I wanted to start this post with a way to immediately transition into talking about Downton Abbey, so I thought it would be relevant to mention the fact that my 23rd great grandfather was King Henry III. But then I decided that may be a bit haughty. And then I thought I could transition with telling you all that my 16th great grandmother was Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort of England or that my 12th great aunt was Catherine Howard (yeah, yeah, another queen). But then I thought, “…eh, boring.” And then I thought I would mention that most of my ancestors belonged to the Plantagenets and Arundels or that Elijah Robosson, Colonel in the American Revolution, was my fifth great grandfather. But I know you guys don’t want to hear about my (awesome) family. Besides, I’m no closer to living in Buckingham Palace than any other Joe Blow walkin’ down the street. Let’s talk a little Downton Abbey.
“What’s Downton Abbey?”
Screechy record sounds.
I’m sorry…what? What? It’s only the best, most tenaciously addicting show, a socially acceptable way to watch a soap opera, disguised with elaborate turn-of-the-20th-century fashion and extreme character development and a set design that is perfected by it being set, well, in a real castle. It’s a fascinating story of high society and working class people and, almost surprisingly, you, as the viewer, end up pulling for both sides to win in their separate and sometimes intertwining stories. I’m like an old soul when Sunday nights roll around. I’m glued to PBS, turning up the volume and sitting silently in case I miss some tiny detail that can change the whole meaning of the season’s story. I, undoubtedly, highly recommend it.
I remember watching the wedding episode (Mary and Matthew, of course) and feeling slightly restless when the kitchen was shown. Just imagine it. It’s the biggest wedding to-do anywhere around. VIPs, and I mean V-I-Ps, are arriving to celebrate. History is throwin’ itself down. And you’re the cook. The cook. And you are asked to make, not just a pan of BBQ or hamburgers kept warm with a dirty Sterno, but platters of luxuriously decorated roasted game and perfectly whipped sugared meringues and piping hot silky soup in the purest white and gold china available. Phew. And as much as I love making wedding cakes, I still stress with that one simple task. Props to Mrs. Patmore and her staff. Lots of props.
These crackers would have been made by Mrs. Patmore for guests and/or tea time. They’re not as crackerish as, say, a water cracker, but are a little more hearty, almost like a savory cookie. If you can remember back to when I was cooking a lot of Harry Potter recipes last year, you may remember the book The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. This recipe for Mrs. Patmore’s crackers is from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, having the same publisher as the Harry Potter book, and is written by Emily Ansara Baines. It’s totally cool and gives you recipes for each course for a typical dinner, plus a few recipes that the downstairs staff may have eaten. It’s awesome. Exercise that library card, kids.
mrs. patmore’s rosemary oat crackers
yield: 50-60 crackers
from Emily Ansara Baines’ The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chopped
1/4 cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350º. Pulse oats in a food processor until chopped and fine. Add salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic powder, 1/4 cup flour, baking powder, and butter. Pulse until mixture turns into coarse bread crumbs. Pour in milk and pulse until the ingredients combine to form a dough, approximately 45 seconds.
With a rolling pin, roll dough until it’s 1/8-inch-thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut about 50-60 squares (or rounds). Place squares on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until crackers are lightly browned on the bottom. Transfer crackers to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.
Note: My final product made a cracker that was hearty, but still a little fragile. I think these may be better for eating plain rather than using them to serve other items on, such as chicken salad or a heavy spread.
And now a shoutout to my twin who did a ton of family history research to find out that (switch to rich person voice) our family is royalty. (Switch out of rich person voice) Just kidding, y’all. But ancestral history is so neat and allows you to see how you got where you are now, whether your family is English or from Germany or even if your ancestry stops at a dirt road in the middle of South Carolina. Whoops, I just turned into an old soul again. It actually happens a lot. I’m okay with that.