Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Win a vintage(1890) Mrs de Salis cookbook!

As a bit of a midwinter celebration(or midsummer if you live in the Northern Hemisphere!), I'm offering readers of A la mode frangourou a chance to win a vintage cookbook by 19th century celebrity cookbook writer, Mrs de Salis(see previous post). I have one copy of the 1890 edition of Entrees a la Mode(pictured), to give away, in perfect condition, bright, clean and attractive with its pale green hardback cover and crisp font.

The title says 'Entrees', but you have to think of 'entree' in Victorian terms, rather than in ours-rather than being a lightish course at the beginning of a meal, it was seen more as an introductory dish and could be quite substantial. It could be seen perhaps as more in the Italian tradition of 'first plate' as opposed to 'antipasti', which is more like a French-style entree. So it was served before the main course(or 'second plate' Italian-style)and could consist of either fairly light dishes, such as stuffed tomatoes or lobster souffle, to substantial dishes such as fillets of beef a la bearnaise or savoury pork cutlets or blanquette of veal . There are also some fascinatingly arcane dishes such as lamb cutlets sauteed with cockscombs and truffles, boudin of rabbit a la Richelieu, fillets of teal(duck) and anchovies, and croustades of larks! Those ones are all very Victorian and extravagant and lots of fun to read about if not to cook! But there are lots of good recipes in this book which are very easy for a modern cook to follow and very tasty--even if you decide, as I've done, to actually make them as a main course rather than as a so-called 'entree'!

And as I mentioned in my previous post on Mrs de Salis, these books are a goldmine for anyone interested in the history of food, and for writers of historical fiction--short stories, novels and film or TV screenplays. They offer a unique glimpse into the kind of food you might have seen on a comfortable middle-class table in Victorian and Edwardian days. With that in mind, that's how I'm structuring the competition: take your favourite Victorian novel(whether actually written then or a modern one set in Victorian times) and invent a recipe for a Victorian-style 'entree' that might convey the atmosphere of the book. For instance, in a Trollope novel, you might have something rich and fancy; in a Bronte novel, something more austere; in a Dickens novel, something flamboyant and unusual--and so on! Simply post your entry as a comment on this post--I'll be choosing my personal favourite from them.

Entries close on Monday July 25.


  1. Ooh, if I were a historical writer I'd be all over this, Sophie. Just to clarify, are you looking for an actual recipe with measurements, etc., or a description?

    Will spread the word regardless.

  2. Ishmael’s Whale Blubber Stew

    Ingredients –
    3 large strips whale blubber (does not have to be from a white whale)
    1 lb. lard
    2 onions, diced
    5 cups sea water
    5 lbs. potatoes, diced
    12 carrots, diced
    5 lbs. tomatoes, diced
    Salt and Pepper

    Kill whale. Slice off three strips of blubber (about the length of a peg leg). Chop into bite-sized bits. Melt lard in large skillet. Add whale meat to lard – cook until browned. Add onions - cook until onions are translucent. Set aside. In large pot, boil potatoes and carrots in sea water for 10 minutes. Dump whale meat, onions, and tomatoes into vegetable pot. Simmer for two hours. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Feeds 10 hungry seamen and a bitter captain

  3. That's right, Jan--a recipe. Thanks, Karen, for being the first to post an entry!

  4. Been watching this blog - I want that book! Looks like I might be an uncontested winner!

  5. I think Jane Austen might have approved having turtle soup to start a posh dinner party! Can you see Darcy and Elizabeth eyeing each other over the silver tureen??
    Turtle Soup: NB First catch your turtle and scrub well; cut (with difficulty!)
    Ingredients: 1 1/2 lb turtle meat, 2 3/4 tsp salt (in all); 3/4 tsp cayenne (in all); 6 cups water, 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup chopped onions, 2 tbs minced shallots, 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers, 1/4 cup chopped celery; 3 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp dried thyme; 2 tbs minced garlic; 1 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce; 3 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice; 1/2 cup dry sherry; 1/4 cup chopped parsley; 1/2 cup chopped green onions; 4 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped; 2 tbs chopped green onions; 2 tbs chopped hard boiled eggs.
    Method: Place turtle meat in large saucepan with 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne and water. Bring to boil. Skim off any foam at the top. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 mins. Transfer meat to platter. Dice meat into 1/2 inch cubes and reserve liquid. In another large saucepan combine butter and flour over medium heat, stirring constantly to make a dark roux. Add onions, shallots, peppers and celery. Stir occasionally, cook 2-3 mins until vegetables are slightly tender. Add bay leaves, thyme and garlic, cook 2 mins. Add tomatoes and turtle meat. Cook 5-6 mins stirring occasionally. Add Worcestershire sauce, remaining salt and cayenne, turtle stock (about 6 cups), lemon juice and sherry. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Add parsley, green onions and eggs, simmer for 45 mins. Garnish with extra green onions and chopped eggs. Enjoy! (Recipe foodnetwork, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse)

  6. Mrs McGregor’s Fricassee of Rabbit

    First catch your rabbit (Mr McGregor finds the vegetable garden a good place to start). Carefully remove waistcoats, shoes, dresses and other sundry anthropomorphic accessories from the rabbit. Set aside for the grandchildren’s dolls. (Note to self: ask the young woman at Hill Top Farm to stop dressing up the wildlife – it can’t be comfortable for the creatures and it puts Mr McGregor off his game). If the rabbit is white, it may have strayed in from the mad-house next door. Gently turn it upside down and shake, to dislodge the fob watch.

    To prepare for the table:

    Marinate rabbit pieces with a bouquet garni in a red wine marinade overnight.
    Strain marinade and save.
    Pat the rabbit pieces dry, coat in flour and brown in a frypan. Remove to one side. Gently fry one chopped onion, minced garlic to taste and two blanched, chopped rashers of bacon.
    Place the rabbit pieces, onion and bacon mixture in a clean pan, pour over the strained marinade, season well and simmer for 1 hour.
    Gently incorporate a flour-and-butter roux, seasoned with Dijon mustard if desired.
    Serve with fresh garden vegetables and lashings of red wine, to quell the last vestiges of cloying sentimentality and debilitating guilt.

  7. The competition thickens (like a gravy!).

  8. I hope karenselliott is not trying to curry favour.

  9. We discussed Sophie's 'Vintage'food/book contest , after our bellydancing class, at a Persian Restaurant. No, not Persian food (although that was great). Eileen had 800 handwritten recipes from her Victorian period Recipe book and snail mailed me 'Bath Cakes' which have a tenuous connection, not with The Wife of Bath ( much earlier) but maybe with Jane Austen's books?


    Rub half a pound of butter into a pound of flour and one spoonful of good yeast.Warm cream and make ito a light paste, set by the fire to mix.When you make them up,take four ounces of carraway comfitts, work some of them in, and strew the rest on top. Make them into round cakes,the size of a French roll and send them in hot for breakfast.

    Assume they may need to be eaten in Bath, or as an entree to the day of romance. Relative indigestion is the other option.