The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recipe from March 1860: A dish of spinach on toast.

Often, the recipes I find in my vintage and antique cookery books seem heavy and unpalatable, especially without a wood fireplace to roast and bake in! The following recipe, however, sounds as tasty made with modern appliances as with 19th century ones, and I may well try to make it one of these days! It is from the March 1860 issue of Godey's Lady's Book:

A Spring Dish. -- Upon a toasted bread place a layer of well-boiled spinach about an inch thick; upon this place at equal distances poached eggs. This forms a pretty, light, and nourishing dish; but be careful that the yellow of the egg is not broken, or the appearance will be lost, and the eggs not worth eating.

I think this would make a good breakfast or lunch dish for this time of year. It's nice to see in the spring and summer issues of ladies' magazines, many fruit and vegetable recipes; it is a myth that the Victorians only ate bland, heavy food! They ate what was available in season, and many people are in agreement with this idea, although we have so many more fruits and vegetables available year-round, both fresh and frozen or canned. Frozen spinach would work well for this recipe, I think!

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)