Monday, December 13, 2010

An Emergency Dinner.

I moved house, finally. Although delighted with my new home, I found myself too tired to cook dinner. And anyway, I had not yet stocked the fridge. I had a dinner emergency (or rather, a ‘no-dinner emergency’). I remembered some ‘emergency dinner menus’, with recipes, in one of Fanny Merritt Farmer’s many works. Surely this famous lady would have an idea to suit the occasion?

In What to Have for Dinner: Containing Menus with the Recipes Necessary for Their Preparation, (1905) I found the chapter I was looking for. There were two ‘Emergency Menus’, one of which I give you below. Clearly ‘post-house move exhaustion and empty fridge situation’ was not the sort of emergency that Ms Farmer had in mind, as you will see. I assume it was an ‘unexpected guest in the context of a well-stocked pantry’ sort of emergency.

Call me bold, if you will, but I do take issue with Ms Farmer on a couple of small points. The inclusion of cayenne in both the timbales and their accompanying sauce, for one. And if I was using five egg whites in the timbales, I would have adjusted the ‘hollandaise’ to use up all of the yolks, not just four of them.

Menu No.1.
Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.

Emergency Soup. Croûtons.
Salmon Timbale, French Hollandaise Sauce.
German Fried Potatoes.
Creamed Peas.
Dresden Sandwiches. Wine Sauce.
Café Noir.

Salmon Timbales.
¾ cup soft breadcrumbs
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
Few grains Cayenne
1 ½ cups flaked canned salmon
Whites 5 eggs.
Remove salmon from can, rinse thoroughly with hot water and separate into small flakes. Soak breadcrumbs in milk fifteen minutes, then cook over hot water and stir to form a smooth paste. Add salt, cayenne and salmon. Cut and fold in whites of eggs, beaten until stiff. Turn into slightly buttered mould set in pan of hot water, cover with buttered paper, and bake until firm; time required being about fifty minutes. Serve with French Hollandaise Sauce.

French Hollandaise Sauce.
½ cup butter
Yolks 4 eggs
½ cup boiling water
½ teaspoon salt
Few grains Cayenne
½ tablespoon lemon juice.
Work butter until creamy and add egg yolks one at a time, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. Put in small sauce pan and place in larger sauce pan of hot water.

Quotation for the Day.

I once read cooking is something you do for your family. But when you’re alone you sometimes have to treat yourself like family. And now that my apartment’s redolent with the smell of food it feels more like a home than a box where I hang my hat.
Waiter Rant, Waiter Rant


panavia999 said...

Wow. My idea of emergency dinner is biscuits, scrambled eggs and fried onions. Or oatmeal with canned milk and brown sugar. Or pasta and that dusty old jar of sauce on the back shelf.

Zaylinda said...

Hmmm... once I served a can of sweet corn with a sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese because it was the last food we had in the house. Then I sent bf to the store on his bike so we could continue to eat meals in regular order. (ah the joys of not having a car, how I don't miss them)