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A healthy tea tray from Joss & Main, perfect for Olympic viewing

Welcome to Tea Tuesday, my weekly tribute to the art of having tea. As Henry James once said: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

I host Tea Tuesday each week, a virtual tea party which was inspired by Christine, a follower who lives in France, who was curious about English tea traditions after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey. The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual.  Join me every 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 a history.

My Online Guide to the Tea Ritual

Many of you will be traveling to the UK and will likely have “afternoon tea” on your list. To help avoid disappointment (there is a difference between afternoon and high tea), I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience: Downton Abbey Cooks Online Guide to Afternoon Tea. The guide includes:

  • The history of Tea in England
  • Tea Lingo
  • The difference between Afternoon and High Tea
  • Proper tea etiquette

The guide also includes tips and recipes to host your own tea party, perhaps to gather friends to watch your favorite Downton Abbey episode:

  • How to make a proper cup of tea
  • Sweet and Savoury tea recipes, including a great scone recipe you can adapt many ways.
  • How to build a tea service on a budget.

Tweeting over Tea

If you tweet, you may wish to join me @downtoncooks, @theladygrantham and other fans of Downton Abbey and tea from around the world by entering the hashtag #downtontea Tuesdays at 4 pm GMT, 11 am EDT, 9 PST.

Dishing Downton

Downton Abbey at the Olympics

  • Downton at the Olympics:  Downton Abbey cast members were part of the A list crowd at the opening ceremonies Friday night. Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) and Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) tweeted these pictures of the gang from just outside the Olympic stadium, with Hugh’s tweet proclaiming  “Team Downton Abbey invade the Olympic Park.”  I am not sure how many events Hugh will be attending, but his tweety play by play commentary (@hughbon) at the gymnastics on Monday was very entertaining.
  • PBS Count Down to Season 3 on January 6th: As described on PBS:  “The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate in the thrilling new season of Downton Abbey. Written and created by Julian Fellowes, with its all-star returning cast and Oscar-winning guest star Shirley MacLaine, Downton Abbey, Season 3 premieres January 6, 2013 on Masterpiece classic!”  Want to keep track of the time?  Link here to the countdown clock and other things Downton.
  • The Lovely Costumes:  While Downton costume designs have garnered Emmy noms this year, guest star Shirley Maclaine didn’t care for the restrictive clothes.  An interview and cast pictures provided by Marie Claire UK.  If you are in LA Downton Abbey costumes are now on display at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) in LA.

Quinoa Cakes

eat like an Olympian as you cheer your favorite athlete with this dish from Canadian Living.

While I try to provide you with low fat options for many of traditional tea time favorites, the Olympics is a time when you might feel a pang of guilt snacking on carb rich foods, when you could be eating more healthily and day dream about being an Olympic athlete yourself.

We just had our favorite friends from the US over for the weekend.   Lady Amy, was curious about how quinoa so I took the opportunity to make these quinoa cakes which we served as appetizers.  Depending on large you shape the cakes, you can serve this great savoury gluten free/vegetarian dish at tea, as a appie, or main dish at your Downton Abbey viewing or Emmy party. I might even try it as a burger, just make larger thicker patties. These delicate cakes may crumble a bit while being formed but will firm up during frying.


  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa (red or regular)
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 cups trimmed fresh spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts or sliced almonds

Lemon Yogurt Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups  greek non-fat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper


  1. In fine sieve, rinse quinoa under cold water; drain. In saucepan, bring quinoa, broth and 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) water to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Drain in fine sieve; let cool completely in sieve.
  2. Meanwhile, in skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium heat; fry onion, garlic, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Add spinach; cook, stirring, until wilted and no liquid remains, about 3 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan cheese, flour, baking powder and lemon rind; fold in quinoa and spinach mixture. With wet hands (trust me on this one), form into cakes (16 -24 for appie size, 12 for main course, burger sized); transfer to waxed paper–lined tray. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. In nonstick skillet, heat half of the remaining oil over medium-high heat; fry half of the cakes, turning once with 2 spatulas, until golden, about 8 minutes.
  5. Keep warm on baking sheet in 200°F (100°C) oven. Repeat with remaining oil and cakes. Serve drizzled with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Lemon Yogurt Sauce: Stir together yogurt, onions, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside in refrigerator.