I don’t know about you, but to me, suggested daily menus in magazines and cookery books always seem a bit (or a lot) unrealistic. Nevertheless, I have a soft spot for old cookery books that do offer this advice, and today I want to give you an extract from one of my old favorites. It is an English cookery book – but as my home since my teens has been in Australia, the seasonal advice for me is all topsy-turvy of course. Perhaps I should look at June 2 for ideas for December 2?
For those of you not stuffing yourselves with mangoes in sweltering in summer heat, I give you suggestions and recipes from Cre-Fydd's family fare : the young housewife's daily assistant, on all matters relating to cookery and housekeeping : containing bills of family fare for every day in the year, which include breakfast and dinner for a small family, and dinner for two servants, also twelve bills of fare for dinner parties, and two for evening entertainments, with the cost annexed, also diet for invalids, and a few things worth knowing (1864, London.) Firstly, here are the authoress’ comments on the usefulness (or otherwise) of cookery books in general – and I am sure they will strike a chord with anyone who has been frustrated by the mismatch between their own efforts with a particular published recipe and the photograph in the book itself.
The Authoress would not have been thus daring had she not ascertained by her own experience, as well as that of many friends, that whatever the other merits of previous works on the subjects of cookery and household management, they are not practically available for the moderate and economical, yet reasonably luxurious housekeeper, or for those who are young or who are inexperienced in those matters. In those works there is no lack of receipts, maxims, and directions to the cook; but in general, when tested by a moderate cook, or directed by an inexperienced person, failure and disappointment are the result.
Let any young housewife in moderate circumstances (and we cannot all afford to invoke the shade of Ude, or have Francatelli at our elbow) answer whether, when she has put the newly-purchased cookery-book into the hands of her cook, she has not been ultimately disappointed. Not from excessive fastidiousness on her part, or from the want of goodwill in the cook, but because, in the majority of instances the receipts and directions are only suited to those cooks who are well informed, and have had considerable practice. They are often the result of theoretical ingenuity, or the productions of those who know, but who cannot impart their knowledge to the uninformed.
Theory and practice must be combined; and that combination put forth in such language, that while the lady will not object to read, the cook will be able to understand.
For this day, December 2, the authoress of suggests the following dishes for the day:
Rissoles of veal, ham, kippered salmon.
Stewed ox palates, Neapolitan agnelloti, spinach, potatoes
Lady Betty’s pudding
KITCHEN [i.e servant’s dinner]
Cold veal, potatoes, treacle pudding
In the event of company coming to dinner, the recommendations for a dinner for eight persons in November and December are:
Roast ribs of beef, horseradish sauce,
Brussels sprouts, potatoes.
Pheasant, German pudding.
Iced chestnut pudding.
Stilton cheese, celery, &c.
Cost, £1 11 6
Naturally, the book includes recipes for each of the dishes suggested in the menus for each day. My first choice today is the Palestine soup – so called because it is based on Jerusalem artichokes, which are so called because of a corruption of its earlier name of girasole (sunflower) artichoke. For dessert we are going to have a coconut pudding with a coconut sauce, because one cannot have too much coconut, can one?
Peel and wash three pounds of Jerusalem artichokes, one large onion, and a small head of celery. Put them into a stewpan, with two ounces of mild lean ham, a small blade of mace, a dessertspoonful of loaf sugar, and two quarts of stock (No. 2). Boil quickly (uncovered) for an hour. Knead together two ounces of butter and three tablespoonfuls of baked flour, and stir it into the soup for twenty minutes. Rub the soup through a fine sieve with a wooden spoon. Put it again into the stewpan; boil up; skim if necessary ; then stir in half a pint of thick cream, and serve immediately.
LADY BETTY'S DELIGHT.
(A good pudding.)
Grate the third of a fine new cocoa-nut, stone six ounces of muscadel raisins, chop a quarter of a pound of fresh beef-marrow, strain the juice and grate the rind of a small lemon, grate the sixth part of a nutmeg. Make a custard as follows: Boil three ounces of loaf sugar in half a pint of new milk; beat two large or three small fresh eggs; mix them with the milk while hot, but not boiling; add a tablespoonful of the milk of the cocoa-nut; stir till nearly cold. Cut six very thin slices of bread, a day old (about three ounces); butter a plain mould thickly, and stick it with raisins in the form of a cross. Divide all the ingredients into five parts, and lay them in the mould in the following order till it is full: Bread, marrow, raisins, cocoa-nut, lemon juice, peel, and nutmeg, custard; finish with bread and custard. Let it stand to soak for half an hour; tie it closely over, and boil last in plenty of water for three hours and a half. Turn out carefully, and serve, with the following sauce in the dish.
Note. A pint mould will be required.
(A sauce for puddings.)
Put two ounces of loaf sugar into a saucepan, with a wineglass of water, an inch of cinnamon, one clove, and two inches of thin lemon peel; boil till in a thick syrup. Mix a dessertspoonful of Oswego [cornflour] with two tablespoonfuls of cocoa-nut milk, strain the syrup to it, and boil up for one minute; add two tablespoonfuls of cream ; stir till cold; then, add one tablespoonful of brandy and twenty-five drops of the essence of vanilla. Serve cold.