Red Grouse

Downton Dish: Casseroled Grouse with Marmalade

Like just about every member of the upper class, the Downtonians are heading north to start shooting some grouse. The 12 August–The Glorious Twelfth–was and still is the official start of grouse-hunting season, when eager sportsmen (and women) hit the heather moors of Scotland and the north of England to hunt this delicious bird which, as it flies low to the ground at up to 80 mph, also offers sportsmen a significant challenge. Red grouse is the type most commonly hunted in Britain (of the four species of grouse to be found here, one is protected, one so rare that most sportsmen avoid shooting them, and one lives in areas so inhospitable hardly anyone seeks them out), and its meat is flavoured by its diet of heather, blueberry, cranberry, and bog myrtle. All the grouse you find for sale is wild: attempts to rear it in captivity have all failed.

Wealthy people like the Sinderbys and the Crawleys would often rent shooting estates in the north from hard-up aristocrats, or buy one of their own and host lavish shooting parties that saw astonishing numbers of birds killed over just a few days. King Edward VII was a keen sportsman and made the rounds of the great shooting estates along with his son, George, who was known for his rather distinctive shooting style: one arm straight along the barrel, turning to shoot birds behind him with a quick, jumpy step. Shooting weekends were highly formal: after the morning drive the guns would meet up with the ladies somewhere on the estate for a multi-course lunch. After that, the ladies would sometimes join the drive, typically as observers, before returning to the house to change into gowns for tea. At the end of the day came dinner–tails and tiaras were de rigeur, and there was usually a ball the first evening. On other evenings, non-shooting guests would stage amateur theatrical performances rehearsed while the men were out on the morning drives.

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Downton Dish: Russian Tea

What with Mary’s ‘sketching trips’ and Edith’s creepiness and Robert’s pouting, you may have missed the little tidbit that Rose has started volunteering. Her chosen cause: dispossessed Russian aristocrats. While perhaps not a demographic one thinks of immediately when the words ‘in need’ come to mind, she’s pretty dedicated to them, and it’s nice to see her getting out of the house and doing something … Continue reading Downton Dish: Russian Tea

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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Downton Dish: Turbot in Champagne Sauce

There’s a lot going on at Downton these days, but one of the more intriguing plotlines is the slow-motion trainwreck that is Thomas’s crush on Jimmy. I never thought I’d say this, but oh, Thomas, you poor man. O’Brien has you in her sights and she’s going to squash you like a bug. And honestly, did the whole Oscar Wilde trial (which would have all gone down within your lifetime) teach you nothing?

It’s impossible (for me, at least) to watch this without thinking of the great wit and writer, so this week’s recipe is inspired by him. Unsurprisingly, his favourite tipple was champagne—he drank it constantly, but I’ve already done champagne cocktail, so let’s go a different route, shall we? Champagne is more than just a delicious drink; the Edwardians loved using it in sauces, like this one. It’s also said to be an aphrodisiac, so it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day! Surprise your sweetie with this delicious, sophisticated dish.

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Downton Dish: Brownies

Look, Sybil’s having her baby. It’s tense; you’re gonna want some chocolate, just trust me on this one. And these are possibly the greatest chocolate brownies I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. Rich, fudgy, so, so good. Bake up a plate and have it on hand. Best Damn Brownies Adapted from Martha Stewart Ingredients 1 stick (8T) butter 4 oz bittersweet chocolate 2 eggs … Continue reading Downton Dish: Brownies

Downton Dish: Welsh Rarebit

This recipe will probably make a bit more sense after you’ve seen the episode, but even beforehand, it’s delish, and perfect for snacking on during a cold day (which it certainly is here in Edinburgh!). Perfect for getting your strength back after you’ve been forced to flee your home and ideal for covering up the toast your newfangled electric toaster just burned. Rarebit, unsurprisingly, was … Continue reading Downton Dish: Welsh Rarebit

Downton Dish: Cocktails

Ahh, the 1920s. While America was mired in Prohibition, Europe was discovering that mixing various types of hard liquor together with a little juice was a really good way to (temporarily) forget the horrors of the Great War. Bright Young Things gathered in bars in Berlin, London, Paris, and Venice to sample Honey Bees, Pussyfoots, and, yes, martinis and Manhattans. Eventually, event smart houses like … Continue reading Downton Dish: Cocktails

Downton Dish: Apple Charlotte

Apple Charlotte From Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Comlete Illustrated Cookery Course 1 lb apples 1 T caster sugar 1 stick 6 slices bread from a large loaf, about ¼ inch thick, crusts removed 1 egg yolk   Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Place them in a saucepan with ¼ stick of butter. Cook over low heat until the apples … Continue reading Downton Dish: Apple Charlotte