The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A spring menu from 1860.

image from
I always find it interesting to read domestic magazines and see the editors' recommendations for things like menus and home decorating. Here is one of the suggested menus from the April 1860 issue of Godey's Lady's Book:

"Green pea soup, chicken pie, broiled ham, peas, asparagus, beans; biscuit pudding, gooseberry fool."

It looks like the pea soup, chicken pie, broiled ham and vegetables are pretty straightforward; most recipes that I've seen seem to call for boiling or stewing the vegetables, and serving them with butter and salt, the pea soup can be made with fresh peas or regular dried split peas, the chicken pie can be a chicken pot pie, etc., and according to Godey's Lady's Book, broiling in 1860 is what we'd call "char-broiling" or "grilling" these days. Here's the definition, and cooking instructions: "Broiling differs from frying in that there is no addition of oil or fat, and that the effect is produced by the direct radiation of heat from a clear fire, the broiling article being supported over it by a gridiron. ... In broiling, after heating and larding the gridiron, put on the steak, chop, or other article, and continually turn it every half minute, moving it gently all the time, to avoid the marks left by the bars if suffered to remain still."

As for the desserts:

"Gooseberry Fool.
Two quarts of gooseberries; one quart of water; sugar to taste; two quarts of new milk; yolks of four eggs; a little grated nutmeg.

Put two quarts of gooseberries into a stewpan with a quart of water; when they begin to turn yellow and swell, drain the water from them and press them with the back of a spoon through a colander, sweeten them to your taste, and set them to cool. Put two quarts of milk over the fire beaten up with the yolks of four eggs, and a little grated nutmeg; stir it over the fire until it begins to simmer, then take it off, and stir it gradually into the cold gooseberries, let it stand until cold, and serve it. The eggs may be left out and milk only be used. Half this quantity makes a good dishful."
--from Warne’s Model Cookery, ca. 1891.


"Biscuit Pudding, Without Re-baking.—
Take water 1 qt; sugar ¼ lb.; butter the size of a hen’s egg; flour 4 table-spoons; nutmeg, grated 1/2 of one. [plus some leftover biscuits]

Mix the flour with just sufficient cold water to rub up all the lumps while the balance of the water is heating, mix all, and split the biscuit once or twice, and put into this gravy while it is hot, and keep hot until used at table. It uses up cold biscuit, and I prefer it to richer puddings. It is indeed worth a trial. This makes a nice dip gravy also for other puddings."
-- from Dr. Chase’s Recipes or Information for Everybody, by A.W. Chase, M.D., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 38th edition, 1866; reprinted 1970.

No comments:

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)