Friday, February 05, 2016

Well-Planned Simplicity: Dinner without a Maid.


My search for “novel desserts” yesterday led me to an article in The Mail (Adelaide) of 31 May 1924, and I thought you might find the whole piece interesting and fun.

DINNER WITHOUT A MAID
Hospitality need not be limited to the woman who has a maid or a cook to serve her meals. There are many women who would like to ask their friends to a little informal meal which they themselves have prepared, but hesitate to do so on account of the labor entailed.
A dinner means four courses at least, but all the courses need not entail cooking. Desserts and savories can be served cold, while fresh fruit and salads are always attractive, and lend themselves to much variety in the manner of serving. It is a mistake to attempt too much, it only tends to disorder, which results in a tired and flurried person instead of the well-poised hostess.
The pleasure in these delightful informal dinners lies in their well-planned simplicity, and in the big returns in satisfaction for the small amount of time and labor required. The menu detailed below ought to be manageable without difficulty in a small apartment where the lady of the house reigns supreme and
alone.
MENU.
Puritan Soup.
Steamed Veal and Cauliflower
Mashed Potatoes.
Pineapple Wheels
Cheese Balls with Lettuce
Coffee

[PURITAN SOUP]
Required:— 3 potatoes, 2 bunches water cress, 2 cupfuls hot milk, 1 tablespoonful flour, 1 oz. butter, seasoning and toast.
Choose good-sized potatoes. Wash and peel them and cut them in quarters. Cook them in boiling salted water until tender, then drain, reserving the liquid. Press the potatoes through a sieve or vegetable presser while still hot, and return them to the saucepan. Add 2 cupfuls of the water in which the potatoes were boiled, and bring this to simmering point. Meanwhile wash, the leaves of the watercress, drain, and chop them finely. Add them to the soup mixture along with the hot milk, and season with pepper and salt to taste. Mix the flour to a smooth paste with about 2 tablespoonfuls of water or cold milk, add to the soup, and stir until blended. Put in the butter broken in small pieces, and cook a few minutes longer.
Serve with toasted bread.
STEAMED VEAL AND CAULIFLOWER.
Choose a nice fleshy piece of veal from 2 to 2 ½ lb. in weight. Wipe it carefully with a damp cloth, and tie it in shape with string, or wrap it in a piece of muslin if necessary. Prepare some vegetables — carrot, turnip, onion, and celery— about a cupful of each cut in slices— and put them into a stew pan. Barely cover with cold water, bring to the boil, and lay the veal on the top.
The meat must not sink into the liquid, but be cooked with the steam only. Cover it with greased paper, put on a tight-fitting lid, and cook slowly by the side of the fire until tender. About two hours should be allowed. When required, lift the veal on to a hot dish, remove the fastening, and coat with tomato sauce. Garnish with cauliflower, and serve mashed potatoes separately.
Tomato Sauce. — ½ pint tomato puree made from fresh or tinned tomatoes, 1 ½ oz. butter, 1 ½ oz. flour, stock and seasoning. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour, cooking the two together for a minute or two. Add the tomato puree and stir until boiling. Thin down with some of the stock from the vegetables under the veal. As this is strongly flavored there is no occasion to
use extra vegetables in the making of the sauce. Add pepper and salt to taste, and strain before using.
Cauliflower Garnish.— Cook the cauliflower in the usual way and drain it well. Break it up into small flowerets, and reheat these when required in a small quantity of butter with pepper and salt.
Mashed Potatoes.— Boil 2 lb. of potatoes, drain and dry them. Put them through a sieve or vegetable presser. Melt 2 oz. of butter or margarine in a saucepan, put in the potatoes with a teacupful of hot milk, 1 pepper and salt. Mix and beat well, then pile the potatoes neatly on a greased dish that will stand the heat of the oven. Mark with a knife, or the back of a fork, brush over with a little beaten egg or milk, and brown in the oven.
CHEESE BALLS WITH LETTUCE.
Take any nice cream cheese and roll it into balls with the butter hands. Place these on small round cheese biscuits that have been lightly spread with butter. Arrange the biscuits on a dish and garnish with small leaves of lettuce or watercress. A little finely-chopped pickle may be sprinkled over the biscuits if something more piquant is desired.
PINEAPPLE WHEELS.
This is a novel dessert, and yet it is one that can be quickly and easily prepared. It has also the advantage of being served cold, and can be finished off beforehand. Cut 6 or 7 rounds of sponge cake, or any other white cake, about 3 ½ inches in diameter and ½ inch in thickness. Place on the top of each a round slice of pineapple. (This can be bought in tins in whole round slices with a hole in the middle.) Boil up a teacupful of the pineapple syrup with 1 teaspoonful of instantaneous gelatine, a squeeze of lemon juice, and two or three drops of pink coloring. Strain this, and when beginning to set pour over the wheels. Place a crystallised cherry in the centre of each, and decorate round with small pieces of cherry. Leave in a cool place to set.
BEFORE DINNER IS SERVED.
The soup should be entirely finished and just left in the saucepan at the side of the fire.
The veal should be dished and left standing on a saucepan of water with a cover over it.
The potatoes should be in the oven and ready browned.
The sweet and savory should be cold and ready in the dining room.
Coffee: — If this is served the tray should be prepared as far as possible beforehand.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

A Sweet Change: Novel Desserts.

A Sweet Change: Novel Desserts.

After the last few days of heavy-going siege and prison food, I thought we needed something sweet and delicious. I have searched Australian newspaper archives for “novel desserts” and here are some of the treats that I have found:

Baked Bananas, with orange or lemon sauce, make a novel dessert and one easy to prepare. Peel the skin from one side of the bananas, and loosen it all around, but do not remove, and lay the fruit in a long baking dish. Dust each one with sugar, and bake 20 minutes at a moderate heat. To make the sauce, mix a teaspoonful of corn-starch with a fourth of a cup of sugar. Heat the juice of three large oranges; add the sugar and corn starch, and cook until it thickens slightly.
The Week (Brisbane, Qld.) 31 October 1902.

Blanc Mange Surprise.—Make a single layer of plain white cake. In a similarly sized tin have ready a layer of blanc mange. In a third layer the same size, have a thick meringue, making this by filling the tin partly full of water, arranging the uncooked meringue on this, and baking the same as if it were a pie. To serve, spread the cake with a thick layer of fruit jelly; reverse the blanc mange on the jelly spread cake, and carefully remove the meringue, using two cake turners. When cut this novel dessert will be a complete surprise to all at table, and few will understand how the meringue was baked on the blanc mange.
Warwick Daily News (Qld,) 5 November 1919

Oranges may be used in many delicious dishes from the fruit cocktail to the dessert course. For a novel dessert to serve six, cut a slice from the top of six large oranges and cut the pulp. Remove stones from eighteen dates and chop the dates fine. Mix this with the orange pulp and add two tablespoons cocoanut and one-quarter pound broken walnut meats. Fill the orange shells with the mixture and top each orange with a marshmallow. Place the prepared oranges on a baking sheet and bake in a slow oven until the fruit is heated through and the marshmallow a golden brown.
Chronicle (Adelaide) 16 May 1929

Novel Dessert with Quinces.
Porcupine Quinces.
Pare and core four quinces and cook them until tender in one cupful of water and one cupful of sugar. Keep tightly covered while cooking on a slow fire until they become deep pink. As soon as they are done, fill the centres with chopped nuts and pierce the outside with blanched almonds, cut lengthwise in strips. Add one teaspoonful of powdered gelatine to the syrup and pour over the quinces.
News (Adelaide) 25th April 1932

Fritters are Appetising
Dessert Recipes
(By "Rosa Beeton")
The Winner of This Week's Recipe Prize of 10/- is Mrs. M. Scandrett, of Leader
street, Goodwood, who forwarded a recipe for novel dessert fritters. Her recipe
which is simply made, appears below with other entries from readers.
Sweet Fritters
Take three tablespoonfuls of rice; boil until swollen, then drain well. Mix four ounces of cleaned currants with the rice,add a little grated lemon peel and sugar to taste. Stir into the mixture three beaten eggsand make into a good batter with sufficient flour. Fry in hot fat a tablespoonful at a time until a golden brown. Dust over with sugar and serve.
News (Adelaide) 26 August 1933.

Crisp and Delicious
Fruit Crusties Make Novel Dessert For Table.
Second prize of 10/- is awarded to Miss Merle Collet, Cyprus-street, North Ipswich, for a novel and delicious sweet— fruit crusties.
Fruit Pastry.
Chop ½ cup shortening into 2 even cups well sifted flour, to which ½ teaspoon salt has been added. Then add 4 tablespoons juice of whatever fruit is to be served with crusties. When thoroughly mixed, roll out on a floured board and cut into the desired shapes.
Use fruit juices for thinning, as this gives crusties the advantage over ordinary piecrusts mixed with water. The colder the fruit juices and the firmer the shortening the crisper the crust will be.
Orange Crusties.
Use orange juice for thinning the pastry. After cutting the dough, which should be rolled to the thickness of 1 in., spread with the orange juice, allowing 1 dessertspoon for the top of each crustie. The orange sauce is madeby mixing the chopped pulp of 2 oranges, free from any white, with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1 tea spoon ground cinnamon. After the crusties have been spread with the sauce sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on them, and on top of this a little grated rind of the  orange. Bake in a quick oven and serve cold.
Pineapple Crusties.
Make the sauce with a small size tin of shredded pineapple or, an equal amount of fresh pineapple, minced fine and mixed with 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and the smallest size bottle of cherries, chopped fine. Allow 1 dessertspoon for each crustie. Before slipping into the oven sprinkle each with a little extra sugar and lemon Juice. For thinning the crust either the liquid from the cherries or pineapple can be used.
Apple Crusties.
The pastry foundation for apple crusties should be mixed with orange juice and a little nutmeg for extra flavoring. The sauce for the top of the crusties is made of 1 cup of chopped apples, 1 saltspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons minced raisins, the whole moistened w:th cup orange juice. Cook ingredients until the apple is soft. When cold spread on the crusties, adding a tiny bit of butter, extra sugar, and the grated rind of the orange. Apple crusties are delicious with cheese for the afternoon tea. Arrange the cheese four strips on each plate, crossing them in log fashion.
Prune Crusties.
To one cup stewed prunes, free from skin and stones, add 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let these ingredients simmer together for 10 minutes. When cold spread on the individual crusties cut in oblong strips. The prune-water is used to moisten the piecrust. Half a blanched
almond can be added to the top of each crustie.

Truth (Brisbane, Qld.) Sunday 11 November 1934

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Prison Food: Philadelphia 1874.


Monday’s recipe source was The Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy (Philadelphia, 1868,) which was published annually under the direction of "The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons." I was sure there would be another story or two from a journal with such a theme, and I was right. Today I want to share another prison food story with you, but first, I give you the quotation which appears in the front matter:

And may a good Providence deliver us from the evil of attempting to coin money out of the crimes of our fellow beings, by sacrificing the moral and religious interests of our prisoners to the desire of making a prison a source of pecuniary profit. In this matter at least we "cannot serve God and Mammon."

The society certainly pursued its research with great zeal, and over many decades it obtained information about prison conditions from many locations in the United States, Britain, Europe, and elsewhere, so that they could be compared with those in Pennsylvania. The 1874 volume contains the following information on the dietary in two local prisons:

COMPARISONS OF FOOD AND PUNISHMENTS.
An opportunity is presented to us to institute a comparison between the practice of prisons abroad and those in our own City, and we use it first in shewing how prisoners are fed in the County Prison and in the Penitentiary in this City, and then presenting the dietaries of European prisons. To those who take an interest in the fare of prisons, especially those who would alleviate the miseries of public prisons, this kind of knowledge must be interesting, if not useful. The same authority which we cite to show the difference between prison fare in Philadelphia and the dietaries of European prisons, gives us the means of comparing the criminal code of the states of Europe with that of this Commonwealth, and especially the discipline of the prisons of this City and those in different parts of Europe.
DIETARY.—PHILADELPHIA.
Among the difficulties of arranging for a steady and satisfactory administration of a large prison, is that of providing a good dietary. Not merely the supply of good food and good cooking, but especially with the insurance of a proper variety so as to keep up the appetite of the prisoner as well as to gratify it. This difficulty is much greater in a county prison than in a penitentiary, because in the former there is such a constant change in the prisoners and in their number, that it is difficult to provide with any exactness.
In the Philadelphia County Prison the arrangement for supply is something as follows:
Breakfast.
Coffee sweetened with sugar, white bread.
While these articles are served out with some reference to equality of shares, there is really little or no limit, excepting the appetite of the prisoner, more is asked without exciting the astonishment or ire of any official; and the gauge of the wants of each prisoner is soon taken and a sufficiency for him is served.
Dinner.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, mutton is served. The soup made from the best sheep that are brought to the market, and the meat is served with it. It has been found much better to receive certain cuts of the best mutton than to take the supply in the whole carcasses, and general satisfaction was expressed by the prisoners at the change, when it was made last summer.
On Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, soup is made from beef, and the meat from which the soup is made is served at the same time with the soup, though separate from it. The soup for every day in the year is seasoned with herbs and enriched with rice or some other appropriate vegetable matter, and bread supplied ad libitum.
In the winter, usually once in two weeks, (on Sunday,) pork is supplied to the prisoners, and beans usually served with the meat, and occasionally bean soup is served with the beef. Good potatoes at all times.
For Supper.
Part of the prisoners use cocoa, sweetened with sugar and the others have tea, sweetened with sugar. There is no limit to these supplies, a prisoner can have from half a pint to a pint and a half, with as much good white flour bread as he asks for.
Persons of either sex who are under special care of the physician, receive extra food, and are served at times to suit themselves.
One of the most important parts of prison aliment is bread, and in the County Prison, the bread supplied to the prisoners of all grades is equal to the best purchased at the bakeries of the City, few families have better bread on their tables than is supplied to the prisoners. It has been demonstrated that good flour at a fair price is cheaper than poor flour at a low price. Arrangements have been made for some additional variety in the food of the prisoners.
What may be called "the better class" of prisoners, those who have fared best before they entered the prison, are almost without exception satisfied and gratified with this food. There are usually, in all such institutions, many who, though perhaps finding the food better than they had expected when they first entered the place, are unwilling to submit to rules of order, propriety, cleanliness and regularity, necessary to such a place, without fault finding. Hence it is not unusual while enquiring along the cells of male convicts to hear the inmates of several cells express their satisfaction with treatment and food, while those in a cell next to these declare the food intolerable in quality, and deficient in quantity. These evils of the grumblers are scarcely known in Europe, strict discipline and severe application of penalties, lead the convict there to quiet submission; while excessive out-of-door interference leads a few of the inmates of our Prison to undervalue the advantages which they enjoy beyond what they had in foreign jails, and to overrate the inconveniences of confinement, and the want of artificial stimulants, and the necessity of conforming to general rules.
Enquiry shows that the amount of beef supplied to each prisoner daily is a little over twelve ounces of meat, independent of bone and gristle. This is by far a larger amount of meat than is contained in the dietary of any European prison, and is found, with very few exceptions, satisfactory to the prisoners.
For The Sick.
The physician of the prison has complete direction of the dietary of every prisoner reported as unwell, and food of a good quality, from beef tea to chickens, is supplied, and such appliances as may be prescribed by the "Doctor." Mutton chops, beef steak, and butter for the bread are usual for the convalescent. Of course such provisions are furnished only on the order of the physician.
Eastern Penitentiary.
The following is the established dietary of the Eastern Penitentiary, in this City; of course all gives way to the wants of the sick, and the directions of the physician:—
Breakfast.Every Morning.—Coffee made of Rio coffee, two pounds, and roasted rye, two pounds; with one pound, or one and a half pounds, bread.
Dinner.Sunday.—Beef, soup, with beans and potatoes.
Monday.—Beef and soup.
Tuesday.—Mutton, soup, and potatoes.
Wednesday.—Beef and soup.
Thursday.—Mutton, soup, and potatoes.
Friday.—Beef and soup.
Saturday.—Mutton, soup, and potatoes.
Supper.—Tea and bread.
During three months of the year, sour crout and pork, one dinner in each week.
Quantity of meat about one pound for each individual.

There is a dearth of historical recipes for prison food, for the obvious reason that it was generally considered necessary for humane reasons only to provide food with sufficient caloric value and basic nutritional requirements, and for disciplinary reasons to be bereft of any enhancement or artifice.  

I did however find a recipe for soup from the dietary of the prison system in Newcastle, Northumberland, England, 1838.

The soup is prepared according to the following recipe (as given by the contractor) at 8d. per gallon.
For 100 gallons of soup.
100 lbs. of beef.                    10 ½ lbs of onions or leeks.
67 lbs. of barley.                   10 ¼ lbs. of salt.
53 lbs. of peas.                      10 oz. of pepper.

The food appears to be of good quality, and, as will be seen, is abundant in quantity. Some of the prisoners, however, remarked, and I did not at all doubt their declaration, that "they could eat more if they had it." Many of the prisoners are keel-men and pit-men; and it appears that these people are in the habit of living very well, and are blessed with a strong appetite. This circumstance was mentioned in explanation of the unusually liberal dietary. Notwithstanding the supply of food is considerably above the average (at least the average in my district), the cost is very moderate; being at the present time about 3\d. per day, without any addition for cooking, &c, the food being supplied ready cooked. Additional supplies from friends outside the prison are allowed to the untried, but not to the convicted.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Horse Flesh as Human Food.

In yesterday’s post about the food situation for in the South African town of Ladysmith during the almost four months of siege conditions in 1899-1900, the focus was on horse meat. The response to the meat – even in very hungry people – was very varied, some being unable to face it even with starvation imminent.

The huge range of availability and desirability of horse-flesh as food was well accepted decades before the events at Ladysmith. In the 1860’s in Europe and England there was a widespread campaign to improve the popularity of the meat, largely because of the relative shortage and expense of beef – the intended recipients being the ‘poorer sort,’ of course. Banquets were held in London and Paris, with the dishes on the menu made up entirely or almost-entirely of horse-meat. The campaigns were more successful in France, where horse-meat was not unfamiliar, and was believed to have health benefits.

In April 1917, Leo Price, a veterinarian in the employ of the New York Department of Health, presented a paper on Horseflesh as Human Food to the New York City Veterinary Medical Association.  The quotation in the front of the book is worth repeating here, as it could comfortably sit in the same position in a food book published today, a century later:

“Public health is purchasable. Within natural limitations a community can determine its own death rate.”

Price’s work is readable, well-researched, scientific, and addresses the prejudices as well as the nutritional aspects of horse-meat as human food. I include some extracts from the paper, and hope you find them interesting (I left out the statistics, and much of the out-dated chemistry, and the health and safety aspects!)

Historical Outline. The use of horselesh as a human food is as early a custom as that of using the flesh of the other food producing animals. Archeologists have unearthed proof of its use by the caveman in northern Europe. That this custom was in progress long before the time of Moses, is evident by the prohibitive clause
in the Mosaic Law against the consumption of horsemeat. Hippocrates refers to it use and Herodotus describes it as an early custom that prevailed from the extreme East to the Ural M0untains.
Later, Xenophon, Pliny and Galen gave records of its use among the early Persians, Greeks and Romans. The Saxon tribes that occupied northern Europe sacrificed the horse as the most noble animal to their gods Odin and Freya, and accompanied the ceremonies of the sacrifices with great feasts in which the eating of horseflesh was customary. It was in their zeal to spread Christianity and to remove all signs of pagan worship and sacrifice, that Pope Gregory III and his successor Zacharais I sent to St. Boniface, the Christian apostle in the Germanic countries, edicts prohibiting the use of horseflesh. These decrees were also issued to the people of Iceland, among whom hippophagy was so popular, that it was only in the year 1000, three centuries later, that the people openly discontinued this custom.
The nomadic tribes of Tartars, Kirghis and Kalmucks wandering about southeastern Russia and its Asiatic possessions have used horsemeat for a long time and were extremely fond of it.
In Persia, asses were considered a delicacy, and throughout Asia the eating of horseflesh was customary. The Chinese had used horseflesh for ages and according to Ostertag had even developed a special breed of “fat” horse, that was characterized by its delicate bone structure, fattening powers and savory meat.
A few centuries ago during the period of exploration and discovery, the following information appears in regard to the use of horseflesh.
Phillips writes of the use of the flesh of horses, asses and mules by the Moors in Tunis, Algiers, and also of the presence of a species of small horse that was raised solely for food purposes by negroes in Juida, Africa. In Marmol, Africa, wild
horses were used for food by the natives. In South America, French and English explorers' repeatedly mention the use of the flesh of wild and domestic horses for food purposes, as a custom in the various countries. Sir Francis B. Head stated that the Pampas ate the flesh of mares, which they never rode. Delvaille refers to
the natives of Bolivia as preferring horsemeat, and others state that hippophagy was in vogue in Chili and among the Patagonians.
During the French Revolution the Parisians used horseflesh constantly for six months without bad results. To what extent and whether the custom of eating horsemeat was popular or prevalent among the people of the European countries prior to the beginning of the nineteenth century could not be determined but it appears that later its sale and use was gradually permitted by the various governments as a necessary or progressive measure.
Thus, in 1807, in Denmark when the Danes were under siege, this measure was officially adopted. Larrey, the famous surgeon to the armies of Napoleon, used horsemeat to feed the sick and convalescent soldiers in the various campaigns and mentions its use in combating a scurvy epidemic. In 1840, Munich, and in 1855, Germany, permitted the sale and use of horseflesh. Vienna sanctioned its public sale in 1854. In France, Decroix, St. Hilare and others had publicly agitated the use of horsemeat for many years and finally succeeded in influencing the government to authorize its sale and use on July 9, 1866. Horsemeat is now publicly sold in the other European countries with various degrees of popularity.
Use in Europe and United States. In 1889, a regulation was passed in Great Britain permitting the sale of horsemeat. N0 statistics of the extent of the use of horsemeat in Great Britain were available. There lately appeared the following in the London Meat Trade Journal: “Shops for the sale of horseflesh are being introduced into every large town. The high price of beef, mutton, and pork is giving horseflesh an opportunity to acquire favor, and if the present cost of living continues after the war, horse-flesh may become a permanent article of food.” (Quoted from the Butcher’s Advocate.)
In France, the use of horsemeat has been marked by an increasing public demand, as may be seen from the following statistical data. These are incomplete and probably underestimated.
Ostertag states that two-thirds of the horsemeat is manufactured into sausages and also that more than 100,000 of the 600,000 families in Paris use horsemeat. In 1910, twenty-nine million pounds of horsemeat was produced for consumption in Paris and its environs.
…. Horsemeat has a deep dark red color, bordering almost to a brown or black and a bluish sheen appears on exposure to air. On section, the fascia is very prominent, and the absence of intermuscular fat and the lack of the marbling quality is very noticeable. Leach describes horseflesh as having a coarser texture,
and short muscle fibres as a rule; Edelman describes the fibres as very fine; Huidekoper refers to the flesh of asses and mules as having a finer grain than that of the horse. The bone-marrow is soft, greasy and wax-like, of a yellow color and stiffens when exposed to air. The offal of the horse, ass, or mule, like the offal from the other food producing animals, may be grouped into edible, inedible and therapeutic by-products.
 …. Considerable opposition is also due to the sentimental feeling for an animal as domesticated as the horse. Any such sentimental feeling must be regarded as inconsistent in view of the fact that other completely domesticated animals are slaughtered for food purposes. Indeed it would be an act of mercy well earned
by many a faithful horse, that has lost his early vigor, to be sent to the abattoir, rather than to allow him to fall into the hands of some huckster or cruel driver to be underfed and overworked to a gradual death.
Horsemeat is conceded to be a wholesome and nutritious food by eminent authorities in this country and abroad.
The use of horseflesh for human food should also be considered from the standpoint of public welfare, and as an improving economic measure. It offers an economical acceptable flesh food especially for the workers who are unable to afford the luxury of the present high priced meats, and still find it desirable or necessary to have meat a part of their daily diet.
It seems indeed unreasonable that so much valuable food should be wasted, in the face of the privations that exist among the poorer population in the larger cities. Here the foreign element have in the majority of cases been initiated to the eating of horseflesh in their native land, and would gladly accept this product in view of its proportionately lower price.
The opposition to horsemeat on the grounds of its physical characteristics is unjustified. The taste of manufactured products or culinary preparations may be so disguised as to make recognition impossible. Certain preparations of horsemeat are relished and preferred by those who have not allowed prejudice to get the better of personal taste. A slight sweetness of taste is considered one of the qualities of horsemeat, while toughness is not necessarily characteristic of horsemeat any more than it is of any other meat, but depends rather upon the age, sex and condition of the particular animal which it has been derived from.
Ostertag refers to Pfliiger as mentioning that when horsemeat is used exclusively it is apt to cause diarrhea, which is directly due to a substance present in horseflesh that is soluble in alcohol and passes over into the meat broth when horsemeat is cooked. This material consists of 75% lecithin and 25% of neutral fat and cholesterin. This injurious efiect is in some manner avoided when the meat broth is poured off or when horsemeat is prepared together with beef or mutton tallow. Huidekoper states that horsemeat should always be broiled or roasted.
 …. Summary.
Horsemeat has been used as a food since ancient times, to the present day, in different parts of the world.
Some of the opposition to the use of horseflesh is an inherited prejudice, arising from early religious restrictions.
The opposition on the ground of its peculiar properties is unjustified.
Horsemeat may be considered a wholesome, nutritious and economical food.
Horsemeat should be sold under special regulations, to prevent adulteration and substitution.
Every possible precaution should be exercised to eliminate glanders in horses offered for food.
According to certain writers horsemeat should be prepared in a certain manner.

So, one of the issues related to horse-meat as human food was the deceitful substitution for beef. The practice is not confined to history – I am sure you will remember a recent incident which made the news.

Sausages, of course, are the classical way to use mysterious meat. I give you, in celebration of the sausage, a German recipe for the beef variety.

Rindfleischwürste”—Beef Sausages.
Four pounds of beef and one pound of pork must be minced together fine; then cut up a pound of fat bacon into little dice, and mix it into the other mince with the following seasoning: two ounces of salt, a teaspoonful of fine saltpetre, half an ounce of pepper, five pounded or ground cloves, and a shalot or clove of garlic bruised to a pulp. To disperse the flavour of garlic or shalot equally, put half a cup of water in the mortar with the pounded garlic, and pour this among the meat. Fill tightly in ox skins, and tie them firmly. Put them in cold water on the fire and simmer them an hour. When done, lay them in cold water for two or three minutes, and hang them in a cool airy place.

German National Cookery for English Kitchens (London 1873)

Monday, February 01, 2016

Desperation Dinners: The Siege of Ladysmith, February 1900.


At the end of December I wrote two posts (here and here) about the attempts to keep up the Christmas spirit during the siege of Ladysmith (South Africa,) in the face of ever-dwindling food resources. I want to return to the story of the siege again today, but first, for those of you not familiar with the events of the time, let me repeat my summary from my December post:

For 118 days during the Second Boer War, the city of Ladysmith (Natal, South Africa) was under siege conditions. From 2nd November 1899 to 28th February 1900, Boer forces kept the British stronghold surrounded, forcing the 20,000 residents to ever-increasing creative efforts to feed themselves. By the time the siege was broken, thousands had died from disease and starvation, as well as from artillery fire.

We pick up the story on this day, February 1st, 1900, as it was recorded by a correspondent for Daily News in one of a series of letters published after the siege was over.

February 1. It has come at last. Horseflesh is to be served out for food, instead of being buried or cremated. We do not take it in the solid form yet, or at least not consciously, but Colonel Ward has set up a factory, with Lieutenant McNalty as managing director, for the conversion of horseflesh into extract of meat under the inviting name of Chevril. This is intended for use in hospitals, where nourishment in that form is sorely needed, since Bovril and Liebig are not to be had.
It is also ordered that a pint of soup made from this Chevril shall be issued daily to each man. I have tasted the soup and found it excellent, prejudice notwithstanding. We have no news from General Buller beyond a heliogram, warning us that a German engineer is coming with a plan in his pocket for the construction of some wonderful dam which is to hold back the waters of the Klip River and flood us out of Ladysmith.

February 3. Horseflesh was placed frankly on the bill of fare to-day as a ration for troops and civilians alike, but many of the latter refused to take it. Hunger will probably make them less squeamish, but one cannot help sympathising with the weakly, who are already suffering from want of proper nourishment, and for whom there is no alternative. Market prices have long since gone beyond the reach of ordinary purses.

February 4. One pathetic incident touched me nearly this morning, as a forerunner of many that may come soon. I found sitting on a doorstep, apparently too weak to move, a young fellow of the Imperial Light Horse - scarcely more than a boy -his stalwart form shrunken by illness. He was toying with a spray of wild jasmine, as if its perfume brought back vague memories of home. I learned that he had been wounded at Elandslaagte and again on Waggon Hill. Then came Intombi and malaria. He had only been discharged from hospital that morning. His appetite was not quite equal to the horseflesh test, so he had gone without food. I took him to my room and gave him such things as a scanty store could furnish, with the last dram of whisky for a stimulant, and I never felt more thankful than at that moment for the health and strength that give
an appetite robust enough for any fare.

As the recipe for the day, please enjoy the following very basic instructions for horse meat soup given in The Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy (Philadelphia, 1868) and said to be that served in Danish prisons of the time:

The prison fare for Denmark is two pounds of rye bread a day for men, and one and a half pounds for women; one pint of beer, and in winter half a pint of hot beer. Neither tea nor coffee are served, and nothing (excepting the beer) given as substitute.
Twice a month, on Sunday, there is a soup served, in which there are fifty pounds of beef, bone and all, for one hundred persons, and on the alternate Sunday soup is served, made of Horse Flesh.

Subjoined is a recipe for the horse meat soup:—
Horse meat,              50 pounds
Cabbage,                    36 pounds
Barley groats,            4 pounds
Spice,                         2 pounds
Salt,                            4 pounds
Some onions.           

There are several of these recipes, but horse meat is the basis.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Flash of Pastry.


I want to talk briefly today about éclairs, because I do not believe I have done so before, and because many of you appear to love posts about baking in general, and pastry in particular.

The word sounds French, because it is. In its original language, it means ‘a flash of lightning.’ Presumably this name was chosen because of the speed with which they can be eaten (because of their airy lightness,) or must be eaten (because of their desirability to your tea-time companions.)

In the unlikely event that you have not heard of the éclair, it is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘A small finger-shaped cake made of choux-pastry, and filled with any of various kinds of cream.’ ‘Chou(x)’ of course, is French for cabbage, and this is because profiteroles (also made from choux pastry) are approximately cabbage-shaped. An éclair then, is simply a value-added profiterole.

‘First mentions’ are a favourite topic of mine, as you know, and the OED has opinions on that topic which are not always correct, but I love it anyway. First mention of choux paste is given as:

1706   Phillips's New World of Words (ed. 6)    Petits Choux, a sort of Paste for garnishing, made of fat Cheese, Flower, Eggs, Salt, etc. bak'd in a Pye-pan, and Ic'd over with fine Sugar.

This is clearly later than the first actual iteration of this type of pastry, but that explication must wait for another day.

First mention of the éclair is given as:

1861   Vanity Fair (N.Y.) 2 Feb. 50/1   A waiter, whereon stood..a plate of macaroons, éclairs and sponge cake.

Secure in the knowledge that recipes are made for years or decades before they reach cookery books, I intend to find references earlier than before 1861, but that too, must wait for another day.

I give you a basic recipe, with many variations, from Pierre Blot’s Hand-book of Practical Cookery, for Ladies and Professional Cooks (New York, 1867)

Pâté à choux.—Weigh four ounces of flour, to which add half a teaspoonful of sugar. Put two gills of cold water in a tin saucepan with two ounces of butter, and set it on the fire, stir a little with a wooden spoon to melt the butter before the water boils. At the first boiling of the water, throw into it the four ounces of flour and stir very fast with the spoon, holding the pan fast with the left hand. As soon as the whole is thoroughly mixed, take from the fire, but continue stirring for about fifteen or twenty seconds. It takes hardly half a minute from the time the flour is dropped in the pan to that when taken from the fire. The quicker it is done, the better. When properly done, nothing at all sticks to the pan, and by touching it with the finger it feels as soft as velvet, and does not adhere to it at all. Let it stand two or three minutes, then mix well with it, by means of a spoon, one egg; then another, and so on; in all four. It takes some time and work to mix the eggs, especially to mix the first one, the paste being rather stiff. They are added one at a time, in order to mix them better. If the eggs are small, add half of one or one more. To use only half a one, it is necessary to beat it first. Let the paste stand half an hour, stir again a little, and use. If it is left standing for some time and is found rather dry, add a little egg, which mix, and then use.

Eclairs au Chocolat—Make some pâté à choux as directed above, and put it in the pastry-bag with tube No. 1 at the end of it. Force it out of the bag into a bakingpan greased with butter. By closing and holding up the larger end of the bag and by pressing it downward, it will come out of the tube in a rope-like shape and of the size of the tube. Draw the bag toward you while pressing, and stop when you have spread a length of about four inches. Repeat this operation till the baking-pan is full or till the paste is all out. Leave a space of about two inches between each cake, as they swell in baking. Bake in an oven at about 370-degrees. When baked and cold, slit one side about half through, open gently and fill each cake with the following cream, and then close it. Cream: put in a block-tin saucepan three tablespoonfuls of sugar, two of flour, four yolks of eggs, and mix weU with a wooden spoon. Add a pint of milk, little by little, and mixing the while; set on the fire, stir continually till it becomes rather thick, and take off. Have one ounce of chocolate melted on a slow fire in half a. gill of milk, and mix it with the rest, and use. Put one ounce of chocolate in a tin saucepan with a teaspoonful of water, and set on a slow fire; when melted, mix with it two tablespoonfuls of sugar, stir for a while; that is, till it is just thick enough to spread it over the cakes, and not liquid enough to run down the sides. A thickness of about one-sixteenth of an inch is sufficient. The cakes may either be dipped in the chocolate or the chocolate may be spread over them with a knife. Serve cold.
Eclairs au Café —It is made exactly like the above, except that you mix with the cream three tablespoonfuls of strong coffee, instead of chocolate and milk.
Eclairs au Thé—It is made like the preceding one, with the exception that strong tea is used instead of strong coffee.
Eclairs à la Vanille.—Proceed as for the above, but mix a teaspoonful of essence of vanilla in the cream instead of tea.
Eclairs à l’ Essence.—The meaning of eclairs a à l’ essence is, that a few drops of any kind of essence are mixed with the cream instead of chocolate and milk, and prepared and served like the others.
Eclairs aux Fraises.—Instead of filling the cakes with cream, fill them with strawberry-jelly, and for the rest proceed as for eclairs au chocolat.
Eclairs aux Groseilles.—Made like the above, but filled with currant-jelly.

Do the same with apple, blackberry, cherry, grape, peach, pear, plum, quince, raspberry jelly, etc.