What have I been up to? A lot! I will give you the briefest of recaps (well, brief for me). I have eight weeks of cooking left, and I am really excited about that. It’s fun to look back on this year. Truly, I am a different person now than when I started. I look at food and history very differently now. More about that some other time, though, because there are FRIED THINGS.
I have been frying everything fryable. Orange fritters? Really? Not too shabby though.
My favorite was this Indian fritter, which has a very light batter that “blooms” beautifully when you put a scoop of it into the hot oil. I also made beef fritters [not pictured], which is more of Beeton’s cold meat cookery. Battered beef is insanely delicious with Worcestershire sauce.
II.Rolled Beef, to Eat Like Hare
From the BOHM:
ORIGIN OF THE WORD “SIRLOIN.”—The loin of beef is said to have been knighted by King Charles II., at Friday Hall, Chingford. The “Merry Monarch” returned to this hospitable mansion for Epping Forest literally “as hungry as a hunter,” and beheld, with delight, a huge loin of beef steaming upon the table. “A noble joint!” exclaimed the king. “By St. George, it shall have a title!” Then drawing his sword, he raised it above the meat, and cried, with mock dignity, “Loin, we dub thee knight; henceforward be Sir Loin!” This anecdote is doubtless apocryphal, although the oak table upon which the joint was supposed to hare received its knighthood, might have been seen by any one who visited Friday–Hill House, a few years ago. It is, perhaps, a pity to spoil so noble a story; but the interests of truth demand that we declare that sirloin is probably a corruption of surloin, which signifies the upper part of a loin, the prefix sur being equivalent to over or above. In French we find this joint called surlonge, which so closely resembles our sirloin, that we may safely refer the two words to a common origin.
I pounded this sirloin pretty flat. I love pounding meat. Then you marinate it in some port and fill with forcemeat and roll up.
Then the roulade is braised in a port sauce. Yum! Looks like some kind of horrible movie prop larva, doesn’t it? Ew.
Here they are cut. The beef looks extra swirly and lollypoppy because the port colored the outside of the beef. I had forcemeat in the freezer from a previous batch I had made and shaped into patties, but not fried. All I had to do is pull it out and fry it up in a skillet. I am now a person who has frozen forcemeat, suet, stock, heavy cream, sherry, port, and brandy on hand pretty much all the time.
You serve the rolls on a nice puddle of gravy and with red current jelly.
As an aside, the name of the recipe references hare (to eat like hare), but there is no similar recipe made with hare in the BOHM. I did find rolled hare in other, older cookbooks, so perhaps the reference was simply that people knew the dish.
II. WHY GOD WHY: Oyster Catsup
Oysters blanched in sherry with cayenne added, then blended. GREY DEATH.
IV. Long Pepper
I saw these referred to several times and I could not find them locally. I finally got curious enough and ordered these off Amazon. The BOHM calls for long pepper in a lot of pickle-type recipes. Here’s what Beeton said:
LONG PEPPER.—This is the produce of a different plant from that which produces the black, it consisting of the half-ripe flower-heads of what naturalists call Piper longum and chaba. It is the growth, however, of the same countries; indeed, all the spices are the produce of tropical climates only. Originally, the most valuable of these were found in the Spice Islands, or Moluccas, of the Indian Ocean, and were highly prized by the nations of antiquity. The Romans indulged in them to a most extravagant degree. The long pepper is less aromatic than the black, but its oil is more pungent.
I absolutely love them! They have a smell that makes me think of incense or opium, which is cool. I’ve been dropping them into stock and sauces, and they are easy to pull out again. If you want to try something new, I think they are totally delicious.
I ordered my goose today for Thanksgiving. I know, I know, Victorian England did not have American Thanksgiving, but it was made a holiday in 1863 in the U.S., which is perfect timing. According to some preliminary research I’ve been doing on early American Thanksgivings, it has not changed much between then and now–cranberries, stuffing, etc., in keeping with the story of the first Thanksgiving. So I will put together a large spread where every element is Victorian, but it will probably be more like an English dinner party that an 1860s than an American Thanksgiving. Stay tuned!