I’m a Downton Abbey addict, so along with some friends I’ve formed a Downton TV-watching group. It’s a good excuse to invite friends over and entertain them with cozy-toes winter food on a chilly wintry weekend evening.

We’ve decided that on Downton Sundays, each of us takes a turn hosting the group, providing a simple dinner that we can eat around the table, then finish with dessert in front of the TV—lubricated with a little cocktail wine and a decent ‘plonk’ for dinner, an inexpensive but still very amenable wine.

The rules are that it must be a no muss-no-fuss menu, ending with a bowl-on-lap dessert. This makes entertaining an easy pleasure for the host, with a cheap and cheerful menu that can be shopped for quickly, prepared without hiring a team of cooks, and a clean-up that’s a simple scrape, stack, pack in the washer rack.

My turn is this coming weekend. Because I like easy Sundays with just re-heating to do, I’m planning a menu that I can put together without fuss on Saturday afternoon. I’m not trying to impress anyone—just having good friends to share a good time with good food. My friends often ask me to make this simple curry for them or as “family meal” in my kitchen, so I’ll share it with you here at WVFC.

I shop on Saturday morning. (Do ask your butcher for fresh, organic chicken.) In the afternoon, prep the chicken and set it to braise in the oven while the rice cooks on the stove top. Wash and spin dry the salad leaves and quick-whisk the dressing. Cut up the apples for the crumble, add the dried cranberries, cook the mixture lightly, make the crumble topping, and assemble. By then the chicken’s done, so pop the crumble in the oven and let that cook till it bubbles happily around the edges.

All that’s left for Sunday is to chill a few bottles of Prosecco, set a simple table with a winter fruit centerpiece, and an hour or so before your guests arrive, unwrap the cheese and set it out on a tray, accompanied by a few grapes, dried fruit, and olives. Slice the baguette and chapatis, pop the chicken in the oven, put the rice in the microwave to re-heat, and welcome your chilled guests to a hearty, warming, homey dinner where you can all go to town on the characters in Downton and thoroughly enjoy yourselves!

Here’s the menu I’ll be serving this weekend. The recipe for my Quick Chicken Curry follows in a separate post.


Cheese board with olives, grapes, dried apricots and baguette



Quick Chicken Curry with Texmati rice (American basmati rice)

Warmed Chapati bread (from Indian grocery)

Cotes du Rhone


Watercress, basil and frisee salad with spicy sesame-lime dressing


Warmed apple & cranberry crumble with vanilla ice cream



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  • Karen January 15, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    In addition to the things I mentioned in my previous Comment, here are a couple more items that you might want to fix in this recipe:

    a) Recipe calls for 1/4 cup of olive oil. Then the directions say, “Heat a saute pan. Add olive oil…” and “Heat the casserole. Add olive oil…” So, is the 1/4 cup of olive oil intended to be shared equally between the saute pan and the casserole? It’s unclear.

    b)Recipe says, “If necessary, add more salt…” “More” suggests to me that I should have already put in some salt, but there is no salt listed anywhere else in the recipe, nor in the ingredients.


  • Karen January 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Ro, now that I’ve gone shopping and am ready to cook this, as I look at the recipe I see carrots and potatoes listed as ingredients but the directions do not mention them. When do they get added?

    (Also the garam masala is listed as an ingredient but not mentioned in the directions, but I assume that that gets added with the other spices. Correct?)

  • Karen January 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    This is perfect, because tomorrow night is my turn to host my own Downton Abbey – watching group, and now thanks to you I’ve got the menu and even the recipe! Love this…thanks again!