Easy Apple Charlottes
This simple, yet elegant English dessert is noted for not having been served on Downton Abbey in Season 1: Mrs. Patmore, the cook, didn’t want to make it because she couldn’t read the recipe due to her failing eyesight.
Pamela Foster recommends serving the charlottes with a high-quality vanilla ice cream or creme anglaise.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the ramekins
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2/3 cup nonfat milk
1 tablespoon superfine sugar, plus more for sprinkling
10 slices stale challah or raisin bread, 1/2 -inch thick (about 12 ounces), crusts removed
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease four 5.4-ounce ramekins with butter.
Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the apples, vanilla extract, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon, and mix well. Cook on medium-low heat until the apples are tender and any liquid has evaporated; this should take 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the variety of apples you are using. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. The mixture should thicken and turn a medium caramel color.
Combine the eggs, milk and 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Mix until fully combined.
Use a 2 1/2 -inch round cookie cutter to cut out four circles from the bread; these will serve as the base of each portion. Alternatively, use a clean ramekin and a sharp knife to trace and cut your circles. Cut the remaining bread into rectangles about 1 inch wide. Cube, dry and store any excess bread scraps in an airtight container for another use.
Quickly dip each bread circle in the egg mixture and place one in the bottom of each ramekin. Then dip the rectangles, standing them upright around the inside edge of each cup, extending above the rim so you can fold them over later to make a lid. Each ramekin will use 6 or 7 strips.
Fill each ramekin with the apple mixture. Add a piece or two of bread to the top and fold over the rectangular pieces of bread so the package is sealed completely. It should look like a little crown. Sprinkle each top with a little superfine sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool slightly, then run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto individual plates.
Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust each portion with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.
– Adapted from Foster’s
Abbey Cooks Entertain
(Pamela Powered, 2012)
Sauté Chicken Lyonnaise
As the Downton Abbey series first opens, the Titanic has just gone down at sea, taking with it the heir of the elegant Yorkshire estate. Perhaps he had recently eaten this dish, served to the ship’s first-class passengers as part of a multicourse dinner.
French food – or at least food with French names – was quite popular in England in the early 1900s. We don’t know the exact recipe of the dish served on the Titanic, but food cooked a la Lyonnaise probably would have included onions, tomato and vinegar.
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (may substitute 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
6 (about 2 1/2 pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (tenderloins removed), patted dry
1 large egg
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees or to the lowest possible temperature.
Place the flour, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the thyme in a sturdy plastic food storage bag, seal and shake to combine. Beat the egg in a medium bowl. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then transfer to the bag. Seal and shake to coat the chicken in the flour mixture. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken pieces in the pan, smooth side down, working in batches if necessary. Cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, then turn the pieces over and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown on the second side. (The chicken will not be cooked through.) Transfer to an ovenproof platter and place in the oven to keep warm. (If the oven can’t be set as low as 170, place the platter in the oven, turn the oven off and keep the oven door closed.)
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Stir in the onions, garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon of thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until a light golden brown.
Add the wine and vinegar; cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the tomato paste, then the broth and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced. Return the chicken to the skillet, along with any accumulated juices. Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the liquid, then cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or until the temperature of the thickest part of a chicken piece registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Makes 6 servings.
– Adapted from Abbey Cooks Entertain by Pamela Foster (Pamela Powered Inc., 2012)
A 1920s cookery book recommends these potatoes as a side dish for a pre-theater dinner. They would accompany a green vegetable, such as peas or green beans, on a serving platter.
Make ahead: The potato mixture can be covered and refrigerated a day in advance; or the balls can be formed and rolled in the crumbs and then refrigerated, loosely covered, a day in advance. Bring to room temperature before baking.
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, or into sixths if the potatoes are large
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup plain fine dried bread crumbs (may substitute finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for half of the bread crumbs)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Line a work surface with a few layers of paper towels.
Fill a large pot with several inches of water, add the onion wedges and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onion is very soft, about 40 minutes, keeping the water at a low boil. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onion to a colander and allow to drain for several minutes, then transfer to the paper towels. Use more paper towels to press on the onion, extracting as much of the moisture as possible. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with non-stick cooking oil spray.
Add the potatoes to the water in the pot; add water if needed to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered for 12 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain in a colander.
Return the empty pot to the stove over medium heat. Return the potatoes to the pot and cook, tossing, for 1 to 2 minutes or until their moisture has evaporated.
Use a potato ricer to shred the potatoes into a large mixing bowl, or place the potato pieces in the mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher.
Add the puréed onion to the potatoes and combine, then quickly beat in the butter and egg yolks. Add the salt and pepper. Beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream, keeping the mixture thick enough to hold its shape; if it is too thin, return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, to dry it out a little.
Use a fork to beat the remaining whole egg in a small bowl. Spread the bread crumbs on a small plate. Use your hands to form the potato mixture into 21 golf-ball-size balls (about 1 1/2 ounces each). Brush the balls with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a little parsley, then dip them in the crumbs, rolling to coat evenly. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, until heated through. The potato balls will brown slightly. Serve hot. Makes about 21 small puffs (5 to 7 servings).
– Adapted from Kitchen Essays, by Agnes Jekyll (first published in 1922 by Thomas Nelson & Sons, reprinted in 2008 by Persephone Books)