Please go through and have a seat in the library. You’re just in time for tea.
Must say, you look smart in that periwinkle frock and lovely felt cloche. Always the fashion plate!
Let’s celebrate the recent release of the Downton Abbey movie by taking a peek at (and a taste of) The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Gray (Weldon Owen, 2019).
This is by no means the first Downton Abbey cookbook to be published. The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines came out in 2012 (a new, expanded edition with color photos was just released in August 2019), and there’s Larry Edwards’s, Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Elegant Meals (Arcade, 2012).
Of course we must also mention Pamela Foster’s wonderful website and blog, Downton Abbey Cooks — a fabulous archive of period recipes, musings, and food history that sustained us through all six seasons of the PBS TV series. Pamela’s eBooks are still available for download: there are two editions of Abbey Cooks Entertain, as well as a Relaxing Over Afternoon Tea cookbook.
On October 26, Christmas at Highclere: Recipes and Traditions from the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon (Preface Publishing, 2019) will hit shelves.
So, if you want to sip, eat, nibble, feast, dine, indulge, or entertain Downton style, there are many resources available to help you get your Crawley on.
That said, it’s still nice to have an “official” Downton Abbey cookbook to drool over, now that the movie is finally out. When it comes to dining like the Crawleys, and learning more about the dishes Mrs Patmore and Daisy are busy cooking downstairs, we can never have enough. It’s by far the most delicious way to wholly emerge ourselves in that once-upon-a-romantic-time-gone-by upstairs/downstairs world.
The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook contains over 100 historic recipes originally published or written down between 1875 and 1930, modified for the modern kitchen by Ms. Gray. Some of the dishes “are as seen on screen, some are alluded to, and others have been chosen because they are typical of the time.” Though this book was published to coincide with the movie’s release, its content reflects the Downton experience as a whole, with dishes and photos from both the film and TV series (set between 1912-1926).
The recipes are presented in two main sections, Upstairs and Downstairs.
- Lunch & Supper
- Afternoon Tea & Garden Parties
- Picnics, Shoots & Race Meets
- Festive Food
- Upstairs Dinner (Hors’ d’oeuvres, Soups, Fish, Entrées, Vegetable Entremets, Sweet Entremets, Desserts & Savories)
Most of the book is devoted to Upstairs fare, mainly those fancy dinners served in the formal dining room, the footmen bringing round platters of Salmon Mousse, Quail and Watercress, or Mutton with Caper Sauce after everyone’s had their Cucumber Soup and Trout in Port Wine Sauce. To top everything off: a lovely Raspberry Meringue, Charlotte Russe, or Chocolate and Vanilla Striped Blancmange.
Robert and his daughters had many interesting breakfast chats as they helped themselves to Kedgeree, Truffled Eggs, or Pikelets from the hot buffet, and best of all, there was tea in the library or garden with its tempting Victoria Sandwich, Scones, and Madeira Cake.
- Downstairs Dinner
- Supper & Tea
- The Still Room
Downstairs, food was plainer but nevertheless substantial; the staff needed their four square meals to sustain them through long, arduous days. I love all the scenes in the servants’ hall — Mr Carson presiding at the head of the table, which was generously laden with crusty cottage loaves, savory pies, hearty stews, mouthwatering hunks of cheese, and treacle tarts, all served on plain white dishes. Who can forget Daisy serving the others from the big brown betty teapot?
And I’m always fascinated by the kitchen scenes — all the prep work, vintage crockery, copper pots and molds, wooden utensils, and recipes in progress under Mrs Patmore’s strict supervision (I still adore her egg rack!). 🙂
What I Love Most About This Cookbook:
- Annie’s Gray’s interesting and highly palatable writing: she provides historic context and origins for the recipes, descriptions of key ingredients, commentary about prevailing manners and table etiquette, as well as fascinating details about how the sourcing, cooking, and serving of food evolved during the early 20th century.
- Fabulous recipe headnotes and side notes chock full of delectable tidbits (blend of culinary history, customs, tips, references to characters and events from the series, etc.)
- Detailed info about meals and special events at Downton: what was served, how, why, and when.
- We see how political, social, and cultural changes, as well as technological advances and inventions, affected food service during the Downton years (elaborate 7-9 course Edwardian-style dinners gave way to lighter fare, more female chefs, drop in domestic service overall).
- Beautiful color photographs (stills from the TV series/film and finished recipes).
- Quotes/bits of dialogue from the series sprinkled throughout.
- Full page notes on special subjects (“The Perfect Roast,” “How to Host a Downton Dinner,” “Bread at Downton,” “The Kitchen Garden,” etc.
- As an avid Anglophile, I was happy to see many “typically British” offerings (Cornish Pasties, Dundee Cake, Scones, Sausage Rolls, Syllabub, Spotted Dick, Seed Cake, Digestive Biscuits) served up alongside fine French cuisine.
- Recipe layout is easy to follow, with Imperial and Metric measurements.
If you’re a culinary history buff as well as a big Downton Abbey fan, this is definitely the book for you. Even if you never make a single recipe, you’ll enjoy Gray’s backstories and poring over the gorgeous pictures. Most of the Upstairs recipes are too complicated for me — the Crawleys, after all, had domestic staff to do all the work! So while I won’t be eating Caviar Croûtes, Veal Chops Périgourdine, or Veal and Ham Pie in the near future, there are some doable recipes (from both Upstairs and Downstairs) I wouldn’t mind attempting:
- Vegetable Curry
- Artichoke and Asparagus Salad
- Potato Cakes
- Peaches Melba
- Jam and Custard Tarts
By now you must be starving. Since you’ve been so well behaved all this time, please enjoy a spot of tea with two treats from the Afternoon Tea & Garden Parties section. 🙂
Since only Mrs Patmore could ensure that our baking was up to snuff, we were thrilled she dropped by to help Mr Cornelius and the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers with today’s recipes.
She’s thrilled with the new cookbook, thought the food stylist and photographer did a good job showcasing her recipes, and was tickled to see the photos of her and Daisy working in the kitchen.
She often baked madeleines for the Crawleys, who had visited France many times and were very familiar with these classic little shell-shaped sponge cakes. She liked that Ms. Gray mentioned that in Season 1, Matthew Crawley helped himself to some madeleines when he first arrived, “much to Moseley’s chagrin.” He was not used to having a valet serve him.
Light and delicate madeleines were just the thing for a feminine afternoon tea, and were also great for late night snacking (they filled the biscuit jars kept by Mary, Edith, and Sybil’s beds).
This was a quick and easy recipe; the only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was orange flower water, which was easy enough to order online. The recipe calls for dusting the molds with superfine sugar before adding the batter, which browns the cakes on top a little more.
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus room-temperature butter for the molds
- 6 tablespoons (80g) superfine sugar, plus more for the molds
- 2/3 cup (80g) flour
- 1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
- grated zest and juice of 1/2 small lemon
- 2 eggs, separated
- pinch of salt
- confectioners’ sugar, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter 12 madeleine molds. Dust them with superfine sugar, tapping out the excess.
Put the melted butter, superfine sugar, and flour into a bowl and stir to mix well. Add the orange flower water and lemon zest and juice and again mix well. Stir in the egg yolks until blended.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and salt. Whisk by hand or with a handheld mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter just until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared molds.
Bake until very lightly browned at the edges, 10-12 minutes. Let cool in the molds on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out of the molds onto the rack and let cool completely. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the madeleines just before serving.
Use a non-stick madeleine pan for easy release of these delicate cakes.
If you don’t have a madeleine pan, a standard muffin tin will also work.
~ from The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Gray (Weldon Owen, 2019), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, and Lady Mary are certain that their new Limited Edition Ginger Mint Herb Tea (caffeine free, of course) is the perfect accompaniment for these tender madeleines. There’s nothing like a blend of ginger, orange bergamot mint and lemon thyme to smooth out the rough patches.
Sip and nibble at your next garden party, why don’t you?
I know what you’re thinking: coconut cookies, right? Or perhaps, French macarons?
Well, these little treats are neither, so I’m baffled by why they’re called “macaroons.”
They are in fact, more like bakewell tarts, which consist of a shortcrust pastry beneath a layer of jam and frangipane, topped with flaked almonds. The only similarity I can see between these and macarons are the ground almonds.
Anyway, this recipe gave us a chance to use our little non-stick tartlet pan, which has wells about 2-1/2 inches in diameter, just as the recipe specified. Once again, my nonstick pan (which resembles a muffin pan with shallower wells) made everything much easier, as I didn’t have to butter individual tartlet tins and then transfer them for baking to a cookie sheet.
After rolling out the shortcrust pastry and cutting out rounds, I pressed them into my tartlet pan, then chilled the shells in the fridge for 30 minutes to minimize shrinking. Then it was just a matter of spooning a layer of jam (I used strawberry) into each shell, followed by a generous spoonful of filling. Instead of cutting out shapes from leftover pastry dough as the recipe suggested, I topped my tartlets with sliced almonds.
These yummy bites are a nice addition to a tea tray — they taste like part cookie, part fruit tart. And they’re cute. Mr Cornelius gobbled up three on the spot. 🙂
Still don’t know why they’re called macaroons, though.
For the Pastry
- 1 cup (115 g) flour, plus more for the work surface
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (60g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the Topping
- 7 tablespoons (90g) superfine sugar
- 3/4 cup (90g) ground almonds or almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup (70g) good-quality jam of choice
To make the pastry, put the flour and salt into a bowl and mix well. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is the consistency of bread crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons water and stir and toss just until the dough comes together in a rough mass, adding more water if needed. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While the pastry chills, make the topping. Combine the sugar, almonds, orange flower water, and egg in a bowl and mix well.
Butter 12 tartlet pans each about 2-1/2 inches (6 cm) in diameter. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry as thinly as possible. Using a small, sharp knife or a cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds 3/4-1 inch (2-2.5 cm) larger in diameter than your pans. Transfer the pastry rounds to the prepared pans, pressing them onto the bottom and up the sides and trimming away any excess. Refrigerate the pastry-lined pans for 30 minutes. Gather together any pastry scraps and wrap and chill at the same time.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Put 1 teaspoon of the jam in the bottom of each pastry-lined pan, spreading it evenly. Divide the almond topping evenly among the pans. Roll out the pastry scraps and cut into decorative shapes, such as crosses or stars, and decorate the top of each tartlet.
Place the tartlets on a large sheet pan and bake until the pastry is golden and the topping is puffed and dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans on a wire rack, then carefully remove from the pans to serve.
~ from The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Gray (Weldon Owen, 2019), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
To wash these little beauties down, Robert and Cora suggest their new Limited Edition Black Tea with Royal Spices. Fill your manor house or castle with the warm aromas of sweet cinnamon and cloves. Just the way to please King George and Queen Mary. 🙂
Thanks so much for joining us for tea today. It’s wonderful that Downton Abbey finally made it to the big screen! Now, if you’ll be so kind as to excuse me, I must go polish my tiara and take my opera gloves to the cleaners.
THE OFFICIAL DOWNTON ABBEY COOKBOOK
by Annie Gray
published by Weldon Owen, September 17, 2019
Cookbook, 272 pp.
*Foreword by Executive Producer Gareth Neame
**Food photography by John Kernick
***Film photography by Jaap Buitendijk and Liam Daniel
****TV series photography by Nick Briggs, Joss Barratt, Giles Keyte, and Gary Moyes
♥ MORE DOWNTON ABBEY POSTS AT ALPHABET SOUP ♥
- A Fond Farewell to Downton Abbey
- Shortbread and Scones from the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
- A Little Downton Abbey Valentine
- KitTEA: In Which We Nibble on Tuna and Meow About Chris Kelly’s Downton Tabby
- A Spot of Downton Tea with Rock Cakes
- Squeak Peek for the Week: Mouseton Abbey
- Another Cup of Downton Tea with Chocolate Madeleines
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee. Thanks for your continued support!
**Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.