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Essay Khraizat

Be safe out there this Black Friday

The US will soon will be alive with the sights and smells of Thanksgiving cooking.  No time to dwell on Downton Abbey this week as shopping lists are being prepared from time honored recipes passed down from mother to daughter.  If you think cooking for your extended family a few times a year is tough, imagine Mrs. Patmore, Daisy, Ivy and the kitchen staff preparing  multi course meals every night. I really don’t know how they did it.

The Dowager should have every reason to ask “What is Black Friday?” since this is an American invention dating back to the 19th century.  Perhaps we can bridge the cultural gap with the introduction of today’s Downton dish: Drop Scones.  They are not like American drop biscuits, but rather delicious mini (pocket) pancakes.  Imagine tucking a few of them into your pockets as a snack during your Black Friday shopping marathon.

Downton Dish

PBS now sells holiday ornaments

We are finally seeing that the end is near. Only a month left before the PBS launch in January (see the countdown clock above). Each week I share Downton news, but if you haven’t seen all seasons (1-4) beware of spoilers below:

Upcoming Downton Events

Jan. 4/5: PBS S4 Launch Party Inspired by Downton in Burlington, VT

Vermont Public Television is hosting their second Downton inspired culinary weekend January 4th/5th. This event will launch Season 4 at the renowned culinary mecca, the Essex Resort, in Burlington Vermont. I am honored to be asked once again to play a part in the proceedings.  Lord D and I look forward to this wonderful event of fabulous Downton food and festivity. Be among the first in the US to see Episode 1 in a theatre setting. Last year everyone had so much fun dressing up for Day 1, that they chose to wear their finery on Day two. Tickets are now on sale for this great event in support of public television, the network which brings Downton to the US and Canada.

Jan. 17-19: A Downton Abbey Chauffeur-Turned-Gentleman: Sea Island, GA

Downton Abbey is hopping the pond this January. From the 17th – 19th, meet Allen Leech, otherwise known as “Tom Branson” former family chauffeur and widower of Lady Sybil and Jessica Fellowes, author of 2 great Downton books. For more information about this event.

win a copy of the 2014 Calendar

This is your week to win a copy of Downton Abbey 2014 Wall Calendar.  This year we are going to focus on Thomas who is featured in the calendar for the month of October.

Your skill testing question: Thomas wears a special glove.  What happened to his hand?

Send your guess to info@abbeycooks.com.  I will pick from the correct answers and announce the winners next week. Please note that unfortunately this contest is open only to residents of the United States.

Gift the Gift of Downton Entertaining: Only $7.95

With 220 traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to to give for fellow fans planning a Downton cocktail party, a romantic dinner, or hearty downstairs meal with family and friends. This 432 page ebook sells for only $7.95. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes each week. 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.

Drop Scones

drop scones or pocket pancakes?

from Abbey Cooks Entertain

A few weeks ago we made flapjacks which are granola bars, not pancakes.  Today we are making drop scones which are not drop biscuits but little pancakes.  The Queen apparently loved drop scones and everyone’s favorite recipe is likely traced back to her version with cream of tartar which has been replaced here with baking powder.  Like regular pancakes you can add different spices and flavoring or use as a  canopy base.  Me, I love wrapping a couple into a napkin and stuffing them into my pocket to have as a snack on my commute to the office.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup of sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 1 ½ cups milk

Method

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, and add most of the milk.
  2. Make a well in the dry ingredients which help you blend in the wet. Pour in the milk egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, adding more milk until the mixture is thin enough to pour, but won’t run.
  3. Prepare a griddle or cast iron pan with a little oil or butter, spread with a paper towel. Heat to medium high.
  4. Drop scones are meant to be smaller than pancakes. Use a tablespoon to drop heaping spoonfuls of batter on the griddle to form pancakes.
  5. When bubbles start to appear on the surface (after 2 to 3 minutes), use a spatula to flip the pancakes over. Cook for another minute, until lightly browned.
  6. Remove to a plate and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm while you cook the rest of the drop scones.
  7. Serve with butter, jam, or golden syrup.

Start your holiday gift lists

Gift ideas for your Downton fan. Click on the icons to take you to Amazon to order in time for the holidays.

More fruitcake on hand for another wedding at Downton (ITV)

Another Downton Day in America.  This week’s episode S3E3 (E1 & E2 were shown on Masterpiece last week) of Downton Abbey led us on an emotional roller coaster.  First it was happy days for fans as Edith’s wedding was sure to be more fun than Mary’s and perhaps we would actually see a wedding reception this time around.  Meanwhile, Downton was in ruin and the Crawleys were sent off searching for a new home.  In the end, the tables are turned:  wedding goes down in flames, while Daisy saves the day  by remembering that Lavinia had given her a letter to post explaining to her father that Matthew belonged to Mary and not her. I am still not quite sure how or why one would write a letter like that, or how Reggie managed to have amassed a fortune while Lavinia went under cover for Sir Richard to clear a huge debt that he held over her father.  Regardless, Matthew can now claim the fortune to help save the day.

We didn’t see much of Mary’s wedding but Edith’s seem to be more familiar and modern by our standards even if she only had a month to prepare.  For me, the best part of the episode is when our favorite Downton servants are treated to an extravagant meal of Edwardian classics, many of which were dishes served in 1st Class on Titanic.  I cooked through that ambitious menu (menu and recipe links here) in honor of the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking so recognized the salad and duck instantly.  I am sure that these menu choices were reflective of Julian Fellowes keen interest in Titanic, but perhaps was also meant to foreshadow the catastrophe at the altar.

Upstairs Down

A fabulous meal of pickelty bits served in the servants hall.

Shame to let such great food go to waste, as the Dowager quipped “if the poor don’t want it you can bring it over to me.”  Some was sent to the poor and  appetizers were served in the servants hall.  Still, it would have been a new experience for servants.  The kitchen and serving staff would recognize these dishes, having prepared them for their employers.  However, their normal diet consisted of heartier meals, which we now associate with “pub food”. Alfred thought them to be “pickelty bits” and was more interested in having some cheese. Out of the mouths of babes.

Here are links to the dishes mentioned:  scroll down to the bottom of the page to get the recipe.

Lobster Rissoles with Mousseline sauce

A delightful combination of sweet and savoury flavours

As you might expect in a recipe served at Downton, the dish is French and it is traditionally wrapped up in a pastry like a turnover and then deep fried. “Rissole” comes from the Latin russeola, “reddish paste,” a reference to the appearance of the filling.  A relative of croquettes, in other parts of the world they aren’t wrapped in pastry. Insteasd they are coated in breadcrumbs.  A crab cake would be considered a rissole.

You can simply mix chopped lobster with a bit of onion and few spices and call it a day, but try this vintage recipe which incorporates the healthy components of dates and figs to up your game.  These are baked not deep fried.  The egg wash does a great job of sealing in the pastry so that it flakes in your mouth not in your hands (or carpet).

Makes 10 – 15 appetizers depending on the size you make them

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups lobster meat, cooked and finely chopped (you can also use crab)
  • 1/2 cup dates, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion*, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram (or oregano), ground
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 recipe of my Pie Pastry, chilled,  or 2 sheets of butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten for an egg wash
  • Mousseline Sauce

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Mix together the first 7 ingredients in a medium sized bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roll out dough.  The pie pastry is a bit flaky so don’t roll too thin, but since puff pastry puffs make sure you do roll out quite thin.  Decide if you want bite-sized rissoles (try a 2″ biscuit cutter, but stretch the dough a bit since it can be too tiny) but you will likely be happy using a standard 3″ biscuit cutter which will make a nice appetizer size with lots of filling. An empty tuna can works in a pinch as a cutter (Abbey Cooks improvise).
  4. Use a teaspoon to spoon some filling in the centre of the circle.  Brush a little water along the edges to help the seal.  Fold over and pinch to seal.
  5. Use a pastry brush and give a healthy wash of egg to help brown and seal the pastry.
  6. Place the rissoles on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15- 20 minutes depending on the size. Since the ingredients are already cooked you really only need to ensure the pastry has browned up, both on the top and bottom.
  7. Serve warm or cold, with the mousseline sauce (lemon flavored cream sauce) as a dip.

My book has Many More Entertaining Ideas

In minutes you can download a great looking collection of period recipes.  Check out my new ebook Abbey Cooks Entertain with 220 Downton era recipes to please finicky guests like Albert at your Abbey. Written by a fan for fans, you can only download a signed copy here or you can download from Amazon. If you don’t have an ereader, might I suggest downloading the PDF version of the book which you can print.