Dinner for Eight (1860)
An authentic menu reprinted from Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

The menu on the right is a direct reproduction from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, originally published in parts between 1859 and 1861. Readers over 50 may recall the time when fruits, vegetables and even some meats were seasonal. In 1860 the seasonal availability of produce very much applied, leading to different menus for each month: we have selected that for January. We have edited the original copy only slightly.

MULLAGATAWNY SOUP
Ingredients: 2 tablespoonfuls of curry powder, 6 onions, 1 clove of garlic, 1 oz. of pounded almonds, a little lemon-pickle, or mango-juice, to taste; 1 fowl or rabbit, 4 slices of lean bacon, 2 quarts of medium stock, or, if wanted very good, best stock.
Mode: Slice and fry the onions of a nice color; line the stewpan with the bacon. Cut up the rabbit or fowl into small joints, and slightly brown them; put in the fried onions, the garlic, and stock, and simmer gently till the meat is tender; skim very carefully, and when the meat is done, rub the curry powder to a smooth batter. Add it to the soup with the almonds, which must be first pounded with a little of the stock. Put in seasoning and lemon-pickle or mango-juice to taste, and serve boiled rice with it.
Time: 2 hours.
Seasonable: In winter.
Sufficient for 8 persons.
This soup can also be made with breast of veal, or calf's head. Vegetable Mullagatawny is made with veal stock by boiling and pulping chopped vegetable marrow, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes, and seasoning with curry powder and cayenne. Nice pieces of meat, good curry powder, and strong stock, are necessary to make this soup good.

ROAST HAUNCH OF MUTTON.
Ingredients: Haunch of mutton, a little salt, flour.
Mode: Let this joint hang as long as possible without becoming tainted, and while hanging dust flour over it, which keeps off the flies, and prevents the air from getting to it. If not well hung, the joint, when it comes to table, will neither do credit to the butcher or the cook, as it will not be tender. Wash the outside well, lest it should have a bad flavor from keeping; then flour it and put it down to a nice brisk fire, at some distance, so that it may gradually warm through. Keep continually basting, and about ½ hour before it is served, draw it nearer to the fire to get nicely brown. Sprinkle a little fine salt over the meat, pour off the dripping, add a little boiling water slightly salted, and strain this over the joint. Place a paper ruche on the bone, and send red-currant jelly and gravy in a tureen to table with it.
Time: About 4 hours.
Seasonable: In best season from September to March.
Sufficient for 8 to 10 persons.

BOILED TURKEY.
Ingredients: Turkey; forcemeat (see below).
Choosing and Trussing: Hen turkeys are preferable for boiling, on account of their whiteness and tenderness, and one of moderate size should be selected, as a large one is not suitable for this mode of cooking. They should not be dressed until they have been killed 3 or 4 days, as they will neither look white, nor will they be tender. Pluck the bird, carefully draw, and singe it with a piece of white paper - wash it inside and out, and wipe it thoroughly dry with a cloth. Cut off the head and neck, draw the strings or sinews of the thighs and cut off the legs at the first joint; draw the legs into the body, fill the breast with forcemeat; run a skewer through the wing and the middle joint of the leg, quite into the leg and wing on the opposite side; break the breastbone, and make the bird look as round and as compact as possible.
Mode: Put the turkey into sufficient hot water to cover it; let it come to a boil, then carefully remove all the scum: if this is attended to, there is no occasion to boil the bird in a floured cloth; but it should be well covered with the water. Let it simmer very gently for about 1 ½ hour to 1 ¾ hour, according to the size, and serve with either white, celery, oyster, or mushroom sauce, or parsley-and-butter, a little of which should be poured over the turkey. Boiled ham, bacon, tongue, or pickled pork, should always accompany this dish; and when oyster sauce is served, the turkey should be stuffed with oyster forcemeat.
Time: A small turkey, 1 ½ hour; a large one, 1 ¾ hour.
Seasonable from December to February.
Sufficient for 7 or 8 persons.

FORCEMEAT FOR VEAL, TURKEYS, FOWLS, HARE, Etc.
Ingredients: 2 oz. of ham or lean bacon, ¼ lb. of suet, the rind of half a lemon, 1 teaspoonful of minced parsley, 1 teaspoonful of minced sweet herbs; salt, cayenne and pounded mace to taste; 6 oz. of bread crumbs, 2 eggs.
Mode: Shred the ham or bacon, chop the suet, lemon-peel, and herbs, taking particular care that all be very finely minced; add a seasoning to taste of salt, cayenne, and mace, and blend all thoroughly together with the bread crumbs, before wetting. Now beat and strain the eggs, work these up with the other ingredients, and the forcemeat will be ready for use. When it is made into balls, fry of a nice brown, in boiling lard, or put them on a tin and bake for ½ hour in a moderate oven. As we have stated before, no one flavor should predominate greatly, and the forcemeat should be of sufficient body to cut with a knife, and yet not dry and heavy. For very delicate forcemeat, it is advisable to pound the ingredients together before binding with the egg; but for ordinary cooking, mincing very finely answers the purpose.
Sufficient for a turkey, a moderate-sized fillet of veal, or a hare.

BOILED TONGUE
Ingredients: 1 tongue, a bunch of savory herbs, water.
Mode: In choosing a tongue, ascertain how long it has been dried or pickled, and select one with a smooth skin, which denotes its being young and tender. If a dried one, and rather hard, soak it at least for 12 hours previous to cooking it; if, however, it is fresh from the pickle, 2 or 3 hours will be sufficient for it to remain in soak. Put the tongue into a stewpan with plenty of cold water and a bunch of savory herbs; let it gradually come to a boil, skim well, and simmer very gently until tender. Peel off the skin, garnish with tufts of cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, and serve. Boiled tongue is frequently sent to table with boiled poultry, instead of ham, and is, by many persons, preferred. If to serve cold, peel it, fasten it down to a piece of board by sticking a fork through the root, and another through the top, to straighten it. When cold, glaze it, and put a paper ruche round the root, and garnish with tufts of parsley.
Time: A large smoked tongue 4 to 4 ½ hours; a small one, 2 ½ to 3 hours. A large unsmoked tongue, 3 to 3 ½ hours; a small one, 2 to 2 ½ hours.
Seasonable at any time.

ROAST PHEASANT
Ingredients: Pheasant, flour, butter.
Choosing and Trussing: Old pheasants may be known by the length and sharpness of their spurs; in young ones they are short and blunt. The cock bird is generally reckoned the best, except when the hen is with egg. They should hang some time before they are dressed, as, if they are cooked fresh, the flesh will be exceedingly dry and tasteless. After the bird is plucked and drawn, wipe the inside with a damp cloth, and truss it in the same manner as partridge. If the head is left on, as shown in the engraving, bring it round under the wing, and fix it on to the point of the skewer.
Mode: Roast it before a brisk fire, keep it well basted, and flour and froth it nicely. Serve with brown gravy, a little of which should be poured round the bird, and a tureen of bread sauce. 2 or 3 of the pheasant's best tail-feathers are sometimes stuck in the tail as an ornament; but the fashion is not much to be commended.
Time: ½ to 1 hour, according to the size.
Seasonable from October to the beginning of February.
Sufficient: 1 for a dish.

MERINGUES
Ingredients: ½ lb. of pounded sugar, the whites of 4 eggs.
Mode: Whisk the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, and, with a wooden spoon, stir in quickly the pounded sugar; and have some boards thick enough to put in the oven to prevent the bottom of the meringues from acquiring too much color. Cut some strips of paper about 2 inches wide; place this paper on the board, and drop a tablespoonful at a time of the mixture on the paper, taking care to let all the meringues be the same size. In dropping it from the spoon, give the mixture the form of an egg, and keep the meringues about 2 inches apart from each other on the paper. Strew over them some sifted sugar, and bake in a moderate oven for ½ hour. As soon as they begin to color, remove them from the oven; take each slip of paper by the two ends, and turn it gently on the table, and, with a small spoon, take out the soft part of each meringue. Spread some clean paper on the board, turn the meringues upside down, and put them into the oven to harden and brown on the other side. When required for table, fill them with whipped cream, flavored with liqueur or vanilla, and sweetened with pounded sugar. Join two of the meringues together, and pile them high in the dish, as shown in the annexed drawing. To vary their appearance, finely-chopped almonds or currants may be strewn over them before the sugar is sprinkled over; and they may be garnished with any bright-colored preserve. Great expedition is necessary in making this sweet dish; as, if the meringues are not put into the oven as soon as the sugar and eggs are mixed, the former melts, and the mixture would run on the paper, instead of keeping its egg-shape. The sweeter the meringues are made, the crisper will they be; but, if there is not sufficient sugar mixed with them, they will most likely be tough. They are sometimes colored with cochineal; and, if kept well covered in a dry place, will remain good for a month or six weeks.
Time: Altogether, about ½ hour.
Seasonable at any time.
Sufficient to make 2 dozen meringues.

COMPOTE OF APPLES
Ingredients: 6 ripe apples, 1 lemon, ½ lb. of lump sugar, ½ pint of water.
Mode: Select the apples of a moderate size, peel them, cut them in halves, remove the cores, and rub each piece over with a little lemon. Put the sugar and water together into a lined saucepan, and let them boil until forming a thickish syrup, then lay in the apples with the rind of the lemon cut thin, and the juice of the same. Let the apples simmer till tender; then take them out very carefully, drain them on a sieve, and reduce the syrup by boiling it quickly for a few minutes. When both are cold, arrange the apples neatly on a glass dish, pour over the syrup, and garnish with strips of green angelica or candied citron. Smaller apples may be dressed in the same manner: they should not be divided in half, but peeled and the cores pushed out with a vegetable-cutter.
Time: 10 minutes to boil the sugar and water together; from 15 to 25 minutes to simmer the apples.
Seasonable from July to March.
Sufficient for 4 or 5 persons.

ORANGE JELLY
Ingredients: 1 pint of water, 1 ½ to 2 oz. of isinglass, ½ lb. of loaf sugar, 1 Seville orange, 1 lemon, about 9 China oranges.
Mode: Put the water into a saucepan, with the isinglass, sugar, and the rind of 1 orange, and the same of ½ lemon, and stir these over the fire until the isinglass is dissolved, and remove the scum; then add to this the juice of the Seville orange, the juice of the lemon, and sufficient juice of China oranges to make in all 1 pint, from 8 to 10 oranges will yield the desired quantity. Stir all together over the fire until it is just on the point of boiling; skim well; then strain the jelly through a very fine sieve or jelly-bag, and when nearly cold, put it into a mould previously wetted, and, when quite set, turn it out on a dish, and garnish it to taste. To insure this jelly being clear, the orange- and lemon-juice should be well strained, and the isinglass clarified, before they are added to the other ingredients, and, to heighten the color a few drops of prepared cochineal may be added.
Time: 5 minutes to boil without the juice; 1 minute after it is added.
Seasonable from November to May.
Sufficient to fill a quart mould.

ALMOND CHEESECAKES
Ingredients: ¼ lb. of sweet almonds, 4 bitter ones, 3 eggs, 2 oz. of butter, the rind of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoonful of lemon-juice, 3 oz. of sugar.
Mode: Blanch and pound the almonds smoothly in a mortar, with a little rose- or spring-water; stir in the eggs, which should be well beaten, and the butter, which should be warmed; add the grated lemon-peel and juice, sweeten, and stir well until the whole is thoroughly mixed. Line some pattypans with puff-paste, put in the mixture, and bake for 20 minutes, or rather less in a quick oven.
Time: 20 minutes, or rather less.
Seasonable at any time.
Sufficient for about 12 cheesecakes.

See the second issue of History Magazine for the rest of this article.

view subscription information   |   return to issue two contents