15 September 2010

Pamela Harlech's Practical Guide...

to Cooking, Entertaining, and Household Management. There is almost more title than book! Here is a selection from the jacket blurb that I particularly love:

Pamela Harlech knows how to clean an old gilt picture frame as well as how long to cook a roast that didn't defrost in time.

It is a real stretch to think that Pamela Harlech was running around the castle cleaning frames only to discover that her roast had failed to thaw. Still, I have always been a sucker for her books. This book is a throwback to the "cookery" books of the late 19th and early 20th century that included household tips along with cooking info. This book is packed with cooking times, culinary terms, illustrations for making suet pastry and cleaning fish, and how to wash papier-mâché.*

The recipes have that old-fashioned English castle feel. There is a lot of pigeon and venison and forcemeat and artichokes, oh my. I'm not complaining, but after you have cleaned the gilt frames and the papier-mâché, some of the recipes might just require some extra time in the kitchen... for a chef. There are some thing even the unskilled might try, like a chicken liver sandwich.

Chicken Liver Sandwich

4 chicken livers, washed and cooked
2 tablespoons crisp bacon, diced
4 drops Tabasco sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together in a bowl and spread on rounds of buttered toast.
Needless to say, there are no illustrations for this one. I must confess, I bought this because of the lovely jacket. This is not the cookbook you give to a novice, but if you have a taste for British high living (and perhaps a staff) this is a fun addition to anyone's collection.

*Wash the object gently with a sponge wrung out in tepid water -- never use soap. then dry off with a cloth and polish with a little dry flour rubbed on with a chamois or other soft cloth.

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