Saturday, May 29, 2010

nous sommes une famille gastronomique!

Okay. My copy of Mrs Beeton's Cookery and Household Management is NOT QUITE as rustico as the picture, but it would be a worthy challenger in any competition that included the category "death by puppy."

I bought my Mrs Beeton's at the old second-hand bookshop in Sorrento. That's Sorrento, Mornington Peninsula, not Italia.

I was rapt when I saw it there on the shelf. Some household had off-loaded it, thinking it worthless. Daggy when on the shelf beside Donna Hay and Jamie Everywhere Dot Com.

And get this.

At the same time, I got the Larousse Gastronomique.

What a fucking coup, ladies and gentleman. (That's you INC, Perseus only reads the diaries. And Ramon only comes on when there are lemons, really, or maybe a Palestinian/Israeli dispute. Just to watch, you know.)

So. you know we had an anniversary last Wednesday. The same day as Ms Fits' birthday. I'll never forget. And the same day she stopped her blog. Ah, how we move on.

"Hello, my name is Melba, and I am okay."

So. The anniversary. Right now Clokes is in the kitchen. He is wearing his Collingwood top and cooking a Masterchef recipe. He is doing Beef Wellington. While we went out Wed night to a local pizza restaurant and test-drove the idea that the kids can fend for themselves, tonight, my friends, is our romantico night where we feast on the Beef Wellington (as Hercule Poirot would say, very fond of the definite articles as he was in his translated Anglais).

So Clokes is Slaving over the Hot Stove and I have run off to my study/library/entirely indulgent and booky space to blog about the Mrs Beeton's index.

"I'm going to blog about this to my three readers!" I shouted, as I left the kitchen after helping Clokes skim the red wine sauce and flip the crepes, in a very George Calombaris manner.

"I thought you had more than three readers," said Princess, as she loaded up her taco. (When you have three kids, you don't feed them The Beef Wellington. It's Tacos For Them!)

"I'm being modest," I lied, and left the room.

So. This is what grabbed my attention.

Looking up God* Knows What, I noticed the following, on page 1324 in my old haggard prostitute of a copy (but Sorrento, don't you know dahling, think of how much she could 'ave 'aggled twenty years ago, dahling):

Bearnaise sauce
Beat, to
Beatrice tartlets
Bechamel sauce (can't be bothered with the acute)
Bed bugs
a la Mode
as mock hare
au gratin
balls, raw
braised, in aspic
brisket of
cannelon of
carbonnade of
chateaubrian steak

(can't be bothered with the circumflexes and graves either.)

So it's a book of household management, and cookery. You can whip up a cheese souffle and conquer warts at the same time?

Mais, bien sur.

This is my post for this week. I am tired, I have no time but I WILL answer any of your questions (using my Mrs Beeton resource or my own mad skillz) to do with cookery or household management.

Post your questions below.

And have a good weekend. Be nice to each other. Wear a condom, or don't use too much tongue when kissing. Just a little bit is nice.

* And speaking of the Old Boy, anyone else read or about to the new Phillip Pullman book on Jesus??


suze2000 said...

Wow, I'm really impressed with your food finds! I love me a second-hand bookshop so I'll add those to the list of gems to hope for. :)

I saw the Philip Pullman in Kinokinuya in Sydney while we were there and read a couple of chapters when I was waiting for Wagamama to produce my takeaway dinner. The concept is interesting to me, but I don't want to read it all then realise it's a thinly veiled Mormon tome (ala Orson Scott Card) or similar wacky religion. Though I'm atheist, so they are all wacky to me.

We're watching Eurovision now. I love it. But I think they'd all be lost without the wind machine and hairography.

groverjones said...

Better make that 5 readers, then. I still pop in every now and then.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...


I'm interested in all sorts of things not just lemons, you know.

squib said...

Oh! I have a lovely old, old copy of 'The C.W.A Cookery Book & Household Hints'. It tells me how to make a door mat from a tyre tube and how to cure the scaly legs of poultry, ewww.

I know nothing about Pullman's Jesus. Have just finished a book on Galileo

Perseus said...

I read everything here!

I just only seem to comment on the diaries. They're my favourite, for sure.

magical_m said...

Très jaloux. So très très jaloux.

I would love a copy of that book.

It's nowhere in the same league, but I have just come into possession of my late cousin's copy of the "Emily McPherson College of Domestic Cookery" cookbook from her days as a student there (in the early 1950s). It's a cracker... I'm itching to try my hand at the "Matrimonial Pudding" and the "Dorset Knobs".

Does Mrs Beeton have either of those in her collection?

PS - I'd like to know what "Beef as mock hare" is.

PPS - Have you ever watched Heston Blumenthal's Feast? His investigation into Mock Turtle Soup had me fascinated and revolted at the same time. He's a bit like the Bear Grylls of the upmarket kitchen.


magical_m said...

Oh and I forgot to add I'm reading Shappi Khorsandi's "A Beginner's Guide to Acting English". I'm only about two chapters in, but so far it's not bad.

Melba said...

In answer to m_m's question:

no Matrimonial Pudding, no Dorset Knobs (however there is a Doodle Cake), and beef as mock hare =

1 1/4 lb stewing steak
4 oz. fairly fat bacon
Seasoned flour
1 onion stuck with 3 cloves
3/4 pint stock
Bouquet garni
1 tablespn. redcurrant jelly
1/2 gill port (optional) 1 dessertsp. chopped pickle
Salt and pepper

Fried or baked force-meat balls

Wipe and trim the meat and cut into 1-in squares. Dice the bacon, fry in a saucepan, then remove from pan. Toss the meat in seasoned flour and fry until nicely browned. Add the onion stuck with cloves, stock and bouquet garni and cook slowly until tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hr. Remove the onion and bouquet garni, add the redcurrant jelly, port (if used), chopped pickle, and seasoning if required.

Serve on a hot dish. Garnish with forecemeat balls and chopped parsley.


Of course this, like a good detective story, makes me think what the hell are forced meat balls? So then I have to go and look them up.

Also, I wonder why would you be trying to create a faux hare dish when you have beef to hand? I thought beef would be higher up the yummy ladder than hare?

ALSO there is an oxford comma in there, just to keep PerseusQ happy.

AH. Forcemeat was another word for stuffing!

"Forcemeat, or farcemeat as it was originally called, derives its name from the French verb farcie, to stuff. The excellence of forcemeat depends on the flavouring and seasoning. The flavouring should enhance the flavour of the dish with which the stuffing is to be used, eg lemon flavouring with sweet dishes, anchovy flavouring with white fish, etc.

Many forecemeats may be made into balls the size of a walnut and baked, fried or poached to serve with roast, braised or stewed meats. For this purpose the mixture must be bound with egg and should be stiff enough to shape into balls. The balls may be coated with egg and crumbs before frying or baking."

In this book there are 16 recipes for forcemeats or stuffings.

PS I've got 9 recipes for eels if anyone wants a couple?

sublime-ation said...

Sorrento! I was there yesterday. Amazing score.