Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Mrs Beeton’s Most Delicious Dessert

June 25, 2010

This has got to be the most delicious dessert I’ve ever eaten from Household Management.

Undoubtedly the ridiculous amount of cream in Mrs Beeton’s Apple Trifle went a long way to its delicious-osity.  My boyfriend very rarely gets involved in kitchen stuff, but the look on his face when he realised there was cream in the house was priceless (as he’s a guy who happily sprays an entire can of whipped cream down his throat, to my cringing disgust, I do my very best to hide such things from him.  Lucky for me he can hardly tell the difference between a fridge and a dishwasher).

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10 good-sized apples, the rind of 1/2 lemon, 6 oz. of pounded sugar, 1/2 pint of milk, 1/2 pint of cream, 2 eggs, whipped cream.

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This is a 3-stage recipe.  Creating a syrup-ified base of sweetened apples comes first, followed by the custard, followed by the (“More!  Put some more on!” whipped cream on top.

By the time I got around to doing stage 2, my boyfriend, sensing that something to his sweet-toothed benefit was actually afoot, suddenly appeared by my side and offered to help.  No, just not offered to help – he actually took over the whipping and beating of the cream while my back was turned.

“I think you should let this set for a while,” he instructed, popping the trifle gingerly into the fridge before turning back to lick the cream bowl.

We waited 30 minutes before hurrying back to the kitchen, my boyfriend scurrying about 2 million steps ahead of me.

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The Cheshire Cat held nothing over us as we stuck in our spoons and grinned like naughty, naughty children.

“Mmmmm”

“Double mmmm.”

“It’s good.”

“It’s damn good.”

“The apple’s a bit sweet.  And that’s coming from me” (commented my ridiculously sweet-toothed other half).  “But I like it.  ‘Specially the cream!”

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It’s not the ‘traditional’ trifle I’m familiar with (i.e. with alcohol-soaked sponge cake ), but everything about this dessert is just incredible (incredibly delicious, incredibly easy, incredibly calorific…).

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Apple Trifle (Recipe 1404): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/29-chapter29.html#1404

Baked Apple Custard (Pie)

February 25, 2010

The other day I saw an impressively large bag of apples in the local organic supermarket with a ‘25% off’ tag on it.

Anything smacking of discounts is like a flower to a bee for me.  The apples looked fine enough, and the price tag even better, so I grabbed them.

It’s been a madly busy week trying to deal with a load of red tape for my Canadian visa.  And when I say a load, I mean a load.  So, unfortunately the poor apples sat there for a few days until they were deserving of a ‘50% off out-of-date goods” tag.

It’s been a while since I made anything remotely dessert-like, so I figured the apples could contribute to the reversal of  any charges of cruelty levied against me by my super sweet-toothed boyfriend.  He wasn’t feeling too well tonight, so I thought this could contribute towards a cure – an apple a day and all that…

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INGREDIENTS – 1 dozen large apples, moist sugar to taste, 1 small teacupful of cold water, the grated rind of one lemon, 1 pint of milk, 4 eggs, 2 oz. of loaf sugar.

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Ah, my old friend ‘moist sugar’.  I still haven’t tracked down the German equivalent, so I decided to chance my arm by using regular raw sugar (I figured that the moisture of the apples would be more than enough to compensate for the lack of moisture from the sugar).

When it came to the custard, I decided to use Mrs Beeton’s regular custard recipe (with the lemon brandy flavouring – see Day 91 for more details) – there’s not much difference aside from the sugar level.

This pie came out of the oven such a delightful toasty-yellow colour – it looked utterly delicious even before I tasted it.

And it was.

“Bit eggy though, isn’t it?” commented my grumpy not-well boyfriend as his spoon cut through the custard topping.

“It’s supposed to be that way,” I shot back at him.  “Anyway, it tastes good to me!”

This is a fantastic dessert, with or without ice-cream.  I didn’t overload the apple base with sugar, so it came out with a nice balance of custard and apple (the hint of lemon in the apple gives it a somewhat sophisticated air).

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Baked Apple Custard (Recipe 1389): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/29-chapter29.html#1389

Day 33: To Cook or Not to Cook

December 20, 2009

It’s now been a month since I started this Household Management challenge.

Looking back over the last 33 days, it’s already been an incredibly interesting journey.  I’ve tried quite a few things that I’d never have tried otherwise (Carrot Jam, Dampfnudeln).  Some things I won’t be trying again (Apple Soup, anyone?), but others will probably stick with me long after Mrs Beeton in 365 Days is over.  My household accounts are already in far better shape, for one.

But the thing is, when I first started this experiment I thought the focus would be much more ‘’householdy’’.  Instead, a lot of this challenge has so far revolved around the kitchen.  In a way, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is really just a cookery book, with the kitchen as the star, the diva, the prima donna.  The chapters that provide advice to members of the household – the supporting cast, if you will – act as the backdrop against which the kitchen can properly function.

Part of the problem in applying Victorian advice to the 21st century, is that a lot of it just isn’t that relevant anymore.  At least, not in ordinary, non-toff households.  No one I know has a Butler, Footman, Housekeeper, Cook, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry Maid, Cook, etc. (sometimes I wish I did!).

My boyfriend and I hired a weekly cleaner several months ago, which was possibly the biggest thrill I’ve felt since discovering Bretzeln (freshly baked pretzels).   But I felt so awkward about having a stranger in the house, and not knowing the proper employer-cleaner etiquette, that we let her go within a couple of months.

The core of Household Management – the beautiful, bountiful recipe sections – remains absolutely relevant today.  Even if the world were to be taken over by robots and aliens tomorrow, cooking – and the kitchen – will always play a central role in daily life.  A world without it wouldn’t be a world worth living in.

In the meantime, as it’s still apple season here in Germany, I lugged home 4 kilos from the market yesterday.  I spent the entire day in the kitchen, with Household Management by my side.  Most of the day was spent making preserves, including Apple Sauce.  I also made another quantity of her delicious custard, which I liberally doused over some Apple Crumble for dessert this evening.

Perhaps I’m making too hasty a judgment about Household Management’s wider value outside the kitchen (after all, it’s fairly long and I have several hundred pages yet to get through).

332 more days will tell!

Apple Sauce: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html (Recipe 363)

The Dinner Party

December 5, 2009

For our (so far twice) traditional end-of-year dinner party for myself, my boyfriend and our two colleagues, I gleefully turned to Isabella Beeton’s guidance for Dinner Parties in December.

Of the two options presented (a dinner for 6 or 10 people), I pick-and-mixed selections for each course.

The final menu:

Home-made crackers, guacamole, hummus, cream cheese and Brie

(OK, not from Beeton, but I needed to keep rumbling stomachs satisfied as they arrived.  One of my colleagues brought a Taiwanese acquaintance, who found most of this rather exotic.)

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Mulligatawny Soup

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Roast Turkey, Sausages and Roast Vegetables

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Apple Tart and Coffee

As I wanted a non-meat first course, I opted for Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup.  I couldn’t get my hands on vegetable marrow and there was no way in hell I’d cook with veal knuckles as Isabella Beeton advises, so the final recipe was borrowed from elsewhere (see link below).  I thank her for the inspiration though – I’ve never tried this soup before and everyone really enjoyed it.

The second course was satisfyingly hunger-pang salving and delicious.  I ate a vegetarian version of turkey, but the others polished off the real thing with gusto.  The sausages were homemade – ‘regular’ sausages as we know them are not so common in Germany, a country which takes its sausages quite seriously and would scoff at our so non-artiste (in comparison) breakfast sausages.

The Apple Tart was a big hit.  The custard was not thick enough to set solidly in the tart when I poured custard over the apples before serving, so it oozed enticingly onto plates when the tart was divided up.  It was incredibly tasty and a delectable accompaniment to the coffee.

Just a note for anyone following the original recipe from the abridged book – part of the recipe is based on the previous recipe in the original version– unfortunately, the previous recipe has been taken out of the abridged version.  Luckily the complete unabridged book is available online, so I found the full instructions there (www.mrsbeeton.com)

Having a suggested menu presented in the one place definitely made the dinner party planning so much easier.  Naturally, I still managed to find ways to stress myself in the preparation stage (a crack in the processor blending bowl caused by me dropping it had to be craftily taped up with duct tape before blending the soup.  God bless duct tape and Blue Peter).

I’d love to try out each of her monthly dinner party plans throughout the coming year.  As they’re based on seasonal produce, each one should be entirely different and special.

Definitely something to look forward to!

Mulligatawny Soup: http://www.indianfoodcooking.com/indian-vegetarian-mulligatawny-soup-recepies.html (Note: Isabella spells it ‘Mullagatawny)

Isabella Beeton’s Recipe: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/06-chapter6.html (Recipe 174)

Sausages: http://breakfast-recipes.suite101.com/article.cfm/homemade_sausage_from_lean_ground_beef_or_turkey

Apple Tart: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/27-chapter27.html (Recipe 1233)  Custard: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html (Recipe 404)

Crackers – Basic Recipe

2 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of baking powder, ¼ cup of butter, ½ cup of milk (or half cream, half milk), 1 egg

Mix flour, salt and baking powder together.  Then rub in butter with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the milk and egg.  Mix until it forms a dough (add more flour or milk if necessary).  Knead dough and then roll it out thinly.  Use a round jar-head or biscuit cutter to cut into circles.  Prick across each circle 3 times with a fork (to prevent crackers from puffing up when baking).

Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 8-10 minutes, until light brown and crisp.  Allow to cool before serving.

Note: Poppy seeds, grated cheese etc. can also be added.

‘Tis the Season to be Eating Apples

November 22, 2009

When it comes to food, my boyfriend is not so easily pleased.  His palate tends towards schnitzel, fries, bowls of Frosties and pastries.  All liberally doused in either salt or sugar.  Left to his own devices, his 5-a-day would probably be happily met by a box of Froot Loops.

With me being a food lover (I’d sooner hit a food market than a shoe store any day), he’s been unavoidably encouraged to eat from a broader range of foods.  Occasionally, he’ll be really enthusiastic about something (‘’That was nice’’), but more often than not I get the stock response ‘’It was OK’’ (with the occasional rider ‘’Don’t make it again though’’).

I’m turning to Isabella Beeton for some inspiration.

To be acquainted with the periods when things are in season, is one of the most essential pieces of knowledge which enter into the ‘Art of Cookery’ ‘.

With this is mind, all my purchases at the Saturday market yesterday were both seasonal and local.  Living at the moment in temperate southern  Germany, I’m lucky to also call eastern France and northern Switzerland ‘local’ when it comes to produce.

I came away with a bulky bag of freshly-picked Jonagold apples.  With Isbella Beeton in hand and my boyfriend’s finicky palate in mind, I’ll now hit the kitchen and see what I can do with some of her 8 suggested apple recipes.

2.5 hours later:  As I didn’t want to spend my entire Sunday in the kitchen, I opted for 3 not-overly-complicated dishes – Flanc of Apples (‘Apples in a Raised Crust’), Apple Fritters and Apple Soup.

Apple Soup:  Very simple to make.  I wasn’t sure if apples in a soup was a very appealing option, but I figured I’d give it a go.  Maybe we’d surprise ourselves.  Our verdict:  I didn’t really like it.  Perhaps it was the stock mix I used.  My boyfriend didn’t like it either, although he gallantly finished his spoonful.

Apple Fritters:  Easy-peasy to make (they’re really just slices of apple fried in batter).  We both quite liked these.  Not too heavy and not overly fatty.

Flanc of Apples:  Our verdict – ‘’Very tasty.  Excellent,’’ said my boyfriend as he dove in for more.  This was our joint favourite.  The recipe calls for shortcrust pastry but, as she didn’t specify which of her pastry recipes was the one in question, I played it safe and used a Jamie Oliver pastry recipe (sorry Isabella.  Thanks Jamie).

Getting the very sweet sugar-lemon syrup to a thick-enough consistency and boiling whole (cored) apples without them falling apart wasn’t so easy (she gives no temperatures or timings per step – I guess instructions were different back then).  The lemon really gave the syrup a fantastic flavor.  Her tip about filling the shell with flour to pre-bake the crust (instead of beans / rice) was excellent.  The crust kept its shape without warping – and hopefully I can reuse the flour for something else.

Now the mess in the kitchen needs to be cleaned up.  Unlike Isabella Beeton, I’ll unfortunately have to do it without any help.

But the pleasure of trying these new dishes was certainly worth the mess.

PS I recently found the whole of Household Management online.  Here’s the link if anyone wants to check out the recipes and anything else she wrote about:  http://www.mrsbeeton.com/

Flanc of Apples and Apple Fritters: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/29-chapter29.html

Apple Soup:  http://www.mrsbeeton.com/06-chapter6.html