Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge 2016, No. 6: Juicy Fruits

The Challenge:
Juicy Fruits (March 11 - March 24) It’s fruits! Do something with fruits. It doesn’t get more simple than that. Bonus points for use of heritage crops and ingredients!

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. Several fruit-based dishes are listed on the menu, but for a challenge showcasing fruits, I want the dish that showcases more than one. Fruits de Macedoine is at heart a fruit salad, a delicious blending of many fruits into a harmonious whole... as ancient Macedonia was a blending of many cultures into a harmonious whole.
America is sometimes described as a fruit salad and the Irish-Americans wanted to be part of that harmonious whole. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick wanted to ensure they would be part, the fun part.

Presenting Fruits De Macedoine...

The Recipe:
From: The Complete Confectioner, Pastry Cook, and Baker by Eleanor Parkinson,  1849 (1864 edition)
Macedoine of Fruits.
—Put some of all sorts of fruits, prepared for compotes, together, and serve in the same glass, with syrup and a little lemon-juice. 

The Date/Year and Region: 
1840s-1910s United States

How Did You Make It:
"...all sorts of fruits, prepared for compotes..."
This requires a few more recipes be consulted and my handy copy of The Market Assistant by Thomas Farrington DeVoe (1867) consulted for fruits available in late March in Boston.

Citrus fruits imported from the West Indies and tropical climes top the list of fruits available. Oranges, lemons, bananas, and plantains. Also mentioned were the pears and apples that made nice preserved fruits.
I chose lemons, oranges, pears, and apples.

We return to The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-Cook, and Baker for making compotes and fruits preserved in syrup.

Lemons whole, wet. --Choose some fine large lemons with clear skins, carve the rind with a small penknife, into flowers, stars, diamonds, or any design your fancy may suggest, taking care not to cut deeper than the white pith of the peel; throw them into a pan of cold water, put them on the fire and let them boil gently until a strong straw or the head of a pin will penetrate the rind; throw them into cold water; when cold, drain them dry, and put them into a thin syrup when boiling; give them five or six boils in it, and put them in an earthen pan, the next day drain the syrup from them, and add more sugar or syrup to increase it a degree; boil it and when it boils, pour it over the lemons: repeat this for two days; on the third day let the lemons boil in the syrup for four or five minutes; the next day boil the syrup and pour it over them; when you find the syrup has penetrated the lemons, and they look clear, drain the syrup from them, adding more if necessary, so as to have sufficient to keep them well covered; put them in glasses, and pour the syrup over them. When cold, cut a piece of bladder to the size of the glass, wet it, and tie it down.
Oranges whole, wet. --These are preserved the same as lemons.
Lemons and Oranges:
Carve the rind intio designs
Pan of cold water and bring to a boil
When cold, put into thin syrup boiling

Boil Citrus until tender
Boil no. 2
Boil no. 3
Boil no. 4
Boil no. 5
Set aside in pan with syrup
Next day, drain syrup
Make syrup with even more sugar than yesterday
Pour it over the lemons
Repeat twice
On repeat, boil lemons in syrup 5 minutes
Set aside until cold

Pears, Red, wet. --Take some good baking or other pears; pare and cut them in half, and take out the cores with a little scoop for the purpose; if they are first blanched a little, they can be pared easier and better. Boil them in water, with sugar sufficient to make it only just sweet, a little lemon juice, and a few allspice or cloves. Put a piece of pewter, or a pewter spoon, in the bottom of the pan, and boil them until they are quite tender and of a fine red; or prepared cochineal may be added instead, using sufficient to give the desired tint; take out the fruit, and add enough sugar to the water they were boiled in to make a syrup; boil to the large thread; put in the pears, and give them two or three boils in it; skim, and put them in an earthen pan; boil the syrup twice more, and pour it on them, raising it to the degree of the large pearl. Keep them in dry pans for use.

Peel and Core
Boil in Water with sugar to make sweet, lemon juice, cloves until tender
Add enough sugar to boiling water to make syrup
Add pears
Boiling Pears in Syrup
Allowing the Pears to Cool in Syrup
 Boil no. 1
Boil no. 2
Remove pears
Boil syrup and pour over
Boil no. 2

Apple Compote. --Take some fine apples; peel and cut them in halves, quarters, or thick slices, and take out the cores; blanch them in a very thin syrup until tender; take them out, and add more sugar to that which they were boiled in, with the yellow peel and juice of a lemon and a few cloves; reduce it to the small pearl; put in the apples, and give them a few boils in it; let them remain until cold; take off the scum, if any; strain the syrup, and serve.
Pears and quinces are done as these, or coloured as for pears wet, which see.

Peel and Core
Pears and Apples,
Cored and Ready
Blanch Apples in Syrup

Blanche in syrup until tender
Remove apples
Add more sugar to syrup, also lemon peel, lemon juice, cloves
Boil to the small pearl
Add apples
Boil no. 2
Boil no. 3
Set aside until cold.

Time to Complete: 
It took a good three days for the boiling, cooling, boiling, cooling processes. That was tedious, but allowed time to do other things.

Total Cost: 
$10.00 or so.

How Successful Was It: 
Fruit and sugar overload... keeps the dentists employed. :-p
I would likely use smaller pans to the amount of fruit were I do this recipe again. This took a vast quantity of syrup that was discarded in process.

How Accurate Was It: 
It was as close as I could come, barring modern kitchen equipment. I used Bartlett pears (a heirloom variety), CaraCara oranges, Gala apples, and Indian River lemons... so a few modern fruit varieties too.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge 2016, No. 5: Roasts

The Challenge:
Roasts (February 26 - March 10) They’re a staple of the historic table, in many different shapes and forms and types. It’s also a cooking technique. Try a historic recipe for a roast, or a recipe that involves roasting, and tell us how it turned out.

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. This makes my choice for the Roasts challenge a foregone conclusion: Grouse.
Well, a search of the available markets proves that grouse is one of the game meats that is prohibitively expensive here in the US. For those of us who still want an authentic 19th century meal, I set about finding a more readily available substitute. According to the Cook's Thesaurus, a Cornish game hen would lend the right spirit.

So, I present Roasted Cornish Game Hen in the manner of Roasted Grouse.

The Recipe:
From: Directions for Cookery, In it's various branches by Eliza Leslie, 1840

To Roast Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, or Grouse.
--Pick and draw the birds immediately after they are brought in. Before you roast them, fill the inside with pieces of a fine ripe orange, leaving out the rind and seeds. Or stuff them with grated cold ham, mixed with bread-crumbs, butter, and a little yolk of egg. Lard them with small slips of the fat of bacon drawn through the flesh with a larding needle. Roast them before a clear fire.

Make a fine rich gravy of the trimmings of meat or poultry, stewed in a little water, and thickened with a spoonful of browned flour. Strain it, and set it on the fire again, having added half a pint of claret, and the juice of two large oranges. Simmer it for a few minutes, pour some of it into the dish with the game, and serve the remainder in a boat.

The Date/Year and Region: 
1830-1870, Mid-Atlantic US

How Did You Make It:
I thawed the frozen hens for 48 hours in the fridge and another 30 minutes in a warm water bath. They still had some ice in the gut cavity.
I pre-heated the oven to 375*.
I peeled the oranges and pierced the slices.
I placed the slices in the cavity.

I attempted the "larding" with a knife and finger, since I didn't have a larding tool. The results were laughable. I threaded the bacon fat under the skin close to the meat.

I roasted the hens for 60 minutes.

Time to Complete: 
About 90 Minutes

Total Cost: 
About $14.00

How Successful Was It: 
I got everything from "This is delicious." to "Hen is yucky." Most were on the side of "delicious" so I would say the overall process was a success. The larding clearly requires a specialty tool and I am now on the search for a period correct one. :-p

How Accurate Was It: 
Well, for what it was, it was quite accurate. :-p The larding was not done as directed, but was done in the spirit of the technique,  and I used a substitute for grouse for a recipe that suggests almost any fowl would serve. I'd say 75% accurate.