A little dinner for August

Modern Practical Cookery, published in the 1930’s, is indeed that – practical. As well as sections on every course of a meal from hors d’œvres to puddings, and of different meals such as supper dishes, and chapters on pastry, sauces, cakes and preserves, there are other topics which maybe we wouldn’t find in a modern book. Invalid cookery has been a favourite since the first cookery books seem to have been written, empire recipes from when there was an empire, party dishes – well, we might still have a section for those! What I’m not sure we’d find is the A.B.C.  of cleaning and stain removal, the clever hostess, or wedding preparations.

One interesting chapter offers ‘Little Dinners for Every Month of the Year’, a four course menu for six people and suggestions for a table decoration!


TABLE DECORATION – Something quite fresh in colour schemes – marigolds and love-in-the-mist! Consider each flower separately if you would arrange a bowl with charm.


Veal-and-ham pie and salad
Iced pineapple
Cheese soufflé

Although perhaps it is not considered ideal menu-making to serve all the courses cold, yet after a hot summer’s day this is often the only type of meal we feel we can enjoy.
On such a night the little menu chosen would be very welcome.

The prawns, half a dozen per person are to be arranged on a lemon with its top and bottom cut off, and accompanied by thin brown bread-and-butter. The filling of the pie is a pound of prepared veal, ¾ pound of bacon and ½ pound of sausage – so a meaty pie! It has lemon juice, parsley, mace and pepper in the mixture and is encased in flaky pastry; as it is to be served cold, a veal jelly is added when it’s cooked, flavoured with onion, herbs and more mace … sounds good!

The iced pineapple sounds a little unsophisticated to us as it is made from tinned pineapple – but we are so used to having every ingredient, fruit and vegetable available all year round (fresh or frozen) that we are a little snooty about using tinned fruit. There were no domestic freezers so the dessert had to be made using a freezing pail – our lives are so simple and easy compared to people’s in the past! The frozen pineapple is decorated with sweetened whipped cream and glacé cherries, cut into slices and served on individual plates. Tinned pears, peaches or apricots could also be used.

her is the recipe for the cheese soufflés (I wonder if my mum made her cheese soufflés in this way? She would have used Mrs Beeton’s recipe, I think!)

Cheese soufflés

  • 1 oz parmesan, finely grated
  • 2 oz cheddar, finely grated
  • ½ pint milk
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3 egg whites, whisked until stiff
  • 3/8 oz leaf gelatine
  • salt and pepper
  • mixed mustard
  • ½ gill water
  • 2 dsp cream
  • paprika
  1. prepare the six souffle dishes by securing a band of paper round each case (the recipe says foolscap, but we would just use grease-proof paper or baking parchment)
  2. heat the milk almost to boiling, then add to the beaten eggs, stirring well, and continue to cook over a bain marie, double saucepan, or bowl over a pan of boiling water
  3. when it as thickened remove from the heat and allow to cool
  4. when cool stir in the cheese, mustard and cream and season
  5. dissolve the gelatin in the water, and when completely dissolved, strain and add to the mixture, stirring in thoroughly
  6. when the mixture begins to set, fold in the beaten egg whites
  7. turn into the prepared dishes and allow to set completely
  8. before serving, remove the paper collars very carefully, decorate each with a cross of paprika

I think my mum would have had a recipe for a cooked soufflé!



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