23 December 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas by Suzanne Huntley is a charming, narrow book filled with seasonal recipes. They run the gamut from traditional partridge and an orange glazed sweet potatoes to a Mexican Christmas Eve Salad, of mixed fruit with a light mayonnaise sauce.

The Twelve Days of Christmas offers two versions of a traditional eggnog, one with only yolks and one with the whole eggs. Huntley says that most old Colonial recipes use only the yolks. They also preferred a blend of both whiskey and rum. I prefer Jack Daniels and a shot of Jeremiah Weed!

This is the recipe including the whole eggs and serves about 25.

Eggnog with Whole Egg

10 egg yolks
10 egg whites, beaten until stiff
1/2 pound confectioners sugar
2 pints spirits
1 pint heavy cream, whipped
3 cups cold milk

Beat the egg yolks until light. Add the sugar and beat until dissolved. Add the spirits slowly while continuing to beat. (The spirits can bee all rum, either light or dark; all bourbon; or part of each in any proportion that pleases you.) Let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes; then add the milk and chill for a couple of hours. Just before serving, fold in the egg whites and whipped cream and beat thoroughly. Serve in punch cups with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

This recipe is easily halved or doubled, depending upon your entertaining needs. I don't like to "beat thoroughly" as Huntley suggests. After you have beaten the eggs, sugar and spirits and allowed it to mellow you can then fold in the egg whites. The recipe is a bit unclear as to the egg whites. You want to beat them until fluffy right before you serve the eggnog, folding them in at the last minute. Top with the whipped cream and grate a bit of nutmeg over the top.

22 December 2008

Chatsworth Cookery Book

They say you always want what you don’t have.

As an only child, I was always fascinated by large families. Show me a house full of sisters and I’m hooked. It started with Little Women. I followed Alcott with books written by all the Bronte sisters, even The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte!

If you are going to talk about sister acts, without a doubt, the best of all time? –The Mitford Sisters. Who could resist them? Writers, Nazi’s, Fascists, farmers and fasionistas. No to mention the cool nicknames. The youngest, Deborah, was Debo to her family but to the rest of the world she was the Duchess of Devonshire.

Deborah's sisters: Jessica, Nancy, Diana, Unity & Pamela

In 2003 Deborah Mitford wrote a cookbook,Duchess of Devonshire's Chatsworth Cookery Book. In true Mitford fashion, her chefs wrote the book, but it was the regal Duchess who graced its cover.

Included in the book is a charming terrine that is one of my favorite Christmas gifts. Each year I make several small terrines and give them as gifts with a jar of Confiture de Noel.

The pate is called “Darling Budd” terrine. It was named for Margaret Budd whose husband served in the Royal Air Force with Pamela Mitford’s husband. The two families came to Chatsworth for many Christmases. It was during one of those Christmas visits that Darling Budd gave Debo her recipe. It was so popular, the Duchess had it made in bulk and sold at the Farm Shop at Chatsworth.

“Darling Budd” Terrine

1 lb. pork belly, coarsely chopped
8 oz. best pork sausage meat
a small glass of red wine
8 oz. chicken livers, cleaned and chopped
8 oz. bacon, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
12 juniper berries
1 t. chopped thyme
4 oz. streaky bacon rashers

Preheat oven to 350

Mix together all the ingredients except the bacon rashers and place in a buttered, earthenware terrine mould. Cover the top with the streaky bacon. Cover the mould with a lid or foil, stand it in a roasting tin and pour enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the mould. Cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, removing the lid after an hour to allow the surface of the pate to colour. Check the water level in the roasting tin at the same time. Once cooked, take out of the oven and allow it to cool before refrigerating overnight.

I like to line the terrine with the strips (rashers) of bacon.

If you are engrossed by the Mitford Sisters, and not just with my terrine, there is a great biography by Mary Lovell entitled The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family. Diana Mitford's daughter-in law, Charlotte Mosley, has edited several collections of the letters between the sisters. Over the course of 80 years, they wrote approximately 12,000 letters to each other. Imagine what they could have done with Facebook!
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