Sadly, last week’s episode was not a dream. Downton Abbey lost its precious Sybil, and Cora has placed blame firmly on Robert. “You believed Tapsell because he’s knighted, and fashionable, and has a practise in Harley Street. You let all that nonsense weigh against saving our daughter’s life which is what I find so very hard to forgive.” Violet intercedes in trademark Machiavellian fashion, engaging Dr. Clarkson to convince the mourning parents that nothing could have prevented Sybil’s death. In this knowledge they can face their grief together.
I particularly enjoy Downton episodes where cooking plays a role. Isobel suggests holding a luncheon for Lady Grantham and the girls, but cautions Ethel to keep it simple. Ethel enlists Mrs. Patmore to help her prepare. Mrs. Patmore provides her with simple yet elegant recipes, including a Charlotte Russe, this past week’s Downton Dish. Isobel is shocked to smell cooking in her house, and even more surprised that the meal was tasty. The problem is that Ethel’s past has blemished Crawley House, and Mr. Carson has given the Downton staff strict orders to stay away, so Mrs. Patmore is in the soup when he catches her leaving Isobel’s. He confronts Mrs. Patmore, who tells him the details of the luncheon. Carson takes the news to Robert who storms to Crawley House, but is not successful in demanding everyone leave to avoid scandal.
Meanwhile, Tom announces that his child will be named Sybil, and that she will be Catholic, which does not sit well with Robert, but is again unable to get support from his family. On her day off Daisy spends time with Mr. Mason who intends to pass the farm to her. He wisely advises that houses like Downton will not be around for another 40 years so that she should plan a life outside of services. To prove Mr. Mason’s point, Matthew expresses his concern to Robert about the poor management of the estate, but Robert refuses to listen. Will Downton fall after all?
Teen hormones are still raging downstairs. Daisy still likes Alfred who likes Ivy, who adores Jimmy, who would rather be left alone, and certainly not touched by Thomas. O’Brien is busy plotting; she tells Jimmy that he should keep in Thomas’ good favor if he is going to be appointed first footman, and then leads Thomas to believe that Jimmy fancies him. A recipe for Downton disaster.
Finally, Bates is going to be let free. He threatens the scheming inmate and corrupt guard to allow Mrs. Bartlett to come forward with the truth about Vera.
This week’s Downton Dish is Steamed Lobster Tails in Beer, a dish which combines two scenes from the upcoming episode. First, Downton entertains a visitor this week who enjoys a good beer, and secondly, we observe a tray of lobsters make a run for it at the upstairs dinner.
This Week’s Downton Dish: Steamed Lobster Tails in Beer
- 2 lobster tails
- 1/2 bottle of beer
- Prep work: if you have purchased large tails, split them lengthwise with a sharp knife. To prevent curling, slide a wooden skewer through the length of the tail next to the shell.
- Place beer in a sauce pan which will fit a steamer basket and bring to a boil. It will only take a few minutes.
- Place the steamer basket in the saucepan, place the lobster tails in the basket and cover.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
- As a check: the lobsters are done when the shell is bright red and the flesh is white.
Remember to remove the skewers, and serve with lemon to your loved one.
Downton Abbey Season 3 continues Wednesdays at 9pm ET/6pm PT and our special Downton Abbey mini-site has launched featuring photos, videos, character profiles and much more. It’s your online domain for all things Downton!
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). A signed copy of her ecookbook Abbey Cooks Entertain can be downloaded from her website and regular copies from 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