Tag Archive for 'Dessert'

Whipped Cream and Other Gouty Delights

Whipped Cream and Other Gouty Delights

I am making a lot of desserts this month. And I believe I am making my last batches of stock today for the rest of this year! Wow!

I. The Hidden Mountain Redux Redux

Hey, who climbed to the top of the Hidden Mountain? WHY, it’s me. Another bizarre dessert that I can find no mention of before Beeton, which I love, and another that is faithfully reproduced (read:stolen and republished) for 50+ years after the BOHM‘s publication in 1861. But did anyone actually TRY this? She hooks me with those funny names. I am powerless.

Fluffy fluffy eggwhites!

You tell me how to flip a whipped pancake/omelet that is highly whipped and contains no flour, and I will be amazed, I tell you. The fix, in the end, was simple. I just moved the skillet to the oven and did not flip it at all, until it was time to turn it out.

Lovely surface and surprisingly delicious.

Spread with preserves and citron

The Hidden Mountain [1438.]

This recipe was meant to be flipped like a pancake. This is, theoretically, possible in a modern non-stick pan, but I have a hard time believing flipping something so delicate was easily achieved in cast iron. Baking the dish achieves an almost indistinguishable effect without the disappointment of a tear. This dish may be passed at a fancy dinner when flashy appearances and a large variety of food is desired, or it may serve as a modest dessert.

Beeton’s Note: A very pretty supper dish.

Ingredients.
6 eggs, separated
1 tbsp. candied citron
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup cream
1/4 c. any kind of jam (a red berry works well)

Mode.—Set oven to 325F. Warm a cast iron skillet in the oven in preparation and melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside. Whip cream and sugar until fluffy, but not stiff. Beat yolks until smooth. Gently fold the cream into the whites, and fold the yolks into the whipped mixture. Turn the mixture into the skillet, which is warm and has been tilted so that every inside surface is covered with butter. Smooth the top and cook for 20 minutes. When it is removed from the oven, allow to cool slightly so it will begin shrinking from the sides of the pan a bit. This can be assisted with a spatula. Be sure to very carefully ease the “cake” from the sides and bottom of the pan using your spatula, before flipping it onto a plate. Allow the “cake” to chill for at least two hours. Before serving, spread with a thin layer of jam and sprinkle with minced candied peel, and the hidden mountain may be cut like a pie for serving.

II. Mincemeat

As instructed by Beeton, I let my mincemeat sit in the fridge for two weeks. I took it out and stirred and sniffed and looked very carefully for any signs of trouble (mold or other lifeforms). I think the citrus plus sugar plus booze kept decay at bay, and it was all beautifully candied and macerated. I was going to make handpies, but decided to strike out with a big ‘un on my first go.

Glazed crust

My pie crusts are graceful like a donkey wearing a tutu. I have no real love of baking, I cannot lie. That was one of my major fears this year, was the baking recipes. Lucky for me I have an in-house baker and a lot of motivation just to strike out and take a crack at things this year. Fortunately, the short crust I adapted from the BOHM is very forgiving and delicious.

Turned out okay

If I was a real food blogger, I would have cut pieces until one was perfect.

I love mincemeat. The lamb tasted candied. When I cut it, I was hit by the wave of VICTORIAN SMELL. Suet and sugar! I was afraid that it was going to be too sweet (sugar, raisins, candied peel) or too suety, but this recipe is really well-balanced! Whew.

III. Geneva Wafers

Geneva wafers are very similar to modern tuile cookies. There are a few wafer recipes floating around in 19th-century cookbooks, but I am unsure where Beeton got this one from, or what the significance of “Geneva” is. She did this a lot. Pick up a recipe, tweak the wording slightly, and bang on a fancy word. Done! I am curious about her “Sunderland” gingerbread nuts (kind of like a gingerbread cookie, but not a snap) as well, which seem to be a copy of Kitchiner’s gingerbread nuts but with a mention that some people like cayenne added. Through my researches, I can see no apparent connection to Sunderland. I get it, though. I like Beeton’s tendency to fancify things.

And Beeton was so popular her recipes were picked up and passed on, so again the only reference I find to Geneva wafers starts in Beeton and carries on to other cookbooks for 50+ years. Her exact recipe is even reproduced (without credit) in a book called Presidential Cookies as a historic 19th- century recipe.

I am here to tell you that they are delicious, but some will fail. And some of the funky-looking ones end up making interesting little cones.

Grease Party!

Cooling

A finished one and a half-filled one

An array of cones

Astute readers who follow me elsewhere may notice that these colors are rather Halloweeny. Yes, my smallest scullery maid had a brainstorm there. I think the Victorians would have appreciated goth Geneva wafers.

The ones with minced citron were wonderful. I used lingonberries, which were sometimes referred to as the “whortleberry” by Beeton’s contemporaries. Neither term appears in the BOHM, and most references I find in English refer to the lingonberry growing in North America at this time. I’ve been using lingonberry preserves a lot this year, because the tartness offsets the extreme sweetness of many of the recipes. I alternated filling the cones with homemade Italian prune preserves, picked locally last summer.

Beeton says Geneva wafers are “easily-made” but I found them fussy and prone to breakage at first. After two or three goes and finding the right temperature, it went well.

Geneva Wafers [1431.]

These wafers are similar to modern tuiles, which are so sugary they can be coerced into various shapes and frozen that way. There are mentions of “wafer” cookies in other nineteenth-century cookbooks, but Beeton seems to be the first to call them “Geneva.”

Ingredients.
3 oz. butter, room temperature
3 oz. sugar
2 eggs
3 oz. flour
About a 1/3 cup of preserves, a variety of them if liked
Sweetened whipped cream (half-cup unwhipped should be sufficient)

Mode.—Heat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar. Add in one egg at a time, blending well. Add the flour gradually, and then mix all well together. Butter a baking-sheet, and drop on it a large teaspoonful of the mixture at a time, leaving a space between each. The cookies may be most easily handled if a minimal number is baked at one time, no more than 6, and if an attempt is made to round the dough on the sheet before putting it in the oven (ideally resulting in a round cookie). Bake for ten minutes; the edges should be brown and the cookies not gooey or moist in appearance. If possible, leave the oven door open and pull out one cookie at a time to curl into cone shapes. A funnel or baster tip works well for this. Allow cookies to cool on a rack, seam-side down so they do not reopen. Before serving, put a spoonful of preserve in the widest end, and fill up with whipped cream. This is a very pretty and ornamental dish for the supper-table, and is very nice and very easily made. The cream can be sprinkled with colored sanding sugar, nutmeg, minced candied peel, or chopped nuts, whatever suits the preserves.

Produces 10-15 Geneva wafers, depending on the skill and patience of the cook. Allow for breakage!

*****

I’ve got a nice dinner coming up on Saturday night with some guests I am looking forward to who are friendly, funny, and interested in culinary history. This will be my penultimate feast before my Dickensian Christmas I have coming up. I am splashing out on partridge and going to take another shot at aspic, which I will not tint pink this time.

An American Victorian Thanksgiving

An American Victorian Thanksgiving

I. Candied Citrus

Hello, and welcome to this week’s internet-based installment of One Woman’s Descent into Madness, Part 47. How was your Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it? I had a very nice day overall, except for the fact that I wrote and swilled coffee all morning in lieu of eating, which guarantees that I will and did have acid stomach by the afternoon. I took remedies all afternoon–NONE recommended by Beeton, however, who mentions calomel and TOMATOES (this just in, folks, gasoline is excellent for putting out fires). Lucky lucky lucky for me it subsided exactly five minutes before I got dinner on the table and I got to enjoy the feast, and so I have learned my lesson again until next time.

Chicken Foot Crown

I have been busy here with a few things. One is making vast amounts of candied citrus peel. I took apart a buddha’s hand, and you know, nothing was in it! I thought there would be some small amount of useless vestigial fruit like there is in the round citrons, but it was just pith. I also candied orange and lemon peel.  (You might be interested to learn that I have collected all my Victorian experiment pictures in a set, including ones I have not written about.)

Brigid Keely asked me about candying citrus. Really, it could not be easier. First, peel the zesty part off of your citrusy victim, trying not to skim off the pith. I like a vegetable peeler for this as pictured here. If you want fat slices then you are done, but I usually like to use a chef’s knife to slice them down into skinny strips that would make a cute pile of shavings on a cake or fancy drink. If you want to mince them later to go into a cake or pudding you can do this as well after they are done.

Then, heat a simple syrup solution until the sugar is melted (1 part sugar to 1 part water, usually for one fruit a half-cup of each is enough), then simmer the strips for 10 minutes, after which they should look slightly translucent. Strain out the syrup. I also lay the drained strips out on paper towels so they cool just slightly, then sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over them and toss them to coat. Then eat one. YUM! They store in the fridge for a long time, at least all through the holidays.

II. Thanksgiving

So, the interesting thing about American Thanksgiving, foodwise, is that it has barely changed since its official founding in 1863 by President Lincoln. It is kind of a late harvest festival, which is in keeping with what the Pilgrims supposedly ate almost 400 years ago. I decided to mix things up a bit, since the modern food I serve every year is a lot like an American Victorian-era Thanksgiving–turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, seasonal vegetables like squashes. Since it was just three of us this year, I also decided not to make 4 frillion side dishes like I usually do and just focus on experimenting with various dishes.

First, I eschewed a turkey and ordered a goose. I have never had a goose. I assumed they are a lot like turkey, but when I looked into it I was delighted to discover the flesh is, of course, a lot closer to duck, which I love. I have also heard they make a vast amount of grease while they cook, also a bonus, since I am going through grease like water right now, and I knew I wouldn’t have to fuss about the breast drying out like you do with turkeys.

Beeton, of course, instructs us on the removal of feet, how to snip the wings down, and says

Beat the breast-bone flat with a rolling-pin, put a skewer through the under part of each wing, and having drawn up the legs closely, put a skewer into the middle of each, and pass the same quite through the body. Insert another skewer into the small of the leg, bring it close down to the side bone, run it through, and do the same to the other side. Now cut off the end of the vent, and make a hole in the skin sufficiently large for the passage of the rump, in order to keep in the seasoning.

What the…this is way too much like math for me. Smash the breast bone? Can we not just stuff it and roast it? She goes on…

Be careful to serve the goose before the breast falls, or its appearance will be spoiled by coming flattened to table.

The breast might fall, perhaps, because you smacked it with a rolling pin? I decided to follow the modern technique of simply pricking some holes in the skin to allow the grease to drain adequately, and stuffed it with Beeton’s sage and onion stuffing. Beeton called for bread “crumb,” which might mean cubes and might actually mean crumbs. I opted for cubes, since I didn’t want the stuffing to turn into a soggy mass. I often put a LOT of  ingredients into stuffing, following modern recipes, but a nice loaf of bread, some fresh sage, a couple of sauteed onions, and salt and pepper was perfect.

Goose Out!

Cutting the Goose

While the goose was setting up after cooking, I pulled it off its drip pan so I could get access to the yummy lake of grease that had formed under it. I put a couple of generous spoonfuls onto the leftover stuffing I had in a pan waiting to go in after the goose went out.

I also used a few more large spoonfuls to fry up the rissoles. I have made potato rissoles before, but I think they reached their apex of deliciousness this time around. Fowl fat was much better than lard for cooking them in, and I sauteed the shallots they were filled with and used minced ham I had leftover from making white broth.

Rissoles Frying

Barely visible in the above picture, behind the rissoles, is the gravy, also made with some goose fat, rich stock, and a splash of gin. I have become very, very good at making gravy this year, which is one of those “simple” operations that a person can do adequately once a year on Thanksgiving, but to really get a feel for gravy, it helps to do it a couple of times a week for, you know, a year.

This little websitelet I found when doing research on making really kick-ass gravy has one of my most favorite phrases I have ever read on cooking ever: “After you have made gravy maybe 50 times, you will develop your own eye for how dark you will like the roux.” I like it when people take the long view towards perfecting simple tasks. And because it is cooking, you will still fail sometimes.

Scullery maid Jane surveys rissole-pyramid

A Simple Table This Year

The Plate

As a concession to my victims, I served a modern typical winter salad topped with cranberries, pecans, and blue cheese with a mustard vinaigrette I knocked together at the last minute. Instead of cranberry sauce, I sent a store-bought red current jelly to the table, which we have been eating a lot this year, especially with hashes and rabbit.

III. Dessert

For dessert I decided to use my delightful turkey pan my sister gave me for my birthday this year. I have been intrigued by a poundcake recipe in Beeton’s that calls for no liquid, except eggs, and no leavening agent, except whipping the eggs.

It turned out fairly dreadfully, as you might expect. The center was underdone and the outside was crispy like a biscuit. We discussed shallower pans and lower cooking temperatures, but I don’t think it’s really worth salvaging. Many of the recipes just aren’t worth it, especially when there are modern ones that are perfected already. I could take a nice pound cake recipe and add currents and candied peel, but EH.

I also decided to make a couple kinds of gingerbread, thick and white. The white gingerbread was a lot like a scone, and not very appetizing. The thick was made with treacle and turned out more like traditional gingerbread, very dense with good spice balance.

White Gingerbread

Gingerbread Batter

Gingerbread with too much egg wash!

Out of three desserts, I’d say one was a keeper, the thick gingerbread. I was pleased with Thanksgiving and despite the time an energy it takes to make things like stock from scratch, it felt a lot simpler than what I normally make.