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.