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The Milestone Hotel serves award winning tea   across from Kensington Gardens in London

Welcome to Tea Tuesday, my weekly ritual of sharing tea with Downton Abbey fans.  UK fans have been glued to their tele on Sundays, now known as  Downton Day. I know Season 3 will be over soon on ITV, but the good news is that the Jan. 6 PBS launch is getting closer.  There really is something special about watching Downton on PBS Masterpiece. 

Do join me each Tuesday as I dish on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe with history. Today’s treat is Jam Tarts.

My Online Guide to the Tea Ritual

Taking a traditional “afternoon tea” is definitely a bucket list experience. To do it properly, I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience. I highlight a famous London tea house each week, but do check out and support the tea houses in your local community. Send in a pic and I will post it here and on my Pinterest Tea Board. My Downton Abbey Cooks Online Guide to Afternoon Tea.

We are So Social

A heart felt thank you for sharing my passion for Downton Abbey, history and food. We now have 151,000+ views here since January when I started Downton Abbey Cooks.  I chat daily with many of the 6,400+ twitter followers @downtoncooks.  Also check out the posted links to my Facebook and Pinterest pages.

NEW Downton Abbey Pinterest Board:  Downton Abbey UK has just launched the Eat Drink & Be Merry Pinterest Board which already has 4500+ followers.  I am honored to have been invited to be the Curator of the Board.

Spreading the Word: Anyone can be a Downton Abbey Cook

Jungle Red Writers: Check out my chat with the ladies at Jungle Red Writers, exploring Inside the Downton Kitchen.  There was quite the discussion about the proper way to pronounce “scone”, (rhymes with gone) and heated debate about which goes on first: cream or jam. I still stand by cream first!

Vermont Public Television: Check out my interview with VPT and my involvement with their big Season 3 launch weekend, outlined below.

We Women: To learn more about how you too can become a Downton Abbey Cook, read my interview in Downton Abbey Cooks: Take over Mrs. Patmore’s Kitchen in WeWomen magazine.

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.

Whisky Bar:  Brian from Oui Dram (they are based in Montreal) will be in full regalia to help educate your palate.

Corporate Sponsers:  If your corporation would like to help support this event through sponsorship contact Michael D Ellenbogen at michael@eonscreative.com, 802-768-8498.

Dishing Downton: No Spoilers Today

Raise your ladle, broom or white glove and be counted.

  • Become a Downton #teamservant.  Downton Abbey has gone a great job to engage fans online. The latest is to support the servants in the series.
  • Time Warp-Apple meets Downton:  Hugh Bonneville and Joanne Frogatt will be answering questions at the gorgeous  Regent Street Apple Store in London tonight.
  • Celebrating the Women of Downton:The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival recently celebrated the strong characters of Downton Abbey, with appearances by author Jessica Fellowes, the actors Lesley Nicol (Mrs Patmore) and Phyllis Logan (Elsie Hughes), costume designer Caroline McCall and series producer Liz Trubridge.

Downton Abbey Calendar Contest:  Oct. 23 – 26th

Can you tell me what the gift was?

The new Downton Abbey 2013 Wall Calendar is now available on Amazon. I received my copy last week and was thrilled that I can start using it now (includes Sept-Dec. 2012).

As promised, I have two Downton Abbey 2013 Wall Calendars to give away, courtesy of the Publisher. Unfortunately it is open only to US residents.

There are so many lovely pictures in this calendar, but one in particular captured my attention.  It is the December photo from the Christmas episode.  As pictured above (forgive the quality as it is a picture of the picture), Matthew is showing Mary and Sir Richard a gift.

The Skill Testing Question:  Can you tell me what that gift was?  Send your answer to downtonabbeycooks@gmail.com.   I will keep the contest open until this Friday and Lord D will assist by randomly selecting 2 from the correct responses.  You will be contacted for your full name and mailing information, which I will provide directly to the Publisher.

The Winners will be announced next Tuesday.  Good luck, and remember the contest is only open to US residents.

The Joy of Tarts

A lovely tray of tarts: jam, bakewell, low fat berry, treacle

Many tea treats have a long history which makes them so much more enjoyable to my mind.  It thrills me to think their popularity has endured for centuries and that our ancestors enjoyed them just as much we do now.

The Queen of Hearts nursery rhyme dates back to the 1780s, but we relate it more closely to Lewis Carrol’s Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, published in 1865.
The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts all on a summer’s day.
The Knave of Hearts he stole the tarts and took them clean away.
The King of Hearts called for the tarts and beat the Knave full sore.
The Knave of Hearts brought back the tarts and vowed he’d steal no more.

We have made a number of tarts for tea including:

Jam Tarts

an assortment of lovely jam tarts

Today we are going to add another recipe to our tart collection.  Jam tarts are super easy to make so if someone runs off with them, you can easily make more, but feel free to pronounce “off with their heads” if you insist.

The shells are best made by hand, but if you pressed for time, you are allowed to purchase a good quality tartlet shell, but don’t skimp on the filling. I make extra shells and freeze to have on hand when company calls.

Ingredients

Makes 12

Method
  • Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry, and cut out rounds to fit your shells.
  • Place into mini muffin pans and add a tsp. of jam or lemon curd.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until the crusts have browned.
  • Serve warm as is, or let cool and decorate.  Pipe cream or greek yoghurt on top with a star tip, and decorate to your hearts desire (or whatever you have on hand).

Easy Lemon Curd

try melting some lemon curd and your heart on warm scones. Yum.

Lemon curd is a natural on the tea tray.  It can be challenging to make, but this recipe is sure to produce great results.  I am not a big fan of refined sugar but I did not like the taste when I tried sugar substitute, so the best approach is to use sparingly.

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks (freeze your whites for another use)
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest (tip: zest a lemon before squeezing)

Method

  1. Cream (beat) the butter and sugar.  Slowly add the eggs and yolks while beating. Mix for a few minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Don’t worry if the mixture does not look smooth. It will fix itself when it cooks.
  2. Cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth, stirring while on the heat.  Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon (or 170°F on a candy thermometer).  Don’t let the mixture boil.
  3. Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools.
  4. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

Own Your Own

2012 Downton Calendar