Untold lives blog

29 July 2019

Choice little dinners for July

Looking for ideas for summer evening meals?  Help is at hand!  Christina Helen Gwatkin began to compile recipe books during the 1880s when she was the newly-married wife of a Bengal Army officer.  She saved a newspaper cutting detailing ‘bills of fare for choice little dinners on three consecutive nights during July for six people’.

Dinner table laid for a mealImage taken from Isabella Mary Beeton, The Englishwoman’s Cookery Book (London, c.1870) British Library shelfmark 7949.de.26 Images Online Noc

On the first night –
• Clear oxtail soup
• Boiled salmon, sauce tartare, cucumber
• Lamb cutlets with peas
• Roast ducklings
• Cherry tart, cream
• Anchovy toast
• Cream cheese and Gorgonzola, handed with brown biscuits
• Dessert, strawberries and cherries

On the second night –
• Clear gravy soup with peas
• Salmon cutlets with piquant sauce
• Hashed duck
• Roast loin of lamb boned and stuffed, mint sauce, French beans, potatoes, purée of peas
• Fresh strawberry cream
• Apricot fritters
• Cheese fondue
• Watercress sandwiches
• Dessert, strawberries and melon

On the third night (if you still have an appetite for cooking or eating) –
• Giblet soup
• Fillets of sole à la maître d’hotel
• Rissoles of lamb
• Roast chicken with watercress, purée of haricot beans, potatoes, stewed vegetable marrow
• Currant and raspberry tart, whipped cream
• Cheese canapés
• Tomato salad
• Dessert, cherries and apricots

Mrs Gwatkin’s books include a wide variety of recipes, for example curries, chutneys, kofta balls, ragout of rabbit, gruel, a mould of pig’s feet, vinegar cake, gateau of prunes, and claret pudding, as well as cosmetic preparations such as carrot grease for the hair.  She also offers guidance on catering for 20 choir boys, 130 children on a school treat, and teas for Mothers’ Unions, Sunday Schools, and cricket.

Bon Appetit!

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F664/1/3 Recipe books and press-cuttings 1883-1889 compiled by Christina Helen Gwatkin, wife of Frederick Stapleton Gwatkin, Bengal Army

 

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