03 June 2010

The Somerset Club Cook Book

The Somerset Club began informally in the mid- 1820's. It was known as the Temple and the Beacon and finally the Somerset Club. It's present location combines two townhouses built roughly at the same time the club formed.

In 1819, David Sears built a townhouse at 42 Beacon Street on Beacon Hill that was designed by Alexander Parris. An addition was built in 1832, followed by an adjacent house at 43 Beacon Street for his daughter, known as the Crowninshield-Amory house.

In 1851 the Somerset Club purchased the Crowninshield-Armory house and dubbed it the Beacon Club until it was renamed the Somerset Club in 1852. In 1871 the Somerset Club purchased the David Sears townhouse, combining the two into one big clubhouse.

John Sears, great-great grandson of David Sears said of the club,
“It’s a place where you go to have a pop and talk about whether the salmon were biting and whether or not you’ve navigated the pond ‘round the fourth hole and how are the kids."

In a 2002 article marking the 150th anniversary of the Somerset Club, it's then President Samuel"Spike" Thorne laid out the rules.

For those who can make the cut, the Somerset affords an escape from the all too oppressive present. Here there are no baseball caps worn backwards, no harried wannabes, no remarkably rude teenagers sprouting metal from their faces. The club, of course, has its rules, and they’re strictly abided by. For example, a tie is a must. Work papers are forbidden in the dining room and almost everywhere else. And no electronics are allowed.

“Somebody comes here and opens up a cell phone, we tell him to put it away or get out,” says Thorne. Also, it is to be remembered that this is a social club — no touchy talk of politics here. “One does not enter the dining room or the bar with the idea that one has to bring forth a stimulating point of view on a hot topic of current interest."

From 1904 until 1944, the Somerset Club kitchen was helmed by Chef François Lombard, who kept detailed notes. In 1963, the club assembled a collection of recipes with the help of cookbook writer, Charlotte Turgeon.
Here is a lovely soup made from Jerusalem artichokes.

Crème Palestine

4 Jerusalem artichokes
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream
salt and pepper

Pare the artichokes and slice quite thin. Cover with water in a small saucepan, dot with 2 tablespoons of butter, and stew for 20 minutes or until the artichokes are tender. Melt the rest of the butter in another pan. Stir in the flour, and when it is well blended stir in the broth gradually until it is all incorporated into a smooth sauce. Force the artichokes through a fine strainer or spin in the blender. Combine with the sauce and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tasty and brahmin!

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