Friday, May 16, 2008


May 16 ...

A reader has taken me to task (in the nicest possible way – thanks Sandra), for suggesting Dr Kitchener invented spice mixes. Sandra is correct of course, for spice mixes were made in medieval times, and it is unfortunate that we do not know the exact formulae for the very common mixes called powder douce and powder forte.

Dr. Kitchiner was however, very serious on the subject of flavourings, and gave a huge number in The Cook’s Oracle. He has recipes for essences, quintessences, tinctures, catsups, sauces, and plain powdery mixes, and his Magazine of Taste contained spaces for a selection of twenty-eight varieties. Recipes for most of his own choices are also given in the book. Perhaps some of the choices don’t appeal to you, and you have a spare spot in your mahogany box? He has plenty to spare.

Many of the essences would be equally at home in the cocktail bar and the home medicine chest.

Essence of Celery.
Brandy, or proof spirit, a quarter of a pint.
Celery seed bruised, half an ounce, avoirdupois weight.
Let it steep for a fortnight.
A few drops will immediately flavour a pint of Broth, and are an excellent addition to Pease, and other Soups, and the salad mixture of Oil, Vinegar, &c.

Essence of Cayenne.
Put half an ounce of Cayenne Pepper into half a pint of Brandy, or Wine; let it steep for a fortnight, and then pour off the clear liquor.
This is nearly equal to fresh Chilli juice.
Obs. – It is extremely convenient for the extempore seasoning, and finishing of Soup, Sauces, &c., its flavour being instantly, and equally diffused. Cayenne Pepper varies so much in strength, that it is impossible to season Soup any other way to the point of piquance.

Tincture of Cinnamon.
This exhilarating Cordial is made by pouring a bottle of genuine Cogniac on three ounces of bruised Cinnamon (Cassia will not do.)
Two teaspoonfuls in a wine-glass if water are a present and pleasant remedy in Nervous Langours, and in relaxations of the Bowels – in the latter case, five drops of Laudanum may be added to each dose.

Tincture of Lemon Peel.
A very easy, and economical way of obtaining, and preserving the flavour of Lemon Peel, is to fill a wide-mouthed pint bottle half full of Brandy, Rum, or proof spirit; and when you use a Lemon, pare the rind off very thin, and put it into the Brandy, &c., - in a fortnight, it will impregnate the spirit with the flavour very strongly.

The lemon peel in brandy idea is the one most likely to be prepared in my own kitchen – it seems like a fine way to use the lemon zest from a lemon squeezed for another recipe. Are there any cocktail enthusiasts out there who would consider inventing a new cocktail using the Essence of Cayenne? Do let us all know if you do – and please consider naming it The Kitchener, or Doctor William, wont you?

Monday’s Story …

Reassuring Roux.

Quotation for the Day …

In the orchestra of a great kitchen, the sauce chef is a soloist. Fernand Point


Arwen said...

The cinnamon one sounds good - now if only I had some spare 'genuine cogniac' lying around!

I may even have to buy some to try it. Cinnamon herbal tincture is pretty tasty - it must be even better with properly tasty alcohol.

Arwen said...

The Cinnamon cordial sounds good; now if only I had some 'Genuine cogniac' lying around to try it with.

Cinnamon herbal tincture is pretty tasty, so it'd be even more so with some alcohol that actually tastes good in itself. I may have to get some and try it!

Rochelle R. said...

This was a very interesting series. A fully stocked Magazine of Taste would be something to see. I have had Aftershock cinnamon schapps and it is very tasty.

BonzoGal said...

I bet the celery tincture would taste good in a Bloody Mary.