by Pamela Foster, DowntonAbbeyCooks.comThe end of Downton is near…of Season 3 that is. There is only one episode left so this will be my last installment of The Weekly Downton Dish. Season 4 will return sometime in 2014, but there are plenty of books about the show/this era to help give you comfort during “Downton Downtime”. If you love to cook, feel free to keep in touch at www.downtonabbeycooks.com. I continue to offer a new recipe each week. ‘Tis the season for garden parties, and wouldn’t it be lovely to add a touch of Downton charm to your gathering?
We were treated this past week to an extra helping of delicious Downton drama. Mr. Bates is finally freed from prison, and he and Anna have set up house together as a happily married couple. Thomas, the cat with nine lives, manages to survive yet another crisis with help from Mr. Bates. The impulsive Lady Rose comes to visit, and there is a hint that Mary and Matthew may soon be expecting a child of their own. The Dowager successfully manages to reunite Ethel with her son Charlie, rid the Crawley house of scandal, and put Isobel’s nose out of joint all with one clever plan. Jarvis quits, leaving an opening for Tom to replace him as land agent. Tom and Matthew can now work together to revitalize the running of Downton operations. Eventually Robert comes around to their way of thinking. It only takes Tom’s speech on pooling talents, and the annual cricket match, to bring him round.
During Downton Downtime our minds will likely wander to thoughts about Season 4. If you follow casting news you know that some characters will not be returning, and new characters will be introduced. I tend to agree with Elizabeth McGovern (Cora) about spoilers. She put it this way in a recent interview: we know what is going to happen to Hamlet, but we still enjoy coming out to see the play. If you don’t follow the spoilers, you can still use history as your guide. We know that Downton will have to learn to cope with the new world order. The 1920s was an era of great change. World War I helped seal the fate of the British Empire, and privileged aristocratic ways of thinking. Increased taxation and the collapse of land values meant this generation was more likely to live in the city than country. Women worked during the war, and then, were given the right to vote, thus gaining more independence. Traditional dreams that parents had for their daughters suddenly did not match the reality of their lives. The world was theirs to discover.
Of course, we are all rooting for Matthew’s plans to succeed which will ensure financial security for the Crawley family, while other aristocratic families around them are forced to sell. I hope Edith will embrace her career and give up on her silly quest for marriage just to fit in. I would hate to see Daisy leave Downton, but is life in service really in her best interest as a young woman in a new world filled with opportunity? At least Mr. Mason’s farm is her Plan B. I do hope that John Bates will stay at Downton, perchance to start a family with Anna. A new generation of privileged Crawleys may very well grow up untouched by the new world in their protective Downton bubble, but the outside world does have a way of creeping in. In the end, the fate of our beloved characters resides with Julian Fellowes, the show’s creator.
The final episode of the season will feature a family trip to the Scottish Highlands. This week’s Downton Dish is Cullen Skink, a traditional Scottish soup which would have been served in the servant’s hall. Enjoy.
This Week’s Downton Dish: Cullen Skink
Cullen Skink is a quick milk based soup, named for Cullen, a town in Northern Scotland. Originally it was a broth made from beef shins, but converted to smoked haddock in the 1890s as Cullen Harbour had become the thriving centre of herring fishing, and the village started specializing in the production of smoked haddock. Affordable and plentiful.
- 4 fillets of smoked haddock, cut or torn into small pieces
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 7 cups of milk (skim will have lower fat)
- 4 tbsp. of non fat plain strained yoghurt
- 1 tbsp. butter or oil
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 4 medium potatoes (peeled, partly boiled and diced)
- fresh chives, chopped to garnish
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and smoked haddock and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and milk, and bring to a boil.
- Mix the cornstarch with the yoghurt and mix into the pot.
- Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until thoroughly combined and heated through.
- Garnish with the chives and serve.
Don’t miss the riveting season 3 finale of Downton Abbey this Wednesday, May 22 at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Our special Downton Abbey mini-site will remain online as place to celebrate all things Downton in the eager anticipation of season 4 in 2014.
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