Sunday, August 28, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 17: Myths and Legends

The Challenge:
17. Myths and Legends (August 12 - August 25) It’s time to make some legendary food! Pick a story from folklore (a myth, fantasy, legend, or fairy tale) that features food, and use a historical recipe to recreate it.

Intro
We're gonna take a quick break from the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner to bring you a Legend from Irish culture and one of my favorite historic recipes.
Fionn MacCumhaill and the Salmon of Knowledge.
The legend goes that an ordinary salmon ate nine hazelnuts that had fallen into the Well of Knowledge. Whomever ate the fish would gain the knowledge of the world. As a young man Fionn was fostered with a wise poet named Finn Eces. After seven years, Finn Eces caught the Salmon of Knowledge. He left it with Fionn to cook with a firm admonishment not to eat any of it. When Finn Eces returned, he saw a certain look in young Fionn's eye and quizzed him about eating the fish. He confessed a drop of hot fat from the fish had burned his thumb, which he had stuck in his mouth. Finn Eces realized this counted as "eating from the fish of knowledge" and insisted Fionn finish the fish. The prophecy was fufilled and Fionn MacCumhaill became the warrior, leader, and wise-man he was meant to be.

The Recipe:
From: Cre-fydd's Family Fare: The Young Housewife's Daily Assistant by Simpkin, Marshall, &Co., 1864

50. SALMON IN POTATO PASTE.
           (Second dressing.)
Mash six mealy potatoes with a wooden spoon till quite smooth, add two saltspoonfuls of salt, two ounces of oiled butter, and the yolk of an egg; beat till very light. Divide about half a pound of cold salmon into neat pieces an inch long, freed from skin and bone. Mix with it a saltspoonful of salt, a grain of cayenne, half a saltspoonful of white pepper, and three tablespoonfuls of shrimp sauce, or melted butter. Put a layer of potato into a flat dish, lay in the fish, cover it with the rest of the potato. Smooth over the top with a knife, and bake in a quick oven for twenty minutes. Serve in the same dish, which should be placed on a folded napkin on another dish.



The Date/Year and Region: 
1850-1870, Great Britain and the United States

How Did You Make It:
First prepare the fish. Notice the "second dressing" designation? This indicates the dish is made of left-overs. In this case, I did oven-baked salmon cutlets with a seasoned gluten-free breadcrumb coating from my trusty Eliza Leslie's Lady's Receipt Book.












Next I steamed the potatoes.
Then I mashed the potatoes with salted butter and egg yolk.












Finally I'm ready to layer the dish.













Bake until the potatoes get crispy on the peaks.


Time to Complete: 
About an hour, once the ingredients are assembled.

Total Cost: 
The salmon was $10.00, so it's not the cheap dish it once was.

How Successful Was It: 
It looked like a horror show from the 1960s Jello Cookbook, but it tastes great. I got to use my new fish mold pan and it un-molded well. Overall it's a success.

How Accurate Was It: 
It's definitely "in the spirit, but I took a few departures. I used imitation crab instead of lobster. It was cheaper and we love us some crab in this household. I did only two layers and used a molded pan instead of a casserole dish. Since a celebratory dinner is my sub-goal for this year, I think a dressing up was appropriate. For me, I thought a molded piece would do so. Otherwise, the recipe was prepared as given and thus, I say the accuracy level is fairly high.


******************************************
Bonus Recipe:
From: The Lady's Receipt Book by Eliza Leslie, 1840
BAKED SALMON.--A small salmon may be baked whole. Stuff it with forcemeat made of bread-crumbs; chopped oysters, or minced lobster; butter; cayenne; a little salt, and powdered mace,--all mixed well, and moistened with beaten yolk of egg. Bend the salmon round, and put the tail into the mouth, fastening it with a skewer. Put it into a large deep dish; lay bits of butter on it at small intervals; and set it into the oven. While baking, look at it occasionally, and baste it with the butter. When one side is well browned, turn it carefully in the dish, and add more butter. Bake it till the other side is well browned. Then transfer it to another dish with the gravy that is about it, and send it to table.

If you bake salmon in slices, reserve the forcemeat for the outside. Dip each slice first in beaten yolk of egg, and then in the forcemeat, till it is well coated. If in one large piece, cover it in the same manner thickly with the seasoning.

The usual sauce for baked salmon is melted butter, flavoured with the juice of a lemon, and a glass of port wine, stirred in just before the butter is taken from the fire. Serve it up in a sauce-boat.

How Did You Make It:
Prepare the forcemeat










Layer the forcemeat on the salmon










Bake at 350* for 15 minutes
Yep, I really did have dinner barefoot. I'm quite classy that way sometimes. :-)



Saturday, July 30, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 15: A Feast for the Senses

The Challenge:
15. Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch (July 15 - July 28) For this challenge, create a feast for the senses. Cook a dish that is a treat for more than just the tastebuds, whether it is scent, texture, visual appeal, or sound.

Intro
Into
Bursting juicy fruit flavor. Sweet vanilla. Spicy nutmeg. Moist cake. Refreshing frozen cream meets a luscious light cake. In the heat wave we've been having, ice cream cake is just the feast our senses demand.

The Recipe:
From: The Lady's Receipt Book by Eliza Leslie, 1847, page. 206
ICE-CREAM CAKES.--Stir together, till very light, a quarter of a pound of powdered sugar and a quarter of a pound of fresh butter. Beat six eggs very light, and stir into them half a pint of rich milk. Add, gradually, the eggs and milk to the butter and sugar, alternately with a half pound of sifted flour. Add a glass of sweet wine, and some grated nutmeg. When all the ingredients are mixed, stir the batter very hard. Then put it into small, deep pans, or cups, that have been well-buttered, filling them about two-thirds with the batter. Set them, immediately, into a brisk oven, and bake them brown. When done, remove them from the cups, and place them, to cool, on an inverted sieve. When quite cold, make a slit or incision in the side of each cake. If very light, and properly baked, they will be hollow in the middle. Fill up this cavity with ice-cream, carefully put in with a spoon, and then close the slit, with your fingers, to prevent the cream running out. Spread them on a large dish. Either send them to table immediately, before the ice-cream melts, or keep them on ice till wanted.

The Date/Year and Region: 
Early to middle 19th century, mid Atlantic United States

How Did You Make It:
1/4 pound sugar (1/2 cup)
1/4 pound butter (1/2 cup)













6 eggs
1/2 pint milk (1 cup)












add eggs/milk to butter/sugar
1/2 pound of flour (2 cups)

glass of sweet wine (assume wine glass= 1/4 cup)
grated nutmeg
























brisk oven until brown ( 425* for 20 minutes)
remove and cool

make a slit in the cake













spoon a scoop of ice cream into the slit and pinch closed













Serve immediately.


Time to Complete: 
About 60 minutes

Total Cost: 
Figure $4.00 for the ice cream and the rest were pantry staples.

How Successful Was It: 
It was great, a very tasty treat. The promised hallows weren't so hallow, so it might have been better split like a shortcake.

How Accurate Was It: 
I'd say it comes close to accurate, with modern ice cream.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 14: Waste Not, Want Not

The Challenge:
14. Waste Not, Want Not (July 1 - July 14) Good housekeeping in any historic era included making the most of your food items. Pick a recipe that involves avoiding waste (maybe reusing leftovers, or utilizing things commonly thrown out) and show us how historically-green you can be!

Intro
If the fellow foodies will remember, I've set an additional challenge to interpret dishes that are listed as served at the 80th Anniversary Dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. Since a restaurant catered dinner would not include left-overs, this challenge was a challenge. Enter Beef a la Jardiniere.

The a la jardiniere designation means in the manner of the gardener, in short, whatever seasonal vegetables come to hand rather than a specific set. There is no hoping for a good crop of a specific vegetable, one can take whatever is at peak. Since the vegetables are presented in small piles, one can use oddly shaped ones in addition to the visually perfect.
As far as a restaurant dish goes, this gives little waste and uses most. Many recipes ...a la jardiniere include odd parts of meat too, like tail and cheek. The menu said beef, so I stuck with beef.

The Recipe:
From: The Modern Cook... by Charles Elme Francatelli, 1846
554. Braized Fillet Of Beef, a la Jardiniere.
Braize a larded fillet of beef according to the foregoing instructions, and when done, glaze and place it on its dish: garnish it round with alternate groups of turned carrots and turnips, to which give the shape of olives, round balls, diamonds, small half-moons, or any other suitable fancy shape—all which must previously be boiled in broth, with a grain of salt, a little sugar, and a small piece of butter; intermixed with these, place also some groups of green-peas, French-beans cut in diamonds, asparagus-heads, and buds of cauliflower. Sauce the fillet of beef round with bright Espagnole sauce, mixed with some of the essence in which the fillet has been braized (previously clarified and reduced for this purpose), glaze the fillet and send to table.


The Date/Year and Region: 
Year

How Did You Make It:
Well, first I made a glaze with which the beef would be braised.














Then making the glazed beef.













Next it's time to prepare the vegetable garnish.

And finally garnish the platter. Presentation is everything! :-)




Time to Complete: 
About an hour, dependent on the size of meat fillets.

Total Cost: 
$20.00+

How Successful Was It: 
It was very well received. I'd choose a different spice mixture for the broth I boiled the turnips and carrots in, but otherwise it was terrific. (...and I really must find that larding tool.)

How Accurate Was It: 
It was as close as I could follow with modern cooking methods.



Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 10: Breakfast Foods

The Challenge:
10. Breakfast Foods (May 6 - May 19) It’s simple - make a breakfast dish. Get creative, but make sure to provide your documentation for its place at the breakfast table!

Intro
If the fellow foodies will remember, I've set an additional challenge to interpret dishes that are listed as served at the 80th Anniversary Dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. While this dinner menu isn't for breakfast, a few items would be just as welcome to start the day as to end it on a high note.
In Eliza Leslie's The Lady's Receipt Book we read of shad suggested in several breakfast menus.
Delmonico's served grilled shad with a white wine sauce for the fish course at our Anniversary Dinner. So, this challenge will present two preparations of grilled white bass, one to start the day and one to end it.
American Shad is on the protected list and restoration of the Virginia shad populations is on-going. Read more about it here.  The Cook's Thesaurus suggests freshwater bass is a nice substitute.


The Recipe:
From: Directions For Cookery by Eliza Leslie, 1840
To Broil Shad

Split and wash the shad, and afterwards dry it in a cloth. Season it with salt and pepper. Have ready a bed of clear bright coals. Grease your gridiron well, and as soon as it is hot lay the shad upon it, and broil it for about a quarter of an hour or more, according to the thickness. Butter it well, and send it to table. You may serve with it melted butter in a sauce-boat.
Or you may cut it into three pieces and broil it without splitting. It will then, of course, require a longer time. If done in this manner, send it to table with melted butter poured over it.

And:

Wine Sauce
Have ready some rich thick melted or drawn butter, and the moment you take it from the fire, stir in two large glasses of white wine, two table-spoonfuls of powdered white sugar, and powdered nutmeg. Serve it up with plum pudding, or any sort of boiled pudding that is made of a batter.

The Date/Year and Region: 
Early to middle 19th century, Mid Atlantic United States

How Did You Make It:
Grease the pan well and lay the fish skin up.
Broil 10 minutes.


Remove skin and bones.
Prepare butter sauce and white wine sauce.













Time to Complete: 
20 minutes, dependent on the size of your fish and the fillet.

Total Cost: 
$8.00 for the fish

How Successful Was It: 
It was incredibly tasty and hey, I got to make fresh fish... with the bones and everything. :-p

How Accurate Was It: 
I think the wine sauce was not meant for fish, so it was sweet and better suited to the puddings suggested. I'll need to keep looking for a wine sauce meant for fish from this era.
At best, call it an inspiration.

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 12: In a Jam.. or Jelly, or Pickle

The Challenge:
12. In A Jam...or Jelly, or Pickle (June 3 - June 16) In a world before refrigeration, preserving food was an important task. For this challenge, make your favorite preserved food.

Intro
If the fellow foodies will remember, I've set an additional challenge to interpret dishes that are listed as served at the 80th Anniversary Dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.
No Sucre course of the 19th century would be complete without a jelly. Delmonico's chose a "Gelee Madere" or Madeira Jelly for this important dish. This challenge seemed a good opportunity to give one a try.


The Recipe:
From: Directions for Cookery, In It's Various Branches by Eliza Leslie, 1840
Pink Champagne Jelly
 --Beat half the white of an egg to a stiff froth, and then stir it hard into three wine-glasses of filtered water. Put twelve ounces of the best double-refined loaf-sugar (powdered fine and sifted) into a skillet lined with porcelain. Pour on it the white of egg and water, and stir it till dissolved. Then add twelve grains of cochineal powder. Set it over a moderate fire, and boil it and skim it till the scum ceases to rise. Then strain it through a very fine sieve. Have ready an ounce and a half of isinglass that has been boiled in a little water till quite dissolved. Strain it, and while the boiled sugar is lukewarm mix it with the isinglass, adding a pint of pink champagne and the juice of a large lemon. Run it through a linen bag into a mould. When it has congealed so as to be quite firm, wrap a wet cloth round the outside of the mould, and turn out the jelly into a glass dish; or serve it broken up, in jelly glasses, or glass cups.
Jelly may be made in a similar manner of Madeira, marasquin, or noyau.

The Date/Year and Region: 
Early to middle 19th century, mid Atlantic United States

How Did You Make It:
Beat egg white to stiff froth
3 wineglasses (3/4 cup) of filtered water
12 oz (1.7 cups) loaf sugar
 in a pan

Boil it til the scum stops rising












cool until lukewarm

Add isinglass, pint of madeira, juice of lemon (3 tablespoons bottled juice)












Strain into a mould












Leave to set until firm














Time to Complete: 
15 minutes to prepare, overnight to firm up.

Total Cost: 
About $20.00

How Successful Was It: 
Well... it was tasty, really tasty. We were drunk on alcohol fumes for hours.
Were I to do such again I would use smaller molds and be more careful about the hot and cold chemistry of the gel agent.

How Accurate Was It: 
I think it comes close and was certainly in the spirit of the recipe.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 13: Pies!

The Challenge:
13. Pies (June 17 - June 30) Make a pie! Meat, fruit, sweet or savory; traditional pies, hand pies, standing pies, or galottes - get creative, but make sure it’s documented!

Intro
If the fellow foodies will remember, I've set an additional challenge to interpret dishes that are listed as served at the 80th Anniversary Dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. None of the dishes on the menu were pies. Quite the scandal, in my opinion because we all like pie. I wanted to do a different kind of pie and fish pie was certainly that. I also took the opportunity to use a favorite cookbook from further to the south.



The Recipe:
From:The Virginia Housewife; Or, Methodical Cook by Mary Randolf, 1838
Cod Fish Pie.
Soak the fish, boil it and take off the skin, pick the meat from the bones, and mince it very fine; take double the quantity of your fish, of stale bread grated; pour over it as much new milk, boiling hot, as will wet it completely, add minced parsley, nutmeg, pepper, and made mustard, with as much melted butter as will make it sufficiently rich; the quantity must be determined by that of the other ingredients--beat these together very well, add the minced fish, mix it all, cover the bottom of the dish with good paste, pour the fish in, put on a lid and bake it.


The Date/Year and Region: 
Early to Mid 19th century Mid-Atlantic Unites States

How Did You Make It:
Pastry Crust
2 portions fish
1.5 cups bread crumbs
1 cup Boiling Milk
Parsley
Nutmeg
Pepper
Mustard
4 Tablespoons Butter

Make a top and bottom pastry crust.


Set the milk to boil.













Mince the fish.













Combine bread crumbs, parsley, nutmeg, pepper, and mustard together.












Melt the butter and combine with mixture.
Add the fish to mixture.












Pour into pastry crust, top, and bake. (I even attempted a pastry fish for decoration.)
375* for 30 minutes












Time to Complete: 
45 minutes or so

Total Cost: 
About $5.00 for the fish and $3.00 for butter, but the rest were pantry staples in small quantities.

How Successful Was It: 
Well, I liked it. I could have used less breadcrumbs and more milk in the filling, but it was certainly tasty.

How Accurate Was It: 
I used packaged cod fish pieces and breadcrumbs instead of fresh, and naturally a modern oven, but otherwise as the recipe directed. I feel the accuracy level is fairly high on this one. :-)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 11: Picnic Foods

The Challenge:
11. Picnic Foods (May 20 - June 2) Some foods are just meant to be eaten in the outdoors! Concoct a dish that is documented for al fresco dining, or foods that might particularly lend themselves to eating at a picnic.



Intro
If the fellow foodies will remember, I've set an additional challenge to interpret dishes that are listed as served at the 80th Anniversary Dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. While this Dinner is nowhere near a picnic, some of the foods served lend themselves to al fresco dining nicely.
The sunny strawberry lends a happy note to tables, whether a hot house strawberry in the hint of spring or a ripe berry in the heat of summer. Few picnic menus of the 1860s would be complete without Strawberries and Cream.

Gardener's Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette for 1858
 But it is in the rural picnic that “Strawberries and cream" their greatest charm. There, reclining under the thick foliage of the trees of some aristocratic domain-patular recubans sub tegmine fagi – our stores are opened by fair hands, and the fruit being duly crush with the proprtions of cream and sugar, we partake of food fit for the gods of Olympus, and wish that Strawberries were “in” all the year round. Delighting both by the taste and smell, and disagreeing with nobody, this favourite fruit confers a charm on that season of the year when spring loses itself in the clear skies and hot gales of early summer.

We've followed the preparation for Mock Cream in Challenge No. 9. Today, we'll explore the preparation of strawberries.
Cookbooks offer little in the way of preparation methods of fresh fruits considered common. The authors must assume one knows the common methods of preparing strawberries.

Literature will sometimes give a hint, such as this charming tale from Harper's New Monthly Magazine:

Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol.19, 1859
It was the morning of the Fourth of July, and raining. The beaux and belles of Hampton for a number of days had been planning a picnic on the banks of Meadow Brook, and many were the anxiously upturned faces to the skies that morning. I was a little girl then, or at least a very young lady, whose entrĂ©e into society had not been made, but whose first appearance at that party had been confidently calculated upon and dreamed over for a whole week preceding. An older brother, home on a visit from the neighboring city, had promised to escort me, provided I could produce as fine a “basket of provisions” as any of our neighbors, which I was not afraid to promise, with my mother's help. For two or three days I was occupied with sugar-rolling, flour-sifting, egg-beating, strawberry-hulling, and cherry-picking, while my mother made cakes, moulded pies and jellies, attended to the boiling of neats' tongues and ham for sandwiches. What a pleasant introduction was that to the cook-room ! and how to a charm every thing prospered in our hands! For I could not help measuring the assistance I rendered by the magnitude of the interest felt in the preparations. Every thing was completed the day preceding, and looked, my father said, as though there was to be a wedding in the house; and my brother, for whose opinion I was most solicitous, as though we had made preparation for the whole crowd. 




The Recipe:
Finally in 1877, we find Mary Newton Foote Henderson's  Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving
STRAWBERRIES.
The French serve large fine strawberries without being hulled. Pulverized sugar is passed, the strawberry is taken by the thumb and finger by the hull, dipped into the sugar, and eaten. The Wilson strawberry, however, which seems to be our principal market strawberry, certainly requires stemming, and deluging with sugar before serving.

The Date/Year and Region: 
1800-1880, United States

How Did You Make It:
Since my strawberries were the traditional American sort I sliced them lengthwise and arranged them prettily on a glass dish. I sprinkled sugar on top and serve with the Mock Cream from Challenge #9.









Time to Complete: 
15 minutes to slice, 30 minutes to let the sugar soak in.

Total Cost: 
About $5.00

How Successful Was It: 
What's not to adore about strawberries? The cream was disappointing, as the fair reader remembers from challenge no.9, but together they were fabulous, fruity and refreshing.

How Accurate Was It: 
I feel the accuracy is high, both in preparation and presentation.