A dinner for six on New Year’s Eve

It’s a little late to start preparing this New Year’s Eve dinner – maybe it would do for New Year’s Day? It’s from the ninety year-old book, Modern Practical Cookery, author unknown. There is a section entitled Little Dinners with a menu suggestion for a monthly dinner party for six including a table setting. Usually there are four courses which include a savoury after the dessert. Here 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:

Turban cups

  • ¼ lb crystalised apricots
  • ¾ lb Turban dates, weighed then stoned
  • 6 oz dessert figs, stalks removed¾ pint water
  • 1 oz blanched almonds
  • 1 oz walnuts
  • 3 tbsp rum
  • ¼ cream – or more
  • 1 egg white
  • sugar and vanilla
  1. chop the dried fruit and stew in the water until ‘mushy’
  2. roughly chop the almonds and walnuts
  3. mix fruit, nuts, rum and divide into six serving dishes
  4. whisk the cream and the egg whites separately then fold together
  5. add vanilla and sugar to taste
  6. pile onto fruit and decorate each with half a walnut

The anonymous author describes it as a delicious cold sweet.

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