Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Kickshaws: Little Fancy Dishes.

In a post during the first year of this blog (2005) I made brief mention of the ‘kickshaw,’ and it is time, methinks, to revisit the concept. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the kickshaw as:

“A fancy dish in cookery. (Chiefly with contemptuous force: A ‘something’ French, not one of the known ‘substantial English’ dishes.)”

The inimitable Dr Samuel Johnson, in his famous dictionary published in 1755, had a slightly more terse and telling description:

“Kickshaw: A dish so changed by the cookery that it can scarcely be known.”

The word “kickshaw” comes from the French quelque chose, and came to mean any dish so frivolous it could not possibly have an English origin. A wide range of these insubstantial, delicate pieces were co-opted to fill the small spaces on banquet tables, and at luncheons and suppers. The recipe for a kickshaw which I gave in the post in 2005 was from Hannah Glasse’s Art of Cookery, published in 1747. I repeat it here: 

Make puff paste, roll it thin, and if you have any moulds work it upon them; make them up with preserved pippins: you may fill some with gooseberries, some with raspberries, or what you please: then close them up, and either bake or fry them; throw grated sugar over them, and serve them up.

For your delectation, I offer you several more recipes for quelque choses from Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook, or, The Art & Mystery of Cookery. Wherein the whole ART is revealed in a more easie and perfect Method, than hath been publisht in any language. Expert and ready Ways for the Dressing of all Sorts of FLESH, FOWL, and FISH, with variety of SAUCES proper for each of them; and how to raise all manner of Pastes; the best Directions for all sorts of Kickshaws,   also the Terms of CARVING and SEWING. An exact account of all Dishes for all Seasons of the Year, with A-la-mode Curiosities. (1660, 1685)

Eggs or Quelque shose.
Break forty eggs, and beat them together with some salt, fry them at four times, half, or but of one side; before you take them out of the pan, make a composition or compound of hard eggs, and sweet herbs minced, some boil'd currans, beaten cinamon, almond-paste, sugar, and juyce of orange, strow all over these omlets, roul them up like a wafer, and so of the rest, put them in a dish with some white-wine, sugar, and juyce of lemon; then warm and ice them in an oven, with beaten butter and fine sugar.

Set on a skillet, either full of milk, wine, water, verjuyce, or sack, make the liquor boil, then have twenty eggs beaten together with salt, and some sweet herbs chopped, run them through a cullender into the boiling liquor, or put them in by spoonfuls or all together; being not too hard boil'd, take them up and dish them with beaten butter, juice of orange, lemon, or grape-verjuyce, and beaten butter. 

Blanch Manchet in a frying-Pan.
Take six eggs, a quart of cream, a penny manchet grated, nutmeg grated, two spoonfuls of rose-water, and 2 ounces of sugar, beat it up like a pudding, and fry it as you fry a tansie; being fryed turn it out on a plate, quarter it, and put on the juyce of an orange and sugar.

Quelque shose otherways.
Take ten eggs, and beat them in a dish with a penny manchet grated, a pint of cream, some beaten cloves mace, boil'd currans, some rose-water, salt, and sugar; beat all together, and fry it either in a whole form of a tansie, or by spoonfuls in little cakes, being finely fried, serve them on a plate with juyce of orange and scraping sugar.

Other Fricase or Quelque shose.

Take twenty eggs, and strain them with a quart of cream, some nutmeg, salt, rose-water, and a little sugar, then have sweet butter in a clean frying-pan, and put in some pieces of pippins cut as thick as a half crown piece round the apple being cored; when they are finely fried, put in half the eggs, fry them a little, and then pour on the rest or other half, fry it at two times, stir the last,dish the first on a plate, and put the other on it with juyce of orange and sugar.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Stuffed Pigeons, Part 2.

Eight years ago on this day I wrote about the death of the very last passenger pigeon in existence (the post is here.) The recipe for the day was for Stuffed Pigeons, from the famous New York chef, Charles Ranhofer’s book The Epicurean (1894). I actually gave only the final step of the recipe, and noted that it required the prior preparation of numerous stocks, sauces, garnishes, and forcemeats. These ‘sub-recipes’ in the original text were numbered 75, 81, 89, 121, 131, 170, 178, 189, 195, 388, 392, 409, 414, 421, 422, 423, 504, 543, 747.  I fully intended to give these steps – each a complete recipes in its own right – but I never got around to it. On this anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, I give you the complete set. It is exhausting reading, I promise you.


Fasten a wooden foundation on a dish, it to be one inch high and not too wide; cover with cooked paste (No. 131) or noodle paste (No. 142) decorated on the top with a piping in relief and having a wooden or tin triangle or conical-shaped support in the center, also covered with paste and bored on top so that a skewer can be inserted. Bone the breasts of three young, clean pigeons by splitting them lightly through the back, but leaving the legs and thighs attached to the bodies; season the inside meats and fill the breasts with baking liver forcemeat (No. 81) combined with a third as much raw forcemeat (No. 89), a few spoonfuls of cooked lean ham and as much cooked truffles, all to be well chopped; sew up the back, truss as for an entrée (No. 178) with the legs thrust inside the body, bard over and wrap each one in a small buttered cloth, then cook in a good poêler stock. As soon as the pigeons are done, drain, unwrap and retighten the cloth more firmly; put them back into their stock to leave cool, then drain again and when unwrapped, wipe them carefully with a cloth. Now detach the breasts from the rump of each pigeon to cut into lengthwise slices, return them to their original position and then place the birds in a sautoir with a part of their stock reduced to a half-glaze warm them in the open oven basting frequently. Remove the pigeons to a small baking sheet, smooth the cut parts nicely and cover the breasts with a not too thick Mornay sauce (No. 504), so the form of the pigeons remain intact; place them for a moment in the hot oven to have the sauce adhere, then dress them at once in a triangle almost standing upright against the support; on top of this insert a small skewer garnished with truffles; surround the bottom of the dish with a chain of small china cases filled with montglas (No. 747), then covered with a layer of forcemeat and poached in a bain-marie; when serving this entrée send also a sauce-boatful of the reduced pigeon stock thickened with a little sauce.

Made with four ounces of truffles, eight ounces of mushrooms, eight ounces of red beef tongue and eight ounces of chicken or game livers, all cut into small sticks; if needed for a white salpicon garnishing, then mix these with either a velouté (No. 415), or suprême sauce (No. 547), or allemande (No. 407), and if for brown then use espagnole (No. 414), or chicken glaze (No. 398), with essence of mushroom (No. 392).

Boil one pint of water with a quarter of a pound of butter and a grain of salt; as soon as the liquid boils remove it from the fire, and incorporate in one pound of flour so as to obtain a good paste, then replace it on to a moderate fire and stir vigorously until it detaches from the bottom of the saucepan, then remove it entirely and pour it on to a floured table; as soon as it cools off slightly, knead it with the hands, adding to it slowly one pound more flour; by this time the paste should be perfectly smooth; after it has obtained a consistency, turn it the same as puff paste, giving it seven or eight turns, having the paste remarkably smooth; it must be used at once.

Fry in four ounces of melted lard, one bayleaf, two ounces of carrots and two ounces of celery, both cut in dice, one shallot and two ounces of onions, both finely chopped, also one ounce of truffles, the same of mushrooms and one tablespoonful of chopped parsley; add its equal quantity of calf's liver and two gills of espagnole sauce (No. 414). When the meats are cooked, let the preparation first get cold, then pound and rub it through a sieve; lay this forcemeat into a bowl, cover it with buttered paper and keep it in a cool place; mix with this three tablespoonfuls of raw quenelle forcemeat, either of veal, chicken or game, in order to thicken it, but only just when ready to use. The liver may be replaced by the same quantity of cooked or raw meat, either lamb, veal, chicken or game chopped up very fine and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Ingredients for these Quenelles. -One pound of chicken, half a pound of pâte à chou panada (No. 121); a quarter of a pound of butter, half an ounce of salt and nutmeg, six egg-yolks, one whole egg, one pint of chicken cream forcemeat. In order to make chicken or game forcemeats only the breasts are used, having them well pared, cut in pieces and pass through the machine. Put this into a mortar, and pound it to a pulp, rub it through a sieve, pound it once more, and add to it the panada, putting it in gradually, then the butter or udder, without stopping the pounding process, and afterward the egg-yolks one by one, season with salt and nutmeg, rub the forcemeat again through the sieve, and then lay it in a thin metal vessel on the ice, and beat it up again for a few minutes so as to render it smooth. Poach a small piece of it, and if found to be too consistent, then thin it with a little cold sauce or raw cream, and keep it in a cool place until needed. Instead of using velouté or cream, one pint of chicken cream forcemeat (No. 75), may be added, made of chicken, egg-whites and cream. Quenelle forcemeats made of chicken can be used with soubise or tomatoes by mixing in either some soubise (No. 543), or fine consistent tomato purée (No. 730), instead of the cream or velouté.

After having dressed (drawn) and singed the pieces of poultry or game, remove the fork and breastbone, lifting it out through the neck without injuring the breasts; cut the legs below the joint, suppress the drumstick bones, and slip the leg into its place, having previously burned the top of the leg with alcohol so as to remove the outer skin. To truss either capon, young turkey, pullet, chicken or guinea-fowl: first, have a trussing needle threaded with some strong string, pass it through one thigh to the other and in the joint of the thick part of the leg, then cross through the wing directing the needle toward the neck, and take up the skin of the neck while passing through it, fastening it down to the back; pass through the other wing, tighten the string so that the wings and thigh are well attached to the body of the fowl, and the breasts are quite prominent. Secondly, with the needle cross through the back near the rump, direct the needle so that it passes the thickest part of the two legs, fasten the string strongly so that the thigh is well attached to the side, thrust the posterior inside, and tie it down with a few turns of a string. To prepare geese and tame ducks for entrées, suppress the wings and neck, singe and pick them, cut off the claws, truss the legs inside, and fasten them down by crossing through with the needle at the joints of the thighs and the stumps of the wings; give them a rounded appearance, and push the posterior into the inside, and tie it firmly in place. For squabs, partridges and quails: pluck the feathers, singe and lightly pick them and draw them through the pouch; then truss them by making an incision in the rump, and tie them the same as the chickens.

After reducing a good béchamel sauce (No. 409), stir into it incessantly a few spoonfuls of mushroom sauce (No. 392) and some raw cream, also essence of fish (No. 388), should this sauce be needed for fish; but if otherwise then use a few spoonfuls of good chicken stock (No. 195) reduced to a half-glaze. When the sauce becomes succulent and creamy, pour it into a small saucepan, beat it smooth while heating it, and finish it off of the fire with some butter and grated parmesan cheese. This sauce is used for dishes that are bread-crumbed and for meats baked by a salamander. Its delicacy forbids it being boiled.

Espagnole or Spanish sauce is a leading sauce from which many smaller ones are made. To obtain a good espagnole, it is necessary to have good stock (No. 421); in case there be no stock specially prepared for this purpose, use good clear broth. For four quarts of stock, melt in a saucepan one pound of butter, stir into it the same weight of very dry, good flour, so as to obtain a clear paste; then let it cook for four or five minutes on the fire, without ceasing to stir, and afterward set it back on to a very slow fire, or in a slack oven, to let it get a good dark brown color, being careful to move it about often. When the roux is cooked, take it from the oven and dilute with the prepared stock, not having it too hot, and stir the liquid again over the fire to bring it to a boil. Should the sauce not be sufficiently smooth -should any lumps appear in it, then strain it through a fine sieve, and put it back into the saucepan; and at the first boil, set it on one side so that it only boils partially, and let it despumate in this way for two or three hours. Skim off well the fat, and strain the broth into a vessel to let get cold, meanwhile stirring frequently.

Butter the bottom of a thick bottomed saucepan and garnish it with slices of onions, placing on top half a pound of ham, some slices or parings of fat pork, twelve pounds of knuckle of veal, shoulder, and trimmings, six pounds of beef or parings, and moisten with one quart of beef stock (No. 194a); leave the saucepan on the fire until the broth is half reduced, then cover the saucepan and moderate the fire, continue to boil till all the moisture is reduced and falls to a glaze, which is easily perceived as the grease then becomes clear; moisten it once more with eighteen quarts of beef stock; boil, skim off the fat, and add a bunch of parsley, garnished with two bay leaves and as much thyme, basil, celery, and two cloves of garlic, also one pound of carrots cut lengthwise in four, salt, ground pepper, and a little sugar. Cook all together for six hours, skim off the fat and strain through a sieve to keep for further use. This stock is used for moistening brown roux.

(121). PâTE À CHOUX
Pâte à Choux. -Put one pint of water or broth in a saucepan with two ounces of butter, set it on the fire, remove it aside at the first boil, and incorporate into it, three quarters of a pound of sifted flour, mix well and dry on a slow fire till the paste detaches itself from the saucepan and let cool slightly, then stir into it gradually two whole eggs and four yolks, set it away in a cool place with a buttered paper over, for further use.

Have one pound of chicken or game meat (the breast), free of nerves or skin, pass them twice through the machine (Fig. 47); or else chop and pound to a pulp, then press through a sieve, return to the mortar and mix in one egg-white, half an ounce of salt, red pepper and nutmeg, the equal quantity of six or eight gills of cream, before whipping; mixing it in gradually with a whip and working it well. Should the forcemeat be too thick add cream, and if it lacks consistency, more egg-white.

Cut off the stalks and roots from twelve onions after having divided them in two, throw them into boiling salted water for a few minutes, then drain, refresh, and drain them again. Heat a half a pound of butter in a saucepan, add to it the onions and fry them without coloring until well done, then pour in a pint of velouté (No. 415) and half a pint of stock (No. 422), some peppercorns and grated nutmeg. When the onions are sufficiently cooked, press them forcibly through a tammy (No. 170) and return the sauce to the saucepan on the fire, and add to it six gills of fresh cream; season properly, and incorporate in at the last moment a small piece of fresh butter.

This is made by preparing a roux of butter and flour, and letting it cook for a few minutes while stirring, not allowing it to color in the slightest; remove it to a slower fire and leave it to continue cooking for a quarter of an hour, then dilute it gradually with half boiled milk, and half veal blond (No. 423). Stir the liquid on the fire until it boils, then mingle in with it a mirepoix of roots and onions (No. 419), fried separately in butter, some mushroom peelings and a bunch of parsley; set it on a slower fire and let cook for twenty-five minutes without ceasing to stir so as to avoid its adhering to the bottom; it must be rather more consistent than light. Strain it through a fine sieve then through a tammy into a vessel, and allow it to cool off while continuing to stir; set it aside for further use.

Put one pound of mushrooms previously washed and cut in four into a saucepan with the juice of half a lemon, salt, and a pint of broth; let boil together for ten minutes; cover the saucepan hermetically and let stand till cold; strain through a fine sieve.

Cut in slices two pounds of bass, porgies or any other bony, and very fresh fish; put them into a saucepan and season with salt, whole peppers and half a pint of white wine. Fry lightly in butter without attaining a color, three ounces of minced onions, three ounces of carrots, a bunch of parsley garnished with two bay leaves and the same of thyme, two cloves and two shallots; add all these to the fish with one quart of water, and cook slowly for forty minutes, then strain through a fine sieve.

In order to make thick stock use consommé of game, vegetables, fish or chicken before they are clarified. Place half a pound of butter in a saucepan with half a pound of sifted flour of the best quality, let cook well on a slow fire without coloring when needed for vegetables, fish or chicken, but for game make a brown roux; for either one or the other dilute this roux with boiling broth (if the soup should be a chicken soup, chicken broth should be used to dilute the roux, if game soup then game broth should be used, fish with fish broth, for vegetable, vegetable broth). Use a whisk turning it rapidly, so as to avoid having lumps; stocks for soups should be kept rather thin, that is to say but little thickened and should be well despumated, the fat removed before passing through the tammy; return the saucepan to the fire, and stir continuously with a spatula from the bottom until the broth boils. Remove the saucepan and place it so that only one side of the contents cook slowly for one hour; skim and take off all the matter that swims on the surface until the stock be entirely free from fat, and other impurities floating on top arising from the clarification, then strain through a tammy or fine sieve, and use this stock for thick soups either of game, vegetables, fish or poultry.

Vegetable, chicken, crustacean, and game purées are strained through a tammy (Fig. 99) in order to obtain them as fine as possible. To accomplish this it will require the service of two persons: take hold of the tammy on both sides, pour the purée into its hollow center, then have two wooden spoons one laying in the other, and press them vigorously against the tammy, allowing the purée to fall into a deep dish set underneath; this is easily accomplished and depends entirely upon the regular motion of the two spoons, as they must advance backward and forward without getting separated, or use either one of the machines shown in Figs. 99a and 99b.

Butter the bottom of a saucepan capable of containing sixteen quarts; set in four sliced onions, and on top of these four pounds of split knuckle of veal and four pounds of shoulder of veal, two fowls, after removing the breasts, and moisten all with one quart of beef stock (No. 194a). Place the saucepan on a brisk fire, keeping the lid on, and reduce the moisture by moderating the heat of the fire, and letting the liquid fall slowly to a glaze; now moisten again with six quarts more of beef stock, season with salt and whole peppers, and add four leeks, two carrots, cut in pieces, a bunch of parsley, some celery, one bay leaf and as much thyme. Cook all slowly for six hours, then skim off the fat and strain through a fine sieve. Chop up the breasts taken from the two fowls with the same quantity of lean beef, and mix this in a little cold water, and with this meat clarify the veal blond the same as consommé; then strain it through a napkin.
Veal blond should be clear, succulent and of a nice color, the grease should be thoroughly removed from it; added to clear soups it greatly improves them; it is also used in reducing sauces.

This is the essence of meats and vegetables. Put into a saucepan half a pound of chopped fat pork, fry it until melted, and then add half a pound of butter, one pound of lean veal cut in three-eighths of an inch squares, and one pound of unsmoked ham, also a pound of carrots and six ounces of onions cut in quarter inch squares, and a bunch of parsley garnished with a bay leaf and as much thyme, some basil, a clove of garlic, two cloves, and mace. Add to this a few mushroom parings, season with a little salt and mignonette, and when all the ingredients are well fried and of a fine golden color, moisten them with three quarts of remoistening (No. 189), and one pint of white wine, and a pint of Madeira wine; boil the whole slowly for two hours, then strain it forcibly through a tammy (No. 159) without removing the fat. Mirepoix is used for moistening meats, fishes, etc.
Dry Mirepoix is made of minced, raw vegetables, and roots which are fried in lard and moistened with some good stock and white wine, and allowed to reduce to dryness. It is employed to cover the breasts of fowl, game, and also meats that are to be roasted on the spit.

Butter the bottom of a sixteen quart saucepan, having a thick bottom, cover it with sliced onions and on top of these lay four pounds of knuckle of veal and shoulder, half of each, four pounds of fowl without the breast, and moisten with one pint of remoistening (No. 189), put it on a brisk fire and cover the saucepan, as soon as the liquid is reduced to half, moderate the fire and let the sauce fall slowly to a glaze without browning, then moisten with six quarts more of white broth, skim off the fat and scum and season with salt, crushed whole peppers and a little sugar, add a bunch of parsley and celery green, garnished with two bay leaves and as much thyme, also half an ounce of basil, besides four ounces of mushroom parings or stalks and half a pound of minced carrots, then let cook for six hours, remove all the fat, add from time to time a little remoistening (No. 189), salt it to taste and strain through a sieve or a napkin. Use when needed.

Proportions. -When the stock (No. 194a) is ready put five quarts of it into a soup pot, adding two pounds of lean meat and three pounds of cleansed and washed fowls. Boil it up slowly, and just when ready to come to a boil, carefully remove the scum arising on the surface and then add half a pound of roasted veal. Simmer slowly until the fowl is cooked, which will take from two and a half to three hours, lifting it out as soon as it is done so as to save the breasts which will be found useful for garnishings, purées, salads, sandwiches, etc.; return what remains of the fowls to the broth once again and continue boiling for half an hour longer, skim the fat off very carefully and mix in the clarification.
Clarification. -Trim off the fat, remove the nerves from a piece of beef sufficient to obtain two pounds after it is chopped up, and mix in with this chopped meat half a quart of cold stock (or water); pour this clarification into the broth, add two ounces of minced carrots, and two ounces of minced leeks; season with salt and color the soup with caramel (No. 18); keep the liquid in a boiling state for one hour. The consommé should be perfectly clear, sapid and tasty: strain it through a silk sieve or a fine napkin and use when needed, serve in cups, or in a soup tureen with any garnishing desired.

Remoistening. -After the stock or consommé has been taken out of the pot, pour in sufficient water to have the meats entirely re-covered and boil again for three hours; remove all the fat and strain it through a napkin; do not salt this. This remoistening is used for diluting certain soups, and to moisten veal or chicken stock with which meat extract is made.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Potted History of Kiwi Fruit.

I do not believe I have given over any space at all, in almost nine years of blogging, to kiwi fruit, so today is its day in the limelight.

As I am sure you know, the other common name for this fruit is Chinese Gooseberry, which is both enlightening and confusing: the plant is in fact a native of China, but it is not at all related to the gooseberry. Botanically speaking, the fruit is the berry of a vine from the genus Actinidia, a number cultivars of which are sold in fruit shops around the world, the best-known being the brown fuzzy A. deliciosa,  with A.chinensisi  also being popular. The fruit is, of course, now indelibly associated with New Zealand, and the explanation of its change in nationality is the main thing I want to discuss today.

According to the horticulture experts at Purdue University in Indiana, although it originated in China, the Chinese (who are reputed to eat every part of the duck apart from its quack) were not particularly fond of the fruit, ‘regarding it mainly as a tonic for growing children and for women after childbirth,’ and for certain medicinal purposes.

One of the early Westerners to taste the fruit and report on it was the Iowan Lutheran Missionary George Oliver Lillegard, who mentioned the fruit in a letter to his mother from Hankow, China, in 1921. He refers to it by its Chinese name yang tao, which apparently translates as ‘goat peach’ (or sun peach or strawberry peach):

“I’ve tasted four new fruits and am fond of them all. There are the loquats … pomelo, “Yang-tao,” and persimmons. …”Yang-tao” is a Chinese fruit and is delicious … it has a banana and gooseberry flavour combined. The canned fruit is so much like gooseberries, that I cannot detect the difference. I think the raw fruit has more banana taste tho.”
(From: Called According to his Purpose, by Deborah Blumer, 2103)

So, when did the yang-tao arrive in New Zealand? Seeds were taken to the country in 1904 by a prominent New Zealand educationist, Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of the highly respected Wanganui Girls’ College. She had obtained the seeds on a visit to China to study the missionary school system there. The seeds were planted in Wanganui and the first fruits were cropped in about 1910.

The New Zealand newspapers of the 1920’s reported with interest the progress in cultivation of the fruit throughout the country. In 1921, the NZ Press of 28 November noted that it was ‘now being grown successfully in Feilding.’ By 1928-9 although it was still a ‘new fruit’, the commercial possibilities were being discussed, and by 1935 it was being hailed as a ‘profitable crop … [which is] in season when there are few other small fruits on the market.’

When it became clear that commercial production of the Chinese Gooseberry was a success, growers looked to the export market. A re-branding was clearly necessary to establish ownership of the market, as a ‘Chinese’ fruit would be difficult to promote as a New Zealand crop. The name melonette – from a similarity in flavour to the big fruit – was briefly considered, but ‘melons’ were subject to an import tax the USA, so some distancing from that particular fruit was necessary. Likewise, ‘berries’ attracted an import tax, so that part of the name needed to be avoided too.

It is said that the name ‘kiwi fruit’ was finally decided upon in1959, after much industry discussion, because the small brown furry fruit resembled the small brown native bird called in the Maori tongue – kiwi. The Canberra Times of 27 August 1978 however presented another theory as to the origin of the name –one which also had relevance for the lucrative US market:

A few years ago a New Zealander exporting Chinese Gooseberries was warned by his US agent that they were not selling well because Americans thought they must be produce
of Red China." Sell them as Kiwi fruit, then", cabled the New Zealander, on the spur of the moment.

Names do matter, of course. I understand that the small soft, furry, brown fruit when first introduced to France was sold (and perhaps still is?) under the name souris végétales, or ‘vegetable mice,’ which for some potential buyers may be a little off-putting.

From its new home in New Zealand, the fruit continued its overseas journey, gradually becoming cheaper and more popular elsewhere – and in some areas, locally-grown. In 1953, Britain received its first imports from New Zealand. By the mid-1960’s it was well known in the UK, as well as in the US and Australia, although it was another decade or so before it moved from being a luxury to an ordinary every-day product.

And finally, a small selection of early recipes for kiwi fruit (‘early’ being a relative term in culinary history!)

Chinese Gooseberry Jam.
Peel and weigh the fruit, cover with water and boil till soft. Then add 1 lb. of sugar to every 1 lb. of fruit and boil for about 1 hour.
New Zealand Herald,  22 April 1939

Chinese Gooseberry Ice-Cream
6oz. castor sugar                                 2 egg-yolks
6 ¼ oz. boiling water                          ¼ pint cream
About 3 teaspoons lemon juice
½ pint Chinese Gooseberry  puree (made by sieving about 6 peeled fruit)
Place sugar and water in a thick saucepan; stir over gentle heat until sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil and boil gently 7 to 10 minutes, and allow syrup to cool slightly. Beat in egg-yolks and puree. Stir constantly over gentle heat about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly; do not boil. Pour into freezer trays and cool before freezing. When partially set, stir in whipped cream and lemon juice. Freeze until solid.
The Australian Women's Weekly, 9 November 1966

Chinese Gooseberry Chutney
INGREDIENTS : 1 ½ lb Chinese gooseberries, peeled and cut up,  3 medium-sized grated onions, 1 large banana, sliced, 2 lemons, peeled and cut into cubes, 1 small cup sultanas or raisins, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ lib preserved ginger, 1 large cup brown sugar, 1 dessertspoon (or a little less) salt, ½  teaspoon pepper, 1 large cup vinegar.
Put all ingredients into a saucepan, add the vinegar (it should just cover, so add more if necessary) and  simmer, about 1 ½ hours. Mash with a potato masher, do not strain through a colander. When cool, bottle and cork well.

The Argus (Melbourne) 1 July 1955

Thursday, August 28, 2014

School Lunches 1916.

Do you prepare a packed lunch every day for a schoolchild in your family? If so, this post is especially for you.

The principles of lunch provision for children – and the general nutrition advice of the time – were not so different back in 1916 when School Lunches; USDA Farmers’ Bulletin No. 712 was published. The authors were impressively qualified for the job: Carolina Hunt was ‘Assistant in Home Economics, States Relations Service’, and Mabel Ward had lately held the position of ‘Director of Home Science, Mississippi Industrial Institute and College.’

I give you an extract from the very comprehensive advice provided by this little book.
What should school children be given to eat at noon? What foods are best for the school lunch basket? The frequent asking of these questions shows that mothers and others interested in children’s welfare have unusual difficulty in planning this meal. There are no special scientific principles which apply to it more than to the other meals, for, of courses, choosing healthful foods and preparing them carefully are no more necessary at this than at either of the other meals of the child’s day. Nor is it wise always to study one meal apart from the other two. The three taken together must, if they are to satisfy the needs of the growing body, supply several different kinds of food materials.

… Any discussion of lunches for school children must therefore, take into account (1) the children who go home at midday, (2) those who carry their lunches, (3) those who buy them at shops or at the school, (4) those how are supplied by the school through the cooking classes, and (5) those who carry part of each day’s lunch, and depend on being able to buy something at or near the school to add to what they carry. …..

… The essentials of the diet of all normal children, are, of course, the same – namely, an abundance of simple foods carefully prepared and of sufficient variety to provide for activity, which in healthy children is almost ceaseless during waking hours, and for development into healthy manhood and womanhood. ….

The basket lunch is harder to plan and also to prepare than the lunch at home. To begin with, there are many foods which cannot be included in it, either because they are not good cold, or because they cannot be conveniently packed or easily carried. This leave fewer foods to chose from, and so extra care is necessary to prevent sameness. Extra care is needed too, in the preparation of foods that must be packed in small compass and kept for several hours before being eaten and that must very often be carried over dusty roads.
On the other hand, the number of foods that can be easily carried has been enlarged of late by the possibility of using paraffin paper and parchment paper, in which moist foods can be wrapped so as to prevent them from sticking to other foods. Paper cups, jelly glasses, and so on, are also a help, for in them sliced raw fruits, stewed fruits, custards, cottage cheee, and other half-solid foods can be carried.
The quality of the bread used in the basket lunch is especially important because it is commonly served in the form of sandwiches and is, therefore, to be considered not only as a food in itself, but also as a means of keeping other much-needed foods in good and appetizing condition, or of serving them in attractive ways.
Variety in breads too, is more important at this than at other meals because of the danger of monotony. Wheat bread, wholewheat bread, corn, rye, or oatmeal breads; nut, raising, and date breads; beaten biscuit, rolls, crisp baking powder biscuit or soda biscuit, and toast, zwieback, and crackers may be used in turn to give variety. Rolls hollowed out can be made to hold a large amount of sandwich filling, which is an advantage at times.

Many kinds of lunch boxes, pails, and baskets are now on the market. The chief advantage of most boxes and pails is that they can be easily cleaned and scalded to keep them in safe condition. Some baskets are ventilated and for this reason suitable for carrying moist foods which are likely to spoil. There is no reason, however, why small holes cannot be punched in metal boxes or pails to let in the air. ….

…. In packing the lunch basket, put at the bottom the things least likely to crush, and wrap the sandwiches, etc. into neat parcels, not all in one. 

1.      Sandwiches with sliced tender meat for filling: baked apple, cookies or a few lumps of sugar.
2.      Slices of meat loaf or bean loaf; bread and butter sandwiches; stewed fruit; small frosted cake.
3.      Crisp rolls, hollowed out and filled with chopped meat or fish, moistened and seasoned, or mixed with salad dressing; orange, apple, a mixture of sliced fruits, or berries; cake.
4.      Lettuce or celery sandwiches; cup custard; jelly sandwiches.
5.      Cottage cheese and chopped green-pepper sandwiches or a pot of cream cheese with bread and butter sandiwiches; peanut sandwiches.
6.      Hard-boiled eggs; crisp baking-powder biscuits; celery or radishes; brown-sugar or maple-sugar sandwiches.
7.      Bottle of milk; thin corn bread and butter; dates; apple.
8.      Raisin or nut bread with butter; cheese; orange; maple sugar.
9.      Baked bean and lettuce sandwiches; apple sauce; sweet chocolate.

The book contains a number of recipes, primarily for the use of schools which provide lunch for students. The following instructions would result in a robust, tasty confection for a little treat.

1 pound figs
1 pound dried prunes or seedless raisins
1 pound nut meats.
Confectioners’ sugar.
Wash, pick over, and stem the fruits and put them with the nut meats through a meat chopper, and mix thoroughly. Roll out to the thickness of about one-half inch on a board dredged with confectioners’ sugar, and cut into small pieces. If this candy is to be kept for some time, the pieces should be separated by means of paraffin paper.
Provides 24 2-ounce portions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What Flavour Milk!?

I thought I had found the ultimate example of the concept of flavoured dairy beverages when I came across Curried Milk, but I have since found some serious competitors for the honour.

Here are a couple of serious contenders from a Prohibition cookbook called On Uncle Sam's Water Wagon: 500 recipes for delicious drinks, which can be made at home, by Helen Watkeys Moore, published in New York in 1919:

Chocolate and Celery.
Mix two tablespoonfuls of chocolate paste with two tablespoonsfuls of cream. Add hot water and season with celery salt. Put a spoonful of whipped cream on top.

Malted Milk and Oyster.
Mix to a smooth paste one teaspoonful of malted milk with a little milk. Then add three tablespoonfuls of oyster milk. Then add three tablespoonfuls of oyster juice and fill up the glass with hot milk. Season with salt and celery salt.

Perhaps these ideas will inspire those of you who make or sell milkshakes for a living. No?

At this point I am in complete agreement with a writer in Puck, in 1884:

“I never have had a Prohibition beverage come into my system that it did not bring with it a large assortment of gloom, headache and late-picked remorse”

The following recipe, from the same source, does, however, sound reasonably drinkable:

Milk Snap.
Add the beaten white of an egg to one glass of cold milk and one fourth glass of ginger syrup. Shake thoroughly and serve with a bit of grated lemon peel.

Milk, of course, can be flavoured at the source, if the cows be fed certain foods. Historically, this was a problem with the very useful fodder crop of turnip. Farming magazines of the nineteenth century often gave advice about the problem, such as the following, from Turnip Husbandry, Papers (London, 1847)

“I am aware that sometimes a slight disagreeable flavour is given to the milk and butter by the turnips, but this can be entirely removed, by putting in each pan, before putting in the milk, a pinch of nitrate of potash, (saltpetre.)”

Is there an idea here? Could oyster-malted milks be produced by feeding cows with oysters?

Books which focus on cookery for invalids could be expected to include plenty of milky beverages, and it turns out they do not disappoint. The following recipe would certainly solve the liquid calorie problem for a frail invalid, but I doubt will start a widespread craze for hot, meaty, milkshakes (but please take up the idea and trial the idea, if you are in the business – I am pretty sure no-one is doing hot milkshakes anywhere these days.)

Suet Milk.
Cut one ounce of mutton or veal suet into shavings, and warm it slowly over the fire in a pint of milk, adding a little grated lemon peel, cinnamon and loafsugar.
Modern Household Cookery (1860) by Sarah Josepha Hale.

From the same source, if you don’t have the real thing, you could help any invalids in your vicinity by making

Imitation of Asses' Milk.
Boil together equal quantities of new milk and water, add one ounce of candied eringo-root: sweeten with white sugar-candy, and strain.

If you have a favourite outrageous-flavour milk, please do let us all know in the comments!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Selection of Restorative Snacks.

Yesterday I shared with you some of the post-hangover  ‘restorative’ beverages suggested in Cakes and ale: a dissertation of banquets, interspersed with various recipes, more or less original, and anecdotes, mainly veracious (4th ed., 1913) by Edward Spencer. Today I want to give you some of the author’s suggestions for more substantial therapies. Firstly, good old-fashioned Anchovy Toast, served with a heavy dose of social support on the side.

Anchovy Toast.

The concoction of this belongs to bedroom cookery, unless the sitting-room adjoins the sleeping apartment. For the patient will probably be too faint of heart to wish to meet his fellow-men and women downstairs, so early. The mixture must be made over hot water. Nearly fill a slop-basin with the boiling element, and place a soup-plate over it. In the plate melt a pat of butter the size of a walnut. Then having beaten up a raw egg, stir it in. When thoroughly incorporated with the butter add a dessert-spoonful of essence of anchovies. Cayenne ad lib. Then let delicately-browned crisp toast be brought, hot from the fire. Soak this in the mixture, and eat as quickly as you can. The above proportions must be increased if more than one patient clamours for anchovy toast; and this recipe is of no use for a dinner, or luncheon toast; remember that. After the meal is finished turn in between the sheets again for an hour; then order a "Doctor," or a "Surgeon-Major " [see previous post] to be brought to the bedside. In another twenty minutes the patient will be ready for his tub (with the chill off, if he be past thirty, and has any wisdom, or liver, left within him). After dressing, if he live in London and there be any trace of brain-rack remaining, let him take a brisk walk to his hairdresser's, having his boots cleaned en route. This is most important, whether they be clean or dirty; for the action of a pair of briskly-directed brushes over the feet will often remove the most distressing of headaches. Arrived at the perruquier's, let the patient direct him to rub eau de Cologne or some other perfumed spirit, into the o'er-taxed cranium, and to squirt assorted essences over the distorted countenance. A good hard brush, and a dab of bay rum on the temples will complete the cure; the roysterer will then be ready to face 
his employer, or the maiden aunt from whom he may have expectations. 

If the flavour of the anchovy be disagreeable, let the patient try the following toast, which is similar to that used with wildfowl: Melt a pat of butter over hot water, stir in a dessert-spoonful of Worcester sauce, the same quantity of orange juice, a pinch of cayenne, and about half a wine-glassful of old port. Soak the toast in this mixture. The virtues of old port as a restorative cannot be too widely known. For an 


athlete, who may not take kindly to his rations, there is no better cure than the lean of an under-done chop (not blue inside) hot from the fire, on a hot plate, with a glass of port poured over. A 

Hot-pickle Sandwich

should be made of two thin slices of crisp toast (no butter) with chopped West Indian pickles in between. And for a 

Devilled Biscuit

select the plain cheese biscuit, heat in the oven, and then spread over it a paste composed of finely-pounded lobster worked up with butter, made mustard, ground ginger, cayenne, salt, chili vinegar, and (if liked) a little curry powder. Reheat the biscuit for a minute or two, and then deal with it. Both the last-named restoratives will be found valuable ( ? ) liver tonics; and to save future worry the patient had better calculate, at the same time, the amount of Estate Duty which will have to be paid out of his personalty, and secure a nice dry corner, out of the draught, for his place of sepulture. A 

Working-Man's Livener

(and by "working-man" the gentleman whose work consists principally in debating in taverns is intended) is usually a hair of the dog that bit him over-night ; and in some instances where doubt may exist as to the particular "tufter " of the pack which found the working-man out, the livener will be a miscellaneous one. For solid food, this brand of labourer will usually select an uncooked red -herring, which he will divide into swallow-portions with his clasp-knife, after borrowing the pepper-castor from the tavern counter. And as new rum mixed with four-penny ale occasionally enters into the over-night's programme of the horny-handed one, he is frequently very thirsty indeed before the hour of noon.