Friday, April 27, 2012

Little Mutton (or Lamb) Pies

This recipe is based on one published in the Argus on Anzac Day 1928 and again a month later on 23 May 1928. It makes 6 or 8 little meat pies, but could be adapted to a family-size meat pie. I used a half-quantity of the recipe to make a pie for 4, and a quarter-quantity of the recipe to make two little individual pies.

I make the pies in 1-cup soufflé dishes rather than following the original recipe which calls for moulding the pastry around the bottom of a moderate-sized jar to make a case 5-7 cm high, letting the shells stand until they're firm, then filling with the meat mixture.

This pie uses leftovers from a roast. If starting with uncooked meat, cut into 2.5 cm pieces, dust with seasoned flour and brown in butter. Cover with warmed meat or vegetable stock and a suspicion of wine and simmer until three-quarters done - about an hour for diced lamb. Strain off the liquid and reserve for the "gravy". Allow the meat to cool.

Mutton (or Lamb) Pie

1 kg cooked mutton or lamb, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
salt, pepper and herbs (parsley, thyme, bay leaf)
500 g plain flour 
125g suet, dripping or butter
1 cup milk
3/4 cup rich gravy
1 sheet gelatine, optional

Mix together the cooked meat, onion and herbs; season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Mince the suet finely; heat gently it until it bubbles and liquifies. Strain the suet, mix with the milk and bring to the boil again. Add a little salt.

Pour the boiling suet and milk mixture on to the flour; mix to a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two pieces, with one piece twice as large as the other.

Roll out the small piece of dough and cut for 6 or 8 pie covers.

Roll out the large piece of dough and cut for 6 or 8 pie cases, place cases in soufflé dishes and fill with meat mixture.

Make a hole in the centre of each pie cover. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg or milk, place covers on the top of each pie and pinch the edges together. Brush the top with beaten egg and bake for 45 minutes.

When the pies are almost ready, heat the gravy and reduce to 3/4 cup, add the gelatine to it, if used, and pour through the holes left in the top of each pie.

Serves 6 to 8.

Oyster Soup

This seems the best of the four oyster soup recipes published in the Argus in 1928, but two of those recipes appeared in ads for "Oystero" - "a concentrated oyster powder made from fresh, clean, whole oysters by vacuum process". The first Argus recipe for real oyster soup calls for 18 fresh oysters, the second for 36.

Oyster Soup

18-24 fresh Sydney rock oysters
125 ml milk or 2 tablespoons cream
600 ml fish stock, or less stock and some milk
squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon anchovy sauce, or 1 small anchovy finely chopped
30g butter
45g plain flour

Melt the butter, add the flour, cook on a low heat for a minute. Add the stock gradually, stirring until it comes to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, anchovy sauce and cream, and "as much cayenne as will cover a threepenny bit".

Put the oysters in soup bowls and pour the stock over. Serve with small thinly-sliced buttered sippets of toast. Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Episode 10 - Death by Miss Adventure

This week's episode features Phryne Fisher as usual, but it isn't based on any of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher novels. The similar-sounding Death by Misadventure is an alternative title for Cocaine Blues, used by the U.S. publisher.

According to the ABC TV website, in Death by Miss Adventure Phryne investigates the death of a young female worker in a factory ‘accident’ and soon learns that the woman’s death might not be the misadventure the police think it is. Phryne's companion Dot is sent to the factory to work undercover as a tea-lady... It's a linking episode in which the killer suspected of abducting and murdering Phryne's sister comes back into the story. And there's a lesbian love triangle.

Since there's no actual novel to work with, this week's menu comes from Argus recipes published in April 1928. It's the sort of food a hard-working factory girl might enjoy:

Oyster Soup

Mutton (or Lamb) Pie

Quince Jelly and Cream

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Passionfruit Souffle

Emboldened by the success of Boulestin's vanilla souffle, then his raspberry souffle, I adapted the basic recipe to passionfruit. The passionfruit pulp was heated and sieved to remove the pips, but some additional pulp (with pips) would have added a decorative touch to the plate. The quantities are sufficient for 6 to 8. 
Passionfruit Souffle

8-10 passionfruit (approx 100ml juice)
400 ml milk
vanilla bean
60g plain flour
240g white sugar, plus extra for dusting the souffle dishes
6 eggs, separated

Heat the milk with a vanilla pod and keep it hot.

In the top of a double boiler on a low heat, make a creme patisseries by beating together five egg yolks, the flour and sugar. Stir in the milk, little by little, whipping well until it reaches the consistency of thick cream. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a small pan, gently heat the passionfruit pulp. Sieve the pulp into the creme patisserie.

Whip the six egg whites into a stiff froth, then fold the whites into the passionfruit creme patisserie.

Fill six souffle dishes, buttered and sprinkled with sugar, up to the top. For eight, fill the dishes to three-quarters full. Cook in a moderate oven 20-25 minutes. After 20 minutes test to see if done. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Agneau Jardiniere

Boulestin's lamb with vegetables calls for a leg or saddle of lamb - shoulder would probably do - and button onions, baby carrots and turnips. The meat and vegetables are browned, then simmered in white wine. Unusually for lamb, the sauce is based on cream, parsley and tarragon.

Agneau Jardiniere

Leg or other joint of lamb
50g butter
6-8 small brown onions
6-8 baby carrots
3-4 turnips, peeled and halved

250 ml white wine
100 ml cream
fresh tarragon and parsley
salt, pepper

In a cast iron or earthenware pot, saute the onions, carrots and turnips in butter until lightly browned. Remove the vegetables, and brown the lamb turning on all sides so it is sealed. Season with salt and pepper, pour in two small glasses of white wine, cover and simmer for two hours. After one hour, add the vegetables.

When the meat is cooked, remove it and the vegetables and keep warm. Pour the pan juices into a glass, put in the freezer for a few minutes to allow the fat to rise, and skim this off. In a small saucepan, simmer the meat juices until reduced. Stir in 100 ml cream, and add a little finely chopped tarragon and parsley.

Carve the meat, place in a serving dish with the vegetables arranged around it and the sauce in a sauceboat. Serve with boiled new potatoes.

Devilled Scallops

Devilled scallops seem to be a Tasmanian speciality. Time was, there was only one type of scallop - the Tasmanian scallop. And Keen's curry powder was more popular in Tasmania than in any other Australian state. Not surprising then that Devilled Scallops, made with curry powder, won the Launceston Examiner's best scallop recipe competition in 1936. From over 400 entries Miss C. M. Busby from Culzean, Westbury took out the One Guinea Prize. Her recipe was so good that nine years later a woman from Hobart won 15/6 with an identical entry. With minor tweaks - a squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoon of curry powder - the same recipe won in 1947 and again in 1948.

Devilled Scallops

18-24 large Tasmanian scallops (3-4 per person)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 dessertspoon Keen's curry powder
cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 teasp mustard
1 cup milk
fresh breadcrumbs

Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook on a low heat until the mixture leaves the side of the pan. Add the curry powder and cayenne, Worchestershire sauce, mustard and finally the milk. Squeeze in some lemon juice. Let it cook for at least five minutes, until thick.

Place the scallops in a shallow dish (or in individual ramekins or on the half-shell), spread the sauce over, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and bake in a moderate to hot oven for 15 minutes. Serves 6 as an entree.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Episode 9 - Queen of the Flowers

No prizes for guessing that Phryne Fisher is Queen of the Flowers. The St Kilda Flower Parade is on, one of Phryne's adopted daughters is missing and one of her flower maidens has washed up dead on the beach. At least Phryne has a celebration dinner to look forward to at Anatole's after the parade - soup, fish, lamb and a peach dessert.

To celebrate Anatole's and in honour of the flower maidens, tonight's menu is French and predominantly white: 

Devilled Scallops

Agneau Jardiniere 

Passionfruit Souffle

Raspberry Souffle

Boulestins' recipe for raspberry souffle is essentially a creme patisserie flavoured with maraschino, rum or Curacao. He adds a strawberry, not raspberry, puree and a few whole raspberries before folding in the whipped egg whites.

Instead of strawberries, I used a small punnet of raspberries, reserving four for decoration, and simmered the rest in a little sugar and pinot noir, then sieved the liquor into the creme patisserie.

My souffles turned out a little raw in the middle after 15 minutes, and required another 5 or 10 minutes in the oven.

Raspberry Souffle

125g raspberries
75ml pinot noir
280 ml milk
vanilla bean
30g plain flour
120g white sugar, plus extra for the puree and dusting the souffle dishes
4 eggs, separated

Reserve four raspberries, and in a small saucepan cook the remaining raspberries in the wine and sugar, simmering slowly until reduced to a thick liquor.

In another pan, heat the milk with a vanilla pod and keep it hot.

In the top of a double boiler on a low heat, beat together the three egg yolks, flour and sugar. Stir in the milk, little by little, whipping well until it reaches the consistency of thick cream. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Sieve the raspberry puree into the mixture.

Whip the four egg whites into a stiff froth, then fold the whites into the raspberry creme patisserie mixture.

Fill four souffle dishes, buttered and sprinkled with sugar, up to three-quarters full. Cook in a moderate oven 20-25 minutes. After 20 minutes test to see if done and top with the whole raspberries.

Poulet Saute Bourguigonne

This is another recipe from Boulestin, adapted from one for a young chicken weighing about a kilo (size 10) to a larger bird with a proportionately longer cooking time. The secret to good presentation seems to be not to turn the chicken once it's simmering; otherwise the skin and flesh take on a purplish hue from the wine. If using a commercial bouquet, remove it about halfway through to avoid an overly strong, possibly bitter flavour. Boulestin's chicken is sauteed in burgundy which, in Australia, is now called pinot noir.

Poulet Saute Bourguigonne

I chicken, size 14 or 16, cut into 7 or 8 pieces - drumsticks, thighs, wings and breast
50g butter
2 rashers bacon, thinly sliced
8 small onions
Fresh parsley, thyme and a bay leaf tied into a bouquet, or a commercial bouquet garni
1 glass red wine, preferably pinot noir

125g mushrooms
Salt, pepper

In a large frypan, saute the chicken pieces, onions and bacon in butter heated to the foaming stage for 2 or 3 minutes only. Turn the pieces, put in salt, pepper, a bouquet and a glass of red wine, preferably pinot noir.

Cover and simmer on a low heat for 40 minutes. Then add the mushrooms, which have been sliced and cooked in butter for a few minutes, remove the bouquet and let the dish simmer 5 minutes more.

This is a dish with a short sauce. It goes well with the wine in which it has been cooked, in this case a Port Phillip Estate 2010 Pinot Noir from Victoria's Mornington Peninsular.

Serves 4.

Cream of Green Pea Soup

While the split- or dried-pea soup is more popular these days, fresh peas or even pea-pods were just as often used to make soup in the 1920s. Recipes called for a white sauce into which the cooked peas, or pea pods, were sieved. I'm not sure when the first canned soups came on the market, but in 1919, in Rockhampton of all places, Heinz advertised a cream of tomato and a cream of green pea soup alongside its range of canned baked beans, spaghetti, picked onions and relishes. By 1928 canned soups had become a pantry standard. Readers didn't need the women's pages to tell them that cream of tomato, pea or celery soups made for "delicious little dinners in flat or house... served straight from the pantry shelf, via and electric or gas stove".

My green pea soup has been adapted from one of Boulestin's. Whereas his stock is made with a chicken carcase, lean bacon, an onion and a little mint, I already had a plain stock made from last week's roast chicken so I sauteed the onion and bacon, added the chicken stock and then stirred in the cooked peas, pureed with milk. I also followed his directions for thickening the soup with an egg yolk and cream.

Cream of Green Pea Soup

500g green peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup milk, or half milk and half cream
1 egg yolk
30g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 rashers lean bacon, diced
750ml chicken stock 
60 ml cream
Fresh mint

Boil peas in salted water about 5 minutes, until tender; drain and whiz to a puree with the milk and egg yolk in a food processor. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan melt the butter and saute the onion and bacon a few minutes until onion is soft. Add chicken stock and bring nearly to the boil, then stir in the pureed peas and milk and bring to the boiling point. Just before serving, add a good dollop of cream and a little mint, finely chopped. Serves 6.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Episode 8 - Away with the Fairies

Miss Lavender's garden apartment has a path flanked with garden gnomes leading to the door, her taste in interior design tends towards pink and fairies, and she writes and illustrates the sort of children's stories that end with a moral. No wonder she is murdered.

In the course of her investigations, Phryne Fisher takes a job at the women's magazine which published Miss Lavender's stories (because mothers expected them) and her agony aunt responses to reader's letters (who expected her grim Presbyterian rectitude).

Between writing fashion notes, interviewing Miss Lavender's fellow tenants and waiting with increasing alarm for the return of her lover Lin Chung from a silk-buying trip to Shanghai, Phryne barely has time for the occasional salad lunch at the Adventuresses Club. Her one proper dinner at home is spoiled when she learns that Lin Chung is being held hostage by pirates.

Like Phryne's dinner of soup, poulet ragout and apple charlotte, the menu for tonight's episode tends towards green and pink: 

Green Pea Soup

Poulet Saute Bourguignonne

Raspberry Souffle

Friday, April 6, 2012

Vanilla Souffle

This is another recipe from Boulestin, adapting a recipe for 6-8 people to one for 3-4 people. For 6-8 people, double the quantities of milk, flour and sugar and use 5 egg yolks and 6 whites. Do not be afraid to check the souffle.

Vanilla Souffle

280 ml milk
vanilla bean
30g plain flour
120g sugar
4 eggs, separated

Bring the milk with the vanilla pod to the boil and keep it hot. Put in a flat saucepan the sifted flour, sugar and three egg yolks. Mix well and add the hot milk, little by little. Cook, whipping well, until it reaches the consistency of thick cream. Let the mixture get cold then add the four egg whites, whipped to a stiff froth. Fill the souffle dishes (lightly buttered and sprinkled with sugar) up to three-quarters and cook in a moderate oven about 10-12 minutes.

Roast Chicken with Green Beans

Boulestin's ideal is a young chicken roasted on a spit with tender flesh and crispy skin.

To achieve a similar effect in a domestic kitchen he wraps the chicken in thin bacon fat and cooks it standing on a grill in the baking dish, basting often. When it's finished, remove the bacon fat and allow the skin to colour. Just before serving, pour melted pork fat through a paper funnel and set it alight as it comes out so drops of burning fat fall on the bird. The burning fat gives a slightly charred taste and appearance, he writes, "that crispness which is so appreciated in birds roasted in front of a wood fire".

Boulestin doesn't mention flavourings, but I put an onion, four garlic cloves, parsley and thyme in the cavity.

Serve with a watercress salad seasoned with salt, pepper and a little vinegar or lemon juice. Or, in this case, with roasted potatoes and green beans.

The gravy is simply a little water added to the roasting pan, and reduced. I poured off the pan juices into a glass, put it in the freezer for a few minutes and spooned off the fat before returning the juices to the baking dish and adding the water with a little salt and pepper.

French Onion Soup with Gruyere and Cognac

Boulestin doesn't call it French onion soup, it's simply Soupe a l'Oignon, and apart from the number of onions, he doesn't give quantities. He also omits the cognac, which I'm adding towards the end. For four small serves, I'm guessing 3 cups of water.

French Onion Soup with Gruyere and Cognac

2 large onions, finely sliced
50g butter
50 ml cognac
50g Gruyere cheese
salt, pepper

Saute the onions in butter until golden brown. Add 3 cups hot water plus a little extra to allow for reduction; season with salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, adding the cognac about 5 minutes before the end to allow it to cook off. Have ready a few thin slices of baguette, dried in the oven. Pour your soup over these in the soup tureen, sprinkle with grated cheese and quickly brown under the grill.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Episode 7 - Murder in Montparnasse

With Phryne's flashbacks to Paris after the Armistice in November 1918, Bert and Cec's adventures while AWOL for 24 hrs at the same time, and the contemporary - 1928 - narrative centering on the (fictional) Cafe Anatole in St Kilda, the menu for Murder in Montparnasse just has to be French.

I'm finding it hard to resist Phryne's cafe lunch of French onion soup "made with cognac, with real Gruyere cheese melted onto real baguettes", quenelles of pheasant poached in broth, "poulet royale with French beans", and, to finish, vanilla souffle, a glass of cognac and a cup of coffee.

Slight problem: Boulestin doesn't have a recipe for "poulet royale". Is it "Chicken a la King", an abomination devised in the 1890s or early 1900s, most likely in Philadelphia, involving steamed chicken, sauteed onion, red, green and yellow capsicums and mushrooms, a white sauce and finally - if you follow the Women's Weekly Original Cookbook from 1970 which is a little bit fancy - three egg yolks, lemon juice and celery salt?

Or has Cafe Anatole adapted to local tastes and concocted an Australian "Sauce Royale", the recipe for which appeared in the Burnie (Tasmania) Advocate in April 1938? It will surprise no-one, I think, that the Burnie Sauce Royale is based on white sauce to which is added: 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a little mustard. It is apparently delicious served with grilled meat of any kind.

But a reference later in the novel to "poulet reine" suggests that "royale" may have been a slip. Poulet reine is a size of chicken: a 1-2 kg roasting chicken.

The main course will be poulet rôti, from Recipes of Boulestin, with
roast potatoes and green beans (rather than watercress salad) and a short gravy made by adding a little water to the roasting pan and reducing it. On this point Boulestin is quite firm: "There is absolutely no reason why you should have out of a bird a sauceboatful of gravy, and the addition of meat stock will simply make it taste like soup and spoil the dish altogether."

The menu for Murder in Montparnasse:

French Onion Soup with Gruyere and Cognac

Roast Chicken with Green Beans

Vanilla Souffle