Food You Can Eat: A Convivial Crawley Christmas

“It's a nutcracker… we thought you'd like it… to crack your nuts.”--Cousin Isobel

Image via vanityfair.com. My sincerest apologies to Julian Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford.

Each year at Downton we gather for a festive celebration of the Yuletide and for fun we each bring a dish of our own devising. Here is what you might find around our table.

1. Lady Mary’s “Grab ‘Em By The Truffle Balls”

I make these in memory of poor Mr. Pamuk, whom I basically fucked to death who passed from this earthly realm so tragically under our roof here at Downton. In a blender or food processor grind up 1 package of Oreo cookies into crumbs. This is somewhere slightly less than a pound. If you want your cardiologist to drop you from their practice use DoubleStuf. Then blend in 1 package (8 oz.) of cream cheese. Scrape this into a bowl and chill, covered, so the mixture gets nice and firm.

Take out the mixture and form into small balls, put these on a lined baking sheet (spread them out a little) and put them back in the fridge for a few hours or overnight if one gets in a food making mood after the sun goes down.

In either a saucepan or a microwave melt a package of white chocolate baking chips. Something less than a lb., the packages usually come in at between 10 and 14 oz. Dip the balls in (prepare to get fingers nice and sticky) and let the excess drip off. Put them back on the lined baking sheet, and back in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

2. Lady Edith’s “The Real Reason I Disappeared Abroad For Nine Months Mint Fudge”

In a bowl microwave 12 ounces of Andes Crème de Menthe baking chips for about 1 minute, stirring a couple of times. Remove, and in a second bowl microwave the contents of 1 12-ounce tub of dark chocolate frosting for 30 seconds. Pour the melted frosting into the melted chips and stir. Put this in an 8X8” pan lined with wax paper, two sheets, so you make a + and come up over all four sides. Sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts (optional.) Refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares, saving the largest pieces for yourself. Doing this is why I temporarily developed that bulge around my middle.

3. Lady Sybil’s “My Husband Is Irish Therefore I Have Become an Alcoholic White Chocolate Fudge With Rum”

Line an 8X8” pan with wax paper like my sister Edith the Harlot does. In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups sugar with 3/4 cup salted butter and 2/3 cup heavy cream. Heat this up until it foams, and then boil for 4 minutes. Take it off the heat and add 7 ounces marshmallow creme and 12 ounces of white chocolate chips. Stir the mixture vigorously (remember that you were such a bloody fool you moved with your impoverished husband over to Ireland in the midst of a civil war/war for independence; what were you thinking?) until everything’s combined. To calm your frayed nerves, take a big swig of spiced rum (Captain Morgan’s is good for this) and stir in 1/4 cup of it along with some chopped walnuts. Pour this into the 8X8 pan and refrigerate for a while, but overnight might be too much. When presenting, try not to sneeze on it, like that dreadful simp Lavinia did that one time.

4. Lord Grantham’s “Crowd Pleasing Ham ’n Cheddar Sandwich Squares”

Have Mrs. Patmore bake a ham. Have Barrow or Molesley or whoever get as many sleeves of rye cocktail bread as the shoppe in the village has on hand. Spread each slice with a little good English mustard, top with a slice of Mrs. Patmore’s ham that you have carved yourself, and top that with a slice of good sharp English cheddar. Add nothing else; that would be vulgar.

5. Lady Grantham’s “Mother’s Little Helper”

Ask Dr. Clarkson for 2 quarts laudanum or have Cousin Isobel procure some from the hospital. Decant into a Sèvres vase and serve discreetly into demitasse cups in the ladies’ withdrawing room.

6. The Socialist Schoolteacher’s “Class-Conscious Chex Party Mix”

Heat an oven to 250 degrees (the sensible Celsius scale has not yet been been adopted by our horrid, unjust British society.) Melt 1 stick (8 tbsp.) butter and stir in 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp. onion powder. Then stir in 3 cups each of Corn Chex, Wheat Chex, and Rice Chex, and add 1 cup each of mixed nuts, pretzels, and garlic-flavor bagel chips, and stir again. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread onto paper towels to cool, then put in a good, honest bowl made by one of the exploited potters in the village. When Lord Grantham commands you to leave and take your Chex Party Mix with you, discreetly drop handfuls of it on the floor as you head to the exit. It would take every servant in Yorkshire months to get it out of the carpets.

7. Cousin Matthew’s “Baked Brie on Toast Rounds” (submitted posthumously)

When I was on the front lines at the Somme I used to cheer up Mason and the other chaps by making this once a fortnight. Preheat an oven to 250 degrees. Slice a crusty baguette or two into 1”-thick disks and spread with brie. Place these on a baking sheet and warm them up for 10 to 15 minutes until the top of the brie browns a little. Remove, let cool, and sprinkle with finely diced chives. Ingredient amounts will vary depending on how many men are left in your trench.

8. Branson’s “Good Time Tom Party Pleaser”

Good Irish whiskey and lots of it. I generally assume that one barrel serves 10.

9. Cousin Rose’s “Party Snack For Those Trying to Keep Their Figure”

Wash 1 celery stalk. Remove the leafy bits at the end and slice in half crosswise and then slice again in half lengthwise, creating 4 “cradles”. Fill each with a generous topping of cocaine. Serves 1.

10. Lady Sinderby’s “Smoked Herring on Rye”

Have somebody obtain 2 quarts of good smoked herring in a cream sauce from a fishmonger whom you trust. Steal some of Lord Grantham’s rye bread and serve on those.

11. Mrs. Patmore’s “Roast Pheasant en Gelée”

Three days before the party, pluck and dress six dozen pheasants—

MOVING RIGHT ALONG

12. Mr. Barrow’s “Turkish Delight”

I do this in memory of the extremely hot Mr. Pamuk. On your half-Saturday off, go into the village and with a considerable chunk of your wages buy a box of Turkish Delight.

[Author’s Note: I was going to pass along a recipe for Turkish Delight but it’s a pain in the ass to make and it’s definitely an acquired taste, believe me.]

13. Mrs. Hughes’s “Wee Scottish Lass Smoked Oyster Dip”

In a bowl place 1 room-temp bar of cream cheese. Add the contents of 1 tin of smoked oysters, these usually come in at around 4 ounces, some salt, some lemon juice (quite a bit, actually, 2 tbsp.), some paprika, and some dried dill (maybe 1 tsp. each.) Using the back of a large spoon, mash all of this together, and then stir so it all combines and becomes creamy. Then stir in 2 tbsp. capers. Refrigerate for a few hours, and then steal some of Lord Grantham’s rye bread and serve on those. 

14. Isis the Yellow Lab’s “Christmas Bark Bark Bark”

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Get Mrs. Patmore or Daisy to do this for you. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and place 2 sleeves of chocolate graham crackers on it in a layer. Put 8 oz. (two sticks) of butter, 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, a little salt, and 1 tsp. each of vanilla extract and peppermint extract in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and stir for three minutes. Congrats. You have made a peppermint toffee, and the two-legged Brits seem to love toffee. Pour the toffee onto the chocolate graham crackers and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. When it’s done, pull it out and sprinkle with the contents of an 11-oz. bag of white chocolate chips. Let them melt in, 5 or 10 minutes, spread this around with a spatula to make an even layer, then sprinkle on 1/2 cup of crushed peppermint candies or candy canes. [Author’s note: I have a candy crusher and they’re incredibly handy for stuff like this, especially if you bake a lot of cookies.] Let it cool for a while, say three hours, then cut it up. Have Mrs. Patmore or Daisy put it in the icebox for you and serve cold.

15. Denker’s “Holiday Cheer”

Put 2 oz. apple cider, 2 oz. Cognac, 1 oz. Cointreau, and 1 oz. juice of a lemon from the Dowager Countess’s private stock (God that woman can drink) in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, shake shake shake, and strain into a coupe glass. Top with a small strip of lemon zest. Recommended servings: 8 per guest.

16. The Dowager Countess’s “Holiday Shrimp Platter”

One can’t spend much time fussing over these lucky pots or whatever Robert calls them. At this time of year there is much correspondence to read and respond to. Dispatch Denker to the village fishmonger for one tray of their cooked shrimp. It will be on a very unappealing tray with a bowl of “cocktail sauce”, whatever that is, in the center. Upon arrival, dump the whole disgraceful mess on the lawn for the birds, because surely no human would eat this. We mustn’t forget our avian friends who bring so much joy into our lives, as opposed to a certain daughter-in-law I might be thinking of.

17. The Pig Farmer’s “E-Z Pigs in a Blanket”

Heat an oven to 375 degrees and grease a cookie sheet. Unroll 1 can of thawed Pillsbury crescent dough. There will be 8 triangles in there. With each triangle, imagine a point in the center and slice to each corner, so you get 3 triangles out of each, or 24 total. Put 1 cocktail wiener on the shortest side of each mini-triangle, roll it up, and put your finished 24 pigs in a blanket on the baking sheet. Bake for 10–15 minutes, long enough so the dough turns a nice brown but doesn’t burn. Make a simple horseradish sauce. Combine 1 cup sour cream, 3 tbsp. creamy horseradish (this comes in jars and is spreadable and just called “English style horseradish”; you might want to use a little less), 1 tbsp. Dijon, and a little salt, and stir. Refrigerate before using. Do this about 8 times and bring all of this, along with your foster child Marigold, to the pot luck, but it’s best to leave the wife at home.

18. Bertie Pelham, 7th Marquess of Hexham’s “Yuletide Surprise”

For each guest over the age of 18 provide 1 1923 Bentley Tourer. For the younger set, 1 pony each.

19. Gwen the Housemaid’s “Ambrosia Salad For When You Care Enough to Bring the Very Worst”

I hate them all and I’m well rid of them. Nonetheless every year I get invited back for the “pot luck,” which is about as much fun as a pelvic exam. In a large bowl, mix 1 can (20 oz.) drained pineapple chunks, 1/2 cup coconut flakes, a 10-oz. jar of maraschino cherries, drained and cut in half, and 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows, more if they’re on special offer at the village shoppe. Carefully add to this 1 15-oz can of drained mandarin orange slices. In another bowl mix 1/2 cup sour cream with 1 8-oz container of Cool Whip, and gently fold this into the fruit mixture. Chill overnight but it’s best if on your (long) walk over to Downton, they wouldn’t dream of sending a carriage, it warms up a bit so you can serve it room temperature to make it even less appealing.

A very Happy Christmas to you all!

avataravataravataravataravataravataravatar

10 Comments

  1. I assume little Lord Farnsworth loads up the pockets of his breeches with pieces of that rum fudge, opens a top floor window, lights them on fire and starts showering the arriving guests with little pieces of flaming doom.

    Muddly the butler catches him and delivers him to Papa who gives a caning he will never forget and then returns him early to the unheated boarding school dormitory where Farnsworth is left to shiver with the unfortunate foreign students cut off from their families due to the coups in their homelands instigated by the parents of the native born students.

    • When I’m not freelancing away, reading trashy tabloids, cooking (for better or ill), and pestering you all on DeadSplinter I get quite bored. I should write more DA fan fiction.

      When I was writing this I name checked one of the characters and to my astonishment I found that all of them have fully fleshed-out biographies. I, Matthew Crawley, apparently have the middle name Reginald. I don’t remember this ever being mentioned on the show, and I’ve watched every episode many, many times. I wonder if Baron Fellowes of West Stafford created these himself to keep all the characters straight, and maybe distributed them to the actors so they could memorize them and step in and say, “I couldn’t have been there because I would have…”

      • @MatthewCrawley – I missed this when it was posted – you should definitely write a Downton Cookbook as an ebook – you would make lots of money. I have a friend who wrote an ebook about how to be a good Costume Dept PA – it’s 250 pages and $50 a pop and she’s made close to $10k from it – talk about a small niche market – and she sells 2-3 a week. Think about all those fans starved for Crawley family content – you might end up being able to buy Highclere Castle with your earnings.

        • Think about all those copyright infringement lawsuits filed by Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, all of which no doubt would have to be litigated in the UK! He is extremely protective of the brand and determined to milk every last shilling out of it. I doubt he’s willing to share, especially with some ghastly American.

  2. This is funny, my daughters stayed up until midnight last night making truffle balls for the neighbors (and some for us).  We are each limited to 1 per day or risk diabetes according to my youngest.  My wife tried to get me to eat all 4 different flavors but then my wife is always trying to kill me.

Leave a Reply