Friday, September 21, 2012

Ragouts and Fricassees

Sumptuous, indeed! The quantities in the cookbook are substantial, the ingredients are the finest, and sometimes exotic, and every receipt is labour-intensive.

But Frederic Nutt, Esq. makes no apologies for these issues. In his introduction--called an 'advertisement'--he states his objectives:

I do not profess to give any hackneyed receipts for boiling or roasting, broiling or baking, but have confined my selection chiefly to the higher departments of the art, such as made dishes, ragouts, fricassees, soups, etc.
He adds:

...are there not thousands of Opulent Families, both in town and country, who wish to give handsome occasional entertainments to their select friends; and who, on such occasions, are not so scrupulous of the expense?
Such families would no doubt serve Soup a l'Ecrevisse which calls for one hundred fresh crayfish, a lobster, four pounds of mutton, anchovy and a variety of vegetables. The preparation time must have been at least two hours requiring several staff, and cooking time was forty minutes.

And then there is Ragout Melle:
Sauce Tourney is a sort of gravy made with ham, chicken, veal and mushrooms.

Other main course dishes include Compote of Pigeons with Truffles, Civet of Hare, and a Matelot of Carp. There is an excellent receipt for Turtle Herbs in Glaze. This apparently is a useful concoction for flavouring dishes, and it travels well, as this addendum notes:
Sweets are not forgotten in this noble recipe book, although Mr. Nutt had published the very successful The Complete Confectioner in 1789. The fact that Mr. Nutt apprenticed with confectioners Negri and Whitton is one of the few details we know about him.

Darioles, apparently named after their mold shape, are puff pasty filled with custard. Peu d'Amours are puff paste shapes adorned with sweetmeats.

Tart de Moi sounds--unusual--to our taste:
Put puff-paste round the dish, then a layer of biscuits, a layer of butter and marrow, another of all sorts of sweet-meats, and so on. till the dish is full; boil a quart of cream, thicken it with eggs, put in a spoonful of orange-flour[sic]-water, sweeten with sugar, pour it over the whole, and bake it half an hour.
As Mr. Nutt states in his introduction:
"this book is not adapted for families in general; the receipts are too expensive."
"it is only in the first families of rank and fashion that these things are to be found."

The jaded palates of the wealthy were, presumably, tempted by these delicacies. I would myself prefer a simple stew!

'Til next time,

*The Imperial and Royal Cook is available as a free download from Google Books.

** Next week my friend and terrific writer,  Karyn Good, author of Backlash, will visit to discuss how studying history has influenced her life and her work. Please join us...

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