Updated: The giveaway is now closed, and we have a winner! Congratulations to Stephanie M. (#7). I'll be in touch this week to get your mailing address to send your cookbook to. Happy cooking!
Editor's note: Tara received a free copy of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook with no obigation to review and her thoughts are all her own.
By Tara C.
The holidays may be over, but fans of Downton Abbey still have a reason to celebrate--the U.S. premiere of Season 3. And what could make your viewing experience even more pleasurable? How about some tasty, Downton Abbey-inspired treats?
When I was offered a review copy of The Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary's Crab Canapés to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding--More Than 150 Recipes From Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines after reviewing The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, I jumped on the opportunity.
I recruited several Downton Abbey/cooking enthusiasts to help me try some recipes, including our own Food Lush writer, Erica. Never one to shy away from a theme, Erica arrived in a sparkly tiarra. I'm not pictured here, but let's imagine that I was dressed as a scullery maid.
Here are the recipes we tried:
- Lady Mary's Crab Canapés
- Crunchy Fig and Bleu Cheese Tarts
- Mrs. Isobel Crawley's Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
- Sweet Cream Scones
- Classic Cornish Pasty
- Pork Pie Balls
Perhaps not surprisingly, the cookbook contains more "upstairs" recipes than "downstairs" recipes, and, in my opinion, they're generally more appealing. An upper-class family at this time would have had access to a wider variety of foods than their working-class counterparts. Only two of the recipes we tried, the Classic Cornish Pasties and the Pork Pie Balls, were from the "Sustenance For The Staff" section. The recipes were pretty conceptually similar, as both involved meat wrapped in pastry dough. My friend Gina made the Classic Cornish Pasties and I made the Pork Pie Balls. While we made the dishes separately, we realized later than neither of us had used lard in the pastry as written in the recipe. We substituted Crisco. Other than that, we followed the recipes pretty closely. I think when you've spent much of your life avoiding lard, it's hard to consciously include it.
I somehow neglected to take a picture of the Pork Ball Balls, but they were not very photogenic anyway. Picture enormous meatballs wrapped in pie crust and you get the idea.
Throughout the cookbook, the author includes Times Gone By sections that place the recipes within an historical context. There are also Etiquette Lessons scattered throughout. For example, did you know that a true tea sandwich has the crusts removed only after the sandwich has been prepared and not before?
While most of the recipes in the book call for ingredients that are easily accessible by modern cooks, a few of the recipes are a little authentic for my taste. Take, for example, O'Brien's Black Pudding, which calls for fresh pork blood, or Boiled Beef Tongue for breakfast. Erica and I may have surreptitiously eyed local turtles for the turtle soup recipe, but I can assure you that no turtles were harmed.
We thoroghly enjoyed all of the dishes we made. In fact, it was hard to decide which recipe to share with you. I think our favorites were the Crunchy Fig and Bleu Cheese Tarts, Lady Mary's Crab Canapés, and the Sweet Cream Scones. Mrs. Isobel Crawley's Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwhiches were quite good too. After eating them for breakfast for the next several days, I decided that you really should have the Sweet Cream Scone Recipe. I have made a lot of scones, and these are probably the best I have ever made. They are moist, somewhat sweet, and very tasty.
Sweet Cream Scones Receipe from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspooon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
1 egg, at room temperature
Heavy cream for brushing
Granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Blend sour cream, vanilla extract, and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a large baking sheet.
- In a lare bowl, blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt.Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Stir in sour-cream mixture and eggs until just barely moistened.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading briefly. Pat dough out into a 3/4-inch-thick round. Cut into 12 wedges and place them 2-3 inches apart on the greased baking sheet. Lightly brush with cream, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey who also enjoys cooking, you probably need your own copy of this cookbook.
(photos from: Target-book cover image, me)
Now, one lucky Food Lush reader can comment for the chance to win your very own copy of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook!
GIVEAWAY: One copy of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
TO ENTER: Comment, answering the question "Are you a Downton Abbey fan?"
GIVEAWAY ENDS: January 11th (this Friday) at 11:50pm PST
SHIPS: To any U.S. reader
EXTRA DETAILS: One comment per reader. Winner will be selected through random.org and announced as an update to this post by January 14th (that's one week from today).