by Pamela Foster, DowntonAbbeyCooks.comThanks for joining me for another Weekly Downton Dish. Each week we catch up on past episodes and provide a great period recipe to give you a hint at what this coming week’s episode has to offer.
I refer to S1E4 as the “Fair episode”: the Downton Fair comes to town and our favorite characters hop on the merry go round of love. Mrs. Hughes spends time with an old flame, and unrequited love amongst the younger servants reminds us of teen angst we all experienced in our own youth: William has a crush on Daisy, while Daisy fancies Thomas, unaware that he is not a “ladies man”, in spite of hints from Mrs. Patmore. Meanwhile, John Bates finally lets his guard down and shows Anna he is interested (finally), bringing her a tray of food up to her room where she had been fending off a cold. We also see the seeds of an upstairs/downstairs romance between Branson, the new Irish revolutionary chauffer, and Lady Sybil. And of course Downton fans were thrilled to see sparks between Lady Mary and Matthew.
The Downton Village Flower Show is featured in this past week’s episode (S1E5) in which conflict abounds. Isobel is determined to guilt Violet into relinquishing the Grantham Cup for best bloom, and eventually is successful in her quest for fairness. Thomas and O’Brien plot to have Mr. Bates taken for a thief, only to find that Bates now has a strong ally in Anna. Anna confesses that she loves Mr. Bates only to discover that he is not free to marry. The kind-hearted Lady Sybil goes on a hapless adventure with Gwen, the typing housemaid, in the girl’s pursuit of a secretarial job. Meanwhile, her bored sisters duel over the attention of an older “dull as paint” eligible bachelor. In the process Mary hurts Matthew’s feelings, and enrages Edith to the point of writing a letter to the Turkish Embassy, with what information we are not quite sure. Stay tuned.
The Apple Charlotte, our featured dish last week, plays a role in revealing a secret about Mrs. Patmore. Cora is eager to marry Mary off, particularly after the Pamuk incident, so she invites Sir Anthony Strallan (Mr. “dull as paint”) to dine. He fancies Apple Charlotte, but Mrs. Patmore insists on serving raspberry meringue pudding. Unexpectedly, Mrs. Patmore causes a roast chicken to fall on the floor. It is quickly dusted off and put on the serving tray and sent upstairs: “what the eye can’t see, the heart won’t grieve over”. She then sprinkles salt instead of sugar on the raspberry pudding, which is first discovered by Sir Anthony to Cora’s horror. Mrs. Patmore is then forced to confess to Mr. Carson that her eyesight is failing. Interestingly this closely parallels the true story about a cook at Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. We will reveal more of that story next week as we find out how or if Mrs. Patmore is going to be able to keep her job.
This coming week, a surprising exchange takes place over an evening snack of sandwiches, prompting the question” What did they put in them?”
Today’s Downton Dish: Tea Sandwiches
If you have kids, you are probably already a pro at making little crust-less sandwiches, a staple on the afternoon tea tray. For more tips on how to hold your own tea party, visit my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea
- Tea sandwiches are traditionally light, delicate sandwiches sliced small enough to be picked up with the fingers or sandwich tongs.
- Tea sandwiches can be cut into squares, rectangles, triangles or, using cookie cutters, shapes for special occasions. Queen Elizabeth has the corners trimmed from her rectangular sandwiches, to avoid the sandwich looking like a coffin.
- Prepare your fillings ahead of time to let the flavours settle and to help save you time in your final assembly.
- Your sandwiches don’t all have to be on white bread. You can also use whole wheat which gives a nice contrast in color, but avoid whole grain breads or those breads which are too dense.
- You may make these lower in fat by using lower fat spreads.
- Be a thrifty and save the crusts to dry for use as croutons or bread crumbs for other dishes.
Some sandwich ideas, all using 4 slices of bread, which will make up to 8 tea sandwiches:
- ½ English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced (peeled or unpeeled)
- fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp. unsalted butter, softened
Lightly butter each slice of bread. Lay two layers of seedless cucumber on 2 slices of bread, adding a sprinkling of mint if desired. Cover with the remaining slices. Cut off the crusts and cut into desired shapes.
Egg Salad Sandwiches
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, mashed
- 1 tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. non fat Strained Yoghurt
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
- 1 tsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
- unsalted butter, softened for spreading
Mash the eggs, mayo, yogurt and mustard with a fork, adding the herbs and spices. Lightly butter and spread the egg salad onto two slices of bread, and cover with the remaining two. Cut off the crusts and cut into desired shapes.
- ¼ cup low fat whipped cream cheese
- 1 cup fresh Watercress, rinsed and dried
Spread cream cheese on prepared slices of bread. Cut off crusts to make squares. Rinse and dry watercress and lay between slices of bread. Cut off the crusts and cut into desired shapes.
Watch Downton Abbey Wednesdays at 9pm ET/6pm PT.
Pamela Foster is a culinary historian who resides in the Greater Toronto Area with her husband, affectionately referred to as Lord D. Her popular blog Downton Abbey Cooks explores food, history and health of the Downton era (1912- 1920s). Her ecookbook Abbey Cooks Entertain can be downloaded from her website or through Kobo or Amazon.ca. (Get a sneak peek here.)
all Downton Abbey photos (c) NBC Universal/ITV
photos of Pamela Foster/Abbey Cooks Entertain/recipe dishes courtesy Pamela Foster