Archive for the ‘sauces & gravy’ Category
1/2 tsp. salt
Wash some parsley very clean, and pick it carefully leaf by leaf; put a teaspoonful of salt into half a pint of boiling water: boil the parsley about ten minutes; drain it on a sieve; mince it quite fine, and then bruise it to a pulp.
The delicacy and excellence of this elegant and innocent relish depends upon the parsley being minced very fine; put it into a sauce-boat, and mix with it, by degrees, about half a pint of good melted butter. Never pour parsley and butter over boiled things [in the kitchen], but send it up [to the dining room] in a boat.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1832
Comment: Kitchiner comes across in his book as either a wise, friendly, chatty fellow or the biggest know-it-all you have ever run across in your life. Every recipe, it seems, is followed by either an “Obs.” (observation), “N.B.” (from the Latin nota bene, loosely translated as “friendly tip”), “Mem.” (presumably “memorandum”), or some combination of the above. Frequently attached are asterisks, crosses and other symbols indicating footnotes, in miniscule print, linking to anything from a citation from a cookbook of hundreds of years earlier to a popular poem of his own day, sufficiently lengthy that the footnotes alone sometimes drag on across several subsequent pages, somewhat in the same way that this footnote is threatening to do.
Ahem. To return to the recipe at hand, Kitchiner merely notes here that this same procedure can be used on chervil, basil, tarragon, burnet, or cress, as well as on parsley. All are recommended for use on boiled poultry or fish. Herbed butters can occasionally be found commercially made in gourmet food stores but at such prices that it is usually a much better idea to make them yourself.
1 lemon, yellow part of peel pared & saved, white rind then removed
1/2 pint melted butter
Pare a lemon, and cut it into slices twice as thick as a half-crown piece; divide these into dice, and put them into a quarter of a pint of melted butter.
Obs: Some cooks mince a bit of the lemon-peel (pared very thin), and add it to the above.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: We would rather Dr. Kitchiner had called this “Lemon Butter” but suppose it is a bit late to persuade him to change his mind on the matter. We would also inquire as to the precise thickness of “a half-crown piece” (one of the many places where the English origins of this book show through the good doctor’s attempts to “Americanize” it) but will instead just take a wild guess and suggest making the lemon slices about a quarter inch thick.
Lemon peel can be removed with either a common vegetable paring tool (so long as care is taken not to go so deep as to include the bitter white pith underneath) or with a specialized utensil known as a “zester.” This is something like a single-row grater, with a head containing five or six holes attached to a handle. You scrape the instrument over the fruit as if you were wielding a disposable razor. The zest emerges in thin threads, precisely as needed for this recipe.
Dry mustard powder
Vinegar, white wine, or water
Mix (by degrees, by rubbing together in a mortar) the best Durham flour of mustard, with vinegar, white wine, or cold water, in which scraped horseradish has been boiled; rub it well together for at least ten minutes, till it is perfectly smooth; it will keep in a stone jar closely stopped, for a fortnight [two weeks]; only put as much into the mustard-pot as will be used in a day or two.
The ready-made mustard prepared at the oil shops is mixed with about one-fourth part salt: this is done to preserve it, if it is to be kept long; otherwise, by all means, omit it. The best way of eating salt is in substance.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: “Flour of mustard” is simply the result of grinding mustard seeds and sifting out any ungrindable bits until a fine powder is left. The resulting powder, if kept dry, will keep good indefinitely. “Made mustard” was normally made at home, although as Dr. Kitchiner notes it was beginning to be commercially available in larger cities.
As one can get a vast variety of mustards beyond the “standard” yellow goop suitable for anointing hot dogs at ball parks today, one could alter the homemade varieties to suit one’s taste or available ingredients. The prescription above is in fact four recipes, depending on whether one uses the vinegar, wine or water as a liquifying agent, and on whether the horseradish is used or omitted.
1/2 c. drawn (clarified) butter
1/2 c. minced parsley
Draw the butter; boil the parsley three minutes; take it out and lay in cold water five minutes, to cool; chop and stir into the butter; squeeze in the lemon-juice, the pepper and salt; beat hard with an egg-whip, return to the fire, and boil up once. This is a “stock” sauce, being suitable for so many dishes, roast or boiled.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Few of the sauces we commonly take for granted today– tartar, barbeque, even ketchup and mustard–were available prepackaged and bottled in stores. (The notable exception being Worcestershire, which the Lea & Perrins company has had in commercial production since 1837!) and so had to be produced at home if one aspired to a fancy or impress-the-boss sort of meal. “Maitre d’Hotel Sauce” is probably the simplest of the lot.
1 oz. dry mustard
3 tbs. milk or cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
Mix very gradually, and rub together in a mortar, an ounce of flour of mustard, with three table-spoonfuls of milk (cream is better), half a tea-spoonful of salt, and the same of sugar; rub them well together until quite smooth.
Obs. Mustard made in this manner is not at all bitter, and is therefore instantly ready for the table.
N.B. It has been said that flour of mustard is sometimes adulterated with common flour, &c. &c.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: “Flour of mustard” is simply finely-ground mustard seed, sold today as “dry mustard.” As might be expected of the days before the development of mechanical grinding mills for such things, the process had to be done by hand with a mortar and pestle, explaining the motives for dishonest vendors to step on the resulting powder with cheaper stuff. Pure food laws lay far in the future as Dr. Kitchiner wrote.
“Made mustard” as we know it today was just starting to come on the market in the 19th century. Makers competed as much to find distinctive bottles to make their wares stand out on store shelves, as they did over the recipe for the contents. A thriving subculture of mustard-bottle collectors similarly competes today to preserve these unique items from the ravages of time.
1 roast (beef, ham or poultry)
1/2 pint flour
1/2 pint water
Salt as desired
Most people put a half a pint of flour and water into their tin-kitchen, when they set meat down to roast. This does very well; but gravy is better flavored, and looks darker, to shake flour and salt upon the meat; let it brown thoroughly, put flour and salt on again, and then baste the meat with about half a pint of hot water (or more, according to the [amount of] gravy you want.) When the meat is about done, pour these drippings into a skillet, and let it boil. If it is not thick enough, shake in a little flour; but be sure to let it boil, and be well stirred, after the flour is in. If you fear it will be too greasy, take off a cupful of the fat before you boil. The fat of beef, pork, turkeys and geese is as good for shortening as lard. Salt gravy to your taste. If you are very particular about dark gravies, keep your dredging-box full of scorched flour for that purpose.
From The American Frugal Housewife by Mrs. [Lydia] Child, 1833
Comment: “Scorched flour” does not sound like a very attractive item, but under its more common name of browned flour is well regarded even today for gravy-making. It is made by simply putting common flour–either white or whole wheat–into a dry frying pan and cooking it over low to medium heat, stirring continually, until it looks cooked. (White flour will become brown, and since whole wheat is browner to begin with it will simply become more so.) More important than the greater darkness of the resulting gravy is the fact that the scorching process cooks the flour in advance of its actual addition to the sauce. Many failures in gravy-making can be traced to the flour or other thickening agent being insufficiently cooked in the pan, resulting in a pasty consistency and unpleasant taste.