Image courtesy Rev Stan, via Flickr Creative Commons

Downton Dish: Cinder Toffee

Welcome back, American friends! Time for you to get caught up on Downton, and this first episode’s a doozy. You get scheming, illicit sex, fireworks over the dinner table, and an honest-to-god bonfire. So what could be more appropriate to snack on this episode than that Bonfire Night favourite, cinder toffee?

Also known as honeycomb, puff candy, and hokey pokey (for reasons unknown), cinder toffee is a sweeter, more widely appealing Bonfire Night treat than bonfire toffee, which is made with treacle and can be a bit bitter. Either one can be part of the menu as people gather around to watch the fireworks and burn Guy Fawkes in effigy every 5 November.

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Trick or Treats: Sugar-Free Spiced Pumpkin Breads

Since the Little Anglophile started solids a month ago, I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out new things in the kitchen. Making food for a baby has some special challenges: no whole nuts, no honey, very little salt and sugar. I stumbled upon a recipe for banana bread made without sugar, which he’s taken to like an adorable bald duck to water, and I thought surely I could find other baby-friendly bread recipes like it. How about pumpkin bread? It’s fall! Surely there must be one out there!

Ha, no. Every pumpkin bread recipe I came across either had sugar (quite a lot, in most cases) or honey. So much for that.

But I was undaunted. Nay, said I. The Little Anglophile shall not go without some pumpkin bread, thus discovering the very elixir of autumn. I myself would go forth, armed only with a sack of plain flour and a can of Libby’s and I would make this work.

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Downton Dish: Posh Popcorn

It’s summertime at Downton, which means it must be time for some sort of sporting event/fair/celebration that’s terribly important, despite the fact we’ve never heard anything about it prior to now. This year, it’s the annual bazaar, which has fallen into Cora’s lap while her husband’s away keeping her brother’s ass out of a witness box. Everyone else at Downton is dealing with serious issues, … Continue reading Downton Dish: Posh Popcorn

Downton Dish: Ham and Eggs

Ahh, the Downton pigs. Who knew they’d be so good as a matchmaking tool? And, of course, the person hired to take care of them is completely incompetent because the Crawleys actually really suck at this whole landowning thing. How are these people still rich? Oh, right, numerous lucky inheritances. Anyway, it’s a good thing Blake’s on hand this episode to whip out his surprising … Continue reading Downton Dish: Ham and Eggs

Downton Dish: Filo-Wrapped Asparagus

Things are heating up a bit for a few characters (in both good and bad ways), so it’s not hugely surprising that one of Ivy’s tasks this week is to make a classic aphrodisiac: asparagus.

Nobody’s really sure if asparagus enhances the libido. It’s status as an aphrodisiac goes back to the Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient theory that holds that plants and herbs which look like a part of the body will enhance or heal the functions of that part. Not too many people believe in the Doctrine of Signatures anymore, but there are plenty who hold that asparagus is best shared with a lover. And really, when it comes to aphrodisiacs, a lot of the power lies in belief and suggestion, right? So whip some of these together, share ‘em with your honey, and enjoy tonight’s (significantly less scarring) episode.

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

So, we came back from the south of France and walked right into an honest-to-God heatwave. Apparently, Britain’s trying to make up for last year’s summer ‘o’ suck and is overcompensating just a tad. Which isn’t a terrible thing–it’s actually quite pleasant up here in Scotland, and now we can all pull out those sundresses we totally forget we even owned. The one issue is this: no air conditioning. Hardly any building has air con, because why the heck would they? Our office is absolutely boiling. We have to find other ways to keep cool. Delicious ways.

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Wild Garlic and Goat Cheese Muffins

A few weeks ago, our favourite veggie stall at the farmer’s market started selling wild garlic leaves in bags. I’d never tried wild garlic before, but we gave it a go out of curiosity and immediately started kicking ourselves for not seeking it out earlier. It’s fantastic, and versatile, great straight-up sauteed, like any other green, or torn up into a salad or stirred into … Continue reading Wild Garlic and Goat Cheese Muffins

Downton Dish: Shortbread with Raspberry Jam

The gang’s heading to Scotland (which made perfect sense in an episode that ran as a Christmas special in the UK)! I could direct you to a traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties, but I’m pretty sure I’d lose about half my viewership if I did. Instead, let’s go back to dessert—delicious, delicious shortbread, all crumbly and buttery. Want to take it up a notch? Add a bit of jam. Soooo good. My decision to run shortbread here will probably make sense outright; the jam, well, that’ll probably make a bit more sense towards the end of the episode. It’ll almost certainly make more sense if you read my recap of it. For now, let’s just say that these two things go really well together and leave it at that.

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