Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More Fear Factor food.

Or the person who finds the eyes wins?

Calf’s Head Pie.

Chuse a young Head that has fine white Meat upon it, clean it perfectly well, and then boil it in a large Quantity of Water till it is fit for eating ; take it up, let it drain and cool, then carefully cut off all the Flesh, and divide it into long Pieces of the Breadth of two Fingers.

Take out the Eyes, and cut them crossway into four Pieces each; slice the Tongue into Slices as thick as a Crown Piece, and when all is thus mixed, dust over it some Pepper and Salt.

Make a very good Puff-paste Crust, and cover a Dish with it, lay in the Yolks of’ four hard Eggs, and a few Truffles, then put in some Pieces of the Tongue: After this lay in the Meat of the Head, and then the Eyes in different Places, mixed with the Pieces of the Tongue that remain; dust on very care­fully some Cayan-Pepper, mixed with Basket Salt, to make it spread evenly, then dash over the whole, Half a Gill of Madeira Wine ; then pour in Half a Pint of Veal Gravy, and covering up the Pie, send it to the Oven.

[As she later speaks of the pie coming home, she seems to be assuming it will go out to be baked. Good, large baking ovens were often no available in the house.]

While it is baking, boil the Bones of’ the Head in two Quarts of Water, let them boil till there is but a Pint left ; and as they are boiling, put in a Couple of whole Cloves, an Onion, and some Winter Savoury; let these boil to the small Quantity just named, and then strain the liquor off; put it into a saucepan, and add a little Cayan-Pepper, two spoonfuls of Catchup, Half a Gill of red Wine, and a Piece of Butter rolled in Flour, thicken it up in this Manner, arid have it ready when the Pie comes in.

Boil the Brains with a Dozen Leaves of red Sage; chop the Brains and Sage both very fine, and dust over them a very little Cayan-Pepper, and a Spoon­ful of Madeira Wine; add a little Lemon-peel, and some grated Nutmeg: When all this is thus mixed, stir in a little of it into the thickened Gravy, and heat up the rest with some Yolks of Eggs and fry it in Cakes.Boil the Eggs hard, and take out the Yolks.

All these Things being ready when the Pie comes home, heat Half a Gill of Madeira Wine with a Blade of Mace; take out the Mace, lift off the Lid of the Pie whole, and first of all sprinkle in the hot Madeira Wine. Then lay in the Yolks of Eggs, and the Cakes of Brains one among another, and then pour in the hot Gravy, and send it up without the Lid.

This is one of the finest Pies that can be made. Every one who eats it commends it, and I have heard many who were very well acquainted with the Taste of Turtle say, it was a Turtle Pie. The Reason of this is, partly that the Flesh of a Calf’s Head is really like Turtle, and partly because the Madeira Wine and Cayan-Pepper give it the same Flavour that a Turtle gets in the dressing, these being the two prin­cipal Ingredients.

I have my Christmas page up on my website, along with a free story, but the story doesn't use any weird historical data, unless you think the word "haberdashery" is weird.


Jo :)

Christmas Food

Some tid-bits from The British Housewife, or the Cook, Housekeeper’s, and Gardiner’s Companion, by Martha Bradley. 1756.
A facsimile edition is available from Prospect Books, Allaleigh House, Blackawton, Totnes, Devon, UK TQ9 7DL ISBN 0907325637

This edition covers the twelve months, and under December, we have the following.
“BUTCHERS Meat in general is never in better Season than at this Time of the Year, and Beef in particular may now appear in the largest Pieces at the best Tables: The French Fashions have carried it a great Way against us, [Ah, the never-ending competition with the French!]but they are not arrived yet so far as to banish the Sirloin of Beef from a Christmas Dinner; that will always be received with Honour.
The Rump makes to the full as good an Appear­ance roasted: The Sirloin is particular to the roast Way of dressing, but the Rump may also be boiled, and it is one Way as genteel as the other.”

A little later we have the puzzling statement: “Lamb is now in prime Season; it is small and delicate, and nothing looks handsomer at a Table: The common Way is to cut the hind Quarter, boiling the Leg, and frying the Loin in Chops round it; but in this Case they spoil one another, and the polite Tables have banished this Method.”

I would have thought December young for lamb, but perhaps this has changed over time.

December was a time of limited fresh vegetables, but without freezing or importation, there was still variety. There was asparagus, and “From the Hot-beds also there is at this Season Plenty of young Salleting, Raddish and Cress, Rape and Mustard, and young Lettuces; the Hot-beds we also ordered to be planted last Month with Mint will now afford Crop after Crop of it, to be cut young, and eat with the Lamb, which is at this Time so great a Delicacy.

The common Ground affords also Abundance of the more ordinary Products, which from their own Hardyness, or the careful Manner of planting, escape the Frost; the Savoy is in good Order, and there are common and red Cabbages. The more usual Kinds of Roots are very properly taken up before this Time, and kept in Sand, but such as remain in the Ground, except the Potatoe, will be very good; and when the Frost will give the Gardiner Leave to get at them, he may take up Car­rots, Parsnips, and Dutch Parsley, as also Turnips, Salsify, and Scorzonera:
[Salsify and scorzonera are slender rooted vegetables said to taste like oysters when fried.] The red and white Beet is also very good now, and the red Kind makes an agreea­ble Figure at Table: Celeri is in Perfection, and Chardoons are very good; Endive also continues in very good Order, and there are Dutch Lettuces from under Glasses. All the Onion and Leek Kind are in very good Order, as is also Garlick; the Shalot and Rocambole also are fit for Use. Thus in the deadest Season of the whole Year the Care and Industry of the Gardiner supplies the Kitchen in the Country, and in London, where there is a Demand for every Thing, every Thing is ready to answer it; the Markets are supplied with these, and all in their Perfection, as in Summer.”

They wasted little of the animal. Consider “Roasted ox palates.” A suitable dish for Fear Factor! Mind you, this strikes me as one of those “stone soup” recipes, where the stated ingredient is only an excuse for many other more edible ones. “This is an extreamly elegant Dish,” Mistress Bradley assures us.

"Pick and perfectly clean Some fine Ox Palates; throw them into a Saucepan of Water with a little Salt, and two Spoonfuls of Vinegar, and boil them unti1 they are tender; then lay them on a Sieve to drain and cool.

Pick, draw, and truss three Pigeons for roasting; lard one half of each Pigeon with thin square Pieces of Bacon, and fill the Bodies with good Forcemeat made as we have directed in a foregoing Chapter. [Chicken, veal, bread, eggs, seasoning and spices. In other words, sausage meat.]

"Lay these ready, the Palates will by this Time be cold and fit for preparing for the Spit; cut them out into long slices, and lard them with long slices of bacon.”

The above are all threaded on spits and roasted with the addition of oysters, cock’s combs while basted with egg yolks.
"Meanwhile, cook some sweetbreads and artichokes, and a sauce of rich veal gravy and red wine."
So let's see. We have pigeons, bacon, sausage meat, more bacon, oysters, cock's combs, eggs, sweetbreads, artichokes, veal gravy and red wine. I suspect finding the ox palates in the dish might be a trick!

To broil a Lamb’s Head.
A tasty dish from the past that might also scare people on Fear Factor.
“Chuse a moderately large Lamb’s Head and split it, clean it very carefully, and then put it into a Pot with a little water to boil till it is half done. In the mean Time pick some Leaves of Sweet Herbs clean from the Stalks; add to them some grated Bread, some Pepper and Salt, and a little Nutmeg. Take up the Head and fet it to drain.

When it is half dry dust it very well over with the Seasoning we have just directed to be made, and set a Gridiron over a fine clear Fire; throw in some Salt, and when the Fire is in perfect fine Order, lay on the head; turn it occasionally, and see that it gets a fine brown.”

It is served with a mushroom gravy.

She concludes with: “There is but little upon the Head thus done, but what there is, is fine. There is not a prettier dish for a person of delicate stomach.”

Which only goes to prove that stomach delicacy changes over time.

Monday, December 19, 2005

On my list, I posted this:
From a Gutenberg edition ofTitle: The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, No. 290Volume X. No. 290. Saturday, December 29, 1827.

The order of taking wine at dinner has not been sufficiently observed in this country. "There is," as the immortal bard beautifully expresses it,"a reason in roasting eggs;" and if there is a rationale of eating, why should there not be a system of drinking? The red wines should always precede the white, except in the case of a French dinner, when the oysters should have a libation of Chablis, or Sauterne.I do not approve of white Hermitage with oysters.

The Burgundies should follow--the purple Chambertin or odorous Romanee. A single glass of Champagne or Hock, or any other white wine, may then intervene between the Cote Rotie and Hermitage; and last, not least in our dear love, should come the cool and sweet-scented Claret. With the creams and the ices should come the Malaga, Rivesaltes, or Grenache; nor with these will Sherry or Madeira harmonize ill. Last of all, should Champagne boil up in argent foam, and be sanctified by an offering of Tokay, poured from a glass so small, that you might fancy it formed of diamond. Literary Pocket-Book.

I commented, "I don't know why a romanee should be odorous, but it doesn't sound good. And why is claret sweet-scented and cool? And is the last bit suggesting that the Tokay is added to the champagne?"

My friend, Bibiana, a wine expert, replied:
I don't think odourous in this text means more than having a pleasant odour that is: smell. Am I correct in thinking that "odour" has a bit of "badsmell"-meaning in it nowadays? It doesn't in French, where the word derives from.

The list of precedence surely reads strange for the reader of today, but it has a certain logic in it, when you think about what kind of wines the writer is writing.Just remember that modern methods of winemaking did not exist. EG the cooling during fermentation. Thus, to stabilize wines for transport etc. one needed a much longer fermentation for white wines. These were not dry and refreshing but rather a bit musty and preferably sweet.The areas where Hock, Chablis and Champagne were grown (The Rheingau areaof Germany for Hock, the region north of Dijon in an elevated part of Northern Burgundy for Chablis and the region around Reims/Epernayin Northern France for Champagne) belong to the coolest winegrowing regions of Europe. Thus their wines contain a strong acidity which then tamed the sweetness to an acceptable level as a tongue-refresher.

As you see in the text, these wines take the place of the sorbet in the menu à la tradition Francaise.Red wines OTOH were dryer than the whites, because the fermentation with their skins did not only extract the red colour but added tannin to the wine which got even more of that from the cask in which it was fermented and aged. So a red wine surely was the better choice with food at that time, especially in a time when eating seafood was considered only for a dietor not noble at all. Most dishes contained of meat - preferably venison. So these recommendations make total sense for me .

Today we still drink the Burgundy-style wines before the Bordeaux (Claret)-style wines.It's quite a rich audience which is addressed here: Chambertin and LaRomanee are two of the Grand-Cru-vineyards in Burgundy's most noble Coted'Or area: top of the tops - still today!! Interesting that the author prefers Muscat de Rivesaltes to Sauternes: he knew his stuff, really!!As for the Champagne & Tokay: in 1827 Tokay was still the "wine of the Emperor" because most wineyards in the Tokay area of Hungaria belonged tothe imperial house of Hapsburg and were served only in Vienna on grand ocassions. I believe that the British got to know the wine during theCongress of Vienna. Because it was and is one of the most intense sweet wines, it makes sense for me to present this extremely rare wine in small,valuable glasses and to use it to lace the Champagne with it.

I have some Christmas food posts to come in the next days.