Monday, December 29, 2014

Warming-up the Leftovers.

No doubt many of you are suffering from the usual post-Christmas simultaneous over-loaded stomach and over-loaded fridge syndromes. Are you tired of turkey yet? Is the pudding all gone? Is there chocolate still, for breakfast?

I ask you to consider briefly the plight of the nineteenth century housewife. She had no refrigerator to prolong the safe life of her leftovers, nor a microwave to heat them up with convenience and economy. For those in the northern hemisphere the colder weather meant that the first problem was not so great, and the fire was likely on in the stove and hearth, so the second also not such an issue. Think, however, of the British colonial wife sweltering in the furthest equatorial and southern reaches of the Empire – how much more of a worry the Christmas leftovers must have been to her, and her cook!

I will explore the plight of the hot-weather housewife in respect of leftovers, in another post, but first, I want to show you some of the ways suggested in nineteenth century cookery books for warming up leftovers. Some of these methods would not fit modern food-safety guidelines today of course (especially as the food would not have been refrigerated for the day or so before the warming up process.

[To serve plum pudding the second day]
When served the second day, or cold for supper, it is cut in slices; some Jamaica rum is poured over it, then set on fire, basting as long as it burns, and serve. It is generally burnt on the table, but the rum may be poured over in the kitchen.
Handbook of Practical Cookery, for Ladies and Professional Cooks (1868),
by Pierre Blot

How to Warm Up a Fillet of Beef, and Other Roast Meats.
The best way to warm up roast meat is to envelop it in a sheet of paper and put it on the spit, when it will soon become as fine as the first; if the piece be too small, wrap it in paper, and put it on the gridiron.

French Domestic Cookery (1846), by Louis-Eustache Audot.

To Warm Up Cold Poutry Whole.
Poultry or game if not over-roasted may be warmed whole by being wrapped in a well-buttered paper, and put down before the fire till warmed through.

The English Cookery Book: Uniting a Good Style with Economy

John Henry Walsh, 1859.

To Warm Up Fish The Second Day.
Salmon may be put into boiling water, and just heated through, taking care to add vinegar as at first. Turbot, brill, and codfish are best picked from the bones, and warmed up with cream or white sauce; then mash some potatoes, and form a wall round a dish (which may or may not be egged and browned), in which the fish is to be placed and served.

The English Cookery Book: Uniting a Good Style with Economy

John Henry Walsh, 1859.

To Warm up Shelled Beans.
Pour off all the milk, sift through a colander, and mix with an equal quantity of cold mashed potatoes; add 1 well-beaten egg. Make into small cakes with the hands; place on well-oiled tins and bake in the oven. A little thick nut cream may be added if desired.

Guide to Nut Cookery (1899) Mrs. Almeida Lambert.

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