These cookbooks will help you dine in the style of seven popular British shows.
Two of my favorite hobbies are collecting English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh cookbooks and watching British TV. Over the years I’ve discovered numerous cookbooks that help me combine these interests. This article shares some favorites that will help you dine in the style of seven popular British shows.
Cookbooks for Downton Abbey Fans
Are you a fan of the Crawley family, Mrs. Patmore, Mr. Carson, and the rest of the Downton Abbey gang? You’re in luck, because there are more than half a dozen cookbooks to help you dine in Downton style.
There are four companion cookbooks in the Downton Abbey Cookery Series: The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook, The Official Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook (you knew there had to be one dedicated to afternoon tea!); The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book; and The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook, which will help you celebrate the holiday in true Crawley style.
The Countess of Carnarvon, chatelaine of Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed, has published At Home at Highclere: Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey and Christmas at Highclere: Recipes and Traditions from the Real Downton Abbey. The books celebrate the history of fine dining and entertaining at this splendid estate and provide insights into running a historic British home.
The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines features more than 150 mouth-watering recipes. The first part of the book feature dishes worthy of the Crawley table, such as mushroom vol-au-vents and poached salmon with hollandaise sauce. The second part features recipes for below stairs meals, such as steak and kidney pie, mutton stew, and bubble and squeak. Some of the recipes are fairly complicated so less ambitious cooks may prefer to enjoy this one as a tasty armchair read.
Cookbooks for Doctor Who Fans
Yes, there’s an official cookbook for Doctor Who, the long-running BBC series that has legions of fans around the globe. Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook by Joanna Farrow features “40 wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey recipes” that are sure to pique your interest. You can try your hand at making Krillitane Monster Muffins, Zygon Pie, Davros’ Third Eye Brownies, and a host of other intriguing recipes. Who wouldn’t be tempted by a ‘Dalektable’ army of cupcakes? The recipes are accompanied by color photographs and detailed instructions.
Unofficial Doctor Who cookbooks include Dining with the Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland and The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods — Unofficial Recipes from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and More by Cassandra Reeder.
Cookbooks for Outlander Fans
Technically, Outlander is an American series but since so much of the series has been filmed in Scotland (even scenes set in France and America) and it stars Scottish heartthrob Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Irish actress Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, I’m giving it honorary British status.
Theresa Carle-Sanders has written two Outlander cookbooks for fans. Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook features recipes for dishes from both the TV show and the novels by Diana Gabaldon. You’ll enjoy the extensive collection of traditional Scottish dishes, such as cullen skink, cock-a-leekie soup, Scotch eggs, bridies, Scotch pies, and bannocks. Carle-Sanders has adapted authentic historical recipes to make them easier for today’s cooks to re-create.
Outlander Kitchen: To the New World and Back Again contains 100 additional recipes inspired by the show and books. It includes a mix of recipes brought to the New World by Scottish immigrants, such as leek and potato soup, colcannon, and seed cakes, and recipes inspired by indigenous foods and early American dishes, such as johnnycake, apple pandowdy, grits, clam chowder, and baked beans.
Cookbooks for Poldark Fans
Whether you’re a fan of the original series or the more recent reboot, you’ll enjoy exploring Jean Graham’s insights into the historical foodways of Cornwall in The Poldark Cookery Book. Some of the ingredients and cooking methods in the book can be difficult to reproduce in contemporary kitchens, so you may prefer to enjoy it as an interesting primer on period foods rather than as a hands-on cookbook.
The Unofficial Poldark Cookbook: 85 Recipes from Eighteenth-Century Cornwall, from Shepherd’s Pie to Cornish Pasties by Tricia Cohen and Larry Edwards is filled with traditional Cornish dishes that have been adapted for modern kitchens. The book is divided into two sections: Manor and Boardinghouse. The Manor section features recipes for dishes that would have been served in the dining rooms at Trenwith, Tregothnan, and other aristocratic homes, such as broccoli and stilton cream soup and apple cider Cornish gamecock. The Boardinghouse section features dishes that were more likely to appear on working class tables, such as shepherd’s pie and figgy ‘obbin (a delicious, traditional Cornish desert).
Cookbooks for Fans of The Crown
There’s no official cookbook for The Crown — although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s one in the works — but there are several cookbooks that will help you feel as if you’re dining with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the Windsor clan.
Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances From a Palace Kitchen by Darren McGrady (who was senior pastry chef at Buckingham Palace and, later, personal chef to Princess Diana) is filled with behind-the-scenes information about the inner workings of the palace kitchens and royal entertaining. It features recipes for dishes that have been served at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle, Sandringham House, Kensington Palace, and on the royal yacht Britannia. You’ll enjoy trying your hand at dishes like parsnip and apple soup, Gleneagles pate, sole murat, lemon mille-feuille, and one of my favorites, Battenberg cake.
A Royal Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace by royal chef Mark Flanagan and deputy master of the royal household Edward Griffiths and Royal Teas: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace by Mark Flanagan include recipes for foods that have been served at the royal table and fascinating information on how to set a table fit for a queen. Even if you decide to skip the more ambitious recipes, you’ll enjoy the unique insights and beautiful photos.
Another option is Tea Fit for a Queen: Recipes & Drinks for Afternoon Tea. It’s published by Historic Royal Palaces, which maintains the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, and four other royal residences. The book includes an introduction by historian Lucy Worsley, 40 recipes, and interesting tidbits about the recipes’ royal connections. It’s published in the UK, so American cooks will need to do some recipe conversions, which can easily be looked up online.
Cookbooks for Fans of Upstart Crow
Upstart Crow offers a humorous take on William Shakespeare’s struggles to write his plays. There isn’t an official companion book for the series but there are some excellent cookbooks that will soon have you cooking like it’s 1599.
Shakespeare’s Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook by Francine Segan is filled with Shakespeare quotes and information on Tudor and Elizabethan dishes like pottage, tarts, and meat pies. Segan has modified the historical recipes to reflect contemporary palates and make it easier to recreate the dishes in modern kitchens.
Another good choice is Fat Rascals: Dining at Shakespeare’s Table by John Tufts. This hefty volume, which is available on Tufts’ website, features more than 150 recipes for foods mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Tufts calls it “a deep dive into the world of Shakespearean cuisine.” Several videos on his website demonstrate how easy it is to recreate the recipes.
For a tongue-in-cheek take on the Bard, try Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas by Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim. Bicks and Ephraim are college professors who specialize in Renaissance drama and literature. Their book features almost three dozen tempting drinks, such as Kate’s Shrew-driver, Beatrice and Benedick’s Much Ado About Frothing, and Julius Caesar’s Et Tu, Brut Champagne Cocktail. There are also more than two dozen recipes for hors d’oeuvres that complement the kicky drinks.
Cookbooks for Fans of The Great British Bake Off
Are you addicted to The Great British Bake Off (airing as The Great British Baking Show in the US)? Then ready, steady, bake! There are a slew of cookbooks that will make you feel like a you’re a contestant on the show.
Some great options include The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking; The Great British Bake Off Everyday; and The Great British Bake Off: Perfect Cakes & Bakes to Make at Home, all by Linda Collister. You’ll get the best results from these recipes if you use a digital scale to measure ingredients. Recipe conversions can be looked up online.
You could also opt for a cookbook written by one of the show’s judges, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, and Prue Leith, or by one of the Bake Off winners. I like 2015 winner Nadiya Hussain’s first cookbook, Nadiya’s Kitchen: Over 100 Simple, Delicious Family Recipes.
Time to Cook
You can buy most of the books in this article at your local independent bookstore. If they’re not on the shelf, staff will happily order them, and you’ll get them in no time.
If you’re interested in learning more about British food, you’ll enjoy Eating British in America, my column for Anglotopia. It highlights British culinary traditions and restaurants, pubs, and other places across the US where you can enjoy authentic English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish food.
So, get out your mixing bowls, fire up the oven, and get ready to start your culinary adventures — while watching the telly, of course!