In 1873 my Great-Great-Grandpa wrote a cookbook called ‘Round the Table’. I only found out earlier this year, and since discovering my culinary-minded ancestor ('The G.C.’ to his readers, Victor de Rivaz to everyone else) I’ve been fascinated by him. When I first picked up his book I expected some pretty questionable fare — Victorian cookery doesn’t have a great reputation (meat jellies and the like) — so I wasn’t too hopeful of finding anything I’d like to cook in there. But his book is like an antidote to stuffy Victorian fare — his prolific use of parmesan as a seasoning alone is something that I'm all onboard with. And although his notes on garnishing (‘a hot dish garnished with raw sprigs of parsley is ridiculous’) seem to have been studiously ignored by most UK gastro-pub chefs since, so much of what he writes seems to be common culinary sense for nowadays — pasta features heavily — his recipes are surprisingly modern, unstuffy, and resolutely un-Victorian.
My Great Great Grandpa's Cookbook: Un piatto di frittura recipe
As the sunshine and long warm evenings make a reappearance after what feels like a thousand days of rain, my thoughts are turning to having friends over in the garden, drinks under the oak tree, all soaked up with some home-cooked morsels.
My Great Great Grandpa's Cookbook: A Pasta Pudding
To find an entire chapter dedicated to pasta in my Great Great Grandpa’s cook book from 1873 was a brilliant surprise.
My Great Great Grandpa's Cookbook: Rhubarb Tart
Victor’s feelings on puddings in general he sums up quite wonderfully - they are to 'convey the greatest amount of pleasure to the taste with the least possible nourishment’.
My Great Great Grandpa's Cookbook: Parmesan Soufflé
For this month’s recipe I decided to have a go at the ‘Petits Soufflés au Parmesan’, because when else am I going to attempt to master soufflés if not during a national lockdown?
My Great Great Grandpa's Cookbook: Oeufs à la Neige
Served during October, Victor suggests, after a meal of Brill cooked in Madeira, lamb chops and a Russian salad (there are menus for each week of the year at the back of the book).
One of our first houseguests after lockdown eased was our friend Sophie, who arrived with a carrier bag bursting full of rhubarb.
A four ingredient cake, for lockdown
The four ingredient cake - and one of them is a cup of tea. A very handy recipe for these times.
The importance of cake
Cakes are wonderful. They are celebrations. Even if it’s only a Thursday afternoon at Granny Brown’s house, a freshly baked cake hot from the oven really takes a cup of tea to another level.
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