Another common form of waste is home-made pastry. I recollect some oyster patties as they were called, but oyster pies as they really were, being very nearly as big as cheese-plates, in which the pastry was so out of proportion to the oyster that the dish was almost ludicrous, the impossibility of eating even a quarter of the pastry being self-evident the moment the pie was cut. I have seen lobster patties made on a similar principle, in which, when the top was taken off, the lobster part appeared beneath, something not merely in colour, but in size resembling a red wafer. Now these dishes are really very extravagant, for the reason that they cost both money and trouble, and in the end no one eats them.
A somewhat eccentric form of the " extravagance of ignorance " to which I have alluded, is that of warming up joints that have been not only cooked before, but cut. In the first place, if the joint is cooked properly the first day, every one possessing even the vestige of a palate would surely prefer it cold to being warmed up and spoilt. The probable reason of warming up a joint a second day is that the cook knows of no other way of extricating herself from the difficulty of sending up cold meat. Such extreme ignorance is, however, I am pleased to say, rare. I once knew a case of a loin of mutton which went through the following awful processes :—First it was roasted, fortunately being a trifle blue ; the second day it was roasted again, the flavour being of course quite gone. The awful part remains behind—the rest was cut into chops, egged and bread-crumbed, and sent up as cutlets ; and I, alas ! ate one.
Another instance of waste and extravagance is a ham which is allowed to get musty. It will be found that a ham when it first comes up is very popular, but wait till the middle bone is distinctly visible, and the fat has a yellow tinge and doubtful smell—no one will touch it. But why let it go so far ? Why not pot it ? Potted ham is easily made, will keep a long time, and is always useful. Now, to pot ham, take a pound of the lean to half a pound of the fat, or less—in fact, a pound of lean to a quarter of fat does even better for potting—mince it very fine, or, better still, run it through a sausage-machine,rand add to, say the pound and a half, a small tea-spoonful of pounded mace, about a quarter of a good-sized nutmeg, grated, of course, and about a salt-spoonful of cayenne pepper. Less mace may be used, or a little pounded allspice added instead; one dried bay-leaf powdered may be added also.
Mix all this up thoroughly, and press it down in the dish or pot in which it will be served. Bake it in the oven for about twenty-five minutes, taking care the top does not brown, and then press it down very hard—a weight is a good thing to use for the purpose—and cover the top with some fresh lard, which must be first melted, and then poured on the top. Ham potted this way will keep good for months. Fresh clarified butter may be used, but lard is best, especially in summer.
One very common form of extravagance, which is essentially the extravagance of ignorance, is giving the cook orders for certain dishes without ascertaining whether the materials are in season or not. I recollect hearing, some time ago, of "a married couple living in London, who, liking a little fish every day for dinner, made a contract with the fishmonger to send each day, about six o'clock, what fish suited him best; I believe they paid regularly 6d. a day. It is on such principles that tables-d'hote can be given so cheaply at hotels. The manager of the hotel goes to market and buys— especially in fish—what happens to be plentiful. Good wholesome fish may be bought in Billingsgate Market sometimes at a penny a pound.
Let me now endeavour to tell you how to make mock-turtle soup out of pig's head, instead of calf's head. Now, calves' heads vary immensely in price ; when half a head can be got for 2s. 6d. or 3s., it is a fairly economical dish; but when calves' heads, as happens sometimes about Christmas, owing to the extraordinary demand for them, run up to a guinea each, of course the dish would be extravagant to a degree. I don't know what the price of pigs' heads is in the country, but in London they can generally be bought for 6d. a pound. To make mock-turtle soup from, say half a head, first scald it thoroughly, then put it on to boil gently in some stock made from bones. The drawback to the soup is that it has a tendency to taste greasy, consequently the point to be always borne in mind is to thoroughly get rid of the fat. After the pig's head has boiled for about an hour and a half, take it out, let it get partially cold, then cut the meat off the head exactly in the same shape as the pieces of calf's head in good mock-turtle soup ; let each piece be about an inch and a half or two inches square. These should be allowed to get cold between two large dishes, the bottom one being placed upside-down, as in cooling they have a tendency to curl, and they look far better flat. Put all the bones of the head back into the stock, and let them boil as long as you like. I would mention, in passing, that a couple of bay-leaves in the stock are a great improvement. Next thicken the stock with brown thickening, which is, as I have before described, simply flour fried brown in butter. Let the whole boil very gently, and keep skimming it carefully. It is surprising what a lot of fat there will be on it. This soup should always be made the day before it is wanted, in order to let it get cold ; the fat can then be taken off, but I would warn cooks against supposing that because soup has got cold all the fat will necessarily float to the top, as this is not the case. A great deal of fat is what may be termed held in solution in the soup, and is only thrown up by boiling. When therefore all the fat has been got rid of, the pieces of meat can be replaced in the soup, and some sherry added—golden sherry, or, still better, madeira—and recollect that this latter wine is fairly cheap again now; as, therefore, you have saved money over the pig's head instead of the calf's head, you can afford to be a little more generous with the wine. It is wonderful what a difference this latter makes in the flavour; only just taste it for yourself before and after. Soup like this will bear a large claret-glass of sherry, or even more ; only pray put in the wine yourself, for if your cook happens to " have a weakness that way," it may never be mingled with the soup at all.
I believe it to be real extravagance to buy things that are out of season, in addition to its being foolish. It will generally be found that things are nicest when cheapest; for instance, strawberries are never so good as when they can be bought for 6d. a basket. Who the people are that buy the peaches at 5s. each, pines at a guinea, and green peas at 10s. a pint, I cannot say, but that such people exist is evident from a walk through Covent Garden Market. Such sort of extravagance seems to me to be hardly consistent with good moral character. There is a story told of a lady who was particularly fond of the " Pope's eye " in a leg of mutton, and would often have a dozen legs ordered, simply for the sake of cutting out the " Pope's eyes," the rest of the meat being given to hounds. The story, however, sounds too wicked to be true.
I heard a delightful story, a short time ago, of an extravagant husband who was blessed, or cursed, as the case may be, with a wife who may be described as " a little near." In expectation of a dinner-party, which to him was a business dinner, expecting as he did some friends from the City, he ordered a salmon from his fishmonger, the price being £1. Fearing, however, that his better half would find fault with the price, and being anxious to prove himself good at a bargain, he paid down ios., and sent home the fish as if the remaining ios. was the whole charge. On his return, his wife, with great glee, told him how she had disposed of the fish to her friend Mrs. -, who had called, seen the fish, and, thinking it remarkably cheap, had offered 15s. for it, which offer had been gladly accepted. The wretched man's feelings can be better imagined than described; but the moral of the story, which is really true, seems to be— Don't deceive your wife !