Thursday, October 31, 2013

Titanic’s Sister Ship The Olympic and American Dry Hash from her Breakfast Menu

I am drawn to the mythic elements of the story of the Titanic –– the hubris that one could create an unsinkable ship, the cowardice, the heroism, the love, the sacrifice, the agony, and the band playing as the ship went down  –– I admit, I am still under Titanic's spell (if you want to know more, I wrote about the Titanic HERE  and HERE) .

Many do not know, and I didn’t before I researched the Titanic, that she had an ever-so-slightly older sister ship called the Olympic –– they were built side-by-side. She is not as famous but has a great story of her own. Though scarred by accidents and war, she was not done in by a physical disaster, rather by declining revenues in the Great Depression –- she went to the scrap yard in 1939.

Many new facts about her came to light when I got a copy of a great new book, The Unseen Olympic: The Ship in Rare Illustrations by Patrick Mylon. Mylon has had a long career in the travel industry in London and a life-long fascination with all things Titanic and White Star steamship Line-related. Mylon related, "My interest in the White Star Line and their associated vessels began when, as a young boy, my parents took me to a screening of ‘A Night to Remember’ in 1958. This film portrayed the sinking of the liner RMS Titanic in 1912."

The book is chock full of rare photographs of the Oceanic and other majestic liners of her vintage including spectacular shots of her construction –– you can't believe how enormous this baby is till you see the how big the building structure was FOR TWO sea monsters! Men are like ants by comparison. His previous book, The White Star Collection: A Shipping Line in Postcards is a gorgeous book too and no wonder. He admitted, "I began collecting postcards of White Star Line vessels over thirty years ago and have amassed a considerable collection numbering over three thousand."Looking at all the images in his collection I am reminded I have always wanted to wallpaper a room with ship art of the period with their saturated colors and crashing waves of energy.

The White Star Line was founded by Thomas Ismay in 1869 (you know the name because of his  son, L. Bruce Ismay, is famous for taking a seat on a life boat on the Titanic when most of the crew went down with the ship). By the end of the 19th century White Star was doing quite well –– so well that J.P. Morgan, great American financier, brought it under the umbrella of the Mercantile Marine Company in 1902.

It took 22 months and between 3000 and 4000 men to build the Olympic. She was 882 feet long, 92 feet wide and 45,000 tons.  The bare-bones ship was launched in 1910 so that she could travel to a newly built White Star facility to be made ready for passengers. It took over a year to fit her interior with all the luxurious appointments befitting the largest steamship in the world. Built for transatlantic crossing, she was black and yellow and carried as many as 2,590 passengers. First class in today's money would be £1600 one-way but most of the ship's profit was made with the larger volume of £450 (in today's money) steerage passengers (talk about economy, they got blankets and mattresses but no sheets). She made her first passenger sailing to New York in June 1911.

The Olympic was not free from trauma, she had an accident on her 5th trans-Atlantic trip when she collided with a Royal Navy Cruiser, the HMS Hawke. A large gash 42’ below the waterline occurred. It was fixable and the gash was repaired–– the Hawke wasn’t so fortunate –– after its extensive repairs, it was sunk by a German submarine in 1914. The Olympic didn’t have the best luck but her problems were insignificant compared to those of the Hawke and her sister the Titanic.

From The Unseen Olympic, accident damage from collision with HMS Hawke

The Olympic was 500 miles away when the Titanic went down and desperately tried to contact her sister ship with her powerful radio system.  Her wireless operators worked tirelessly to relay messages about the tragedy to both sides of the Atlantic –– many passengers and crew knew people on the doomed ship. The Olympic was jinxed by the accident, skittish passengers stayed away in droves but the disaster caused real safety improvements in ocean travel.

After the sinking of the Titanic, the Olympic was retrofitted with many more life boats and safety features. The boat was reinforced and gained a lot of weight as it lost passenger space.

From The Unseen Olympic,  artist Norman Wilkenson's camo paint on the Olympic for WWI

During WWI, the Olympic became part of the “Ghost Fleet” of merchants ships disguised as battle ships. All the beautiful passenger fittings were removed or covered so that she could transport 6000 troups at a pop. After that duty she became a hospital ship for a while and then went back to transporting troups –– since she was fast for her size she could outrun her enemies and traveled outside of the convoy system bringing both Canadian and American troups to the battlefronts of Europe.

On May 1918, The Olympic did something heroic, she actually sunk an enemy submarine by ramming it with her massive, reinforced hull. She was little damaged and her captain got a DSO. Germany was not amused and offered a $100, 000 reward for the sinking of the Olympic and capture of its captain but to no avail. Mylon said “She became the war’s most succussful troopship and earned the title of “Old Reliable” until she was decommissioned in February, 1919.”

This is a gold-plated lamp from a steam ship of the Olympic’s era (only $400 on Ebay

From The Unseen Olympic

The Olympic was renovated completely after the war, including a change from a coal to an oil engine. Although oil was more expensve, instead of needing 300 men to stoke her engines, only 60 men were necessary to run an oil engine and there was no more coal dust and burning cinders everywhere.

She would endure the indignity of other collisions and a see her top quality clientele syphoned off by the fancy new European liners, but it was the Depression that did the most damage. She was scrapped just before WWII began which was a pity, she would have been a considerable asset as a seasoned troop carrier.

In her heydey, The Olympic was quite a ship. Mylon has collected remarkable images of the ship and its advertising material with tons of great photographs and postcards of the luxurious interior.

But how did they eat, you may ask?

Aside from large 2nd and 3rd class dining rooms, there were 2 first-class dining rooms, the main one was done in an early Jacobean style was 113 ft long and the largest restaurant afloat when it was built.

From The Unseen Olympic, 1st class dining room

There was also an a la carte restaurant on B deck.

A la carte restaurant

The wood paneling for the A la Carte room was sold when the ship was scrapped and is now installed on the Celebrity Millenium ship and in a private house. You can see them HERE .

Mylon displays 2nd and 3rd class menus in the book. All meals are listed on the 3rd class menu, only dinner on the 2nd class menu. I found a few other items on ebay and even a 1st class dinner menu when I was researching the Titanic.

From The Unseen Olympic. 2nd class dinner menu, 1911

1913 menu

I ended up making something from a 1913 Olympic breakfast menu full of simple British and American food like Quaker Oats, boiled hominy and Grilled Cambridge Sausage. I saw a dish called American Dry Hash and had no idea what it was.

As I researched I discovered that early-American hash was actually soupy and made from leftovers from a boiled dinner.  Digging a little further I found a recipe for dry hash in a 1904 English cookbook by Mrs. CS Peel called The Singlehanded Cook. It is not hash as I’ve always thought of it with chunks of potato and meat. This hash uses corned beef, chopped up and added to mashed potatoes with a texture a bit like meatloaf. It is made either in a single serving or in a pie and topped with poached eggs (her sister ship, the Titanic served American hash au gratin which sounds great as well).

Mrs. Peel's ratio is ½ part potato to 1 part meat. I liked a bit more potato and fried it in patties. Placed on a bed of shredded, lightly cooked purple cabbage, it would be a splendid brunch, light supper or breakfast dish that would stick to your ribs on a cold Atlantic crossing to be sure. Since I couldn’t find corned beef at Whole Foods last week, I made my recipe for corned beef (recipe for it HERE) using flank steak instead of brisket cooked at a very low heat since it has little fat. It was perfect but any corned beef will work. Remember it is salty so check before you add any more salt. I didn’t salt my mashed potatoes for that reason.

I thought 1 patty and 1 egg was plenty but you can double the amount for hungry eaters.  It's great the next day too.

 American Dry Hash based on a 1907 recipe, serves 4-8

1 pound roughly chopped corned beef*
12 oz mashed potatoes
1 t black pepper
½ t cayenne
3 T butter
salt if necessary
4- 8 poached eggs
2 -4 cups cabbage.
Lettuce (optional)

Chop the corned beef in a food processor till it’s the texture you want (I did mine fairly fine—it looked like raw ground beef).

Add the mashed potatoes to the meat with the pepper and cayenne and make into patties.

Melt ½ the butter in a pan and sauté the patties till crisp on one side and flip, adding the rest of the butter and swirling (flip carefully as they are fragile). Cook till other side is crisp.

Put cooked cabbage on the plates or platter and top with the poached eggs and serve.

*if your beef is not spiced, you may want to add a good pinch of a combination of allspice, thyme, nutmeg and cloves to the mix –– about 1/2 t total should do.  It adds a lot to the hash.

Mashed Potatoes

1 large russet potato, peeled and sliced and boiled till tender
½ c milk or cream or more as needed
1 T butter
¼ t mace

Mash the potatoes with the butter till a good smooth consistency

Add milk or cream as necessary


2- 4 c shredded cabbage
1 T butter
1 t white wine or cider vinegar (optional)

Steam or boil the cabbage for a few moments till crisp-tender. Toss with butter and vinegar if desired.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Horror in the Year Without Summer and a Bloody, Boozy Baba au Rhum with a Fantôme Française Cocktail

Engraving from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

In 1815, Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora erupted. It was the largest eruption since New Zealand’s Hatepe  eruption in 180AD. Combined with a few years worth of accumulated fall-out from smaller eruptions all over the globe, the air by 1816 was full of swirling clouds of particulate matter (the reverse of what’s happening today–– the cooling cover of ash, not the intensifying power of gas). Temperatures went crazy –– freezing in summer, sudden jumps to 95º then back to freezing in a few hours –– climate change on steroids. Crops failed all over the world. Hundreds of thousands died in Europe and America (just Vermont lost between 10,000 and 15,000 people – the loss caused the great migration to the plains). Skies were colored a ghastly yellow, snow was red in Italy and gray in Hungary.

Chichester Canal, JMW Turner

Yes, the sky was yellow and even for fairly advanced and rational European civilizations, terror of impending apocalypse added to the physical misery of the cold, dark atmosphere (think about it, even today some scream "End Times" when cataclysms occur even though we DO know the causes). In the early 19th century they had no idea about the eruption and its effects –– science was still struggling to find a reason that Mother Nature was punishing the Earth –– and the punishment was very, very bad.
Not unexpectedly,  the dramatic weather inspired art and literature.

 Villa Diodati on Switzerland’s Lake Geneva
Most famously effected were a group of friends vacationing at and around Lake Geneva's Villa Diodati. They were forced indoors by perpetual rain, unrelenting lightning storms and pervasive cold and dark in that “Year Without a Summer”.  This dramatic weather was rocket fuel for their creative engines. The names are now terribly familiar, Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, “Monk” Lewis (famous gothic writer of the day) and Dr. John Polidori. Also in attendance was Mary’s stepsister and Byron’s unwanted lover, Claire Clairmont (“ I never loved her nor pretended to love her,” he later wrote, “but a man is a man — & if a girl of eighteen comes prancing to you at all hours — there is but one way…”) to add spice to the mix.

19th c cartoon of corpse brought to life
To while away the time in the cold and damp, they read ghost stories from a hot new French translation of old German ghost stories and spoke passionately about new discoveries in modern science, especially galvanism. That great quantities of alcohol and laudanum were consumed at the house may have had something to do with the literary output the stories and conversations inspired.

The French title for the story collection, Fantasmagoriana, came from a special effects-ful horror show called "Phantasmagoria" that was sweeping Europe and America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries –– sort of the Cirque de Soleil of its time.

Etienne Robert created a sensation with a spectacle combining science and showmanship –– it was terrifyingly entertaining. You know the phrase, “location, location, location”? Robert’s show chose its location brilliantly, it opened in a real Paris crypt near the Place Vendôme using ground-breaking technology to awe the audience ––lantern projectors made ghosts, spirits and lightning appear in the space!

Robert said “ I am only satisfied if my spectators, shivering and shuddering, raise their hands or cover their eyes out of fear of ghosts and devils dashing toward them.” And they did.

Knock-off productions started appearing everywhere once Robert’s magic lantern techniques were revealed (in defending himself against an assistant who had stolen his ideas, he had to reveal them in court where his secrets were made public –– certainly not the result he was hoping for –– he won the case but lost the war).

People loved to be scared out of their wits –– borrowing the name was a perfect way to sell a book of  horror stories.

The Fated Hour, Illustration from Fantasmagoriana
The book, Fantasmagoriana (Tales of the Dead in English), had 8 stories in it : The Family Portraits, The Fated Hour, The Deaths Head, The Death Bride, The Spectre-Barber, The Returning, The Gray Room, The Black Room

Mary Shelley wrote of their challenge that came from the quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore: “We will each write a ghost story, said Lord Byron; and his proposition was acceded to … I busied myself to think of a story, –– a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror- one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beating of the heart.”

From this excitement came Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Vampyre by John Polidori (although he was also inspired by Byron’s short vampire story which was in turn was inspired by contemporary Northern European/Russian reporting of the undead terrorizing small villages). Only fragments remain of Byron and Shelley’s works from that summer.

1820 Engraving of Byron at Villa Diodati in 1816 

In his book, Fantasmagoriana (Tales Of The Dead) author A.J. Day cites various descriptions that Mary Shelley absorbed from The Gray Room that ended up in her Frankenstein. Day also mentions that her Frankenstein was touched by the relationship of her talented step mother with German fairytales –– Mary Clairmont worked with the brother’s Grimm (she translated Grimm’s Fairytales into English). A letter from Grimm to Clairmont told of a:

“horror-story that should, under no circumstances be published in the fairy tales collection because it is nothing more than a horrible story. The people who live at the foot of the Frankenstein ruins tell their children stories of occurrences in and around the castle to frighten them into avoiding the castle and nearby woods during winter evenings.”

In fact, the story involved a magician and his corpse-part monster who lived in the forest after killing his creator and who grabbed children to play with and then ate them when he was bored with them.

Sound familiar? Mary Shelley, like her own Dr. Frankenstein, created a fairytale for grownups from the corpse-parts of a story too horrible for children and German adult horror stories. For you horror fans, both the inspiration of the old tales in Fantasmagoriana and the resulting stories are great reads (if you haven’t seen them before you can get a Kindle version of the stories the gang wrote in a collection also called Fantasmagoriana for $1.99).

As you curl up in a chair before a fire with your Ipad, reading your tales of terror, why not indulge in a wicked sweet?

I sort of knew what I wanted – a boozy, raspberry-bloodied Baba au Rhum named by a Polish Prince after Ali Baba in The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights – it is insanely, addictively good, but I couldn’t stop there.

I thought a drink to sup whilst enjoying your scary read would be a great idea. I call it a French Ghost or Fantôme Française. It’s a champagne cocktail with blood orange and a hint of absinthe if you would like a green fairy, but with a ghostly twist –– the orange is a spirit that comes through the magical Mandy Aftel –– her Aftelier blood orange spray that is spritzed over the glass of bubbly. A beautiful spirit to be sure and wondrous good to sip on a dark and lonely night

Bloody, Boozy Baba au Rhum (with help from Julia)

1 t yeast
3 T warm water
2 T sugar
1/8 t salt
2 large eggs
4 T melted butter, cooled
1 1/3 c unsifted measure flour (you might need a pinch more)
1 T clarified butter for the pan
2 T rum
Aftelier Blood Orange Spray or 1/4 c warm apricot jam (optional)

Mix the yeast, water sugar and salt and let sit for a few moments.  Add the eggs and whip well.

Add the butter and flour and  knead in the mixer with a hook for 5 minutes.  It is a very loose, sticky dough.  If you are doing it by hand just keep pulling and pushing it for a few minutes.  Let sit for 2 hours.  When it comes out it will be very elastic.  Butter a Savarin or bundt pan with a center column. Pull the dough around the pan and press down –– try to make it even.  Cover and let rise for 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 375º.  Cook the Savarin for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Cool somewhat and remove from pan, sit it on a wire rack.  It's best to put the syrup on a warm cake.

Poke the Savarin full of holes and liberally spoon the rum syrup over it.  Some people dunk it in syrup but I would worry it would break up. Safer to spoon and brush and wait a bit after each addition before adding more. It may seem like it's too much syrup but it isn't.

Pipe or spoon the Pastry Cream in the center.  Spoon the last rum over the top of the cake.  You can spray a bit of Blood Orange on the cake or brush on the apricot jam if you would like. Add the raspberries and plant your sugar ax accordingly.

Pastry Cream

1 1/2 cup milk
6 egg yolks
1/3 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
1 1/2 T butter
1 t vanilla
1/3 c heavy cream, whipped

Boil the milk.  As it comes to the boil, whisk the yolks and blend the cornstarch with the sugar. Add that to the yolks.  Slowly pour the boiled milk into the yolk mixture, whisking all the time.  Then add that back into the  pan and cook.  If there are any lumps, put it through a sieve and return to the pan. Cook until  quite thick - it is almost like a dough.   Add the vanilla and the butter.  Stir together and chill, covered. When cool, add the cream.

Rum Syrup

1 c water
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c dark rum

Boil water and sugar.  Stir till sugar is dissolved.  Cool then add the rum.

Bloody Berries

1 pt raspberries
1/4 c raspberry or current jelly

Melt the jelly, add the berries to it to soften but not cook through.

Caramel Ax

1/2 c sugar
1 T water

Melt the sugar and water and cook till darkened to a good dark brown.  Have a silpat laid out and a general idea of the shape you want to make and  pour the caramel in the shape with a spoon.  Any fly-away bits can be removed with heat or hot water.

Auguste Edouart silhouette behind the Fantôme Française cocktail

Fantôme Française

1 glass of champagne
Aftelier Blood Orange Spray or 1 t of orange liqueur
2 t to1 T absinthe* to taste (optional)
1 small cube of sugar

Place the sugar in the champagne glass.  Spray some Aftelier Blood orange spray into it.  Add a spoon of Absinthe if you would like and then pour the champagne into the glass.  Drink on a dark and stormy night to warm you.

* I have finally made my own absinthe with brandy and herbs from my little garden.  It was an extreme blast and the absinthe is as green as green could be.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Osterley Park and Lamb Loin with a Breaded Mushroom Crust

Osterley Park is an elegant house.

Robert Adam designed punch bowl made by Thomas Heming 1771

Not just run-of-the-mill elegant, mind, but a filled-to-the-brim-silver-punchbowl full of elegant.

Osterley was designed in the mid 18th century by one of the gods of English architecture and design, Robert Adam.  He transformed an Elizabethan ruin in what was then the London countryside for the terribly wealthy Child banking family. It ain't the country anymore.

London's Osterley, like Ham House (that I wrote about HERE) was remarkably under-visited when I was there on a gorgeous Friday before leaving England. It is only a few minutes from Heathrow airport's rental car drop-off so visiting couldn’t have been more convenient. It was a perfect end to my English visit and filled me with calm before having to deal with Heathrow (and my cancelled hateful, horrid UNITED flight that led to my wonderful VIRGIN AIR flight) .

Robert Adam (1728-1792)

When I’m inside an Adam house, serenity settles over me -– a sense of order and rightness. However, on reviewing my photos of the house, it concerned me that my photographic representations of these very symmetrical and orderly spaces were often skewed one direction or another –– not at all symmetrical (what can I say, I create from chaos not order).  One may appreciate without the need to emulate,  n'est-ce pas?.

Adam was a great architect (you can see a video tour of Osterley HERE to get a more complete view). He was a master of the neo-classical style, inspired by his grand tour in  Europe –– his love for the antique Roman style was captured in a book of drawings from his tour called Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro. He said his style was "directed but not cramped by antiquity." He studied with Piranesi after all.

From the less successful exterior addition of a" transparent" pillared portico oddly grafted on Elizabethan bones (to his credit, Adam wanted to tear the ruin down but the Childs asked him to work with what he had to save a bit of money)...

The addition has an unusual exterior decorated ceiling

... to the  terribly successful entrance hall –– so reminiscent of another glorious Adam house –– Kedleston (that I wrote about HERE). You walk from the off-key into the sublime atmosphere of a neo-classical gem when you enter the house.

It was an interesting choice that The Dark Knight Rises was shot in this temple of reason and order. I imagine if I was escaping madness, a temple of reason and symmetry would be the place to go to restore sanity.

Adam was a relentless perfectionist –– it took him 20 years to design every element of the house right down to the superb “door furniture”. Have I mentioned how I love varnished mahogany doors with painted woodwork?   I don't usually drool over hardware but these designs really turn the lowly door knob into art.

Adam design for Osterley “door furniture” or escutcheon

 Adam escutcheon from another house

Because of the star-stature of  the house's design, there is a room devoted to drawings for the house (Adam's original drawings for the house are in the Soane Museum in London -- you can see some of his drawings from the Soane Museum collection HERE, it's an awesome sight for you architecture buffs). 

The stairway at Osterley is justifiably famous.

The lanterns are perfect ...

...and the swirling, riotously colored Rubens copy on the ceiling is the perfect foil for the lace of quiet classical reliefs that flutter around it (the original Rubens was removed then burned in a fire in 1949 -– what you see is done from the original drawings).

The Long Gallery (130' long and a remnant of an Elizabethan feature) was used for a party scene in The Dark Knight Rises

Adam's drawing for Long Gallery Mirror (1767)

The priceless heart-shaped mirrored girandoles designed by Adam's rival William Chambers and the Adam mirrors were all removed for the shooting to protect them. Fees from the shoot are being used to renovate and repair the house so it was a good deal all around (good thing too, they have an infestation of beetles in a tapestry room and are now able to do some paint archaeology to discover the original color of the Yellow room).

Green is the predominant color of the house, although blues, corals and yellow are used.

Mr. Child's Bedchamber

The library was used as a set in The Dark Knight Rises.  In the photo below, the bookcase next to the fireplace swings out and is a door to the next room but was dressed as the entrance to the batcave.

The books in the library come via a 1991 National Trust bequest by Norman Norris, a Brighton book collector who picked many of his treasures up when they went on sale after WW2.

A state bed with an interesting double-crowned top designed by Adam, including the fabric.
Child was so horrified by the cost of the bed, he destroyed the bill after paying it.

This lacquer chair is divine.

The "Eating Room" doesn't have a large table in the room as you see in the earlier black and white photo. In the 18th century, gate leg tables (like the ones seen against the wall in the old photo) were stored in a corridor and set up before meals.  The National Trust staff at Osterley decided to go with that earlier concept –– the tables are "elsewhere". The chairs are stored against the walls but hints of dining are evident in the small, quirky painted inserts in the ewer and vine bedizened plasterwork.  It was said Adams hated the idea of food smells.  The kitchen was moved and soft goods kept at a minimum in the room so as not to retain any eau de last night's supper.

Time to think about food. The upstairs rooms are wondrous and grand but the lower levels have their own charms.  You won't be disappointed by the Osterley kitchen.

The underground area is enormous with storage for everything from meat and wine to coal  as well as  servant’s offices that look quite imposing for below stairs.

The kitchen itself consists of a few large rooms that are dressed for the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a splendid servant’s annunciator (or call box) and oven.

Eagle Cooking Range

1906 advertisement in the Kalendar of the Royal Institute of British Architects

The giant work tables and counters are terribly attractive –– they are so substantial, you feel like you could prepare any amount of food the house needed with nary a creak from their strong legs and the center tabletop is made from one magnificent piece of wood.  The patina on the stone floor is spectacular.

Pantry and pastry room just to the right of the stove.

Lemon-apple pie on the way with a sugar cone for scraping.

What would a house like this have been eating back in the day? You can bet lamb was on the menu at a great English house like this.

The Professed Cook was first printed in England just after Osterley was built. Bernard Clermont issued an English translation of Menon’s 1758 Les Souper de la Cour, a French cookbook with international additions perfect for stylish entertaining in 1767 ( the true author is not known, Menon was a pseudonym).

Later editions add new recipes with some English favorites and lots of ice creams (like cinnamon and coriander as well as iced cheeses that were popular at the time).

I chose to make the Lamb in the Provence Fashion from the book.  Being written in 1776, there are a few then common ingredients in the recipe that need translation today. Cullis is gravy that was made (in an early 19th century recipe I found) by browning lots of veal and ham and then adding onions, sweet herbs, bay, mace and cloves with beef stock. It was simmered, strained and then flour was added to thicken it. A slightly reduced stock (beef is recommended but chicken will do in a pinch), simmered with those extras (a bit of ham, onions, herbs, bay, mace and cloves) and thickened with flour should do the trick (if you are using ground veal for the forcemeat, you could throw a few tablespoons into the pot for authenticity).  I think you can skip the flour entirely for a cleaner flavor for the sauce –– your call.

Chibol are green onions. Instead of powdered basil which I don't care for (it tastes dusty to me), I used marjoram but you could use fresh basil if you would like. Lamb is absolutely delicious with the orange, especially the divine New Zealand Lamb loin that I got from New Zealand Meats . It tastes like it spent its life in perfect grassy fields because it did. It tastes healthy and sweet and cooks in just a minute. Although some of the elements of the dish takes a bit of time, they can be done ahead of time.  Bringing it to the table takes no time at all.  The mushrooms in the breading are really a brilliant idea.  If you are in a hurry, you can make the lamb on its own without the sauce –– it's splendid on its own.

For an interesting side dish, I moved forward into the 19th century to Soyer's 1857 Gastronomic Regenerator –– cucumbers stuffed with forcement on a bed of mashed potatoes with a bit of demi-glace. If you’ve never had cooked cucumbers, they are wonderful and especially good with mashed potatoes.

Lamb in the Provence Fashion from 1776, serves 2 - 4

2 loins of New Zealand lamb, fat removed
2 T olive oil
2 t dry basil or marjoram or thyme
3 T finely chopped mushrooms
2 T finely chopped parsley
1 finely chopped scallion
½ lightly toasted breadcrumbs (put a T of olive oil in a pan and toss the crumbs till lightly toasted)

1 T chopped green onion
1 chopped shallot
1 T butter
1 c white wine
1 c cullis (gravy)*
1 T bread crumbs
1 T chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 oranges, 1 juiced, one cut into suprêmes
herbs for garnish

Pulse the herbs, onions and mushrooms to a fine dice, not a puree. Trim the lamb and marinate for a few hours in oil, mushrooms, herbs and scallion mix.

Preheat Broiler, preheat cast iron skillet when oven is hot. Salt and pepper lamb. Remove a bit of the mushroom mix then roll lamb in breadcrumbs leaving the bottom without crumbs. Put oil in skillet and sear the bottom in hot skillet for a minute or 2 and then place in broiler. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Or flip the lamb and brown for 5 minutes in the pan on the stove top, adding a bit more oil.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add shallot and butter to the pan. Sauté for a few minutes. Add white wine, orange juice and gravy and reduce. Then add the breadcrumbs. Add orange suprêmes, parsley and green onion and warm and serve with the lamb, either on the side or on the plate

*Quick Cullis

1 slice ham
2 T onions
2 T parsley, thyme, marjoram
1 bay leaf
pinch mace
1 ½ c  reduced beef or chicken stock.
1 ½ T flour (optional)

Cook all the ingredients except the flour for ½ an hour on low heat. Strain and then mix flour with 2 T of stock and add to the stock to thicken it. OR reduce to 1 cup and leave out the flour.

Stuffed Cucumbers from The Gastronomic Regenerator (1857)

1 cucumber, peeled with seeds removed
1 recipe forcemeat*
1 t basil and thyme
½ bay leaf, chopped or crumbled fine
1 piece bacon
1 ½ c stock, approximately
Mashed potatoes for 2
1/4 c demi-glace, warmed

Cut the cucumber into 4 - 2"pieces, seed, leaving an opening like a ring. Add the herbs to the meat and cook a spoon of the mixture and taste for seasonings. Stuff the cucumber pieces with the forcemeat. Place a piece of bacon on top and bottom of each cucumber, tie and place in a pan. Add enough stock to reach about ½ way up.

Cook on very low heat for 20 minutes, flip midway through cooking. Remove the bacon -- you can fry it and put on the cucumbers or toss it.

Put mashed potatoes on plate, place stuffed cucumbers on mashed potatoes as they are or slice in half and spoon demi-glace over them.


¼ lb ground veal or turkey
1 T suet (optional)
1 oz panade*
salt, pepper and pinch of nutmeg
1 egg, yolk and white separated

Combine the meat and fat in the food processor and blend. Add the panade in pieces, salt, pepper and nutmeg and pulse.

Add yolk and pulse. Whip the white and fold into the mixture.

*Panade: 1 T butter and 1/3 c water boiled. Add 1/4 c flour and stir till dough comes together in a shiny mass.

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