I mentioned Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management in my blogpost the other day.
I thought you might like to share Mrs Beeton’s ideas for a dinner party for six guests.
This meal plan is designed for July to take advantage of seasonal produce.
Julienne Soup (Broth with vegetables evenly cut in long thin strips).
Crimped Salmon (The flesh of the fish contracts and becomes firm by gashing or cutting it before rigor mortis sets in) and Caper ( the small flower buds of the Capparis shrub) Sauce
Whitebait (Young sprats, most commonly herring. Normally deep-fried, coated in flour or a light batter, and served very hot with sprinkled lemon juice and bread and butter.)
Croquettes a la Reine (Cold cooked chicken chopped with some mushrooms, parsley and thyme and seasoned with salt, black pepper and cayenne with a tablespoonful of butter and 2 well-beaten eggs added. The mixture is formed into croquettes, dipped in beaten egg and fine bread-crumbs and fried in deep hot lard until golden brown and served with a cream sauce.)
Rump of Beef Jardiniere
Custards, in glasses
Gateaux a la Genevese
Nesselrode (cream-enriched custard mixed with chestnut puree, candied fruits, currants, raisins and maraschino liqueur) Pudding
Obviously, the Victorians hadn’t heard of cholesterol!
If that seems a bit on the heavy side you might prefer Mrs Beeton’s suggestions for Plain Family Dinners for July.
Salmon trout and parsley butter
Roast fillet of real, boiled bacon-cheek; peas; potatoes
Raspberry and currant tart; baked custard pudding.
Roast fowls garnished with water-cresses; gravy; bread sauce; cold veal and salad.
John Dory and Lobster sauce
Curried fowl with remains of cold fowl; dish of rice; veal rolls with remains of cold fillet
Roast leg of mutton; vegetable marrow and potatoes; melted butter
Fried soles; anchovy sauce
Mutton cutlets and tomato sauce; bashed mutton; peas; potatoes
Boiled brisket of beef; carrots; turnips; suet dumplings; peas; potatoes
Baked semolina pudding
Cold beef and salad; lamb cutlets and peas
Rolled jam pudding
It seems illogical
to have so many vegetables on Friday and none on Tuesday. I wonder if anyone actually followed Mrs Beeton’s menu planner. Or if readers just flicked through The Book of Household Management in the same way I flick through celebrity cook books.
This is Mrs Beeton’s recipe for Friday’s pudding: Baked Semolina.
3 oz of semolina; 1 and a half pints of milk; 1/4 lb sugar; 12 bitter almonds; 3 oz butter; 4 eggs
Flavour the milk with the bitter almonds, by infusing them in it by the side of the fire for about half an hour; then strain it and mix with it the semolina, sugar and butter. Stir these ingredients over the fire for a few minutes; then take them off and gradually mix in the eggs, which should be well beaten. Butter a pie-dish, line the edges with puff-paste, put in the pudding and bake in a rather slow oven from 40 to 50 minutes. Serve with custard sauce or stewed fruit, a little of which may be poured over the pudding.
Mrs Beeton writes that Semolina is, after vermicelli, the most useful ingredient that can be used for thickening soups, meat or vegetable of rich or simple quality. Semolina is softening, light, wholesome, easy of digestion, and adapted to the infant, the aged and the invalid. That of a clear yellow colour, well dried and newly made is the fittest for use.
And if you would like some more Semolina try my memories of a 1950s childhood ebook Cabbage and Semolina.
If you’re wondering why I titled my ebook Cabbage and Semolina then you definitely didn’t go to primary school in Britain in the 1950s. Everyone had either to stay for school dinners or go home to eat. There were no packed lunches or going out to the chippy in those days. I know every generation complains about school dinners but in the 1950s they really were bad. If Cabbage was on the menu it was chopped and cooked, stalks and all, until it came out onto the plate as a gritty, lumpy, stringy mush which you had to eat whether you liked it or not.
Of course, once the main dish of the day was eaten your reward was offered. Pudding!
Baked suet and treacle roll; stewed fruit crumble; chocolate sponge; pink sponge; jam sponge; stewed fruit pie, all served with custard: fluorescent yellow, thick and glutinous. In summer for our puddings we had jelly, trifle, cold stewed fruit, ice-cream (once), cold custard. And at any time of year, Semolina: vanilla, chocolate, pink, and sometimes with cold stewed fruit added for an extra treat. If you look at a bowl of wallpaper paste and a bowl of semolina there’s not much difference but we ate it anyway. Read more here.
Have a good day!