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 Dish of the Day

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Triceratops
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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


Last edited by Triceratops on Thu 14 Apr 2016, 16:03; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 16:02

@Meles meles wrote:
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...

...Apparently she was actually a dab hand in the kitchen.

Yep, but by all accounts a bit of an obsessive where detail was concerned: when she served poussin, the individual portions had to be the exact size for each guest. Same with lamb cutlets - they had to be the same size and shape. She drove her butcher mad.

PS It was greasy bananas that did for Elvis Presley. Never mind the bucketloads of drugs he took, his favourite Southern dishes, especially the fried chicken and bananas, caused the terrible constipation that caused his death whilst he strained in vain at stool. An awful end for a King.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 16:31

@Temperance wrote:
Quote :
An awful end for a King.

But as has been noted before ... not an uncommon end for a king either.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 17:41

I think the Titanic luncheon menu with ferval's Chicken à la Maryland, must have been for either the first class dining saloon on D deck, or possibly for the adjacent second-class dining saloon. Both of these large dining rooms were catered from the same kitchen and so I guess they had essentially the same menus, especially for luncheon (the differences were probably more marked for evening dinner).


The 1st class dining saloon on Titanic's sister ship RMS Olympic.

But the real crème de la crème passengers dined at the 'A la Carte Restaurant' otherwise known as 'The Ritz', on B deck at the top of the grand staircase. This was not managed by White Star line but was run as a concession by the well-known restaurateur, Luighi Gatti, using his own cooks and serving staff. It was open to first-class passengers only.


Titanic's 1st class 'A la Carte Restaurant'.

Mrs Walter Douglas, a first-class passenger who survived the sinking, described it as:

".... the last word in luxury. The tables were gay with pink roses and white daisies …  the stringed orchestra playing music from Puccini and Tchaikovsky. The food was superb: caviar, lobster, quail from Egypt, plovers' eggs, and hothouse grapes and fresh peaches."

Trike's 1st class menu is I think from a private party held in the 'A la Carte Restaurant' (the menu says 'Private' and it is a very lavish, yet essentially a fixed menu, in an otherwise à la carte restaurant). I wonder if it isn't from the private dinner party given by the Wideners, a very wealthy (obviously) couple from Philadelphia, who hosted an exclusive dinner that very night in honour of Captain Smith. George Widener and his 24-year-old son Harry went down with the Titanic, but his wife Eleanor and her maid got away in a lifeboat and were rescued by the Carpathia.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 25 Apr 2016, 09:37

25 April 1915 – ANZAC forces land at Gallipoli.



So today’s dish of the day has clearly got to be Anzac biscuits.

Many people believe that Anzac biscuits were based on Scottish oatcakes, called "Soldiers’ Biscuits" pre-1915 and renamed when the Anzac acronym was coined; and that they were made in their thousands by the women on the home front, to be sent to the soldiers. But actually, rather than being sent to the front lines, such biscuits were more commonly made to be sold at galas, fetes and other public events, to raise money for the war effort. Certainly biscuits were sent to troops but these were mostly made by established bakeries working on government contract. The biscuits had to be non-perishable as they travelled by sea with no refrigeration, so they were made from just rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and water. No eggs were used - firstly because they were scarce, and secondly they reduced the keeping properties of the biscuits - so the syrup alone was the binding agent.

But were these actually called Anzac biscuits?

The first use of the name 'Anzac' in a recipe, was for 'Anzac Cakes' in the 7th edition of the St Andrew's Cookery Book, published in New Zealand in 1915, the year of the landing at Gallipoli. Although the recipe left out the mixing instructions, these cakes appear to have been like rock cakes and were not a form of biscuit. In 1917 The War Chest Cookery Book, published in Australia, included a recipe for 'Anzac Biscuits', however the recipe was for another type of biscuit altogether (using eggs, cinnamon and mixed spice, and rice flour). The prototype of today's Anzac biscuit however does appear in The War Chest Cookery Book under the name 'Rolled Oats Biscuits'. In 1917 or 1918, exactly the same situation can be found in the Southland Red Cross Cookery Book, published in New Zealand. It contained a recipe for 'Anzac Pudding', while what are now known as Anzac biscuits appeared under the name 'Rolled Oat Biscuits'. Then in the 9th edition of the St Andrew's Cookery Book, (New Zealand) published in 1921, there are 'Anzac Crispies' with the ingredients and method of modern Anzac biscuits. Meanwhile in Australia, The Australian National Dictionary says that the first correct recipe for biscuits called 'Anzacs' appeared in 1923 in Mrs Shaw's Six Hundred Tested Recipes. This 1923 recipe is very similar to the 1921 New Zealand recipe for 'Anzac Crispies'.

Subsequently, coconut was introduced as an ingredient by 1927, and there was a wheatmeal variant (replacing the rolled or flaked oats) by 1929. From the 1960s there was a steady decline in the number of recipes for Anzac Biscuits/Crispies appearing in compiled recipe books, as well as a tendency to revert to names like 'Rolled Oat Biscuits'. By 1980, the recipe had virtually disappeared from popular cookery books. It was revived in the 1980s-1990s by several food writers, who began to promote new variants including those with peanuts, sultanas, sesame seeds and chocolate chips.

The following early recipe (without coconut) was published in The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Queensland) on Saturday, 14th August 1926.

Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tbls golden syrup
2 tbls boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate soda (add a little more water if mixture is too dry)

Method
Combine dry ingredients.
Mix golden syprup, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda until they froth. Add melted butter.
Combine butter mixture and dry ingredients.
Drop teaspoons of mixture onto floured tray, allowing room for spreading.
Bake in a slow oven.



.... just don't ever call them cookies!
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Apr 2016, 16:04

28 April 1789 - the mutiny on HMS Bounty.

Unlike bananas, pineapples, sweet potatoes, mangoes, guavas or whatever, breadfruit have never taken off in Europe. This is probably because the fruit is almost completely tasteless, being essentially pure starch, as well as being originally deemed cheap food only suitable for slaves. I don't know of any recipes, ancient or modern, that use breadfruit (other than just simply boiled to a carbohydrate-rich, starchy mash), nor can I think of any other 'take' on the Bounty story that might be suitable to commemorate the day. Any suggestions?

Just please don't mention,



"They came in search of paradise ..."

.... and found it on Pitcairn Island, where authority turned a blind eye to paedophilia!


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Apr 2016, 16:14

There are some on this link, Meles;

Breadfruit Recipes
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Apr 2016, 16:20

@Meles meles wrote:
28 April 1789 - the mutiny on HMS Bounty.

Just please don't mention,



"They came in search of paradise ..."


and deep fried it!!!!!


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Apr 2016, 16:24

That must be from Scotland, Trike, no?

.... Frankly I can't eat a Bounty, Mars, Snickers (Marathon!) or Cadbury's cream egg even when they're au natural, (all far too sweet for me), so if deep-fried in beef dripping? ... hmmm, no thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Apr 2016, 16:58

They do a proper Scotch egg using a Cadbury's Crème Egg wrapped in sausage meat, which is then deep-fried. I will not insult MM's delicious food thread by posting a picture of this utter abomination.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Apr 2016, 23:48

My daughter's toasted sandwich maker was poplar in her hostel for making jelly baby toasts......some of the improvisers later got food science degrees so little wonder that Sainsbury's ads suggest mixing odd things into ordinary fare; anchovies in shepherd's pie? I also recall mention of cream eggs dropped into curry sauce from the chippy. it amuses me that said daughter now talks non stop about healthy diets for her children. I'm not sure if I ever went right - or was ever wrong - as a parent.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 29 Apr 2016, 09:28

@Temperance wrote:
They do a proper Scotch egg using a Cadbury's Crème Egg wrapped in sausage meat, which is then deep-fried. I will not insult MM's delicious food thread by posting a picture of this utter abomination.


Food, like Comedy ( sorry P, will get onto your thread at some point) is subjective, Temp.

Sometimes you just have to have a plate of fries.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 29 Apr 2016, 13:16

Nah - a deep-fried Cadbury's Crème Egg - with or without the sausage meat - is most definitely an abomination in the sight of the Lord, Trike. It says so in Deuteronomy (somewhere).

But chips (not "fries" - they too are an utter abomination) are quite different. Proper chips are good indeed - very good - and, fried in decent oil, not some processed muck, and served with a fresh mixed salad, are actually perfectly healthy and nourishing, as well as being delicious.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 29 Apr 2016, 13:45

@Temperance wrote:
Nah - a deep-fried Cadbury's Crème Egg - with or without the sausage meat - is most definitely an abomination in the sight of the Lord, Trike. It says so in Deuteronomy.

Well Cadbury's Creme Eggs may be an abomination, but the sausage meat should be pleasing unto the Lord, as it's fairly clear He isn't vegetarian:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.

King James Bible : Timothy IV 1-4

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 29 Apr 2016, 14:03

"If God wanted us to be vegetarians, why did he make animals so tasty?"
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 29 Apr 2016, 14:34

Not really much of a dish, but very important to the people who received them, 29th April 1945 saw the beginning of Operations Manna and Chowhound to air drop food supplies to the people of German occupied Netherlands, who were facing starvation.

Operations Manna & Chowhound


American K Ration (breakfast pack):

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 01 May 2016, 10:26

30 April 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase, by which the United States bought the whole Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million.

The modern state of Louisiana is just a fraction of the original Louisiana Territory, which was a huge swathe of land running from the Caribbean to Canada, that had been controlled by the Kingdom of France from 1699 until it was ceded to Spain in 1762, following France’s defeat in the Seven Years War. In 1800 Napoleon, hoping to re-establish an empire in North America, regained ownership of Louisiana. However the prospect of renewed warfare with the United Kingdom prompted the sale of Louisiana to the United States. The Americans originally sought to purchase only the port city of New Orléans and its adjacent coastal lands, but quickly accepted the bargain.



The signature dish of New Orléans and the modern state of Louisiana is Jambalaya. This seems to have arisen out of Spanish attempts to make paella in the New World, substituting tomatoes for the unobtainable saffron, but also with huge influences from French and Creole cuisine. It consists of meat and vegetables mixed with rice all cooked together. Nowadays the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked sausage such as andouille, along with a mix of other meat and/or seafood, frequently pork, chicken, crayfish or prawns. The vegetables are usually a sofrito-like mixture of onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and chilli, as well as other vegetables such as carrots, courgettes and tomatoes. After browning and sautéeing the meat and vegetables, rice and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.

Jambalaya is similar to (but distinct from) other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine. Gumbo uses similar sausages, meats, seafood, vegetables and seasonings, however gumbo includes filé powder (made from the dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree), and okra, neither of which are common in a jambalaya. Gumbo is also usually served over white rice, which is prepared separate from the rest of the dish, unlike jambalaya, where the rice is prepared with the other ingredients. Etoufflée is a stew which always includes shellfish such as prawns or crayfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Also, like gumbo, étouffée is usually served over separately prepared rice.

The name jambalaya would seem to have come from Provence in France where a jambalaia is a dish made of mixed ingredients all cooked together in one pot (similar to the original meaning of the English hodge-podge). The earliest appearance of the word in print in English occurs in the May 1849 issue of the American Agriculturalist, where Solon Robinson gives a recipe for Hopping Johnny (jambalaya):

Hopping Johnny (jambalaya).
Take a dressed chicken, or full-grown fowl, if not old, and cut all the flesh into small pieces, with a sharp knife. Put this into an iron pot, with a large spoonful of butter and one onion chopped fine; steep and stir it till it is brown; then add water enough to cover it, and put in some parsley, spices, and red pepper pods, chopped fine, and let it boil till you think it is barely done, taking care to stir it often, so as not to burn it; then stir in as much rice, when cooked, as will absorb all the water; which will be one pint of rice to two of water; stir and boil it a minute or so, and then let it stand and simmer until the rice is cooked, and you will have a most delicious dish of palatable, digestible food.

Note that Hopping Johnny, or Hoppin' John, is actually the name of a different, albeit related, Louisiana dish of rice with bacon and peas ... what is described here is closer to a true jambalaya although I note it doesn't include any sausage or seafood which are both usual in modern recipes.

The earliest recipes for jambalaya to be published in cookbooks come from the 1880s, such as this one from 'What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking', by Abby Fisher (1881):
 
Jumberlie - A Creole Dish.
Take one chicken and cut it up, separating every joint, and adding to it one pint of cleanly-washed rice. Take about half a dozen large tomatoes, scalding them well and taking the skins off with a knife. Cut them in small pieces and put them with the chicken in a pot or large porcelain saucepan. Then cut in small pieces two large pieces of sweet ham and add to the rest, seasoning high with pepper and salt. It will cook in twenty-five minutes. Do not put any water on it.

..... which again is rice cooked only with chicken and a bit of ham, but then jambalaya was always intended to be a dish that could be made from whatever was to hand, and rural versions often included ingredients as diverse as duck, turtle, venison, alligator and oysters alongside the more usual chicken, pork and prawns.



The money from the Louisiana transaction, which incidentally was handled by Barings Bank of London, was used by France to fund the continuing wars with Britain, Austria and Russia, the first priority expediture being preparations for the intended invasion of Britain. It is an interesting 'what-if' to consider how things would have turned out differently if France had retained Louisiana, and instead of trying to dominate Europe, had worked to consolidate and invest in a North American empire.


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 02 May 2016, 12:15; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : added the second recipe)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 01 May 2016, 20:18

Interesting post as ever, Meles meles. Even I Wink  learned a bit more about Lousiana and France...

I was a few days absent due to my complicated start of my kidney dialysis. After the first time the shunt blocked. Then operation to unblock the shunt. Then again tried, again blocked. And then a new operation to place a catheder to connect. Now started with dialysis...
But two operations in two consequent days, no eat no drink before the operations...minus 3 Kg in three days...and now a bit feeble...

Kind regards from your friend, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 01 May 2016, 22:24

Paul if you're in need of a restorative then this wonderful thread of Meles' is the perfect place to come. I put on weight just reading these posts. In fact I'm still savouring that seriously impressive wine list from the Entente Cordial of 1903. I'd recommend un 'tit verre d'Haut-Brion '77 to lift the spirits.

Hope you start feeling stronger soon. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 02 May 2016, 11:46

As pointed out by Nordmann on the 'on this day' thread,

2 May 1611 – The King James Version of the Bible is published for the first time, and so for a dish of the day I offer this:

Bible Cake - King James Version

Leviticus 24:5 "And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof...."

half cup Genesis 18:8, word 4
half cup Jeremiah 6:20, words 13 & 14
1 tbsp. Isaiah 7:15, word 3
2 of Job 39:14, word 4
2 cups I Samuel 28:24, word 19
1 cup I Kings 20:7, word 8
1 cup II Samuel 16:1, word 40
half cup Genesis 43:11, word 44
1/4 tsp. Exodus 30:23, word 17
1/4 tsp. Luke 14:34, word 1
half tsp. Matthew 21:44, word 22
2 tbsp. Exodus 33:3, word 6
and finally some of I Kings 17:12, words 24, 25 & 26

Beat first 3 ingredients until fluffy. Add fourth ingredient and beat again. Stir in next 4 ingredients and beat. Add the last ingredients and stir well. Turn into a suitable dish (or a dozen or so muffin tins) and bake at 170 degrees for about 1 hour and a quarter or until done.

NB Some modern products were unavailable in Biblical times so you'll have to apply a little lateral thinking for a couple of the ingredients.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 02 May 2016, 17:18

Sorry MM, I'll have to pass on this - as I certainly can't Trump it [perhaps I ought to get me coat after that dreadful pun]- but, as one who never knowingly has seen that edition of the Bible, alas, your post is not understandable to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 02 May 2016, 18:01

Well yes I do understand. I tried to cook it using the English language version of the, "New International Bible", .... but it came out all wrong. Sad
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 02 May 2016, 21:45

@Vizzer wrote:
Paul if you're in need of a restorative then this wonderful thread of Meles' is the perfect place to come. I put on weight just reading these posts. In fact I'm still savouring that seriously impressive wine list from the Entente Cordial of 1903. I'd recommend un 'tit verre d'Haut-Brion '77 to lift the spirits.

Hope you start feeling stronger soon. Very Happy

Vizzer thank you for your sympathetic words.

Your friend, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 04 May 2016, 13:07

Hello Paul, I saw your message about the Invasion of Belgium over on Historum.

Hope you are better soon.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 04 May 2016, 19:47

@Triceratops wrote:
Hello Paul, I saw your message about the Invasion of Belgium over on Historum.

Hope you are better soon.

Thanks Tri.

Your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 05 May 2016, 13:55

Especially for you Paul!

Deviled Kidneys - a popular Victorian dish

 

  • 4 very fresh pig’s kidneys

  • 1 tbsp lard or olive oil

  • A small glass of cider brandy

  • 1½ tbsp cider vinegar

  • A healthy shake of Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tbsp English or Dijon mustard

  • A pinch of cayenne pepper

  • 1 heaped tsp redcurrant, crab apple or other fruit jelly

  • 2–3 tbsp double cream

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to finish




Cut the kidneys into quarters and trim out the whitish core.
Set a medium-large frying pan over a high heat. When it is hot, add the lard or oil, followed by the kidneys.
Don’t stir them straight away – give them a chance to brown a little before tossing them in the pan. After about 1½ minutes, add the brandy (if you’re cooking on gas it may ignite, so be careful).
Let it bubble and reduce down, then add the cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cayenne and fruit jelly. Stir to combine.
Now stir in the cream and allow the liquor to bubble and reduce down to a thick coating consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning or cayenne heat as required. Finish with freshly chopped parsley. Serve the kidneys with fried bread, or good sourdough toast.

Seriously though I hope that all is now flowing smoothly and you should get lots of reading in during the sessions.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 05 May 2016, 17:24

Mad Nan,

I don't like kidneys. Wink  They have explained to me (fooled me?) that in kidneys are all the waste products of the body, as in the liver (I see in English it is nearly the same word as in Dutch: lever (pronunciation: something like "laver"). How do you pronounce liver in English? "livver" as in "mistigate" or "liver" as in "life"?)

And thanks for mentioning, Mad Nan. After the 4th time dialysis and with the implanted catheder , now relatively well.

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 05 May 2016, 21:12

"Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crustcumbs, fried with hedcods roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine."

James joyce, 'Ulysses' (1922).


Sorry Paul, we do rather all seem to be making light of your suffering ..... but you do seriously have my heartfelt sympathy.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 06 May 2016, 13:29

I rather suspect nobody would like anything I liked but I will take the opportunity to say I'm sorry Paul R has rather been through the mill lately.  I'm editing this on 11 May to try and make my meaning clearer.  What I meant was that given that I am a vegetarian maybe many of the other visitors won't like the food I like and the end of the message was commiserating with Paul R for having been unwell.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sat 07 May 2016, 11:01

MM wrote:
..... but you do seriously have my heartfelt sympathy.



Paul, MM's comment above goes for me, too. Apologies that I am late seeing and responding to your messages about your treatment, but I do hope you feel better soon. I hate kidneys too - the very thought of eating one makes me feel queasy.

I bet MM posts another kidney recipe now with a picture of one of the awful things, probably a fried one on toast - ugh!!! Smile


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sat 07 May 2016, 11:05

I rather suspected I would come back to a pasting gentle teasing here about Ascension Day which was on Thursday. But no - the day has come and gone without comment.

It's actually called the Feast of the Ascension, but I can't find any foods associated with what used to be a huge event in the church calendar. Odd.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sat 07 May 2016, 14:05

Isn't Ascencion Day, as a traditional feast day, generally associated with Spring and rebirth, so a bit like Easter but without all the more obvious heavy Christian stuff? So it's the time to eat the young cock chicken (saving the hens for laying) and enjoy all the fresh green things that are sprouting at this tme ... and in my bit of France it is certainly the traditional marker for the brief wild asparagus season whose sprouting spears only appear now and for just a few following weeks at most.

In England I'm pretty sure that the Rogation Days (the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - the fast days before Ascension Thursday) are specifically linked to prayers and rites for the just-emerging new crops and so for a subsequent good harvest (rogare means to ask or plead). Isn't Ascension (or one of the Rogation days), in England also the traditional day to "beat the bounds", and so clearly define field and parish boundaries ... and ensure that these are understood by all, especially the youngest parishoners, would might get this important information literally beaten into them. Isn't it also the day for the other traditional, community-affirming rite, that of well-dressing ...  decorating the community's life-giving water source with flowers. Well-dressing is almost certainly a very ancient pre-christian tradition, and is surely again all about praying/asking/hoping that the village spring will keep flowing throughout the summer months.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sat 07 May 2016, 18:57

@Temperance wrote:
MM wrote:
..... but you do seriously have my heartfelt sympathy.



Paul, MM's comment above goes for me, too. Apologies that I am late seeing and responding to your messages about your treatment, but I do hope you feel better soon. I hate kidneys too - the very thought of eating one makes me feel queasy.

I bet MM posts another kidney recipe now with a picture of one of the awful things, probably a fried one on toast - ugh!!! Smile

Thanks for your sympathy Temp.

Your friend Paul
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 09 May 2016, 12:57

William Blake's view of the Feast of the Ascension;




The RC idea is to have a picnic on a hill top;

Ascension Picnic
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 10 May 2016, 10:26

9 May 1386 – The Treaty of Windsor was signed between Richard II of England and Joao (John) I of Portugal, in the chapter house adjacent to St George’s Chapel at Windsor, and then sealed by the marriage of King Joao to Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt. The treaty established a pact of perpetual friendship and mutual aid between the countries which has endured ever since (even if put into temporary abeyance when Portugal was absorbed into Spain). It was the formal basis for British involvement in the Peninsular War against Napoleon; for Portuguese and British troops serving alongside each other in the trenches during WW1; and for airfields and naval facilities in the Azores being made available to Britain during WW2.

From at least the mid 13th century the two countries had a history of mutual support against their common foes, France and Castile, but the first formal alliance was that concluded in 1373 between Edward III and the envoys of King Dom Fernando. In accordance with this agreement, in 1385 John of Gaunt and a force of English archers went to Portugal to help ward off attacks by Castile, and it was during this action that the proposal was made that the alliance should be strengthened by marriage between the two royal houses. John of Gaunt offered King Joao either one of his two daughters: Joao chose the elder daughter, Philippa, and thus was the stage set for the Treaty of Windsor and the royal marriage.


The marriage of Joao I of Portugal to Philippa of Lancaster. As was usual the formal wedding agreement on 9 May 1386 was made between proxies … the physical wedding of Joao and Philippa (as depicted here) was conducted some months later in Oporto, when the couple finally met up.

The idea of the royal marriage was suggested by the duke on Friday 2 November 1385, and was immediately accepted by King Joao. The following day this celebratory banquet was held in the temporary pavillion that had been built to house the discussions (at Melgaço, Portugal).



The picture is from a late 15th century copy of Jean de Wavrin's Chronique d'Angleterre et France, and so was painted decades after the banquet, but Wavrin himself lived through the events he describes. I can't find Wavrin's text online but fortuitously I have found the text of the chronicle written by Wavrin's contemporary, Jean Froissart, who also describes this meeting between the duke and the king (they probably both used much the same sources). Froissart clearly says that the banquet on the third and final day of the proceedings was hosted by John of Gaunt (the two previous dinners having been hosted by the king). Froissart further states that the king was sat in the middle of the top table, with the Archbishop of Braganza to his left (I love the way the Archbishop is depicted as having brought his ornate crozier with him to dinner, but has then had to put it behind his seat, casually propped against the chimney mantlepiece), and then the Bishops of Lisbon, of Oporto and of Coimbra. The Count d'Acunha and the Count de Novaire were also there, possibly represented by the chap between the duke and the king, although Froissart does say that they both sat just below the duke, ie further away from the king. The presence of these two high-ranked Portuguese counts at the actual event would make sense as they'd have served to balance the right-hand side of the top table, against the overly-ecclesiastic left-hand side. Their absence/re-positioning/reduction, in the illustration is probably simple artistic licence ... both were important men, but not so important that they be exactly recorded). Similarly un-recorded were all the other counts, marshals, abbots, and knights etc. who Froissart mentions as sat along the two, out-of-sight, side tables. All these chaps (there's not an inkling of any women being present) were Portuguese, because the English gentry, out of honour for their guests, acted as the servers.

And so for today’s commemorative dish I suggest something along the lines of whatever it is they seem to be eating.

The dish being ceremonially brought in would appear to be a whole chicken, capon or similar moderately-sized bird, which has been spit-roasted in front of an open fire (just visible through the serving hatch) and is being served accompanied by a dark-coloured sauce.

 
Picture details L-R: The open cooking hearth blazing red behind the second cook’s head, with an adjustable ratchet device to raise or lower cooking pots and roasting jacks – A dark sauce being spooned onto the cooked meat just before serving – The whole bird being brought to table, there to be ceremonially carved before the diners.

An eminently suitable sauce recipe to accompany grilled, barbequed or roasted chicken, is this one from Form of Cury - the manuscript collection of recipes, first written down circa 1390, by the un-named royal cook or cooks of Richard II. I wonder if any of those same literate royal cooks were actually present in 1385 preparing the food for that banquet, being there as part of John of Gaunt’s retinue. It is certainly possible.

141 - Sawse noyre for capouns yrosted. Take þe lyuer of capouns and roost it wel. Take anyse and greynes de parys, gynger, canel, & a lytull crust of brede, and grinde it small, and grynde it vp with verious and wiþ grece of capouns. Boyle it and serue it forth.

This sawse noyre (black sauce) made from anise, ginger, pepper, and cinnamon, thickened with minced liver and breadcrumbs, might not appeal to modern tastes, so perhaps for today’s dish-of-the-day one could serve grilled or barbequed chicken portions with a traditional Portuguese spicy piri-piri sauce.

Portuguese piri-piri sauce.
6 – 12 fresh red chilies (according to how hot you want it)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
½ tsp salt
½ tsp oregano
½ tbsp paprika
100ml olive oil
50ml red wine vinegar

Roast the chilies for about 10 mins. Cool and roughly chop.
Combine all ingredients in a pan and simmer for 5 mins.
Cool mixture and blend to a purée.
Brush onto chicken before grilling, barbequing or baking in a hot oven

Serve with some fresh-baked crusty bread … perhaps some fine manchet rolls just like those shown on the royal table in 1385.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 12 May 2016, 11:28; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : changed dating of picture from early to late 15th century, then some tweaks for clarity)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 10 May 2016, 21:26

Meles meles,

"by the marriage of King Joao to Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Gaunt

yes our John of Ghent son of Philippa of Hainault
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippa_of_Hainault
and daughter of
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_I,_Count_of_Hainaut 
and forbear of Jacoba of Bavaria and on her own opposing the Burgundian dukes.
http://www.britannica.com/biography/Jacoba-of-Bavaria
What a woman!

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 10 May 2016, 21:27

Oops and I forgot to mention: "one happy European family"...
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 17 May 2016, 10:48

17 May 1814 – The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll declaring Norway to be an independent Kingdom to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark-Norway’s defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. So today, Constitution Day, or søttendemai("seventeenth May") is a national holiday in Norway.

So unless Nordmann comes up with any other suggestions I propose lutefisk (lye-soaked stockfish) or Kjøttboller (meatballs) served with mashed potatoes and mushy peas. And of course a glass or two of ajevitt. Or if that’s not to your taste you can just join in with the children’s parades and scoff ice-creams, sweeties and krumkaker.

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 17 May 2016, 14:51

Lutefisk is a winter dish, traditionally eaten at Yule or New Year, so isn't really appropriate to 17th May (which has now become almost National Barbecue Day in character). Krumkaker also only appear around Yule. Kjøttboller, thanks to their Swedish connection, tend to keep a low profile around now too. Gastronomically in fact, and this is not necessarily something to be proud of, the rather sad specimen pictured below is probably most representative of the day, especially here in Oslo:



Oh, and these of course:

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 17 May 2016, 14:57

@nordmann wrote:
Lutefisk is a winter dish .... and Krumkaker also only appear around Yule. Kjøttboller, thanks to their Swedish connection, tend to keep a low profile around now too....

Oh well, I tried.

But it isn't quite the season for wild strawberries, so those must be imported, probably from Spain.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 17 May 2016, 15:22

Norwegians are very proud of their jordbær, and the first ripe "norske" strawberries normally arrive just in time for the National Day (and can cost an arm and a leg). However you're right - at this time of year we rely on plucky little Belgium a lot for them (as long as it's strawberries they're plucking of course).

But I feel bad now at having shot down your meal suggestion, so here by way of apology is a suitably nationalistic Haugesund dessert recipe for Dronning Maud Pudding (Queen Maud Pud), invented in 1906 when the still relatively new country's relatively new queen came on a visit there and a relatively enthusiastic pastry chef decided it was time to celebrate her relatively recent coronation with a coronary:



To serve 6 :

4 or 5 eggs
30 grams of sugar
6 or 7 sheets of gelatin
4 or 5 dl of cream (the richer the better)
100 grams of crumbled cooking chocolate

Soak the gelatin in water for about 10 minutes and then let it melt in a bowl with as much water as the manufacturer advises (it varies).
Whisk the eggs and sugar into egg-flip consistency (called eggedosis in Norwegian).
Slowly let the melted gelatin trickle into the eggedosis while stirring (this is the first tricky part)
Get your crumbled chocolate ready while the eggedosis relaxes a little.
Whip your cream and then "turn" it gently into the eggedosis mix (this is the second tricky part).
Pour a little of the mixture into your six dessert glasses/bowls.
Sprinkle chocolate over each to finish your first layer.
Pour a little more and repeat with the chocolate to make layer two, and so on.
Top the last layer with chocolate.

Eat, enjoy. Ring the A&E if necessary.

Here's the Dronning in question - she's the one on the right, I believe:



Last edited by nordmann on Tue 17 May 2016, 15:48; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 17 May 2016, 15:48

Sounds yum, but I'd be tempted to add just a dash of kirsh, cointreau or aquavit .... but, like the proverbial straw on the camel's back, that might just be the soupçon that triggers the myocardial infarction.

PS : I really like the shape of the glass it's served in. Simple and very classy.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 19 May 2016, 19:24

Any ideas for a dish to mark the day of Anne Boleyn's execution, MM? I've failed dismally to think of anything.

Did think of that poisoned soup that made Bishop Fisher and his friends so poorly (killed several of the Bishops' guests, but not, ironically, the Bishop himself or Thomas More who was also present): it was widely believed the Boleyns had bribed the cook to poison the meal. Perhaps a nice Tudor soup recipe?

Cromwell, in Wolf Hall, thought that no poison had been used and that the stock for the soup had simply gone a bit mouldy. Had the cook, the terribly unfortunate Richard Roose, done his job properly, the dangerous mouldy stuff would have been skimmed off and the meal would have been enjoyed without incident.

Whatever the truth of the matter, they boiled poor Roose alive. Is there a recipe for boiled chef?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 19 May 2016, 20:57

@Temperance wrote:
Any ideas for a dish to mark the day of Anne Boleyn's execution, MM?

Well, there's always 'Maids of Honour' tart, supposedly made by Anne Boleyn when she was trying to lure Henry into marriage...
or we can do beefy plays on the word Boleyn - Bullen ... meaning a bull, ....
or we can play on Anne's personal badge of the hawk, which was often depicted attacking a pomegranate (symbol of Catherine of Aragon) ... hmm...

It's an interesting challenge. 

... perhaps just a nice chop? No?


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 19 May 2016, 23:02

Would that be what my mother called a chump chop...... whatever that it is? Not neat so legend has it of several gruesome blows - or am I confusing this with other tales?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 20 May 2016, 06:58

Very Happy

Ah - a chump of a chopper of course - "Chop-chop, executioner, we haven't got all day."

Not for Mistress Anne, though.

Watch this space for the chump chop recipe - May 27th and July 28th!


EDIT: I always thought "chop-chop" was of Chinese origin, but have just found this:


The adoption of the chop-chop pronunciation was influenced by the long-standing use of 'chop' and 'chop-up' by English seamen, with the meaning 'quick' or 'hurried'. This usage dates back to at least the 16th century, when it was commonly used in the strange expression - 'chopping-up the whiners'. This referred to gabbling through prayers in order to get them finished quickly; for example, from Philip Stubbes' The anatomie of abuses, 1583:

Which maketh them [Reading ministers] to gallop it over as fast as they can, and to chop it up with all possible expedition, though none understand them.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 24 May 2016, 09:57

24 May 1881 – the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arrives in Britain.

New Zealand, even more so than Australia, had long been appreciated as prime sheep country, but until the third quarter of the 19th century sheep could only be exported any distance in the form of wool and tallow. Canning of the meat had been tried but it was expensive and the resulting tinned product was fairly unappetising, so overall it had not proved commercially viable. However advances in refrigeration technology potentially offered a solution, and the first successful shipment of frozen mutton from Australia to London was finally made in 1880 on board the SS Strathleven (see dish of the day for 2 February).

The refrigeration plant onboard the Strathleven was relatively small and the frozen mutton had comprised only a part of her total cargo, but she had nevertheless proved the concept. Encouraged by the Strathleven’s success, a director of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company (NZALC), William Soltau Davidson, convinced the company to invest in refrigeration. Teaming up with James Galbraith of the Albion Shipping Company (who operated between NZ and the UK), they approached John Bell and Sons (a Scottish shipping company) and Joseph James Coleman (a Scottish engineer), who together, were already working on developing a dry air refrigeration system with the intention of shipping beef from America to Britain. As a result of these negotiations, the Albion Shipping Company decided to refit one of their own ships, the Dunedin, with a Bell-Coleman refrigeration machine. This would, it was hoped, be able to chill the entire hold to about 40 degrees Celsius below the ambient air temperature, thus being able to freeze the entire cargo in the temperate climate of southern New Zealand, and then maintain it, below zero, as the ship passed through the tropics.

The Dunedin was duly modified in Britain during spring 1881, and once refitted she arrived back in Port Chalmers (NZ) at the end of November 1881, ready for her first frozen cargo. In December she started to load up, but shortly after there was a major setback when her refrigeration system’s compressor crankshaft broke while she was still only partly loaded. All the frozen meat had to be quickly off-loaded and was immediately sold locally. This meat was all pronounced excellent and so, although not intended, this proved a good test of the ship’s freezing technology. Finally, on 15 February 1882, the Dunedin set sail, with 4331 mutton, 598 lamb and 22 pig carcasses, plus 250 kegs of butter, 2226 sheep tongues, and also some hare, pheasant, turkey and chicken.

 

Dunedin in 1876.

The voyage itself was also not entirely without incident. The Dunedin was a sailing barque without a supplementary steam engine, and so she relied on having a great expanse of sail for her speed. The newly installed refrigeration plant was however powered by a steam engine which consumed 3 tons of coal a day. Almost inevitably sparks emanating from this engine’s funnel (located just behind the foremast), set fire to the sails … twice. It was also discovered, en-route, that the cold air wasn’t circulating adequately to keep the whole cargo frozen. So the captain crawled into the closely packed hold to cut additional air holes - he nearly froze to death and was rescued only with some difficulty.

However the Dunedin finally reached England with her cargo intact, arriving in London on 24 May 1881. The whole cargo was sold at Smithfield market within two weeks by John Swan and Sons, who reported that, "Directly the meat was placed on the market, its superiority over the Australian [frozen] meat struck us, and in fact the entire trade". 'The Times' commented, "Today we have to record such a triumph over physical difficulties, as would have been incredible, even unimaginable, a very few days ago...". After meeting all costs, NZALC's profit from the voyage was £4,700 (about £250,000 at today’s rates).

So for today, how about that classic Victorian dish: mutton chops with Reform sauce? This was devised by Alexis Soyer, head chef at the Reform Club in London's Pall Mall, then, as now, a favourite meeting place for politicians and businessmen (and the dish itself is still on the club’s regular menu). It reputedly arose following the late arrival of a particularly difficult and hungry club member, and a resourceful sous-chef who had to make the most of what he happened to have available.

Here’s the original recipe, as it appears in 'The Gastronomic Regenerator' (1848), written by Alexis Soyer himself:

Cotelettes de Mouton à la Reform
Chop a quarter of a pound of lean cooked ham very fine and mix it with the same quantity of bread crumbs, then have ten very nice cotelettes, lay them flat on your table season lightly with pepper and salt egg over with a paste brush and throw them into the ham and bread crumbs then beat them lightly with a knife. Put ten spoonfuls of oil in a saute pan, place it over the fire and when quite hot lay in the cotelettes, fry nearly ten minutes (over a moderate fire) of a light brown colour; to ascertain when done press your knife upon the thick part, if quite done it will feel rather firm; possibly they may not all be done at one time, so take out those that are ready first and lay them on a cloth till the others are done; as they require to be cooked with the gravy in them, dress upon a thin border of mashed potatoes in a crown with the bones pointing outwards; sauce over with a pint of the sauce reform and serve. If for a large dinner you may possibly be obliged to cook the cotelettes half an hour before in which case they must be very underdone and laid in a clean saute pan with two or three spoonfuls of thin glaze keep them in the hot closet moistening them occasionally with the glaze with a paste brush until ready to serve the same remark applies to every description of cotelettes 

Sauce à la Reform
Cut up two middling sized onions into thin slices and put them into a stewpan with two sprigs of parsley two of thyme two bay leaves two ounces of lean uncooked ham half a clove of garlic half a blade of mace and an ounce of fresh butter stir them ten minutes over a sharp fire then add two tablespoonfuls of Tarragon vinegar and one of Chili vinegar, boil it one minute then add a pint of brown sauce or sauce Espagnole three tablespoonfuls of preserved tomates and eight of consomme place it over the fire until boiling; then put it at the corner; let it simmer ten minutes, skim it well then place it again over the fire, keeping it stirred and reduce until it adheres to the back of the spoon; then add a good tablespoonful of red currant jelly and halfdo of chopped mushrooms, season a little more if required with pepper and salt stir it until the jelly is melted then pass it through a tammie into another stewpan. When ready to serve make it hot and add the white of a hard boiled egg cut into strips half an inch long and thick in proportion, four white blanched mushrooms, one gherkin, two green Indian pickles and half an ounce of cooked ham or tongue, all cut in strips like the white of egg, do not let it boil afterwards. This sauce must be poured over whatever it is served with.

Or there’s this simplified version that Auguste Escoffier, Chef de Cuisine at London’s Savoy Hotel, provided in his English edition of the, 'Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery' (1907):

Cotelettes de Mouton à la Reform 
Trim six mutton cutlets; season them; dip them in melted butter, and roll them in bread-crumbs combined with finely-chopped ham in the proportion of a third of the weight of the bread-crumbs. Now cook them gently in clarified butter. Dish them in a circle on a hot dish, and send the following sauce to the table with them.

Reform Sauce 
Put into a small stewpan and boil one pint of half-glaze sauce and one-half pint of ordinary Poivrade sauce. Complete with a garnish composed of one-half oz. of gherkins, one-half oz. of the hard-boiled white of an egg, one oz. of salted tongue, one oz. of truffles, and one oz. of mushrooms. All these to be cut Julienne-fashion and short. 


The Dunedin arrived in London on 24 May 1881, which was Queen Victoria’s birthday, and so inevitably Her Majesty was presented with a leg of mutton from the shipment. There’s no record of her evaluation of the meat but I expect it went down a treat. She was a notoriously hearty eater who thoroughly enjoyed her food, and mutton was a particular royal favourite. But to dine with her must have been purgatory. She ate very fast and liked her dinners to last no more than half an hour. Etiquette however demanded that everyone was served after the Queen, and that when she’d finished all the plates were promptly cleared for the next course. So if you were the last person served you often wouldn’t get a chance to eat anything before your plate was whisked away!
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 25 May 2016, 21:25

Meles meles,

I saw a documentary about the Dunedin on the French-German channel ARTE. It was a German documentary, but I saw it in French. Although I understand as good German as French for some odd reason I Always look to the French version of the channel.
If I recall it well, there were three protagonists.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Seale_Haslam
And there was also a German. An engineer? someone inolved in ship engines?
And perhaps the third men a money supplier?
I tried to track the documentary via the search of ARTE, but it is a poor search engine, perhaps only searching in titles...? And such documentaries can have odd titles...No nothing above Google which search on each word combination...
Further via Google I found:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunedin_(ship)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_ship


Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 29 May 2016, 09:11

29 May 1660 – The Restoration of the British monarchy after the Commonwealth.

Charles II had landed at Dover on 25th May and finally entered London on the 29th. The pageant was watched by the diarist John Evelyn:

"This day, His Majesty, Charles II came to London, after a sad and long and calamitous suffering both of the King and Church, being seventeen years. This was also his birthday, and with a triumph of above 20,000 horse and foot, brandishing their swords, and shouting with inexpressible joy; the ways strewn with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, fountains running with wine; the Mayor, Aldermen, and all the companies, in their liveries, chains of gold, and banners: Lords and Nobles, clad in cloth of silver, gold, and velvet; the windows and balconies, all set with ladies; trumpets, music, and myriads of people flocking, even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven hours in passing the city, even from two in the afternoon till nine at night.
I stood in the Strand and beheld it; and blessed God."

The first really detailed and comprehensive English cookery book, ‘The Accomplisht Cook’, was published just a couple of months after Charles had returned from exile. It is a huge book of over 450 pages, and is the first English cookbook to include diagrams and drawings to augment the text. The author, Robert May, who was then in his seventies, had had a lifetime’s experience as a professional cook in the households of aristocratic, predominantly Catholic, royalist families. Although he spoke French and in his youth had trained in France, during the Commonwealth he had not gone into exile (unlike William Rabisha, another private professional chef) but had remained in England loyally working in the service of several cavalier households, despite most of them inevitably being in somewhat reduced circumstances.



Although deliberately published to coincide with the Restoration, and clearly written for a pro-monarchist audience, its content however rather reflects the styles of cooking, dining and entertaining of the days of Charles II’s father and grandfather. May does include some of the newly fashionable French dishes, but a lot of it reads almost like medieval cuisine. For example he includes detailed instructions for making subtleties (although he calls them "Triumphs and Trophies") and his suggested "Bills of Fare" (menus), with their boar’s head, hare and venison … swan, goose, heron … larks and blackbirds … salmon, sturgeon, pike, lampreys and whale etc, could all have come straight from the 14th century. ‘The Accomplisht Cook' went through several editions after May’s death (in about 1665) but its print runs were in the hundreds rather than the thousands, and because of its size and cost, it probably appealed more to a professional, rather than popular, readership.

‘The Queens Closet Opened’, which was first published in London in 1655 (ie during the Commonwealth), was clearly aimed at the popular market. Written by the mysterious "WM" (almost certainly Walter Montague, almoner to Charles I’s exiled widow, Queen Henrietta-Maria), it claimed to divulge all the "incomparable secrets in physick, chirurgery, preserving and candying &c…. ", from the Queen’s own private recipe collection, quaintly implying the rather risible notion that the Queen Dowager herself actually gutted fish, stuffed sausages, made jam, and stirred bubbling stockpots. Nevertheless, like a modern celebrity-endorsed cookbook, it proved popular and sold very well.

Another highly influential cookbook of the time was the English version of the French book ‘Le Cuisinier François’ (1653) by François Pierre La Varenne. Translated into English and first published in 1655 as ‘The French Cook’, La Varenne’s work introduced the new haute cuisine that was only just becoming established in France. In this new style, the medieval use of exotic spices was being replaced by more subtle combinations of flavours (onions, leaks, carrots, mushrooms, herbs, asparagus, artichokes, oysters, cream etc), and the dishes were devised to enhance the principal meat or fish ingredients, rather than to try and cleverly disguise them as something different. Swan à la Varenne is likely to have been jointed and slow-cooked in a rich sauce of wine, smoked ham and wild mushrooms … rather than roasted whole with a highly spiced stuffing, and then brought to table with all its feathers put back on and a rose clamped in its gilded beak. As a style it can perhaps be summed up by La Varenne’s own phrase: "When I eat cabbage soup, I want it to taste of cabbage", (although of course most of his recipes are far richer and more opulent than simple cabbage soup). By contrast both Robert May’s and WM’s recipes – at least for things like meat pies, or sauces to accompany a roast - still typically contained a lot of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, mace, sugar and dried fruit.



As well as dishes in the French style, the Restoration also introduced to Britain the French court manner of serving and presenting food. The style known as à la française took hold, at least at formal and fashionable dinners, and it remained the standard until the latter half of the 19th century (when it was replaced by the service à la Russe style).

With service à la française, tureens of soup and fish were followed by removes, or relevées (because they necessitated the removal of the soup). The most important dishes were placed centrally, known as entrées or surtouts to denote their importance, and in every available space there were small, delicate dishes (later called hors d'oeuvres, for they sat outside the big, glamorous dishes), such as small salads or pies, tiny bone-marrow chewetts, bone-marrow fritters, rissoles, stewed stuffed tongue, omelettes, tarts and other egg dishes. At important affairs, guests would bring their own servants to ensure that they managed to eat what most pleased their eye … without one, you were forced only to take from the plates nearest to you and to make the best of it. Asking fellow diners for a dish to be passed plumbed the very depths of impoliteness.

Above all it was about grand formality, a theatre of shifting plates and pattern as dishes were continually removed and replaced. At its heart were complex French dishes, ragouts and thick gravies known as cullises; oysters, artichokes and asparagus; sturgeon and anchovies; intricate pies, terrines, tarts and pastries; lobsters and crayfish; and fine roasts — all of it to sumptuous excess. But again the visual splendour of the meal was less about single spectacular dishes. The show wasn’t in the medieval-style, showy centre-piece dishes - the peacock in its feathers, the roast capon riding upon a roast suckling pig, or the great pie in the shape of a fortress filled with live songbirds - but rather in the sheer kaleidoscopic number and variety of elaborate dishes. At the coronation feast of James II in 1685, the two-course ambigu (in effect a vast buffet, ambiguous by sheer dint of variety), consisted of ninety-nine cold dishes and forty-six hot ones for the royal table's first course alone, with another thirty in the second course. The six other tables in the hall were each laid with more than a hundred and twelve dishes, including monumental towering pastries and spectacular pyramids of fruit and sweetmeats, and all placed in elaborate symmetry.


The rigid symmetry and copious number of simultaneous dishes filling the table, à la francaise, at the coronation feast of James II ….. and this is one of the lesser tables.

So pervasive was this new French style of dining that on 12 May 1667, Pepys – a man who harboured no love for the French, and who was more accustomed to simple roasts, pies, boiled meats and the occasional broiled fish – took his wife Elizabeth to dine at a "French House":

"[We] … bethought ourselves of going alone she and I, to a French house to dinner, and so enquired out Monsieur Robins my periwig-maker, who keeps an ordinary, and in an ugly street in Covent garden did find him at the door, and so we in; and in a moment almost have the table covered, and clean glasses, and all in the French manner, and a mess of pottage first and then a couple of pigeons à l’esteuvé, and the a piece of boeuf-a-la-mode, all exceeding well seasoned and to our great liking; at least, it would have been anywhere else but in this bad street and in a periwig-maker’s house; but to see the pleasant and ready attendance that we had, and all things so desirous to please and ingeneous in the people, did take me mightily – our dinner cost us 6s."

The concept of a "dining house" was also relatively new, and the word "restaurant" would not appear until about 100 years later, in Paris. Hitherto dining out in England - unless invited to dinner at someone’s house or to a formal banquet - usually meant going to a tavern or cookhouse. Here you might order a hot pie, a few slices of roast pork or beef, a spit-roasted fowl, a bowl of the pottage-of-the-day, or just some bread and cheese, to accompany your a tankard of ale or cup of wine, … but that was about all the choice available, and you were often expected to bring your own knife and spoon.

But for exactly the sort of thing Pepys and his wife enjoyed in 1667 here’s a boeuf-a-la-mode recipe, from ‘The Queen’s Closet Opened’ (1655):

To boile a rump of Beef after the French fashion
Take a rump of Beef, or the little end of the Brisket, and perboile it halfe an houre, then take it up and put it in a deep Dish then slash it in the side that the gravy may come out, the throw a little Pepper and Salt between every cut, then fill up the Dish with best Clarret wine, and put to it three or foure peeces of large Mace and set it on the coales close covered, and boyle it above an houre and a halfe, but turn it often in the meantime, then sith a spoone take off the fatt and fill with Clarret wine, and slice six onions, and a handful of Capers or Broom buds, halfe a dozen of hard Lettice sliced, three spoonfuls of wine Vinegar and as much verjuice, and then set it a boyling with these things in it till it be tender, and serve it up with brown Bread and Sippets fryed with Butter, but be sure there be not much fatt in it, when you serve it.

..... So that's beef gently cooked in red wine, "close covered", ie braised in a casserole with a well-fitting lid, and with no spices other than salt and pepper and just a little mace, then onions, capers and veg added later (17th century lettuce was more akin to cabbage than today's delicate salads), and the whole served with crusty bread and garnished with croutons. It’s almost boeuf Bourgignon.

In all of its 450-odd pages ‘The Accomplisht Cook’ doesn’t have a single recipe described as "à la mode", and Robert May only mentions the phrase once, rather disparagingly, when he talks about how he thought dining had become all about show and fashion rather than the real conviviality that had existed before, "the unhappy and cruel disturbances" of the Civil war, in "those golden days of peace and hospitality". He was partly right - the Britain of Charles II certainly wasn’t the same as that of Charles I, and English cooking would never be the same either. La Varenne’s recipe, for say, pigeons - the breasts wrapped in bacon, and slowly braised in a rich stock with small white onions and morilles, seasoned with thyme, pepper and a dash of lemon juice, garnished with chopped parsley and croutons, and served on a bed of puréed carrots and turnips - is just the sort of thing you might find on the menu of a very trendy modern restaurant. In Restoration Britain, fine French cuisine was here to stay, maybe not in every Englishman’s home, but certainly in the castles, grand houses, palaces - and restaurants - of the rich.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 31 May 2016, 17:38; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : minor, but annoying typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 29 May 2016, 10:00

PS

In several previous posts on this thread I have mentioned Robert May and referred to him as a royal cook to Charles II. This is how he is described in several books about food history. But I have just seen that my copy of ‘The Accomplisht Cook’, a facsimile of the 1685 edition, includes a brief biography of him. He started his career in his teens working under his father (who was the private cook to Lord Dormer of Ascott, in Buckinghamshire), and then after further training in Paris, seems to have worked the remainder of his life in England as the private chef for a succession of lower to middle ranked aristocratic, usually Catholic, royalist households. Robert May was born in 1588 and died in, or shortly after, 1664 … so it is highly unlikely he ever cooked for Charles II.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 29 May 2016, 13:34

Oak Apple Day is one of those dates the marking of which seems to have fallen by the wayside in England and in our own lifetimes too. I remember in about 1982 spending a pleasant afternoon with friends in the village of Marholm (Soke of Peterborough) where the pub and green were decked out in bunting and garlands and with some people dressed up in 17th century clothing.

No apple pie for pudding today, though, because a) it's too early in the season (except for last year's Bramley's maybe)* and b) the 'oak apple' isn't a fruit at all but is a wasp lava's gall which, incidentally, was a main ingredient of ink for a couple of thousand years and, therefore, central to the development of human education and communication.

*Co-incidentally Oak Apple Day was removed from the list of public holidays in 1859 at precisely the same time that Henry Merryweather was developing the Bramley apple cultivar which would first go on sale in the 1860s. The name 'Bramley' is perhaps the least deserving of the various candidates for the naming of that apple. Matthew Bramley was merely the owner of the tree from which Merryweather had taken cuttings. The apples could conceivably be called 'Merryweathers'. Or better still they could be called 'Brailsfords' or 'Mary Anns' after Mary Ann Brailsford the girl who originally planted the pips and tended the seedlings in 1809.
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