Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Catering For Two"

We tend to think of Victorian families as large and multi-generational, and as late as the 1920s recipes routinely provided amounts to serve six or more. This little book, by Mary Frances Harman, came out in 1898 and instead offers menus for newlyweds and empty nesters. This is a dinner that a middle-class housewife would serve her husband when they were tête-à-tête at suppertime. I think just two of any of the main dishes would probably suffice today.

Consomme with Rice
Oyster Pie
Pickled Cabbage. Grape Jelly
Egg Salad with Greens
Crackers. Cheese
Roly-Poly Peach Pudding
Egg Sauce
Tea or Coffee. Caramel Jelly.

Consomme with Rice. Get a shank of mutton weighing about two pounds, or two shanks weighing a pound each. Wipe with a damp cloth and cut off any dried outer skin, dredge with two tablespoonfuls of flour, pour on a quart of cold water, and, after soaking a few hours, simmer for several hours, covered closely.

Strain off this liquor, pour over the bones and meat enough cold water to cover, and cook again for another hour. Strain and add to the first quantity of liquor and throw away the bones and meat. Salt to taste, add an onion, carrot, and turnip, and cook until the vegetables are tender; these may be put away for a salad, and when the broth is cold, take off the cake of fat. There should be nearly a quart of solid jelly. Take a pint of this, add a tablespoonful of washed rice, and cook gently until the rice is tender.

A little minced parsley may be added at the last moment.

Oyster Pie. Twenty-five medium-sized freshened oysters. Slice very thin a cupful of raw potatoes, pour on them one cup of rich, sweet milk, cover the dish (of earthenware) closely, and cook on top of the stove until done. Do not stir them, but watch carefully that they do not burn.

When the potatoes are cool, place the oysters on top of them, pepper and salt lightly, add the oyster liquor and a tablespoonful of butter in small pieces. Place over all a cover of piecrust, made as follows, and bake in a very hot oven for fifteen minutes.

Sift toether a cup of flour and half a teaspoonful of salt and cut into it with a knife two heaping tablespoonfuls of lard as cold and hard as ice can make it.

When the lard is the size of peas, stir in with a fork four tablespoonfuls of ice-water, and mould quickly into a ball; flour the moulding-board, roll out once, cut a few little slits or fancy figures in the center, and lay upon the oysters. Trim off the overlapping edges and bake at one. Make any paste that is left into a little tart.

Pickled Cabbage. One cabbage, solid and crisp. Two ounces mustard seed. One heaping tablespoon of black pepper. Two tablespoonfuls of salt. One quart cider vinegar, three onions, one red pepper-pod, one tablespoonful sugar, one heaping tablespoonful mixed spices, whole cloves, cinnamon, allspice and a speck of mace. Tie the spices in a piece of cheesecloth, leaving plenty of room.

Chop the cabbage, or if preferred, shave into ribbons, put it with the onions and the pepper-pod chopped fine into an earthen crock, in alternate layers with the salt, pepper and mustard-seed.

Stamp with a potato masher, to press all together closely but not hard enough to bruise the cabbage. Put the bag of spices on top, and over the whole lay a heavy plate, pouring the vinegar on at the last. Put on the cover of the jar and set in a cool place. It will be ready for the table in a few days, and will keep for months in cool weather if made before the frost sets in.

Roly-Poly Pudding (Baked). Sift together one cup of flour, one teaspoonful of baking powder, and half a teaspoonful of salt. Chop this with a scant half-cup of suet (ice-cold) and mix quickly with two thirds of a cup of ice-cold water.

Mould into a long roll and roll out on a floured moulding-board as thin as it will hold together.

Have ready three or four peeled and sliced fine juicy peaches (canned will do), cover the paste with them, dredge lightly with flour, and roll up like a jelly roll.

Place in an earthen dish and bake in a moderately hot oven for three quarters of an hour.

Serve hot with the following sauce; cream with a fork a half-cup of sweet butter, add a cupful of granulated sugar, and stir well; then add the yolk of a small egg and stir, then the frothed white, whipping the whole until very light. Now add a quarter-cupful of boiling water, set over the teakettle, and cook and stir for several minutes. It should be a little thick, and quite foamy.

Flavor with a tablespoonful of wine or brandy, or vanilla to taste.

A copy of this book -- should you wish to try any of the other menus -- can be downloaded (free) from Google Books.

(copyright-free Edwardian flower image from Dover Publications).



"Throw away the bones and meat"

Oh my.

The Roly Poly thing does sound nice, though.

Erre54 said...

have you a nice week
ciao dall'Italia

Amy said...

I can't imagine the oyster pie, I mean oysters are rich enough as it is, with pastry? I don't think so, and throwing away the bones and meat? WOW

Shay said...

buona sera, Erre! Lovely week, great weather.

I'm just amazed at the amount of food that was considered necessary for two people. If I cooked everything on this menu, the two of us would be eating leftovers for a days.

Miss Kitty said...

WOW. That's a lot of work for just two people...but I bet it was an excellent meal.

Rochelle R. said...

Wow I can't imagine how much that oyster pie would cost nowadays. It sure seems like it would serve way more than two. I am glad we aren't expected to make so many courses for are meals now.

Shay said...

Isn't it funny that oysters used to be so cheap that servants rebelled if they had to eat too many of them?