Saturday, November 17, 2012

Whisky Mince Pies

Vesta's original recipe published in the Argus on 23 December 1937 calls for 1 gill of caramel, but since I don't know what form of caramel is meant and a later recipe is identical except that it uses brandy, I'm going with the hard stuff. 

Whisky Mince Pies

375g raisins 
250g sultana
125g currants
250g candied peel (orange and lemon)
2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
250g suet, finely chopped, or 250g butter, melted
375g brown sugar
grated rind of one lemon and one orange and the juice of both
15g mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons whisky or brandy

Finely chop or put through a fine mincer the raisins, sultanas, currants, apples and peel. Add the sugar, spices, rind and juice of the orange and lemon, the suet or melted butter and the whisky. Mix thoroughly, pack into a jar, cover and leave until required.

For the cases, make a good shortcrust pastry using 150g butter to 240g plain flour and mixing with water to a fairly stiff paste. Do not forget a pinch of salt, and, if liked, a tablespoon of sugar may be added. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Then add the water.

Make the pastry early in the morning so that it will not become soft. Roll out to 1/2 cm thickness.

The pies may be made in rather big patty-pans, the pans being lined with pastry, and the tops put on and pinched. Butter the patty-pans before lining them, to ensure that the pies will slip out easily when cooked. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with very little sugar.

Alternatively, form little cases by cutting rounds for the bottom and top, and a strip about 4cm wide for the sides. Brush the edge of the bottom circles with milk or water to make the sides adhere, and do the same where the ends of the side piece overlap a little. Fill each case as it is made, so that it keeps in shape. Put on the top, pinch the edges all round to give a fluted border, brush the top with milk mixed with a very little sugar, prick it all over with a sharp fork, and bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

Christmas Pudding

This rich Christmas pudding is remarkably similar to the one published in Vesta's Woman to Woman column in the Argus on 9 January 1929. My mother handed it down to me and I fondly imagined her mother had passed it down from her Scottish foremothers. Maybe she just read the Argus

Best made 7 to 14 days before required, my mother's recipe uses butter instead of suet and is flavoured with rum, sherry or whisky instead of the juice and rind of one lemon.

The recipe makes one large or three small puddings. I use a large aluminium steam pudding basin with clips but it can be boiled in a floured cloth.

Christmas Pudding

250g butter
250g brown sugar
5 eggs
250g sultanas
250g raisins
125g currants
60g dried figs
60g dates
60g maraschino cherries 
60g blanched almonds, chopped
3 tablespoons rum, sherry or whisky
180g plain flour
180g soft breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda

Macerate fruits (sultanas, raisins, currants, figs, dates, cherries) in rum, sherry or whisky; cover with clingwrap and refrigerate overnight; stir in chopped almonds.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until soft; add sugar and beat to a cream; add eggs one at a time and beat evenly through.

Add prepared fruits alternately with sifted flour, breadcrumbs, spices and soda.

Place the mixture in a greased basin, leaving about 5 cms at the top. Cover with two thicknesses of greased paper or tinfoil, tie securely and steam in a saucepan of water with the lid on. The water needs to be 1/3 to 1/2 way up the basin and should be checked and topped up when necessary. Boil for 4 hours and again for 2 hours on the day of reheating. Serves 10-12.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Corned Beef with Cabbage and Potatoes

Corned Beef Hash
Corned beef is one of those Australian dishes that is so common, no one bothers writing down the recipe. Not Stephanie Alexander, in the first edition of The Cook's Companion if I recall correctly. Certainly not the newspapers of the 1930s, when corned beef hash made with the leftovers reached its peak of popularity. Other more exotic 1930s suggestions for leftovers included corned beef meatloaf, corned beef curry, corned beef pie and corned beef souffle.

When it comes to cooking corned beef there are probably as many variations as there are cooks. Some use two lots of water, bringing the meat to a simmer and discarding the first, briney lot and starting again - this time adding the onions, carrots and other flavourings. Some stud the cloves into one of the onions, and re-use the cooked onion to flavour the white sauce. Others add the onions and carrots to the water in the last 30-45 minutes of cooking and serve them with the meat.

Potatoes, mashed or boiled, and cabbage are the traditional sides. The cabbage can be thinly sliced and simmered, drained, and a little white vinegar and butter added at the end; or cut into wedges and boiled. Parsley sauce, mustard sauce or plain white sauce make good accompaniments, but so does ordinary Dijon or hot English mustard. 

The leftovers can be made into a corned beef hash using roughly equal quantities of cold cooked potatoes, corned beef and - if you like - cabbage. Some 1930s recipes call for half a cup of water, milk or cream or a well-beaten egg to be added towards the end, but it is not really necessary. For a breakfast corned beef hash, a fried egg can go on top.

Corned Beef with Cabbage and Potatoes

1.25-1.5 kg corned silverside or brisket on the bone
2 onions, peeled
2-3 carrots, peeled
2-3 bay leaves
6 cloves
8 peppercorns 
1-2 tbsp brown or malt vinegar
1 dessertsp brown sugar

Wash meat well under running cold water to remove surface brine. Place in large saucepan, cover with water, add onions, carrots, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, vinegar and sugar. Cover, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately two hours, or until the meat is tender.

Serve with cabbage and small boiled potatoes brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Corned Beef Hash

1 onion, finely chopped
30g butter
cold boiled potatoes, chopped into large chunks
corned beef, shredded into chunks or cut into pieces
cold cooked cabbage 

In a large frypan, saute the onion in butter until soft and golden. Toss in the potatoes; sprinkle with paprika and salt. When the edges are lightly browned, toss through the corned beef and cabbage. Turn the mixture once or twice and continue to cook until heated through. Serve piled in the middle of a round bowl.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Fitted Kitchen

The 1920s and 30s saw architects, including women, design kitchens that would reduce housework, accommodate modern appliances and create a "nerve centre" for the small family. No longer a large bare room at the back of the house, the kitchen was positioned at the side or towards the front and preferably next to the dining room, to which it could be linked by a small servery or hatch.

In America, "efficiency experts" had found that a circular work area in the kitchen reduced the number of steps a woman took while making a shortcake from 281 to 45 (Adelaide Mail, 9 August 1930). The circular work area places the stove, cupboards and refrigerator in one corner, with a "service table on wheels" that can be moved around the kitchen as needed. And quietly. It has rubber tyres.

This circular work area is in a relatively large kitchen, designed by an American woman, with an expensive "electric dish washer" next to the sink and a "planning desk" in the corner that houses a box of recipes, drawers for paid and unpaid bills, a telephone and a shelf for recipe books and "the loud speaker of a wireless set". The table, bottom right, seats four for breakfast and the children for lunch.

In Australia, "planning desks" and electric dish washers were less in demand, but work areas were similarly designed for efficiency.  

The really efficient factory-like Australian kitchen probably reached its apotheosis in an article by an architect using the nom-de-plume Best Overend, A.R.I.B.A., AR.A.I.A. Published in the Argusin 1934 under the title: "Small-House Kitchen - Rounded Corners, Flush Surfaces - Why Not Hose It Out?" the writer suggested that with no open shelves, a linoleum floor and a tiled wall, "there seems no reason why the modern kitchen should not be cleaned out and freshened with a hose - and what a relief that might prove to overwrought feelings!" The breakfast nook was redundant too, with "easy and direct access of the dining alcove" (26 July 1934, p.13).

By 1938 the Argus observed that the kitchen "is generally becoming smaller because it has been found that by carefully planning the position of the stove, sink and drainer, food and crockery cupboards, and workbench, less floor space is required". 

In the smaller kitchen, the pantry disappeared, replaced by "cupboards placed in convenient positions around the walls. Fitted with flush panel doors these cupboards present an unbroken surface which does not collect dust. They are designed for the storage of foodstuffs or kitchen equipment. Cupboards for perishables are now ventilated from below the floor, with an outlet in the ceiling... The position of these cupboards is important for the convenient working of the kitchen. The grocery cupboard should be close to the back door, and the cabinets for the storage of china, glass, silver, and table linen should be convenient to the dining-room. The position of the cupboards, however, is governed by the shape of the room." (Argus, 19 August 1937)

Like the pantry, the breakfast nook was redundant. Best Overend suggested a dresser be built in "between the dining space and the kitchen, and this will incorporate a servery hatch with direct connection with the preparation table". Rather than having a large table in the middle of the kitchen "round which Cook wended her way to and from the stove and the sink", food would be prepared on a flap projecting from the wall making the "preparation of meals... more comparable with the assembling line of motor-car plant than a series of isolated operations" ( Argus, 11 October 1934, p. 7)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Port and Redcurrant Jelly

This recipe is inspired by one that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 18 December 1939 which suggested shoulder of lamb with redcurrant and mint jelly as an economical alternative to the traditional roast goose. The jelly can also be served with cold lamb, "turned out on small lettuce leaves".

Roast Shoulder of Lamb

1.25 kg shoulder of lamb
small onions
salt, pepper

Season lamb, roast at 220 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes, reduce to 180 degrees and cook for a further 45 minutes. Add the potatoes, parsnips and onions to the baking dish; toss these in the melted lamb fat; cook for a further 45 minutes.

Remove the lamb and rest, covered, for 15 minutes before serving. Meanwhile increase the oven temperature to 220 degrees to brown the potatoes, parsnips and onions.

If desired, the lamb can be served with a thin gravy: Make a brown roux with 30g butter and 1 level tblsp flour, add 1 glass of white wine, the pan juices (from which the fat has been skimmed), season and simmer for a few minutes. Alternatively, reserve some of the port and redcurrant jelly, add the pan juices, water or stock, season and simmer for a few minutes.

Port and Redcurrant Jelly

100g redcurrant jelly
100ml port
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
1 leaf gelatine, soaked in water for 5-7 minutes and squeezed out

In a small saucepan, gently heat the redcurrant jelly and port until the jelly has dissolved. Stir in the mint. Remove from heat, add the gelatine. Fill small moulds and place in the freezer to set.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Venison Pie

Venison recipes are absent from early Australian newspapers, but as early as 1803 a Mr Harris was keeping deer in an enclosure in Sydney known as 'the Swamp', and by the 1860s there were wild deer in Victoria. The Victorian Game Pie recipes that appeared in newspapers in the 1890s did not specify the type of "game" required, but rabbit seems a likely candidate.

This venison pie can also be made with a commercial puff pastry, with the pastry on top of the pie only. Redcurrant jelly - about a tablespoon - can be added to the sauce, or served on the side.


1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 French shallot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
bouquet (bay leaf, parsley, thyme)
2 cloves
1 cup white wine vinegar

Saute the onion, carrot, shallot and celery in a little oil for 1 minute; add the bouquet, cloves and vinegar, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow the marinade to cool. When cold, pass through a sieve and pour over the venison, previously seasoned with salt and pepper. Turn the venison once or twice while marinating. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Suet pastry

240 g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
120g suet, finely chopped
90-100 ml water, approx.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a basin and add the finely-chopped (or grated) suet. Mix with water to a soft dry dough, knead well in the basin. Alternatively, whiz all ingredients in a food processor, knead well on a floured surface. Roll into a smooth ball. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until the filling is ready.

Meat Filling

1 kg venison shoulder, diced into 2 cm pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, sliced 
salt, pepper and herbs (parsley, thyme, bay leaf)
1 cup rich gravy
1 leaf gelatine

Strain the marinade, reserve. Dust venison pieces with seasoned flour, brown in butter, remove to a clean saucepan. Saute onion and carrot, in extra butter if needed, and add to the venison. Add warmed marinade and water sufficient to cover, simmer about an hour (for farmed venison). Strain off the liquid and reserve for the "gravy". Allow the meat to cool.

Venison Pie

Cut the pastry into two pieces, two-thirds for the base and sides of the pie dish and one-third for the cover.

Roll out the large piece of pastry, line the base and sides of the pie dish. Spoon in the meat filling, smooth the top.

Roll out the pie cover, cut a circle of pastry from the centre and set aside.

Brush the edges of the pie cover with beaten egg or milk, place on the top of the pie and pinch the edges together. Brush the top with beaten egg and bake in a moderately hot oven for 60 minutes.

After 45 minutes, when the pie is almost ready, heat the gravy and reduce to 1 cup, stir in the softened gelatine, and pour through the hole left in the top of the pie. Serve with mashed potato and brussels sprouts. Serves 6.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Quince Jelly

This recipe is based on the 1920s recipe for pomegranate jelly. The cochineal can be used to add colour for a deeper red.

Quince Jelly

3-4 quinces 
1 cooking apple (preferably Golden Delicious or Granny Smith)
250 ml water
1 lemon, peeled and juiced
120g white sugar
1 egg white and egg shell
5 leaves gelatine
1 teaspoon cochineal (optional)

Wash but do not peel the quinces and apple, slice and place in a preserving pan. Cover with water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours. Strain the fruit through a fine sieve. It should yield 500-550 ml juice.

Whisk the egg white with a little water.

Put the quince and apple juice, the water, a little lemon juice and the rind, sugar, egg white and the egg shell
into an enamel saucepan. Over a gentle heat, whisk the mixture until it comes to the boil; skim.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 to 7 minutes; remove the gelatine mass and gently squeeze out the water.

Take the pan off the heat, stir in the gelatine and cochineal (if used), cover the pan; let it stand ten minutes.

Pour a kettle of boiling water through a jelly bag (or a piece of muslin or a clean tea-towel) to warm it. When the water has drained off, pour in the jelly and let it strain into a wetted mould. (I put the wetted jelly mould in a large saucepan, placed the sieve across the top and draped the warm wet muslin across the sieve.) Refrigerate the jelly for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to set.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Persimmon Jelly (2)

After accidentally making a persimmon jelly that was really a jam, I'm making a real Persimmon Jelly by adapting the 1920s recipe for Pomegranate Jelly.

Persimmon Jelly 

5 -6 persimmons
250 ml water
1 lime, juiced (peel and keep the rind)
120g white sugar
1 egg white, and the egg shell
5 leaves gelatine
1 teaspoon cochineal

Wash but do not peel the fruit, cut into quarters and put in a single layer into a preserving pan. Cover the fruit with water, bring to the boil and simmer, semi covered, for an hour or so, until soft. Strain the liquor through a fine sieve. There should be about 500ml of liquid.

Whisk the egg white with a little water.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 to 7 minutes; remove the gelatine mass and gently squeeze out the water.

Put the persimmon liquor, water, sugar, lime juice and rind, the egg white and egg shell into an enamel saucepan. Over a gentle heat, whisk the mixture until it comes to the boil; skimming the scum as it rises. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the gelatine and cochineal, cover the pan; let it stand ten minutes.

Pour a kettle of boiling water through a jelly bag (or a piece of muslin or a clean tea-towel) to warm it. When the water has drained off, pour in the jelly and let it strain into a wetted mould. (I put the wetted jelly mould in a large saucepan, placed the sieve across the top and lined it with a double layer of muslin.) Refrigerate the jelly for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to set. Serves 6. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Neck of Lamb with Carrots, Turnips and Peas

"Vesta" edited the women's pages of the Melbourne Argus for more than 30 years, from 1908 to 1938, and while she wrote about all sorts of social and political issues affecting women, the sections on "The Wardrobe" and "Kitchen and Pantry" where she answered correspondents' letters, were standards. 

"Vesta" assumed her readers knew the basics. They just needed a tip or two, like this one for casseroles: "Neck of lamb stewed with carrots, turnips and peas is another good dish. It takes about two hours to cook. About half an hour before serving, a tablespoonful of finely chopped mint scalded to make it brighter in colour, a couple of lumps of sugar and a little vinegar should be added to this stew." 

I suspect when "Vesta" had this at home, someone like Phryne's Mrs Butler did the cooking and it arrived at the table as Navarin of Lamb.

Neck of Lamb with Carrots, Turnips and Peas

1.25 kg lamb neck chops, or 750g diced lamb
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
50g butter
1 cup water (or stock or white wine)
12 small onions, peeled
4 small carrots, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
4 small turnips, peeled and halved
1 cup green peas
1 tbsp mint (or parsley)
1 teaspoon sugar
white vinegar

Dust meat in seasoned flour. In a frypan, melt half the butter, brown the meat in batches, and remove to a saucepan. Add stock or water, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer.

In the frypan, melt the remaining butter, brown the onions, carrots and turnips and add to the lamb after it has cooked for 30-45 minutes.

After 30 minutes further cooking, stir in the peas, chopped mint, sugar and vinegar. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes. Serves 4-6.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pomegranate Jelly

Last weekend's sighting of a straggling backyard pomegranate tree bursting with fruit sent me in search of recipes.  

This pomegranate jelly recipe combines the best of two recipes from the 1920s: one from the Argus, 9 May 1928 and the other from the Perth Sunday Times, 7 April 1929. Since I don't have a jelly bag to strain the jelly - and the jelly bag was suspended between two upturned chairs on the kitchen table overnight - the recipe has been updated.

The original recipes call for either "one pint of juice from pomegranate seeds" or "seeds enough to yield a pint of juice".

Pomegranate Jelly

4 pomegranates
250 ml water
2 lemons, juiced (peel 1 lemon first and keep the rind)
120g white sugar
3 eggs, whites and washed shells only
5 leaves gelatine
Cochineal* (optional)

Extract the pomegranate juice by simmering the pomegranate seeds in a little water for 10 or 15 minutes and then passing the liquid through a wire sieve, squashing the seeds against the mesh to extract the juice. Alternatively, cut the pomegranates in half and squeeze on a sturdy lemon or orange juicer. Four pomegranates should yield 500-550ml juice.

Whisk the egg whites with a little water.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 to 7 minutes; remove the gelatine mass and gently squeeze out the water.

Put the pomegranate juice, water, lemon juice, the rind of one lemon, sugar, egg whites and egg shells into an enamel saucepan. Over a gentle heat, whisk the mixture until it comes to the boil; skimming constantly. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the gelatine, cover the pan; let it stand ten minutes.

Pour a kettle of boiling water through a jelly bag (or a piece of muslin or a clean tea-towel) to warm it. When the water has drained off, pour in the jelly and let it strain into a wetted mould. (I put the wetted jelly mould in a large saucepan, placed the sieve across the top and draped the warm wet muslin across the sieve.) Refrigerate the jelly for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to set.

* Cochineal is a natural red food colouring derived from a cactus insect native to Mexico and South America. In Australia it is still sold under the "Queen" brand, but labelled Pink Natural Colour rather than Cochineal. The pomegranate jelly was such a deep oxheart red, the cochineal wasn't needed.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fish and Oyster Pie

Fish and Oyster Pie seems a good candidate for Sydney's signature dish.

From the 1860s onwards, Sydney newspapers, clubs and boat operators organised fishing excursions to Camp Cove, Watsons Bay and overnight to the Heads. (This ad for a Snapper Fishing Excursion, tickets 20s including lunch and bait, is from the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 April 1880.)

And Sydney's rock oysters are justifiably famous.

Fish and Oyster Pie recipes appear in newspapers from Sydney to Cairns to Perth, especially in the 1920s and 30s. They all use leftover cooked fish and they are practically identical: 500g fish and 1 or 2 dozen oysters layered in a pie dish, nutmeg and parsley, a cup or two of white sauce poured over, topped with mashed potatoes or rough puff pastry and cooked for 20 minutes.

So the recipe below is not an authentic 1920s Fish and Oyster Pie recipe - for that you'd need to cook the fish first and substitute white sauce or sauce soubise for the onion-cream mixture. (Sauce soubise, according to Boulestin, is white sauce to which is added two large onions cooked in half milk, half water, with a little salt and nutmeg, and then sieved or pureed.)

This Fish and Oyster Pie is based on the Boathouse Restaurant in Glebe's Snapper Pie - but with oysters. And without the white truffle oil which, frankly, seems an affectation designed solely to justify charging $48 for a main.

Since this recipe calls for 750g snapper fillets and 1 or 2 dozen oysters, it's worth making a real fish stock: 1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk, finely chopped and sauteed in butter, fresh herbs, snapper heads and bones or a small whole snapper (scaled, gutted and cleaned) and 500 ml white white and 500 ml water, simmered for 35-40 minutes and strained through a fine sieve.

A more economical version of this dish can be made with 500g fresh snapper and half a dozen small potatoes, only just cooked, and no oysters. And the leftovers can be made into small pies - see photo.

Fish and Oyster Pie
750g snapper fillets, bones removed and cut into bite-size chunks
12-24 Sydney rock oysters
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry, preferably Pampas butter puff pastry
1-2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium onions, 3 sliced and 1 finely diced
375 ml fish stock, preferably home-made
200 ml cream
25g butter
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg yolk, whisked with a few drops of water
salt, pepper

Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees.

Saute three sliced onions in olive oil on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until soft but not browned. Pour off excess oil. Stir in the fish stock, simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cream, simmer gently until the mixture has reduced by half to the consistency of slightly thickened cream. (Mine was a bit too thin.) Add nutmeg, season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

In a small pan, saute the remaining onion, diced, in butter until soft, season with salt and pepper, add this to the onion-cream sauce.

Invert pie dish onto the sheet of puff pastry and cut a round of pastry 2 cm larger than the circumference of the dish. Rest the pastry on a damp tea-towel while arranging the pie.

Pour a little sauce into the pie dish. Put in a layer of snapper, then a layer of oysters; lightly season with salt and pepper; put in another layer of fish and so on until the dish is filled. Pour the remaining sauce over the fish and oysters, to cover.

Brush the rim of the pie dish with a little melted butter, place the pastry on top and press lightly, brush the top with beaten egg yolk, and cook 20 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden. Serve with mashed potato and/or a green vegetable. Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Colour Scheme

The basic colour scheme for the 1920s - and the 1930s - kitchen was blue and white. Blue was the colour of the sky. White was "hygienic" and "pure".

In 1920 an Adelaide manufacturer of self-raising flour offered a model kitchen as a prize in their cooking competition. The "tastefully selected furnishings are chiefly in white enamel," reported the Adelaide Register, while the lino had a blue-and-white pattern and the dresser was white with a blue border (30 March 1920).

In 1925, in Melbourne, James McEwan & Co constructed a model kitchen in their Elizabeth St store "with an eye to comfort, hygiene and good cooking". The Argus reported that the kitchen "presents the clean appearance which blue and white tiles and linoleum give" (3 Dec p.7).

In 1930 the Hobart Mercury published the illustration above of a woman in a tiny modern kitchen: "The table, chairs, the tiny [meat] safe that stands in one corner, and the compact cabinet are blue stippled with cream to give them a dappled effect. The cream ceiling comes down to meet the blue walls in a fairly deep frieze. The gas stove shows the same effect of mottled blue and white as the furniture. There are blue and white cambric curtains at the window...". Even the unseen crockery and kitchen clock (both featuring windmills) are blue-and-white and the pots and kettle "in mottled enamel matched the stove exactly".

An English woman designer, Mrs Darcy Braddell, designed a "weekend cottage" with a blue-and-white kitchen colour scheme for the English pavilion at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937. "Here brightness is achieved and hygiene is encouraged by an extensive use of white", the Sydney Morning Herald reported (13 Sep 1938, p 6S). The walls were cream. The cork tiles on the floor were blue and white. The dresser was blue and white. The Herald article was reprinted, with variations and various reporters' own additions, around the country.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Curried Pork with Apples and Sultanas

This recipe for a traditional Australian curry is from the Sydney Morning Herald's Household Notes column on 28 February 1928. It's a sweet curry made from leftover roast pork, with curry powder and cayenne for flavour and heat and lemon juice for sharpness. Other newspaper recipes for more authentic-sounding Indian curries called for chillies, ginger, almonds, chutney and even coconut milk, which was made by steeping dessicated coconut in hot water and squeezing the "milk" through muslin. 

Like pies, curries used the leftover roast to make another meal. From the number of recipes in the women's columns, curry reached peaks of popularity in the depression years of the 1890s and 1930s. 

This recipe makes a surprisingly good curry - not the same as a curry cooked from scratch, but still good.

Curried Pork with Apples and Sultanas

250g cold cooked pork
250g cooking apples, peeled and cored
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tomato, skinned and chopped
50g butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon Keen's Traditional curry power
350ml chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
50g sultanas
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt, pepper, cayenne

Cut the apples and pork into large dice.

Fry the onion and apples in butter until soft, add the tomato and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Remove the vegetables, reserving the butter.

Mix the flour and curry powder, stir into the butter and cook for a few minutes.

Gradually add the stock, and bring to the boil. Add the fried onion, apple and tomato mixture; simmer 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly; stir in the meat, sultanas, castor sugar and lemon juice, and salt pepper and cayenne to taste. Thoroughly reheat until boiling, and serve in a border of well-cooked rice. Serves 4.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Ice Man Calls Once

Phryne Fisher's house in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries may be a 1880s boom style Italianate mansion, but the kitchen is about as modern as you could get in 1928.

The interiors, "from bedroom to parlour and dining room to kitchen", were built in the ABC's Gordon St studios, says Essie Davis in the Miss Fisher and All That Jazz page of the ABC TV Blog.

Phryne's kitchen is large and light-filled, with hygienically-clean white walls, a scrubbed kitchen table and a Frigidaire refrigerator. 

The Frigidaire was ultra modern. The first ads for electric refrigerators appeared in the Argus in the early 1920s, but these large refrigerated cabinets were designed for cafes, hotels, stations and large country houses. It was only from about 1927 onwards that the Frigidaire was marketed to ordinary people living in the suburbs.

"This modern 'Ice Man' calls once ---- [~ but the Ice stays always]", ran this ad depicting a muscular young man with the Frigidaire logo on his American-style cap and a block of ice encasing a small refrigerator across his shoulder (Argus, 12 January 1927). The smaller illustration below of the Frigidaire itself shows a remarkably modern-looking refrigerator - a rectangular box with the motor hidden behind a grille at the bottom and the door open to display three or four shelves and two small ice-making compartments.

Phryne would have been one of the few who could afford a new Frigidaire at £92 10s. For the less well off there was the option of buying "Frigidaire equipment for converting any good ordinary ice-chest into an Electric Refrigerator" for £64. The average wage for a female clerk in Melbourne in 1930 was £145 13s 9d.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Roast Pork with Sage and Onion Stuffing and Apple Sauce

"Hot roast pork, with sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce, and thin gravy makes a very good meal." For the 1920s dinner guest, pork was a welcome change from beef and mutton, but the Sydney Morning Herald's Household Notes writer cautioned that it should not be served on consecutive days, as being a rich food it was liable to upset weak digestions.

Pork was well-cooked, with no pinkness, and constantly basted "so that each scored line of crackling comes apart from the next". If the crackling became too brown, it was covered with greased baking paper.

For cooking time, allow 25 minutes per 500g.

Roast Pork with Sage and Onion Stuffing and Apple Sauce

1.25 k pork loin
25g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
4-6 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 cooking apples, preferably Golden Delicious or Granny Smith
Salt, pepper

Ask the butcher to bone the meat and score the crackling, but not to roll it. Allow the meat to reach room temperature while making the sage and onion stuffing. 

Saute the onion in butter until soft and golden, stir in the sage leaves and allow to cool. Mix in the breadcrumbs and beaten egg yolk. Season liberally with salt and pepper. 

Spread the stuffing onto the pork, roll and tie with string. Rub oil and salt into the crackling. In a pre-heated oven, roast at 220 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce to 190 degrees and cook for a further 45-50 minutes, basting often. 

To make the apple sauce, peel, core and chop the apples; barely cover with water; cook on a low heat until soft. Whip into a puree.

The gravy is simply a little water added to the pan juices, 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 a glass of water with a little salt and pepper. Serve with apple sauce, roast potatoes and a green vegetable. Serves 4.

White Vegetable Soup

Vegetable soups and clear bouillons make a regular appearance as the first course for dinner at Phryne's St Kilda mansion. 

The recipe for this "inexpensive and quickly-made white vegetable soup" is from Household Notes in the Sydney Morning Herald on 5 May 1928. I'm not sure about boiling the vegetables for 40 minutes and  thickening the finished product with flour though. Instead I've updated the cooking time to 20-30 minutes and enriched it with a little cream.

White Vegetable Soup

3 large potatoes
1 white turnip
1 parsnip
1 onion
1 small head celery
25g butter
4 cups water
1 small blade of mace
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
50ml cream

Peel the vegetables and cut up in small pieces. Melt the butter in a saucepan; add vegetables, and cook, stirring, until all the butter is absorbed. Add salt, pepper, sugar, mace, and water; simmer till vegetables are soft enough to rub through a sieve (20-30 minutes cooking should be sufficient).  

Sieve (or puree) the soup; add milk and return to the saucepan. Add cream; let it come to the boil. Serve in a warmed tureen and bowls. Serves 6.

Episode 13 - Memses' Curse

The final episode of the series is not based on any Kerry Greenwood novel, but it will - presumably - complete the narrative arc of the introduced back-story of the abduction of Phryne's sister by the abominable Murdoch Foyle. 

The ABC-TV website gives this synopsis: "Murdoch Foyle is at large and has been connected with the mysterious death of Albert Monkton, antique dealer. In investigating the murder, Phryne discovers Murdoch Foyle’s involvement in a bizarre reincarnation cult, inspired by Ancient Egypt". 

Has Foyle mummified Phryne's missing sister? And does he plan to make a pair of matching female book-ends?

With no novel to provide menu ideas, tonight's dinner is white vegetable soup, tender young roast pork with sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce and gravy followed by a raspberry souffle. Apart from anything else, I want to use the leftover roast in a traditional Australian curried pork on Sunday night - complete with Keen's Curry Powder, apples and sultanas.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Venison Pie

The recipe for small mutton (or lamb) pies can be adapted for cold cooked venison. If there is insufficient sauce left over from the roast, redcurrant jelly can be added and heated gently until dissolved. No gelatine is needed.

This recipe is enough for two small individual pies. The pastry is one-quarter the quantity given for mutton (or lamb) pie and it worked so well I'm going to try it again with a full-size venison pie.

Venison Pie

200-250g cooked venison
1/2 onion, diced
salt, pepper
125g plain flour
30g butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup rich gravy

Cut the venison into bite-size pieces, mix with onion; season with salt and pepper.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, add the milk and a dash of salt and heat until boiling. Pour milk and butter mixture onto sifted flour and work into a dough; knead well. Cut the dough into two pieces, two-thirds for the pie bases and one-third for the pie covers.

Cut the large piece of dough in two, roll out and line two small ramekins (or souffle dishes), greased with butter. Add venison mixture. Cut the smaller piece of dough in two, roll out the pie covers, cut a small hole in the centre of each and press onto the top of the pies. Brush with beaten egg yolk and pinch around the edges.

Bake pies in moderately hot oven for 30 minutes; remove from oven and pour gravy through the hole on top of each pie and cook a further 15 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with mashed potato and red cabbage. Enjoyable with Vintage Cellars Chalkboard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Roast Venison with Sauce Grand Veneur

In Boulestin's day venison was marinated to make the meat more tender and to remove excessive gaminess. He was dealing with wild deer; for farmed venison, marinating is more for flavour. Tender cuts such as fillet can be marinated for 6 hrs rather than the 12 -24 hrs for wild venison or tougher cuts of farmed meat.

Venison is served with a sharp sauce to contrast with the sweetness of the meat. Boulestin's Sauce Grand Veneur is made from the venison trimmings and flavourings cooked in vinegar, with cream and redcurrant jelly added at the end.

The meat is underdone, 9-10 minutes per 500g. Before roasting, drain off (and reserve) the marinade and pat the venison dry with kitchen towels. Boulestin's venison is larded or greased with butter before it goes in the oven, and well-basted. I pan-fried two fillets in butter, put them in the baking dish and poured the butter over.

For four people, 600g of venison fillets is sufficient.


1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 French shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
bouquet (bay leaf, parsley, thyme)
2 cloves
1 cup white wine vinegar

Cook the onion, carrot, shallot and celery in a little oil for 1 minute; add the bouquet, cloves and vinegar, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow the marinade to cool. When cold, pass through a sieve and pour over the venison, previously seasoned with salt and pepper. Turn the venison once or twice while marinating.

Sauce Grand Veneur

Venison trimmings
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 French shallot, finely diced
50g butter
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons stock (or water)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
125 ml cream
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

Brown the trimmings, onion, carrot and shallot in butter. When brown, drain off the butter, add the vinegar, the stock and the same quanitity of the liquid in which the venison has marinated. Bring to the boil, skim, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half.

Add a little mustard, lots of freshly ground black pepper, a little more marinade, and bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Pass through a sieve, stir in the cream, bring to the boil and reduce until the sauce has the consistency of thick cream.

The sauce can be served as it is (Sauce Poivade). For Sauce Grand Veneur, at the last minute stir in one tablespoon of redcurrant jelly, roughly chopped, and cook on a low heat until dissolved.

Roast Venison

600g venison, boned and trimmed
50g butter

Pan fry venison in butter until browned. Put the meat in baking dish, pour over the butter in which it has browned and roast 12-15 minutes in a hot oven. Allow to rest before carving. Boulestin's venison is served traditionally, with a puree of celery or chestnuts. Mine was served with thinly sliced roast potatoes and red cabbage. The wine was a Canobolis-Smith Alchemy from Orange.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Smoked Trout Salad with Fennel and Horseradish Cream

There was more to preserved fish than Norwegian smoked salmon in the 1920s. Australia also imported "Genuine Shetland Cod" as well as Kippers, Bloaters, Whiting Fillets, Findon Haddocks, Red Herrings, Pickled Herrings, Smoked Salmon and Dried Ling.

Homegrown smoked trout was also on the menu, with brown trout introduced into Tasmanian rivers in 1864. In 1925 the Hobart Mercury gave Tasmanian anglers instructions on How to Smoke Trout:

"Cut the fish at one side at right angles to its length through the meat in front of the tail; then split it all the way up the length of the back, including the head, and clean, leaving the belly untouched. 

Put it into brine for four or seven days, according to size - i.e. a mixture heavy enough to float an egg; then add to the brine raw sugar equal in bulk to one twentieth the salt (before immersing the fish). 

When sufficiently salted put the fish under fresh running water for one or two days, then hang up to dry in a muslin bag ("to keep flies off) in a dry place. 

When quite dry, put it to smoke in a shed with an opening in the roof for the smoke to escape, at least 12ft from the entrance where you put the sawdust for smoking. The smoke must be cold when it reaches the fish, which is hung over the opening in the roof. The sawdust should be thoroughly dry, and no resinous sawdust nor green bushes of leaves, should be put on the smoke fire."

This recipe uses Australian-produced smoked trout. Apart from smoked salmon, the only other homegrown smoked fish seems to be Brilliant Food's smoked kingfish - which I will use just as soon as golden beetroot is in season.

Smoked Trout Salad with Fennel and Horseradish Cream 

100g smoked trout
4 potatoes, preferably Nicola or Kipfer
1 bulb fennel
Rocket, watercress, upland cress and/or rinsed capers (all optional)
2 tablespoons fresh horseradish, grated
1 tbsp cream
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Remove any bones from trout; break into small pieces and set aside.

Boil potatoes gently in their skins until just cooked; remove, peel and cut into rounds about 5mm thick.

Top and tail fennel, remove core and outer layer if tough. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthways; thinly slice.

Mix grated horseradish, cream, vinegar and mustard. Add salt, to taste.

On four entree plates, arrange sliced potato, fennel and salad leaves; squeeze with lemon juice. Pile smoked trout in the middle of each salad, scatter with capers and top with a dessertspoon of horseradish cream. Serves 4.