With only one episode left in Season 4 of Downton Abbey, I am at once excited about the finale, but at the same time sad that when the season ends, many fans will turn to other shows with their bright shiny new episodes. Never fear, I will continue to faithfully blog regularly with a new recipe from that wonderful period of time inhabited by our favorite characters who live in and around Downton Abbey.
This was a challenging week to find a dish on camera to write about. Mrs. Patmore was too busy making sandwiches and beer for the villagers to give us a close up on an upstairs dish. I do have a wonderful recipe for ginger beer, but we will save that for garden party season. But, it was all the talk about Switzerland which had me dreaming about a nice pot of gooey swiss fondue to share with friends trying to keep warm this winter.
- Sadly, the Christmas episode is the only one left in Season 4 of Downton Abbey. It is a good one, though as Rose is presented to royalty at the Palace and the Crawleys play a part in avoiding a royal scandal.
- As we prepare for the season finale, some notes on how Season 5 is coming along as they begin to shoot shortly.
What to Prepare for your Finale Party. bbey Cooks Entertain: Only $7.95
Send S4 Downton out with a bang. With 220 traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to create some simple or complex dishes for your Mary or Anna. This 432 page ebook sells for $7.95. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes each week. While the book is available on Amazon, you can only get a signed copy here on my site.
If you don’t have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which allows you to print recipes as you go, if you wish. Buy one for yourself, gift to another. All you have to do is email the download link to your loved ones.
History of Fondue
Perhaps it is just me, but talk about travel always brings my mind to local food more than climate. So when Rosamund starts talking about Switzerland, my mind goes straight to the food, and in winter that means cheese fondue. While it was trendy in the 1950s (I still have my mom’s orange fondue pot), it dates back to the 1600s.
Fondue was an inexpensive way to use up hard cheese and leftover bread, and while there is some disagreement as to where the French or the Swiss can claim fondue for their own country, the classic cheese fondue is very much tied to Swiss traditions. It is served with bread and always as a main course. A very simple meal to put together when entertaining friends, provided they aren’t lactose or gluten intolerant.
To make traditional fondue you simply need two types of Swiss cheese (Gruyère and Emmenthal) and dry white wine. You can use whatever aged cheese is available, but they should ideally less than a year old. Swiss fondue is served with crusty bread, period. The bread should be dense with a nice crust and each cube you cut should have a bit of crust on it. A splash of Kirsch is added at the end and in some circles you will see diners dipping the bread in a glass of kirsch before dipping into the cheese.
Aside from no double-dipping, proper etiquette is to draw the bread around the inside rim of the pot to keep the cheese from crusting up too much. If you lose your piece of bread you have to kiss your fellow diner. Do not touch the tines of your fork when biting on the bread. The prize at the bottom of the pot when all has been consumed is the hardened bit of cheese called la religieuse. If for some reason you can’t finish all the fondue it can be reheated or made over into a cheese sauce (adding chicken stock to thin) for vegetables.
Ideally your fondue set will consist of an thick enamel pot which you can take from stove top to table. See some examples in the Tools section below.
Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue
Serves 4 as a main course
- 1.5 cups of dry white wine (sauvingnon blanc)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1.5 pounds (about 4 cups) grated mix of 2 swiss cheeses: Gruyère and Emmenthal (or Vacherin Fribourgeois if you can find it).
- 2 tsp. kirsch
- crusty white bread, cut into cubes, ensuring there is enough crust on each piece.
- Mix the wine, garlic and cornstarch in a heavy fondue pot or sauce pan if your fondue set comes with a bowl.
- Turn the heat toe medium high and add the grated cheese. Stir often until the cheese is fully melted, about 20 minutes. When done the mixture will coat the back of a spoon.
- Add additional wine to thin if the mixture is to thick, then add the kirsch.
- Serve warm, preferably in a fondue pot to keep the heat in.
Your Downton S4 Survival Guide
You bought these for fellow Downton fans for the holidays, now stock up on the staples for yourself. Click on the icons to take you to Amazon to order.
Tools you can use
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 like 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.com, both reputable stores I have used in the past.
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