February menu with the National Mark

If I were planning a meal from the National Mark Calendar of Cooking, looking just at the February recipes, the obvious choice for a starter is button onion soup; however, I sometimes find soup too filling for a starter – it has become more of a lunch time dish for me… so I would put aside button onion soup. This leaves, from the little book’s February selection, artichoke mould – Jerualem artichokes that is, not globe, served with a white sauce, hot stuffed eggs, cheese aigrettes or egg darioles with chicken, veal or rabbit, parsley and tarragon – with a tomato sauce ‘as you wish’.

There are two entrées, beef loaf (hot or cold) with horseradish sauce or boiled fowl with spinach, neither are exactly my first choice, but I think I would choose the beef – so going back to the starters I would settle for the artichoke mould, even though it sounds a little strange. With the beef loaf there is a recipe for Duchesse potatoes… could work – and there are a couple of variations, Duchess potatoes au Chester (with cheese) or potato croquettes; I would choose just the plain Duchesse recipe – I’m not sure I would like cheese and beef.

Dessert – rhubarb sheaves, plum flan or pancakes? Rhubarb sheaves, since fresh forced rhubarb is available in February, whereas the plums would be tinned or bottled (no frozen fruit in the 1930’s) and pancakes would be too much after the other two courses. They sound quite pretty, three-inch pieces of rhubarb wrapped in short-crust pastry, and when cooked, ted into small bundles with strips of rhubarb skin to represent sheaves.

So here is the recipe for the beef loaf – you may be surprised that pistachios are suggested – they are not just a recent addition to menus; as you can see, they have been an ingredient, along with garlic, aubergines, spices, and a variety of other supposedly ‘new’ items for over ninety years!

Beef loaf with horseradish sauce

  • 1½lbs beef
  • 4 of raw ham or bacon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 oz breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pickled walnut, cut into small pieces
  • a handful of shelled pistachios
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • ¼ tsp made mustard
  • ground allspice and grated nutmeg
  • meat glaze
  • horseradish sauce
  1. mince the beef and bacon or ham
  2. add the rest of the ingredients, (apart from the glaze and horseradish) stirring in the egg to make a stiff mixture (add extra egg or stock if the mixture seems to dry or stiff
  3. put into a greased loaf tin, cover with greased paper and cook for 2 hours in a moderate oven 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4, for two hours
  4. remove from the oven, and either serve immediately with a good gravy, or press with a heavy weight (while still in tin) for several hours until the loaf is quite cold, remove from tin and glaze
  5. serve with horseradish sauce

I think we prefer stronger flavours so I would add more seasoning, more mustard and more spices.


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