QUAINT OLD RECEIPTS

A couple of days ago when I was commenting on the odds and ends section in old cookery books, one of the recipes I mentioned was Sutherland Pudding, which I’d never heard of and as far as i know never tried. I obviously haven’t read my dear Eliza Acton’s ‘Modern Cookery’ as well as I thought since she has a receipt for it when she published it in 1845. Receipt by the way isn’t me getting muddled with recipe, but the old fashioned way of spelling it. When she write her cookery book, puddings like Sutherland pudding were less common than the more usual steamed pudding. Her suggested flavouring was mace or lemon – although any other flavour could be chosen. In the Sutherland recipe I mentioned the other day from the A1 Cookery Book, it was vanilla – but again, it’s mentioned that you could choose any flavour!

What intrigued me with the A1 recipe is the instructions, which really date it, even if you didn’t know it was an old book:

Beat the eggs well, then add the castor sugar and flour, and last the butter just warmed, flavour with vanilla or anything else you like, beat  thoroughly with a silver fork, and just at the last add a little carbonate of soda, about as much as will cover a threepenny piece..

A silver fork, a threepenny piece, marvellous! The pudding mix is baked in separate tins, and when cooked and cooled, the middles are scooped out and filled with jam, then topped with sweetened whipped cream.

The next recipe in the odds and ends list is for Timbale. It too is a curious recipe, but curious in what it is and what it must taste like, rather than the method of making it. In fact I can’t imagine how it would be possible to make it at all in the way described. This is the beginning, and the puzzling part:

Timbale
½ lb macaroni, boil until soft, drain in a cloth, cut in pieces ½ inch long; well butter a plain mould, place in it the macaroni endways, so to give the appearance of 
honeycomb when turned out.

How on earth would you arrange the cut pieces of macaroni as described? It would be impossible, all slippery and floppy, you could never get them to stand up or stick together! I know late Victorians were very interested in the appearance of their meals, making a statement with their dishes, but this one, this honeycomb of macaroni sounds impossible! However, if somehow you have managed to line your plain mould, this is what you fill it with… be warned!

Make a paste thus: – put a gill of water, a small piece of butter, and a little salt into a stew pan to boil; when boiling throw into it a tablespoon of flour, leave it a few minutes, then stir in 1 egg; turn it onto a plate until wanted.

There are no instructions to stir in, to beat thoroughly, to beat the egg first, This cookery book is supposed to be for the young housewife, the inexperienced cook – I think there might be a few tears before bedtime when trying this recipe by an inexperienced cook! So, what to do with the paste and the macaroni filled plain mould? This is what happens next:

Take 1 lb veal cutlet, remove skin and bone, pound it in a mortar, and add to it half the quantity of the above paste and a quarter of the quantity of butter, with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Mix all together, add 1 whole egg and 3 yolks, pass it through a wire sieve, stir in a gill of white stock or milk, pour into the mould and steam for half an hour.

I have to say as well s being very confusing, it sounds absolutely disgusting! I guess although you only use half the water, butter, flour and egg paste, it would be difficult to make as you have a single egg, but what a waste of paste to only use half. Next: is the veal cutlet cooked or not? It doesn’t say, but I guess it must be in order to be able to pound it and then rub it through the wire sieve. What is a quarter of the quantity of butter? How much is the quantity? Who knows? I approve of nutmeg added to almost any recipe, but then how would you pour your beaten cutlet, paste, egg and egg yolks, white stock or milk, into the mould without the carefully arranged macaroni pieces all floating away?

I have to be honest, this sounds a crazy recipe with a lot of work to make something which sounds weird even if it is nutmeggy!

My featured image is of Eliza Acton

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