Wine ‘n Dine: A Highclere Castle Lunch


When we visited Highclere Castle last year in July (see this post), I bought the most fabulous book in the gift shop: ‘At home at Highclere – Entertaining at the real Downton Abbey’ and for Easter, we made a couple of recipes out of this book. Let me tell you all about that lunch!

But first a bit about the book: I really love this book and I can certainly recommend it! It was 30 GBP, but it’s worth the money as it gives you a glimpse behind the glitter and glamour of Highclere Castle.

It contains interviews with the people who work behind the scenes: the cook, the keeper, the decorator, the guide,…

Besides these interviews it also tells the story of 5 weekends of hosting at one of Britain’s most prestigious estates and it contains various recipes, so you can try and get that Highclere Castle spirit at home.

My husband is the chef at home, whereas I am more the sous-chef and the host… I can say we complement eachother perfectly when entertaining and we both can be extremely satisfied after another great party at our home 🙂

So when we had family over for Easter lunch, my husband and I decided to make a menu based on some of the recipes in this book. Let me tell you what we served our guests…

First course: Beetroot-cured salmon with a fresh salad


Beetroot-cured salmon (ingredients to serve 6):

250 gr table salt, 250 gr caster sugar, 90 gr fresh dill, 1 kilo of fresh, boneless salmon fillet, 400 gram of raw red beetroot (peeled and coarsely grated)


  • make a green marinade of the table salt, the sugar and the dill: blitz this all up in a food processor



  • spread the marinade evenly over the salmon



  • cover with clingfilm and refrigrate for 18 hours
  • after the marinating rinse the fish under cold water to remove the marinade
  • pat the salmon dry
  • take a board and cover it in clingfilm
  • put the salmon fillets on top and spread them with the grated beetroot



  • wrap the fish in the clingfilm and put back in the fridge for at least 4 hours (preferably longer, if possible up to 48 hours)


  • take the salmon out of the fridge, scrape off the beetroot and slice the salmon into thin slices


  • serve with a fresh salad and some bread and sour cream

I really liked this dish! The recipe was easy to follow and it is perfect to make ahead of time.


Main course: Rack of lamb with pommes dauphinoises, asparagus mousse and stir-fried vegetables

Asparagus mousse (ingredients to serve 10):


100 gr of unsalted butter, 50 ml of olive oil, 3 shallots, 2 garlic cloves, 5 celery stalks, 400 grams of asparagus bottoms, 100 ml of vegetable stock, 400 ml of double cream, 100 ml of whole milk, 100 gr of spinach, 20 mint leaves, 7 leaves of gelatine, grated zest and juice of 1 lemon


  • melt 75 gr of butter with the oil in a pan over a low heat
  • add the diced shallots, the crushed garlic and the chopped celery and asparagus


  • cook for about 5 minutes
  • add vegetable stock, turn up the heat and lit it simmer for about 10 minutes (until the liquid is reduced by half)


  • add the cream and the milk and continue to simmer until the veggies are tender
  • remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then blitz with a stick blender and season to taste
  • add the spinach and the mint and blitz again



  • pass the mixture through a sieve to ensure it completely smooth


  • season to taste
  • soak the gelatine in cold water until soft
  • remove it from the water, squeeze and add it to the vegetable mixture
  • stir well
  • pour the mixture into a tin or mould and cover it with clingfilm
  • refrigerate for at least 8 hours


This mousse was delicious! It can be made in advance which is very handy when you have to cook for a lot of people. It would also be a perfect dish for a hot/cold buffet!

Rack of lamb (ingredients to serve 6):

4 racks of lamb (6-7 bones each), 3 sprigs of rosemary, a couple of tablespoons of red wine,


  • score the back of the lamb racks with a sharp knife
  • season with salt and pepper
  • put them fat side down in a cold frying pan and place over a medium heat to render the fat
  • when the fat side is a nice golden colour, turn the racks to seal all sides


  • create a bed of the rosemary sprigs in an ovenproof dish
  • lay the lamb on top (fat side up) and cook in the oven for 20 minutes (180°C)
  • take it out of the oven, cover in foil and leave it to rest for 10 minutes whilst making the sauce
  • deglaze the roasting tray with the red wine and strain the cooking juices into a warm jug

The lamb was cooked to perfection this way! It was slightly pink and very tender. Yum!

Stir-fried vegetables (ingredients to serve 6):

spears of green asparagus (500 grams), 500 grams of broccoli, 500 grams of young carrots


  • cut the spears in 3-4 cm large pieces
  • cut the broccoli and carrots into small pieces
  • put some rapeseed oil into the wok and stirfry the veggies for 5-10 minutes or until cooked firm to the bite


This recipe was not in the book, it’s something we made up ourselves, but it complemened this dish perfectly. We recommend using rapeseed oil for a stir-fry as it can handle high heat so it won’t burn the veggies.

Pommes dauphinoises (ingredients to serve 6):

10 garlic cloves, 2,5 kilo of large potatoes, 1,5 l of double cream


  • crush the garlic with a bit of salt, stir to make a paste
  • peel the potatoes and cut them into 0.5 cm thick slices
  • put the slices into an ovenproof dish
  • layer the slices
  • season with salt and pepper after each layer and put some of the garlic paste between the layers
  • pour the double cream over the potatoes


  • cover the dish with foil and put in the oven for at least 1 hour (160°C)
  • remove the foil for the final 15 minutes of cooking time to allow for the top to brown

The pommes dauphinoises were soooooo good! You could perhaps add a bit of Gruyère and put it under the grill for a couple of minutes, but we didn’t find this necessary. It would be too overpowering in our opinion. Now you just have the potatoes, the cream and the garlic. Fabulous 😛


Dessert: Mango and lime fool

Mango and lime fool (Ingredients to serve 8):

4 medium mangoes, 500 gr of Greek yoghurt, 2 limes, 150 ml of double cream


  • peel and stone the mangoes
  • add the Greek yoghurt, lime juice and zest
  • blend it all up in a food processor
  • whisk the cream in a bowl until it forms firm peaks
  • gently stir the whipped cream into the manog mixture
  • divide between eight bowls

I garnished the bowls with some blueberries and a tiny bit of mint. This is a very fresh and citrusy cream, perfect for spring and summer!


Well, these are the dishes we served our guests during Easter lunch. They devoured everything, taking second servings which is always a good sign 🙂

I hope these recipes are an inspiration for a spring or summer lunch. And when in Highclere, make sure to buy this book… Enjoy!

Love, Kathleen







16 thoughts on “Wine ‘n Dine: A Highclere Castle Lunch

    1. My book is not specifically a cookbook, so it might be something else, but perhaps there are similar recipes in it? Anyway, we loved cooking out of it 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Toch wel een aantal maanden op voorhand ja. Toen ik de tickets online besteld was er maar 1 timeslot nog beschikbaar in de periode waarin wij gingen, dus heb ik maar direct tickets besteld. Op de dag zelf kon men blijkbaar toch ook nog tickets kopen hoor. Ik denk dat ze een limiet op de online ticketverkoop zetten en dan nog een x aantal bezoekers op de dag zelf binnen laten. Het was wel heel druk binnen, maar je kon overal je tijd nemen en vragen stellen. Wij waren er net bij openingstijd en moesten even aanschuiven voor we binnen konden. Toen we buiten kwamen en eindelijk uit de (veel te kleine!) shop waren geraakt, stond de wachtrij al veel verder. Ik denk dus best ofwel direct bij opening ofwel later op de namiddag je bezoek aanvangen. De grounds zijn ook prachtig. Ik vond het een fantastisch bezoek, zeker omdat ik een Downton Abbey fan ben, maar niet DA-fans appreciëren het ongetwijfeld ook. Groetjes, Kathleen x

      Liked by 1 person

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