One of the most frustrating aspects of Spring is the lingering winter cold.  The air is mild, buds and blossoms are decorating lately-bare tree branches, but just when you want to get out and about yet another cold strikes.  So, today, in a semi-guest post, Mishka and her husband Joseph are featuring some Victorian beverages to help you bounce into Spring.

In 1852, Charles Elmé Francatelli published A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes.  This wasn't his speciality.  The London-born chef had been trained in France and worked for a succession of noblemen before becoming maître d'hôtel at the Crockford's gentlemen's club, and then Queen Victoria's chief cook.  His "object in writing this little book" was to help the poor to obtain "the greatest amount of nourishment at the least possible expense", thereby adding to their "comfort" and "comparatively slender means".  It was something like Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Victorian-style.

Francatelli's cookery book has an entire section on medicinal drinks.  We've chosen two possets to warm your gullets.  Finally, for those not so keen on the idea of curdled milk, we'll detail how to drink warm beer in the form of an egg-hot.

Curds and Whey

This first posset is recommended as "an agent to remove a severe cough or cold".  It has a gentle pleasant taste and is quick and simple to make.
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Ingredients:

200ml milk
25ml white wine
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

Serves 1

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Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan, add the wine and allow the milk to boil up.  You will see the milk separate into curds and whey.  (Simmer for a short while if you want your posset to be alcohol-free.)  Strain into a glass.  The liquid is the whey, and the solids are the curds.

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Both may be consumed straight, but we like to sweeten the curds with a little sugar.

Now all you have to do is find a low chair or footstool on which to sit, and you will have all you need to sit on a tuffet eating your curds and whey!

Treacle Posset

Ingredients:

600ml milk
4 tbl treacle (molasses)

Serves 3 children or 2 adults
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Boil the milk and the treacle for ten minutes, then strain through muslin into a cup or mug.

According to Francatelli, "drink it while hot, and go to bed well covered with blankets; and your cold will be all the less and you the better for it".

Egg-Hot

Ingredients:

500-600ml beer
1 egg
1 generous tbl raw or brown sugar
nutmeg or ground ginger (we used 1/4 tsp nutmeg)

Heat the beer in a saucepan.  (Simmer if you wish to reduce/remove alcohol.)

Beat the egg, sugar, and spice for three minutes with a fork or whisk.  Add a drop of the hot beer and stir well.  Pour in the remainder of the beer while continuing to stir.  Transfer the egg-hot back and forth from the bowl into the saucepan on the heat for another two minutes to mix completely and keep hot.  Serve.

We trialled this recipe on two beers:
1) a traditional English Best Bitter from the local Morrison Brewery which is brewed from "the finest Floor Malted Marris Otter barley, Kent Goldings, Fuggles and Styrian Goldings hops and an authentic Yorkshire yeast"; and
2) a Cascade Export Stout.

Our considered opinion is that it works best with a stout and has mostly novelty value with a lighter beer.
 


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