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Quarter Days: A Festive Menu

September 28, 2018 by in category Quarter Days by Alina K. Field tagged as , , ,

A Michaelmas Menu

A quarter of the year has passed since my last post, and I am back to talk again about Michaelmas!

In my post last year, Michaelmas Goose, I mentioned that September 29th, Michaelmas, was apparently a traditional feasting holiday.

This year, I cordially invite you to celebrate the holiday with me.

In my family tradition, holiday feasts are eating extravaganzas, and so I present our Bill of Fare: a family meal in two courses, the first one of eleven dishes, the second of fifteen, including a lovely green Michaelmas goose as the crowning dish. You will not go home hungry!

First Course

  • Turbot
  • Forced Cucumbers
  • Harrico of Lamb Steaks
  • Cauliflower
  • Very Small Ham
  • French Pie
  •  Chickens
  • Beans
  • Beef Olives
  • French Beans
  • Haunch of Venison

Second Course

  • Pigeons, Stewed
  • Cray Fish in Jelly
  • Crocant
  • Potted Wheat Ears
  • Raspberry Cream
  • Pippins Stewed, set in Custard
  • Artichoke Bottoms fricasseed
  • Syllabubs and Jellies
  • Stewed Pease and Lettuce
  • Brandy Fruit in Glasses
  • Pistachia Cream
  • Potted Leveret
  • Melon in Flummery
  • Smelts in Jelly
  • Green Goose

The Lady’s Assistant

I owe this excellent menu to the 1787 edition of Mrs. Charlotte Mason’s The Lady’s Assistant:

There are many books of RECEIPTS, but I have never met with one that contained any instructions for Regulating a Table.–The great inconvenience I experienced, on commencing mistress of a family, from the want of such assistance, has since prompted me to attempt a set of bills of fare, which I flatter myself will be of great use to ladies in general…It is certain, that a woman never appears to greater advantage than at the head of a Well-Regulated Table…

Mrs. Mason was a “Professed Housekeeper, who had Upwards of Thirty Years Experience in Families of the First Fashion”.

Choosing your Goose

The author provides not just menus and recipes, but also, in an age when food was much more likely to be locally sourced, advice choosing a goose to cook:

The bill and feet of a young goose will be yellow, and there will be but few hairs upon them; if old, they will be red: if it is fresh, the feet will be limber; if stale, they will be stiff and dry. Green geese are in season from May or June, till they are three months old: they should be scalded. A stubble goose is good till it is five or six months old, and should be picked dry. The same rules will do for wild geese, with regard to their being old or young.

Cooking your Goose

A green goose will not take more than three quarters of an hour at the fire. Unless it is particularly liked, it is not usual to put any thing into it but a little pepper and salt, a little gravy in the dish, and some in a boat. There must be green sauce in another boat, made as follows:–About half a pint of veal broth, the juice of an orange or lemon boiled up for six or seven minutes, then put in some juice of sorrel, enough to make it green, and just boil it up; stir it all the time for fear it should curdle, which it is apt to do, and it ought to be very smooth.

Gouty Gourmands at Dinner, Thomas Rowlandson

Are you scratching your head over some of these dishes? The Lady’s Assistant provides explanations and receipts…er, recipes.

I confess, I had to look up many of them, and I’m not at all sure where I’ll find a leveret to serve, much less a potted one! Any suggestions?

Have a wonderful autumn, and if I don’t see you at my dinner party, I will meet you here again on December 28th!







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