Recipes from the 1930s Kitchen

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The kitchens in the basement of Ickworth House (a National Trust property in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk) have been carefully renovated to reflect what life would have been like for cooks and other kitchen staff in a big house during the 1930s. During Living History events and the ‘Cooks in the Kitchen’ events the kitchens come to life. Volunteers, having been trained in inter-war cooking techniques, make the most amazing dishes using traditional methods and recipes. From personal experience I can say that these dishes smell and taste fabulous – a little taste of life as dinner guest at a great house in the 1930s.

We have now collected hundreds of recipes from the 30s at Ickworth and I will share some of these with you here on this blog.

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Braised Pheasant

October welcomed shooting season on large estates like Ickworth House in the 1930s. Beaters, like hall boy John, and gamekeepers prepared the ground for large shooting parties hosted by their masters – hundreds of game birds could be collected in a single day. The birds would be hung in store rooms and then prepared by kitchen maids and, sometimes, scullery maids for a grand feast celebrating a successful shooting party. Sienna’s October edition of the Scullery Maid’s Diary illustrates this. Here is a recipe for braised pheasant – a dish for those ‘upstairs’.

Ingredients:

1 Pheasant

Slices of fat bacon

1 or 2 veal slices

Salt, pepper and sweet herbs

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Prepare and truss a Pheasant as for boiling

Line a stew pan with slices of fat bacon and one or two thick slices of veal

Put in the bird, seasoning it well with salt and pepper

Add a few sweet herbs

Cover with more slices of bacon and veal

Cover the stew pan down perfectly air-tight, and put it into a moderate oven and cook it for two hours

When done, put the bird on a hot dish

Strain over it some of the gravy that will have run from it whilst cooking

Garnish it with sliced lemons, and serve

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Oatcakes

A more down-to-earth recipe – served both upstairs and downstairs

Makes about 18 biscuits

Ingredients:

8ozs medium oatmeal

2 tsp. plain flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp. melted butter or bacon fat

About 4 fl ozs warm water

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Preheat oven 375 F (190 ‘C / Gas mark 5)

Lightly grease 2 baking trays

Mix together the oatmeal, flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda

Stir in butter and about 6 tablespoons of warm water until a firm dough is formed

Turn out a knead lightly until smooth

On a lightly floured board roll the dough to the thickness of a penny

Cut into small discs or triangles

Bake for about 8-10 minutes until lightly coloured and crisp

Cool on a wire tray

Serve cold

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