Friday, June 06, 2008

Dinner with Jane.

June 6 ...

On this day in 1811 Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra, and let her know that the Wedgwood dinner service that they had ordered had arrived safely. She was clearly delighted – although in an example of pure Austen-ese commented that ‘I think they might have allowed us rather larger leaves, especially in such a year of fine foliage as this … ’

The Wedgwood company was founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood who came from a family that had been potters for four generations. Within a decade he was supplying the nobility of Britain and Europe. Josiah died in Jane’s twentieth year, but the Wedgwood pottery continued on, and still continues - as it should, indefinitely and forever. Jane would no doubt be delighted.

Jane Austen would be high on my list of famous five people you could invite to a dinner party. What would I give her to eat? I have chosen a couple of recipes from her own era, inspired by her own words.

“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.”

Pigeons en Surprise.
Truss five small pigeons ; put them into boiling water, and let them boil up, keeping the livers apart; then take them out, and put into the same water five fine coss lettuces ; let these boil a quarter of an hour, squeeze them well, and open them into two parts, without separating the leaves; then cover them with a forcemeat, made with the livers of the pigeons, some parsley and green onions, five or six leaves of tarragon, a little chervil, and two shallots, the whole shred fine, and mixed with some butter or grated bacon, salt, coarse pepper, and the yolks of two eggs ; then put a pigeon upon each lettuce and cover it with the leaves in such a manner as that it cannot be seen; tie them thus with packthread, and stew slowly for an hour, with some rather fat stock, a bunch of parsley and green onions, two cloves of garlic, two large onions, a carrot and a parsnip, adding salt and pepper to your taste. When the pigeons are done, drain and untie them, wiping with a linen cloth : serve over them a good veal cullis, if you have any, otherwise put less salt into the stew ; strain it off, skim, and reduce it to the consistence of a sauce, thickening over the fire with a piece of butter, about the size of a walnut, rolled in flour, and the yolks of two eggs beat up ; serve the pigeons wrapt in the lettuces.
[French domestic cookery, by an English physician …. 1825]

“Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim.”

A Fashion Cake.
Mix a handful of
flour with a pint of good cream, half a pound of beef suet, melted and sifted, a quarter of a pound of sugar powder, half a pound of raisins stoned and chopped, dried flowers of orange, a glass of brandy, a little coriander and salt; bake it as all other cakes, about an hour, and glaze or garnish it.
[Every Woman her own House-keeper …. John Perkins, 1796]

Jane Austen has featured in other blog stories HERE and HERE.

Monday’s Story …


Quotation for the Day …

A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. Jane Austen.

1 comment:

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

We've had a wonderful series of Jane Austen adaptions on public television this year. I love the wording of the Fashion Cake recipe -- it sounds like, "a little of this, and a little of that ... "