Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Sweet


Excerpt from Cynthia the Invincible.

Cynthia, stranded on Earth, has met Lord Wroxham, his sister, and a friend. She encounters her first real food in years of time in space.


Dinner itself went surprisingly well. The AR conditioning taught Cynthia manners, and she handled the maze of glasses, forks, and other items of cutlery as if she had been using them all of her life. The food itself could have been a problem, but for one who prided herself on eating Xylub delicacies without anti-nausea pills, regency cuisine held few fears. Indeed, it was excellent. That is until she asked, “This dish, what is it?”
“It is a ragout, of veal I believe.”
“Veal?”
“Baby cows.”
Cynthia swallowed and felt ill. She was eating real animals, real animals that were cooked in a sauce to enhance their flavor, and not synthetic textured microbial protein that was also cooked in a sauce but to hide its flavor. It would take some mental adjustment to this state of affairs.
“Are you well, Miss Morris?”
She smiled. She'd eaten worse, only this was a shock because it was unexpected. At least it was already dead and well-cooked. “Yes, I'm fine. Could I have some more of the frites, please?”
“You should save some room for the trifle.”
“Trifle?”
“Sweet, pudding, dessert?”
After dinner, Alice took Cynthia to the withdrawing room for a comfortable coze. “We should leave Freddy and James to the port and snuff.”
“If you say so. What will we have?”
“Is tea suitable?”
“Tea?”
“Yes, tea.”
Cynthia looked away from her, as though she were listening to a distant voice, then replied, “Of course, tea. What was I thinking of?”

A couple of Regency, indeed classic, English Desserts. 

Cynthia, fresh from eating spacer food, would find these strange indeed. The closest thing I could think of to what she'd been used to as a sweet would be sweetened Tofu with anise extract. The Tofu would be similar to the microbial protein extracted from the recycling system. You are welcome to try it if you like, but my palate quailed at the thought. Tempeh, pickled Tofu, and stinky Tofu would be similar to the sort of food she'd have eaten as a main course.

So imagine how she'd feel when confronted with a bread pudding. 
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
Big handful of raisins (OK ½ cup or so)
4 slices white bread without the crusts.
Nutmeg, cinnamon, or whatever.
Tablespoon brandy.

Butter a dish and then put the bread, in rather largish chunks in it. Throw the raisins in and mix thoroughly. Beat the eggs, add the milk, sugar and brandy (optional). I'd add the spices at this stage, but it's traditional to sprinkle them on top. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Let it soak for a bit. Since “a slice” of bread is an uncertain measure, if it's really swimming you may need to add more bread. Sprinkle with the spices if you want, and maybe put a little brown sugar on top. Bake at 325F (150C) for about 45 minutes until it is mostly set and the top is brown.

Even a baked apple would be a surprise. 
Wash and core as many apples as people. Mix some raisins, cinnamon, maybe some ginger, with some fresh bread crumbs (NOT THE STORE BOUGHT DRY ONES). Add a little milk to moisten the mix. Stuff the cored apples with it. Bake in a hot oven (400F, 190C) until soft. Modern recipes say to wrap them in foil, but that wasn't an option. So I'd use a covered, buttered baking dish. It will take something between 45 minutes and an hour to finish. Serve with custard (I cheat and use Bird's) or ice cream (which is even easier).

My goto book for these sort of recipes is Jane Garmey's “Great British Cooking, a well kept secret.”
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