Archive for July, 2010

Canadian-Approved French Chicken Cutlets

July 25, 2010

My boyfriend (the Canadian of the title) gave a hearty thumbs up to this dish.

Actually, I thought he was going to hate it.  “What were you thinking ,” I imagined him spluttering, as he spat out the first half-chewed mouthful, ”putting lemon in the breadcrumbs?!”

To my astonishment, he never even noticed.  In fact, he was so busy plowing through it (passing tit-bits all the while to our three delighted greedy cats) that I never had the fun of informing him mid-way through dinner.

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INGREDIENTS – The remains of cold roast or boiled fowl, fried bread, clarified butter, the yolk of 1 egg, bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoonful of finely-minced lemon-peel; salt, cayenne, and mace to taste. For sauce,—1 oz. of butter, 2 minced shalots, a few slices of carrot, a small bunch of savoury herbs, including parsley, 1 blade of pounded mace, 6 peppercorns, 1/4 pint of gravy.

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I had a piece of chicken in the fridge, practically blinking back at me forlornly, waiting for an opportunity to be turned into something interesting.  Then there was my boyfriend, actually blinking at me forlornly, waiting for an opportunity to say something interesting (despite claiming that I make him sound horrible, even though I repeat real quotes, he still manages to laugh uproariously at his own comments after they’re published).

So, the only thing I didn’t do with this recipe was to use pre-cooked chicken.  But, I think, it makes little difference – it only took a few extra minutes to cook it and put the dish together.

Mrs Beeton says to add ‘sippets’ to the dish.  Strangely, she makes no mention of these in the list of ingredients, so a bit of head scratching went on in my kitchen until I figured if Google could map the world, then it could certainly solve this small mystery.  So it turned out.  A bit of research revealed that ‘sippets’ are really just fried bread / croutons.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to make any, so I left this out.

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One thing I found really interesting was using butter and egg yolk together to dip the chicken / veg chicken.  Naturally, being Mrs Beeton’s, there of course had to be butter somewhere in the recipe.  Once beaten together, I have to confess it worked really well – with egg alone, it has the tendency not to stick consistently on whatever’s being dipped, meaning that it has to be dipped again to ensure a more even coating.  Not so when clarified (melted) butter is added – it was all very uniform on the first attempt.

The biggest hit with both of us (I had a vegetarian chicken substitute) was the gravy.  It was absolutely delicious.  I have to confess that the basic gravy was my own recipe, but Mrs Beeton’s added ingredients turned it into something else altogether.  My boyfriend is normally iffy about mot of those ingredients (the length of the list of things he doesn’t like would out-do Santa’s list of gifts to distribute worldwide, hands-down), this time he made no complaint.

In a word, delicious.  In two words, easy and delicious.

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French Chicken Cutlets (Recipe 927: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/21-chapter21.html#927)

A Hidden Wee Recipe

July 7, 2010

I found the following line tucked away under an entry for ‘How to Use Cold Potatoes‘:

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In Scotland, cold boiled potatoes are frequently squeezed up and mixed with flour or oatmeal, and an excellent cake, or scon, obtained.

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Remembering the time I lived in Scotland when I was younger (hey!  I’m only 33.  Where on earth did ‘when I was younger’ thing spring from??), and Ireland a few years later, I have a soft spot for potato-based food stuffs.  I remember very well the stodgy loveliness of flat, hot potato scones (the type that was kind of like a small thick square pancake), oozing and slippery with melted butter.  Mmm.  Mmmmmm.  Mmmmmmm.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, Mrs Beeton.  Potato scones.  Mmmm.

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This is a fantastic use of a bit of potato.  Sometimes, I get a little bored with the standard potato side-dish fare (mashed, boiled, fried, frittered, roasted – or, my boyfriend’s absolute favourite, fries).  Even though this is a very simple recipe, I was grateful for the opportunity to present something a little different.

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I found that a generous pinch of salt and pepper gave the mix a little more oomph – not too much, but enough to make it a respectable, welcome alternative to the usual potato dishes.

Altogether, they took approximately 10 minutes to cook (5 on either side) and slid with hearty cheerfulness onto our plates.

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My boyfriend wasn’t overly excited (”Meh.  They’re OK”) but I really loved them.  No doubt nostalgia played a part, but still, they were quite fine and tasty to me!

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Potato Scones (Recipe ): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/25-chapter25.html#1141

Queen Cakes, Minus the Final Portrait

July 7, 2010

I’m such a twally sometimes.  I don’t know where my mind was today, but it certainly wasn’t on what I was doing.  I was thinking of the World Cup.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not a fan.  I’m not even sure what type of ball they use (it gets confusing – North Americans call football soccer, and the rest of the world, as far as I can tell, calls soccer football).  Added to this my complete lack of interest in any type of sport, and you can understand my problem.

We’re living in Germany at the moment, and as most of the world except me seems to know, Germany’s doing quite well in the current World Cup series.  The reason I was distracted was the overwhelming number of kids dashing around in the park downstairs, blowing those damn vuvuzelas as loud as they can.  I don’t even know how to pronounce the word.  I certainly don’t want to hear them.

So, distracted as I was by dark thoughts about where said vuvuzelas ought to be shoved, I completely forgot to take a final photograph of Mrs Beeton’s Queen Cakes.

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INGREDIENTS – 1 lb. of flour, 1/2 lb. of butter, 1/2 lb. of pounded loaf sugar, 3 eggs, 1 teacupful of cream, 1/2 lb. of currants, 1 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, essence of lemon, or almonds to taste.

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I laughed when I saw how many eggs and how much butter were required.  Then I saw the cream – at which, my boyfriend laughed (I don’t usually keep cream, because as soon as I turn my back, it’s down my boyfriend’s throat faster than I can say ‘Where’s the damn cream?”).

I didn’t have lemon essence, but luckily Mrs Beeton advises “Grated lemon-rind may be substituted for the lemon and almond flavouring, which will make the cakes equally nice.”

(Un)fortunately, the recipe doesn’t state how many mini-cakes this recipe produces.  So, (un)fortunately, I reduced the quantity by 2/3rds – more than enough for the two of us, as it turned out.

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The final result is a slightly flat muffin-like patty cake.  I have to admit it, the cream does give it a wonderfully (and naughtily) fluffy texture.

All 12 cakes were gone within 12 hours.  As I only ate 3, I leave you to guess where the rest went, and how much they were liked.

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Queen Cakes (Recipe 1773): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html#1773

Pork Cutlets

July 7, 2010

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OK.  So it’s not exactly like returning home from war, granted.

My boyfriend was away for the last two days, running a workshop.  The sight of him rising at 4.45am (no, sorry, 4.52am – ”Just one round of snooze, I promise” he muttered, thumping the button desperately) on his day of departure was something not seen very often around here.  I, meanwhile, instantly sprang out of bed – never mind that it was an hour before my usual rising time – and sprightly hopped along to the kitchen to make him a cup of coffee.  I think he might have hated me at that moment.

I enjoyed the bliss of having the house to myself, but I was beginning to look forward to him walking through the door.  Uno sucks when you play it on your own.

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I felt the returning hero – well, in this case, English trainer – deserved a nice tasty treat to welcome him home.  No, not that sort of treat.

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INGREDIENTS – The remains of cold roast loin of pork, 1 oz. of butter, 2 onions, 1 dessertspoonful of flour, 1/2 pint of gravy, pepper and salt to taste, 1 teaspoonful of vinegar and mustard.

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There are times when I love cooking up a feast, and there are times when I think ‘Sod it, enough of this already!’   Today is one of the latter days.   I managed to lazily slap a pork cutlet on the bench to defrost this morning, but other than that, I wasn’t willing to invest very much effort on this hot summer’s day.

I figured Mrs Beeton wouldn’t mind if I used a fresh cutlet instead of the remains of cold pork.

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Given the quantity of onions, I’m assuming this recipe was meant to feed 2-4 people.  Or else, someone who really doesn’t mind the smell and taste of onion.  As I’m vego and my boyfriend probably ate all the hotel’s cake (yet again), I pared it down to just one onion.

The 1/2 pint of gravy I made myself from my own recipe, but the rest I followed as per Mrs Beeton’s instructions (well, except for the cold pork part…  And, why always so much butter?? I used slightly less than the stated quantity.  I already think that Mrs Beeton is making me fat.  I don’t need any more help, thank you very much).

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I managed to get both a meat and vegetarian portion out of the onion and gravy.  I can’t say tofu is the most exciting stuff on the planet, but boy did this sauce perk that slab of white right up.

My boyfriend enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it.  You’d enjoy it, too.

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Pork Cutlets (Recipe 796): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/17-chapter17.html#796