The Welsh Rarebit in Artichokes recipe that appeared March 1 contained an error. If using canned artichoke bottoms, do not use boiling consumme. Simply saute them in butter and sprinkle with lemon juice before placing in baking dish.
Last Monday afternoon, I stopped by the British Embassy residence to see how the household was preparing for the three-day schedule of heavy entertaining connected with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's arrival on Wednesday.
Suzanne Middleton-Murphy, the social secretary, had already managed,between non-stop phone calls, to finish writing out the menus for three meals in her elegant hand. But then, she is a person who "can do and does everything," says Lady Mary Henderson, the ambassador's wife. John Lightfoot, the butler was overseeing the changing of light bulbs in the ballroom andthe setting up of his flower-arranging tables in the drawing room. Simultaneously he instructed a footman on the traffic pattern that he and 19 others would follow between the kitchen and the 11 tables at which 108 people, including President and Mrs. Reagan, the Cabinet and leading members of Congress, would eat their dinner on Friday night.
The kitchen, from which the three major meals would begin to emerge inonly two days, was busy but incredibly calm, considering the small size of the staff and how much they had to do. Harry Simpson, Lady Henderson's talented young English chef, wasdeep-frying shredded potatoes in a special double basket that produced little brown "nests". These would hold tiny sausage-encased quail eggs and be presented on starched napkin "gondolas" as the first course for Thursday's stag lunch. The 28 guests -- business executives, administration economicstrategists and congressional leaders -- would then be served a simply English second course: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and brussels sprouts, prepared, as is all the food fromthe embassy's kitchen, with Harry Simpson's light touch andnever over-cooked.
The chef's staff of two were working on the vegetables for the Wednesday night dinner, a "family"affair for 30 which would be attended by Thatcher, her entourage and embassy people. Ian Knox, whom the chef had knownwhen they were both at Claridge's, was carving bushels of carrots into tiny replicas of the carrots themselves. Strings were being removed from pounds of snow peas by Jean ClaudeFostinelli, who had come to Washington from the American Embassy in Paris to learn English in an exchange arranged via the friendship between Lady Henderson and Donna Hartman, ourambassador's wife.
Lady Henderson is vastly experienced in entertaining large numbers, so advance preparation is built into the menus she plans. For the prime minister's visit, the work had begun weeks before, the minute the inauguration festivities were over and the last of the visiting politicians and Foreign Office types had checked out of the embassy. One freezer already held 300 quails, which had been cleaned and boned over a two-week period. On Thursday they would be stuffed, browned and sauced and put into oval pie dishes. On Friday , puff pastry, also from the freezer, would berolled out and placed on the dishes for the Reagan dinner that evening. Chestnuts for the puree to accompany the quailpies would be shelled Thursday afternoon and cooked on Friday.
The chicken stock for the lemon broth, the first course for the Friday dinner, was also in a freezer, as was the potted shrimp, imported from England, that would be spooned into artichoke bottoms and served at room temperature for the second course. Four of the artichoke bottoms would, however, be hot, filled with Welsh rarebit -- one for Evangeline Bruce, another for Mrs. John Tower and two more in reserve should others be allergic to shellfish.
All the desserts had also been prepared. Fifteen perfect, round "Chef's Snowballs" sat on trays in a freezer. On Friday night, these would be masked with fresh cream and ornamented with Harry Simpson's creations -- crowns of red, white and blue candy ribbon topped with sugar roses. These elegant decorations already were in a larder, perched on the molds in which the bombeshad been formed. The surprise of the evening would come when serving spoons cut through the vanilla ice cream shell and shaved bittersweet chocolate cascaded out.
Another freezer held Wednesday night's dessert, a lychee sorbet to be scooped into little spun sugar baskets and served with hot ginger sauce and brandy snaps, a combination much favored by the Hendersons.The dessert for Thursday's lunch was in basins in a refrigerator: Guards' puddings to be resteamed, turned out onto platters, garnished with fresh strawberries and carried flaming into the dining room. (In case the weather remained unseasonably warm, a lighter substitute dessert was already in the freezer.)
The Polish beef soup for Wednesday night would be taken from the refrigerator and reheated, and the pirojkis, puff pastry turnovers to accompany the soup, were in the freezer. On Wednesday morning, chestnuts would be peeled, stuffing for the ducks that would go into the ovens at 6:30.
The vegetables would be cooked at the last minute. Platters would be garnished with fresh watercress or fried parsley. No tomatoes, because Mrs. Thatcher does not eat them.The Reagans would be deprived of the ubiquitous veal; but, as had been determined, they do eat quail with pleasure.
Responsibility for the rest of the householdlies with the butler. Awarded the Royal Victoria Medal by the queen in 1976, John Lightfoot would, for Thatcher's visit, demonstrate his extraordinary organizational capacities.He would orchestrate a huge staff. He would supervise endless furniture moving -- on Wednesday and Thursday, guests would be seated at a long table in the newly refurbished dining room. But for Friday night, furniture from the ballroom would have to be moved into the dining room, which would become a second drawing room, while tables were set up in the ballroom for dinner.And he would exercise a newly discoveredtalent for spectacular flower arrangements. According to Lady Henderson, who taught him the basic principles, Mrs. Reagan had been so taken by his work that he was invited to theWhite House to consult about drying and arranging flowers.
The menus that Lady Henderson planned are simple yet sophisticated, amusing and original yet not overdone, eclectic yet somehow very English. The recipes that follow are hers and were used by her chef. They come from "Mary Henderson's Paris Embassy Cookbook," which was published in 1980 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson. The ingredients have been converted to American measurements. WELSH RAREBIT IN ARTICHOKES (6) servings) 12 artichokes* 5 lemons -- 3 quartered, and 2 juiced and mixed with enough cold water to cover artichokes 4 cups canned consomme Finely chopped parsley 1/2 pound gratred sharp cheddar cheese 4 teaspoons butter Scant 1/2 cup milk, ale or beer 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Dash of salt Dash of worcestershire sauce Paprika
Trim the stalks and cut off the base leaves of the artichokes, perferably with a stainless steel knife, to prevent the artichokes from turning brown. Cut off the leaves down to the base, leaving the hairy chokes (a scissors is good for this). Squeeze the juice of the three quartered lemons over the hearts and rub them well. Drop each one as it is done into the bowl of water and lemon juice. Stir from time to time.
Then drain the artichoke bottoms and drop them into the boiling consomme. Cook until the hairy choke is easily removed. The time will vary, but start testing at 10 minutes.Drain and remove chokes with a small spoon.
Grease a baking dish that can be brought to the table. Scatter parsley over the bottom and place the bottoms in the dish.
Melt the cheese and butter in the milk, ale or beer in a small heavy-bottomed pan, over gentle heat. Keep stirring and add the remaining ingredients. Spoon the mixture onto the center of the artichoke bottoms. Scatter a little more cayenne or some paprika over them and bake in a preheated 475-degree oven for 15 minutes.
*Note: Canned whole artichoke bottoms, not the quartered hearts, can be used,but they will not have the flavor of the fresh. If you areusing canned artichoke bottoms, drain them and saute them lightly in butter. Then sprinkle them with lemon juice before dropping them into the boiling consomme. LEMON BROTH (6 to 8 servings) 8 egg yolks Juice of 2 lemons 6 cupschicken stock Freshly grated nutmeg
Beat the egg yolks and the lemon juice in a warm mixing bowl with a whisk. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and gradually pour over the yolk and lemon mixture, beating as you pour. Serve immediately in warmed soup cups, scattering a little nutmeg in each cup.
On a hot day this soup can be served chilled. POLISHBARSZCZ (8 servings) Sour Beet Juice* 6 medium-sized raw beets, skinned and cut into cubes 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar 2 slices pumpernickel or other brown bread, crusts only 3 quarts water 1/2 pound soup bones 1 medium carrot, scraped 1 small onion, peeled 1 stalk celery 1 parsnip, scraped 4 medium-sized raw beets, skinned and quartered Salt and pepper to taste 1 bay leaf Sprig of rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried Sprig of parsley 2 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon mixed pickling spices 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 cup sour cream Sugar or lemon juice to taste Sour cream and nutmeg for garnish 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
To prepare the juice, place cubed beets in anearthenware or glass jar with a tight lid or cover, and cover with warm water; the water should have been boiled and cooled to tepid. Add the sugar and bread crusts. Cover the jar and leave in a warm place to ferment for 5 to 8 days. When the juice has fermented, pour it off and refrigerate. Pour more warm water over the beets and leave to ferment as before. Mix this with juice from the first fermentation, and refrigerate. For each recipe of barszcz you will need 1cup sour beet juice.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add the bones, the vegetables, salt, pepper, herbs, garlic and spices and simmer for 1 hour. Strain.Mix the cornstarch with a little of the sour cream and stirinto the stock to thicken. Add 1 cup of the sour beet juice and bring to a boil. Adjust taste with a little sugar if you wish, or lemon juice. Serve hot or iced with a teaspoonof sour cream in each cup, plus a pinch of nutmeg. Choppedhard-boiled eggs may also be added.
If the barszcz is not red enough, grate another raw beet, place it in a colander and press the juice into the soup with the back of a spoon. Overcooking the barszcz results in the soup losingits red color.
*Note: The sour beet juice must be prepared about 2 weeks in advance. It can be kept in the refrigerator and used when needed. PIROJKIS (Makes 18) 1 medium onion, chopped 1/4 pound ground beef 2 strips lean bacon, chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1 teaspoon mixed herbs (thyme, parsley, rosemary) 3/4 pound puff pastry, homemade or frozen
Lightly fry the onion until it is golden.Add the meat, bacon, salt and pepper.Stir and cook over high heat for 3 minutes. Add the herbs.
Roll out the pastry and cut into 3-inch circles. Spoon a little of the stuffing onto the center of each circle and fold in half. Pinch the edges together and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.Serve hot with hot Polish barszcz. QUAIL PIE (5 servings) 1/2 pound butter 2 1/2 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces 2 cup raisins Salt and pepper to taste 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon 10 quails, cleaned and boned, giblets and bones reserved 3/4 cup cognac 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger 3/8 cup madeira 1 pound unsweetened shortcrust pastry or puff pastry, homemade or frozen Watercreas for garnish Glaze: 1 egg yolk, beaten 1 teaspoon milk Sauce: Reserved quail giblets and bones 2 cups chicken stock 1 tablespoon cornstarch 3/8 cup madeira
Melt half of the butter in a saute pan. Add the apples and raisins and fry gently until the apples are golden. Add salt,pepper and cinnamon and leave to cool.
Fill the quails with the apple and raisin mixture (some mixture will be left for use later) and tie them with string. Sprinkle with saltand pepper and brown them in the remaining butter. Add cognac and flambe. Cut the strings and allow to cool.
Placethe quails in a 16-inch-long oval pie dish, cover with the remainder of the apple and raisin mixture, sprinkle with thegrated ginger and add the 3/4 cup of madeira. Roll out thepastry until is is about 1/8-inch thick and cut it in the shape of the pie dish about 1/2-inch larger.Lift this over the pie and press down around the rim, securing it with a little water. Trim the pastry with a knife and press around the rim with your fingers.
Add decorative leaves to the top, cut out of pastry scraps with a knife. To make the glaze, beat the egg yolk with milk and brush the top of the pie.Make a hole in the center of the pie and cover it after baking with a pastry rosette cooked separately. Allow the pie to stand for 15 minutes, then place in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Cover with foil and cook for 40 minutes more.
Prepare the sauce while the pie is cooking by frying the bones and giblets in the same pan in which you fried the quails. Mix a little of the chicken stock with the cornstarch and then add the rest of the stock.Pour this over the bones and giblets and cook for 20 minutes. Check seasoning, strain and add the 2/3 cup of madeira to the sauce.
Before serving, remove the pastry lid. Pour a quarter of the sauce into the pie. Carefully divide the lid in slices,to help guests serve themselves. tPlace the slices in an open, low oven to become crisp, then reassemble the lid on thepie before serving. Pour the remainder of the sauce into asauceboat. Place a folded napkin on an oval serving dish and place the pie dish on this. The napkin prevents the pie dish from slipping. You can add a bunch of watercress for decoration. CHESTNUT PUREE (8 servings) 3 1/4 pounds chestnuts 1/4 pound celeriac (celery root), chopped 1 cupheavy cream 1 2/3 cups boiling milk Salt and pepper to taste
Cut a gash across the chestnuts, cook them in boiling water for about 2 minutes, turn off the heat and while they are still hot, peel them. Return them to boiling water tokeep them hot so you can more easily remove their inner skins. Then cook them with the celery root in fresh water, lightly salted, for about 45 minutes. Strain and press througha food mill or potato ricer. Add cream and enough milk to obtain the consistency you wish. Adjust seasoning and servein a deep dish. Draw lines across the puree with a fork todecorate. RED CABBAGE (6 servings) 5 tablespoon bacon drippings or goose or chicken fat 4 onions, sliced 2 tablespoons sugar 3 1/2 pounds red cabbage, shredded 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 cup white wine 1 cup chicken stock 5 whole peppercorns, or 1 tablespoon caraway seeds Salt to taste 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Heatthe fat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Fry the onions until theyare soft but not brown. Add the sugar, stir and add the shredded cabbage. Toss and add the vinegar and cook for a fewminutes. Then add the wine, stock and the peppercorns or caraway seeds. Cover and cook gently for 1 1/2 hours.Halfway through cooking time test for salt and add the apples. Serve hot or cold.