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 Dish of the Day

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 24 Feb 2016, 15:49

24 February 1525 – The Battle of Pavia

During the French-Imperial wars in Italy, a French army under the personal command of King Francis I, having crossed the Alps and taken Milan, in February laid siege to the Italian city of Pavia. But a Spanish-Imperial army soon arrived, and on February 24th, working in conjunction with the besieged garrison, they launched a surprise dawn attack on the French siege lines. In a four hour battle the French army was decisively defeated, suffering massive casualties including many of the nobles of France. King Francis himself was captured and later forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Madrid, which cemented Spanish Habsburg control in Italy. The battle is also remembered as the first major engagement in which foot soldiers armed with hand guns and supported by pikemen, defeated a force predominantly composed of heavily armoured cavalry. The battlefield dominance of the 'invincible' mounted man-at-arms was at an end.


"The Battle of Pavia" (detail) - Joachim Patinir c. 1530.

According to legend, king Francis, seeing that the battle was lost, took refuge in a nearby farmhouse. The humble housewife, already flustered by having had a battle rage around her home all morning, was then required to rustle up a tasty meal fit for a king. She only had a pot of stock bubbling away on the fire and so had to hastily improvise: she fried some stale bread, put that into a bowl and then cracked on top a couple of eggs. She then ladled over this some of the boiling broth, and while the eggs poached she crumbled over it all some dried cheese. Francis might have lost the battle but he hadn't lost his appetite ... indeed he was so pleased with the dish he ordered his servants to note the recipe so that he could eat it again once he'd returned to France. And so, supposedly, zuppa alla Pavese was born. 

Sadly the story is probably largely apochryphal. Contemporary reports of the battle describe how Francis was surrounded by a unit of Spanish harquebusiers (hand-gunners) under the command of Cesare Hercolani, an Italian condottiere, and had his horse shot from under him. He was formally taken prisoner by a group of senior Spanish/Imperial officers (several names are mentioned together) at about mid-morning and well before lunchtime. He was then quickly escorted from the battlefield to a nearby castle (Pizzighettone). Nevertheless there is a 15th century farm house, 'Cascina Repentita', located close by the wall of the Mirabello hunting estate, roughly where Francis was cornered, which is officially recognized (at least by the local tourist board) as the place where zuppa alla Pavese was created.


The farm of Cascina Repentita today.

True or not here’s a recipe for Zuppa alla Pavese (serves 4).

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 slices French or Italian bread with crust
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 ½ litres beef, veal or chicken stock
4 small eggs
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the bread on both sides until golden, making sure not to blacken the edges. Place a slice of bread in each bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of parmigiano on each slice of bread.
Bring the broth to a rolling, vigorous boil. Without breaking the yolk, crack an egg onto the center of each slice of bread and carefully ladle the boiling broth over the egg until the bowl is filled. Let sit 1 to 2 minutes, sprinkle with parsley and a pinch of pepper and serve immediately. Add more Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table if desired.

Note that the bowls should be warmed, the eggs at room temperature and most importantly the broth must be boiling furiously before it is poured into the bowls, otherwise the eggs will not poach properly.



Buona appetito!


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 21:21; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : How to spell appetite correctly!)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 24 Feb 2016, 19:27

Meles meles,

excuses for the no-Englishman...
"1 ½ litres beef, veal or chicken stock"
https://stellaculinary.com/recipes/sauces-and-soups/sauces/culinary-stocks/veal-stock-basic-recipe
"veal stock" is that then our French "boullion"? Or what is it in French...will ask then the cook of the family...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 24 Feb 2016, 19:55

Yes Paul, stock (in English) is bouillon (French) ... basically the sieved (no big lumps) juice left from boiling bones, meat trimmings, etc. In France (and I'm sure Belgium too) it is sometimes sold as a dehydrated powder, called "fond de veau", or "fond de volaille" (ie essence of poultry) etc. Although as the above recipe (zuppa alla pavese) is originally a 16th century peasant dish, it was probably originally made with just whatever was available.

These days of course high class chefs probably make their own stock/bouillon from cheap cuts of meat (such as beef shinbones or chicken wings ), but I just make my own from any left-overs. I never actually buy stock/bouillon/"fond de veau" cubes or powder ... I just boil up all bones with the water drained from simmering vegetables, along with turnip tops, carrot trimmings, the green ends of leaks, outer leaves of cabbage or lettuce, onion skins, tomato skins, even the dregs of wine left in half drunk glasses etc ... Once it has boiled up for a bit I then sieve to get a clear liquid, and then reduce that until it will gel when cooled. I skim off the fat layer and then either use it straight-away (it'll easily keep for at least a week in the fridge) ... or freeze it down in old ice-cream tubs for later.

If you make a stock/bouillon based on cooked bones and onion skins you get a dark stock ... if you use uncooked poultry or rabbit bones with leaks and onions (not the skins), you get a white stock. I also always save up fish bones, fish heads, the shells of prawns, the liquid left from doing mussels etc. and then make fish stock .... which is superb for adding to paella, or as base for making a fish soup or bouillabaisse.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 20:55; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 24 Feb 2016, 20:15

I do much the same with pig's trotters.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 25 Feb 2016, 09:38

Further to zuppa alla Pavese ... I've just come across this soup recipe given in Auguste Escoffier's 'Guide to Modern Cookery',
(published by Heinemann, London, 1903):

Recipe No. 747 - Mille-Fanti

" First make the following preparation: - Beat two small eggs to a stiff froth, and mix therewith one and one-half oz. of the crumb of very good white bread, one oz. of grated Parmesan, and a little nutmeg. Boil one and two-thirds pints of white consommé, and pour the above preparation therein, little by little, stirring briskly the while with the whisk. Then move the stewpan to the side of the fire, put the lid on, and set to cook gently for seven or eight minutes.
When about to serve, stir the soup with a whisk, and pour it into the soup-tureen."


The ingredients are the same as in the traditional zuppa alla Pavese, the main variation being that here the eggs are beaten to a froth and used to thicken the broth, as in a mousseline sauce, while the bread is added as breadcrumb, again to thicken. One can only wonder if the Mille-Fanti (thousand foot-soldiers) of the name isn't another reference to the 1525 battle, to Francis I, and to his crushing defeat by Charles V's infantry.

And is the English term, "soldiers", as given to strips of toasted bread for dipping into a soft-boiled egg, somehow related too?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 25 Feb 2016, 19:02

@Meles meles wrote:
Yes Paul, stock (in English) is bouillon (French) ... basically the sieved (no big lumps) juice left from boiling bones, meat trimmings, etc. In France (and I'm sure Belgium too) it is sometimes sold as a dehydrated powder, called "fond de veau", or "fond de volaille" (ie essence of poultry) etc. Although as the above recipe (zuppa alla pavese) is originally a 16th century peasant dish, it was probably originally made with just whatever was available.

These days of course high class chefs probably make their own stock/bouillon from cheap cuts of meat (such as beef shinbones or chicken wings ), but I just make my own from any left-overs. I never actually buy stock/bouillon/"fond de veau" cubes or powder ... I just boil up all bones with the water drained from simmering vegetables, along with turnip tops, carrot trimmings, the green ends of leaks, outer leaves of cabbage or lettuce, onion skins, tomato skins, even the dregs of wine left in half drunk glasses etc ... Once it has boiled up for a bit I then sieve to get a clear liquid, and then reduce that until it will gel when cooled. I skim off the fat layer and then either use it straight-away (it'll easily keep for at least a week in the fridge) ... or freeze it down in old ice-cream tubs for later.

If you make a stock/bouillon based on cooked bones and onion skins you get a dark stock ... if you use uncooked poultry or rabbit bones with leaks and onions (not the skins), you get a white stock. I also always save up fish bones, fish heads, the shells of prawns, the liquid left from doing mussels etc. and then make fish stock .... which is superb for adding to paella, or as base for making a fish soup or bouillabaisse.


Thank you very much for the explanation, Meles meles.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 25 Feb 2016, 23:19

@Meles meles wrote:
One can only wonder if the Mille-Fanti (thousand foot-soldiers) of the name isn't another reference to the 1525 battle, to Francis I, and to his crushing defeat by Charles V's infantry.

And is the English term, "soldiers", as given to strips of toasted bread for dipping into a soft-boiled egg, somehow related too?

I've often wondered about the origin of the term 'soldiers'. Relating it to Mille-Fanti seems as plausible as any other explanation.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 25 Feb 2016, 23:25

Some suggest it's because of Humpty Dumpty - egg, soldiers, well covered in yolk. No idea, myself.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 26 Feb 2016, 10:06

I was told that the bread strips had to be exact and of equal shape and size - uniform - like soldiers. I have heard petulant small fry - are there any other kind - who squeal if their soldiers are not exactly,so. .... and know of errant grans who sweep them away and offer a spoon or nowt.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 26 Feb 2016, 15:27

I was well into adulthood before I encountered soldiers in that sense, perhaps it was too difficult to cut the bread such that they were wearing kilts?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 26 Feb 2016, 17:12

Oh what fun, ferv! The thought never occurred - but will be used if my less than Guard precision is  questioned again. And if the toast is overdone, I'll mention Black Watch, also. The naming of foods can be such a pretense. French toast, for instance - as a child I only knew it by its German name - which I will not attempt to spell
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 26 Feb 2016, 22:16

You can get a "soldier" cutter (like a cake cutter) which produces a series of identical "guardsman" type cut outs.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 26 Feb 2016, 23:08

Nah, Gil. I'm saving up for a robot granma.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sat 27 Feb 2016, 00:31

Don't mess with grandmas - half today's children are "granny raised". The rest, like Topsy, "just growed".
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 02 Mar 2016, 13:14

2 March 1476, Charles the Bold of Burgundy was defeated by the Swiss Confederation at the Battle of Granson.

However, we shall go back 22 years, to the 17th February 1454,when Charles' father, Philip the Good hosted what was known as The Banquet of the Oath of the Pheasant, in the city of Lille,an occasion which Philip planned to be a starting point for a new crusade to retake the city of Constantinople, captured the previous year by the Ottoman Empire.

This was a huge and lavish entertainment, one of the spectacles was a huge pie and when the crust was removed, there were two dozen minstrels inside playing ( the origin of the four and twenty blackbirds of the nursery rhyme???)

This link is to a medieval recipe for Roasted Pheasant

Ffessaunte Rosted

The Feast:




Olivier de la Marche's description of the extravaganza: (pdf)

The Feast of the Oath of the Pheasant
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 02 Mar 2016, 15:38

Didn't de la Marche make an entrance riding (backwards) on an elephant singing this? IIRC Munrow claimed that in the notes to "The Art of Courtly Love".


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvYGeiKw_zo
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 03 Mar 2016, 09:16

Well done Trike, I'd never heard of the Banquet of the Oath of the Pheasant before.

And Gil, wiki confirms the story about the elephant, and then goes on to mention the 14th century romantic tradition of "bird oaths", which I'd also never heard of.

Typing "Le Banquet du Voeu" into youtube throws up loads of good late medieval music too!


Last edited by Meles meles on Sun 06 Mar 2016, 13:44; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 03 Mar 2016, 09:28

Never heard of it myself until yesteday, Meles. Found it while researching various Burgundy related history.


PS What's happened to your avatar? Is there a badger cull in progress?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 03 Mar 2016, 10:21

3 March 1875 – the premiere performance of Georges Bizet’s opera 'Carmen'.

 
As so often happens, despite its popularity today, the first performances were not generally well received. Dealing as it does with the raw emotions of love, lust, passion, jealousy, spite, revenge, self-loathing - as well as portraying the actual on stage murder of one of the principal characters - it broke a whole raft of operatic conventions. The Parisian audiences, used to more genteel fare, were shocked and scandalized. Bizet was greatly disappointed and died suddenly (3rd June) shortly after the 33rd performance. He was therefore never aware of its outstanding success when it was performed in Vienna later that year. Carmen has of course now become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas.

 

Georges Bizet in 1875

There are a couple of dishes named after Georges Bizet, but I haven’t been able to find any details of who created and named them. Both are typically fancy, fin-de-siécle, fine French cuisine, and frankly both sound like a bit of a palaver.

'Eggs Bizet' consists of eggs poached in a mould lined with minced pickled ox tongue, and then turned out onto a base of artichoke hearts. Artichokes are in season at the moment (I had some yesterday) but just cooking and preparing them is a bit fiddly, and that's before we even start on doing the eggs. Then there’s 'Consommé Bizet', which consists of a clear chicken stock, flavoured with a dash of sherry and slightly thickened with tapioca, in which are poached chicken quenelles garnished with tarragon and chervil. But again just making and pre-cooking the quenelles isn’t the easiest thing to do.

So for a simpler dish of the day I propose the suitably named 'Consommé Carmen'. Here’s Auguste Escoffier’s version (from his 'Guide to modern Cookery', published by Heinemann, London 1903):

Recipe 549 – Consommé Carmen
Prepare one quart of consommé, to which add, while clarifying, one-quarter pint of raw tomato purée, in order to give it a faint, pink tinge.
Also peel and press a small and rather firm tomato; cut into dice, and poach the latter in some of the consommé; put them in the soup-tureen with a small tablespoonful of mild capsicum, cut in fine julienne-fashion, and one tablespoonful of plain boiled rice.
When about to serve, pour the boiling consommé over the garnish, and add a small pinch of chervil pluches.



With its garnish of chervil and the use of a little rice to thicken, it is perhaps a nod to Consommé Bizet (which might well have been created by Escoffier himself), but actually the name 'Carmen' is a general French culinary term to mean a dish coloured red or pink with tomato juice. Nevertheless with its use of pieces of raw tomato and capsicum it is also quite typical of a number of Spanish dishes, such as gazpacho soup.

And now how about a bit of rousing music while we're cooking?

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 04 Mar 2016, 20:14

Meles meles a bit ill last days, but now recovered, enjoyed greatly your Carmen...

Your friend, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 06 Mar 2016, 00:02

Further to the discussion about toast soldiers to accompany eggs ...

Surprisingly the earliest print citation for "soldier", in the bread or toast sense, listed in the Oxford English Dictionary is only from 1966. I suspect however the term was probably in common use for many decades before its first appearance in print. The OED gives its first usage as in Nicolas Freeling's 1966 novel 'The Dresden Green', and there it was as an accompaniment to potato soup.

The Foods of England website mentions the concept of toast soldiers with boiled eggs might have been popularised, or possibly even invented, for a 1965 series of TV commercials for eggs starring Tony Hancock and Patricia Hayes:



The Foods in England site also adds that in the 18th century Robert Bradley's recipe book 'The Country Housewife and Lady's Director' (1728) had a recipe for boiled tench accompanied by, "a garnish of fry'd Bread, cut the length of one's Finger", but although this neatly describes a bread soldier, Bradley doesn't actually give it any specific name.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 06 Mar 2016, 11:31

Today (6 March 2016) is Laetare Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday (in French mi-carême), the fourth Sunday in Lent, and in England it is Mothering Sunday. It is the day to make Simnel Cakes.

"She who would a simnel make,
Flour and saffron first must shake,
Candy, spices, eggs must take,
Chop and pound till arms do ache:
Then must boil, and then must bake
For a crust too hard to break.
When at Mid-lent thou dost wake,
To thy mother bear thy cake:
She will prize it for thy sake."

From 'Copsley annals preserved in proverbs', by Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (1867).

Note how the poem suggests that Simnels were traditionally boiled before being baked, in the manner of modern-day bagel bread. The name, Simnel, may derive from the Latin 'simila conspersa', meaning 'fine flour', and although no exact recipes exist before the early 18th century, they are known in England since at least the 13th Century (OED). They even turn up in the 1535 'Coverdale Bible' where Ezekiel. xvi. 19 has; "Thou didest eate nothinge but symnels, honny & oyle."

For reasons which are not clear, Simnel cake became closely associated with Spring festivities in general, and more specifically with the Mid-Lent day-off from fasting, which accordingly is sometimes also informally known as 'Refreshment Sunday'. There are numerous local variations of Simnel cake (such as those from Bury, Devizes, Shrewsbury, Gloucester, Somerset) but all are rich fruit cakes made with nuts, dried fruit and peel, covered with marzipan and icing, and usually decorated with 11 sugar or paste balls, or other 'spring fancies' , which possibly represent the 11 Good Apostles.

Here's a Gloucestershire version from, 'Pot-luck, or, The British home cookery book', by May Byron (1914):

860. SIMNEL CAKE (Gloucestershire)

Take a quarter of a pound of flour, three ounces of mixed peel, quarter of a pound of butter, three good-sized eggs, quarter of a pound of castor sugar, two ounces of ground almonds, three-quarters of a pound of currants. Beat butter to a cream, add sugar and beaten eggs gradually, and work well together. Add flour sifted; beat thoroughly, then add remaining ingredients. Line a tin with greased paper, pour in mixture, and bake in gentle oven from two to three hours. When cold, make some almond paste. Put a layer on top of cake. Form remainder into round balls. Brush the cake over with white of egg and dust with castor sugar. Set in a cool oven till balls are lightly browned, and decorate with crystallised fruits.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 06 Mar 2016, 23:17

Quote :
The name, Simnel, may derive from the Latin 'simila conspersa', meaning 'fine flour'


Does that consign the "Lambert Simnel" explanation of the name to the breadbin of history?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 07 Mar 2016, 09:13

There's also this rather contrived origin. According to Shropshire legend, a brother and sister, Simon and Nell, both wanted to make a cake to give to their mother. Unfortunately they could not agree how to cook the cake. Simon wanted to boil it and Nell wanted to bake it. In the end they decided to do both and so presumably produced a rather solid cake. They also argued about the name and so settled on Sim-Nel.

But its use for a cake predates Lambert Simnel. OED dates it to the 13th century, from Old French simenel "fine wheat flour; flat bread cake, Lenten cake," probably by dissimilation from Vulgar Latin siminellus (also source of Old High German semala "the finest wheat flour," hence the German, Semmel for a roll). A diminutive of Latin simila "fine flour" also is the origin for semolina.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 15 Mar 2016, 08:14

15 March 44BC – the Ides of March – and the assassination of Julius Caesar.

So for today’s dish of the day I propose a Caesar Salad.

The name of course has no relation to the dictator of Rome, Gaius Julius Caesar, but rather was named by its creator, Caesar Cardini, the owner of a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico. According to his daughter Rosa (in an interview recorded in the Los Angeles, Mailpac Magazine, 1987), her father spontaneously invented the dish on 4th July 1924 (his restaurant, although in Mexico, always had a large clientele of US citizens, avoiding the restrictions of Prohibition) … an unexpected rush of customers depleted the kitchen’s supplies, and he was forced to make do with what he had. Cardini also had a restaurant in Los Angeles and from there Caesar Salad spread throughout the US, although the first documented reference (according to wiki) does seem to be surprisingly late: in 1946, newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, writing in the News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania) wrote,

"The big food rage in Hollywood—the Caesar salad—will be introduced to New Yorkers by Gilmore's Steak House. It's an intricate concoction that takes ages to prepare and contains (zowie!) lots of garlic, raw or slightly coddled eggs, croutons, romaine, anchovies, parmeasan [sic] cheese, olive oil, vinegar and plenty of black pepper."

Regardless of what Dorothy Kilgallen says, a Caesar Salad is actually quite quick and easy to rustle up. My 1998 Cordon Bleu 'Plats d’Eté' cookbook gives it as a mix of shredded lettuce (preferably romaine), fresh-chopped parsley, chopped hard-boiled eggs, roughly-grated parmesan cheese, and freshly-made croutons (best made from nothing more sophisticated than slightly stale sliced white bread, fried golden in very hot olive oil, and dried on kitchen towel), together with a dressing of egg yolk, mashed tinned anchovy fillets, some garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper. I personally like the definite anchovy taste although I note that according to Rosa Cardini the original Caesar Salad did not contain pieces of anchovy but rather had a milder anchovy flavour obtained from good old Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce.



But if you want we can do a real, Roman, 'Caesar' salad too. Alongside the stuffed dormice and larks tongues the Romans were also very partial to salads:

"Of all the things that come out of the garden, the most greatly favoured were those that needed no fire for cooking, and saved on firewood, which were always ready to eat. Hence their name, salads.[acetaria – from acetum: vinegar, in much the way the word salad derives from sal: salt]. They are easily digested and not heavy on the stomach."

Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD), Naturis Historica, XIX, xix

For a quick, simple, everyday salad Apicius (late 4th century AD, in De Re Coquinaria, III xviii) suggests:
"Lactucas cum oxyporio et aceto et modico liquamine." - Lettuce "oxyporum", served in [a dressing of] vinegar and a little liquamen [fermented fish-pickle].

 
Or for a richer salad there’s this one by Lucius Columella (4 – c.70 AD):
"Addito in mortarium satureiam, mentam, rutam, coriandrum, apium, porrum sectivum, aut si non erit viridem cepam, folia latucae, folia erucate, thymum viride, vel nepetam, tum etiam viride puleium, et caseum recentem et salsum: ea omnia partier conterito, acetique piperati exiguum, permisceto. Hanc mixturam cum in catillo composurris, oleum superfundito."
Put savoury in the mortar with mint, rue, coriander, parsley, sliced leek, or, if it is not available, onion, lettuce and rocket leaves, green thyme, or catmint. Also pennyroyal and salted fresh cheese. This is all mixed together. Stir in a little peppered vinegar. Put this mixture on a plate and pour some oil over it.
Columella, Re Rustica, XII - lix

 
Columella’s salad is unusual for the lack of salt and fish-pickle - probably he thought the cheese was salty enough. Note also, if trying this at home, that rue (Ruta graveolens), and pennyroyal (a type of mint – Mentha pulegium) are both toxic. Rue in particular can be narcotic in large doses, and its juice is an irritant that can cause dermatitis. Both however are very strongly flavoured, and although Columella typically gives no quantities, a little of both ingredients should be enough to add sufficient flavour without poisoning one’s guests.

Roman fish-pickle was of two general kinds liquamen and garum. Liquamen was generally the more runny liquid sauce, while garum was typically a thicker paste, but both were made from the heads, fins, gills, blood and guts of mackerel, mullet, anchovies, or other small fish, mixed with salt, and then left exposed to the sun and air for several months until the fish parts had fermented and liquefied. The clear liquid was drawn off as liquamen and the thicker liquid paste was bottled up as garum (although the two terms were often used interchangeably). The sludge left at the bottom, called allec, was also bottled up for use but was a lot cheaper than the real stuff. Roman cuisine used both liquamen and garum extensively, although generally rather sparingly, partly because of the price, but also because of the very strong flavour. A little could go a long way.


A mosaic from the wall of a tavern in Pompeii depicting a typical slender-shaped, garum condiment jug. The inscription reads: "from the workshop of Scaurus" … that is Aulus Umbricus Scaurus who was a successful Pompeiian garum importer.

The manufacture of liquaman and garum might sound rather disgusting - and it was indeed a very smelly business, prompting numerous complaints about "nuisance smells" - but the taste, (like soy it’s high in umami), and their ability to enhance the flavours of other ingredients, makes them little different to the use of tinned anchovies, or Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire sauce, in a modern Caesar Salad.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 15 Mar 2016, 10:17

The manufacture of liquaman and garum might sound rather disgusting - and it was indeed a very smelly business, prompting numerous complaints about "nuisance smells" - but the taste, (like soy it’s high in umami), and their ability to enhance the flavours of other ingredients, makes them little different to the use of tinned anchovies, or Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire sauce, in a modern Caesar Salad.

It amuses me that those who profess disgust at the thought of garum and liquaman will happily slosh L&P onto their toasted cheese or scoff an M&S Thai green curry. I have seen artisan fish sauce manufacture in Vietnam and yes, it is a decidedly pongy business and it beggars belief that the result is safe to eat never mind enjoyable, but so very similar to the Roman method that one cannot but wonder if the process arose independently in Italy and South East Asia or is there transmission here.

Did the Greeks ferment any of the beloved fish? Which reminds me, have you read Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens? I think you would enjoy it, my copy has long since disappeared but I'm tempted to get another.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Courtesans-Fishcakes-Consuming-Passions-Classical/dp/0006863434





As our resident food historian, did the Greeks ever ferment anchovies?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 15 Mar 2016, 10:54

@ferval wrote:

..... did the Greeks ever ferment anchovies?

Pliny the Elder says that the Latin name garum was derived from the Greek garos, which he thought was the name of a particular (unknown) type of fish. Nevertheless it seems that the Greeks of the Black Sea coast were indeed manufacturing a fermented fish sauce, called garos, well before the rise of Imperial Rome. Plato Comicus (4th century BC) apparently makes a reference to it when he jokingly refers to its pungent smell with the phrase: en saprôi garoi - "in rotten fish sauce" (all that info is from, 'Siren Feasts - A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece', by Andrew Dalby, 1996). Certainly at a later date a lot of the garum and liquamen supplied to Rome was made in Greece, and liquamen remained a popular ingredient in Byzantine cooking for many centuries after the decline of Rome.

The practice of fermenting fish does seem quite widespread doesn't it? ... besides SE Asia's naam plaa, nuoc mam and bagoong ... the Scandinavian countries have their gravadlax, rakfisk, lutefisk and surstrômming ... and I'm quite surprised there's not somewhere a local British tradition of preserving fish (or essence of fish) by fermentation, or perhaps there is?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 15 Mar 2016, 19:41

Further to my ‘Ides of March’ post above, today is also the anniversary of the fall of another autocrat …..

15 March 1917 – the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

By early 1917 the majority of Russians had lost faith in the Tsarist regime. The war was going badly, there were shortages and rationing on the home front, government corruption was unrestrained, and the Tsar continued to disregard the elected Dumas. On 7 March 1917 (old style dating: 22 February) workers at the large Putilov plant in St Petersburg went on strike to demonstrate against the government. On 8 March, the Putilov protesters were joined by those celebrating International Women's Day and protesting against rationing. Rumours of imminent food shortages and further rationing circulated and that night bread riots erupted across the city. By the following day, nearly 200,000 protesters filled the streets, calling for an end to the war and for the Russian monarchy to be overthrown. By 10 March the uprising had escalated further and nearly every industrial enterprise in the city was shut down. On March 11 the Tsar, (who had left St Petersburg for the front-line on the 7 March) ordered General Khablov, the city’s military commander, to suppress the rioting by force, but morale and discipline amongst the bulk of the city garrison was so low that, one by one, the military units started to mutiny and join with the protesters.

On 11 March Mikhail Rodzianko, Chairman of the Dumas, urgently sent the Tsar a telegram to report the chaos:
"The situation is serious. The capital is in a state of anarchy. The Government is paralyzed. Transport service and the supply of food and fuel have become completely disrupted. General discontent is growing. There must be no delay. Any procrastination is tantamount to death."

Nicholas' response was to completely ignore the warning, believing Rodzianko to be over-reacting. Meanwhile in St Petersburg by 13 March all Government authority had collapsed, the last remaining loyal units of the army had switched their allegiance, government buildings were burned down, and the arsenal was seized. That evening the chiefs of the army and senior ministers urged that the Tsar abdicate the throne.

On 15 March 1917 the Tsar Nicholas abdicated, on behalf of himself and his son, the Tsarevich Alexei. He nominated his brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, to succeed him but the Grand Duke realised that he would have little support as ruler, so he declined the crown stating that he would take it only if that was the consensus of democratic action by the Russian Constituent Assembly. Six days later, Nicholas, no longer Tsar and addressed with contempt by the sentries as "Nicholas Romanov", was reunited with his family at the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. He and his family and loyal retainers were placed under protective custody by the Provisional Government.

The Romanov dynasty was at an end. So to mark the anniversary of its passing I propose, perhaps inappropriately considering the bloodshed and turmoil of that second week in March 1917, the dessert, Strawberries Romanov. But then maybe, as a delicate dish that was completely out of season and was equally out of touch with most Russians, Fraises Romanoff is an apt metaphor for the glittering, isolated, French-speaking, Imperial Russian court.

The origin of the dish is obscure but it seems to have been created and named by Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) after the restoration of the French monarchy and when the Russian Tsar was Alexander I (1777-1835). Carême’s dish basically comprised strawberries marinated overnight in the finest port and served with thick cream. Later in the century Georges-Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who like Carême became known as the "Le Roi des Chefs et le Chef des Rois", updated many of Carême’s recipes, simplifying and modernizing them to the new lighter style of French cuisine then in vogue. Unlike Carême (who had once moved to St Petersburg on the suggestion of Tsar Alexander, but had lived there so briefly that he probably never actually cooked anything for the Romanovs), Escoffier, as master chef at the London Ritz, was often called upon to cater for European royalty, including King Edward VII, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II.

Here’s Escoffier’s recipe for Fraises Romanoff: (from the abridged 1907 English edition of his 1903 book 'Le Guide Culinaire'):

Recipe 2679 - Fraises Romanoff
Macerate some fine strawberries with orange juice and Curaçao. Set them in a timbale surrounded with ice, and cover them with Chantilly cream, [sweetened whipped cream] laid upon them by means of a piping-bag, fitted with a large, grooved pipe.

In 'Le Guide Culinare', Escoffier actually suggests two slightly different versions of Fraises Romanoff: a French version made with nothing but whipped cream, and a Russian version with half a cup of sour cream folded into the whipped cream. His recipe uses Curaçao, but other more recent recipes suggest Grand Marnier or kirsch, and for a really showy dish it should of course be garnished with strawberry halves and thin dark chocolates:



Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 28 Mar 2016, 17:17; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : kaiser willy II not willy I)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 20 Mar 2016, 15:04

I thought MM would post something today, but he hasn't.


It is Palm Sunday. I got the following off t'internet: to be honest, I I have never heard of any of these dishes and I have always associated figgy pudding with Christmas.

In the Greek tradition, Lenten fast is broken with a fish dinner on Palm Sunday featuring bakaliaros or salt cod. In some parts of Italy, homemade fettuccini pasta topped with tomato sauce, bread crumbs and chopped nuts is the customary Palm Sunday dish.

In Great Britain, traditional foods served on Palm Sunday include fig pudding because Jesus is said to have eaten figs on his entry into the city of Jerusalem. In Wales, the day is known as Sul y Blodau or Flowering Sunday because of the association with the flowering of the fig tree. Making split pea soup is another tradition still observed in Northern England and Scotland, derived from the ancient practice of wearing a hard pea in the shoe as penance during Lent.

In other areas of the UK, pax cakes - along with best wishes for peace and brotherhood - are given out to congregations after Palm Sunday services in a custom said to date back to the 1500's.

More modern interpretations of appropriate foods to be eaten on Palm Sunday include hearts of palm featured in salads and side dishes to observe the day.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 20 Mar 2016, 15:38

@Temperance wrote:
I thought MM would post something today, but he hasn't.

MM is desparately trying to plant out his broad beans, leeks and lettuces ... in the brief interludes between the showers of rain! Also as a date, I'm afraid Palm Sunday generally passes me by  ... so thanks for coming up with something, Temp.

Palm Hearts, eh? Gosh that's classy! But though they're very appropriate to the date, they're really not very sustainable: to get one palm heart requires an entire tree to be cut down, from which you just get something like a single, very large, fresh leak!

But figs are good. I'm actually cooking confit de canard aux figues tonight ... duck with preserved figs from the tree in my garden. But pea soup and figgy pudding do seem much more British.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 20 Mar 2016, 15:49

Would a hand of pork be inappropriate?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 20 Mar 2016, 16:00

Inappropriate for the population of 1st century Jerusalem? .... I think that would probably be yes.

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 20 Mar 2016, 17:00


A plate of salame di asino would be a bit insensitive, not to mention ungrateful, as well.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 22 Mar 2016, 11:28

@Temperance wrote:

It is Palm Sunday..... Making split pea soup is another tradition still observed in Northern England and Scotland, derived from the ancient practice of wearing a hard pea in the shoe as penance during Lent.

 ... and I've just come across Carlin peas, a variety of black pea which it was traditional in the North-East to eat boiled and then lightly fried in butter or fat, on Palm Sunday (or sometimes it's the Sunday before) which day is accordingly also known as Carlin Sunday. In Yorkshire Carlin peas are also known as Brown Badgers ... now how could I have missed that!

OED dates the name, Carlin, to at least as far back as Turner's Herbal of 1562.

The Foods of England site says: "One tradition has it that when Newcastle was besieged by the Scots, the citizens might have starved but for the arrival of a cargo of dried peas from Norway on the Sunday before Palm Sunday, known as Carlin Sunday. Tradition, though, is uncertain as to whether that was the siege of 1327 under Robert the Bruce or the Civil War one of 1644, while a very similar story has been applied to Blackpool."

Carlin Sunday is followed by Farting Monday, according to East Yorkshire folk lore.

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 22 Mar 2016, 21:05

Quote :
Where i live in the Black Country UK we have a really simple traditional dish called grey peas and bacon or as we say in our dialect, gray pays n bercun.
In the Victorian era and more than likely beyond the menfolk had to toil in either limestone or coal mines or worked with iron as smiths or foundry men. Money was very hard to come by so food was basic but substantional. All homes at the time had a cottage garden (veg plot) and kept pigs. The peas were dried and stored for the year and the pigs, well it was a case of as and when needed.
I have to this at least once a week for my family, father in law, a kid at work who now calls me Dad lol and even my dogs go mad for it.

500g of dried grey peas
500g of chopped bacon
75g of pearl barley
1 chopped onion
oil for frying
pepper but salt is optional as there is loads in bacon
oxo cube (not necessary, my addition only but well worth it)

Soak peas and pearl barley in water and bicarb of soda overnight, drain and wash several times.
In a large pan, fry bacon and onion in a little oil, when browned add oxo cube (optional).
Add about 500 ml of water and bring to boil.
Add your peas and barley, top up water. Simmer for about four hours but keep topping up water. Serve with crusty bread.

This will make at least six generous bowl fulls.

Follow this with "fillbelly" and you'll be "cfftb"!
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 25 Mar 2016, 15:44

I forgot this yesterday:

24 March 1603 – James VI of Scotland ascends to the throne of England thereby uniting the two crowns.

So for something suitably Scottish and dating from the right period, I suggest cock-a-leekie soup. In basic style this is a typical medieval European peasant dish suitable for one-pot cooking. The chicken was boiled together with onions, leeks, un-milled grains and seasoning, to give two separate dishes from the same pot: the boiled fowl itself and a rich vegetable pottage. In more sophisticated medieval courtly cuisine, the broth was often further enriched with dried-fruit, sugar and exotic spices, and it is a variant of this that seems to have become established in Scotland, probably coming originally from France as an incidental consequence of the auld alliance.

What seems to have distinguished the Scottish dish was the addition of prunes ... raisins were the usual ingredient in France, Italy and Spain. It is this dish, although not yet called cock-a-leekie, that was almost certainly described in 1598 by Fynes Morrison in his book 'An Itinerary' ... while dining at a Scottish earl's castle, he, "... instead of porridge, had a pullet with some prunes in the broth." By Georgian times such dishes combining sweet fruit with meat had generally lost their appeal and were rarely eaten in England, however cock-a-leekie continued to survive in Scotland. Lady Grisill Baillie of Edinburgh, in 1743, wrote special instructions to her housekeeper to use "a measured six ounces of prunes" in making "cocky-leeky", and at the end of the 18th century the French diplomat Talleyrand, commenting aprovingly on the Scottish soup, noted the prunes but added that in his opinion they should be removed before serving.

One of the first printed recipes for cock-a-leekie, in Meg Dod’s 'Cook and Housewife's Manual' (1829), mentions the prunes, but then advises to omit them:

Recipe 726. Cock-a-leekie.
Boil from four to six pounds of good shin-beef, well broken, till the liquor is very good. Strain it, and put to it a capon, or large fowl, trussed for boiling, and, when it boils, half the quantity of blanched leeks intended to be used, well cleaned, and cut in inch-lengths, or longer. Skim this carefully. In a half-hour add the remaining part of the leeks, and a seasoning of pepper and salt. The soup must be very thick of leeks, and the first part of them must be boiled down into the soup till it becomes a green lubricious compound. Sometimes the capon is served in the tureen with the cock-a-leekie. This is good leek-soup without a fowl.--Obs. Some people thicken cock-a-leekie with the fine part of oatmeal. Those who dislike so much of the leeks may substitute shred greens, or spinage and parsley, for one half of them. Reject the coarse green part of the leeks. Prunes are not to be put to this soup. The practice is obsolete.

By 1860, when Alexis Soyer included a recipe for cock-a-leekie (recipe number 24) in his best-selling book, 'A Shilling Cookery for the People', he made no mention of prunes at all. Neither did Isabella Beeton in her 1861 classic, 'Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management' (it's recipe number 134). And so unless anyone knows otherwise, it would seem that prunes, perhaps the defining feature of real cock-a-leekie, are no longer usually added.

I'll leave the last words to King James himself, as given in Walter Scott’s 1822 novel, 'Fortunes of Nigel', in which his majesty provides the very last line: 

"And, my lords and lieges, let us all to dinner, for the cockie-leekie is a-cooling."


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 27 Mar 2016, 14:07

It's Easter Sunday … so it has got to be something involving eggs, eggys, eyers, or eyroun. Accordingly here are two historic recipes for 'novelty' eggs:
 
The first for, 'A Monstrous Egg', may very well have been exactly the sort of thing served up at Easter to Charles II or Louis XIV during the 1660-70s.  It is taken from the 'The Accomplisht Cook', written by Robert May, and first published in 1660.



..... the sweet and spicy version is probably the one most suitable for Easter, although I'm not sure if Morrisons or Aldi routinely stock whale ambergris these days.
 
The second recipe is from a mid 15th century manuscript (Oxford MS, F 291).
 
Egges yn lente (Lenten eggs)
"Tak soundes of stokfysche. Ley hem in water ij days or j day afore þu shalt spende hem, þann wasche hem: pyk awey þe bonys. Þan mak good almonde mylk of blaunchyd almandes, also so þicke as þu may. Seþ þese soundes tender over þe fyr with fayr water, þanne grynde hem al hoote in a mortar small. Cast in þerto qwhan it is groundyn. Put  mylk qwhan it is hoote scaldynge. Þann drawe it up þorw a streynor into a vessel …. etc."
 
…. This particular recipe is unusually detailed and clear for the time. In translation the whole thing reads:
 
“Take the swimbladders of dried cod. Lay them in water for two days or one day before you will use them, then wash them; pick away the bones. Then make good almond milk of blanched almonds, as thick as you can. Boil these swim bladders tender over the fire with fresh water, then grind them, all hot, small in a mortar. Put it in when it is ground. Put it in the milk when it is scalding hot, then push it through a strainer into a container.
Then take an eel or two according to your need. Flay these eels and boil them until they are tender, then strip this fish from the bone and grind it in a mortar with a little grated bread. Colour it well with saffron, and look that it is hard as pastry, and then make of it pellets not quite as large as cherries. Then keep them in a container.
Then take hen's eggs; make a good hole in the first end. Gather out of this all the matter in the shells. Then wash the shells in lukewarm water and set them on a board with the hole downward so that the water can run out. Then set the shells in a row upright in salt in a container. Then make your milk made with the swim bladders scalding hot and take a spoon and fall the shells full of the almond milk, and then put one of the pellets in every egg, and put it down into the egg with a skewer so that it is covered with the milk.
Let these eggs stand still there until they are cold, then pull off the shell. Then heat the remnant of the almond milk made with the swim bladders that remains after the filling; add to it sanders and saffron and boil it well. Then take good pottage dishes and take some of this coloured milk and put a Little of it in the bottom of the dish all hot. Then set in a dish two or three eggs, and set the larger end of the eggs downward. Then cut almonds small, and put on top as a sort of garnish, and set cloves upright there in the coloured milk. 
Ten swim bladders and one and a half pounds of almonds and an eel worth twopence is enough for twenty dishes."

Eggs were of course forbidden food in Lent, and so these 'Lenten eggs' were contrived of almond milk with the 'yolks' coloured yellow with saffron, thickened with fish bits (isinglass), and then the whole shaped using egg shells. Real eggs had to be used to mould the pretend ones but since they weren't to be eaten this did not bother medieval cooks, diners, nor mother church. A modern cook might like to try various other ingredients and flavourings, although they might want to avoid the slightly fishy taste of cod swim bladders if, say, using chocolate (which in any case only arrived in Europe during the 16th century).

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 28 Mar 2016, 14:35

Link to the BBC Good Food site and a recipe for unleavened bread;

Unleavened Bread
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 29 Mar 2016, 09:33

Now that the bru-ha-ha has died down between commemorations of Ireland's 1916 Rising, and since Meles meles did after all invite me to contribute something here, I think it's only fair to mark the fair city's insurrection with a fair meal almost peculiar to Dublin and which, despite its marketing these days as an over-priced dish aimed at gullible tourists, in reality was the poor man's Boeuf Stroganoff, sustaining families in times of horrendous poverty and hardship. And no more so than when the brave rebels and the British Army between them succeeded in disrupting everyone's shopping for several weeks while the butchers of Moore Street rebuilt their premises.

These days "coddle" can mean almost anything, but back in 1916 there was - more through necessity than culinary preference - only one real recipe. Minor variations (such as carrots) were to be found in the kitchens and sculleries of heathens and blow-ins, but a true Jackeen stuck to first principles with coddle, on the simple but accurate assumption that that which had not killed your parents or grandparents, and of which your great grandparents could say the same, was probably fangled enough to have proved its worth.

Forgive the rotundity of measurements here - they were rough, like those who composed them.

One begins with about two pints of potato soup. How you make it is your own business, but for simplicity's sake you could probably get away with one of those powdered soup thingies. At this stage the choice of potato breed is superfluous also - the soup will be rendered and re-rendered several times if it is to duplicate the consistency of its 1916 model.

Next you need to get your hands on two onions, the bigger the better, and slice them up. While you're at it you'll need a bunch of thyme (the girls in Moore Street know a bunch when they feel one), and root out some chopped parsley from the scullery safe. Bung the lot into the mix and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring continually.

Now the luxury items, and of course the first item has to be more potatoes. This time the type is important - not the expensive floury ones but the cheaper waxy ones. This is crucial. Dice them up into pieces whose size is commensurate with the volume of what constitutes one average mouthful in the family. If you're making it just for yourself you need only check in the mirror to ascertain this shape. Bung them in too and continue with the stirring stuff on and off until they are cooked. Being the waxy type you have a bit of leeway before they disappear, and believe me, you definitely don't want them to disappear!

During this leeway, and bear in mind you're talking about 15 minutes needed for this next step, bung in any sausages you found in your larder. The quantity and type is up to you, though if you're going for the real deal (Muslims and Jews look away) then a half pound of Olhausen's best pork is what you require. A pint or so of the fullest cream milk you can find should be added around now too. Stir the aforesaid 15 minutes while adding as much salt and pepper as you deem fit and turn off the gas at the point the milk has begun to boil.

Now at this stage of course you can stop, especially if you want to emulate the Mountjoy Square slums variety of the dish. If however you want to go a bit upmarket (say, the Dominic Street slums variety) - and you have another sixpence for the gas - then a bit of diced bacon or sliced up rasher is what you need to add. You can have lightly griddled them first but it's not really important flavour-wise. It just makes them more chewy (though avoid at all costs those pre-smoked varieties you can get now, they WILL ruin the taste!). Bung them in and simmer gently, being careful the sausages and waxy potatoes don't dissolve in the process.

And there you have it. A re-heatable and tasty dish, served in a bowl of course. It's not obligatory to sprinkle the output with lashings of Worcestershire Sauce, especially if your rabid Irish republicanism dissuades you from supporting the Lea & Perrins workforce, but it adds to the experience. One can almost hear the bullets whizzing past Nelson's blind eye and the mortars landing at the thru'penny stamp counter.

This pic was the one I found on the net which is closest to the original concept.

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sat 02 Apr 2016, 12:40

2 April 1725 – the birth of Giacomo Casanova.


Casanova, a drawing by his brother Francesco.

Born in Venice, Casanova was an educated man with many interests, charms and habits (good and bad), but popular history has chosen to remember only his notorious womanising. At various times he’d been a lawyer, a soldier, a professional gambler, a violinist, a spy, an alchemist, a diplomat, a writer, and had devised the idea of a state lottery. He had been imprisoned several times for debts and for 'scandalous behaviour', but had also toured Europe and moved in the highest circles, meeting with the Pope, Frederick the Great, Catherine Empress of Russia, Voltaire, and Benjamin Franklin amongst others. But for his last years he lived a dull and relatively friendless life as a librarian to an aristocrat in Bohemia.

Casanova loved food, it is said, almost as much as he loved women. At the age of 73 this was his remaining pleasure: he was described at that age as "no longer a god in the garden or a satyr in the forest, he is a wolf at table." In his more virile days, he supposedly used to his benefit, the aphrodisiac effect of oysters, sometimes eating a several dozen for breakfast and then several dozens more for supper. Oysters have been considered aphrodisiacs since at least Roman times when they were consumed in huge quantities, and indeed modern research has shown that they are very rich in zinc and in amino acids, particularly those that stimulate the release of certain hormones.

Until the mid 19th century oysters were cheap and readily available wherever a suitable coast wasn’t too far away, although the best oysters were acknowledged by all – including even the French - as coming from England. In Casanova’s time they were consumed in vast quantities at informal luncheons and evening parties. But their cheapness meant they were also a staple of the poor. As Sam Weller put it in 'Pickwick Papers', published in 1836, "… poverty and oysters always seem to go together … the poorer the place is, the greater call there seems to be for oysters." In London, in 1840, they cost only 8d a bushel, but by 1860, due to over-fishing and pollution, they had become scarce and a luxury only the rich could afford at 1 shilling a dozen.


The Oyster Lunch, a rather laddish oyster and champagne party, by Jean-François de Troy, 1734 .

The aphrodisiac effect of oysters is said to only occur when the oysters are eaten raw ... should you dislike raw seafood, or not need this hormone boost, you can of course cook them.

Here are some recipes from the time of Casanova, to give you some ideas, the first two are from 'The Country Housewife and Ladies Director', by Richard Bradley, (1732).

To stew Oysters.
Take large Oysters, open them, and save their Liquor; then when the Liquor is settled, pour off the Clear, and put it in a Stew-Pan, with some Blades of Mace, a little grated Nutmeg, and some whole Pepper, to boil gently, till it is strong enough of the Spices: then take out the Spices, and put in the Oysters to stew gently, that they be not hard; and when they are near enough, add a piece of Butter, and as much grated Bread as will thicken the Liquor of the Oysters; and just before you take them from the Fire, stir in a Glass of White-wine.

Roasted Oysters in Scallop Shells.
Provide some large scallop Shells, such as are the deepest and hollowest you can get, which Shells are sold at the Fishmongers at London; then open such a Number of Oysters as will near fill the Shells you design, and save the Liquor to settle; then pour a moderate quantity of the Liquor into each Shell, and put a Blade of Mace, and some whole Pepper with it; after which, put into your Shells a small piece of Butter, and cover the whole with grated Bread: then let these on a Grid-Iron over the Fire, and when they are enough, give the grated Bread at the tops of the Shells a browning with a red-hot Iron, and serve them.

Or there's this one from 'The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy' by Hannah Glasse (1747):

To make oyster loaves
Take three French rolls, take out all the crumb, by first cutting a piece of the top-crust; but be careful that the crust hits again the same place. Fry the rolls brown in fresh butter .... Take half a pint of oysters, stew them in their own liquor, then take out the oysters with a fork, strain the liquor to them, put them into a sauce-pan again, with a glass of white wine, a little beaten mace, a little grated nutmeg, a quarter of a pound of butter rolled in flour; shake them well together, then put them into the rolls; and these make a pretty side-dish for a first couse. You my rub in the crumbs of two rolls, and toss up with the oysters.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 08 Apr 2016, 11:07

8 April 1904 – The 'Entente Cordiale' between France and Great Britain was finally ratified.

The agreement comprised three principal documents. The first was a declaration by which France would agree not to obstruct British actions in Egypt in return for Britain giving France free rein in Morocco, with the provision that Britain would guarantee French shipping free passage through the Suez canal and that France would build no fortifications along the Moroccan coast. The second document dealt primarily with fishing rights off the coast of Newfoundland, and the third concerned the mutual recognition of spheres of influence in Siam, Madagascar and the New Hebrides. Of these three the first was clearly the most important, but it was the second that was the biggest sticking point and the cause of most of the diplomatic wrangling.

The issue originally stemmed from the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) by which France ceded to Britain: Newfoundland; all French territories in Rupert’s Land (the vast area around Hudson's Bay); and the French Arcadian colony of Nova Scotia. France lost control of these territories but had been permitted to retain valuable fishing concessions off the coast of Newfoundland, and even the right to build permanent fishing bases along the so-called 'French Shore'. In 1713 these bases were small and Newfoundland as a whole had been sparsely populated, but by the end of the 19th century the bases had grown into large, permanent communities that were operating outside of local laws and jurisdiction, and they were severely damaging the whole Newfoundland economy.

 
The French fishing station at Conche on the Newfoundland 'French Shore' in 1859.

By the Entente declaration France agreed to renounce the fishing privileges granted by article 13 of the Treaty of Utrecht, in return for financial compensation to be paid by the British government to French citizens who would be adversely affected, and for territorial concessions in West and Central Africa. France retained the right to fish "in season" on the former 'French Shore', on, "a footing of equality with British subjects", but could not, as formerly, build fishing establishments on land. The convention did not achieve all that the Newfoundland government would have liked, but it did close down what remained of the French fishery and eliminated any legal uncertainty about the ownership of land, water, forestry, minerals, and other resources there. It also ensured that Newfoundland fishery rules and regulations applied on the former 'French Shore', which had not been the case in the past.

So in commemoration of the signing of the Entente Cordiale I propose something traditional and fishy from Newfoundland. This is from, 'A Cookbook – featuring favourite Newfoundland recipes', written and published by the George Street United Church Women’s Association of St John’s, Newfoundland (1953).

FISH AND BREWIS.
"In the land where cod is king it is to be expected that many of our dishes make use of this delicious and versatile fish. Here in Newfoundland if you mean salmon or trout or halibut or whatever, you say so. If you just say fish you mean cod.

Perhaps the most popular dish is fish and brewis (pronounced broos). The New Englanders make fish and brewis, too, but few people inland ever heard of it. In fact, one mainlander on first hearing of it, though it had some connection with a still for making home brew. On the other hand a story is told of a clergyman newly come from England whose hostess asked him before he retired his first night if he would like fish and brewis for breakfast. Wishing neither to offend nor to be reckless, he replied cautiously that, "Yes, he would like fish and one brew, please." Newfoundland families in all income brackets and in all geographical locations serve fish and brewis with varying frequency. Especially for Sunday morning breakfast. Sometimes the brewis is served with bacon or ham instead of fish. The fish, of course, is the salt fish and the brewis is made from the hard bread which can be bought in the grocery stores here. As in all such dishes an exact recipe is hard to find, each cook having her own way of doing the cooking which gives a slightly different flavour to the finished product.

Recipe — From the dried salt fish clean or pull off skin. Remove backbone. Cut in pieces. Cover fish with cold water and soak overnight. Change water and bring to boil. Boil 20 minutes or until fish is tender. Remove from heat and take out all bones. Brewis—Split cakes of hard bread. Soak overnight in cold water. Bring to boil in same water. Drain immediately. Keep hot. Fish and Brewis is often served with "scrunchions." These are small cubes of fat pork or "fat back" fried a golden brown and poured over the fish and brewis like a sauce or gravy."

It is probably no coincidence that this is actually very like the traditional French dish, 'brandade de morue'.

Et donc, vive l'Entente Cordiale!


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 08 Apr 2016, 11:52

But if you fancy something a bit classier than fish and brewis (with or without scrunchions) why not pick something from the menu of the banquet held at the Elysée Palace by Président Emile Loubet on the occasion of the state visit to France of Edward VII, when the latter threw his, not inconsiderable, weight into the diplomatic efforts to secure the Entente Cordiale.
 
Diner offert par le Président de la République Français
À S.M. Edouard VII
Le 2 Mai 1903

Crème Windsor
Oxtail Soup
Barquettes d’Ecrevisses Nantua
Truite Saumonée au Vin de Chambertin
Baron d’Agneau de Pauillac aux Morilles
Salmis de Gelinottes au Xérès
Canetons de Rouen à l’Archiduc
Sorbets au Kummel
Spooms au Cherry Brandy
Poulardes du Mans Truffées
Foie Gras Frais à la Souvaroff
Salade Gauloise
Asperges d’Argenteuil sauce Mousseline
Petits Pois nouveaux à la Français
Timbales de Fruits Glacés à l’Orange
Glace Viviane
Feuilleté aux Amandes
Corbeilles de Fruits

Porto Commandador
Chablis Moutonne
Château Yquem 1874
Château Haut-Brion 1877
Mouton Rothschild 1875
Clos de Vougeot 1870
Moët Chandon White Seal
Moët et Chandon brut Impérial 1889

... It is interesting that the banquet started with a couple of fairly boring English soups - perhaps in deference to the guest of honour, or maybe in a mocking culinary salute to British cuisine - before all the Gallic gastronomic stops were pulled out, and there followed a fabulous flourish of fancy, flamboyant, fin-de siécle, fine French cuisine. King Edward was well known as a gastronome and bon viveur so I'm sure he appreciated it all ... at least once the soup course was out of the way. The wine list, I think you'll agree, is pretty impressive too.

PS : And the 'Spooms au Cherry Brandy' isn't a typo ... I had to look it up but a spoom is a type of frothy sorbet.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 10 Apr 2016, 10:04

10 April 1633 – the first reference to a fresh banana in Britain.

Thomas Johnson, the botanist who edited Gerard’s Herball, had come by a banana plant that had somehow survived the long and perilous journey from the Caribbean. He put the plant, with its strange 'hand', in the window of his apothocary’s shop at Snow Hill in London, where the general public were able to watch it ripen over the following weeks.

"Aprill 10. 1633. my much honored friend Argent (now President of the Colledge of Physitions of London) gave me a plant he received from the Bermuda's: the length of the stalke was some two foot; the thicknesse thereof some seven inches about, being crested, and full of a soft pith, so that one might easily with a knife cut it asunder. It was crooked a little, or indented, so that each two or three inches space it put forth a knot of some halfe inch thicknesse, and some inch in length, which incompassed it morre than halfe about; and upon each of these joints or knots, in two rankes one above another, grew the fruit, some twenty, nieteene, eithteene, &c. mor or lesse, at each knot: for the branch I had, contained nine knots or divisions, and upon the lowest knot grew twenty [fruits], and upon the uppermost fifteene. The fruit which I received was not ripe, but greene, each of them was about the bignesse of a large Beane; the length of them some five inches, and the bredth some inch and halfe.

This stalke with the fruit thereon I hanged up in my shop, were it became ripe about the beginning of May, and lasted until June: the pulp or meat was very soft and tender, and it did eate somewhat like a Muske-Melon.This Plant is found in many places of Asia, Africke, and America, especially in the hot regions: you may find frequent mention of it amongst the sea voyages to the East and West Indies, by the name of Plantaines, or Platanus, Bannanas, Bonnanas, Bouanas, Dauanas, Poco, &c. Some have judged it the forbidden fruit; other-some, the Grapes brought to Moses out of the Holy-land."

(There was a brief flurry of excitement in 1999 when an ancient-looking banana skin was found at an archeological dig beside the Thames amongst some Tudor artefacts, suggesting that a banana had made it to Britain a century and a half earlier than the one described above. But eventually it turned out to be a 1950s banana, and so Johnson's were most likely the first fresh bananas ever seen in England.)

The banana originated in SE Asia where it was already being extensively cultivated about 6,000 years ago. From there it spread to the India and Persia. Pliny described it (in Naturalis Historia, 77 AD), although it is likely that he never actually saw a fresh banana nor probably even a living banana plant. By about 1000 AD banana cultivation had spread to Mesopotamia and the Nile valley. European crusaders encountered bananas in the middle east, but unlike many other novelties they couldn’t bring any of the highly perishable fruit back home, although bananas started to be grown commercially on Cyprus sometime before the 1450s. Following the discovery of the New World large banana plantations were rapidly established in Brazil and the Caribbean.


Albert Eckhout, 'Bananas, guavas and other fruit', Brazil c.1644.

But while the plants could be transported the fruits could not. Bananas are soft, ripen quickly and are very perishable and so rarely made it to Europe. As with oranges, lemons and even pineapples, attempts were made to grow them under glass but to get bananas to set seed and produce fruit required expensive coal-fired hot houses and were rarely successful in Britain. So rare were bananas that even in the 1830s few people had ever seen one nor knew exactly how to eat them. On 2 December 1834 the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth was sent a single banana with Lord Shrewsbury’s compliments, and a note: "… it may be eaten raw but I should think that it would be far more pleasant when cooked in a thin silver dish, like a pudding, I think (I speak in doubt) with butter."

It was only with the development of fast ships that bananas became readily available in temperate parts of the world. Americans, being closer to the main source (the Caribbean) were luckier than the British and bananas started to become available in the markets of some of the bigger cities along the Eastern seaboard of the US in the 1840s, although regular shipments to Boston and New York didn’t start until the 1870s, and people in the Midwest wouldn’t become familiar with the banana as a fruit until the 1880s. Even when available bananas were expensive: a specialty greengrocer in Philadelphia in 1876 sold them individually wrapped in tinfoil at 10 cents each, which was then an hour's wage for many people. It wasn't until the first decade of the 20th century, with fast steamships and improved storage (bananas are not amenable to being canned or frozen), that they became readily available and affordable in Britain.

Bananas and their close cousins plantains had always been cooked in places were they were grown, but despite it being a good way of using up such a highly perishable fruit, the idea of cooking with bananas didn’t catch on in America or Britain until long after the fruit had become widely available. The following is often quoted as being the first American recipe for banana cake, from Mrs. Rorer’s 'New Cook Book' (1902):

Banana Cake
Beat to a cream a quarter of a cup of butter, add a half cup of sugar and one egg; when very light, stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough; roll into a thin sheet and line a square, shallow baking pan. Peel five good, ripe bananas, and chop them very fine; put them over the crust in a pan, sprinkle over a half cup of sugar, the pulp of five tamarinds soaked in a quarter of a cup of warm water; squeeze over the juice of two Japanese oranges, put over a tablespoonful of butter cut into pieces, a saltspoonful of mace, and two tablespoonfuls of thick cream. Grate over the top two small crackers, bake in a moderate oven a half hour, and cut into narrow strips to serve.

But generally recipes for cooked bananas, such as for banana bread, banana cake or banana tart, only became a standard feature of American cookbooks with the popularisation of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s, encouraged by cookbooks published by the manufacturers of baking products, for example Pillsbury’s 'Balanced Recipes cookbook'  (1933), or of banana importers such as the 'Chiquita Bananas Recipe Book' (1950). However my British 1948 edition of 'Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management' still only mentions bananas as a fresh ingredient for use in sherry trifle and fruit salad.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 10 Apr 2016, 21:38

http://www.peaklandheritage.org.uk/index.asp?peakkey=01001021

We now face the loss of the variety that Paxton grew for His Lordship - and that cold be serious.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 11 Apr 2016, 12:10

Thanks for that link Gil. I knew that many (most?) bananas grown commercially for Europe are clones of a single variety and as such are at risk of extinction as there is virtually no genetic variation amongst them, but I didn't know of the Chatsworth/Paxton connection. (And I assume Joseph Paxton was the same chap that designed that ultimate greenhouse, The Crystal Palace, for the Great Exhibition).

Another interesting thing about bananas is that because of their high potassium content, they are actually slightly radioactive, or at least more so than most other plants.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 10:36

14th April 1912.

To continue the banana theme, on this day in 1912 cooked bananas may have figured in the last meal on earth for some of the passengers on the Titanic. Chicken a la Maryland was on offer as part of the dinner menu and those of us who remember that favourite from the 60's will recall that a fried banana always accompanied the chicken along with the sweetcorn fritter.

As to whether it was really served with that dish then, I can't be certain but it was included in Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire in 1902 after eating it New York as Poulet saute Maryland and again the recipe turned up in his 1934 book, Ma Cuisine, so it seems quite possible.

Should you fancy some nostalgic eating, this is an adaptation:


INGREDIENTS
6 boneless chicken breast halves, cut in half lengthwise
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons, plus 3 tablespoons butter, divided
Béchamel sauce:
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 (dash) teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 ripe, firm bananas, peeled and sliced

In a large, shallow pan, place the chicken in the buttermilk and marinate it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large roasting pan. Drain and discard the buttermilk. Dredge each piece of chicken in the all-purpose flour, then the eggs, and lastly, the breadcrumbs. Arrange the chicken breasts in the roasting pan and bake for them 30-40 minutes, turning once.

Make the béchamel sauce while the chicken is cooking:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Continue whisking, cook for about 2 minutes, and then gradually – 1/3 cup at a time - add the milk. Continue whisking and cook until the sauce is completely heated through, smooth, and thickened. Remove from the heat and season with the salt and nutmeg.

To make the banana garnish, melt the remaining butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Sauté the prepared banana slices in the butter until they turn golden brown.

Assemble the chicken a la Maryland by arranging 2 pieces of chicken on a warm plate, drizzling it with a bit of Béchamel sauce, and then garnishing the plate with a few slices of sautéed banana.

This chicken Maryland recipe makes 6 servings.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 12:28

Here's the luncheon menu (1st class) of the Titanic for 14 April 1912, with Chicken à la Maryland, (and I notice the cock-a-leekie soup is spelled cockie leekie, too).



Quote for the Day:
"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart".
Erma Bombeck
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 12:48



The steerage passengers (once they were done river-dancing to a polka while dressed as leprechauns and being sketched in the nude by a Wisconsin lad going in the wrong direction) weren't being too badly treated either. Mind you, it was a Sunday.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 13:02

Regarding the Maryland Chicken, 'that American woman', Wallis Simpson provided a recipe for the 'Australian Women's Weekly' (18 February 1936). Interestingly, she adds the corn fritters, as in Escoffier's version, though she omits the banana. Being a Baltimore Gal I guess she ought to have been familiar with a Maryland speciality.

Maryland Fried Chicken.

Select young, tender frying chickens. Cut into halves, quarters, or smaller pieces according to your preference. Singe, wash, and dry thoroughly. Roll in flour to which salt and pepper have been added. Heat a large piece of butter in a deep pan with lid, or saucepan, and brown the chicken on all sides in it. The butter should half cover the chicken. Reduce heat, add a little water, cover closely, and let simmer until chicken is tender. Remove lid and continue cooking until almost all of the liquid has cooked away. Remove chicken to a warm place. Pour off excess grease in pan; make cream gravy, allowing 1 tablespoon flour and 1 cup thin cream to each 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan. Cook, stirring, until thickened, adding a little minced parsley.If desired, return the chicken to the gravy for a few minutes. Serve with waffles or corn fritters.

Apparently she was actually a dab hand in the kitchen.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 15:54

First class dinner menu for Titanic;

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 15:57

and for the Second Class;



Given that only 8% of Male Second Class passengers survived ( the lowest survival rate aboard the ship) this was the last meal for many of them.

Demographics of Titanic Passengers


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