The entrée for the dinner party. It’s one of those recipes that I’ve never got round to because – frankly – it’s never really seemed that interesting and a bit of a rigmarole to produce (there quite a few of these!). Grigson says that they are “[a] fine mixture of hot, rich, piquant and cold.” I don’t really know why this recipe is in English Food, I’m sure that there are other canapés in book Savouries à la Mode by Mrs de Salis she could’ve nabbed. Perhaps she chose this one because the ingredients are quite English. Anyways, here is the method, if you want to try and make some for yourself:
Cut some white bread in centimetre thick slices. Cut out circles and fry them in butter. Grigson doesn’t say how large they should be – I used a highball glass. Next put anchovy fillets on each slice – she says three, but that seemed excessive to me for the size of fried bread I’d cut out, so just added one. Finally add a spoonful of cold clotted cream to each canapé and serve straight away.
The canapes in production
#195 Canapés à la Crème. 3/10. They weren’t vile – all of the ingredients that go to produce this are among my favourite foods – they were just odd and uninspiring. There was not too much fattiness from the fried bread and cream, and the anchovies were too much (it’s a good job I didn’t add three!). I think they could’ve been improved if a cream cheese or crème fraiche mixed with chives as suggested on the night had been used rather than clotted cream. Still, they were easier to make than I thought – particularly when I had my army of sous chefs with me! Cheers guys.
The male cook/chef that seems to appear often in English Food is one Alexis Soyer – he wrote a book called Shilling Cookery for the People in 1854. I’ve done one of his recipes before (reproduced in English Food) using oranges. This one is a method of doing good service to a large field mushroom, should you find one, as I did in Asda the other day. I thought I’d quote what he says about this dish straight from English Food as the language is brilliant, though the people for whom he was writing probably thought he was a right old ponce:
“Being in Devonshire, at the end of September and walking across the fields before breakfast to a small farmhouse, I found three very fine mushrooms, which I thought would be a treat, but on arriving at the house I found it had no oven, a bad gridiron and a smoky coal fire. Necessity, they say, is the mother of Invention, I immediately applied to our grand and universal mamma, how should I dress my precious mushrooms, when a gentle whisper came to my ear…”
This is what he did:
Place the mushroom on a round, or rounds of toast, depending on size, that have been spread with clotted cream (I had some left from the junket I made the other day). Have the mushroom stalk side up and spread that with more cream. Season well and place in inverted Pyrex dish over it and bake in a hot oven (200°C) for 30 minutes. He used a glass tumbler – to prevent the smoke spoiling the flavour of his precious mushrooms. It’s a good method, as it does keep all the mushroom juices in.
He goes on to say:
“The sight when the glass is removed, is most inviting, its whiteness rivals the everlasting snows of Mont Blanc, and the taste is worthy of Lucullus. Vitellius would never have dined without it; Apicius would never have gone to Greece to seek for crawfish; and had he only half the fortune left when he committed suicide, he would have preferred to have left proud Rome and retire to some villa or cottage to enjoy such an enticing dish.”
#134 Mushrooms, or the Pearl of the Fields – 8/10. I have to say, although he talks a load of nonsense, he knows how a treat a mushroom fairly. This simple supper dish is maybe the best way to show off the earthy flavour of those large meaty, juicy field/Portabello mushrooms. The clotted cream soaked into the crispy bread and also formed a rich sauce in the cap. Brilliant.
No I’d never heard of one either. A junket is made by mixing milk with rennet and letting it curdle, adding whatever flavour you wish. Essentially, it is Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey. These sorts of puddings were very popular – and still are in France. The English version being different in that the curds and whey aren’t separated, whereas other nations usually do. This is a very old recipe going way back – the earliest Griggers found was in a book from 1653. In fact the term ‘junket’ comes from the Norman French, jonquet, which was a basket made from rushes (jonques) to drain cheeses, says Jane. The junket has fallen out of favour, but is hanging on as a speciality of Devonshire, south-west England. The trickiest bit of the recipe, is finding somewhere that sells rennet – if there’s any Mancunians reading this, I got mine from Barbakan in Chorlton.
FYI: Rennet is an enzyme that used to be extracted from the stomachs of calves to curdle milk. Although still used, most manufacturers used vegetarian rennet to make their cheeses etc. I think the veggie-friendly rennet is produced using bacteria with the rennet gene inserted.
For 4 to 6:
Warm a pint of Channel Island milk slowly until it reaches 37°C. If you can’t get Channel Island milk, use whole milk – do not be tempted to use skimmed or semi-skimmed, it will not work. Whilst it’s warming, mix a dessert spoon of sugar with 2 tablespoons of brandy in the serving dish that you want to set your junket. When at temperature, pour the milk into the dish and carefully stir in a dessertspoon of rennet (follow the instructions on the bottle in case this is different). Now leave the milk to set at room temperature. I went back and checked it after an hour and it was done – it had essentially become fromage fraise. Now slacken off ¼ pint of clotted cream with a little double cream and pour or spread it over the junket, being careful not to let it split. Lastly sprinkle some nutmeg or cinnamon over the top and you are done.
#131 Devonshire Junket – 5/10. This was ok, but sugar and cream always tastes good. I think the brandy should be replaced with some stewed fruit or vanilla extract, because I loved the texture of it. I think with a little playing around, the junket could have a come-back. I am dreaming up variants as I type…
I wanted to do a quick and easy dessert for when Paddy came round and didn’t really have time for baking or anything requiring too much time or effort, being the busy bee that I am. (#85) Caramelised Cox’s Orange Pippins fit the bill perfectly; a hot dessert that can be made in 5 minutes. That’s what we like.
I love Cox’s Orange Pippins; they’re my second favourite apple after the russet. You can’t beat an English apple in autumn. I don’t really buy them the rest of the year when they’re not in season and all you can buy are shipped over from France or whatever. I think they’ve had a resurgence over the last couple of years as I’ve spotted both varieties in supermarkets. If you can’t get hold of Cox’s Orange Pippins, I suppose you could use any eating apple, but these are the best eaters for cooking with.
Peel and core one apple per person top and tail them and cut into three thickish rounds. Fry the apples on a low to medium heat in butter until they start picking up a faint golden colour. Whilst that’s happening make some cinnamon sugar; one tablespoon of sugar to one teaspoon of cinnamon. I found that this was enough for two apples, but you put on whatever amount you like. When the apples are ready, sprinkle over the sugar. Keep the apples turning over every 30 seconds or so and you should magically end up with a nice sweet glaze covering them. It’s important not to have the heat too high, so be careful. Serve them immediately with a dollop of clotted cream. Piece of piss!
#85 Caramelised Cox’s Orange Pippins: 8/10. Sweet, sticky, fattening and delicious. Also, it’s one of your five fresh fruit and veg portions for the day. It’s a no-lose situation. Bravo Griggers; you’ve done it again, lady!