Cassell's Vegetarian Cookery/stewed
There are few articles of diet more wholesome than fruit, in every shape, provided it is fresh. It is a great mistake, however, to suppose that fruit, when too stale to be eaten as it is, is yet good enough for stewing. We often hear, especially in summer weather, of persons being made ill from eating fruit. Probably in every case the injury results, not from eating fruit as fruit, but from eating it when it is too stale to be served as an article of food at all. There is an immense amount of injury done to this country by the importation of rotten plums, more especially from Germany, and it is to be regretted that more stringent laws are not made to prevent the importation of all kinds of food hurtful to health.
We will suppose that in every recipe we are about to give the fruit is at any rate fresh; we do not say ripe, because there are many instances in which fruit not ripe enough to be eaten raw is exceedingly wholesome when stewed properly and sweetened. As an instance we may mention green gooseberries and hard greengages, which, though quite uneatable in their natural state, yet make delicious fruit pies or dishes of stewed fruit. Of all dishes there are few to equal what is called a compote of fruit, and there are probably few sweets more popular than—
Compote of Fruit.—A compote of fruit consists of a variety of fresh fruits mixed together in a bowl. Some may be stewed and some served in their natural state, or the whole may be stewed. When a large variety of fruits can be obtained, and are sent to table in an old-fashioned china family bowl, few dishes present a more elegant appearance, especially if you happen to possess an old-fashioned punch ladle, an old silver bowl with a black whalebone handle. Care should be taken to keep the fruit from being broken. The following fruits will mix very well, although, of course, it is impossible always to obtain every variety. We can have strawberries, raspberries, red, white, and black currants, and cherries, as well as peaches, nectarines, and apricots. We can also have stewed apples and stewed pears. Very much, of course, will depend upon the time of year. Those fruits that want stewing should be placed in some hot syrup previously made, and only allowed to stew till tender enough to be eaten. Tinned fruits, especially apricots, can be mixed with fresh fruits, only it is best not to use the syrup in the tin, as it will probably overpower the flavour of the other fruits. The syrup, as far as possible, should be bright and not cloudy. The fruit in the bowl should be mixed, but should not be stirred up. We should endeavour as much as possible to keep the colours distinct. If strawberries or raspberries form part of the compote, the syrup will get red. Should black currants be present, avoid breaking them, as they spoil the appearance of the syrup. In summer the compote of fruits is much improved by the addition of a lump of ice and a glass of good old brandy. Should the compote of fruits, as is often the case, be intended for a garden party, where it will have to stand a long time, if possible get a small bowl, like those in which gold and silver fish are sold in the street for sixpence, and fill this with ice and place it in the middle of the larger bowl containing fruit, otherwise the melted ice will utterly spoil the juice that runs from the fruit, which is sweetened with the syrup and flavoured with the brandy. If much brandy be added, old ladies at garden parties will be found to observe that the juice is the best part of it.
Apples, Stewed.—Peel and cut out the cores of the apples, and stew them gently in some syrup composed of about half a pound of white sugar and rather more than a pint of water. A small stick of cinnamon, or a few cloves, and a strip of lemon-peel can be added to the syrup, but should be taken out when finished. The apples should be stewed till they are tender, but must not be broken. The syrup in which the apples are stewed should of course be served with them. This syrup can be coloured slightly with a few drops of cochineal, but should not be coloured more than very slightly. The syrup looks a great deal better if it is clear and bright. It can be strained and clarified. Apples are very nice stewed in white French wine, such as Chablis or Graves.
Stewed Pears.—Pears known as cooking pears take a long time to stew. They should be peeled and the cores removed, and then stewed very gently in a syrup composed of half a pound of sugar to about a pint and a half of water; add a few cloves to the syrup, say two cloves to each pear. The pears will probably take from two to three hours to stew before they are tender. When tender add a glass of port wine and a little cochineal. If the pears are stewed, like they are abroad, in claret, add cinnamon instead of the cloves.
Stewed Rhubarb.—Stewed rhubarb is of two kinds. When it first comes into season it is small, tender, and of a bright red colour, and when stewed makes a very pretty dish. The red rhubarb should be cut into little pieces about two inches long. Very little water will be required, as the fruit contains a great deal of water in itself. The amount of sugar added depends entirely upon taste. The stewed rhubarb should be sent to table unbroken, and floating in a bright red juice.
When rhubarb is old and green it is best served more like a purée, or mashed. Very old rhubarb is often stringy, and can with advantage be rubbed through a wire sieve. It is no use attempting to colour old rhubarb red, but you can improve its colour by the addition of a very little spinach extract. A few strips of lemon-peel can be stewed with old rhubarb, but should never be added to young red rhubarb.
Gooseberries, Stewed.—Young green gooseberries stewed, strange to say, require less sugar than ripe gooseberries. It is best to stew the fruit first, and add the sugar afterwards. The amount of sugar varies very much with the quality of the gooseberries.
Prunes, Stewed.—The prunes should be washed before they are stewed. They will not take more than half an hour to stew, and a strip of lemon-peel should be placed in the juice. Stewed prunes are much improved by the addition of a little port wine.
Plums, Stewed.—Stewed plums, such as black, ordinary, or greengages, or indeed any kind of stone fruit, can be stewed in syrup, and have this advantage—plums can be used this way which could not be eaten at all if they were raw. These fruits are much nicer cold than hot. In many cases, in stewing stone fruit (and this applies particularly to peaches, apricots, and nectarines), the stones should be removed and cracked and the kernels added to the fruit.
Cherries, Stewed.—Large white-heart cherries form a very delicate dish when stewed. Very little water should be added, and the syrup should be kept as white as possible, and, if necessary, strained. Stew the cherries till they are tender, but do not let them break. Colour the syrup with a few drops of cochineal, and add a glass of maraschino.
Ices.—Ices are too often regarded as expensive luxuries, and show how completely custom rules the majority of our housekeepers. There are many houses where the dinner may consist daily of soup, fish, entrées, joint, game, and wine, and yet, were we to suggest a course of ices, the worthy housekeeper would hesitate on the ground of extravagance. It is difficult to argue with persons whose definition of economy is what they have always been accustomed to since they were children, and whose definition of extravagance is anything new. The fact remains, however, that there is many a worthy signor who sells ices in the streets at a penny each, and manages to make a living out of the profit not only for himself, but for his signora as well. Under these circumstances, the manufacture of these “extravagances” is worthy of inquiry. Ices can be made at home very cheaply with an ice machine, which can now be obtained at a, comparatively speaking, small cost. With a machine there is absolutely no trouble, and directions will be given with each machine, so that any details here, which vary with the machine, will be useless. Ices can be made at home without a machine with a little trouble, and, to explain how to do this, it is necessary to explain the theory of ice-making, which is exceedingly simple. We will not allude to machines dependent on freezing-powders, but to those which rely for their cold simply on ice and salt mixed. We will suppose we want a lemon-water ice, i.e., we have made some very strong and sweet lemonade, and we want to freeze it. It is well known that water will freeze at a certain temperature, called freezing-point. By mixing chopped ice and salt and a very little water together, a far greater degree of cold can be immediately produced, viz., a thermometer would stand at 32° below freezing-point were it to be plunged into this mixture. An ice machine is a metal pail placed in another pail much larger than itself. The “sweet lemonade” is placed in the middle pail, and chopped ice and salt placed outside it. The proportion of ice to salt should be double the weight of the former to the latter. It is now obvious that if we have filled two pails, the one with “the sweet lemonade,” and the other with the ice and salt, very soon our lemonade will be a solid block of ice. To prevent this it must be constantly stirred, and, as the lemonade would of course freeze first against the sides of the pail, these sides must be constantly scraped. Inside the inner pail, consequently, there is a stirrer, which, by means of a handle, continually scrapes the side of the pail. It is obvious that if the stirrer is fixed, and the pail itself made to revolve, that is the same as if the pail were fixed and the stirrer made to revolve. To make lemon-water ice, therefore, place the lemonade in the inner pail, surrounded with chopped ice and salt, two parts of the former to one of the latter, turn the handle, and in a few minutes the ice is made. Now, suppose you have not got a machine, proceed as follows: Take an empty, clean, round coffee-tin (the larger the better). [We mention coffee-tin as the most probable one to be in the house, but any round tin will do.] Get a clean piece of wood, the same width as the inside diameter of the tin, only it must be a great deal longer. We will suppose the tin rather more than a foot deep and five inches in diameter. Our piece of wood, which should be clean and smooth, must be nearly five inches wide, say a quarter of an inch thick, and about two feet long. Next get a small tub, say nine inches deep, place the round tin in the middle, with the sweet lemonade inside; next place the piece of wood upright in the tin, so that the wood touches the bottom. Next surround the tin with chopped ice and salt up to the edge of the tub, fill it as high as you can, and then cover it round with a blanket, i.e., cover the ice and salt. Now get someone to hold the wooden board steady; take the tin in your two hands, and turn it round and round, first one way and then another. In a very short time you will find the tin to contain lemon-water ice. The following hints, rather than recipes, for making ices, i.e., for making the liquid, which must be frozen as directed above, are given, not because they are the best recipes, but because cream, which is the basis of all first-class ices, is often too expensive to be used constantly. Of course, real cream is far superior to any substitute.
Ice Cream, Cheap.—Make a custard (see CUSTARD) with half a pint of milk, the yolks of two eggs, and a tablespoonful of Swiss milk and some sugar. As soon as it gets a little thick, stir it till it is nearly cold, then add some essence of vanilla or almonds, or a wineglassful of noyeau, or any flavouring wished, and freeze.
Ices from Fresh Fruits.—Take half a pound of fresh strawberries or raspberries, add half that weight of sugar, pound thoroughly, rub through a sieve, and mix with this thick juice, rubbed through, half a pint of the mixture made for ice cream (see ICE CREAM, CHEAP), only, of course, without any flavouring such as vanilla, etc. Mix thoroughly, and freeze.
N.B.—A few red currants should be mixed with the raspberries. Should the colour be poor, brighten it up before freezing with a little cochineal.
Ices from Jam.—Mix a quarter of a pound of any jam with half a pint of the mixture made for ice cream (see ICE CREAM, CHEAP), without any flavouring such as vanilla. Rub all through a fine sieve, and freeze. Cochineal will give additional colour to red jams; spinach extract to green jams; and a very little turmeric, or yellow vegetable colouring, to yellow jams. A small pinch of turmeric can be boiled in the milk.
Ice, Lemon-Water.—Rub six lumps of sugar on the rind of six lemons, add this and the juice of six lemons to a pint of fairly sweet syrup. The amount of sugar is a matter of taste. Strain and freeze. Some persons add a few drops of dilute sulphuric acid.
Ice, Orange-Water.—Act exactly as in lemon-water, using oranges instead of lemons, and syrup containing less sugar.
Ice, Water Fruit.—All sorts of water fruit ices can be made by mixing half a pint of juice, such as currant-juice, with twice that quantity of syrup, and freezing. Grated ripe pine-apple, pounded and bruised, ripe cherries and greengages, strawberry-juice, raspberry-juice, can be mixed with syrup and frozen. Sometimes a little lemon-juice can be added with advantage, and in the case of cherry ice and greengage ice a little noyeau added is an improvement.