Chapter IX is titled 'Elegant Ornaments for a Grand Entertainment'. It offers six dishes which, while they might be edible, would be--in the hands of a kitchen artiste--quite spectacular. I cannot imagine the hours required to produce these masterpieces. Their ingredients sent me to Google and I have still not tracked some of the items down.
The first dish, 'Floating Island', is still known today in a different form. In Regency times, it was prepared in "a deep glass, set on a china dish". Cream, sugar, lemon and sack were combined and 'milled' until they separated into thin cream and thick froth. The thin cream was poured into the 'glass' and on it was floated thin layers of French roll (?) alternated with layers of jelly. Finally the froth was piled 'on the top as high as possible'.
"The rim of the dish may be ornamented with figures, fruit, or sweetmeats."
"If cut neatly, and the paste is rolled very thin, it will be a beautiful corner for a large table."'Desert Island', listed next, involves building a small diorama in a deep china dish. An island is formed of 'paste' and coloured. The addition of small figures is suggested, eringo root (preserved root of the sea holly--a popular confection for years) for trees and pillars, gravel walks made of 'shot comfits'. "Roll out some paste, and cut it open like Chinese rails" reads one sentence. Chinese rails? I can't find anything about them anywhere.
The suggestion titled 'Moonshine' sounds quite charming. It requires use of a very large dish, and tin moulds in the shapes of a half-moon and several sizes of stars. The tins are placed in the dish basically as place holders and blanc-mange is poured around them to fill the dish. When the blanc-mange sets up the tins are removed, and clear calf's feet jelly fills the 'vacancies'.
"Colour the blanc-mange with cochineal and chocolate, to make it look like the sky, and the moon and stars will then shine the brighter."'A Dish of Snow' involves boiling apples until soft and then forcing the pulp through a sieve. This pulp is mixed with egg whites and sugar, and beaten to a 'strong froth…till they are like a stiff snow'. This is heaped up in a china dish 'as high as possible'.
"Set round it green knots of paste in imitation of Chinese rails, and stick a sprig of myrtle in the middle of the dish."
"An ingenious person may make great improvement on these artificial fruits; but it requires great nicety and long practice to perfect them in it."I suppose nowadays we have delicacies to equal these elegant trifles, but we have ovens with precision heating and all kinds of electric equipment with which to prepare them. To make such masterpieces without the apparatus we possess must incite admiration. In fact, the mind boggles.
As a last note, the author suggests other recipes: "the hedge-hog, the hen and chickens in jelly, the Solomon's temple, and the eggs and bacon, etc. in flummery, already given, may, with propriety, be classed among the elegant ornaments for a grand entertainment."
Amy Corwin will be here discussing Regency Roses. Join us for a guest blog that will surely drive away the January blues...
Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and has been writing for the last ten years and managing a career as an enterprise systems administrator in the computer industry. She writes Regencies/historicals, mysteries, and paranormals.
Amy’s books include the Regency romance, SMUGGLED ROSE; three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; and her first paranormal, VAMPIRE PROTECTOR.
'Til next time,