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Victorian Era and 19th C Recipes Thread

Started by GCCC, July 16, 2015, 01:39:08 AM

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"Purple Sauce?"

Note that the historical story of this entry is 18th C., but the recipe is still 19th C.*

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 3rd ...

Sarah Kemble Knight was an independent businesswoman in Boston at the very beginning of the eighteenth century. She was also clearly quite adventurous. In October 1704 she set off on horseback for New Haven on a rather vague business trip. From New Haven she went on to New York, and then re-traced her steps home, the whole journey taking five months. Her journal was not published until over a century later, but it is a marvelous and amusing account of her journey. On her second day she was not impressed with the dinner she was served en route.

'Tuesday, October ye third, about 8 in the morning, I with the Post proceeded forward without observing any thing remarkable; And about two, on, Arrived at the Post's second stage, where the western Post mett him and exchanged Letters. Here, having called for something to eat, ye woman bro't in a Twisted thing like a cable, but something whiter; and laying it on the bord, tugg'd for life to bring it into a capacity to spread; wch having wth great pains accomplished, shee serv'd in a dish of Pork and Cabage, I suppose the remains of Dinner. The sause was of a deep Purple, wch I tho't was boil'd in her dye Kettle; the bread was Indian, and every thing on the Table service Agreeable to these. I, being hungry, gott a little down; but my stomach was soon cloy'd, and what cabbage I swallowed serv'd me for a Cudd the whole day after.'

I have no idea what might have made the sauce purple, unless indeed the dinner was cooked in the dye-kettle. It could hardly have been red cabbage, or surely Mrs Knight would not have been puzzled by the colour of the sauce. The juice of red cabbage acts like a pH (acidity/alkalinity) indicator; if you want to keep the red colour of your cabbage, the cooking liquid must be acidic (lemon juice or vinegar added) otherwise it tends to turn an unappetising blue if the water is even slightly alkaline...

...To pickle Red Cabbages.
Slice them into a sieve, and sprinkle each layer with salt. Let the whole drain three days, then add some sliced beet-root, and place the whole in a jar, over which pour boiling vinegar. The purple red cabbage is the finest. Mace, bruised ginger, whole pepper, and cloves, may be boiled with the vinegar, and will make a great improvement.
[The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book, Esther Allen Howland (1845 ed.)]..."

*Also note that on her wonderful site Ms. Clarkson includes recipes from multiple eras; I only share the ones from the 19th C. here. Do visit, and enjoy.


"The Language of Ham."

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 5th ...

Not many of us, I venture, cure our own hams today. Should you want to know a prize-winning method, here is one from the Scientific American magazine on this day in 1850:

Mr. Nathan White, of Montgomery county, Maryland, gives the following as the recipe by which the prize ham at the late Fair was cured:
The pork should be perfectly cold before being cut up. The hams should be salted with bloom salt, with a portion of red pepper, and about a gill of molasses to each ham. Let them remain in salt five weeks; then hang them up, and smoke with hickory wood for five or six weeks. About the first of April take them down, and wet them with cold water, and let them be well rubbed with unleached ashes. Let them remain in bulk for several days, and then hang them in the loft again for use.'..."

Note that among the bits from the article I'm not including is a good discussion of pork terminology, its word origins and meanings, today investigating flitch, ham, bacon, and gammon. Go to the article online to see what she's unearthed.

Cut off the ends of a stale French brick, and lard the middle of it with streaked bacon, then, with a very sharp knife, cut the loaf in slices, about a quarter of an inch thick, dip them in eggs, and fry gently in a very hot pan till of a good colour; serve with a little clear sauce and a little vinegar and pepper.
[The Illustrated London Cookery Book, Frederick Bishop (1852)]..."


"An Accidental Oven."

This is actually a tale of the development of the microwave oven, but it leads to a seasonally appropriate 19th C. recipe.

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 8th ...

The enduring story about the invention of the microwave oven is that it happened as a result of an accidental discovery in the presence of a superior mind. The story says that in 1945 a self-taught engineer called Percy Spencer working for a company called Raytheon was standing in front of a large operational magnetron, found that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted, deduced that this was due to the microwaves being emitted from the machine, and rushed away and invented the oven...

...In the early days back in the factory, the story says that after the melted candy bar incident, Spencer experimented with a few other foods, the next two being popcorn (very successful) and egg (not successful to the colleague who leaned to close and got a face-full of exploding egg.) The microwave oven is still a popular way to cook popcorn. The Aztecs were popping corn several millennia ago, but true to form, humans have been tweaking the idea ever since. One tweak led to Popcorn Balls, which became very popular in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Popcorn Balls.
Boil honey, maple, or other sugar to the great thread; pop corn and stick the corn together in balls with the candy.
[Housekeeper's Encyclopedia of useful information ... E.F. Haskell, 1861]..."

Nice to know a Halloween staple of my youth is Victorian!


"The Last Blackberries."

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 9th ...

In mid-July we left Dorothy Wordsworth (sister of the English poet, William) gathering blackberries from the hedgerows. Dorothy was a thrifty soul – not one to leave a good bush unpicked – and we can safely assume that she did not miss an opportunity to pick, cook, and preserve as much of this free hedgerow food as possible. Presumably she knew that this is the last traditionally acceptable day to pick the fruit, for food mythology says that tomorrow the Devil spits (or urinates) on the bramble bushes in remembrance of his painful landing in one of them when he was turfed out of heaven.

The biblically knowledgeable amongst you will instantly recognise a small inconsistency here, for story has it the throwing out was done by the Archangel Michael whose feast day (Michaelmas) is considered to be the anniversary of this event. Michaelmas is September 29, which is 10 days ago. So why is tomorrow the blackberry-polluting day?

It all began with Julius Caesar, who was responsible for the original calendar based on a year of 365 days (and which we conveniently call the Julian calendar). The problem was, that the length of the actual year is approximately 365.25 days, so over the centuries the calendar got out of step with celestial happenings such as equinoxes and solstices. Minor tweakings of Leap Year occurrences had been applied at times, but a major re-working of the calendar was ordered by Pope Gregory in 1582, by which time the discrepancy amounted to ten days. These were simply omitted in that year, making it all right with again between civic and celestial worlds. Apart from the Protestant sections of the world that is, who would have no truck with Papist calendars. They (meaning specifically the English and all her colonies) hung out until 1752, by which time the discrepancy was eleven days. Finally, after two centuries of operating on a different calendar from a large part of the rest of the world, the English caved in, and removed the eleven days between September 2nd and September 14th. Hence, our explanation:  September 29 (Old Style), became the new October 10 (new style), and presumably the Devil too adjusted his diary to note the correct day for spitting or peeing on the berries (was he really turfed out into the English countryside?)...

...Blackberry Pudding.
Make a batter of 1 quart of flour, 3 pints of milk, and 5 eggs. Stew 3 pints of blackberries sweetened to your taste, and stir them in the batter. Bake it, and eat it with any sweet sauce.
[The Ladies' New Book of Cookery..., Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, 1852]

Blackberry Brandy.
Take equal parts of brandy and blackberry juice; add to every gallon one pound of loaf-sugar. This is excellent for bowel complaints.
[The Housekeeper's Encyclopedia of Useful Information for the Housekeeper in...; E. F. Haskell, 1861]..."


"Musical Food."

Another non-19th C. anecdote leading into a 19th C. recipe.

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 10th ...

...There is a lovely little book published in 1859 called The gourmet's guide to rabbit cooking, by an old epicure (who is presumably the Georgiana Hill of the title page.) It gives 124 receipts for rabbit, but first, the author explains its culinary value thus:

'Firstly, to quote from our friends the French, who possess an aptitude for delicacy of expression of which an English cook is totally deficient, the charm of rabbits consists in their being so easily and agreeably accommodated (mark the word), and in their capability of producing a variety of compositions, which, if proceeding from the hands of an able artiste, may, or elegance, be ranked amongst the most recherche dishes that can dignify the table of refined and enlightened amphitryons. Another thing recommendable in rabbits is their cheapness. Even one solitary rabbit will make a pretty appearance at a dinner, whereas its equivalent money's-worth of butcher's meat would be quite an uncomfortable object to contemplate. They are likewise easily obtained, being in season nearly throughout the year, are quickly dressed, have very little weight of bone, will keep well, and, besides being considered wholesome and easy of digestion, have, according to the following old rhyme, a property ascribed to them which confirms us in our estimation of their merits, and exemplifies the wisdom of the originators of cookery, in causing so favourable a combination of forces as ensues from their alliance with the admirable esculent which usually accompanies them in their culinary career :

For onions, you know, are generally said
To be an excellent remedy for a cold in the head;
And rabbits, I'm told by those who are smart,
Are a capital cure for a cold in the heart.'

The author of the cookbook does give plenty of recipes for rabbit with these admirable esculents as an ingredient, but a couple of other more unusual combinations caught my eye and distracted me from my search for the speediest recipes.

Laver is a "marine algae" (i.e seaweed), is having somewhat of a comeback I understand, and is often served with gammon and suchlike, so perhaps not so strange with rabbit. Caviar, on the other hand, must be an unusual ingredient in a rabbit dish, yes?

Rabbit and Laver.
Cut up a very tender rabbit fry it in butter until it is quite done and appears beautifully brown. While it is doing put four ounces of fresh butter into a saucepan and when melted add the juice of a whole lemon a little Cayenne pepper and two table spoonfuls of fresh laver. Let it become almost boiling hot lay your rabbit upon a well warmed dish pour the laver sauce over it and serve as quickly as possible The perfection of this dish depends upon the promptitude of sending it to table for unless it is eaten hot the fineness of its flavour is lost.

Rabbit and Caviare.
Choose a fine fat rabbit cut it into joints season it lightly and put it into a stewpan with a quarter of a pound of fresh butter shake it over the fire until you think it is half done then pour in half a pint of white wine and allow it to stay upon the hob to simmer. Prepare a table spoonful of unpressed caviare and put it into another stewpan by the side of the fire moisten it with a tea cupful of gravy and soon after pour in half a pint of rich cream let it reduce slowly and when both are done dish up the meat upon the caviare..."


"Family Fare"

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 11 ...

Deciding what to have for dinner every night is a joyful challenge or a perennial chore, depending on your point of view (which of course may vary from day to day). In the nineteenth century a whole generation of housewives were assisted in this daily exercise by a host of books on the subject. I thought that today and tomorrow we might all be assisted in our challenge or chore by those self-same books.

Today I have chosen Cre-Fydd's Family Fare, or Young Housewife's Daily Assistant, published in 1864, in the immediate wake of Mrs. Beeton's Household Manual.

This book, like most of its contemporaries, was specifically aimed at the modest middle-class household, in which the young housewife would not have been expected to cook, but most certainly needed to be able to supervise the goings-on in the kitchen, lest she be ripped-off by the domestic staff. The preface states that the book contains 'bills of family fare for every day in the year, which include breakfast and dinner for a small family, and dinner for two servants', which does leave one wondering how on earth one is to solve the luncheon problem.

For October 11, the Authoress suggests:

Kippered salmon, mutton chops, eggs, hung beef.

Scolloped fish.
Boiled aitchbone of beef (11 lbs), carrots, greens, potatoes.
Belgian pudding
Stewed cheese.

KITCHEN (i.e the servants)
Mutton chops, potatoes.

A 'small family' tackling an 11 pound (4.98952 kg) aitchbone of beef for dinner sounds alarming until one reads ahead and sees 'cold beef' on the family's breakfast menu for the next two days, and on the servants' dinner menu for the next three days. Come to think of it, it is still alarming when one realises that there would have been no refrigeration in this modest home.

Likewise, the Scolloped Fish was made from the remains of the previous day's cod. The recipe describes it as a 'second dressing', which sounds infinitely more appetising than 'leftovers', and essentially consisted of reheating the cod fragments in a liberal amount of butter, with the addition of breadcrumbs or mashed potato...

...Stewed Cheese.
Three quarters of a pound of rich cheese cut into thin slices (the rind taken off); season it with a teaspoonful of flour of mustard, half a saltspoonful of white pepper, and a cayenne saltspoonful of cayenne; put it into a pie-dish; pour over it a wineglassful of sherry, put in an ounce of butter in small pieces on the top, and bake in a quick oven till the cheese is dissolved (about twelve minutes); then add the yolks of two small eggs, well beaten; when well mixed, pour it into a tin dish, and bake for ten minutes, till the top is of a pale brown colour. Serve very hot, with a rack of fresh-made dry toast, very hot also..."


"Family Fare from Phyllis."

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 12 ...

The daily task of menu planning and implementation that we discussed yesterday was also tackled by Phyllis Brown in 1879 in her book called A Year's Cookery. Phyllis specially addressed her book to ' ... people of moderate income, with moderate domestic help, and ordinary kitchen utensils', which I am sure includes most of you, my good readers. Unlike our author yesterday, Phyllis neglects to tell us what should appear on the dinner table of our moderate domestic help, but she does at least solve the luncheon issue.

For October 12th, she suggests:

Fried ham, fried eggs
Teacakes, dry toast
Brown and white bread and butter
Rice and barley porridge

Scalloped fish
Wyvern puddings

Lentil soup
Tomato Beef.
Town Pudding

Good solid puddings, twice a day - that seems to have been Phyllis' motto. On this day the Wyvern puddings are essentially little Yorkshire puddings – what we would now call 'popovers', served with jam. Pudding number two for the day, Town pudding, is a steamed suet pudding with apple. Cant go too long between suet puds you know...

...Tomato Beef.
Cut the tomatoes into slices; butter the inside of a stew-pan, cover the bottom with sliced tomatoes, lay on a portion of the beef*, and put the tomatoes and beef in alternate layers till both are used. Cover the pan closely, place it at the side of the fire, and let its contents simmer gently for an hour and a half. Add pepper and salt, and serve on a hot dish.

*this is the 'three pounds of lean Beef cut into steaks' that she instructed you to buy yesterday, along with half a dozen ripe tomatoes..."


"Monsieur Buffet."

Excerpted from the article:

"Today, October 18 ...

Monsieur Pierre-Aphonse Buffet did not exist. Or if he did, he lived and disappeared with no obvious trace in the late seventeenth or first half of the eighteenth century. Even if he did exist, he certainly did not give his name to the word 'buffet' in any of its incarnations...

...There are faint suspicions that the word is French in origin – and the custom of using a sideboard or cupboard to make an ostentatious display of one's gold and silver knick-knacks probably did start in France, maybe in the sixteenth century. It became an obvious location for the placement of elegant filled dishes of fine food when one entertained, and eventually, by the early nineteenth century, the word came to apply to the meal served from it...

...Mrs. Beeton lived in the time when a buffet was on the cusp between ostentation and elegance. She thought they were very appropriate for suppers.

'Where small rooms and large parties necessitate having a standing supper, many things enumerated in the following bill of fare may be placed on the buffet. Dishes for these suppers should be selected which may be eaten standing without any trouble. The following list may, perhaps, assist our readers in the arrangement of a buffet for a standing supper.

Beef, ham, and tongue sandwiches, lobster and oyster patties, sausage rolls, meat rolls, lobster salad, dishes of fowls, the latter - all cut up; dishes of sliced ham, sliced tongue, sliced beef, and galantine of veal; various jellies, blancmanges, and creams; custards in glasses, compotes of fruit, tartlets of jam, and several dishes of small fancy pastry; dishes of fresh fruit, bonbons, sweetmeats, two or three sponge cakes, a few plates of biscuits, and the buffet ornamented with vases of fresh or artificial flowers. The above dishes are quite sufficient for a standing supper; where more are desired, a supper must then be laid and arranged in the usual manner.'

Her suggestion of sausage rolls seems a little out of place to me; sausage rolls may be delicious, but they are hardly elegant. Here is her recipe for them.

1 lb. of puff-paste No. 1206, sausage-meat No. 837, the yolk of 1 egg.
Make 1 lb. of puff-paste by recipe No. 1206; roll it out to the thickness of about ½ inch, or rather less, and divide it into 8, 10,or 12 squares, according to the size the rolls are intended to be. Place some sausage-meat on one-half of each square, wet the edges of the paste, and fold it over the meat; slightly press the edges together, and trim them neatly with a knife. Brush the rolls over with the yolk of an egg, and bake them in a well-heated oven for about ½ hour, or longer should they be very large. The remains of cold chicken and ham, minced and seasoned, as also cold veal or beef, make very good rolls.

To every lb. of flour allow 8 oz. of butter, 4 oz.of lard, not quite ½ pint of water.
This paste may be made by the directions in the preceding recipe, only using less butter and substituting lard for a portion of it. Mix the flour to a smooth paste with not quite ½ pint of water; then roll it out 3 times, the first time covering the paste with butter, the second with lard, and the third with butter. Keep the rolling-pin and paste slightly dredged with flour, to prevent them from sticking, and it will be ready for use..."


"Devil's Dung Sauce."

Excerpted from the article:

"October 24 ...

William Makepeace Thackeray, the author of Vanity Fair, was enthusiastic about food, as we can surmise from his ode to Bouillabaisse, which he sampled while in Europe in the 1830's. He recorded in detail a meal he tackled in true trencherman-style during his stay in Brussels:

'In the matter of eating, dear sir, which is the next subject of the fine arts, a subject that, after many hours' walking, attracts a gentleman very much, let me attempt to recall the transactions of this very day at the table-d'-hote. 1, green pea-soup; 2, boiled salmon; 3, mussels; 4, crimped skate; 5, roast-meat; 6, patties; 7, melons; 8, carp, stewed with mushrooms and onions; 9, roast-turkey; 10, cauliflower and butter; 11, fillets of venison piques, with asafoetida sauce; 12, stewed calf's-ear; 13, roast-veal; 14, roast-lamb; 15, stewed cherries; 16, rice-pudding; 17, Gruyere cheese, and about twenty-four cakes of different kinds. Except 5, 13, and 14, I give you my word I ate of all written down here, with three rolls of bread and a score of potatoes.'

The dish that surprised me here was the venison with asafoetida sauce. There is very little mention of asafoetida in nineteenth century European cookbooks, although it had been a popular spice in Ancient Rome...

... To those who are not afficionados, the smell is foul, offensive, disgusting, and – well, foetid, hence one of its popular names of 'Devil's Dung.' The famous Victorian chef Alexis Soyer was not a fan:

'This plant, which we have excluded from our kitchens, and whose nauseous smell is far from exciting the appetite, reigned almost as the chief ingredient in the seasoning of the ancients. Perhaps they cultivated a kind which in no way resembled that of modern times. If it were the same, how are we to explain the extreme partiality which Apicius shows for it and which he says must be dissolved in luke-warm water, and afterwards served with vinegar and garum? It is certain that the resin drawn by incision from the root of this plant is still much esteemed by the inhabitants of Persia and of India ; they chew it constantly, finding the odour and taste exquisite.'
[From: The Pantropheon, Or, History of Food, and Its Preparation (1853)... Alexis Soyer]

There were others however who were not only prepared to use it, but to use it raw, as in this recipe when it is desirable to imitate 'moutarde de maille'.

The [Salad] mixture or dressing.
For 4 persons bruise only the yolk of 1 hard-boiled egg (leaving out altogether the white), with some salt, and make it into a paste with 2 large teaspoonfuls of moutarde de maille; or, if obliged to use common mustard, add to it a drop or two of asafoetida, which will impart to it a slight flavour of garlic. Then add oil and vinegar in the following proportions, without using so much as to make the sauce thin, and taking care to have the finest Provence or Lucca oil, and the very strongest species of real French vinegar : namely, to every one spoonful of vinegar add two of oil; 1 spoonful of the vinegar being impregnated with chilis, which will add warmth to the salad, much more agreeably than cayenne. A little of tarragon may be an improvement, and a spoonful of Quihi or walnut ketchup is not objectionable; but mushroom ketchup will destroy the pungeney of flavour, and both may be left out without inconvenience. When this is done, mix the sauce well, but lightly, with the salad, to which a few slices of boiled beetroot, and the white of the egg sliced, will be a pretty addition.
[Murray's modern cookery book ... 1851]..."

Side note:  Even before reading this recipe, I knew asafoetida was some foul, unpleasant thing. It's an ingredient in the remedy Mississippi (James Caan) mixes to sober up J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum) in 1966's El Dorado. Now, after reading about it here, I know I'm never going near the stuff...


"A Birthday Dinner."

Excerpted from the article:

"October 31 ...

...Birthdays mean birthday dinners, so I looked around for a virtual celebrity chef to cook for me today. In spite of the fact that she was neither a celebrity (merely married to one) nor a cook (one had staff to do that sort of job in her day), and her style of food is not to my taste (being very BV – or British Victorian), I settled on Lady Maria Clutterbuck.

Lady Maria Clutterbuck was not her real name of course. She was Catherine Dickens, the wife of Charles, and her life was sad, in the end. She was very young (only 21) when she married Charles in 1836, just as he was about to become very famous. Their marriage appears to have been happy in the early years when she hosted dinner parties and travelled with him on his literary tours. Bearing him ten children and probably suffering post-natal depression took their toll however, and the marriage faltered and eventually they separated. I chose Lady Maria/Mrs. Dickens as my hostess because I thought it would be fun to hear the inside gossip on Charles Dickens, by One Who Knows.

In 1851 she published a little book called What Shall we Have for Dinner? Satisfactorily Answered by Numerous Bills of Fare for from Two to Eighteen Persons. Eventually I chose the following menu for my virtual dinner – a modest repast for four persons – and you can will see what I mean by it being very BV.

Salmon. Asparagus Soup. Smelts.
Fore Quarter of Lamb. Fricassee Chickens.
New Potatoes. Peas.
Lobster Patties.
Noyau Jelly. Ice Pudding.

The menu is even more solidly BV when you read her recipe for Asparagus soup, which turns out to be a meal in itself.

Take two quarts of good beef or veal broth, put to it four onions, two or three turnips and some sweet herbs, with the white part of a hundred of young asparagus, but if old or very large at the stem half that quantity will do, and let them all simmer till sufficiently tender to be rubbed through a tammy, which is not an easy matter if they be not very young ; then strain and season it, have ready the boiled tops which have been cut from the stems, and add them to the soup ; or poach half-a-dozen eggs rather hard, have ready a hundred of asparagus heads boiled tender, boil three quarts of clear gravy soup, put into it for a minute or two a fowl just roasted, then add a few tarragon leaves, season with a little salt, put the eggs and asparagus heads quite hot into the tureen and pour the soup over them without breaking them ; the fowl will he just as good as before for made dishes..."

Dr. Madd

Jas Townsend and Son on Youtube. Check it out
What do we want? Decapitations!

J. Wilhelm

Really nice find by historian Irene Barcenas (@barcenairene on Twitter) in Mexico City. A section of a menu for a corporate banquet in 1890:

Steam Boat (Service) Inauguration
between Mexico (City) and Chalco

in honor of the President of the Republic, Mr. Porfirio Diaz
and Secretaries of State

Offered by the Company



Butter, Ham, Sausage, Olives, Sardines and Cucumbers

Chicken Stock a la Sevigne                                    KIRSCH PUNCH
             Turtle Soup                                                         ~
                      ~                                              English Style Roast Beef
     Fish with Oyster Sauce                                        Roast Turkey
     Lamprey Vol au Vent                                                   ~
American Ham with Spinach                                     Asparagus
                     ~                                                     French Style Peas
            Veal a la Celini                                                     ~
          Chicken Toulouse                                Fruit and Neapolitan Cakes
        Lamb Ribs Primavera                                   Chocolate Creme
             Rabbit Aspic                                                  Jellies
                     ~                                                  Coffee Frozen Tart

Manzanilla Dry Sherry Sauterne Fonte Caliet Bourgogne