Have you ever seen the PBS TV show Downton Abbey? If you have, this recipe book may be just the thing for you! Today’s recipes come from Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards. I love the history in Downton Abbey. I am always fascinated by the food and the way of life from this time period. What I loved about this cookbook was that it showed why each recipe would have been usual in that time. For example, because the estates generally produced their own cheese, this meant that including cheese in dishes made them less expensive. So, dishes like today’s recipes would have been easy to make as the ingredients would be easily obtained. I also liked how the author explained how certain dishes were served. For example, the Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup was served for “special guests” and instead of the individuals serving themselves as with other dishes, the footman would dish up the soups. I also thought it interesting that soup was usually served warm rather than hot because blowing on your soup before eating it was considered improper. I also found it fascinating that certain foods were required by their customs to be served together. For example, you could not serve bread without serving soup at the same meal. I hope that you enjoy today’s recipes and tidbits of information on the Edwardian era as I did!
Cottage Cheese Bread
2 cups flour
¾ tsp salt
1 cup butter, chilled and diced
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 egg yolk, beaten
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Add the butter and using a pastry blender or a pastry fork, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal (crumbly).
- Stir the cottage cheese into the flour mixture until you have a dough.
- Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead 5 minutes.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle and then fold it into thirds.
- Repeat step 4 and then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
- Unwrap the dough and place it upon a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a thickness of ^-inch.
- Using a round biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits.
- Place the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with the beaten egg yolk.
- Place into the oven and bake 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
To make it easier, I cheated a little bit. I used my food processor (with the blade attachment) to mix the dough. I pulsed it first to mix the flour, salt, and butter until it was crumbly. Then I added the cottage cheese to the flour mixture and processed the mixture until it formed a dough ball and let it knead for about 30 seconds. I then started at step 4 and followed them the rest of the way. Just to be clear, the electronic version of the book that I used said to roll them out to ^-inch thickness. I had no idea what that meant so I rolled them out to ¼ inch thickness. This gave me about 16 rolls that I cut out using the bottom of a glass. Don’t forget to brush them with the egg yolk! If you forget, your rolls will not brown. I forgot to brush them at first and had to add it halfway through the cooking time (which also meant it took me a little longer than 10 minutes to cook them). Oops. The biscuits are done when the top is a nice golden brown.
These rolls were delicious! I don’t know if you’ve ever tried the pan de queso (cheese bread) that they serve at Brazilian restaurants, but these biscuits reminded me of that. The exterior was light and flaky and the interior was creamy. The flavor is mild, but creamy and cheesy. These biscuits are very different, but very tasty.
Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 Tablespoon butter
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 cups chicken stock
½ tsp dry mustard
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ tsp hot pepper sauce
3 Tablespoons minced chives
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, potatoes, and garlic and saute 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook 10 minutes.
- Remove the contents of the saucepan to a food processor and puree.
- In the saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the dry mustard and heavy cream.
- Stir the puree into the saucepan and simmer 5 minutes.
- Stir in the cheddar cheese and hot sauce and keep stirring until the cheese has melted.
- Ladle into serving bowls, top with some chives, and serve.
I almost followed this recipe exactly. Well, if you know me at all, I am kind of a queen of substitutions. I didn’t have chicken stock so I used chicken bouillon, I didn’t have heavy cream so I substituted half and half, and I didn’t have fresh chives so I used dried. I was a little concerned at first because of the amount of onion in the soup, but it turns out to be just right. The soup doesn’t call for any salt, but mine turned out just right without adding any. I did use the chicken bouillon powder which has some salt so that might be why. So, depending on what kind of chicken broth you use, you may need to add salt. Also, make sure you use sharp cheddar cheese. If you use mild, the flavor won’t be as bold and you may be disappointed with the result.
If you make it like it’s written (or like me where it is almost there), this soup has incredible flavor! I wanted to go back for more. I think that next time I will use a blender rather than my food processor to puree the vegetables (as a side note, you may need to puree in batches). I think the blender will do better at getting the soup to be more creamy. I also will be sure to use heavy cream because I think that will make the final result even creamier. Even so, this soup was addicting just as I said I made it. I can see why it would be a soup to serve to royalty!