“Downton Abbey” and a spot of tea

downton-abbey-season-4-cast

(In my British accent. . . )

January has become a most important month for many of us who have anticipated the return of the infamous, and highly scandalous PBS drama television series “Downton Abbey”. Creator Julian Fellowes magnificently captures the life of Britain’s aristocratic Crawleys and their servants. I’ve always loved Masterpiece Theater, and frequently get hooked on many the shows. But I particularly like “Downton Abbey” for its authentic history, drama, class system between the aristocrats and the servants, and of course the filming, scenery, and costumes.

At the finally of season 3, I sat with my mouth wide open as I watched the truck hit Matthew Crawley’s vehicle! I had no idea that Dan Stevens was leaving the show in spite of reports months before. So no wonder I deeply inhaled, blinked repeatedly, and pinched myself back into reality seconds after Matthew’s fate was revealed!

Well, 11 months have gone by between the last traumatic episode and the Season 4 premiere, and Sunday nights are once again reserved for crumpets and a spot of tea. (in my American accent) . . . well maybe not the crumpets.

The phrase a spot of tea is certainly known in the UK but the US as well. It is mainly a British expression, but to Americans it means tea by itself. To the Brits it means full afternoon tea, a light refreshment around 4pm that includes sandwiches and cakes as well as a nice cup of tea. In any case, I love tea. One of my favorite gifts this holiday season was a cast iron Japanese tea-pot from my daughter. It comes with an infuser so that the tea bag or leaves can brew while the water boils. I particularly enjoy Revolution Citrus Spice Tea.

Cast iron tea pots can be quite expensive, but World Market Cost Plus has them for under $20.

Japanese Cast Iron Tea PotTea infuserRevolution Citrus Spice Tea

I’ve included in this post, how to care for your pot, (in my British accent) . . .  and a lovely tea sandwich recipe to enjoy with tonight’s episode. . . Bon appetite!

Chicken-Mandarin Orange Spread Tea Sandwiches

Ingredients

12 raisin bread slices
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup mandarin orange segments

Preparation

Cut crusts from bread slices. Cut bread slices into 4 triangles, and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until toasted.

Combine cream cheese and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Spoon 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture onto 1 side of each raisin bread triangle; top each with a mandarin orange segment.

Cast Iron Teapot Care Instructions

Proper care of a cast iron teapot will afford you a lifetime of use. After each use, allow teapot to cool completely before cleaning. Rinse and gently clean pot, cover and infuse thoroughly with warm water only. Do not use soaps or detergents. Wipe the outside dry with a clean cloth while the pot is still warm. Invert the pot to air dry before replacing infuser and lid. Avoid contact with salt and oils. Due to the iron content of the teapot, we recommend the use of a trivet to protect table linens and surfaces.

In the unlikely event of rust, the pot can still be used. Rust from the teapot is non-toxic and perfectly safe. In fact, many Japanese tea connoisseurs actually prefer the taste of tea from a rusted iron teapot!

If rust bothers you, clean the rusted area with a soft brush, then fill the pot with used tea leaves and boiling water. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, discard and rinse. Tannic acid in the tea reacts with the rust and forms a natural seal, helping to prevent the re-occurrence of rust.

The benefits of using a cast iron teapot is that they are extremely durable and will last for generations! They have an excellent ability to retain heat. Made of specially purified cast iron, they are a symbol of strength and unity.

(Instructions by The Minister of Fire and Water)

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