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Cosy up for Award Winning Afternoon Tea at the Sofitel Rose Lounge in London.

Welcome to Tea Tuesday, my weekly tribute to the art of having tea. “A Proper Tea is Much Nicer than a Nearly Nice Tea“- A.A. Milne.  Life is grand in the UK now that Season 3 is well under way, sad in the US as PBS won’t be broadcasting the new season until January.  Devoted foodie Downton fans will be looking forward to carefully planning S3 launch parties (check out my link to upstairs/downstairs theme ideas) or perhaps booking tickets to the S3 Culinary Launch Weekend at the Essex Resort in Vermont (see details below).

The British may have historically failed in other culinary areas*, but excel in the tea ritual.  Each Tuesday 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 Guilt-Free Pumpkin Tartlets to celebrate the arrival of Fall.

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 128,000+ views here since January when I started this particular blog and I chat daily with many of the 6,000 twitter followers @downtoncooks. Also Check out the posted links to my Facebook and Pinterest pages.

You too can be a Downton Abbey Cook:  My Interview

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.  I am honored to be playing a part in the proceedings.  Lord D and I look forward to this wonderful event of fabulous Downton food and festivity, capped with viewing of S3E1 on a large screen. Tickets are now on sale, and I will be providing more details for this event in this fundraising event in support of public television.  If your corporation would like to help support this event through sponsorship, contact me and I will be happy to put you in touch with the event organizers.

Dishing Downton: There May Be Spoilers

WARNING: if you wish to remain in ignorant bliss about that is going to happen in Season 3, I would suggest you scroll right down to our recipe of the day. As for me, there aren’t enough spoilers to ruin the Downton Experience for Me.
  • When is Downton Day? Keep track on your own Downton Abbey 2013 Wall Calendar, now available. Stay tuned for my calendar giveaways in the coming weeks, or buy your calendars for yourself and fellow Downton fans through Amazon.
  • Downton Abbey Prequel:  The big news this week is Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, is planning a prequel which will follow the courtship of Robert and Cora.  It was a fascinating time in history– American heiress’ travel to England in search of an English title, meeting Lords needing money to sustain their estates.  A great book to read on the subject: To Marry an English Lord.
  • So you Want to be a Downton Servant:  17 hour days? Service in a house like Downton Abbey wasn’t as glamourous as you might think.
  • Downton Makes the World a Better Place:  Lord D agrees that Downton Abbey reminds us all to be more courteous to one another; a lesson which Thomas and O’Brien still need to take to heart.
  • Why do Americans Love Downton Abbey? Lord D just reminded me to include this link.  It is still a mystery to me, but a few clues to the love of Downton state side.

Guilt Free Pumpkin Tartlets

a healthy taste of heaven

You know that Fall is here when pumpkins line the outside of your grocer, and huge displays of canned pumpkins appear out of nowhere.  Pumpkin appears on every coffee shop menu: from pumpkin lattes at Starbucks, pumpkin muffins and donuts at every donut shop. I still have fond memories of the pumpkin schmear at Einstein & Bros. bagel chain when I lived close to a location in Atlanta.

So why not add a touch of Fall to your tea tray as well?  We  already baked a Low Fat Edwardian Pumpkin Banana Bread and I will likely be providing a few more favorites in coming weeks.  A pumpkin yields a lot of flesh, and yes, you can make your own pumpkin puree.

This recipe is a guilt free treat for tea, but with Harvest Festival events occurring throughout the UK, and Thanksgiving coming soon in North America (in Canada the 2nd Monday in October, 4th Thursday in November in USA), these are great to serve as a healthy alternative to the traditional high fat/sugar pumpkin pie.


  • foil baking muffin cups
  • 2 cups pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) Fat Free Evaporated Milk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar substitute
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Makes 16 tartlets

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. If you can only find the tin baking cups that are lined with paper, carefully remove the paper lining, then spray each cup with cooking spray.  Place baking cups on a baking sheet.
  3. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and salt in small bowl. Beat egg whites in larger bowl until fluffy. Stir in pumpkin and sugar mixture, and then gradually add in evaporated milk. Carefully spoon the mixture in each cup until at least 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until knife inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving, longer for the flavours to meld.
  6. Keep your toppings healthy.  I love non-fat greek yoghurt sweetened with a bit of honey.  You could also use low fat whipped topping or frozen yoghurt.  I had some dark chocolate wafers on hand, but also consider a bit of crumbled graham wafers or ginger cookies.

*English Cookery– the worst in the world?

While famous British chefs (Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay) have helped boost the reputation of English cuisine, I am pretty sure many food critics still compare some English fare with the quality of Branson’s soup that he attempted to dump on the General’s head in Season 2. Apparently that reputation goes back hundreds of years.   From the original domestic goddess, Mrs. Beeton’s delightful book, Beetons Book of Household Management, published in 1861:

IT HAS BEEN ASSERTED, that English cookery is, nationally speaking, far from being the best in the world. More than this, we have been frequently told by brilliant foreign writers, half philosophers, half chefs, that we are the worst cooks on the face of the earth.

Own Your Own

2013 Downton Abbey Calendar