Have your own Downtonesque feast
Not everybody likes their food fresh and nouvelle.
As last year’s hoopla around the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic reminded us, there are plenty of people who hunger for fare from back in that Edwardian day, especially if it’s a trifle fancy — or even just a British trifle.
By presenting lavish depictions of foods and cooking and dining in upscale England in the early 1900s, the popular “Downton Abbey” has fueled appetites for that sort of thing, inspiring other people to serve it up, too.
There’s the Downton Abbey Cooks blog (www.downtonabbeycooks.com), whose author, Toronto-area culinary historian Pamela Foster, now offers a $7.95 downloadable cookbook titled “Abbey Cooks Entertain.” The beautifully illustrated e-book offers 220 recipes for serving, perhaps, during a “Downton” dinner, which fans hold while watching the show.
“It seems to be a growing trend for people to combine the show with food,” she says in an email, noting that’s why she’s put together the book, “to help answer all those questions I get about what to serve and what type of meal to host.”
You can also check out the sumptuous fare on the “Eat, Drink & Be Merry” board Foster that curates on Pinterest that “explores the world of food and drink from the Downton era.”
Just out in hardback, meanwhile, is “The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook” (Adams Media, September 2012, $21.95). It’s subtitled “From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding; More than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs.”
The cover also notes, “This book is unofficial and unauthorized” and not at all endorsed by the company that produces the PBS series. But it’s gotten a ton of publicity from other outlets.
Emily Ansara Baines, who also put together “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook,” pulled together recipes for everything from hors d’oeuvres to seven dinner courses and dessert, plus tea, as would be served to the Crawleys, as well as recipes to provide “Sustenance for the Staff” downstairs for breakfast, lunch, supper and sweets.
So if you don’t have the kitchen chops or old money to make such classics as Potatoes with Caviar and Creme Fraiche or Lobster Thermidor, you might like to try Tom Branson’s Guinness Corned Beef or Warm Chicken Pot Pie.
Some recipes — The Earl of Grantham’s Green Turtle Soup, Deviled Kidneys — are of more historical than practical interest.
Still, the book would be fun for a fanatic of the show, peppered as it is with references to the characters as well as notes on etiquette and other aspects of “Times Gone By.” Or are they?
As the author notes in the introduction, “Cooking these beloved dishes may be bittersweet, as you know something those residing at Downton Abbey do not: that this period before the World Wars was the last hurrah of British gastronomy, and soon many of Downton’s beloved dishes would be taken away due to war rationing and a changing marketplace. … Yet with these recipes you can re-create it and live one day as a lady, the next as a lady’s maid.”
Edwardian Chicken Tikka Masala
Emily Ansara Baines includes in her cookbook this recipe, which she acknowledges “may seem strange,” but the dish showed up in England around 1903 when Edward VII was proclaimed emperor of India, and was in 2001 called by the then-labor secretary “Britain’s true national dish.” She notes that a similar recipe could be found in the bible that is “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management,” first published in 1861.
This dish is delicious!
For the chicken:
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken
breasts, cut into bite-sized
4 long skewers
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large metal bowl, thoroughly whisk yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, black pepper, red pepper, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The longer you let the chicken marinate, the more tasty it will be.
Preheat a grill for high heat. Whether or not you soak your skewers is up to you. According to Cook’s Illustrated, it is not necessary.
Lightly grease the grill grate. Skewer chicken, discarding marinade. Grill chicken until juices run clear, approximately 5 minutes per side.
To make sauce: Melt butter over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 to 2 minutes. Season with coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, then stir in tomato sauce and heavy cream. Simmer on low heat about 25 to 30 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Remove chicken from skewers and add to sauce, thoroughly coating chicken pieces. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and sprinkle with cilantro. If desired, pair with basmati rice and naan. Use garlic naan for extra spice.
— “The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook”
“Mrs. Patmore (Downton Abbey cook) had some handy to serve in Season 3,” writes Pamela Foster, who describes these tarts as “a traditional dessert and tea treat which is a simple blend of golden syrup and breadcrumbs baked in a short crust pastry. … Purists say that Lyle’s is the only golden syrup which should be used. This is very high in sugar so I consider this as a ‘sometimes’ treat.”
She notes that Lyle’s, which is available at specialty stores, recently was declared Britain’s oldest brand, registering its trademark in 1904 and granted a Royal Warrant in 1911.
For the Short-Crust Pastry:
11/4 cups unbleached
1/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (cut into
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
In a large bowl, add the flour and sugar and rub in the butter to resemble fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and cream and form the paste into a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
11/2 cups golden syrup
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
Prepare short-crust pastry and chill for half an hour.
Unwrap the chilled pastry and roll out to fit a lightly greased, 9-inch fluted pan, or you can cut into circles and press into lightly greased muffin tins. Work the dough into the crevices of the pan.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line the larger pan of pastry with tinfoil, fill with baking beans and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for 5 minutes. You really don’t need to pre-bake the muffin tins.
Heat the golden syrup with the lemon. Add the ginger.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs in the tart shell or distribute among the muffin tins. Pour in the syrup. Note: The syrup bubbles when cooking, so the mixture should not fill more than halfway up the sides of your container — unless you are like me and love a crispy toffee crust from the overflow. Not great for your teeth, but yummy.
Use the dough trimmings to make a lattice top on the large tart if you like.
Bake the larger tart for 20 to 30 minutes, individual-sized tarts for 10 to 15 minutes.
Makes a 9-inch tart or 12 smaller tarts.
— “Abbey Cooks Entertain”
This basic crepe recipe, the author writes in the headnotes, is one that Mrs. Patmore likely would have shown Daisy how to make before teaching her about fancier crepe dishes, such as Crepes Suzette (also included in the book). It’s a bit eggier than other crepe recipes I’ve tried, and because I was impatient (and my daughters, hungry), I didn’t let the batter chill long enough in the fridge. As a result, the crepes ended up sticking to my non-stick pan. Still, they were darn delicious.
The book’s recipe calls for serving the crepes plain, but we stuffed the thin, delicate pancakes with two of our favorite fillings: strawberries and raspberries tossed with a little raw sugar, and Nutella. We also sprinkled a little confectioners’ sugar on top.
— Gretchen McKay
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs, room temperature
2 cups whole milk
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly add wet mixture to dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Add melted butter. Cover and chill mixture for 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat a 10- to 12-inch pan over high heat. Pour or scoop about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the batter onto the hot griddle, swirling or tipping pan so batter completely covers the bottom. Brown for 2 to 3 minutes on 1 side, then 1 to 2 minutes on the other. (I used an offset spatula to flip it.)
Stack crepes on top of one another on a serving plate; serve hot.
Makes about 12 crepes.
— “The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook”