Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve at the Waldorf, 1899

A couple of years ago, we vicariously enjoyed ChristmasEve dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London, in the year 1899. Why don’t we stay in the same era, and see what the Waldorf=Astoria in New York has to offer us this evening?

Feuilles de laitue, Suédoise
Potage, Jenny Lind
Radis   Olives Celéri   Amandes sales
Mousse de homard, sauce aux crabs d’huitres
Salade de concombres
Ris-de-veau, Gourmet
Mignons de boeuf, Castellar
Pommes Laurette         Petits Pois
Perdreaux rôtis en casserole
Salade Romaine
Glaces de Fantaisie      Petits Fours
Fromage           Fruits

Now, what to choose as the recipe for the day?  If in doubt, choose potatoes – that’s one of my guiding principles. So, Pommes Laurette it is. The dish appears on a number of menus of the era, but I am unable to find a recipe in any of the usual sources. I suspect it is meant to be Pommes Lorette – a classical dish indeed.

Here it is, from Escoffier himself:

Pommes de terre Lorette.
Ingredients as for pommes dauphine*, 6 oz. grated cheese, flour.
Add the cheese to the potato and chou paste mixture. Shape into pieces the size of an egg, coat with flour and fry in deep fat for 6-8 minutes.

*Pommes dauphine.
Coquette mixture**, 8 oz. chou paste (without sugar), egg.
Combine the croquette mixture and chou paste well together. Shape into brioche and arrange on a buttered dish. Brush with egg and cook in a moderate oven.

** Croquettes de pommes de terre.
2 lb. potatoes, 3 oz butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, flour, egg and breadcrumbs for coating, deep fat for frying.
Peel and quarter the potatoes and cook quickly in a little boiling salted water. Drain, dry for a few minutes at the side of the stove, then rub through a sieve. Return the purée to the pan, add butter, seasoning and nutmeg and stir over a gentle heat for a few minutes to dry off. Remove from the heat, add the beaten egg and egg yolk. Mould into cork shapes, coat with flour and then with egg and breadcrumbs.
Fry in deep fat for 5-6 minutes, or, if preferred, mould into flat cakes, coat with flour and egg and breadcrumbs, and fry in butter in a frying pan.


Shay said...

"Feuilles de Laitue Suedoise"

I wonder if this is an early documentation of the American habit of eating green salads first.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Shay - Sorry (again) for the late response; life and holidays and writing and work have taken up more than all my time recently!
I think you may be right. Must look at a series of menus of the time and see if any pattern comes up.