Monday, November 10, 2014

Dainty Dishes for dainty ladies?

Davis Dainty Dishes 1932

The 1920s and 30s saw many commercial food manufactures distribute cookery booklets that included the term dainty or promoted a distinct feminine aesthetic. Both Nestle and the Davis gelatine company produced cookbooks that emphasised daintiness and femininity and featured elaborate and time consuming dishes. The Asparagus Tip Salad, from the Davis Dainty Dishes cookbook, involved encasing asparagus tips and the white hearts of celery in gelatine and setting them in a fluted mould. A deft touch would have been needed to reproduce the dish as illustrated in all its quivering glory in the book.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cooking for King and Country

The War chest cookery book

Following Australia’s entry into the First World War cookbook authors and publishers responded as befitted their patriotic duty and which was reflected in the titles of their publications. The War Chest Cookery Book, published in 1917 for the Australian Comforts Fund, featured an Australian soldier in full uniform on the cover. The foreword to the book declared that all profits from the sale of the book would benefit the ‘fighting men who have gone out in defence of their country’.
The Australian Comforts Fund was one of a number of organisations created to provide aid and relief to soldiers in the frontlines as well as those impacted by the war on the home front. These organisations also played an important role in allowing women to feel as if they were taking an active and important role in the war effort and fulfilling their patriotic duties. The Comfort’s Fund legacy has been a long lasting one, at least to the nation’s culinary landscape. Members of the Victorian branch of the fund requested biscuits in sealed tins that could be sent to the front. Historian Sian Supski argues that given that these biscuits needed to be easy and cheap to make and needed to survive the long journey to the front that this is the most likely birthplace for that Australian icon-the Anzac Biscuit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

There is more to Copha than Chocolate Crackles

There are many strange and wonderful cookbooks at the Mitchell Library and you never really know what you will find once you start delving through their catalogue. This promotional booklet for Copha recipes from the 1950s entitled What Shall I Cook Today? proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are many more things that you can make with this ingredient than Chocolate Crackles.

The recipes in this book include such delights as a Copha mayonnaise and kidney pudding with Copha. I dare you to resist the temptation…

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kangaroo Steamer

Front plate of The English and Australia Cookery Book

Here is a great recipe from The English and Australian cookery book : cookery for the many, as well as for the upper ten thousand. Published in 1864 this was Australia's very first cookbook. The author was a Tasmanian man by the name of Edward Abbott, who used the pseudonym of 'The Aristologist". Aristology was a word first coined in London in 1835 to describe the art of fine dining.
In his book, Abbott provided a broad selection of recipes including many for English, French and Jewish dishes. As well, he gave many recipes for Australian wildlife like this one for Kangaroo Steamer. Many food historians consider this dish to be the first truly colonial Australian dish. Part of Abbott's intended readership were those belonging to 'the upper ten thousand' or the colonial gentry. It is interesting to speculate whether these readers would have been as interested in the wildlife recipes given in the book as in the description of the hundred guinea dish presented to Prince Albert or the instructions regarding dress and manners at a dinner party.

                                             Kangaroo Steamer (Authors Recipe)

"This is a simple species of braise, and, as its name imports, the meat is steamed. Cut the meat in pieces of about one quarter of an inch square, and put in a pan with a well covered lid, with a spoonfull of milk, an onion shredded into small pieces, and some pepper and salt to taste. When it has been on the fire a short time add about a tenth of the quantity of salt pork or bacon cut the same size as the kangaroo, with a spoonfull of ketchup. Serve hot"