An exceedingly delicious and at the same time un-intoxicating drink is some syrup of pineapple added to a bottle of soda-water and a lump of ice. This syrup can be obtained at S. Sainsbury's, 177, Strand—I mention the name, as I do not know of any other place where it can be obtained; and really in the present day anything that assists temperance deserves mention. Perhaps the most important element towards the success of a picnic is good temper and the absence of selfishness. Just as on board ship there seems a sort of mutual understanding that every one must be pleasant, so is there in these little happy gatherings. Of course, too, much depends on the selection of the company. Avoid asking those who invariably act as wet blankets on anything approaching to fun or merriment.
But, however hot the weather, we cannot have a picnic every day, though some may have thoughts on the subject similar to the little jockey-boy, who wished it was Derby-day all the year round. We must eat to live, which is better than simply living to eat.
Mushrooms au gratin form a very good dish for hot weather, but as fish is eaten first I should remind those who suffer from the heat, and consequent loss of appetite, that what is known as fish souchet is an admirable thing to start dinner with. Those who have dined at fish dinners at Greenwich, or, still better, Gravesend, as the latter is nearer the sea, will remember how exceedingly nice was the flounders souchet which generally constitutes the first course at those admirable little dining-places like the " Old Falcon," at Gravesend. The neat-looking thin slices of brown bread and butter somehow make one hungry to look at them, so suggestive of the real whitebait to follow. The preparation of flounders souchet is very simple. First boil the fish in some water with a little salt till they are tender. Then take off carefully all the scum, and lift the fish one by one into a vegetable-dish nearly full of boiling water, taking care in so doing not to break the fish. Throw in one or two sprigs of fresh green parsley, and the dish is complete. Hand round with the fish some thin slices of brown bread and butter. Eels souchet is very nice, and we described how to make it under the heading of turtle soup. When flounders cannot be obtained, those very small soles, sometimes called, I think, dabs, make a capital souchet; a large dish need not cost sixpence ; but pray don't forget the brown bread and butter.
It is wonderful sometimes, by a little forethought, how a dinner can be improved. Out of the many hundreds who have enjoyed those fish souchets at fish dinners, I wonder to how many the idea ever occurred —" I must have this at home."
Mushrooms au gratin form a more elaborate dish. For this purpose only large cup-mushrooms should be used. Suppose, then, we have eight or ten fine cup-mushrooms—and by cup I mean the top of the mushroom round, and capable of being made hollow. First cut off all the stalks, and peel them, and also peel very carefully the cup-like part of the mushroom, so as not to hurt the rim. Next scoop out the inside of these cups, and chop it up with the stalks of the mushrooms. Take a piece of shallot about as big as the top of the. thumb down to the first joint, and sufficient parsley when chopped fine to fill a tea-spoon, and sufficient thyme to cover a shilling. Chop all these up together very fine, adding a little cayenne pepper. Next take some raw bacon and scrape it. It will be found that the fat will scrape easily, but not the lean. This latter must occasionally be cut in strips. Continue scraping the bacon till you have got about three ounces altogether. Chop the lean as fine as possible, and put it with the fat into an enamelled saucepan. Add the chopped mushroom, thyme, parsley, shallot, etc, and fry it all over the fire for a time. If the mass is too dry, it shows there is not enough bacon-fat; if it is too moist, add some bread-crumbs. Next fill the cups of the mushrooms with this preparation, and shake some fine golden-coloured bread-raspings. Place these cups in a covered stew-pan with some butter or oil, and let them cook very gently till the cup part of the mushroom is J quite tender. They can be served either plain or with some rich brown gravy poured round them. It is rather a rich dish, and of course not one off which it would be possible to dine; but it is exceedingly good and savoury, and not nearly so troublesome to make as would be imagined from reading this recipe.
Should these mushrooms au gratin be required as an entree, where great excellence is desirable, an improvement will be found by adding two yolks of eggs to the mass after it has been taken off the fire. These yolks must be stirred in thoroughly, and have the effect of rendering the insides of the mushrooms richer in appearance and taste. They are not, however, in my opinion, necessary.
When there has been a large lobster salad or salads made, the cook is often at a loss how to utilise the lobster that is left. In the first place, lobster will not keep sometimes even one hot night. One very good method of using up any remains is what is called bashawed lobster. Take all the pieces of lobster left, and cut them up with a knife and fork; chop up a little piece of onion, about the size of the top of the little finger, and a small piece of parsley. Mix it with the pieces of lobster, and a very little anchovy sauce and cayenne pepper. Cut up a piece of butter into little pieces, and mix in, and fill the shell part of the lobster—i.e., the two half-tails. Cover these shells over the top with some fine bread-crumbs, and shake a few fine bread-raspings on the top. Put the shells in the oven for ten minutes, or a little longer, and serve hot. Some fried parsley makes a good garnish in contrast with the red shell, and is also a great improvement to the flavour. This is a capital supper dish after a hot day, can be made early in the afternoon, and only requires what the cooks call "popping in the oven."
Cook will, of course, maintain that the remains of a lobster or lobsters cannot be done this way properly. The reason is, lobster—and, in fact, shell-fish generally —has particular charms for the kitchen. Servants are partial also to cucumber, vinegar, liver and bacon, lamb's fry, roast pork and sage-and-onions, winkles, radishes, etc.—almost anything with stuffing, onions— in fact, generally it may be said that anything that possesses what is vulgarly known as the property of rising seems adapted to them. They invariably dislike calve's heads, and cold boiled beef, or, in fact, any cold meat, especially Australian. Like Mrs. Gamp, they scorn hash, but somehow like stewed steak, both dishes affording admirable opportunities for displays of dexterity with the blade of the knife.
The world, thanks to strikes, trades-unions, love of dress, drink, etc, is changing very rapidly. Where the class of servants is to come from ten years hence, adapted to small families of limited incomes, is a problem to be solved in the future.