Friday, February 05, 2016

Well-Planned Simplicity: Dinner without a Maid.

My search for “novel desserts” yesterday led me to an article in The Mail (Adelaide) of 31 May 1924, and I thought you might find the whole piece interesting and fun.

Hospitality need not be limited to the woman who has a maid or a cook to serve her meals. There are many women who would like to ask their friends to a little informal meal which they themselves have prepared, but hesitate to do so on account of the labor entailed.
A dinner means four courses at least, but all the courses need not entail cooking. Desserts and savories can be served cold, while fresh fruit and salads are always attractive, and lend themselves to much variety in the manner of serving. It is a mistake to attempt too much, it only tends to disorder, which results in a tired and flurried person instead of the well-poised hostess.
The pleasure in these delightful informal dinners lies in their well-planned simplicity, and in the big returns in satisfaction for the small amount of time and labor required. The menu detailed below ought to be manageable without difficulty in a small apartment where the lady of the house reigns supreme and
Puritan Soup.
Steamed Veal and Cauliflower
Mashed Potatoes.
Pineapple Wheels
Cheese Balls with Lettuce

Required:— 3 potatoes, 2 bunches water cress, 2 cupfuls hot milk, 1 tablespoonful flour, 1 oz. butter, seasoning and toast.
Choose good-sized potatoes. Wash and peel them and cut them in quarters. Cook them in boiling salted water until tender, then drain, reserving the liquid. Press the potatoes through a sieve or vegetable presser while still hot, and return them to the saucepan. Add 2 cupfuls of the water in which the potatoes were boiled, and bring this to simmering point. Meanwhile wash, the leaves of the watercress, drain, and chop them finely. Add them to the soup mixture along with the hot milk, and season with pepper and salt to taste. Mix the flour to a smooth paste with about 2 tablespoonfuls of water or cold milk, add to the soup, and stir until blended. Put in the butter broken in small pieces, and cook a few minutes longer.
Serve with toasted bread.
Choose a nice fleshy piece of veal from 2 to 2 ½ lb. in weight. Wipe it carefully with a damp cloth, and tie it in shape with string, or wrap it in a piece of muslin if necessary. Prepare some vegetables — carrot, turnip, onion, and celery— about a cupful of each cut in slices— and put them into a stew pan. Barely cover with cold water, bring to the boil, and lay the veal on the top.
The meat must not sink into the liquid, but be cooked with the steam only. Cover it with greased paper, put on a tight-fitting lid, and cook slowly by the side of the fire until tender. About two hours should be allowed. When required, lift the veal on to a hot dish, remove the fastening, and coat with tomato sauce. Garnish with cauliflower, and serve mashed potatoes separately.
Tomato Sauce. — ½ pint tomato puree made from fresh or tinned tomatoes, 1 ½ oz. butter, 1 ½ oz. flour, stock and seasoning. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour, cooking the two together for a minute or two. Add the tomato puree and stir until boiling. Thin down with some of the stock from the vegetables under the veal. As this is strongly flavored there is no occasion to
use extra vegetables in the making of the sauce. Add pepper and salt to taste, and strain before using.
Cauliflower Garnish.— Cook the cauliflower in the usual way and drain it well. Break it up into small flowerets, and reheat these when required in a small quantity of butter with pepper and salt.
Mashed Potatoes.— Boil 2 lb. of potatoes, drain and dry them. Put them through a sieve or vegetable presser. Melt 2 oz. of butter or margarine in a saucepan, put in the potatoes with a teacupful of hot milk, 1 pepper and salt. Mix and beat well, then pile the potatoes neatly on a greased dish that will stand the heat of the oven. Mark with a knife, or the back of a fork, brush over with a little beaten egg or milk, and brown in the oven.
Take any nice cream cheese and roll it into balls with the butter hands. Place these on small round cheese biscuits that have been lightly spread with butter. Arrange the biscuits on a dish and garnish with small leaves of lettuce or watercress. A little finely-chopped pickle may be sprinkled over the biscuits if something more piquant is desired.
This is a novel dessert, and yet it is one that can be quickly and easily prepared. It has also the advantage of being served cold, and can be finished off beforehand. Cut 6 or 7 rounds of sponge cake, or any other white cake, about 3 ½ inches in diameter and ½ inch in thickness. Place on the top of each a round slice of pineapple. (This can be bought in tins in whole round slices with a hole in the middle.) Boil up a teacupful of the pineapple syrup with 1 teaspoonful of instantaneous gelatine, a squeeze of lemon juice, and two or three drops of pink coloring. Strain this, and when beginning to set pour over the wheels. Place a crystallised cherry in the centre of each, and decorate round with small pieces of cherry. Leave in a cool place to set.
The soup should be entirely finished and just left in the saucepan at the side of the fire.
The veal should be dished and left standing on a saucepan of water with a cover over it.
The potatoes should be in the oven and ready browned.
The sweet and savory should be cold and ready in the dining room.
Coffee: — If this is served the tray should be prepared as far as possible beforehand.


Anonymous said...

This is certainly a simple meal but there is not a lot of interest or colour apart from tomato and cherry. The thought of blandness comes to mind with potato being served twice, and, along with cauliflower.
I am not a maid but I am a housekeeper/cook.

Anonymous said...

A strange and insipid meal.