Monday, April 4, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly: Challenge #7 Pretty as a Picture

I just have to start by saying EPIC FAILURE!!!!!!!!!!

Not only is NOT "Pretty as a picture", it tastes like paste!

I decided to attempt to recreate a mid-19th century molded dessert: jellies, cremes, blancmange or flummery. They are just so pretty!

However, I don't have easy access to either isinglass or calves feet to make my own gelatine, so I decided to try a flummery.

The original flummery was a kind of oatmeal broth or porridge. Over time, other grains came into use, in particular, rice - probably as the resulting flummery would be a pristine white.


Boil with a pint of new milk a bit of lemon-peel and cinnamon; mix with a little cold milk as much rice flour as will make the whole of a good consistence; sweeten, and add a spoonful of peach-water, or a bitter almond beaten; boil it observing it does not burn; pour it into a shape,or pint basin, taking out the spice; when cold, turn the flummery into a dish, and serve with cream, milk or custard, round, or put a tea-cupful of cream into a half a pint of new milk, a glass or white wine, half a lemon squeezed and sugar.

The Date/Year and Region: 1837 America

How Did You Make It:

I looked at many, many receipts for rice flummery; one suggested that rice ground in a hand-mill worked better than purchased rice flour. Another suggested allowing the rice and milk to soak overnight before boiling. Only one suggested using specifically "Carolina" rice.

I had several kinds of rice in the cabinet, plain white, jasmine, arborio, brown and even green; I decided to use the arborio, as the point seemed to be extract as much starch as possible.

I soaked it overnight and then boiled it, which resulted in a saucepan of goop. I strained it to remove the lemon peel, cinnamon and larger bits of ground rice.

Then into a fancy mold and the refrigerator, until well chilled. My attempts to unmold it failed utterly, so I scooped it into the bowl and surrounded it with cranberry sauce (receipt below) - I found many references to combining flummery and fruit.

Time to Complete: Hands on time, maybe 30 minutes. Complete time, 24 hours.

Total Cost: Unknown, everything came from the pantry or freezer, but probably less than $2.00.

How Successful Was It?: HORRIBLE! It looked bad and tasted worse, like lemony paste.
Will NOT be making this again. The cranberry sauce was fine.

How Accurate Is It?:  Well, my hand-mill was my blender and, of course, an electric stove and refrigerator. The choice of rice type was a guess, I've not spent any time researching 19th century rice.

Mrs. Ellis's Housekeeping Made Easy, Or, Complete Instructor in All Branches of Cookery and Domestic Economy : Containing the Most Modern and Approved Receipts of Daily Service in All Families, circa 1843, provided the following receipt for cranberry sauce.

"Cranberry Sauce.—Wash a quart of ripe cranberries, and put them into a pan with about a wine-glass full of water. Stew them slowly, and stir them frequently, particularly after they begin to burst. They require a great deal of stewing, and should be like a marmalade when done. Just before you take them from the fire, stir in a pound of brown sugar."

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