Tuesday, April 30, 2013

French Cheese dishes, à la Australie.

Cheese is on my mind today, and as I am always intrigued by how one nation interprets the  cuisine of another, I give you some “French Cheese Dishes” from an Australian newspaper, the Chronicle of  Adelaide, on November 18. 1922. I am particularly intrigued by the idea of baked apples with cheese sauce, and the cheese shells sound pretty delicious too.

French Cheese Dishes.

Here are some delicious and nourishing cheese dishes, easily made and easily digested— and a very good substitute for those who cannot take milk.

Sweet White Cheese.
This is meant to be eaten with fresh fruit, instead of cream or custard. In winter, when fruit is hard to get, offer sponge fingers with it.
Take a quart of good milk, and let it go so sour that it separates itself into solid and liquid parts. Pour it into a clean towel over a basin, and let it drain all night. Next day the curds that remain
in the towel will be dry enough for use.
Put them into a big dish, add a quarter of a pound of finest powdered sugar, and stir them together with a wooden spoon till they are completely mixed,  and no little grains of sugar can be felt.
Then begin to add new milk, drop by drop, stirring all the while, till the mixture is reduced to the consistency of whipped cream. Serve as soon as possible. If it must be kept set it in a very cool place.
It has a slightly sharp taste, through all its sweetness, which is very refreshing. Many people prefer it to real cream, and find it easier to digest.

Potted Cheese.
This is perfectly delicious for sandwiches, and it is also very convenient for journeys or picnics, as it can so nicely be moulded into those little cardboard cream jars, which are so light and easy to carry.
Let one quart of milk turn, and drain off the curds as above. Measure them, and mix into them their own bulk of grated cheese. The cheese chosen should be as soft and fresh as possible.
Rub your basin and your wooden spoon with a bead of cut garlic, and then stir the curds and cheese thoroughly together, adding salt and red pepper to taste. When very well mixed smooth into pots. If you want it to keep for more than three days run a little melted margarine on

Cheese Mayonnaise.
Only a very little of this can be eaten at a time, as it is extremely rich.
Make a mayonnaise sauce in the ordinary way, and stir grated cheese into it, till the mixture thickens up to the consistency of butter on a cold day.
The sauce will take up an astonishing amount of cheese provided that it is thoroughly well stirred. Put it through a large rose forcer on to small pieces of bread, and serve as a savory, or spread it between crackers and serve as sandwiches.
Be careful not to add too much salt to the mayonnaise in the first place.
Use a strong cheese - Canadian cheddar is very good indeed.

Cream Cheese Sauce
It is quite a change from the ordinary cold sauces and salad dressings, and it has a fresh, clean flavor, which many people appreciate.
Take half of a small cream cheese, and put it into a basin with half its own bulk of grated cheese, salt, pepper, and just a tiny dash of made mustard. Stir them with a wooden spoon till they are thoroughly well mixed. Now begin to add cold milk, drop by drop, working it in as thoroughly and carefully as you work the oil into a mayonnaise sauce. If you go too fast you will get a curdled result instead of a smooth one. Continue mixing till the sauce is of a pouring consistency.
This is dream-like as a salad dressing, excellent also on cold fish, and on all kinds of cold cooked vegetables.
I eat it with stewed apples, and simply love it. About the greatest treat that madame can give me is baked apples with cream cheese sauce. Only, the sauce must be made without either pepper or mustard. Just try it, and tell me what you think of it.

Cheese Shells
Beat the whites of two eggs to a froth so stiff that the fork will stand in it. Add pepper, salt, and so much grated cheese that the mixture becomes just stiff enough to stand in little piles. Stir the cheese in as gently as possible, in order to avoid crushing down the fluffiness of the egg.
Have ready a deep pan of fat heated to smoking -point. Take up with a fork a little lump of' the mixture, not larger than a walnut. Tap the fork on the side of the pan, to shake off the lump into the fat. In a very few seconds it will turn brown, puff up enormously, and swim to the top. Drain them very well, keep them hot till the time, of service comes, and send in  liberal dishful. For,  besides being so nice that folks are tempted to eat a great many  of them, they are deceptive things, being mere shells, which crumble to nothing  in the mouth.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ships' Biscuits.

In a mere few days I will be finished The Almanac. In the meanwhile I am choosing the easy route and giving you stories that speak for themselves. In the wake of last week's World War I stories, I thought the following article might be interesting. It is the description of the making of ships' biscuits (hardtack) on a commercial scale in London in the early nineteenth century.The method was described by William Burney, in A New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (London, 1815)

William Burney, in A New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (London, 1815) described the method of making hard biscuits on a huge scale for the British Navy in the early nineteenth century.

The process of biscuit-making for the navy is simple and ingenious, and is nearly as follows: A large lump of dough, consisting merely of flower [flour]  and water, is mixed up together, and placed exactly in the center of a raised platform, where a man sits on a machine, called a horse, and literally rides up and down throughout its whole circular direction, until the dough is equally indented, and this is repeated till the dough is sufficiently kneaded.
In this state it is handed over to a second workman, who, with a large knife, puts it in a proper state for the use of those bakers who more immediately attend the oven. They are five in number; and their different departments are well calculated for expedition and exactness.
The first man on the farthest side of a large table moulds the dough, until it has the appearance muffins, and which he does two together, with each hand; then delivers them over to the man on the other side of the table, who stamps them on both sides with a mark, and throws them on a smaller table, where stands the third workman, whose business is merely to separate the different pieces into two, and place them under the hand of him who supplies the oven, whose work of throwing or chucking the biscuits on the peel must be performed with the greatest exactness and regularity. The fifth arranges them in the oven, and is so expert, that though the different biscuits are thrown to him at the rate of seventy in a minute, the peel is always disengaged in time to receive them separately.
So much critical exactness and neat activity occur in the exercise of this layout, that it is difficult to decide whether the palm of excellence is due to the moulder, the maker, the splitter, the chucker, or the depositor; all of them, like the wheels of a machine seeming actuated by the same principle. The business is to deposit in the oven seventy biscuits in a minute; and this is actually accomplished with the regularity of a clock; the clack of the peel, during its motion in the oven, operating it like a pendulum. The biscuits thus baked are kept in repositories, which receive warmth from being placed in drying lofts over the ovens, till they are sufficiently dry to be packed into bags of an hundred weight each, and removed into store-houses for immediate use.
At Deptford, the bakehouse belonging to the victualling-office has twelve ovens each of which bakes twenty shoots daily; the quantity of flour used for each shoot is two bushels, or 112 pounds; which baked, produce 102 pounds of biscuit. Ten pounds are regularly allowed on each shoot for shrinkage, &c. The allowance of biscuit in the navy is one pound for each man per day; so that, at Deptford alone, they can furnish bread, daily, for 24,480 men, independent of Portsmouth and Plymouth. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Kitchen Warrior.

I want to keep to the World War I and Australian themes today, but this time to remember that the war was fought at home too. Mothers and wives and sweethearts had their role to play, on what became called the “Kitchen Front” in World War II.

Here, from the Leader (Melbourne) December 1917, are a few recipes for wartime home warriors.

Now that so many of the main foodstuffs are both scarce and dear, the following recipes will be found most useful for the worried housewife. The ingredients are nourishing, economical and easy to cook.

Required: 4 oz. of flour, 2 oz. of barley flour, a good gill of milk, a pinch of salt, a teaspoonful of baking powder.
Make a batter with the milk and two flours three hours before the dish is required; then, just before cooking, add the salt and baking powder. Have ready a pan with fairly deep fat in it at boiling point, take a tablespoonful of the mixture and drop it in-the batter will form into a kind of dumpling and rise - cook a golden brown, drain on kitchen paper, and put on a hot dish. The sedumplings are delicious served with any kind of meat or by themselves with a nice brown gravy.

Savory Spaghetti.                                                                                           
Required: 6 oz. of spaghetti, 2 tablespoonfuls of grated cheese, a good walnut of butter, a large onion boiled and chopped, a little chopped tomato or tomato pulp, pepper and salt. Have ready some boiling salted water and drop the spaghetti in: boil until tender, drain. Into the saucepan put the butter, let it heat, toss the spaghetti into it, add the tomato pulp, chopped onions, and season to taste. Last of all, sprinkle in the cheese; heat, then serve the mixture very hot

Lentil Pasties.
Required: 4 oz. of boiled lentils, a nut of butter, a pinch of mace, a dessertspoonful of finely grated cheese, pepper, salt, short pastry.
Make the pastry by mixing 8 oz. of dripping into 6 oz. of flour, add a pinch of salt and half a teaspoonful of baking powder.
Mash the lentils up with a fork, add the cheese and seasonings, roll out the pastry thinly, cut into rounds; on each round put some of the mixture, fold over, wet the edges and pinch them together, bake a golden brown, and serve with brown gravy.

Nourishing Cheese Dish.
Required: 2 oz. of maize semolina, 2 oz. of grated cheese, a nut of butter, almost a pint of milk, 1 egg, pepper and salt. Stir the maize into the milk and cook for almost 10 minutes; then add the grated cheese and cook another five minutes, stirring all the time; season, and let the mixture cool a little, then add the beaten yolk of an egg. Whip up the white of egg stiffly, stir well into the rest of the ingredients. Pour all into a greased baking dish. Bake for half an hour and serve very hot.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Anzac Rations.

On the day that we here in Australia honour the ANZAC heroes who fought and died on the Gallipoli peninsula in World War I, I thought it would be interesting to look at what the Australian contingent received by way of rations.

Military orders stated in April, 1915, “the scale of rations after leaving Egypt [a stopping-point en route to Gallipoli] will be:-”
·         1¼ lbs. Fresh Meat or 1 lb. (nominal) preserved meat.
·         1¼ lbs, Bread or 1 lb. Biscuit or 1 lb. Flour.
·         4 ozs. Bacon.
·         3 ozs. Cheese.
·         2 ozs. Peas, Beans or dried Potatoes.
·         ⅝ ozs. Tea. ¼ lb. Jam.
·         3 ozs. Sugar.
·         ½ oz. Salt, 1/20 oz. Mustard, 1/36 oz. Pepper.
·         1/10 gill Limejuice. at discretion of G.O.C. on recommendation of S.M.O
·         ½ gill Rum. at discretion of G.O.C. on recommendation of S.M.O
·         Tobacco not exceeding 2 ozs per week at discretion of G.O.C. on recommendation of S.M.O
There is no recipe for the day to come from these rations, so instead I give you another Aussie recipe, for the ubiquitous pumpkin this time, from nearly a decade earlier. I hope my American friends particularly enjoy this pie!
Pumpkin Pie (Australian Recipe)
Ingredients: Half-pint of pumpkin pulp,- three-quarter pint of milk, two eggs, 2oz. of sugar, mace, or nutmeg, short crust.
Method:  Take a ripe pumpkin, pare off the skin, halve it, remove the seeds, and cut it into thick slices.  Put it into a lined stewpan or earthenware jar with a small quantity of water, and stew gently until tender. Pass through a fine sieve, measure the pulp, add sugar, yolks of eggs, milk, and a little mace or nutmeg, and lastly the whites of eggs previously whisked to a stiff froth, Have a pie-dish ready, lined round the edges with paste; put in the preparation, cover with paste, and bake in a quick oven. Serve either hot or cold.
The Daily News (Perth, WA,) December 7, 1907

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Australian Stew.

I have another Aussie story/recipe for you today, the eve of Anzac Day. It is from The West Australian, November 21, 1879, and speaks to a number of issues not strictly related to food, but I feel sure you will enjoy it, and will feel more confident about ordering your next stew pot to be made.

The Editor asks me to write something for his Ladies' Column, and I eagerly seize the opportunity to disburden my mind upon a subject which I have much at heart; I want to teach my West Australian country-women how to stew. There are of course exceptions to every rule; but, as a rule, we know no-thing at all about it, or if we do, we certainly don't practice what we know.
Housewives living in town, have no idea what a part that stew-pot plays in our bush economy. In town you can always get a joint of some sort or another, which requires comparatively speaking but little art in its preparation for the table; but, in the bush, when you are probably supplied with mutton from your own flocks, where the meat is often very poor, very frequently reduced to culls, and you have to make use of all parts of the carcase, a decent joint is often a rarity and the stew-pot comes into constant requisition. Now unless you know how to use that stew-pot properly, how to dress your poor mutton up and convert it into succulent and palateable dishes, you have often fare both monotonous and meagre, with the added pleasure of seeing sulky male faces scowling round your board.
I have had a wide experience in this colony, of many cooks, and many houses, and I have no hesitation in saying that as a rule, good pot cookery is a lost art, or rather perhaps an art which has never been acquired. I will just describe the way in which a West Australian stew is generally made: the meat is cut up, roughly, and thrown untrimmed into a pot; pepper and salt is dusted over it, an abundance of water is poured on, and then the pot is set upon the fire. Probably no further notice is taken of it until a noisy hissing proclaims the fact that the water has boiled over. Our housewife runs quickly to the rescue, and pulls it to one side, where it will boil more slowly. This occurs probably, at the outside, two hours before dishing up. The stew boils on, at sometimes slowly, sometimes fast, according to the accidental state of the fire beneath it, till, a quarter of an hour before dinner time, it occurs to the cook that the thickening might as well go in. The flour dredge is then put into active requisition, the mess stirred up perhaps a dish of sance is added, another boil is given, and then the stew is served. This method – the method almost universally adopted - makes a washy unpalateable compound, which only accentuates the badness of your lean mutton or tough beef.
I was in darkness myself not long ago, and I will tell my readers how I learnt to use the stew-pot properly. Great had been my trouble about this stew-pot. Where we lived was very cold wet country in winter time. Often for six months in the year, and more, the sheep were very poor, and we could not get a decent joint once in a month. So I made stews, and small curries, and tried the cooking pot in every imaginable way, but all to no purpose. My husband was, like most men, dreadfully unreasonable about his food, always grumbling, and thinking that everything was better done, in other people's houses than in his. He was particularly fond of telling me that I should take a lesson in pot-cooking from old Bill, our shepherd at the swamp. This annoyed me verymuch. I used to look dignified, and make believe I did not hear; but in secret I often cried about lit, and sat up studying Mrs. Beeton till my eyes were dim and sore.
One day it struck me that without letting anybody know, or lowering my dignity at all, I might learn something from 'old Bill,' and profit by it. So I waited for a chance. A good one came ere long; a cow had calved out on the run, and the men being all engaged, I volunteered to fetch it, and once out of sight of home I galloped off in a straight line for 'old Bill's swamp. In front of his hut door, was a great line of ashes, with a pot handle sticking out of it. Nobody was there, so I scraped the ashes carefully away, till I made bare the lid, and could take it off with a forked stick. Then I saw at once what Harry meant! Gently, very gently simmering was a most delicious stew; velvety, smooth, shining, and rich brown in colour.  The meat was soft, but not in rags, browned but not burnt; as different as possible in colour, in consistency, and in appearance, from anything I ever made. I tasted it, and tasted it again, and felt quite sorry for poor Harry, and sat down and waited till ‘old Bill' brought in his sheep, to learn the secret of this mystery.
It was soon told. He put his meat into the pot, with a little bit of dripping, and no water. This was placed at dawn upon the ashes, not the fire, and by the time his sheep were ready to draw off, the moisture had run out of the meat, and formed almost sufficient gravy to steam the stew. To this he added a little sauce or curry, and about a wine glass full of water or of broth. Then a big hole was made in his large heap of well-warmed cinders, some cool ashes were spread upon the bottom of this hole, and the pot put upon them, more cool ashes were built round it, and then the hot ones all banked up. The cover of his pot was made dutch-oven fashion, and the ashes were heaped upon it too, until nothing was seen but the black handle, sticking out of this great white cinder heap. Bedded in these ashes, which were not too hot, but kept up the heat that was in them nearly all day long, 'old Bill's pot simmered slowly till the night, and when he opened it, the richest and most succulent of stews was his reward.
I soon learnt, to work upon old Bill's method under the altered conditions of a kitchen range, and I will give the result of my experience. In the first place you should have your stew-pots made with dutch-oven covers. Having such a one, this is how you should proceed. Put your pot on the fire, with a little butter or dripping in it, and while this is melting, cut up your meat and trim it properly, free it from skin and gristle, and everything that is not nice; then dust it with a pinch of salt, put it in the pot and cover up. Place your pot in a very moderately warm position on the fire bars, and put a few hot ashes on the top. In half an hour, look to see if it wants moistening at all, and if it does, use a little drop of stock. (It is very easy to keep a small supply of stock on hand, with any sort of management.) If you wish to use sauce, curry powder, lemon, wine, cayenne, parsley, or anything else to flavour your stew, now is the time to put it in. Cover it up again and put it on with fresh warm ashes on the lid, and let it simmer slowly, very slowly for several hours, three or four at least, adding a little stock when wanted; Never let it approach a boil; it is done for if you do. And you must keep hot ashes on the top if you wish to be successful; the meat must braise, as well as simmer from the heat below. Half an hour before you want to dish if the rich, velvety, dark-brown gravy, which this method of pot-cooking should produce, is not as thick as you would like it, mix a little cornflour or arrowroot with a little stock and add; stir gently, so as not to break up the meat, and simmer on again till ready.
If housewives would give these directions for pot-cooking a fair trial, varying of course the combinations according to their ingenuity and taste, I feel sure their bush dinners would be more frequently successful, and their husbands less frequently provoking!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Australian Recipes, from Australia.

In a couple of days it is a day of great national importance in Australia and New Zealand – it is Anzac Day, the anniversary of the day in 1914 that Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula and met their Turkish enemies. It was meant to be a short campaign, but dragged on for eight months and left 8,000 Australians and many other Allied and Turkish men dead.

So, I want to give some Australian stories this week, and I start with the question of “What is Australian food?” Don’t you hate that sort of question?

From time to time over the years I have been writing this blog, I have given recipes for things I have never eaten, and probably never will – such as skunk, from a few days ago – because they are not available here, and are not on the tourist menu of places I might visit.
It set me to wonder what “Australian Food” means to non-Australians. Often it is something that ordinary Australians rarely eat - unless they have overseas visitors – such as kangaroo. It was a little different a hundred years or more ago, when bush food was more readily available, and more people lived in the bush.
Here was The Queenslander’s (Brisbane) take on “Australian Food” on April 30, 1898.


The following recipes are from Mrs.Maclurcan's Australian Cookery Book.

Jugged Wallaby.
One small wallaby, two onions, black pepper. Cut the wallaby into small pieces, flour and fry them in a little butter until nice and brown, put them in a jar with the herbs tied together, the onions sliced, and the cloves (about half a dozen), half a teaspoonful of black pepper, and a teaspoonful of salt; cover with water; slice half the lemon, and add the juice of the other half ; put the jar in a saucepan of water, keep it closed very tight and allow it to cook for four hours, keeping the saucepan full of boiling water. Melt the jelly, add to the port wine, and about half an hour before serving put in the jar; thicken with a little brown flour. Serve with red currant jelly.

Roast Scrub Turkey.
Pluck and clean the turkey nicely, rub  it over with a little flour, put it in a baking tin with dripping, place pieces of bacon fat over the breast, baste it well all the time; bake for an hour. Serve with bread sauce.

Roast Wild Duck.
Pluck the duck nicely (do not scald it or the flavour will be spoilt), singe and wash it, dry it with a clean towel; rub it over with a little flour, cover with buttered paper, and bake in a moderate oven. It may be stuffed with ordinary stuffing. It is an improvement to squeeze a lemon over it before yon bake it. Serve with slices of lemon and port wine sauce.

Barramundi a la Normandie.
Boil your fish, and remove the skin, then cover the fish evenly with the following preparation :—To the yolk of three eggs add a wine-glassful of white sauce, an ounce of grated cheese, juice of  a lemon, a teaspoonful of anchovy sauce, a little nutmeg and pepper. Stir this over the fire until it begins to thicken, then then spread it over the fish. Shake over the surface the whites of two hard-boiled eggs and yolks rubbed through a sieve, with a dessert-spoonful of cheese. Twenty minutes before dinner put it in the oven to heat thoroughly and brown. Serve with prawn sauce.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Foreign Food.

Some time ago I gave you some snippets from the Food Journal  Vol. I, (London, 1871) and I have been dipping into it again. It is the journal that just keeps on giving. One article that caught my eye was on frogs, and the French predilection for them as a gourmet item, and the second brief story was on the African manatee. I bet not many of you have eaten manatee. Apparently it tastes like pork.

First, on frogs, the 1871 English view:

We believe that the notion that Frenchmen live principally on frogs, is somewhat discredited in England at present; but the following would go to show that the creed of our grandfathers is not altogether without foundation even at the present day:—" The exportation of frogs to France," says the Echo du Luxembourg, "has developed considerably of late. A man named 'B.,' of Vance, has forwarded 200,000 in the last three weeks; on Thursday he sent off 30,000. They are chiefly sent to Rheims, Nancy, and Paris. A thousand frogs fetch 13fr. (10s. 6d.), and weigh 50 kilogrammes (1 cwt.). They enter France duty free. At Rheims 25 pairs of frogs' legs can be bought for sixty centimes (6d.). The thighs, as everyone knows, make delicious joints (des succulents rolis) with white sauce and in a fricassée. They are thus a dish by no means to be despised. But the rest of the body, and the skin—the sticky, slimy skin—what is done with that? Why, they make turtle soup of it! Yes, that savoury mork turfle (sic!), over which the gourmands lick their lips, has for its chief foundation the animals which haunt the marshes and the fields of Luxembourg. The autumn and the spring are the best time of year for frogs."

Secondly, part of the article on the manatee:

The Manatee. … Indeed, the manatee seems nowhere to have been common; and until the missionaries at Old Calabar sent home a few skulls, it was one of the rarest creatures in museums. Dr. Vogel only got one specimen, and Dr. Balfour Baikie found a head in a Dju-dju, or sacred heap, near a miserable village on one of the interminable dreary creeks at the mouth of the Niger. It is a royal perquisite, like the sturgeon in Britain, and is generally taken to the chief's table; but none of my missionary friends seem to have tasted it. Dr. Vogel, however, speaks of it as very good, its flesh and fat being like pork, and very well flavoured. There is no reason why it should not be so. It is herbivorous, feeding on sea weeds when in the sea, and on grass, etc., when in the rivers or marshes. It reaches i o ft. in length, and becomes very fat. We know, too, that its near relative, the now extinct Rhytina Stelleri, during the short period which elapsed between man's discovery of it, and his eating it off the face of the earth (it was discovered in 1741, and the last survivor was consumed in 1768), supplied a large store of what is described as most excellent food to the whalers who annually wintered at Bearing's Island, where they congregated in numbers for the purpose of economising their stores, and feeding on the fresh supplies which that animal afforded. A similar fate probably awaits the manatee, although its wider distribution no doubt gives it a longer day.

I could find no recipes for manatee, no doubt it is cooked like pork, but perhaps it is protected – I hope. I have frogs for you however.

Grenouilles Frites, or Fried Frogs.
Use only the hind-quarters of the frogs. After washing them in warm water, soak well; then put them into cold vinegar with a little salt, and let them remain one or two hours, after which throw them into scalding water, and remove the skin without tearing the flesh. Wipe them dry, dust flour on them and fry in butter or sweet oil, with plenty of chopped parsley.When brown, dust pepper and a little salt over them, and garnish with crisped parsley. Stewed frogs are seasoned with butter, wine, beaten eggs and parsley chopped fine.
La Cuisine Creole (New Orleans, 1883) by Lafcadio Hearne.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Daily Dilemma.

It is time to take a cruise again. This time we are on board the R.M.S Tantallon Castle, en route to South Africa. The time is “shortly before the unfortunate events of the last days of 1895 and the first of 1896” (presumably the Jameson Raid, between the two Boer Wars.)  Our virtual host on this vicarious voyage is a Scotsman, David S. Salmond, who wrote about the real journey in
Diary of a Trip to South Africa on R.M.S. Tantallon Castle, published in 1899.

He and his wife board the ship in Blackwall, London, on April 4. At one point in his narrative he gives the menu for a single day’s meals. I like to have fun with these menus, and try to decide what I would have chosen to eat. What would you have selected?

Breakfast, from 8.30 till 10.30 Porridge, grilled bloaters, grilled bacon and straw potatoes, poached eggs on toast, fried and boiled eggs, plain omelette, minced mutton collops and
poached egg, devilled kidneys, chops and steak from the grill (to order), curried mutton, straw and mashed potatoes, rolls and toast. Cold: Boiled ham, German sausage. Tea, coffee, and cocoa.

Luncheon, at 1. Pea soup, mutton cutlets, French beans sauté, savoury hot pot, boiled calfs head, bath chap and parsley sauce, chops and steaks from the grill (to order), baked and mashed potatoes, stewed apples with rice, shortbread. Cold: Salmon en Mayonnaise, sardines, roast shoulder of mutton with mint sauce, roast chicken, boiled York ham, game pie, pickled pork ; roast veal and ham, chicken and ham sausage; celery, cucumber ; Stilton, Cheddar, and
Gorgonzola cheese ; caraway-seed buns, oat-cakes, pulled bread fruit; coffee.

Dinner, 6.30. Olives farcies, anchovy eggs ; consommé royale; fried cod steaks, Dutch sauce; mutton cutletes a la reforme, chicken and truffle patties; roast loin of beef with horseradish, leg of mutton boned and stuffed, onion sauce, corned ox tongue with carrots; roast goose, apple sauce,. Ptarmigan, curried veal a la Bombay; saute ands  boiled potatoes, cauliflower, parsley sauce, Canton pudding, lemon jellies, Swiss apple tart, Polish cakes; Stilton, Cheddar,
and Gorgonzola cheese, macaroni au gratin; pine-apples, French plums, oranges, Barcelona nuts; coffee.

Three things on that menu intrigue me: Polish Cakes, Canton Pudding, and Barcelona Nuts. Google tells me that Barcelona nuts are a type of hazelnut (or filbert) so I know I would like them. Polish cakes seems to be a generic name for delicious pastries – but perhaps the recipe below is more specifically correct? Canton Pudding remains elusive; if you know of it, please let us know.

Polish Cakes.
Roll out a piece of puff paste and cut it into squares; then with some yolk of egg and a paste brush touch each corner of the squares, and the middle, and press them down with your finger; brush them lightly over with the yolk of egg, which should be diluted with a few drops of water—about eighteen will be sufficient for a dish; bake them in rather a quick oven; when they are done sift sugar over them, and glaze them with a salamander; while the paste is hot make a little hole in the centre, which is to be filled with marmalade, or with good puff paste: there is an immense variety of pastry to be made, which the ingenuity of the cook will invent.
The Young Cook's Guide, with Practical Observations (1836) by I. Roberts.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Time for Cake.

It is time for cake, and perhaps a little trifle. I am perilously close to “finishing” my monstrous Food History Almanac (it will happen today, folks) and I deserve a little sweetness. Trifle has never really been my thing, and I don’t know if today’s offering can really be called trifle, but some of you like it, I know. It is not actually called “trifle” in the recipe anyway, but and it is Charlotte Russe, but it is surely not a genuine version of that dish either.  

The recipes come from a “U.S. Expert[‘s] Suggest[ions]s for an Ideal Christmas Dinner in” 1915. They were published in the New York Times on December 19, 1915 and were given as alternative desserts to heavy pudding and cake. The expert was Miss Caroline L. Hunt, of the Bureau of Home Economics. I don’t believe we have such a bureau anymore, in any country, do we?

Both recipes contain honey, which I believe I have neglected in this blog to date.

Honey Charlotte Russe.
1 quart cream
Six lady-fingers [biscuits]
½ cup delicately flavored honey.
Chill the honey by placing the dish containing it in ice water. Whip the cream and add the honey, mixing the two well. Line a dish with the lady-fingers and fill it with the honey and cream. Serve very cold.

Ribbon Cake.
½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
3 ½ cups flour
5 teaspoonfuls baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom seed
1 ½ teaspoons ginger
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ cup raisins, seeded and cut in pieces
½ cup figs, finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
4 eggs.
Rub the butter and sugar together and add the yolks of the eggs. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add them to the mixture, alternating with the milk. Finally, add the whites of the eggs, well beaten. Bake two thirds of the mixture in two layer pans. To the remainder add the spices, fruit, and honey, and bake. Put the layers together, with crystallized honey.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Earl Henry’s Household.

I want to change tack completely today, and give you a glimpse into life in a grand household in the sixteenth century. My source is the Household Books of the third and fourth Earls of Derby, as published by The Chetham Society in 1853.

Henry Stanley was born in 1531 and inherited the title in 1572 on the death of his father, Edward, third Earl of Stanley. His household included 140 servants, plus a constant stream of visitors and guests, and there was also the obligation to feed the large number of “indigent dependants” who flocked to the hall to receive their dole of leftovers.

One the early introductory paragraphs about Earl Henry’s household gives a marvelous picture of what “self-sufficiency” really meant in the sixteenth century. The Chetham Society record says:

The extent of the Earl’s domain supplied him with most of these necessaries of life. His flocks and herds were the produce of his own lands, his park furnished his family with venison, and his warrens and fishponds readily supplied game and fish for the table. The malt was made in his own kilns, and the hops apparently grown on his own lands,‘ whilst the ale, in no stinted quantity, was brewed by experienced hands. The ordinary weekly consumption of the household was about one ox, a dozen calves, a score of sheep, fifteen hogsheads of ale, and plenty of bread, fish, and poultry. The low lands around Lathom furnished turves, and the lordly forests around Knowsley logs of wood for fires, whilst the capacious vaults of stone, called ovens, capable of containing more than an ox at one time, and seldom disused, were kept heated with this homely fuel of the country. Fossil coal abounded in the neighbourhood, but was apparently unknown. Candles of wax, but principally of tallow, proving that rushlights were not ordinarily used, were made by the household Chandler, whilst Carpenters and Rough casters were constantly employed in attending to the repairs and decorations of the massive half-timbered halls. Paneling of oak was little used at this time, and Arras men were engaged throughout the year in making tapestry and embroidering hangings for the superior rooms in the several houses of the Earl. Confectionaries, sweetmeats, and fruits, are not mentioned by name, and the produce of the Gardens might not be large, as only one Gardener is named in the Roll of Servants, landscape scenery and picturesque views, now so much cultivated, being at that time little regarded even by a person of Lord Bacon’s refined taste. It must, however, be admitted that Leicester’s gardens and pleasure grounds at Kenilworth, as described by Laneham in 1575, appear to have been extensive, ornamental, and laid out with much judgment5 Wine is also omitted in the accounts of Earl Henry, although in 1569 Gilbert Earl of Shrewsbury stated that two tuns in a month did not suffice for the consumption of his household, and it is an important item in the expenditure of Edward Earl of Derby a little earlier. In 1563 the Steward paid 61.[pounds] a tun for wine, whilst so great was the increase in the price of luxuries during the reign of Elizabeth, that in 1606 half a tun of wine for the use of the Earl of Cumberland’s household amounted to 81. 5s. No delicacies are specified, but these might be included under the general and somewhat comprehensive word Acates, and, like the ordinary fare, would be most abundantly supplied at a Christening,1 at the great festivals of the Church,2 and at large entertainments.

There are many other interesting insights in the records. An order was made, for example, that dogs not be allowed in the dining hall for they would steal from the alms tubs and annoy the guests with their barking and fighting. Elsewhere is a regulation that only a few people were allowed to be present when the Earl’s dinner was being dressed, to reduce the chance of poison being added. I sense some future posts from this wonderful source!

As the recipe for the day, I give you something from one of the few sixteenth century cookery books, The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (London 1594.)

To boyle a Mallard with Cabage.
TAke the Cabage and pick them cleane, and wash them, and parboile them in faire water: then put them in a colender, and let the water runne from them, then put them in a faire pot, and as much beefe broth as will couer them, and the Marie of three Mary bones whole. Then take a Mallard, and with your knife giue him a launce along vppon each side of the breast. Then take him of, and put him into your Cabage, and his dripping with him, for he must be roasted halfe ynough, and his dripping saued, and so let them stew the space of one hower. Then put in some pepper and a litle salt, & serue in your Mallard vpon sops, and the Cabage about him, and of the vppermost of the broth.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Instead of Meat, in WW I.

I was going to change topics today, but it seems that the stories from the last couple of days have touched a chord for many of you, so I will have one more little dip into the wartime leaflet published by the USDA, in 1917.

Naturally, meatless meals were heavily promoted during WW I, and this little leaflet did its best. I thought the following three dishes were interesting, especially the creamed peanut dish. I am also intrigued by the naming of the Calcutta Rice dish.

Pea Soufflé.
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons fat
1 cup skim milk
1 cup mashed cooked peas (any kind)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Few drops of onion juice
Make a white sauce from flour, fat, and milk, as in preceding recipe. Mash the cooked peas to a pulp. Beat white and yolks of eggs separately. Mix vegetable pulp, seasonings, sauce, and well-beaten yolks. Fold in stiffly-beaten whites, put in greased baking dish and bake in slow oven until firm. Lima beans, split peas, or fresh or canned green peas may be used.

Creamed Peanuts and Rice.
1 cup rice (uncooked)
2 cups chopped peanuts
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
White Sauce: 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons fat, 3 cups milk (whole or skim), place in baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
Peppers and celery may be added, if desired.
Boil rice. Make white sauce by mixing flour in melted fat and mixing with milk. Stir over fire till it thickens, Mix rice, peanuts, and seasoning with sauce

Calcutta Rice.
2 cups rice
2 cups tomatoes
½ pound cheese
1 tablespoon salt
Peppers or celery or onions may be added if desired.
Boil rice. Mix it with tomatoes, grated cheese, and seasoning, and pour into baking dish. Bake half an hour. If peppers or celery are used, cut up and boil with rice.

CHEESE IS A FINE MEAT-SAVER. There is a great deal of food in a little piece of it. Don’t eat it at the end of a meal when you have already had enough. You would not eat a piece of meat then. An inch cube of American cheese contains a third more protein than the same sized piece of lean meat. Cheese is excellent food if eaten at the right time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Do You Know Cornmeal?

From the same food leaflet that gave us Friday’s Post ‘Do You Know Oatmeal?’ – the WW I booklet published in 1917 by the U.S Dept. of Agriculture for the U.S Food Administration -  I would like to give you some of the ideas for using cornmeal.

Corn comes in for a higher level of promotional enthusiasm than oatmeal. It was quite clear from the leaflet that it was not only economically and nutritionally sensible to use more cornmeal, but it is was an act of patriotism.

Do You Know Cornmeal?
Service to Your Country
Nourishing Food for You

On subsequent pages are inserted phrases such as:

Corn Saved Our Pioneers
Corn Helps us Feed the World
Corn Meal - Our Ally!

There are a number of recipes for cornbread, but I like this variation on cormeal mush or polenta – with ginger.
Corn Meal and Milk.
Do you use corn-meal mush for a breakfast food? It is both cheap and good. Cooked in skim milk instead of water it is extra fine and the food value of the dish in nearly doubled.Here is a delicious corn meal and milk dessert.

Indian Pudding.
4 cups milk (whole or skim)
¼ cup cornmeal
⅓ cup molasses
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger.
Cook milk and meal in a double boiler 20 minutes; add molasses, salt, and ginger. Pour into buttered pudding dish and bake two hours in a slow oven, or use your fireless cooker. Serve with milk. This makes a good and nourishing dessert.
Serves six.

The following recipe is not for cornmeal, it comes from a section on vegetables later in the leaflet. I am intrigued by the method – the slicing through the kernels and the scraping of the remaining half-kernels on the cob. I have never come across this before, and would be interested to know if you know it. I expected the recipe to include an egg or two, but I guess it must thicken a little as it cooks anyway, from the starch in the kernels?

Green-Corn Pudding.
This is a delicious way to serve either sweet corn or the tender field corn. A little sugar may be added to the field corn if desired.
Husk and silk 12 good-sized ears of corn. Slice off half the kernel with a sharp knife, and with the blunt edge of the knife scrape out the milky part that remains on the cob. Add a tablespoon of butter, salt, and pepper, and three-fourths of a cup of milk. Bake for 45 minutes, allowing it to brown on top. This makes a creamy dish, which is best served in the pan or baking dish in which it bakes.