Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mrs Beeton vs. the Vegetarian

Last night I had my sisters over for dinner...and because of my new obsession, I wanted to cook something from Mrs Beeton. Trouble is, my sister is a vegetarian.

Now from a cookbook that recommend Calf's Feet Stew for invalids or Bullock's Heart stuffed with Veal forcemeat I thought my chances of devising a suitable menu may be slim. However, I should not have been so hasty. While I believe the original Mrs Beeton was probably not in favour of vegetarian ( I think somewhere she wrote that it would be quite bad to omit one entire food group, and meat at that!), my new and updated version desiring to "give useful information to all housekeepers" has a whole chapter(!12 pages!) added "for the benefit of those who do not eat animal food, or prefer an alternative diet."

And now with out any further ado, may I present MOCK HARE SOUP

INGREDIENTS - 1 litre Vegetable Stock
1 carrot (diced)
1 onion (diced)
1 stick of celery (diced)
1 tomato (diced)
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp of chopped parsley
1 tbsp of flour
30 g of vegetable butter

METHOD - Melt the butter in a casserole, cut up the vegetables into neat pieces, and cook them slowly in the butter for about 15 mins - with the lid on. Stir in the flour and brown it a little, then add the stock, cloves, bay leaf and seasoning, stir until it simmers; then cook gently for about 20 mins. Meanwhile make forcemeat balls about the size of a cherry, and fry them. Put them into the soup tureen, pour the soup on, scatter the chopped parsley over, and serve immediately. Hand the red currant jelly separately. When in season a few mushrooms added to the vegetables are an improvement.

TIME - About 45 minutes. SUFFICIENT for about 6 or 7 persons

My recommendations: Not much - this is a pretty good vegetable soup. BTW - these recipes have been converted to metric measurements.

FORCEMEAT BALLS (For serving in Soups, etc.)

INGREDIENTS - 120 g fresh bread crumbs
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp chopped pine kernels
1 tbsp chopped vegetable butter
1/2 tsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 tsp lemon peel
1 medium egg
pepper and salt
fat for frying

METHOD - Mix all the ingredients well together - using the egg to form a stiff paste. Roll into balls, fry a golden brown in either deep or shallow fat and serve as required.

TIME - About 15 minutes. SUFFICIENT for about 1 dozen balls.

My recommendations: Well, I had to add some extra water (actually quite a bit of extra water) to get the balls to stick. My paste was just too dry... although this may have been because I used dried breadcrumbs not fresh ones. And I made my balls too big, next time they'll be smaller.

Over all, I found the entree to be quite tasty, and everyone agreed that this is one you could make again...

Tomorrow...the main - Mock Goose


Anonymous said...

Ahem...just out of curiosity...does the Calf's Feet Stew actually DO anything for invalids? You know like help em?

That sounds like quite a book!

And the soup looked pretty tasty! Look forward to seeing other meals!

weenie_elise said...

to be honest, i'm not sure...but I'm sure it's far more nourishing that claf's feet broth - which is also recommended for invalids...

probably something about the meat goodness and marrow etc.

atomicliving said...

MMM this sounds good too, I am glad I have found u (thru ur comments on my blog thank you very much by the way) and my niece (who is only a few years younger than me and lives with us and is really more of a sister/friend, that explained then) is a vegetarin. It would be quite frugal for Mrs. B to make such a claim, for in her time, for anyone to attempt vegetarianism, they would have to be quite well off to have access to and to can alot of vegetables. It wasn't as if one could nip off to the super market and grab some lettuce and leeks, but I suppose if u were a farmer, tho even then,it would be very 'sinful'to not eat the animals u were raising for such a purpose. Have u seen the 1900 house? I thought it funny that they chose a family that tried to be vegetarian, as stated by the butcher it would be beef and stocks that would be most available and affordable to even an up and coming middle class house. Tho, today it is much easier and I have had my hand at it too, but I really do love meat and food to much to not enjoy all the varieties. Great blog keep up the good work!

atomicliving said...

actually beef broth, tea etc was often given to invalids or people who were ill. I belive it helped with iron and often just a good warm protein supply probably helped many ailments at the time. I guess it was probably a placebo of sorts at time.

weenie_elise said...

thanks, I've had fun reading your blog as well. I missed the 1900s house but I did watch 'the Edwardian house'