Monday, February 4, 2013

Meals through the year: Welcome back the light

Today we’ll feature a menu that is for an ordinary winter evening meal. Filled with bounty from the cold cellar and comfort food classics hot out of the hearth-fire, this menu is a perfect tease that spring is on it's way.

Our Menu from page 375 of The Lady's Receipt Book, as an Economical Winter Dinner for Small Families:
  •   pork pie with apples
  •  oyster fritters
  • potatoes
  •  turnips
  •  stewed pumpkin
  • boiled bread pudding 

Take the lean of a leg or loin of fresh pork, and season it with pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Cover the bottom and sides of a deep dish with a good paste, made with a pound of butter to two pounds of flour, and rolled out thick. Put in a layer of pork, and then a layer of pippin apples, pared, cored, and cut small. Strew over the apples sufficient sugar to make them very sweet. Then place another layer of pork, and so on till the dish is full. Pour in half a pint or more of water, or of white wine. Cover the pie with a thick lid of paste, and notch and ornament it according to your taste.
Set it in a brisk oven, and bake it well.
(From Directions for Cookery. page 122)

    Hare ready some of the finest and largest oysters; drain them from the liquor and wipe them dry.
    Beat six eggs very light, and stir into them gradually six table-spoonfuls of fine sifted flour. Add by degrees a pint and a half of rich milk and some grated nutmeg, and beat it to a smooth batter.
    Make your frying-pan very hot, and put into it a piece of butter or lard. When it has melted and begins to froth, put in a small ladle-full of the batter, drop an oyster in the middle of it, and fry it of a light brown. Send them to table hot.
    If you find your batter too thin, so that it spreads too much in the frying-pan, add a little more flour beaten well into it. If it is too thick, thin it with some additional milk.
    (From Directions for Cookery. page 59-60)

    —Take large fine potatoes; wash and dry them, and either lay them on the hearth and keep them buried in hot wood ashes, or bake them slowly in a Dutch oven. They will not be done in less than two hours. It will save time to half-boil them before they are roasted. Send them to table with the skins on, and eat them with cold butter and salt. They are introduced with cold meat at supper.
    Potatoes keep best buried in sand or earth. They should never be wetted till they are washed for cooking. If you have them in the cellar, see that they are well covered with matting or old carpet, as the frost injures them greatly.
    (From Directions for Cookery. page 185 )

    Take off a thick paring from the outside, and boil the turnips gently for an hour and a half. Try them with a fork, and when quite tender, take them up, drain them on a sieve, and either send them to table whole with melted butter, or mash them in a cullender, (pressing and squeezing them well;) season with a little pepper and salt, and mix with them a very small quantity of butter. Setting in the sun after they are cooked, or on a part of the table upon which the Sub may happen to shine, will give to turnips a singularly unpleasant taste, and should therefore be avoided.
    When turnips are very young, it is customary to serve them up with about two inches of the green top left on them.
    If stewed with meat, they should be sliced or quartered."
    Mutton, either boiled or roasted, should always be accompanied by turnips.
    (From Directions for Cookery. page 189)

    Deep coloured pumpkins are generally the best. In a diy warm place they can be kept perfectly good all winter. When you prepare to stew a pumpkin, cut it in half and take out all the seeds. Then cut it in thick slices, and pare them. Put it into a pot with it very little water, and stew it gently for an hour, or till soft enough to mash. Then take it out, drain, and squeeze it till it is as dry as you can get it. Afterwards mash it, adding a little pepper and salt, and a very little butter.
    Pumpkin is frequently stewed with fresh beef or fresh pork.
    The water in which pumpkin has been boiled, is said to be very good to mix bread with, it having a tendency to improve it in sweetness and to keep it moist.
    (From Directions for Cookery. page 191-192)

    —Boil a quart of rich milk. While it is boiling, take a small loaf of baker's bread, such as is sold for five or six cents. It may be either fresh or stale. Pare off all the crust, and cut up the crumb into very small pieces. You should have baker's bread if you can procure it, as home-made bread may not make the pudding light enough. Put the bread into a pan; and when the milk boils, pour it scalding hot over the bread. Cover the pan closely, and let it steep in the hot steam for about three quarters of an hour. Then remove the cover, and allow the bread and milk to cool. In the mean time, beat four eggs till they are thick and smooth. Then beat into them a table-spoonful and a half of fine wheat flour. Next beat the egg and flour into the bread and milk, and continue to beat hard till the mixture is as light as possible; for on this the success of the pudding chiefly depends.
    Have ready over the fire a pot of boiling water. Dip your pudding-cloth into it, and shake it out. Spread out the cloth in a deep dish or pan, and dredge it well with flour. Pour in the mixture, and tie up the cloth, leaving room for it to swell. Tie the string firmly and plaster up the opening (if there is any) with flour moistened with water. If any water gets into it the pudding will be spoiled.
    See that the water boils when you put in the pudding, and keep it boiling hard. If the pot wants replenishing, do it with boiling water from a kettle. Should you put in cold water to supply the place of that which has boiled away, the pudding will chill, and become hard and heavy. Boil it an hour and a half.
    Turn it out of the bag the minute before you send it to table. Eat it with wine sauce, or with sugar and butter, or molasses. It will be much improved by adding to the mixture half a pound of whole raisins, well floured to prevent their sinking. Sultana raisins are best, as they have no seeds.
    If these directions are exactly followed, this will be found a remarkably good and wholesome plain pudding.
    For all boiled puddings, a square pudding-cloth which can be opened out, is much better than a bag. It should be very thick.
    (From Directions for Cookery. page 293-294)

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