Today, July 26th …
Day 3 of "Duck and Dessert"
Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” was first performed in 1879 in Copenhagen, and its ferocious indictment of the prevailing attitudes to the marital relationship and the role of women provoked outrage throughout Europe. Meanwhile, in England, Victoria was in the thirty-second year of her reign, and one can probably fairly safely assume that she would not have been amused by the play. The Victorian Englishwoman’s place, if she was of the burgeoning middle class, was firmly in the home and firmly in control of the servants and the goings-on in the kitchen. Luckily, a spate of books appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century to help.
Phyllis Browne’s “A Year’s Cookery” was published in 1879, and addressed to “people of moderate income, with moderate domestic help, and ordinary kitchen utensils”. A menu was given for breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper for each day of the year, with recipes, shopping lists, instructions for advance preparation, and daily lists of “Things that must not be Forgotten”. The menu for dinner on this day in 1879 was: Filleted Turbot, Roast Ducklings (of course!), Green Peas, Cherry Pie, and Cheese.
Stuff the ducks with sage and onion stuffing such as is used for roast goose. If this is objected to, it can be omitted. Put the birds down to a brisk clear fire, and baste them well till done enough. Send them to table with good brown gravy (made by stewing the necks, gizzards, and livers with onions) poured round but not over them.
Phyllis gives general instructions for fruit fillings for pies, and several recipes for pastry – advising that “for both pies and tarts a light crust is always to be preferred”, the best being Puff Paste. Should this be regarded as “either too troublesome to make or too rich for digestion”, she suggests:
To make this, put half a pound of flour into a bowl, with a pinch of salt, half a teaspoonful of sifted sugar, and half a teaspoonful of baking powder; mix all thoroughly, and make to a stiff paste by stirring in the white of one egg whisked to a stiff froth and a little water. Weigh a quarter of a pound of butter or clarified dripping and divide this into two portions. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a quarter of an inch, spread one portion of the butter evenly over it, and dredge flour upon this. Fold the paste in three, turn it round with the edges to the front, and roll it again. Spread the remainder of the butter over it, dredge flour on it again, and roll it to the shape that is required. Bake in a brisk oven.
Tomorrow: Gertrude, Alice, and Duck.
Quotation for the Day …
An apple is an excellent thing - until you have tried a peach. George du Maurier.