the turkey meat from the bones, cut into bite sized pieces and reserve. You can now dispose of the turkey bones. Strain the stock through a sieve to separate the vegetables and herbs.
Tools of the Trade
While cooks in Downton’s era may not have had exactly the same type of kitchen gadgets, Victorian cooks did start the craze for creating a tool for each job in the kitchen, so I blame our ancestors for my obsession with collecting these time savers.
You can even order this stuff directly from Amazon so you have more time to watch Downton.
Your Downton Holiday Gift Giving
Gift ideas for your Downton fan. Click on the icons to take you to Amazon to order in time for the holidays.