Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A dish for the Empress.

Today, January 30th …

The new (and final) Emperor of the new (Second, and final) French Empire, Napoleon III, fairly quickly set about finding himself a suitable bride to provide him with an heir or several. After being rejected by a couple of European royal princesses whose families had no wish to ally themselves with the pretentious upstart, he chose Eugenie de Montijo, a beautiful woman with aristocratic Spanish blood. The marriage took place on this day in 1853, at the Tuileries Gardens in Paris.

The culinary connection for us today is that this is the Empress for whom dishes styled ‘a l’Imperatrice’ are named. These dishes classically contain rice, although I have no idea why this is so. Perhaps the Empress had a special liking for it.

The great Escoffier, who was responsible for creating many dishes in the name of famous or royal persons, was born in 1846, so was a child at the time of the wedding of Napoleon and Eugenie. Nevertheless, his version of Riz impératrice is a classic, and the recipe appears below. This is no boarding-school or nursery rice pudding. Compare it with the ‘Empress Pudding’ from the very English Cassells Dictionary of Cookery – and ponder as to whether this is simply another take on the classic dish named for Eugenie, or was it named for the ‘other’ Empress - Victoria, Empress of India?

Riz impératrice.
(Rice with custard cream, kirsch and maraschino.
8 oz rice, 1 ¾ pints boiling milk, pinch salt, ¼ vanilla pod, ½ oz butter, 8 oz castor sugar, kirsh, maraschino, ¼ oz gelatine, ½ pint thick cream, ½ pint English custard cream*, apricot syrup.
Wash the rice, put into plenty of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Drain off the water, add the boiling milk, salt, vanilla and butter, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, then add the sugar.
Pour the rice into a bowl, cool a little and flavour with kirsch and maraschino. Add the dissolved gelatine and whipped cream to the custard cream and mix with the rice.
Pour into a mould and leave to set.
Unmould and cover with apricot syrup flavoured with kirsch and maraschino.

*Crème à l’ anglaise.
(Custard Cream)
1 lb sugar, 16 egg yolks, 1 ¾ pints boiled milk, vanilla pod, orange or lemon peel, or 3 tablespoonfuls liqueur.
(if a vanilla pod, orange or lemon peel is used for flavouring, infuse it in the milk while it is heating. If liqueur is used, add to the custard when cold.
Put the sugar and egg yolks together in a pan and beat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and creamy. Add the milk and cook over gentle heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Avoid letting the custard boil or it will curdle.
If it is required hot, strain into a bain-marie and keep over very low heat, to avoid the eggs being overcooked. If required cold, strain into a bowl and stir while cooling.
Note: 1 level dessertspoon arrowroot, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold milk may be added to the sugar and egg yolks. This will prevent curdling should the custard boil.

Empress Pudding.
Put enough fresh milk in a well-lined saucepan to pulp half a pound of rice. Let the rice soften over a very slow fire, and, when quite done, add two ounces of butter and stir till it is dissolved. Set the rice by to cook: when it has cooled, stir in three well-beaten eggs. Put a layer of rice into a dish lined with puff paste, place a layer of any kind of jam over it, and fill up the dish alternately with rice and jam. This pudding may be eaten cold, in which case it should be served with boiled custard poured over it. Bake in a moderate oven for three-quarters of an hour. [Cassell’s, 1870's, English]

Tomorrow’s Story …
The Pavlova: the story.

On this Topic.

Two different rice pudding recipes were given in the story entitled Rice Pudding to Complain About.

A Previous Story for this Day …

There was a great, tragic mystery enacted on this day at Mayerling in Austria in 1889, when Crown Prince, Rudolph Habsburg, and his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera died in a murder-suicide. Or was it?

Quotation for the Day …

"I am the emperor of Germany, but you are the emperor of chefs." Emperor William II of Germany speaking to Georges-Auguste Escoffier.


Best marijuana said...

The food looks great and delicious.

Rue Matthiessen said...

This desert is in the book Life after Life, along with many other archaic dishes. Thanks for description

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Rue Mattiessen! It is always good to have another reference.