Welcome Downton Abbey fans. We are all now in Downton Downtime. UK fans just finished a lovely meal of Season 3, and now waiting for the dessert course: the Christmas Special. Meanwhile, North Americans are still waiting to be seated for the Season 3 service. Appetizers in the form of a special recap episode (Downton Abbey Revisited) will be offered on PBS on November 25th.
Each Tuesday I dish on Downton Abbey and other topical issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a recipe with history. You may find my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to serve at your own tea party. Today’s treat is Madeira Cake.
Anyone can be a Downton Abbey Cook
A heart felt thank you for sharing my passion for Downton Abbey, history and food. Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube through the links. Keep sending me pics and I will post them here.
VPT’s Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey: Jan. 5/6
Vermont Public Television is hosting a Downton inspired culinary weekend January 5th/6th to launch Season 3 at the renowned Essex Resort. Lord D and I look forward to this wonderful event of fabulous Downton food and festivity, with a Saturday night screening of S3E1 on a large screen. Tickets are now on sale.
NEW: Check out the British Tea Reception menu. I am truly honored that chefs have chosen to serving my own smoked salmon pinwheels.
Corporate Sponsers: If your corporation would like to help support this event through sponsorship contact Michael D Ellenbogen at email@example.com, 802-768-8498.
Coming in December: Abbey Cooks Entertain
Be head cook in your own Abbey
I have been working part time on an ecookbook, a collection of recipes to share with Downton Abbey fans. It is a labour of love which I hope will inspire you to become the head cook in your own Abbey. Your comments have inspired me to share the best foods of that era which we still eat today, making adjustments to make them healthier, but still just as tasty.
The book will have lots of pictures of Downton era foods organized by specific types of Downton entertaining: brunch, afternoon tea, garden parties, dinner parties, cocktails, holidays, and weddings. Plans are to launch the book in December on Amazon.
Season 3 as depicted by the talented Downton Abbey PR team.
Season Three has now ended, and we look forward to the Christmas episode and what might be in store for Season 4. I have been trying to behave by not give away too many spoilers, or passing along gossip, as Hugh Bonneville keeps reminding me you can’t believe everything you read.
- Christmas Episode confirmed: ITV has confirmed the Christmas episode will air in the UK at 9 pm on December 25th.
- Downton Abbey Revisted on Nov. 25: PBS will be showing a special Season 1 and 2 recap on Thanksgiving weekend in the US.
- Multicultural Downton: Julian Fellowes spoke recently about adding new characters which would have represented the ethnic background of the era, very much like Mr. Amanjit on Upstairs Downstairs.
- The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Eracoming to America: Jessica Fellowes’ new book is all about Season 3 so US release was been delayed. The copy I had on back order appears to be on its way from my good friends at Amazon, so perhaps the flood gates have opened in time for Christmas.
- Season 3 is now Available on DVD: I don’t think you will have success in America ordering the DVD since PBS has a strong hold on the distribution in US, but UK fans can now own their own set of Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 3 DVD (Original U.K. Version).
- Amazon Prime Instant Downloads: Amazon now has a great download product which allows to download and watch all the episodes on your TV, computer, or tablet. It is great for traveling. Downton Abbey: Episode 1 [HD]. they even have th
- Season 4 on the Horizon? I have seen a few articles talking about the probability of Season 4, perhaps running parallel to contract negotiations with the lead actors.
Light Madeira Cake
Edwardians so loved their Madeira they created a cake to enjoy with a glass.
Edwardians were mad about Madeira, a fortified Portuguese wine which is made in the Madeira Islands. They drank Madeira as an aperitif and with dessert. The loved it so much they created a dense sponge cake, originally made to accompany a nice glass of Madeira. So, no the cake does not actually have Madeira in it, it does not come from the Madiera Islands, and it can be eaten at tea without the glass.
My version has lightened up the cake substituting applesauce for most of the butter, and added a bit of yoghurt. It makes for a dense cake.
Makes 12 slices
- 3/4 cups applesauce
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup caster sugar (sugar substitute)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 2 tbsp. nonfat plain yoghurt
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose plain flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
individual servings for tea
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 7 inch round cake pan or 9” loaf pan and line with parchment paper. It is OK to use a 8″ or 9″ US standard pan; the cake just won’t be as high. For individual tea servings you can also pour the batter into mini bundt cake pans.
Cream the butter with the sugar, applesauce and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda. Gently fold into the wet mixture, add the yoghurt, then the lemon juice and zest.
Turn into the prepared tin of your choicw, and sprinkle an additional 2 tbsp. sugar on top of the cake. To help rid large bubbles in your cake, slap the pan on your counter a number of times to allow the bubbles to escape. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. It is normal to have cracks in your loaf.
Let the cake cool completely before removing from the pan or it may fall. Decorate with icing sugar and lemon peel. Serve with a glass of madeira or with friends at tea.
Own your Own
Check out Downton on Amazon Prime: you can instantly download and view all Downton Abbey episodes:
Tools of the Trade
Cooks, like other professionals, have their tools and as Mrs. Patmore says “it is a poor workman who blames his tools”. You can make do with the basics, but as you gain confidence and love for cooking, you should start to recognize items to help you cook. Mrs. Patmore didn’t electronic gadgets to cook with so be assured you can make do without the expensive gizmos. This section helps you identify some equipment that I use. If you wish you can order directly from Cooking.com or Amazon, both reputable stores I have used in the past.
Many “Downton” cakes come in various sizes more common in the UK than in the US so investing in a variety of pans is a good idea.
I use my mini bundt pans to create individual desserts or to serve two.
Basic College Writing Tips
Welcome to College: Say Goodbye to the Five-Paragraph Essay
Many students learned in high school to write what is commonly known as the five paragraph essay. This handout is designed to help you see the weaknesses of that syle of essay and to help you learn to write something more complex that that formulaic essay. The Five Paragraph Essay consists of (surprise!) five paragraphs that follow a very structured format. The first paragraph contains a one sentence (or maybe a two sentence) thesis statement, which is followed by three sentences that briefly describe what will be discussed in the three body paragraphs. These three sentences are sometimes referred to as the pathway, since they show where the paper will go. There may then be a transitional sentence to the next paragraph, which discusses the topic of the first pathway sentence. The next two body paragraphs develop and detail the next two pathway sentences. The conclusion, the fifth paragraph, restates and summarizes the arguments of the essay, sometimes beginning with the phrase, In conclusion.
The strength of the five paragraph essay is that it is highly structured, and fairly easy to teach. It provides a very formulaic style of writing that many students find helpful. However, once you reach the college level, the weaknesses outweigh the strengths. The five paragraph essay encourages students to engage only on the surface level without attaining the level of cogency demanded by college writing. In its broad, overarching style, it has a tendency to encourage overly general thesis statements that lead to poorly developed and unfocused papers. And its formulaic nature makes it prone to produce papers with stilted organization. Not to mention that it is next to impossible to write five pages of one without repeating yourself. The only time the five paragraph essay may be useful in college is when you are writing answers to brief essay questions on exams. In timed situations that do not allow you to come up with a complex organization, the five pragraph essay format can be helpful to structure your ideas if you are easily overwhelmed by the number of points you have to make.
So, if you're not allowed to write the kind of essay your high school teachers taught you, what exactly else are you supposed to write? The easiest thing to remember is that with a few sentence level changes, each pathway sentence from a traditional five paragraph essay would make a great working thesis for the kind of argumentative, thesis-driven paper that you are asked to write in college. Heres an example in answer to the prompt, What fundamental change would improve high school education ?.
High school education has several problems which must be solved to prepare Americas youth for the challenges of the 21st century. Overcrowded classrooms mean that students do not receive the individualized attention that they need to succeed. Increasing rates of crime are making students afraid to come to school, and preventing students from concentrating while they are there. In addition, the lack of technological resources like state of the art computers is preventing students from being competitive in the workplace after graduation. These problems all mean that some students are falling behind.
When students fall behind, they need the attention of an instructor one on one to catch up. Because classrooms are so crowded, teachers are overworked. As a result. . .
High schools across the country are bulging at the seams. As increasing numbers of Americans realize that education is necessary to attaining the American dream, our schools grow more crowded. At the same time, budget cuts have caused schools to cut back on the number of teachers. As the number of teachers has dropped, and classrooms have become more crowded, the quality of education in our public schools has declined. With a higher workload, burnout among even the best teachers has increased, and fewer people see teaching as the desirable profession they once did. Solving the problem of overcrowding by strictly limiting class size to 20 students would allow more students to get the instruction they need to become productive members of society, which is the most important goal of high school education in America today.
Can you see the difference between the two parargraphs? Let's take a closer look:
|5 Para Essay||College Essay|
|High school education has several problems which||Solving theproblem of overcrowding would allow more|
|must be solved to prepare Americas youth for the||students toget the instruction they need to become|
|challenges of the 21st century.||productive members of society whichis the most|
|important goal of high school education in America today.|
|This thesis states the obvious. It is so general that||This statement narrows the topic down to a specific problem:|
|just about anything you threw into the essay could be used||overcrowding. It also states why overcrowding is a problem.|
|to support it but you would end up with a very unfocused||The sentence implies that overcrowding is preventing at least some students|
|essay. Also note the use of vague wording ||from getting the education they need to|
|several problems. Finally, a college paper must take a||become productive members of society, which the thesis|
|position that a rational person would disagree with.||itself identifies as a primary goal of high school education.|
|What rational person would not agree with this sentence?||There are lots of rational people who would choose another|
|problem as the worst obstacle facing high school education.|
|There are also lots of rational people who would argue for a|
|different primary goal of high school education.|
Many students when transitioning from the 5 paragraph essay to the college essay express concern about what else to put in the introductory paragraph. Certainly, the five paragraph essay gives you a clear formula for what else to include in the introduction. However, to excel at college writing, students need to think about the function of the introductory paragraph. Introductory pararaphs are designed to give readers a preview of the essay topic and introduce the writer's point of view on the subject. You do not need to have one sentence in the introduction for each paragraph in the paper. You simply need to give enough of an overview of where you are going to give readers a sense of the overall arc of your argument. An introduction is kind of like a movie preview--it tells the reader enough that he or she knows what to expect, but it does not give a scene by scene breakdown of the movie.
Even though a more complex essay will not have a one to one correspondance of setences to paragraphs, readers can still make a good guess about what will be included in that kind of essay. Here is what an outline for the essays that follow each of those thesis statements and introductory pararaphs might look like:
|5 Para Essay||College Essay|
|1. Overcrowding interferes with instruction.||1.The primary goal of a high school education is to make all students, not just a certain select few,|
|2. Increasing crime makes students afraid/unable to work.||into productive members of society.|
|3. No tech resources means not prepared for work force.||2. As jobs become more competitive, more people need and are seeking an education.|
|4. Conclusion||3. Budget cuts mean fewer teachers in schools, which reduces the quality of classroom instruction.|
|4. Teachers get burned out when classes are overcrowded.|
|5. In overcrowded classrooms, too many students get lost or slip through the cracks.|
|6. Conclusion suggesting what the result of solving the problems might be for society.|
Obviously, the second essay is going to come out longer and more complex than the first. This seems counterintuitive to many students at first glance. You would think that an essay with three main points would be longer than one with one main point. The difference is that the college essay asks you to ask more probing questions--to examine the hows and whys behind each point and push your analysis further.