Welcome one and all! Welcome to the first post in the new What the Dickens blog. (Well, actually second technically, but the first one was just an event page really.) From the relative safety of my 2010 vintage Ikea ‘FUROSKOG’ all-pine desk here in Clapton Park I will, on a semi-regular basis, relate powerful insights about the catering life, let you know what we’re up to and will also bang on about some old cook books that I’ve got.
So then, to business.
February is a quiet month in catering and street food so unless you’ve got a regular pitch (which we don’t at the moment) what you generally do is go for lots of coffee meetings and apply for various summer events. We’ve also been trying to move kitchen, which has been an enormous pain. We did however manage to squeeze in some catering. Early in the month we catered at the UK launch of food and travel network, Tastemade at their swanky new facility in Shoreditch. I didn’t know too much about them before but we had alot of fun at the event and got some really nice feedback. We also provided some street food type dishes for a private party in the Reform Club, which was a fascinating experience, in no small part because we got a look at the kitchen set up by the legendary Victorian chef, Alexis Soyer. We had some very informative chats with the staff there who told us that the kitchen is still essentially the same lay-out as it when it was built in the 1840s and Soyer had assisted architect Charles Barry with the design. At the time it must have been the most modern kitchen in the world. There’s a nice little piece about Soyer and his kitchen at the Science Museum Blog here.
We also catered some snacks for a fund raiser at the Charles Dickens Museum on Doughty Street inspired by Catherine (wife of Charles) Dickens’ , book ‘What Shall We Have for Dinner?’, which the museum has one of only a few copies of. Luckily, the whole thing is on Google Books. It’s really a collection of bills of fare but there are also some recipes at the back. Quite a historical month for What the Dickens.
As promised, here’s the first cook book bit. We’ve collected quite few odd books over the past few years and I’m going to post some thoughts about the ones I find interesting. First up: Modern Cookery Illustrated by Lydia Chatterton. Firstly, I really like the logo made of kitchen equipment and we at one stage considered ripping this idea off when we were getting our logo designed. Most searches seem to date this book as being published in 1938 although I have seen some claiming earlier. Mine has an inscription from 1944.
I particularly like “Hope you need this very soon”. Perhaps a reference to food shortages due to war time rationing. I also note that it seems to be signed ‘Lydia’, which is the name of the author so you never know, eh?
The book is quite a standard complete cookery guide with guides to buying, preparation, carving etc. Lots of standard recipes but there were some more unusual ones. The book has a nice section on ‘New Dishes From Left-Overs’. Plenty of sensible suggestions but stuff like this leaps out.
More typically, here’s a good general recipe for potted meats.
The book also has a section called ‘Making the Most of Tinned Meats’. This Boston Supper Dish could be one to try.
Finally (for now anyway) there is this. Once you get over what a weird idea it sounds like, it’s basically just curried rice with veal. This is of particular interest to us as Kedgeree is one of our staple menu items and this is the first suggestion I’ve seen that it has been used as a more general term for curried rice with stuff. It’s also worth noting that it contains apples, which seems to come up regularly in older British curry recipes. I believe that apples are still a standard ingredient in chip shop curry sauce.
Okay, that’s it for now. I might come back to this book in a later post but I’ll try and do a different one next time.