It was quite an education the other night at Prairie Public Television’s Downton Abbey Season Three premiere party. Not only did I get to have tea with three brilliant British ladies who taught me the nuances of being Anglo (EG: You are Bri-tish, not Bri-dish) but I also savored some of the finest in British cuisine. (Yes, there is fine Bri-tish cuisine). Watch the video below.
Mosaic Foods and The Golden Spoon Traveling Tea Room catered the evening and they agreed to help you design a menu for your own Downton Abbey viewing party.
Better yet, each dish is inspired by a character from the show (or at least how we interpret them).
We will start the night, appropriately so, with a dish inspired by the matriarch of the family – the woman who started it all.
Think of sweet, tart apricots soaked in acidic orange juice. The result is a rich, tart, and sour. Doesn’t that describe the Dowager Countess?
150 dried apricot halves (2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios, 1/2 of them toasted
1 pound soft mild goat cheese, chilled
Toss apricots with juice and let stand, tossing occasionally, 20 minutes.
Chop all pistachios, preferably by hand, and season with salt. Drain apricots, cut sides up, on paper towels. Top each with a small chunk of cheese and sprinkle with nuts.
Like Lord Grantham himself, this dish is rich, classic, and British. It’s mostly strong and hearty, but has a flaky, delicate side. (Think Lord Grantham’s behavior after he lost Bates. It was like a British masculine version of of Beaches.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 24 (1-inch) cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season all sides with salt and pepper. Quickly sear the beef on 2 sides only until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes total; do not overcook. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown and release liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and continue cooking until mushroom mixture dries out, is golden brown and shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Preheat to the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
On a work surface, roll 1 sheet of puff pastry to a 10 by 14-inch rectangle. Put teaspoon-sized mounds of mushroom mixture on the pastry, evenly spacing them in 4 rows of 3. Top the mushroom mound with a piece of beef, seared side up. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into even squares around the meat and mushrooms. Working 1 at a time, pull 2 opposite sides of pastry up over each beef piece, then fold the ends over the top to make a packet. Invert and arrange the packets seam side down on the baking sheet and press them lightly to seal the pastry. Repeat with the remaining beef, mushrooms, and pastry.
Bake the Wellingtons until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven to a serving platter and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy The Food Network
Cora, more formally known as Lady Grantham, is the American heiress who married into the Crawley family. This salad with its tomato, beans and cheese is like a walk through an American garden. Fresh flavors with a little kick, kind of like Cora. (But what’s up with her devotion to O’Brien?)
3/4 to 1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound peak-season tomatoes (I prefer roma for this because they’re less wet, but other varieties also work), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed or 1 3/4 cups white beans that you’ve cooked fresh
1/4 cup pesto (or a handful of slivered basil plus 1/4 cup olive oil)
3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix and season and then re-season again to adjust to your taste. Eat at once or keep it in the fridge up to a few days (really, it will depend on how fresh your mozzarella is; the made-daily stuff is only good for a day or two, most others will last nearly a week).
Recipe courtesy: Mosaic Foods www.mosaicfoods.net.
Let’s be honest, Matthew is a little bland. He’s no dashing Turk (we know Mary goes for that), but he’s solid and satisfying and with a few embellishments could actually be a little zippier. Kind of like a scone.
5 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups whole milk
Optional: raisins, currants, chocolate chips, etc..
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix the flour and baking powder. Add softened butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add milk and eggs. Mix into dough. Add any optional ingredients. Scatter flour on work surface and roll dough to 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick. Use a round 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter to cut out scones, and place them on a buttered baking sheet. For best results, let the uncooked scones chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serve with Devonshire cream and preserves.
Lady Mary Crawley is a wispy woman. Thin with pale white skin, it’s hard to picture her working on the farm like sister Edith or marching for suffrage like sister Sybil. Mary is about the parasols and the afternoon tea. She has an edge to her, but for the most part she’s light and delicate like this cookie.
1 box lemon cake mix
1 egg slightly beaten
2 cups Cool Whip – thawed
1 cup powdered sugar
Combine cake mix, egg and Cool Whip. The batter will be sticky. Form dough into tablespoons and roll in powdered sugar. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Edges will be golden brown. Allow to cool 1 minute on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack.
Recipe courtesy: The Golden Spoon Traveling Tea Room (701) 219-4267 or goldenspoontearoom@AOL.com.