A Little Book of Suggestions
CAROLINE BENEDICT BURRELL
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
By Dodd, Mead and Company
Thanks are due to Messrs. Harper and Brothers for their kind permission
to use that part of this book which has already appeared in Harper's
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
To give a luncheon is to indulge one's self in the most charming and satisfying form of entertaining. All the dignity of the stately dinner-party is lacking, it is true, but all the delight of informality is present; one has opportunity and leisure to chat, to laugh, and to discuss the dainty and unsubstantial dishes beloved of women. That hostess is to be congratulated who can and does give her friends luncheons all the year around; whatever day she chooses becomes at once a gala day.
But after one has entertained, and entertained no matter how delightfully to her friends and how satisfactorily to herself, there comes a time when for the moment she can think of nothing she has not had. All flowers seem ordinary, all food wearisome. It is for such a[Pg 2] day as this that this little book has been prepared. Not that new dishes are offered in a long, fascinating series, for all startling novelties or elaborate concoctions have been purposely eschewed: this is not a cook-book; it makes no such ambitious claim; the possession of a good cook-book, a supply of cooking utensils, a few canned goods and flavouring extracts, and access to a market of ordinary capacities, have all been taken for granted. But the ideas are intended to be practical, the food given in season and within reasonable price, and the recipes, whether given, as is sometimes the case, or merely alluded to as easily to be found, are all sufficiently simple to be undertaken by a very ordinary and inexperienced cook.
It is assumed that all hostesses are in possession of that priceless commodity which our grandmothers called "faculty," that common-sense which more than anything else helps one over domestic boulders; this[Pg 3] will suggest that if whitebait is not to be had, canned salmon is quite within reach, and from that useful fish a toothsome dish may easily be prepared. If pim-olas are an unheard-of relish, home-made pickles are by no means to be despised. If ice-cream in rose forms is entirely out of the question, raspberry ice made from one's own preserves or from the fresh fruit in the garden is fully as delicious. To assist one who is willing to take the second choice if she cannot have the first, a substitute has been offered for any course which it is suspected may prove difficult to procure in different parts of the country; an intelligent hostess will easily be able to think of one that is even better than the one named.
Rather elaborate menus are given that they may be adapted to one's need. It is easier to shorten a menu than to lengthen one, and two or three courses dropped from a company luncheon will transform it into one[Pg 4] suitable for home use with very little trouble. If one menu is not quite what one wants, she can take another; if something more elaborate still is desired than what is given already, she can take a course from some luncheon farther on in the book; as much variety as possible has been sought on purpose, that there may be opportunity for just this choice of dishes.
The idea of observing holidays with luncheons is only a suggestion; any one of the luncheons may, with slightly altered decorations, be given at any time during the month. Doubtless every hostess can take the fancies[Pg 5] given and work them out to her more complete satisfaction; it is intended that she should do so, for this is not meant to be a complete compendium on luncheon given; it is only a "Little Book of Suggestions," nothing more. And now to something practical.
The principal factor in a successful luncheon is a pretty table; that remains in one's memory after all the details of the luncheon proper[Pg 6] have been forgotten.
No cloth is used nowadays, but pretty doilies are laid on the bare surface; where one has been so unfortunate as to have the appearance of her table ruined by the defacing marks of hot dishes, she often refuses to dispense with the table-cloth, yet if she knew what a very simple and inexpensive thing it is to have a fresh polish put on, she would doubtless send for the furniture dealer at once; even without the aid of that individual she can improve matters by applying a purchased polish, rubbing it in well with a flannel cloth; indeed, rubbing is the secret of a handsome table top. Then, too, she probably does not consider that when her doilies are in place, very little of the wood is exposed to the critical eye, while in that little is reflected the flowers and lights which give a double brilliance to the decorations. But if one is incorrigible and insists on a cloth in spite of all persuasions, then[Pg 7] the next-best thing is to have a pretty one, one with openwork or lace, or at least with a handsome fringe, which will give some effect of elaboration. But doilies are so pretty, so much prettier than any cloth, no matter how beautiful; they come in all sizes and at all prices, from the exquisite Honiton lace ones, which are almost too delicate to use, on to the combined linen and lace which are not expensive; from the cobwebs of drawn work from Mexico, which look as though they would fall to pieces if handled and which really wear a lifetime, to the plain squares of hemstitched linen, which are pretty enough for any table and can be made at home by the skilful needlewoman. One who can make even simple fancy work to-day can keep herself in lovely things for the luncheon table with small cost except in time. The same thing is to be said of the centrepiece: one can have anything almost, but it should be all in white. There are times when one wishes an embroidered square or[Pg 8] circle, but ordinarily white lace is the best choice, for the effect of the flowers is always better if no colour is mingled with their own. As to the flowers themselves, they should not be over-elaborate. Of course a woman of unlimited means may expend a vast sum on a basket of orchids or some other fashionable flowers for her table, but while it is desirable to have a pretty effect, all undue gorgeousness is out of harmony with the presumably informal meal. A woman who plans her table decorations herself will probably evolve something more original and more pleasing than the hackneyed result a florist would attain, should she summon him to her aid. A quantity of roses lightly grouped in a bowl or arranged in a basket has a grace which is not found in a merely conventional arrangement. There are artistic bunches of wild flowers which give delight whenever the eye falls on them, and clusters of ferns which on a hot summer's day make one feel cool and comfortable. A pot[Pg 9] of growing violets is a simple thing, but it is infinitely better than a "design" from a greenhouse. No one should despair if she cannot have a professional to help her arrange the flowers for her luncheon table; let her give thanks.
There are combinations of flowers which give prettier effect than does one flower alone, such as jonquils and violets, or white hyacinths, or[Pg 10] mignonette and Roman hyacinths, or scarlet carnations and white roses. A little study will enable the hostess to plan something unique and attractive. Indeed, her personal touch is needed nowhere so much as here, since she can stamp her decorations with her individuality.
Besides the flowers, a decorative effect is given to the table by the small dishes of silver, or silver-gilt, and cut glass, which stand around the centrepiece and hold salted nuts, bonbons, almonds, candied ginger, crystallised fruits, and often peeled radishes, celery hearts, and jelly as well. These are seen in silver with a stem three inches high for the daintier things, but any pretty bonbon dishes are correct form, whatever they are.
After these things are in place, the silver is next to be considered: luckily the fashion of displaying all one happens to own is no longer considered in good taste; it was always rather vulgar and savoured of the shop, and no one can regret that the fancy has gone by. All that is[Pg 11] needed now is the oyster fork, or, if fruit is to be the first course, a spoon or fork on the right, then the soup spoon, and either one or two knives as will be needed; on the left either two or three forks; the handsome dessert or ice cream spoon may lie across the top of the plate. There are always changes going on in table silver, yet good things are really never out of date. For instance, bouillon spoons have perfectly circular bowls at present, yet if one does not happen to own a set of these, teaspoons do quite as well to use with small cups or bowls. So with salad forks; the tines grow longer or shorter from season to season, yet any fork may be used for salad, whether intended for that particular course or not. Ordinary ice-cream spoons or forks are modified also; sometimes one sees a combination of the two, or a spade-shaped spoon is pronounced the only proper thing. Since every[Pg 12] year brings out something new, the only safe rule for the housekeeper to observe is to buy things which are not extreme, and then use them with an easy mind, whatever be the fancies of the day.
The custom of having a decorated service plate at each place is such a good one that it is likely to remain long in vogue. It is intended to hold the oyster plate, the plate with the bouillon bowl if the latter has no saucer, and the plate with the first hot course, after which it is removed with the one that has been used. When the guests come to the table this service plate holds a roll folded in a napkin.
Small bowls with two handles are used for the bouillon or soup at luncheon, but if one does not have them, an ordinary cup of rather good size is substituted. The plates used are ordinarily of rather smaller size than those seen at dinner, as the dishes are of a lighter character, and the handsomest are reserved for the fingerbowls, which[Pg 13] are put on the table with the bonbons and coffee only, unless the meal begins with fruit, when they appear twice.
The question of lighting the table is one that often puzzles young housekeepers or novices at entertaining. "Shall we use candles at luncheon?" they ask, bewildered at the seeming absurdity of the idea. At first thought it may seem that is a foolish thing to do, yet there is good reason for having them at certain times. In the city, especially in winter, the dining-room is apt to be dark and therefore gloomy, and the cheerful glow of candles is both attractive and hospitable. Besides, they are extremely decorative: indeed, one sees them unlighted sometimes at formal luncheons when the day is sunny, used entirely for the colour they give the table. On the other hand, they should not be recklessly and indiscriminately used, for there are days when they would be ridiculously out of place, as in the summer, with open windows and a[Pg 14] flood of brilliant light in the room. They are also out of place at a very simple meal to which only a few friends sit down, but they are in keeping with a rather elaborate company luncheon, and on a table set for such a meal they are both beautiful and appropriate.
There are other pretty ways of lighting the table besides using candles; there are devices to be used where electricity is available, such as lovely little electric candles with rose shades which give the effect of real flowers; then there are varieties of lamps, especially the so-called "fairy lamp," a pretty thing which is very practical as well as attractive; there are also combinations of the lamp and candle,[Pg 15] which have in their favour the fact that they do not take fire and destroy their shades. But nothing is ever prettier than the old-fashioned wax candle in white or colour, in silver candlesticks, with or without shades. Nothing gives such reflections on the dishes, the silver and glass, and the mirror-like surface of polished wood as their flickering lights. If one owns several of these, she has the foundation for endless variety. She may group them in twos, or stand them singly about the table, or she may buy a branched top and convert one into a candelabrum, or she may arrange several candelabra in the same way.
As to shades, a clever woman can always keep herself supplied with prettier ones than the shops can afford, provided she is skilful with the needle and paint brush. She can have them of plain pasteboard with a border in colours and a pattern of painted flowers, or a conventional design. Or, she can buy dozens of silk or cotton rose petals and make[Pg 16] really beautiful things with them. Or, if she has plenty of money and no time to spare, she can buy almost anything, from simple shades of paper roses or chrysanthemums to imported arrangements made by artistic fingers in silk and flowers together. Unless, however, she is prepared to buy a new set quite frequently, she will always invest in one or two more than she needs, lest some day she finds one burned and none to match it in the shops.
Guest cards are really necessary,—primarily, in order to avoid confusion in seating a number of persons in a short time, but with a secondary reason for their existence which is not to be overlooked: they enable the hostess to seat together those who have most in common and who will start the ball of conversation rolling, and keep it going.[Pg 17] Many a meal has proved stupid and tiresome to some one because she sat by an uncongenial fellow-guest; a hostess shows her tact—or her lack of it—by the way she plans the seats of those who are to surround the table.
As to favours, they are in no way essential; they are suggested here merely because they afford some opportunity for originality, and serve to break the ice at the very beginning of a meal. They are not for the older woman, who will doubtless despise them, but for the girl-hostess who is gay enough still to care for whatever raises a laugh. They should depend for their worth not on any intrinsic value, for they should have none, but on their cleverness, their appropriateness; those mentioned are only "suggestions;" every hostess should from these go on to others which have more to them.
Just a word of warning as to the menu. Do not try and transform into a "function" what should be only a light and pleasant luncheon. The[Pg 18] moment that is done, and a demand is made for extreme thought and preparation on the part of the hostess, and formality on the part of the guests, that moment the whole affair becomes a weariness to the flesh and spirit, and the charm is gone. There is no limit to the number of courses a hostess may offer if she really sets out to show what she can do if she tries; every year gastronomic possibilities increase, and an ambitious woman may pile patés on croquettes, and salads on sherbets, and creams on top of everything else ad libitum, if she so wishes. But a luncheon should be a luncheon, not a cooking-school display. It should be delightful to the eye, delicious to the palate, sufficiently elaborate to show respect to one's guests, and yet simple enough to be in good taste; restraint rather than ostentatious display should give the meal the refining touch which is needed to make it really complete.
By a happy omen our year begins with a gala day; time was when the very mention of New Year's Day brought to our minds the thought of confusion and fatigue, but all that is past; nowadays we observe the incoming of the year with quiet entertaining of our friends with small receptions, family dinner-parties, and luncheons, more or less elaborate. It is not necessary, however, that all New Year luncheons should come on the very day itself, for one can have all the essential features at a meal given during the first half of the month. But whenever it comes, it should be a scarlet luncheon as far as the decorations are concerned, for January days are sure to be gloomy. For a large company a beautiful table can be arranged with a central mass of poinsettias in a gilded basket, scarlet[Pg 20] candles, and something scarlet in the menu, just enough to emphasize the idea of the luncheon. If the table is a small one and the poinsettias are too large to be effective, have a bowl of scarlet carnations with asparagus ferns, or put the flowers in a mound of moss. If you have silver candlesticks,—and they are the prettiest of all,—you can group them in twos, provided they are not too large, putting them at either[Pg 21] end of an oblong table, or having three pairs if the table is round. It is always in keeping on a dark day to have the candles unshaded, the glow reflected on the polished surfaces giving a peculiarly brilliant and cosy effect; if shades are preferred, of course they should be[Pg 22] scarlet, like the candles. Put a quantity of small dishes about, containing olives, salted almonds, candied ginger or fruits, and bonbons; they are not only useful, but help to decorate the table. Use doilies in preference to a cloth, and a centrepiece of lace, or[Pg 23] embroidered linen and lace.
The obvious thing in the way of a guest card is a calendar, in some form; if you sketch you can make one that is prettier and more characteristic than one that is purchased. A tiny calendar may be mounted on a square of cardboard with a small snow scene in the background, or a picture of Father Time may be placed above a quotation; or there may be an outline of an hour-glass above the calendar and the guest's name and the date of the luncheon below.
Green Pea Bisque. Croutons.
Creamed Fish in Cucumbers.
Quail on Fried Mush. Currant Jelly.
Potato Puff. French Peas. Hot Rolls.
Tomato Jelly in Forms. Mayonnaise.
Pim-olas. Cheese Straws.
Snowball Ices. Snowball Cakes.
For the cocktail, select small oysters and pour over them a dressing made by mixing two teaspoonfuls of horse-radish with the juice of two lemons, two teaspoonfuls of tomato catsup and one of Tabasco sauce. This rule makes enough for five persons. Put eight oysters in a tall, shallow glass and cover with this dressing and put on the ice long enough to thoroughly chill them. The cocktail is also prettily served in ice-shells which are to be had of the caterer, or one can make them at home by piling up small, scalloped tins half filled with water and freezing; the tins will separate readily when they are slightly warmed.
If one lives where cucumbers are procurable in January, a delicious dish is made by cutting off a slice from each cucumber, scooping out the inside, heating them, filling with a thick creamed fish, replacing the slice and serving hot. The combination of the fish and cucumber flavours is delightful. If one is away from the city markets, however, have a[Pg 25] course of lobster cutlets with sauce tartare in the place of this. The salad is one of the best and most attractive for a winter's day. It is made by heating, seasoning, and straining the thick part of canned tomatoes and setting them with gelatine in small individual moulds,—little rings are pretty,—and when they are firm turning them out on the inner leaves of lettuce; the inside of such a circle is to be filled with mayonnaise, or, if the jelly is in mounds, the mayonnaise is to be heaped around each and the whole sprinkled with chopped parsley.
The ice cream can be furnished by the caterer in the form of perfect snowballs, which are attractive on a winter's day, especially with the cakes, but if they are not to be had a white cream served with maraschino cherries is delicious. The cakes are made by scooping out rounded spoonfuls from a large angels' food and dipping them first in warm, boiled frosting and then rolling them in grated cocoanut. No[Pg 26] sherbet is suggested for this luncheon, as one cold dish is enough for a January meal; still, if you wish to make it rather more elaborate you can introduce a course of orange ice or Roman punch after the quail; or you may make a formal luncheon of it by changing it in several ways.
Oysters on the Half-Shell.
Green Pea Bisque. Croutons.
Lobster Cutlets. Sauce Tartare.
Slices of Turkey-Breast. Currant Jelly.
Quail on Toast. French Dressed Lettuce.
Snowball Ices. Snowball Cakes.
The twenty-seventh of January is Mozart's birthday, and this anniversary gives opportunity for entertaining a group of friends who have musical[Pg 27] tastes, or possibly a musical club. The guests might be asked to come at eleven o'clock, and a musicale might precede the luncheon.
Lay the table very much as for the New Year's day luncheon, with red flowers, candles, and other decoration, and if you wish to emphasise the national colours of Germany, Mozart's home, have red and chocolate bonbons on the table and give each guest a little knot of red and white carnations tied with black ribbons. For cards, go to the printer and have him strike off small cuts of Mozart's head on squares of cardboard; all printers have cuts of distinguished people, and they can be reproduced for about a dollar a dozen. Just under the cut draw in pen and ink a bar of music from one of the composer's works with his name attached in tiny letters.
At each plate may be one of the ingenious favours to be had at the confectioner's in the shape of a violin, a small piano, a banjo, a harp, or a mandolin. The ices may also be in these same shapes.
Clam Broth with Strips of Toast.
Pigs in Blankets.
Veal Cutlets, Breaded.
Sweet Potato Croquettes. Asparagus Tips.
Cream Cheese Salad. Nut Sandwiches.
Ice Cream in Forms. Cakes.
The pigs in blankets are made by seasoning large oysters and folding each one in a very thin strip of bacon, pinning it with a small toothpick and browning in the frying-pan. The cutlets are to be cut in strips the size and shape of croquettes, breaded and fried. The asparagus served with this is, of course, canned. The salad is made by adding a little olive oil or cream to cream cheese, colouring it green[Pg 29] with fruit colouring and moulding into balls the size of a hickory nut. These are to be laid on lettuce and a spoonful of mayonnaise added. A pretty change from the ordinary mayonnaise may be used with these green balls: a tablespoonful of unsweetened, condensed milk is used in place of the yolk of an egg; it is beaten, the oil and vinegar or lemon juice and seasoning added exactly in the same order and proportion as is[Pg 30] usual; the result will be a stiff, foamy white mayonnaise. The sandwiches to serve with this salad are made of chopped English walnuts spread on bread and butter with just enough mayonnaise to moisten them.
Nothing could give children greater pleasure than a luncheon given for them, especially a Japanese luncheon, which affords opportunity for odd and pretty decorations. The dining-room should be darkened and wires drawn across from side to side, fastened to the picture moulding; from these may be hung a dozen or more very small paper lanterns, some over the table and others about the room. In the centre of the table may stand two good-sized Japanese dolls, back to back, with a Japanese umbrella over them. Instead of the usual doilies or table-cloth, the[Pg 31] table may be spread with delicate white Japanese paper napkins with lace borders, and about it may be scattered small metal trays, purchased at a curio shop, filled with candied ginger, candied orange peel, Japanese nuts, and various oriental sweets. At each plate may be a little lacquer box filled with candy, and the ice cream may be either in the forms of Japanese children or else a plain cream served in small scarlet tea boxes to be had also at the Japanese stores. The china used for this luncheon might be Japanese, to keep everything in harmony.
The menu for a children's luncheon should be a very simple one if the children are young; in this one the salad may be omitted if it is thought best.
Cream of Celery Soup.
Scalloped Fish in Shells.
Stewed Chicken. Potatoes. Peas.
Bread and Butter Sandwiches.
Celery Salad. Crackers.
Ice Cream. Cakes. Cocoa.
This Japanese luncheon is quite pretty enough for children of a larger growth. With a more elaborate menu, decorations of artificial camellias or peach blossoms, and if it is desired to have it really oriental, Japanese costumes for both hostess and guests, it might be easily carried out very attractively. A menu which would suggest Japanese cooking without actually following it might be something like this:—
Brown Soup with Forcemeat Balls.
Fish, Baked in Shells with Chopped Pickle over it.
Chicken and Rice Stewed with Curry.
Devilled Eggs on Lettuce. Mayonnaise.
Ice Cream in Japanese Boxes.
Tea. Candied Ginger. Japanese Nuts.
Another luncheon which small children would enjoy hugely would be one in which everything suggested their friend Alice of Wonderland. The table should be laid as for an ordinary luncheon, and in the centre should be a mass of green with the hero of the book, the White Rabbit himself, standing erect in the middle, dressed as in the familiar frontispiece, in a plaid coat and waistcoat, holding a watch. Each child should have a card with its name and a sketch of one of the familiar characters in the story, such as the Mock Turtle, the Dormouse, the March Hare, the White Queen or Humpty Dumpty, with one of their famous sayings written beneath. All the candies on the table should be in the shapes of animals; animal crackers should be served with the cocoa, and if possible the ice cream should be in the shape of white rabbits.
Children's luncheons depend for their success, not so much on an elaborate menu or handsome decoration of flowers, as on small,[Pg 34] ingenious devices which appeal to them. Anything which seems to their unsophisticated souls novel or beautiful will give infinite pleasure and will never be forgotten. Such a decoration as was used for a dinner-party at the White House not many years ago might well be reproduced for a child's luncheon with the assurance that it would be a great success.
A long, narrow pan of water stood on an oblong table, the outside completely hidden by small, growing ferns, planted in moss. In the centre of the pan was a miniature rockery, a pile of stones the size of one's fist, with these same ferns planted in all the crevices. But the charming thing was a little flock of china ducks, geese, swans, and tiny yellow goslings which floated on the surface of this small lake, moving somewhat as the table was stirred more or less by the restless guests. This arrangement for a children's party would be irresistible.[Pg 35]
This month brings the two most important gala days of the year, and gives therefore the best possible opportunity for entertaining at luncheon. Then, too, this is the time when every one is giving teas, dinners, and social affairs of all sorts and the sense of gaiety is inspiring to all hostesses. In cities the spring flowers, fruits, and vegetables begin to come in with this month, and there ample scope is given for a fresh and delicious menu. Of course, where one has no access to large markets she must content herself with the usual winter foods, yet with a little ingenuity she can give the impression of a spring-like[Pg 36] meal, using the resources at her command.
A luncheon on Valentine's Day is one of the prettiest possible, for the[Pg 37] profusion of flowers which might be excessive at another time is quite the proper thing now, and the accessories of the occasion, the ribbon bows, the cupids, the heart-shaped cakes and ices all make the table attractive. Lay it as daintily as possible with your most elaborate doilies, your prettiest candle-shades, and all your odd little dishes of silver. Of course, pink is the colour to choose, and the more pink roses[Pg 38] you can have, the better. A very beautiful table which will suggest the day at first sight is set with five tall slender glass vases, one in the centre and four grouped around it at intervals filled with roses. This arrangement really takes no more flowers than is required for one large bunch, but the effect is of far more. The florist will sell or rent to you a large snow-white dove, the emblem of Venus, which can be suspended from the ceiling with an invisible wire; you can tie a number of narrow pink ribbons to his feet, or to his bill, and draw them down to the[Pg 39] table, fastening two or three by each plate with a pink rose. If you have a large bisque Cupid it will do quite as well as the dove, and if you prefer to use vines instead of ribbon, these will form a sort of bower under which the meal is served. Put the central vase on a lace centrepiece laid over pink silk, and if your doilies are of lace they, too, may be lined with pink for this one occasion. There are candle-shades made of small paper roses which are very inexpensive and pretty, and these may be used with pink candles in silver sticks. If you fancy the idea, large pink satin bows laid on the corners of the table, if it is a square one, or at intervals if the table is round, add to the colour. Fill your bonbon dishes with small heart-shaped candies, pink-iced cakes of the same shape, and candied rose leaves, in addition to those filled with the usual olives and salted almonds.
Your guest cards will of course be valentines, and you can buy them in[Pg 40] any variety and at any price, but the most appropriate are those painted with old-fashioned figures, or with Watteau-like groups. Of course, if these valentines are on heart-shaped cardboard they are still better; it is easy for one who paints in water-colour to decorate such pieces of board with figures and an appropriate rhyme or a quotation, adding the name of the guest and the date of the luncheon. Besides these cards, there are boxes in heart shapes of all prices, from the plain ones which need the addition of sketches, to those of satin which come from Paris and cost a small fortune. The plainer boxes may take the place of guest cards, and so serve a double duty; in any case, the boxes may be filled either with tiny candy hearts or with rose leaves such as are in the small dishes.
The sandwiches served with the meal are of course to be cut out with a heart-shaped cutter, as are the cakes, and the latter should have small[Pg 41] silver arrows stuck through each of them.
Clams on the Half-Shell.
Cream of Spinach Soup with Whipped Cream.
Whitebait. Brown Bread and Butter.
Chicken Mousse. Stoned Olives.
Chops with Peas. Bermuda Potatoes.
Grape Fruit Salad. Cheese Sandwiches.
Ice Cream Hearts. Cakes.
The cream of spinach soup is made by cooking the vegetable until very tender, pressing it through a sieve and adding hot, thickened milk; a little whipped cream is to be put in the bouillon cups before the soup is poured in. The whitebait is one of the most delicious things in our winter markets; it is a very tiny fish of delicate flavour, and while it is rather expensive at first thought, it is not so in reality, for it is so light that a pound goes a long way. It is cooked after being dredged[Pg 42] with flour, by frying for only a moment in a wire basket in hot fat, and served with a bit of lemon on rounds of lace paper; brown bread and butter in thin strips is passed with it. If it is not to be had, and of course outside a city it is difficult to obtain, lobster Newburgh, made from the canned fish, is an excellent substitute. About a pint of the meat is needed for eight persons; a half-pint of cream is put on the stove with the yolks of two well-beaten eggs; when it thickens the lobster is added, then the seasoning and last a dash of sherry, and it is served in ramekins or paper cases.
The chicken mousse is a cold dish, made by chopping and pounding the cooked white meat of chicken until it is a paste, seasoning, and adding enough chicken stock in which gelatine has been dissolved to thoroughly moisten it; it is then whipped with an egg-beater until light, pressed[Pg 43] in a pan, and allowed to harden; sometimes in addition to the stock a half cup of whipped cream is mixed in, and this is an improvement to the ordinary rule for making it. When it is to be used it is sliced and cut out in heart-shaped pieces; two stoned olives are put on the plate with each piece, or, if you prefer it, a spoonful of sauce tartare.
The ices may be of strawberry cream or of raspberry ice or a mixture of both, they are to be heart-shaped, as has been said, and each one should have a sugar arrow stuck through it. If you prefer roses to hearts, these should be laid on lace papers. If this course must be prepared at home, the cream can easily be coloured a rose tint with fruit colour, and a spoonful served in a dainty little box made of pasteboard covered with rose crêpe paper, cut to resemble petals of the flower, tied with ribbons to match.
The twenty-second of February suggests that an almost unlimited amount of ingenuity may be spent in preparing a meal in honour of the Father of our Country. There is opportunity for decoration such as few gala days offer, and this may easily be the prettiest luncheon of the year.
If the meal is an informal one a centrepiece may be arranged which will amuse the guests. Get at the florist's a small dead plant, such as an azalea, and pick off some of the twigs, making a symmetrical tree of diminutive size. At a Japanese shop you can buy the pretty artificial cherry blossoms used to set off the bric-à-brac in the windows, and these can be fastened to the twigs with invisible wire, the little tree may stand in a low pot filled with moss, and at its base may be a small hatchet. With this, your candle-shades should be a sort of rosy white.[Pg 45] You might use in preference to this a bunch of the cherry branches in a vase in the centre.
Or, if you prefer to have the Colonial colours, choose a large dark-blue bowl and fill it with yellow tulips, and have all the dishes, or at least several sets of plates, of dark-blue ware; if one does not own Staffordshire of her grandmother's or the beautiful Chinese Canton china, still she need not despair, for the shops are full of a cheap and pretty imitation of the latter which gives an admirable effect. The[Pg 46] candle-shades should be yellow, in tulip pattern preferably, and the candlesticks of old-fashioned silver.
At each plate lay a bonbon box in the form of a paper hatchet with the handle filled with red and white candies, and tie a bunch of artificial cherries to it with narrow ribbon. You can get at the printer's cards with the head of Washington which a line of gold paint and a bowknot will transform into a miniature. Fold your napkins into little cocked hats, and stand small silk flags in your dishes of almonds and olives. In addition to all this, you can send to Mount Vernon for small souvenirs in the shape of hatchets, supposably made of the actual[Pg 47] historic cherry-tree, which may take the place of the paper hatchets at the plates.
Should your luncheon be given for the members of some patriotic association, you might add the name of some famous Revolutionary battle to your guest cards, or possibly a quotation from some well-known novel which has historic characters, such as "Richard Carvel" or "The Virginians."
Grape Fruit with Brandied Cherries.
Cream of Chicken Soup.
Smelts with Sauce Tartare.
Fried Sweetbreads. Mushroom Sauce.
Carrots in Cases. Bermuda Potatoes.
Celery and Cabbage Salad in Peppers.
Ice Cream Hatchets. Cakes.
Cut the grape fruit in half and remove the seeds and core, loosen the[Pg 48] pulp around the sides and put in the cavity in the middle a couple of preserved or brandied cherries, with a little of their juice. The soup is a strong chicken stock to which cream has been added; a spoonful of whipped cream is put on top of each cup as it is served, and hot crackers are passed with it.
Put a little water-cress on the plate with the smelts as well as the sauce.
Sweetbreads are especially good with both mushrooms and carrots, though one does not often see the latter vegetable with them, but creamed, in small paper or paste cases, they are by no means to be despised, above all, if they are the new ones which have just come to market.
The salad is made by cutting off the tops of green peppers, removing the seeds and filling them with shredded celery and cabbage with stiff mayonnaise, and serving on lettuce; if the peppers are not to be had,[Pg 49] the salad may be put directly on the lettuce. The cheese straws are made by sprinkling thin strips of pie-crust with red pepper and grated cheese, twisting a little and browning in the oven.
The ice cream hatchets must come from the caterer; they are extremely realistic with the initials Gr. W. on their handles, and add greatly to the gaiety of the occasion; but if they are not to be had, the hostess can serve in their place a plain cream in little cocked hats, or have[Pg 50] it sliced with a few preserved or brandied cherries on each slice. The bonbons passed with the coffee may be one or more kinds of candied cherries to be found in great variety at the confectioner's.
A still more elaborate menu might be this one:—
Grape Fruit with Cherries.
Cream of Chicken Soup.
Fried Oysters with Sauce Tartare.
Chicken Croquettes with Peas.
Sweetbreads, Mushroom Sauce.
Carrots in Cases. Bermuda Potatoes.
Celery and Cabbage Salad in Green Peppers.
Ice Cream Hatchets. Cakes.
The sherbet course is exceedingly pretty. The ice is made from home-made candied cherries and put in glass sherbet cups with a little bunch of[Pg 51] artificial cherries tied to the handle with green ribbon the colour of the leaves.
Shrove Tuesday comes the day before Lent begins, and there is always much gaiety on hand by way of a temporary farewell to festivities. The old custom of serving pancakes on this day should not be forgotten in planning one's menu for the gala day meal; true, they are certainly an unusual dish for luncheon, but they should by no means be omitted.
There is a very beautiful and odd decoration to be made with delicate white flowers and tiny white candles, which can be arranged with little trouble. Have a low mound of moss for a foundation with a border of maiden-hair fern; stand Roman hyacinths or lilies of the valley in this, not too near together, with the candles between, having first inserted[Pg 52] a toothpick in the bottom of each and had them on the ice over night to prevent them from melting too soon. Keep all the colour on the table green and white,—the candles, the china, if possible, and the ice cream. The pancakes should be made very large, one covering the whole griddle, spread with jelly, rolled, and sprinkled with sugar. One, or at most two, should serve a tableful of guests.
Oysters on Skewers.
Chops and Peas. French Fried Potatoes.
Asparagus Tips with Mayonnaise.
Pistache Ice Cream. Cakes.
The oysters are to be rather small, and put on skewers with bits of thin bacon alternating, and fried quickly till crisp; serve on toast with lemon. This is an easily prepared and delicious dish and one which[Pg 53] makes a good substitute for any other suggested in any winter luncheon which is not within reach. Serve the ice cream in cases of white candy, or white cream in green cases, or use whipped cream as a bed around either ice cream if cases are not to be had.
Lincoln's birthday comes early in February, and a patriotic luncheon can easily be arranged for that from the suggestions already given for Washington's birthday. Patriotic affairs admit little variation; red, white, and blue ribbons and flowers, ice cream in paper boxes with red and white stripes, and cards with suitable inscriptions are about all one can have by way of appropriate decoration.[Pg 54]
With March comes a lull in the social world. Lent holds sway, whether one professes to observe it or not. Dinners, receptions, dances, are all postponed for a time, and quiet teas and luncheons are the accepted forms of entertaining. A Lenten luncheon gives opportunity for a meal without meat, one which may be a pleasant change from the usual menu, and still will not suggest a fast.
For this no colour is so appropriate as violet, and luckily this is the month when the flower itself appears most plentifully in market. In arranging the table it may be well to depart for once from the rule of[Pg 55] having all the linen in white, and use any violet-embroidered pieces you happen to have. Such a centrepiece is especially pretty, under the real flowers, and violet and white china, if you have it, will make an attractive table. In the centre have a basket of rough green straw tied with ribbons of violet, and filled with a mass of the flowers arranged to look like one large, loose bunch, but really in a quantity of small bunches which are to be given to the guests as they leave the table at the close of the meal, unless you prefer to have a knot of the flowers at each place, tied with narrow ribbons. This giving of individual bunches of flowers at the beginning of the meal, although always a graceful and pretty custom, is not seen just now as much as formerly.
If you use candles, have them of violet, with plain violet shades edged with the flowers sewed to the paper or silk foundation; or else have[Pg 56] plain shades of heavy paper painted with wreaths of the flowers. Your cards may match these, being squares of cardboard almost covered with a wreath of violets, with a bowknot painted on it, and the name of the guest written across the flowers. Your bonbon dishes may be filled with candied violets and other violet-tinted sweets.[Pg 57]
Oysters on the Half-Shell.
Halibut Timbales with Lobster Sauce.
Salmon Croquettes with Peas.
Shad with Roe. New Potatoes. Cucumbers.
Violet Cabbage Salad.
Brown Bread and Butter. Olives.
Violet Ice Cream. Cakes.
If shad is not in market as yet, though it should be in March, use any broiled fish; if white fish is obtainable, nothing is nicer,[Pg 59] especially if it is planked. The salad is an odd one; a head of purple cabbage is taken, the leaves turned back and the centre cut out; a white cabbage is shredded and mixed with as much shredded celery and stiff mayonnaise, and this is put into the purple cabbage head, and it is passed on a round platter to the guests.
The ice cream is a plain one coloured violet with fruit colour; it is put in a circular border mould and turned when firm out on a bed of whipped cream; the centre of the mould is heaped with this same whipped cream, and over the whole a quantity of candied violets is sprinkled. On the edge of the platter a wreath of natural violets is arranged with their leaves, making a really beautiful dish. If this seems too elaborate, or if the flowers are not abundant, fill meringue shells with the violet cream and tie two together with narrow violet ribbon and lay on rounds of lace paper on each plate; the cream should rather more[Pg 60] than fill the shells.
If you prefer a menu with less fish and some meat, this would do:—
Bisque of Oyster Soup.
Halibut Timbales with Shrimp Sauce.
Chicken and Pim-olas in Cases.
Sliced Breast of Duck. Currant Jelly.
Sardine Salad. Mayonnaise.
Violet Ice Cream. Cakes.
The oranges are to be prepared as was the grape fruit; that is, the pulp is loosened from the sides after a thick slice has been cut from the top, the core is taken out, and powdered sugar and sherry, if you use it, put in. The creamed chicken has chopped pim-olas added to it to give a delicious flavour. The salad is an aspic with one sardine embedded in[Pg 61] each small mould. The potato roses are made by pressing mashed potato through a tube in spirals, and browning in the oven.
Sometimes one is moved to give a luncheon "Just for fun," on some gala day which suggests that informality will be in keeping with its atmosphere. Of course one invites to such a meal only such of one's friends as will appreciate the spirit in which the luncheon is given; nothing is more discouraging than to have one's little jokes fall flat, as they are sure to, unless all are in sympathy.
requires kindred spirits to really enjoy it.
Of course the meal should be carried out in green, Ireland's colour, and potato salad should be one of the distinctive Irish dishes. Have a white and green centrepiece, and if you have any green and white china have[Pg 62] it conspicuously used, and for decoration get from the florist a wire harp, typical of that which "Once thro' Tara's halls," and cover its frame and strings with delicate green vines, letting their ends trail on the table. Stand small green flags among your candies and olives, and have pistache nuts among the salted almonds. If you use candles, have them green with their shades decorated in shamrock, which is like a small clover. For cards use the same thing, painted in little bunches tied with ribbon, or have a sketch of a typical Irish peasant, or of a tiny white-washed cottage with vines as one sees so many in Ireland. Under the name of the guest put a quotation from Moore, the poet of the[Pg 63] country, the more familiar the better. Have your bonbons in the form of small potatoes, or else give each person one of the bonbon boxes which look exactly like large Irish potatoes, and fill it with green candies.
Cream of Green Pea Soup.
Shad Roe with Sauce Tartare.
Chops, with Peas and Bermuda Potatoes.
Lemon Sherbet in Lemon Baskets.
Potato Salad. Lettuce Sandwiches.
Pistache Ice Cream. Cakes.
There is just enough green about this meal to suggest the day, without trying to have the whole in the colour, a thing seldom seen now, though not long ago it was thought a very pretty fancy.
This potato salad is a very delicious one, not to be despised because of its plebeian name. It is made by mixing equal parts of cold boiled[Pg 64] potatoes cut into cubes with olives in rather large bits and blanched English walnuts, the whole covered with a stiff mayonnaise. The sandwiches passed with this are made by spreading thin slices of bread and butter with leaves of lettuce and mayonnaise, rolling them and tying with a narrow green ribbon.
The ice cream may be either a melon mould of French cream covered with a thick layer of pistache, or else a brick of the pistache with a centre of lemon ice. The little cakes should be iced with green.
QUOTATIONS FROM MOORE
"When friends are
nearest, when joys are dearest, oh, then remember me."
The day that the baby is christened is surely a gala day, and one that admits a very dainty and beautiful luncheon after the service. Of course the colour of the decorations, whether in the parlours or the dining-room, should be white, and the flowers should be the delicate ones suggestive of childhood, such as white violets, Roman hyacinths, lilies of the valley, and daisies; these should be mingled with asparagus fern and other airy green, and used as lavishly as one's purse will permit. On the table spread for the luncheon there should be only white decorations. For this occasion it is more appropriate to use a cloth of plain damask or heavy linen and lace rather than the usual[Pg 66] doilies, the centrepiece being of lace. If candles are used, they should be white with shades of silver; the appointments of the table should be, as far as possible, of glass, and all the bonbons and other decoration of white, such as candy baskets filled with crystallised fruits.
The centrepiece may be a wicker cradle painted white and tied with white ribbons, filled with delicate flowers and asparagus ferns, and the ices may be in cradle shape also.
Cream of Corn Soup.
Timbale of Halibut in Melon Shape.
Chicken Breasts with Celery Sauce.
Sweetbreads in Aspic with White Mayonnaise.
Ices in Forms. Angels' Food.
Coffee with Whipped Cream.
The fish is prepared by putting a pound and a half of boiled halibut[Pg 67] through a sieve, adding a teacup of whipped cream, seasoning, and the whites of five eggs well beaten; the whole is put in a buttered mould and steamed for half an hour, turned out on a round platter with the lobster sauce around it, and passed. The sauce for the chicken is made by pressing stewed celery through a sieve, adding seasoning and thickening. Stewed celery may be served with the chicken in place of this sauce.
The sweetbreads are cleaned, blanched by throwing in cold water when taken from that in which they have been boiled, and cut in bits; they are then seasoned and put in small moulds and aspic, or melted beef extract, and dissolved gelatine is poured over them. When they are served they are put on lettuce leaves and a white mayonnaise is put by the side of each.
The cream may be in the form of cradles, as has been suggested, or a white cream may be served in spun sugar cases, or, if neither of these is to be had, a plain cream may be served in slices with whipped cream around each. The cake should be passed in a large iced loaf, and the coffee should have a spoonful of whipped cream on top.
With the last course a large silver tray may be carried around the table with a mass of white roses and asparagus fern on it, which proves to separate readily into individual roses, each one holding a tiny card[Pg 69] bearing the name of the newly named baby, which the guests will doubtless like to preserve as souvenirs of the day.
To alter this menu a trifle for those who do not fancy a sherbet and a cream in the same luncheon, have for dessert small moulds of whipped cream set with gelatine, filled with chopped almonds and flavoured with sherry; serve a spoonful of whipped cream with each. This is a good dish and one that is easily prepared, and may be substituted in any luncheon for the suggested cream when that is not just what is wanted.
April brings many other good things beside the showers typical of the month; summer now begins to declare itself, and flowers, fruits, and fresh vegetables are in season. Easter usually comes in April, and brings not only a religious festival but a gala day as well, for Easter Monday is holiday time the world over. To keep it hospitably, let us have an
For this, no flowers are so appropriate as jonquils, for they are the[Pg 72] colour of spring sunshine, and have a suggestion of gaiety all their own. They do not lend themselves to any arrangement other than the massing of them in a bowl, but they do blend well with violets; and if your luncheon is very elaborate, the two may be used, the jonquils in the centre and the violets in a wreath around the bowl, or in smaller[Pg 73] bowls about the table. A mahogany table is at its best with yellow flowers, each setting off the other; but whatever the table, lay it with doilies; if you have a yellow and white centrepiece, use it, but if not, choose a white one. Candles are not to be used in summer weather, unless, as one sometimes sees them by way of decoration, they are unlighted.
In addition to your little dishes of radishes, almonds, candied ginger, and other relishes on the table, have some filled with Easter eggs in candy. Each guest may have a tiny, downy chicken at her plate, such as fill the shops at this season, or if you prefer, a box in the shape of an egg, filled with bonbons, or rather candy eggs. These boxes come in all prices, ranging from a few cents for those of plain cardboard to the expensive ones in satin which are imported and cost an alarming sum;[Pg 74] one will have no trouble in finding something pretty within her means.
The ice cream for an Easter luncheon may be very attractive; it comes in various egg forms from the caterer, but the prettiest is that which is in small eggs of ice and cream, in different sizes, served in a nest of spun sugar of a straw colour. There is also a large form in which a hen sits on a larger nest of the same sort with little chickens peeping from under her wings, but this is rather too elaborate for a luncheon. If all caterers' forms are out of reach, the best substitute is made by serving rounded spoonfuls of a very yellow cream as nearly like eggs as possible. The menu for the luncheon should consist principally of chicken and eggs in different styles.
Clams on the Half-Shell.
Cream of Chicken Soup.
Green Peppers Filled with Creamed Salmon.
Patties of Sweetbreads and Mushrooms.
Chicken in Rice Border. New Potatoes.
Lemon and Peppermint Ice.
Egg Salad. Cheese Straws.
Ice Cream in Egg Forms. Cake.
The peppers are prepared by cutting off the small end and filling them with creamed salmon, heating them in the oven before serving. The patties are to be purchased at the bakery and filled with a mixture of sweetbreads and canned mushrooms. The chicken in rice is a delicious dish, and one easily prepared, but seldom seen. The white meat of two or if necessary three chickens is stewed until tender, then cut into[Pg 76] pieces about four inches by two, and put in the centre of a border of boiled rice which has been turned out on a round platter; a sauce made of the strained chicken stock, thickened and with cream added until it is white in colour, is then poured over the whole. If sherry is used it should be added the last thing.
The sherbet is odd; make a lemon ice and divide it; colour one half light green and flavour with essence of peppermint; serve the two ices together in glass cups, one layer of each.
The salad is made by cutting a head of lettuce into strips with the[Pg 77] scissors, until it looks like grass, and putting this in a sort of nest shape on the plate with the yolks of hard-boiled eggs in a group in the centre and mayonnaise in a stiff spoonful on top. The cake served with the cream should be what is called sunshine cake, an angels' food to which the yolks of the eggs has been added.
Another Easter luncheon may be arranged in green and white, which is even more beautiful and stately than this in yellow. For this, have a centrepiece of Easter lilies in a tall slender glass vase, or have three such vases down the table, if it is an oblong one, or several grouped around one larger one in the middle if it is round. Have guest cards painted with Easter lilies, and use only white and green decorations of bonbons on the table,—ribbon candies are pretty, or candy baskets in green filled with white candies. If you use candles on the table, have[Pg 78] the shades represent lilies, inverted. The little cakes may be iced in green, and the colours carried out in the ice cream, which may be purchased in beautiful forms of lilies, the flower being of lemon ice and the leaves of pistache cream. Or, if the cream must be home-made, you may have it of the pistache and serve it in a bed of whipped cream in rounded spoonfuls. Or, by way of still another method, have a plain white cream and serve it with a spray of maiden-hair fern on each plate.
By a curious coincidence, Shakespeare's birthday and the day on which he died are the same,—the twenty-third of April; so this date is peculiarly appropriate for a luncheon to a literary club, or a group of literary friends. There is ample scope here for all sorts of Shakespearian suggestions, from views of his home, or sketches of Anne Hathaway's cottage on the cards, to quotations taken from one play, or from many; for reminders of some one heroine, or suggestions of some historic event. One might have a Rosalind or Juliet luncheon, or carry out in one of half a dozen ways some play which a class has been studying.
The flowers should certainly be English, either roses or primroses, and the decorations should be rather simple, as in keeping with the classic nature of the presiding genius of the day. The cards might bear a cut of his head, or each guest might have a small plaster bust, preferably one[Pg 80] of the odd coloured ones which are sold in Stratford; the plain plaster ones are easily coloured; or, if these little busts are not easily procured, get the small Japanese masks which are so artistic; they cost but a few cents each, and the expressions will convey the idea of comedy and tragedy.
Strawberries will be in market in cities by the latter part of April, and these will make a first course.
Broiled Mushrooms on Toast.
Chops. Peas. French Fried Potatoes.
Chocolate. Lemon and Peppermint Ice.
Tomato and Lettuce Salad. French Dressing.
Coffee Mousse. Cakes. Bonbons.
The strawberries should be served with their hulls on, with a spoonful[Pg 81] of powdered sugar on each plate; this may be moulded in a pyramid by pressing it into a little paper horn Of course finger bowls should be placed on the table at each plate.
The mousse may be either in a melon form or in slices, as is more convenient, but a little whipped cream served with it is an improvement in either case. Having this dessert, coffee is not offered at the close of the meal, as is usually done, but a cup of chocolate is passed with the chop course. The mousse is made by whipping sweetened cream, strongly flavoured with black coffee, until it is perfectly stiff, and packing it in a mould and burying it in ice and salt for at least four hours before it is needed.
If a breakfast is desired for this Shakespeare celebration, as possibly may be if given for a club or class, this luncheon may be easily transformed into one. Breakfasts and luncheons differ principally in[Pg 82] the hour at which the meal is served, a breakfast being at twelve and a luncheon at one or half after one. It is also customary to begin a breakfast with fruit, and often, though not always, the meal concludes with cheese and coffee rather than with a sweet. This menu might be altered to cover these requirements, for as it begins with strawberries there need be no change until the final course, except that the chocolate should be omitted. Instead of the mousse serve crême Gervaise; that is, a slice of cream cheese about one inch by three, with a spoonful of whipped cream on it and a spoonful of gooseberry jam by its side. There is a variety of French preserved gooseberries called Bar-le-Duc which is particularly delicious. Sometimes before serving this dish the cheese is beaten with a little olive oil or cream to make it soft and light, and then it is pressed into shape again before it is cut into pieces for serving. If this is the final course at breakfast,[Pg 83] serve coffee with it.
There are an unlimited number of Shakespearian quotations for the cards, but for a woman's meal they might be taken either from the words of Juliet, Katharine, Portia, Rosalind, Hermione, Ophelia, Hero, Celia, Imogen, and Helena, or else the familiar ones which are given below; in case this luncheon or breakfast is given for those interested in study, a guessing contest might be introduced, with or without prizes, as to the context of these quotations:—
come before the swallow does."
Still another menu may be given for those who cannot obtain some of the articles suggested, such as strawberries, crabs, or fresh mushrooms.
Sardines on Toast.
Chops. Peas. French Fried Potatoes.
Lettuce Salad with Shredded Bananas.
Coffee Mousse. Cakes. Bonbons.
In this menu the patties are to be filled with canned mushrooms, cut in[Pg 85] bits and creamed. The salad is made by cutting bananas in halves, and then cutting each half into strips no larger than a knitting needle; these are to be arranged on lettuce with French dressing poured over the last thing before serving.
A beautiful decoration for an April luncheon may be arranged with crocuses, flowers seldom or never seen on our tables, and therefore especially desirable by way of novelty. Have a large flat basket in the centre of the table filled with moss, and in this stick crocuses of all colours with their leaves, crowding as closely as possible. Repeat the[Pg 86] colours in your candle-shades, if you use candles, having them delicate lilac with yellow touches on the edges, and use ribbon candy in lilac, yellow, and white. Serve yellow ices, or white ones in lilac baskets, and lay some of the crocuses on the plates with the finger bowls which appear with the coffee.
The first of May is not always a gala day; to many it means the coming and going of moving vans, and meals eaten in cold comfort from the traditional window-sill. But where one has a permanent home, especially in the country, no day is pleasanter on which to give a luncheon than on May Day, with its charming associations of Spring. There are several fancies which may serve for suggestions; one of these is the use of the "Mayflower" of our early history, and the flowers which bear the same name as the ship, the trailing arbutus of our Northern States. The two have no connection, really, but one suggests the other.
The table may be laid with a cloth, by way of a change, one with an open border preferably. The centrepiece may be of lace over pale pink silk, and rows of baby ribbon may be drawn across the table, three or four[Pg 90] strands each way, with a bunch of the ribbon where they cross. In the centre may be a large toy ship, all in white, with the word "Mayflower" in gilt on the prow. The deck should be heaped with mayflowers, if this loveliest of our spring blossoms is to be had, and around the table at irregular intervals may be shallow bowls of the same flower. The cards may have the monogram of the hostess at the top, and a cluster of the arbutus painted below, if that is fancied. Care should be taken to keep all the decorations of the table in a very pale shade of pink, or the effect of the flowers will be spoiled.[Pg 91]
Clam Bouillon. Hot Crackers.
Salmon Croquettes. Sauce Tartare.
Crown Roast of Lamb. Mashed Potatoes.
Peas. Hot Rolls.
Asparagus Salad. Cheese Crackers. Pim-olas.
Strawberry Ice Cream. Cakes.
The first course of cherries may be made very pretty by arranging the fruit in clusters of red and white with a few leaves and fastening them with invisible wire to bits of stem, and arranging them in baskets of rough green straw tied with green ribbons.
Crown roast of lamb is a rather unusual dish at a luncheon, but it is an attractive one and not too heavy for the meal. It is the whole saddle of lamb, cut down the back, with the two sides carefully trimmed of the meat until the chop bones stand up alone as in French chops. The sides[Pg 92] are then put together, bent in a circle, and fastened with skewers to form a crown with the bones standing up. The centre is filled either with mashed potato or with peas before it is served; it should be carved on the table, on a round platter, or, if it is carefully cut between the chops before it is brought in, it may be passed to the guests for each to cut for herself.
The sherbet to follow this course is made by adding a handful of crushed mint to boiling hot lemonade, letting it stand till cool, straining, adding a little sherry or rum if you use them, and freezing. A few drops of green colouring improve its appearance. Sometimes a sprig of mint is[Pg 93] put in the sherbet glass with the ice, a very pretty idea.
The salad is made by cooking asparagus until it is tender, and when cold sprinkling with French dressing and allowing it to stand an hour before serving on lettuce with mayonnaise.
With this luncheon the ices may be served in beautiful little ships of silver paper with delicate paper sails, or the ingenious caterer has a form for reproducing Plymouth Rock in caramel cream, so lifelike that even the fissure in the side appears. Either of these shapes are certainly delightfully appropriate for a May-Day luncheon if they are attainable. If not, the cream may be served in little fluted paper cases decorated with the arbutus, tied on in small bunches with narrow ribbon.
A hostess living in the country may offer a group of city guests a real delight in May-time by inviting them to luncheon when the orchards are[Pg 94] all in bloom. The invitations should bear the word "Apple-Blossoms" in one corner, and the implied promise should be fulfilled by having the flowers in evidence everywhere in the house and out of it. The rooms should be decorated with bowls of the flowers on the mantels and on the[Pg 95] top of the book-cases and on the tables in the halls. The luncheon table should have a bowl of the blossoms in the centre, and the cloth, or rather the table itself, should be strewn with the flowers picked from the stems and showered over it. The same small ribbons suggested for the May-Day luncheon may also be used for this one, as the colour should again be pale. The bonbons used might be tiny candy apples.
Cream of Beet Soup.
Frogs' Legs. Potato Balls.
Chicken Croquettes with Asparagus Tips.
Peas. Hot Rolls.
Cherry Salad. Sandwiches. Olives.
Ice Cream in Angels' Food.
The soup is made by stewing chopped beets until they are tender and[Pg 96] adding them to hot cream, seasoning, thickening, and straining, and pouring into the bouillon cups onto a spoonful of whipped cream. The beets should be the dark red ones, and only enough should be used to give a pretty pink colour to the soup. Frogs' legs, fried and served with a bit of lemon make a very good course for luncheon, and one liked by almost every one. The salad is made by stoning California cherries and covering them with French dressing to which a little chopped parsley has been added, and laying them on a leaf of lettuce.
The sherbet is a lemon ice flavoured with the syrup of preserved ginger, with a few bits of the root added. The cheese soufflé, which may be placed before the sherbet, if desired, is made by grating a quarter of a pound of cheese and mixing it with two tablespoonfuls of flour, butter the size of a walnut, salt, and a little red pepper, and the beaten[Pg 97] yolks of three eggs. Just before putting in the oven add the stiff whites of two eggs, and bake in buttered paper cases, or in small tin moulds. They must be eaten as soon as they are taken from the fire or they will fall.
The ice cream is a plain white one, served in a large cake of angels' food which has had the top carefully cut off, the inside scooped out, and the cream packed firmly in. The cover is then put back and the whole iced, or covered with powdered sugar, and decorated on top with candied cherries. It is to be cut exactly as though it were simply an ordinary cake, and served in slices.
A luncheon for a young girl should be of the simplest character, both in decorations and menu, but there is no reason why it should not be pretty. The most appropriate flower to use is the primrose; pots of[Pg 98] these may stand on the table, one in front of each guest, tied up with crêpe paper and ribbons. If these are of two or more shades of pink, the effect will be more elaborate than if they are all of the same shade. In the centre may be a large pot with a number of the plants closely planted in it. If candles are used, the shades may be of plain cardboard with a wreath of the same flowers on the edge, either artificial ones sewed on, or painted in a simple pattern. Or, hyacinths may be used for the flowers, either pink ones or pink and white alternating. If the school-girls are beyond the time when the gift of a pot of flowers gives pleasure,—and there is a period when they would scorn such an offering as undignified,—let the decoration be a long, narrow box of the growing hyacinths in the centre of the table, which will make a beautiful window-box after the luncheon is past. The menu given above might be[Pg 99] modified for this meal, as it is unnecessarily elaborate.
Cream of Beet Soup.
Frogs' Legs. Potato Balls.
Chicken Croquettes with Asparagus Tips.
Cherry Salad. Sandwiches.
Ice Cream in Angels' Food.
Memorial Day is anything but an occasion for festivities, but the fact that it is one of our holidays suggests that somewhere about that time one might have
Or one with both military and naval accompaniments. There are so many pretty little decorations nowadays for such a meal that the table may be very pretty. One of the guests may happen to have some special interest in the protectors of our country, and she will especially appreciate a table set with a small encampment of tents made of small napkins folded[Pg 100] into the desired shape, or little battalions of toy soldiers presenting arms in companies around the central point of interest, which in this case might be a larger tent, draped with vines. The sherbet or ices might be served in military hats of felt or paper, and the favours might be knapsacks filled with candies. One course should be coffee and hard-tack, suggestive of the frugal fare of the soldier on duty. Otherwise the menu would better take its regular course, since bacon and beans and other army rations are not especially appetising.
Mock Bisque Soup.
Shad with Roe. Potato Balls. Cucumbers.
Chicken Timbales. Peas.
Kidneys and Mushrooms in Cases.
String Bean Salad with Mayonnaise.
Neapolitan Ice Cream. Cakes.
Coffee with Hard-Tack.
As the course of shad with roe is rather a solid one, the meat course is[Pg 101] lighter than usual. The kidneys are cleaned, cut in pieces and stewed until tender, when they are browned in butter to which seasoning and a dash of sherry have been added and mixed with the mushrooms; after a thorough heating they are served in cases either of paste or of paper. A few olives cut into small pieces may be mixed with the whole, if one likes the several flavours.
The string bean salad is simply made of cold boiled string beans, young and tender, which have lain in French dressing for a half hour before they are put on lettuce and mayonnaise added; one who has not tried this has no idea how good a salad it is. The Neapolitan ice cream is made of alternate layers of cream and ice in contrasting colours; it is too much trouble to make this at home, but another cream can be substituted if desired, such as a rich vanilla with a hot chocolate sauce, or a white cream in which chopped candied fruit has been mixed.
The hard-tack is of course a very large thin cracker, perhaps six inches in diameter; it is much better heated in the oven before serving, and if it is wished a cheese, either a cream, or one of the imported ones, such as Camembert, may be passed with it.
This is a pretty luncheon to give in a country dining-room furnished in dull blue and white. Plaques of real or imitation Delft may hang on the walls of the room, and bowls of blue cornflowers and white carnations may stand in window-seats and on shelves as well as on the dining-table. The china should be blue and white or plain white, and the cards squares of pasteboard with sketches of Dutch scenes, or blue prints of some native spot of interest. The souvenirs may be small Delft plaques, or toy windmills; or they may be little Dutch maidens in quaint dresses, which will serve as penwipers after the day of the luncheon. The bonbons may be white ones in little wooden shoes placed in pairs around the table. The small cakes served with the ice cream may each have a tiny windmill cut from white paper standing in the white icing on top, and the cream itself may be a white one in meringue shells tied with blue[Pg 104] ribbon. Any one of the menus suggested will do to serve, as Dutch food alone would hardly seem attractive; however, a course of doughnuts and coffee may take the place of ice cream and cake, if you fancy the idea.[Pg 105]
With this month of roses come many gala days; it is the favourite month for weddings, and weddings always bring other festivities in their train. Perhaps the bride gives a luncheon for her bridesmaids, or one of the bridal party gives a luncheon for the rest. Besides these days of rejoicing, there are those other days when the graduates give parting entertainments of various sorts to each other; and since this is the month of Commencements, it is also the time for fraternity meetings and all those delightful reminders of school-days. June luncheons with such backgrounds of interest as these may well be memorable.[Pg 106]
On the wedding-day itself, white should be the colour of the decorations, especially if the day is a warm one, for nothing gives such a sense of coolness as a roomful of white flowers and ferns. Even if[Pg 107] pink roses are used in the drawing-room and the halls, the dining-room is most attractive all in white. A beautiful background for the table is made by removing all the pictures and hangings, and covering the walls with asparagus fern hung lightly from the ceiling to the floor; where the lines are broken at door and window the vines are to be drawn back and tied at the side with white satin ribbon.
The table should be covered with a white cloth, as elaborate as one possesses, and the centrepiece should be of lace. On this should be a large mound of white roses and asparagus fern; and if you choose, a canopy of vines from the centre of the ceiling to the edges of the table, fastened wherever they touch the cloth with a white rose. If candles are used they should be white with shades of white rose petals, or else silver openwork. The table should be set with silver and glass as far as possible, and the small dishes which ornament it should be[Pg 109] filled with small cakes with white icing, white candies, strawberries covered with white icing, white candied rose petals, and all the other pretty things to be found, such as large white candy baskets filled with crystallised fruits,—those made to represent broad-brimmed hats, bent into odd shapes, are very graceful,—or the simpler mounds of charlotte russe, tied with wide white ribbon.
At a wedding luncheon or breakfast the guests of course sit around the room, not at the table, which is used simply to serve from, and the menu is simpler than for a regular meal.
Cream of Clam Soup.
Crabs Newburgh in Cases.
Sweetbread Croquettes with Peas. Rolls.
Ice Cream in White Rose Forms. Angels' food.
This is a suitable menu for a large and formal wedding; for a smaller and simpler one the crabs may be omitted, and the frappé be replaced by hot coffee; indeed, in any case, hot coffee may be served as well as that which is iced.
The crabs are prepared by boiling, removing from their shells, and heating in cream mixed with the yolks of three eggs, seasoning, and a dash of sherry; they are more delicate than the lobster prepared in the same way, but unless one has ample time and a number of workers, it is better to have the lobster, as picking the meat from crab shells is no light undertaking: still, the dish is so delicious it well repays some effort in preparing.
If the ice cream cannot be obtained in rose forms, any rich white cream will do, or a mousse, made by whipping stiff cream until solid, sweetening, flavouring, and packing in ice and salt for four or five hours.
If instead of a wedding breakfast or luncheon one desires a more informal meal to be given a day or two before the wedding itself, the menu may be altered to suit the occasion. The prettiest possible cards may be prepared for this by painting the head of the bride in her veil with the date beneath the guest's name.
Clams on the Half-Shell.
Cream of Corn Soup.
Halibut Timbales. Lobster Sauce.
Broiled Squabs on Toast. Currant Jelly.
Tomato and Nut Salad.
Brown Bread and Butter.
Ice Cream in White Rose Forms. Cakes.
Café Frappé, or Black Coffee.
The sherbet is made by pressing the juice from two quarts of berries, adding a cup of water and the juice of half a lemon with sugar; this is boiled for a few moments, strained, and frozen. The salad is made by blanching English walnuts and adding them to mayonnaise, serving with sliced tomatoes. The ice cream if in rose forms should be passed on a large silver tray with asparagus fern among the ices. The frappé should be in small glass cups, if it is served at all, but unless the weather is very warm, have the coffee hot as usual.
The prettiest possible decoration for this occasion is made by the lavish use of sweet peas, the flowers which seem to suggest young girlhood. The brilliant pink ones should be chosen, and bowls of them should stand about the table, one large one in the centre and smaller ones around irregularly; or else one large bowl may be in the centre and a quantity of the blossoms with the stems broken off scattered all over the table. This is one of the times when satin bows are not out of place, for girls generally think a table all the more attractive for them, though for most luncheons they are tabooed, as suggestive of the[Pg 114] professional decorator who revels in bows. The bonbons should be pink, and the cards should be small sheets of paper rolled up to resemble diplomas, each tied with a rose-coloured ribbon, with the name of the guest written on the outside.
Creamed Fish in Shells.
Asparagus with Cream Dressing.
Broiled Spring Chicken. Peas. Potatoes.
Lettuce and Tomato Salad with French Dressing. Cheese Straws.
Individual Strawberry Shortcakes.
The shortcakes may be either made by baking cakes in small tins, splitting, adding the crushed fruit, and putting whipped cream on top, or else in a fashion which all girls will welcome, by using a very small charlotte russe with a quantity of strawberries heaped about the[Pg 115] base and powdered sugar over all.
In this month of roses it is a pretty fancy to have a meal when they shall be especially in evidence. The table may be laid much as for the sweet pea luncheon,—that is, with bowls of the flower scattered over the table or one large bowl, and the flowers themselves, despoiled of their stems, scattered over the cloth. The cards may be of stiff paper, cut out to resemble flat, open roses, coloured pink, with the name of the guest written directly across. A large rose may lie at each plate, or in a pretty fashion they may be laid in a loose wreath around the centrepiece, and at the close of the meal each guest may be asked to take some of those before her plate. The bonbons used should be candied rose leaves.
Pineapple filled with Fruits.
Cream of Asparagus Soup.
Soft-Shell Crabs on Toast.
Fried Sweetbreads. Peas. Potato Croquettes.
Tomato Baskets with Cucumber Jelly.
Frozen Strawberries. Cakes.
The pineapple is to have its bushy top cut off, and the inside scooped out; the core is put aside, the soft part picked up and mixed with a little banana, orange, and small strawberries, sugar, and sherry, if you use it, and the whole put back in the shell and passed, the top lying on one side of the dish; small glass saucers, or nappies, as they are called, are on each plate, and the guest is to put a spoonful in hers. The colder the pineapple is, the better. If soft-shell crabs are not to be had, serve a creamed fish in whole cucumbers, as was suggested for a January luncheon. The tomato baskets are very pretty; they are made by[Pg 117] cutting smooth tomatoes in basket shapes, removing the inside with a small spoon, and filling with cucumber jelly mixed with mayonnaise. This latter is made by crushing peeled and sliced cucumbers, adding seasoning and a little onion, and stewing till soft; they are then set with gelatine in a dish and when firm they are broken into pieces small enough to go in the baskets. If you are to have crabs, this course is all right, but if you have substituted the cucumbers with fish, you must again substitute and serve another salad for this. The frozen strawberries are made by crushing the fruit to a paste, adding one-third as much boiled lemonade, sweetening well, straining, and freezing. The cakes served with this should be iced in a rather deep pink.
There are so many pretty and appropriate quotations about roses that one may well add one to each guest card.
"Roses for the
blush of youth."
is certainly novel, and if carried out carefully it is extremely pretty, although at first thought one would think the peony too large and coarse a flower to use on the table. In order to get the best effect, the table must be a round one and quite large. Then the peonies, pink and white[Pg 119] ones mixed, and with plenty of their own foliage, should be piled in a mass in the centre, with the bowl which holds them in place completely concealed. The flowers should lie on the cloth as well as rise in a mound from the table. Any one of the menus previously given will do to serve until the final course is reached, when the ice cream is to appear in the peonies themselves. A white cream is chosen, the hearts of the largest pink peonies are cut out, a round of waxed paper laid in the place, and a heaping, rounded spoonful of the cream is placed in the flowers. It is to have a spray of leaves under it as it lies on the plate.[Pg 120]
The summer days in the country are apt to seem rather long, if the weather is too hot for vigorous exercise, but entertaining one's friends breaks the time delightfully. If the July noontime is warm, still the[Pg 121] heat adds to the pleasure a luncheon of cold and delicious dainties gives, especially if such a meal is served on a cool and shady porch, when it becomes fit for the gods. If one's summer home is unfortunately without this sort of outdoor room, a little ingenuity will serve to provide a substitute. In the early spring, some tall, strong posts may be set in the ground on the north or west side of the house about[Pg 122] fourteen feet or more away, and the tops of these joined to the wall by some lighter strips of wood; then a floor may be laid, unless the grassy turf is preferred, and quickly growing vines, such as the morning glory or the moon-vine, planted, and soon one will have a really beautiful arbour room.
The first gala day of the month, indeed the only one the calendar recognises, is the Fourth of July; this certainly deserves to be celebrated by a luncheon.
Stand a toy cannon on your table for a centrepiece, draping it with delicate vines; or, if this proves too expensive to buy, and too difficult to borrow, suspend a large bell from two wooden supports in the middle, with the same vines. At each plate lay a bonbon box which exactly resembles a cannon fire-cracker, filled with small red candies; the name of the guest may be printed on the side and it will serve for a guest card. Or you may give the guests small liberty bells instead of[Pg 124] the large crackers, and use small crackers for cards. Or, instead of either of these things, you may give each one a bunch of real fire-crackers with her name printed on the outside.
Have several vases of flowers on the table, with red and white carnation and blue bachelors' buttons in each; or if you do not like them mixed, alternate vases with red ones alone, white alone, and blue alone. In your little dishes of radishes, almonds, and bonbons, stand tiny American flags; tie the sandwiches with narrow red, white, and blue striped ribbon, and the handles of the currant cups as well; the table[Pg 125] may also have little tents and soldiers as in the military luncheon already suggested.
Iced Bouillon. Water-Cress Sandwiches.
Cold Salmon. Sauce Tartare.
Tongue in Aspic.
Tomatoes with French Dressing.
Pineapple Salad. Cheese Crackers.
Ice Cream in Drums. Cakes. Bonbons.
The currants are to be crushed with a silver fork, sweetened, and put on the ice; just before serving they are put in glass cups and a spoonful of crushed ice put on top. The bouillon is prepared the day before it is needed, and packed in ice and salt for an hour before the luncheon. The sandwiches passed with this are made by spreading very thin bread and butter with chopped water-cress, rolling and tying them, and then inserting a sprig of the cress at either end; it is not absolutely[Pg 126] necessary to tie them, but they keep their shape far better if it is done.
Choose a large smoked tongue, and two days before the luncheon boil it until tender, skin it, and lay it in a long narrow pan. Make a bouillon of beef extract, season it highly with red pepper, salt, and lemon juice, and herbs; simmer these together for a few minutes, then add sufficient dissolved gelatine to set the quantity you will need, and strain the whole over the tongue, a little more than covering it. Put[Pg 127] this on the ice, and the next day you will have what our grandmothers used to call "a sightly dish." It is to be put whole on the table, and sliced with a very sharp knife. The tomatoes served with this are to be on the same plate, not treated as a salad.
The pineapple is to be picked up in rather large bits and placed on lettuce with mayonnaise. The ice cream is to be put into little paper drums, which may be had at the confectioner's or possibly the toy[Pg 128] store; if, however, they are not to be had in the country, the cream may be put in meringue shells and tied with ribbons.
The raspberry shrub may be served all through the meal, or made a separate course instead of a sherbet. It is to be made some days before it is needed; this is a simple and excellent rule: Put two and a half ounces of tartaric acid into a quart of water, and pour over six quarts of red raspberries. After two days stir and strain; add to each pint of juice a pound and a half of powdered sugar, stir till dissolved, let it stand four days, and then bottle. If this is too much trouble to prepare, serve lemonade coloured with raspberry juice, and if you wish to have it very nice, use vichy instead of water in making the lemonade. A fruit sherbet may be introduced if the drink is served all through the meal. For a hot day in summer it is a mistake to have the noon meal too[Pg 129] long or too heavy, so in this menu the usual paté or croquette is omitted.
This meal may be served at a seaside cottage, or near a lake or even a river, or it may be used on board a yacht. If it happens to be in a house or on a piazza by the sea, the walls near by may be decorated with fish nets and oars.
Use a table-cloth for the time, and omit any central decoration whatever, even the customary piece of lace. Arrange a small fleet of[Pg 130] sail-boats all over the table, fastening them to each other by a couple of strands of narrow ribbon, drawn loosely and tied to each central mast. Heap the decks with some small flower which will look well with the colour of the ribbon. If buttercups are to be had, they are pretty, with yellow ribbons; or small pansies are lovely, with purple and yellow; or the deck can be heaped with bonbons, and the ribbons used as with the flowers, if this is preferred. It is necessary to cut off the keels of the little boats in order to have them stand securely, and the small unpainted boats which children use will do, and they can easily be painted white if they are unfinished.
Your cards may be adorned with bits of pressed seaweed, if you are at the seashore, or with little sketches of sail-boats, row-boats, oars, or marine views. A meal of sea food might be fancied for variety.
Cream of Clam Soup with Whipped Cream.
Broiled Bluefish. Potato Balls. Rolls.
Shrimp Salad. Sandwiches.
Ices in Fish Forms. Cakes.
The boiled lobster is removed from the shell, seasoned, and mixed with bread crumbs, returned to the shell of the backs and tails, and browned in the oven. The shells may be saved when lobster is used for some time[Pg 132] previous to the luncheon, if it is difficult to obtain a number at once.
The salad is made by cutting canned shrimps into halves, and after putting them into small individual moulds, pouring over them a lemon jelly made without sweetening, and well seasoned. These moulds are to be turned out on lettuce leaves, and one or two small shrimps placed by each, and stiff mayonnaise passed with them. The ices may be had from the caterer in the form of shells, or fishes, or boats. If these are not to be had, a home-made cream may be served in the large scallop shells which are to be purchased very cheaply. If you are too far inland to obtain sea food, or if you do not fancy it for a whole luncheon, your decoration will sufficiently suggest the idea of the meal, and another menu can be substituted.
Cream of Green Pea Soup.
Fish Cutlets. Sauce Tartare.
Fried Chicken. Potato Croquettes. Peas.
Iced Tea (or Tea Sherbet).
Whole Cucumber Salad. Almonds. Pim-olas.
Caramel Ice Cream. Bonbons.
The cutlets, which are simply croquettes moulded into cutlet form, may be made either from any fresh fish, or from canned salmon, or from well-freshened salt codfish; and these last are really delicious. The tea is best made with boiling lemonade instead of boiling water; it is to be served in tall glasses, either as a separate course, or all through the meal as one prefers; in case a sherbet is wished, this iced tea may be frozen with a flavour of rum in addition to the lemon, if one uses it, and served in sherbet cups; and café frappé may be used as a final course if the day is warm, or the coffee may be simply hot and black as usual.
The whole cucumber salad is very pretty. Rather large and very smooth[Pg 134] ones are chosen, a slice is cut from the side lengthwise, the pulp is scooped out, mixed with bits of tomato and French dressing, and the whole put back with the slice put on again so that the cut is concealed. These are served on lettuce leaves with two small cheese balls by the side of each, made by grating American cheese, mixing with a little chopped parsley, salt, red pepper, and enough melted butter to make it moist, and rolling between the hands until you have balls the size of marbles; they are to be dusted with chopped parsley before serving.
As so many go abroad as the hot weather begins, a luncheon may be arranged in honour of some friend who is about to sail. The centrepiece may be a large toy steamer with the decks filled with flowers, or a[Pg 135] floral piece may be obtained from the florists, who now construct extremely realistic steamers with flowers, green, and moss; but flowers are never at their best under such circumstances, and the toy steamer is to be preferred. Very pretty and inexpensive bonbon boxes are to be had in the shapes of steamer trunks, dress-suit cases, travelling bags, trunks ready labelled with the names of foreign cities, and dainty little lunch baskets tied up with ribbon, as well as the more expensive but useful favours made to resemble rugs in shawl straps which are to be used as penwipers after the day is over. The cards may bear the picture of a steamer disappearing in the distance with its trail of smoke curving back to form the name of the guest, or the words "Bon Voyage."
The menu could, of course, consist of foreign dishes such as the traveller is presumably to eat during her absence; but as few of them are as good as our own luncheon dishes this is not altogether to be[Pg 136] commended. An attractive menu would be:—
Clams Cocktail in Tomato Baskets.
Consommé with Hot Crackers.
Chicken Livers on Skewers.
Roast Ducklings. Jelly. Mashed Potato.
Nesselrode Pudding. Cakes.
The tomatoes are to be cut into baskets with handles and filled with the clam cocktail just before serving. The crabs are to be boiled, removed from their shells, well seasoned, and wet with a little cream, put back into the shells with bread crumbs and bits of butter over them and browned in the oven. The chicken livers are to be stewed, cut in halves, and put on the small skewers with bits of bacon between the pieces and turned in the frying-pan until they brown in the bacon fat; they are to[Pg 137] be sent to the table on strips of toast. The ducklings should be young, and a thick slice of breast or the second joint served to each person before the plates are sent to the table; the potato should be browned in the oven and passed.
The salad is made by cooking cauliflower, breaking it into bits, and serving on lettuce with mayonnaise. The Nesselrode pudding is made in various ways, most of them very elaborate; probably the simplest is a caramel cream with preserved figs and marrons cut up fine in it, with a flavouring of wine. It is also made by putting marrons into a plain rich white cream, flavouring it with the wine and serving it on whipped cream; in any form it is always a delicious dessert.
This menu omits the sherbet and gives a rather solid meat course; it may be varied by substituting chops for the duckling and adding a course of frozen oranges and bananas in lemon ice.
Luncheons in this hot month should be served as in July, on the porch or out of doors if possible; if that is out of the question, at least the dining-room should be rather dark, and there should be some suggestion of coolness in the luncheon, either in the decoration or in the menu. During this month, when students are at home for their vacations, one may wish to give a college luncheon. Of course, if the guests are all of one mind and can unite in lauding the same Alma Mater, it is an easy thing to so decorate the table as to give unalloyed pleasure, but where two or more colleges are represented it is not so simple. To take some of the most prominent ones, let us have first
Have a large bowl of cornflowers in the centre of the table, and smaller bowls at either end, if the table is oblong; if round or square, have four of the smaller bowls around the central one. If the college men who are present are especially interested in athletics, or if there has been any important victory over some rival, it will be a delicate attention which will be appreciated by the guests if such a fact is remembered. If, for instance, Yale has just been victorious in baseball, decorate[Pg 141] with bats, stacking them at intervals on the table; they may be purchased at toy shops in any desired size; those about four or five inches high are most easily grouped. The sandwiches may be tied with blue ribbons and the cards can have sketches of caps and gowns, or pipes, or trophies of some sort. The ices may be served in round boxes with covers on which is the college seal, and the outside may be[Pg 142] covered with wide blue satin ribbon which will completely hide the cardboard. These can be either purchased or made at home, and they will serve as souvenirs. As the appetites of college men are proverbially vigorous, it will be wise to provide a substantial meal.
Cream of Carrot Soup. Whipped Cream.
Cold Lobster Halved. Mayonnaise.
Fried Chicken. Cauliflower au Gratin. Potato Croquettes.
Banana Salad. Nasturtium Sandwiches.
The Spanish omelette is made by stewing tomatoes, green peppers, and onion, all cut in bits, until they are quite thick; then an omelette is made and this mixture is folded in; it is very appetising, and men are[Pg 143] sure to like it. The cauliflower is cooked, broken into small pieces, put in paper cases or in one large dish, seasoned well, and grated cheese and cream sauce are put in layers through it, the cheese on top, and the whole is browned in the oven. The sherbet may be made of the juice of any grape that is obtainable, but it is very pretty to use Catawbas, and colour the ice slightly green; if it is desired that the sherbet should be darker, use bottled grape juice, adding a little lemon to bring out the flavour. It should be served in sherbet cups with a spray of grape leaves under each on the plate.
The salad is made by removing a strip of skin from each banana, scooping out the fruit, cutting it in pieces, adding as much celery or apple and[Pg 144] half as much of cut up English walnut meats which have been blanched, and covering the whole with French dressing, and returning to the skins, heaping it a little in them. Put one of these on a leaf of lettuce for each person; nasturtium sandwiches are pretty on a plate decorated with their own blossoms.
If the boxes are used for the cream it must not be coloured, and a plain mousse may be better than anything else; if the boxes are not used, the mousse may be flavoured with pistache, coloured green and served on a bed of whipped cream, with chopped angelia or pistache nuts scattered over it. For a
lay broad crimson satin ribbons across the table at right angles, and then lay the table with doilies over the ribbon as if there were none[Pg 145] there. Have a bowl of American Beauty roses in the centre, or put the flowers in a fancy basket. Or, if it should happen that the men present are especially happy over some rowing victory, put the roses in a long narrow boat in the centre, and have oars stacked at intervals on the table. Use the same menu as for the Yale luncheon. For a
use quantities of the yellow, black-eyed daisies which are common in our fields. A large football might stand in the centre of the table, open at the top, with the daisies filling it, and shallow bowls of them may stand on the table. The bonbon dishes may be filled with yellow and chocolate bonbons, and the same sort of cards used as were suggested for the Yale luncheon, unless sketches of Princeton buildings are preferred.
If the guests are from several colleges, the best plan is to have no[Pg 146] distinctively college colours on the table, but to confine one's self to the use of athletic symbols for decoration which are common to all. Golden-rod might be in a row-boat, for instance, and oars, base balls, bats, and footballs used as favours. For a hot-weather luncheon, nothing makes a prettier table than a quantity of pond lilies, used in some simple way. As they are common in August, you might give
Fill a shallow dish with water, and put several lilies with their leaves on top, but not so closely but that the water will show between them. Hide the outside of the dish with an arrangement of the lilies and[Pg 147] their leaves, being careful not to have it look stiff. Cut your guest-cards in the shape of open lilies, and paint them, writing the name of the guest across their face. Have your bonbons all green and white, and use plain white, or green and white china for serving the meal as far as you can, for the sake of preserving the cool look of the table. The ice cream may be in the pond-lily flowers, prepared as were the peonies in the June luncheon. If the lilies are plenty, use them in bowls about the parlours and halls, to carry out the idea of the day.
Clams on the Half-Shell.
Cream of Spinach Soup. Croutons.
Braised Tongue. Potatoes au Gratin.
Frozen Tomato Salad. Mayonnaise.
Ice Cream in Water Lilies. Cakes.
Café Frappé or Iced Tea.
The braised tongue is prepared as before, stewed with herbs and[Pg 148] seasoning in a baking-pan in the oven, but in this case it is served hot, with a spoonful of its gravy, strained, on each slice.
There is no sherbet in this menu, as the frozen salad takes its place. This is made by cutting fresh tomatoes into bits, mashing them, seasoning and freezing them, stirring occasionally to make them smooth; after they are stiff they must be scraped from the dasher, pressed down, and allowed to stand for an hour. They are to be cut in round spoonfuls, laid on a few lettuce leaves, and mayonnaise passed with them.
The ice cream may be either a white or a pistache cream, and the water lilies should be treated as were the peonies, the heart of the flower removed and a piece of waxed paper laid in the centre with the cream on it.
This same idea of coolness may be also well carried out in a luncheon in which ferns are made to play their part.[Pg 149]
The house should be filled with ferns, in the fireplaces, in the window seats, in the parlours, and in the halls. In the dining-room the table may be laid either or without a cloth, and a large shallow pan or tray put in the centre; if a tray is used, it should have a layer of absorbent cotton on it. The edge of this dish must be concealed by tiny growing ferns; in the dish should be large pieces of ice, piled in an irregular mound, and very small ferns put in the crevices. The ice will give out enough coolness to perceptibly affect the atmosphere of the room, and the combination of the ice and ferns is a pretty one. A few days before the luncheon some ferns may be pressed, and these may be laid on the table if it is so large as to admit of more decoration; the[Pg 150] cards may also have a little fern pasted on each.
An appetising menu might be:—
Cream of Corn Soup.
Filets of Flounder. Sauce Tartare.
Clams à la Newburgh.
Chops. Stuffed Tomatoes. Iced Tea.
Red Raspberry Sherbet.
Almond Aspic Salad. Brown Bread and Butter.
Ice Cream in Melons.
The peaches are not to be frozen, but kept on the ice after they are halved, peeled, and sprinkled with sugar, until they are thoroughly chilled. They may have a small spoonful of whipped cream served with[Pg 152] them, if that combination is liked. The clams are prepared exactly as is lobster, except that they must be kept for a little longer in the sauce in order to just cook them through. They are to be served in ramekins. The tomatoes are to have the inside removed without breaking the skin, and this is mixed with bread crumbs and seasoning, returned to the tomatoes, and baked.
The salad is made by filling small individual moulds with almonds and[Pg 153] bouillon jelly made of melted extract of beef, seasoning, and dissolved gelatine; the nuts should be cut into strips and arranged in a pattern with a little of the aspic before the moulds are filled. A stiff mayonnaise is to be served with this.
The ice cream is particularly delicious, though it seems very odd to one who is not familiar with it. A very rich cream is made with the yolks of five eggs added to a quart of cream, and when done it is put in large spoonfuls in halved, small, and spicy muskmelons. The two eaten together are a decided improvement on either alone.
There is really no reason for having sherbet with such a menu as this, for two cold dishes are already on the bill of fare, but if the day is[Pg 154] extremely warm, it may be thought best to have it, even if it is acknowledged to be quite unnecessary.
Poverty luncheons are usually arranged in a series, every one of eight or ten hostesses giving in turn a meal to the rest which must cost exactly a specified price, the smaller the better. Usually two dollars and a half is selected as the proper amount for ten persons, and the rivalry between the luncheon-givers as to which one shall have the most elaborate meal for the price makes these luncheons very entertaining. Of course, by keeping everything down to the lowest possible sum, one can have any number of courses, but it is better to have less and have it fairly substantial. The prices of all the food, even to the butter, must be written on a card at each plate, and the flowers or other decorations are extras.
As the days begin to grow cooler, and a suspicion of frost in the air in the early morning brings back one's vigour, golf seems the finest game in the world, and long days are spent on the links. A luncheon for golfers will transform any day in the week into a gala day, if only it is not taken too seriously. The guests are to come in their golf suits to be in keeping; the luncheon should be bright and informal rather than[Pg 157] stately.
If the company is a large one, seat them in fours at small tables, each[Pg 158] of which should have a centrepiece of salvia, or Scotch heather, or—just for fun—thistles. The little souvenirs for this luncheon are of great variety, and most ingenious. There are plaid golf bags with sticks, to be filled with bonbons, or small plaid woollen caps to be presented to men afterwards for tobacco pouches, unless the men are present to receive them at the luncheon. There are plaid-covered golf score-books, which are really useful as well as pretty, and a host of other things, such as individual sticks, which are less elaborate.[Pg 159]
Your cards may have sketches of girls in golf costume, or little cuts of such figures may be found in colours in golf catalogues, and cut out and pasted on the cards. The tables may have plaid ribbon drawn down each side, or have bows at the corners. You might have a Scotch menu for the sake of variety, although Scotch dishes do not compare with American.
Boiled Salmon. Boiled Potatoes.
Pheasant. Currant Jelly.
Scotch Rarebit on Toast.
Plum Tart with Cream. Coffee.
The broth is made by stewing mutton with vegetables until it is sufficiently strong; when the whole is strained and cooked, barley is added till the broth is quite thick; just before serving, a little chopped parsley is put in. Haggis is usually rather a formidable dish to undertake, as most recipes are very elaborate; this one, however, is simple and the results are good. Boil the head, heart, and liver of a sheep with one pound of bacon for an hour; then chop them, season highly, and add sufficient oatmeal to make a thick mush. Boil this in a bag for two hours, and serve it in the same bag, rolling it back to look as well as possible; this receptacle is less objectionable than that in[Pg 161] which haggis is served in Scotland,—the stomach of the sheep.
Should you fear to venture on this dish, you might substitute for it Scotch snipe. For this make a paste of a box of sardines mixed with lemon and a little onion juice; spread on slices of bread and cut in strips half an inch thick. Put these in the oven and heat thoroughly, and then pour over them a sauce made of the beaten yolks of two eggs and six tablespoonfuls of cream, to which has been gradually added a tablespoonful of melted butter, and after taking from the fire, a half-teaspoonful of salt, a dash of red pepper, and a little chopped parsley. The strips of toast must be served very hot, and will be found delicious. Even if the haggis is used, this dish might be added to the bill of fare. If pheasant is not obtainable, prairie chicken is a perfect substitute for it, or woodcock will do in the place of either.
The Scotch rarebit is quite different from the Welsh, being made by[Pg 162] adding to half a pint of white sauce a tablespoonful of anchovy paste and a pinch of red pepper; cook this for a moment and add six hard-boiled eggs cut in rather large bits. Simmer the whole for three minutes, and serve on buttered toast.
The plum tart is made by cooking large purple or green-gage plums in a deep baking dish with a sprinkling of flour and plenty of sugar, and a cover of pie-crust over the top. Tart is always served in what foreigners call dessert plates, but they are exactly like our soup plates, with a dessert spoon and a fork, and thick cream is passed with the dish. Coffee is never served on a Scotch table as a final course, but is offered with tea in the drawing-room after the meal. However, in[Pg 163] this case it may be passed after the tart, or poured on the porch afterwards.
Should you wish a more conventional luncheon, this menu is a delicious one.
Codfish Steaks. Lobster Sauce.
Baked Spaghetti with Oysters.
Prairie Chicken with Currant Jelly.
Tomato and Walnut Salad. Cheese Crackers.
Although this is rather an elaborate menu, there is no sherbet in it on account of the watermelon, which is better if no other frozen dish is used with it.
The spaghetti is prepared exactly as when cooked with cheese; that is, it is stewed till tender, washed in cold water to remove the starch, and laid in a dish in layers with seasoning, oysters, and white sauce, and[Pg 164] baked till brown. This is more easily managed if bread crumbs are put on top with butter, and small dishes or ramekins are used.
The watermelon is to be scooped in large spoonfuls from the rind, the seeds removed, and the melon laid in a freezer with powdered sugar and a little sherry, and the freezer put in a cool place packed with ice and salt for at least five hours.
When country houses are rather far apart, it is often convenient to go from one to another on one's wheel, in spite of the fact that bicycling is no longer in high favour. Still, so long as wheels are so useful they will continue to be used, and just so long
will be found appropriate for some occasion.
Decorate your table with golden-rod or autumn leaves or a mixture of golden-rod and purple asters, the two flowers which are so beautiful[Pg 165] together; do not on any account use garden or hot-house flowers for a luncheon, which on its face suggests out-of-door sport. Search the magazines for bicycle advertisements, and cut out bicyclers in all sorts of attitudes and dress, and paste these on cards with a brief line commending some one make of wheel for each guest; the more extravagant the praise of each, the better. There are all sorts of pretty little favours to be had of bicycles, tricycles, and tandems, which will serve as souvenirs. This may be transformed into an automobile luncheon by[Pg 166] the change of the two conveyances. Oysters are again in season, and will be welcomed by the hostess as a first course.
Oysters on the Half-Shell.
Creamed Lobster in Shells.
Quail on Toast. Potato Croquettes. Jelly.
Apple Salad. Water-Cress Sandwiches.
Frozen Peaches. Cake.
The salad is made by scooping out the whole inside of a large red apple, after a slice has been carefully cut from the stem end with a sharp knife; this pulp is chopped, mixed with small bits of celery and English walnuts, with stiff mayonnaise, and the whole returned to the apple, the top being put on again so that the cut does not show; this is a very pretty salad, especially if care is taken to choose perfect apples.[Pg 167]
As college opens again there are always those whose school-days are over, who are "left lamenting" somewhat because the happy days are no more. For such, a luncheon may be arranged which will have special reference to the common past of a group of classmates.
Lay the table prettily with the usual doilies, bonbon dishes of almonds, radishes, candies, and crystallised fruits. Garden asters are now in full bloom and come in great variety of colour, and these will make a beautiful centrepiece, massed in a large bowl. The combination of crimson and pink, of pink and white, or of white and purple is better than the use of one shade alone. The table should be lighted with Roman lamps or else with Jerusalem candlesticks, as suggestive of classical[Pg 168] studies; to be sure, September is one of the sunny months, but this luncheon may be used quite as well at some other time of the year as the fall, if that is desired, so the suggestion of the lamps may stand.
The most attractive feature of the luncheon may be the cards, which may well be preserved for years as souvenirs of college as well as of this meal; they are to be photographs of the particular place in the college grounds or dormitories or village with which each guest was most associated. If one has a friend still in college with a kodak (and what college girl does not own one?), she can take and send them to you. The[Pg 169] girl who was oftenest in the Dean's office for reprimand may have a picture of that interior; the one who was champion at basket ball, a view of the gymnasium with the team at play; the girl who was the best at chemistry, a glimpse of the laboratory; the one who frequented the soda fountain down town, a picture of that. Or, if these photographs are too frivolous, pictures of beautiful views about the college grounds may be substituted.
The luncheon may suggest in its menu the favourite dishes of some of the class, or one course might be a reminder of something served constantly on the college table; this meal really gives unlimited opportunity for ingenuity.
If the weather does not admit of using artificial lights, and yet the table is felt to be incomplete without the small Roman lamps, they might be filled with flowers instead of oil and used as decorations, the[Pg 170] central group of asters being kept low in a very shallow bowl.
Peaches and Grapes.
Cream of Corn Soup.
Jellied Chicken. Pim-olas.
Chops with Peas. Sweet Potato Croquettes.
Tomato and Lettuce Salad. French Dressing.
Maple Parfait. Cakes.
The maple parfait is one of the most delicious of desserts, and one easily prepared as well. The yolks of eight eggs are beaten stiff, a cupful of maple syrup is added, and the whole is heated until it makes a thick coating on the spoon, when it is taken from the fire and beaten until it is cold; a pint of thick cream is then beaten stiff and mixed lightly with the eggs and syrup, and the whole is put in a melon mould and packed in ice and salt for five hours. The bonbons served with the[Pg 171] coffee should be those especially fancied by the girls of the college; if there is a fudge named for the institution, that is the sweet to choose.
As Labour Day is a national holiday, it must be regarded as a gala day. A luncheon which is in keeping with the occasion must not be elaborate, but, on the contrary, as simple as may be without actually serving the labourer's bill of fare. A good deal may be done to divert the guests without giving a suspicion of making fun of the occasion, which is not in the least contemplated. The table should be laid with a cloth, plain white china used, and the decorations should be wild flowers. The cards should bear a sketch of a labourer, and the favours should be small picks, shovels, spades, and hoes, such as children play with. Have a course of cold meat, and one of baked beans, as well as one in which[Pg 172] crackers, cheese, and coffee are served at the same time.
Bouillon (in Tin Cups).
Baked Beans in Bean-Pots.
Cold Lamb. Pickles. Bread and Butter.
Vanilla Ice Cream (in Small Tin Dinner-Pails).
Crackers, Cheese, and Coffee.
This is a rather plain meal, but nothing else will be appropriate, and the idea of the day will prove its best sauce.
One of the oddest of luncheons may be given in October on the tin-wedding anniversary, for as this is a favourite month for weddings, anniversaries are sure to be frequent among one's friends; the bride of a decade ago may gather her former bridesmaids for a luncheon served with reminiscences, or a bridesmaid may entertain the group, or possibly a number of October brides of ten years' standing may gather to celebrate on one day the anniversaries scattered through the month.[Pg 174]
Lay the table in pink; have a lace centrepiece over silk, a tin quart[Pg 175] measure in the middle filled with pink bridesmaid's roses, and pink candles with pink rose shades, if the day is dark. Use small tin plates for the bread and butter, and put the bonbons, almonds, radishes, and candied ginger in little scalloped tins. A souvenir spoon may be given each guest,—of tin, of course,—tied with a white ribbon, with the name of some city the bride did not visit on her wedding trip painted in white letters in the bowl; one is supposed to believe that these spoons were purchased at Copenhagen, Constantinople, and Moscow with a view to[Pg 176] this occasion. Or, if souvenir spoons seem altogether out of date, though really they would have been quite the thing ten years ago, and are therefore no anachronism, give the guests some small tin utensil such as an apple-corer, or a nutmeg-grater. Serve everything in tin; the bouillon in small cups with handles, the sherbet in scalloped tins, the fish, salad, and ice cream on tin plates of medium size, and the chicken on larger ones. The coffee may be in tin timbale moulds. If you use candles, put them in ordinary tin candlesticks.[Pg 177]
Broiled Oysters on Toast.
Curried Eggs in Rice Border.
Chicken Breasts with Italian Chestnuts.
Potato Croquettes. Rolls.
Plum Salad. Lettuce Sandwiches.
Sunshine Ice Cream and Cake.
To prepare curried eggs, boil as many as are needed until hard, peel, and put them in a ring of boiled rice which has been turned out of a border mould; this rice should be well seasoned with a little chopped parsley mixed with it. Over all should be poured a white sauce[Pg 178] flavoured with curry powder, and on the top should be sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese, and the whole lightly browned in the oven.
The Italian chestnuts served with the chicken are to be boiled until the shells can be removed, and then stewed gently in cream until they are tender; the inner skin is not to be removed, as this gives the chestnuts a purple colour and serves to keep them in shape.
The salad is made of the largest plums to be found; they are to be peeled, halved, and laid on lettuce with either French dressing or mayonnaise.
The ice cream is a rich vanilla cream made with the yolks of the eggs; it is served in a very large sunshine cake,—that is, an angels' food with the yolks of the eggs added,—which has been turned upside down and had the entire centre cut out, leaving only a ring of the cake. The cream is put in this in large rounded spoonfuls, and a slice of the cake is cut and served with each. If any of the wedding cake has been kept,[Pg 179] some other cream may be used for the luncheon, and the cake, cut in small pieces, passed with it.
This luncheon should be carried out in yellow and brown, and if one can have autumn leaves for decoration she will feel that she has the really appropriate thing; still, if these are not to be had, or if the colours have vanished from them, there are other things which will do almost as well. A pumpkin might serve as a centrepiece, with the top off and the centre cut out, filled either with fruit or chestnuts or chrysanthemums, or the latter may be used alone in a tall vase. The little dishes on the table should hold chocolates and plenty of marrons, or candied chestnuts. Few persons know, until they have tried the experiment, how easily these latter dainties are prepared at home; after boiling,[Pg 180] peeling, and simmering them in a thick syrup, they are rolled in sugar and laid on oiled paper; a simple way of making what is usually considered an expensive luxury.
Your guest cards should be decorated with sketches of witches or brownies, or lighted candles; or you may purchase some small souvenirs, such as stick-pins with witches, or silver crescents with figures with brooms seated at one end. Cards of burnt leather are also in keeping with the colours of the table and with the idea of the day.
Darken the room and light the gas, but turn it low; get some of the little bonbon boxes in the shape of oranges, or empty orange skins; through an opening at one end, cut eyes, nose, and mouth, as is done in making Jack o' lanterns, drop a little hot wax in the bottom of each, and put in a small lighted candle; the effect is decidedly quaint and pretty when the table is all lighted. If a supper is desired rather[Pg 181] than a luncheon, these same suggestions will do for that, and if the menu is too long, the croquettes and sherbet may be omitted.
Fried Oysters. Sauce Tartare.
Chicken Croquettes with Peas.
Quail. Currant Jelly.
French Fried Potatoes.
Grape Fruit Sherbet in Skins.
Sweetbreads in Aspic. Mayonnaise.
Wine Jelly with Cream. Cakes.
The sherbet is delicious, but rather troublesome to prepare. Small fruit is selected, the pulp removed in spoonfuls without the breaking the sections, and after sweetening well, it is packed in the freezer to stand four hours; meanwhile the skins of the fruit are cut in basket shapes, and when the luncheon is ready, the frozen fruit is heaped in[Pg 182] these.
The salad is made by putting cooked sweetbreads in melted beef extract which has been seasoned and had sufficient gelatine added to set it; it is to be put in small moulds and turned out on lettuce with a spoonful of mayonnaise by each. If a simpler salad is wished, one that is surprisingly good is made by putting cold cooked string beans on lettuce, sprinkling with French dressing and serving with mayonnaise.
The wine jelly, while still warm, is to be poured over bits of candied fruit laid in a ring mould. When served, the centre is filled with whipped cream and candied fruit scattered over all.
This luncheon is not intended to be eaten by authors, though they are not necessarily barred from participating in it, but it is arranged for some group of clever women who are sufficiently well read to enter into a guessing contest with interest in the books and authors named; or a girls' club may enjoy a trial of their literary knowledge. The luncheon is capable of infinite variation, and any one with a catalogue of books can alter it to suit the requirements of any especial occasion.
Cards should lie at each place with the menu written out as in the first one printed below, with the names of the authors omitted, and before each course, or while one is eaten the next dish is to be guessed, and the author named. A prize might be offered for the most numerous guesses which are correct. The hostess would do well to have the key to the menu by her plate.
The table decorations may be of an ordinary character, such as a bunch of roses in the middle, or a vase of asters or chrysanthemums, and the usual pretty doilies and odd dishes about, or, if laurel is to be had, either the flowers or the leaves may be used to suggest the crowning of genius.
The culinary key to the luncheon is this:—[Pg 185]
The eggs are prepared by cutting up those that have been hard boiled, seasoning them well, covering with white sauce, putting in individual baking dishes, covering with grated cheese, and browning. The chicken is minced, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little sherry or stewed tomato, and put in a melon mould which has been buttered and lined with an inch thickness of boiled rice; then the mould is steamed for three quarters of an hour, and when done the whole is turned out on a round platter, and a tomato sauce is poured around it.
The salad is made by cutting a head of lettuce across with the scissors[Pg 186] until leaves of grass result; mayonnaise is to be passed with this.
The ice cream is to be in forms of any sort, but the figure of a man is the most appropriate.
This luncheon may be changed from a gastronomic to a literary guessing game, either by furnishing the guests with a copy of the titles of the books without the authors, making them guess both the writer and the dish which is represented, or by furnishing the actual menu and asking the guests to give a title of a book which will suitably represent the course. In order to give opportunity for some choice in this luncheon, a slightly altered menu is also given:—
"Wing and Wing" is by Cooper, as doubtless your guests will know, and may be represented by a course of game, either pigeons or duckling.
The principal gala day of this month is toward the last, the historic gala day of our forefathers, Thanksgiving; still, it is quite proper to have a luncheon at any time during the month which shall have the characteristics of the time.
should remind us of the dress and food of our ancestors, but all of their austerity and asceticism may go without mention; we do not take kindly to these things in our days of luxury and ease. Have your guest-cards bear a sketch of a Puritan girl, or a man in a tall pointed hat and long cloak with a gun over his shoulder, or some other suggestion of Colonial times. Have your menu made up largely of dishes said to have been used at the first Thanksgiving Day meal, judiciously combined with every-day delicacies which are more warmly approved by this generation. Let your bonbons be in the shape of candy vegetables; they are odd, and wonderfully accurate, and are to be had in the form of[Pg 191] radishes, carrots, potatoes, turnips, beets, and almost everything else; and buy favours in the shape of miniature roasted turkeys. Chrysanthemums are the flower of November, and they are beautiful in any shade, but yellow is the most brilliant, and a mass of this splendid color in the centre of the table will make it attractive. If you use candles, have them of yellow, with paper shades of chrysanthemums.
The Puritans are said to have dined on oysters, clams, turkey, succotash, and game, and all these things must be in the menu:—
Oysters on the Half-Shell.
Cream of Celery Soup.
Roast Turkey Breast in Slices.
Currant Jelly. Succotash in Cases. Potato.
Scallop Salad. Olives.
Brown Bread and Butter.
Individual Mince Pies. Cheese.
Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce.
The salad is made by scalding a pint of scallops, draining them and serving on lettuce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a French dressing. The mince-pies may be omitted if they seem too heavy for luncheon, but if you fancy this reminder of a real Thanksgiving meal, have them made in small round tins about four inches across, and have the pie-crust as delicate as possible. The hot sauce to serve with the ice cream is made by boiling a pint of water with half a pint of sugar until it hardens in water, and then adding two tablespoonfuls of grated[Pg 193] chocolate dissolved in three tablespoonfuls of boiling water, and boiling again until it crisps in water; add vanilla and serve at once. In the place of both the pie and this cream, you may have a sort of combination of both, which might be called mince-pie ice cream, made by adding chopped raisins, spice, and a dash of wine to a rich chocolate ice cream; the slices look and taste like fruit cake, and served with whipped cream are delicious.
In cities the opera season begins earlier than it did formerly, and this suggests an operatic luncheon, either one served just before a matinée, or given by way of something new, without regard to times and seasons.[Pg 194] Almost any opera gives scope for decorations and cards in keeping with the idea of its story, but perhaps Carmen is the most distinctive. For this, your cards should bear a bar of music,—the famous and easily recognized "Toreador" song is the best,—or else a sketch of some scene from the stage. If you can find paper fans with the pictures of bull-fights, such as are to be had at times in our shops, these are certainly appropriate as souvenirs.
The decorations must be in the Spanish colours, scarlet and yellow, and carnations will give the best results; if you fancy having a corsage bouquet for each guest these may be of alternate colours, yellow tied with red and red tied with yellow, with the flowers in the centre of the table of the two. The bonbons may be of scarlet and yellow also. Here is a Spanish menu:—[Pg 195]
Red Bean Soup.
Broiled Fish with Tomato Sauce.
Spaghetti with Cheese.
Spanish Chicken. Lyonnaise Potatoes.
The soup is made of strong stock with red beans, and seasoning in this way: a little onion and garlic are browned in a deep kettle with a spoonful of lard and a pinch of thyme; a stock is poured over this, and two cupfuls of red beans which have been cooked until they are soft are added; the whole is put through a sieve and poured over croutons just before serving.
Any fish will do for the third course, but bluefish is the best; after it is cooked it is cut in pieces ready to serve, and then a rich tomato sauce is poured over each piece. The chicken is really delicious. A tender fowl is chosen, jointed, and put on to stew. A dozen dry red[Pg 196] peppers are cut up and boiled, after the seeds have been removed; they are then moistened with a little chicken broth and put through a sieve; one green pepper and two sliced onions are fried in a little lard, the peppers and chicken added, and the whole covered with the thickened gravy and simmered for fifteen minutes before serving.
The salad is one of the commonest Spanish dishes. To make it, take a cup of dice made of stale bread, sprinkle with bits of red peppers, add a cup of stoned olives, cut up, and half a cup of chopped cucumber pickles; mix the whole with mayonnaise and serve on lettuce cut in strips; pass a strong cheese with it. The stuffed cake is also a dish frequently seen in Spain. A large sponge cake is soaked in mild sherry, stuck full of blanched almonds and stoned raisins, and eaten with a rich boiled custard poured over it.
In New York the horse show is the great November event; perhaps in other cities there is something corresponding to it, and certainly in small places there is a great interest taken in the County Fair, which comes somewhat earlier in the fall. For any day when a number of friends are to visit a place where the horse is the hero, a luncheon may precede the hour. A large floral horse-shoe may be the decoration of the table, or one may be suspended over the table and the flowers may be of the same variety in the centrepiece, but arranged with more grace. The guest cards may bear a sketch of a horse, or of a horse-shoe, or a whip or some similar device, and the favours may be of the same character, in the shape of little silver pins; or, if the luncheon is sufficiently informal to warrant it, these favours may be chocolate horses, standing at each plate.
Clams on the Half-Shell.
Cream of Lima Bean Soup.
Creamed Scallops in Ramekins.
Chicken in Green Peppers.
Breaded Chops with Tomato Sauce.
Potatoes au Gratin. Hot Rolls.
Lobster Salad. Cheese Straws.
Ice Cream with Maple Sauce.
The chicken in the peppers is to be ordinary minced white meat, with sufficient white sauce to make it palatable; if it is too wet it will not be good. It is put in raw peppers from which the ends have been cut, and the seeds removed, and the whole thoroughly heated in the oven. The potatoes are baked and served in their own shells after they have been scooped out and seasoned, and cut in half, with grated cheese over them. The ice cream is a rich French cream made with eggs, and the sauce is hot maple syrup with English walnuts broken in pieces in it; it is one[Pg 199] of the most delicious of desserts, well worth being used in place of any of the suggested creams at any luncheon during the year.
Boys are supposed to scorn luncheon as a purely feminine meal and one which is necessarily frivolous; nevertheless there are occasions when a boy is interested in entertaining his friends at luncheon, perhaps before going to see a football game, or some such athletic contest, and then a meal with Indian accessories will delight him.
The table should be laid with a cloth rather than with doilies, and the centrepiece may be a birch-bark canoe, planted with ferns. The cards may be of birch bark with quotations from Hiawatha, or of cardboard with an Indian's head in colours, or a sketch of a wigwam, or a tomahawk, or a[Pg 200] pair of snowshoes.
The bonbons may be in pretty little bead pouches laid at each plate, or else in pairs of small moccasins around on the table, or in tiny birch-bark canoes. The luncheon should be a hearty one without those "frills" which the budding masculine intelligence refuses to admire.
The menu, like the one suggested for the Thanksgiving luncheon, may have a suggestion of Indian dishes in it.
Creamed Fish in Shells.
Slices of Turkey Breast. Peas.
Creamed Potatoes. Cranberries.
Lobster Salad. Sandwiches.
Vanilla Ice Cream. Cakes.
After a morning at whist, one should have an appetite for the noon meal; let it be so delicious that the anxieties and disappointments of the game may be speedily forgotten! The table may be prettily laid with the usual doilies, and the flowers chosen chrysanthemums again, unless you fancy carrying out the red and black colours of the cards, when the plan suggested for the Musical Luncheon in January may be adopted, and red carnations tied with narrow black ribbons may be laid by each plate, and dark chocolate bonbons may be in the little dishes around a centrepiece[Pg 202] of red carnations. At each of the places may be a small box of cardboard in the shape of a heart, a club, a diamond, or a spade alternately, filled with bonbons. There are tin cutters which are in these same shapes, and the cakes and sandwiches may still further carry out the idea. The ices, too, are to be found at the caterer's in slices of white with the figures on them in colours, but you may make a white cream at home and serve it in paper boxes painted with the various figures around the edge, if you choose.
Any one of the preceding menus may be used, or one may have something different which yet reproduces the best dishes which have been suggested, especially the delightful ice cream which was mentioned for one luncheon, with the maple sauce, one of the delicious things among new dishes.
Lobster Croquettes with Tomato Sauce.
Mushroom Omelette. Hot Rolls.
Fried Chicken in Cream Sauce. Potato Soufflé. Asparagus Tips.
Waldorf Salad. Cheese Sandwiches.
French Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple Sauce.
The mushroom omelette is easily prepared by putting a mixture of chopped mushrooms and olives in a delicately browned omelette as it is folded over just before it is served; there is nothing better in an egg dish than this. The salad is made by cutting rather sweet apples in bits and adding as much chopped celery and a stiff mayonnaise and laying on lettuce leaves; if English walnuts are added, the salad is entirely changed from the original, but it is thought quite as good by most persons; the fact that these nuts are to be served in the dessert, however, gives reason for omitting them from the mixture of apple and[Pg 204] celery. If it is desired to have a sherbet for this luncheon, add it after the chicken, one of canned pineapple, or grape fruit, and have the final course a cream cheese with Bar-le-Duc currants and crackers, with the coffee; the mixture of sweet and cheese seems odd to one who has not tried it, but it is warranted to give satisfaction.
One of the charming things about Christmas Day is the now customary late luncheon for the members of the family and the intimate friends who are afterwards expected to prolong their stay until the lighting of the tree at early candle-light. Men as well as women are invited to this holiday celebration, and the occasion is one of the happiest of the happy season. Of course the guests are chosen with an especially careful thought as to their congeniality, for Christmas is never the time for the payment of social obligations, but rather for the fulfilment of the idea of peace and good-will, and comradeship must mark the keeping of the festival.
This Christmas luncheon in no way conflicts with the family dinner which comes later in the day, but is a thing apart. The children join in this, even if they are too young to remain out of bed for the later meal, and will hugely enjoy the fun which marks it.
The table should be arranged in scarlet, with holly to offset the more[Pg 208] brilliant colour; in the centre should stand one of the diminutive Christmas trees, such as are to be had in the German toy shops; they are artificial, and do not take fire from the candles, and have the additional advantage of lasting for years, as they fold up like an umbrella and may be tucked out of the way from one season to another. The pot in which this little tree stands is to be surrounded with a broad wreath of holly, lying on the table. The candles on the tree are to be scarlet, and they will sufficiently light the room except for the side lights on the wall. A narrow scarlet ribbon should extend from each plate to a little parcel lying at the foot of the tree, tied up with white tissue paper and scarlet ribbons, with a spray of holly attached, and at the close of the meal these ribbons are to be pulled by each guest and the gift opened; here the fun of the Christmas luncheon[Pg 209] begins, for these presents should in every case be some small joke on the recipient, and ingenuity and cleverness should be the price paid for them by the giver. If one has the knack of writing jingles,—and it is easily acquired,—the card bearing the verse is to accompany the gift, and the words must be read aloud for the entertainment of all.
A young man who is addicted to the bad habit of Sunday golf might have a small plaid paper golf-bag, and a card with a picture of a golfer with his sticks,—this can be cut from an advertisement or catalogue,—and a[Pg 210] rhyme something like this:—
"Behold this young
golfer so fit,
An enthusiastic young housekeeper might be given a set of small tin baking dishes with this jingle:—
"This matron can
cook wondrous well;
A pretty girl might have a pasteboard heart with the words written on it, "A heart for the heartless," and this verse below:—
"This maiden's an
arrant young flirt;
A little practice will make perfect in writing similar ridiculous[Pg 211] nonsense.
The menu for this Christmas luncheon should be a very simple one in order not to impair the appetites for the Christmas goose, which will appear before many hours.
Duck Croquettes with Peas. Potato Puff.
Celery Salad. Wafers.
Individual Plum Puddings.
Of course if plum pudding is necessary to the Christmas dinner it must be dispensed with here, but if this is the one meal of the holiday when the children of the family are present, these small lighted puddings will give the greatest delight; each one is to have a little spray of holly in the top and be sent to the table on fire; as the alcohol is destroyed in the blaze, there can be no objection to its use on this[Pg 212] occasion.
After the final course a sleigh filled with candies may be brought in, with Santa Claus driving his team of reindeer, and this may be placed in state on one end of the table, or, if the little tree is not to be had for the central decoration, this toy may take its place, and stand in the centre all through the meal.
Sometimes one wishes to give a formal luncheon for guests who are spending the Christmas holidays in the house; the ideas suggested for the tree, the presents, the nonsense jingles, and the holly may all be[Pg 213] used with perfect appropriateness, even if this comes either before or after the twenty-fifth. A Christmas luncheon speaks for itself, whenever it is given. For this you will need a rather elaborate
Whole Pineapple filled with Fruits.
Clam Bisque. Hot Crackers.
Whitebait. Brown Bread and Butter.
Boiled Chicken. Oyster Sauce.
Orange Sherbet in Holly Boxes.
Tongue Salad. Olive Sandwiches.
Individual Plum Puddings.
Pineapple is in market all the year around in our cities, and at a price which varies little from the one in summer; if, however, the fruit is not to be had, serve whole bananas chilled, each one lying on its side on a plate with a strip of skin removed, and lemon juice and powdered sugar over it; it is to be eaten as bananas usually are now, with a[Pg 214] spoon.
The whitebait is a peculiarly delicious fish, and not an expensive one, for as it is very light, a pound will go a long way; it is sprinkled with flour and fried in a wire basket in deep fat and served with a bit of lemon and thin strips of brown bread. Smelts or small pan fish may be substituted for it, if it is not in one's market. Only the white meat of the chicken is to be used on the table in the next course, with a white sauce with oysters in it. The tongue salad is made by cutting canned lunch tongue into small pieces, covering with French dressing for an hour and laying on lettuce with mayonnaise over it; the sandwiches passed with this are made of chopped olives and a little mayonnaise on thin bread and butter. An ice cream may be used in the place of the[Pg 215] puddings if they are not fancied, and the caterer can furnish small figures of Santa Claus in coloured creams which are very attractive.
In December there should be snow on the ground, whether there is or not; certainly except on the sea-coast there is apt to be. A luncheon all in white is appropriate in winter in any case, but if your guests can look out on a white landscape, so much the better. This meal might precede a sleighing or skating party; as one skates in the city on artificial ice oftener than on that which forms naturally, this luncheon may be served, whatever the weather, for a party of skaters.
Lay the table all in white, with doilies and lace centrepiece, and white, unshaded candles, whose glow will save the table from looking cold. Have your flowers white carnations with just a touch of green[Pg 216] among them, and your bonbons and crystallised fruits white also. The radishes are to be peeled, all but the least bit, and mixed with celery hearts in a long glass dish, or served by themselves, as you fancy. The mousse may be in white sugar cases, if you prefer these rather than the melon mould.
Cream of Chicken Soup.
Timbales of Cod. Oyster Sauce.
Beefsteak à la Stanley. Creamed Potatoes.
Celery Salad. White Mayonnaise.
Whipped Cream Mousse. Snowball Cakes.
Coffee with Whipped Cream.
The beefsteak à la Stanley, said to have been invented by the African discoverer, is an odd dish for luncheon, but it is extremely good, although one who has never eaten it would not be inclined to think so; if served in small pieces is not too heavy for a winter's luncheon.[Pg 217]
A thick, tender sirloin steak is broiled and laid on a hot platter on a bed of horse-radish sauce made with the grated root, cream, and white bread crumbs; a layer of fried bananas is put on the meat after it has been seasoned, and over all, a thin layer of the sauce; the root is then grated on top to look like long white ribbons, and the dish is served hot. Of course for a luncheon the steak must be cut in strips before the sauce is put on, or it will be a difficult matter to prevent its becoming mussy in cutting, but if the plates are prepared in the kitchen, the matter will be simple enough. To one who has never attempted this dish a suggestion might be given,—do not condemn it untried. The mousse is simply whipped cream which has been sweetened, flavoured with sherry, filled with candied fruit and nuts cut in small bits, and packed in a melon mould with ice and salt for four or five[Pg 218] hours; it should be served on a bed of whipped cream. The snow-ball cakes have been suggested before; they are very pretty with this luncheon.
As this menu is heartier than usual, no sherbet is given, for presumably there is enough to eat without it; if, however, just because it is hearty it is thought necessary to introduce a course of ice to refresh after the meat, an apricot ice made from canned fruit may be added.
In announcing the engagement of a friend it is customary to do so with her permission at a luncheon given to her most intimate friends; she should indeed make up the list with the hostess, limiting it to those who are entitled to hear the news directly. Of course if there are only a few, the luncheon should be an informal one, but if larger, the decorations and menu must be more elaborate.[Pg 219]
If none of those present have been entertained at a Valentine luncheon on the order of the one already suggested, that may be followed almost exactly, as everything except the dove over the table is quite as appropriate for this meal as for that; if the guests are the same, then the decorations are to be altered more or less.
Lay the table with lace doilies over pink silk; have several vases of pink roses on the table, and have all the sandwiches, cakes, and ices in heart shapes. Use arrows of stiff silver paper in the ices. Give heart-shaped boxes filled with heart-shaped candies to the guests, unless you care to invest in pretty little stick-pins with gold or[Pg 220] silver, or coloured enamel hearts on the end.
An appetising menu would be:—
Oysters on the Half-Shell.
Fillet of Flounder. Sauce Tartare.
Chicken Livers on Skewers.
Fillet of Beef, Sliced, with Mushroom Sauce.
Frozen Fruit in Candy Flowers.
Devilled Eggs on Chiccory. Mayonnaise.
Ice-Cream Hearts. Cakes.
The chicken livers are prepared by putting good-sized pieces of cooked livers on rather small wooden or silver skewers, alternating them with bits of thin bacon, putting them when ready in the frying-pan, and turning them till brown, and serving on toast with lemon. They are what is called en brochette in cook-books, a formidable name for a simple[Pg 221] dish. Fillet of beef is really a dinner dish, yet it is seen not unfrequently at luncheons, sliced in the kitchen and put on the plates with a spoonful of mushroom sauce. The frozen fruit has been already given,—a mixture of sliced oranges and bananas with a foamy sauce poured over; it is served in sherbet cups, or in candy flowers.