Beautifully appointed

It’s a while since I wrote anything about food, menus, meals from long ago and as it’s January I’m looking at my ninety year-old Modern Practical Cookery, author unknown. There is a section entitled Little Dinners where there is a menu suggestion for a dinner party for six along with a table setting. Usually there are four courses which include a savoury after the dessert. For January there is no savoury but there is a soup… Brussels sprout soup…I can’t think that would appeal to many people these days!

A dinner for six on New Year’s Eve. It must be beautifully appointed and set an example through the months that follow.

Table decoration
Lilies of the valley and violets in a bowl of green glass – a ring of violets surrounding the centre piece – a charming flower picture and so fragrant
Brussels Sprouts Purée
Sole Maître d’Hôtel
Braised Fillet of Beef
Boiled Potatoes
Carrots and Cream Sauce
Turban Cups

Lilies of the valley seem to have gone completely out of fashion, they used to be in every garden border and smell so sweet and look so beautiful, pure white against the fresh green – that combination of colours is a favourite and i wonder if it’s from seeing the flowers as a child. I only like the smell of the fresh flowers, not as a scent or perfume, and the same with violets, they smell lovely as flowers, but they don’t appeal at all otherwise.

The purée which is actually a soup doesn’t sound very nice; boiled, rubbed through a sieve, diluted with milk with a raw onion floating around (to be removed before serving… no even though I like sprouts I won’t be trying that! The turban cups are made from dried fruit stewed, nuts and with a whipped cream topping… not sure on that one either. I like the idea of the fruit, but maybe with meringue, or maybe in a pastry case…  I don’t think I will try this one either!


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