20 February 2015

Cakes and Ale

Today's cookbook is a bit more on the essay side the the actual cooking side.  Cakes and Ale by Edward Spencer is a varied collection of recollections, meals, menus and haphazard recipes collected and published in 1897.  Spencer has an amazing turn of phrase and one cannot ope this book to any page without being thoroughly delighted at the banter.

Wholesome British food is usually sufficient for the ordinary British appetite, without such surroundings as marble pillars.

(But marble pillars are soooo nice.)

Let your sideboard -- it is assumed you have a sideboard -- sigh and lament its hard lot under its weight of cold joints, game and pies.

(Well, of course we have a sideboard!)

Clam Chowder is an acquired one, nor will stewed tortoise ever rank with thick turtle in British estimation.

(We are willing to acquire a taste for clam chowder if we could just get someone to make it for us.)

Spencer goes on and on...

Here is his recipe for a hot-pot, a casserole of epic proportion.

Lancashire Hot-Pot

Place a layer of mutton cutlets, with most of the fat and tails trimmed off, at the bottom of a deep earthenware stewpan.  Then a layer of chopped sheep's kidneys, an onion cut in thin slices, half a dozen oysters, and some sliced potatoes.  Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper and a teaspoonful of curry powder.  Then start again with the cutlets, and keep adding layers of the different ingredients until the dish be full.  Whole potatoes atop of all, and pour in the oyster liquor and some good gravy.  Mare gravy just before the dish is served.

Not too fierce and oven, just fierce enough to brown the top potatoes.

I long for a cookbook that calls for a "fierce" oven!

Clearly, one won't be doing a lot of cooking from Cakes and Ale, but it is a glorious read.  Troll the Internet and a digital copy may be found.


  1. This sounds like such a cool book Lucinda. One I would definitely love to have in my collection.

    I think I'll see if I can find a copy online:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Lucinda...Cookbook Wednesday will be back come March. I can't wait!!! I hope you'll be joing us:)


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