Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cost of Living

You won't believe this - but I have just picked up 'The Goode Kitchen', which a member of the family had put in a new place on my desk (having the new printer means everything had to be shuffled sideways), and underneath that isImy one and only copy (which I thought I had lost) of 'Have a Goode Year' (subtitled How to Celebrate on a Shoestring). As I have been searching for this book for what seems like several years, I am so thrilled because it was my favourite of all the three I wrote in that series. The book covered many festivities, saint's days etc. throughout the year, and dealt with not just recipes but gifts and decorations that can be made. Leafing through the pages I see I suggested that we throw a buffet on the first Sunday in May (bank holiday weekend) and "recall the good old days by serving some of the dishes your ancestors would have eaten". Here are a few from the book:

Cock-a-Goode'll-do (my name for it) - Chicken in a spicy sauce which, in the fourteenth century was so expensive to make that it was served mainly to monarchs (interestingly served at the Coronation of one of the kings - hence the origins of 'Coronation Chicken' even though some cook said she invented it specially for the Coronation of QEII. . Today I suggest using leftovers from a chicken and the end of a bottle of wine and scour the storecupboard for the rest.
6 fl. (175ml) white wine
6 oz (175g) thick honey
grated rind and juice of 1 small lemon
1 good pinch ground cloves
2 0z (5og) sultanas
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 lb (750g) cooked chicken, diced
1 oz (23g) flaked almonds, toasted
Put the wine, honey, lemon juice and rind of the lemon into a pan and simmer for five minutes until thickened.
Stir in the sultanas and cloves and simmer for one minute longer. Remove from heat. Beat the egg yolks and then fold into the wine and honey syrup. Heat very gently, stirring all the time until thickened. Cool, then fold in the chicken pieces. Chill and serve in a dish, sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Serve with a green salad or as part of the following dish.

Salamagundy: this is the salad to beat all salads and makes a wonderful buffet dish. In the olden days the ingredients were cut into small pieces and layered into a cone shape, but during the eighteenth century the foods were kept seperate. Ideally the Salamagundy should consist of as many balanced ingredients as possible, so choose your centrepiece (cold meats or fish) and surround this by small bowls of vegetables and pickles. Take your choice from these:
diced cucumber, chopped apples, shredded lettuce, gherkins
tomato wedges, shredded celery, seedless grapes, sliced mushrooms,
diced peppers, potato salad, hard-boiled eggs, sliced spring onions
diced beetroot, diced radish, coleslaw, saffron rice,
and I am sure you can think of many more.

From an earlier part of the book but well worth a mention:
Lemon Butter Biscuits: these delicate biscuits have a delightful texture due to the cornflour. Traditionally made with plain flour I once accidentally used self-raising and I felt they were fractionally better.
4 oz (100g) softened butter
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
1 egg
grated rind and juice of one lemon
2 - 3 drops vanilla extract
6 oz (175g) plain or self-raising flour
4 oz (100g) cornflour
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. Sift together the flour and cornflour and fold this into the butter mixture. Knead lightly to form a smooth dough. Form into a tube and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Remove clingfilm, and either cut the tube into thin slices or roll out thinly onto a floured board and cut into chosen shapes. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 5 - 7 minutes or until just beginning to colour. Cool on wire rack and store in airtight tin when cold.
Tip: You can cook these biscuits in ten minutes using the residual heat of a just-turned-off oven which was heated at 200C, 400F, gas 6. So plan for this by making the dough a day or so in advance and keeping chilled in the fridge.