It seems like ages since we’ve visited the regal halls of Downton Abbey. We’ve gotten over the devastation of last season‘s tragic ending, and are ready to don our long white gloves and lift our pinky fingers with the Crawley clan once more: Season four kicks off on PBS this Sunday, January 5th. To celebrate, we thought it might nice to add a little faded Edwardian charm to our homes — or menus. Here are a few ways you can give your own abbey a bit of Downton-ness.
1. Have a proper cup of tea like Lady Mary.
It amazes us how many people in America don’t know how to make a proper cup of tea. Restaurants are the worst culprits when they bring the teapot full of water and a cup with unopened tea bag on the side. You have to pour the boiling water directly onto the teabag, people! In the teapot! Also, as recommended at Yorkshire Tea‘s site, you should use two teabags per four cup pot. Let the tea brew about five minutes before serving. Having a dainty little cup like Mary’s to sip out of is nice as well. This Noritake Crestwood Gold China set has a very similar elegance.
2. Bake yourself a Bundt cake in a beautiful vintage pan.
The wall of copper cake and tart molds on display in the Downton Kitchen is enviable, but you can start your own today but doing a simple search on Etsy. Acquiring the pan is only half the step. Next you need to whip a lovely cake like Daisy, above. We have some favorites, like this peaches and cream cake, but this ginger one made with molasses and stout by Melissa Clark has been on our bake-soon list for sometime. How very, very British!
3. Dine by candelabra light.
Few things could transport us to post-War England more than dining table lit by candelabra’s. This set from Hawksworth Eyres & Co are heirloom quality. But for a quick fix that won’t break the bank, try this one from Food Service Warehouse for less than $60.
Are you having a Downton viewing party at your home? Tell us how you are celebrating and what you’re looking forward to in the next season. For more inspiration, see our previous Downton posts here.
Lets face it. We don’t make cocktails nearly enough at home. Sure, we serve beer and uncork wine bottles a couple times a week, but when was last time you got out the cocktail shaker and mixed one up? One of our (more fun) resolutions for 2014? Make more cocktails! Starting tonight, with New Year’s Eve 2013. On our bar menu is an old favorite with a slight twist, and a fancy little number that puts the same bottle of cognac to use. Helping us along the way is a new site and subscription service called Julibox. If you subscribe to Julibox for about $40 a month, you will get a box mailed to you that has the fixings for four cocktails plus recipes. (True, a bit expensive for four drinks you make yourself, but a nice gift idea for those want to move beyond craft beer of the month!) These aren’t just any recipes, but recipes that have been developed and heartily tested by expert curators, including Paul Sevigny, a well known Miami bartender (and Chloe’s brother). What we’re excited about is the idea of a cocktail community that exchanges recipes and tales of mixology, which is what the Julibox site curates. In the spirit of sharing, here are two recipes of theirs, both of which use pear cognac. Cheers — And happy new year!!
Winter Side Car
Side cars are one of our favorite cocktails to drink on a cold blustery night. This version is made with pear cognac (or brandy if you can’t find the cognac) and Disaronno. We’ll make this one in a pitcher — so times it by six!
What you need:
1 3/4 oz Xante Pear Cognac
3/4 oz Disaronno liquor
the juice of one lemon
lemon rind twist
How To Make
1. Rub the a slice of lemon around the rim of a martini glass.
2. Pour a pile of sugar into a saucer plate and dip the glass into it.
3. Pour the cognac and Disaronno into a shaker filled with ice.
4. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
5. Shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds.
6. Strain into the sugar-rimmed glass and garnish with a twist.
Because everyone needs a little bubbly on New Year’s Eve, this lovely drink uses the same cognac as the Winter Side Car, but is topped off with some sparkling wine.
What You Need:
1 3/4 oz Xante Pear Cognac
2 oz brut champagne or sparkling wine
1 tsp of granulated sugar
juice of half a lemon
How To Make:
1. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
2. Add cognac and shake until very cold.
3. Strain into a large coup glass.
4. Top with champagne and garnish with a twist.
Can you believe we have only one weekend left until Christmas?! I am seriously missing the time we lost because Thanksgiving was so late this year. My weekend will be a cookie-making frenzy in an attempt to catch up before the big day, because it just isn’t the holidays without having certain cookies in the house.
One of my musts are pizzelles, which I make on my waffle press religiously each year in honor of my Great Aunt Jean, who could have started her own business based on the hundreds she made and gave away every year. I also will make a version of a Russian teacake from this Betty Crocker recipe — delicious butter balls covered in confection sugar.
Dark chocolate crinkles are another staple, and I have my eye on this recipe from Crunchy Creamy Sweet.
I am also craving pignoli cookies, like the ones I used to buy when I lived right in the heart of Little Italy, on Mulberry Street, in the 90s.
What are your holiday cookie staples? I’d love to know.
It was just about a year ago that we first fell in love with the Soma water filter via their Kickstarter campaign. This holiday season the gorgeously designed filtration system is the darling of Christmas Gift guides, popping up everywhere from foodie magazines to T Magazine. Now you can buy Soma for $49 from Birchbox, who reminds us to use filtered water for our ice cubes, too. For that price you get the pitcher and one filter, which needs to be replaced every two months (replacements are $13 each). Sign your gift recipient up for a subscription service, and they will arrive in the mail just in time to change them.
When you show up at that holiday party next weekend, don’t just bring a bottle of libations to spread good cheer, bring a display-worthy bottle to put it in. We love this one from West Elm, which is cheeky and has a Boardwalk Empire kind of vibe. We recommend arriving with that in one hand, and a bottle of Apple Jack in the other–though it works great for homemade microbrews, too!