Thursday, January 05, 2012

Beefing up your Ice-Cream.

A little book which has featured here previously - and which I love on principle if not in practice on account of its title - gives us today’s recipe. The book is called Quick Cooking: A Book of Culinary Heresies for the Busy Wives and Mothers of the Land: by one of the heretics, Flora Haines Loughead (New York 1887)

This recipe is a cheat, really, on two counts. Although it is listed in the ‘Quickest Dishes’ section  (recipes taking five to fifteen minutes), it actually takes double the time as it requires the prior preparation of the basic beef tea, which is also another Quick Dish. The second fib is that it is “ic-cream” which it is clearly not, there being nothing creamy about it at all. It could be more accurately described, perhaps as a savoury granita, or maybe a very chilled soup.

464.  Beef-Tea Ice Cream.
Prepare beef tea as directed in No. 574, being careful to put no salt to the meat or juice; then pour into a freezer or a small tin pail packed in ice and salt, turn briskly, stirring occasionally, and when it is nicely frozen stir in a little salt.
This is a peculiarly grateful dish for invalids in hot weather, or for fever patients.

574. Beef Tea.
1 pound juicy, lean beef, cut into small pieces; put in a stone bottle, cork tightly, and boil an hour. Press out the juice, and salt to taste.

Although I don’t fancy this frozen beef stock myself, (I am a hot-soup kinda girl), the recipe does trigger a medley of random thoughts. Firstly, it immediately made me think of the very modern  concept of bacon ice-cream which has been popping up here and there recently.  The concept of savoury ice-cream is not new at all of course – you will recall that a previous post reminded us of a nineteenth century recipe for cheeseice-cream. Secondly, I wondered if the name was an attempt to tempt the appetite of the invalid, whilst sneaking in something nutritious.  In a severe case of man-flu, which do you think would get a positive response - ‘Would you like some ice-cream, Dear?’ or ‘How about a little dish of Beef Granita?’

The method of cooking the beef tea is interesting too. A stone bottle or jar set in a pan of water was a way of cooking something gently for a long time before the advent of the electric slow-cooker or crockpot. It was called ‘jugging’, and a number of recipes using this method have appeared in this blog in the past. It was often used for making pickles and preserves – and of course, ‘jugged hare’, which sometimes turns out to be the same as a ‘civet.’ There is more to explore on ‘jugging’ in the future, methinks.

I do also love the use of the word ‘grateful’ in respect of inanimate objects such as a dish of ice-cream or meaty granita. ‘Grateful’ used to be used in the sense of ‘pleasing to the mind or the senses, agreeable, acceptable, welcome,’ and I think it is a pity that we have stopped using it in this way. I cant think of any other single word which says so much about a pleasing dish – can you?

Quotation for the Day.

Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
And health on both!
William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act III, Scene IV

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