The following directions may appear trite and common, but it is of the greatest consequence that they be strictly observed:
Attend to minute cleanliness. Never wipe a dish, bowl, or pan, with a half dirty napkin, or give the vessel a mere rinse in water and think that it is then fit for use. See that it be dried and pure from all smell before you put in any ingredient.
Never use the hands when it is possible to avoid it; and, when you do, have a clean basin of water to dip them in, and wipe them thoroughly several times while at work, as in mixing dough, &c.
Use silver or wooden spoons; the latter are best for all confectionery and puddings. Take care that the various spoons, skewers, and knives, be not used promiscuously for cookery and confectionery, or even for different dishes of the same sort.
If an onion is cut with any knife, or lies near any article of kitchen use, that article is not fit for service till it has been duly scoured and laid in the open air. The same remark applies to very many strong kitchen herbs. This point is scarcely ever enough attended to.
In measuring quantities, be extremely exact, having always some particular vessel set apart for each ingredient (best of earthenware, because such cannot retain any smell) wherewith to ascertain your quantities. Do nothing by guess, how practised soever you may deem yourself in the art: nor say "Oh! I want none of your measures for such a thing as a little seasoning," taking a pinch here and there. Be assured you will never in that way make a dish, or a sauce, twice in the same manner; it may be good by chance, but it will always be a chance, and the chances are very much against it; at all events it will not be precisely the same thing, and precision is the very essence of good cookery.
The French say Il faut que rien ne domine—No one ingredient must predominate. This is a good rule to please general taste and great judges; but, to secure the favour of a particular palate it is not infallible: as, in a good herb soup, for instance, it may better delight the master or mistress that some one herb or savoury meat should predominate. Consult, therefore, the peculiarities of the tastes of your employer; for, though a dish may be a good dish of its kind, if it is not suited to the taste of the eater of what avail is it?
Let not the vanity of the cook induce you to forget the duty of a servant, which is, in the first place, to please his master: be particular, therefore, in enquiring what things please your employer. Many capital cooks will be found for great feasts and festivals, but very few for every-day service, because this is not "eye-service," but the service of principle and duty. Few, indeed, there are who will take equal pains to make one delicate dish, one small exquisite dinner, for the three hundred and sixty-five days in the year; yet this is by far the most valuable attainment of the two.
The great secret of all cookery consists in making fine meat jellies; this is done at less expence than may be imagined by a careful, honest cook. For this purpose let all parings of meats of every kind, all bones, however dry they may appear, be carefully collected, and put over a very slow fire in a small quantity of water, always adding a little more as the water boils down. Skim this juice when cool: and, having melted it a second time, pass it through a sieve till thoroughly pure: put no salt or pepper; use this fine jelly for any sauce, adding herbs, or whatever savoury condiments you think proper, at the time it is used.
Be careful all summer long to dry vegetables and herbs. Almost every herb and vegetable may be dried and preserved for winter use; for on these must chiefly depend all the varied flavours of your dishes. Mushrooms and artichokes strung on a string, with a bit of wood knotted in between each to prevent their touching, and hung in a dry place, will be excellent; and every species of culinary herb may be preserved either in bottles or paper bags.
ACATALOGUE OF THINGS IN SEASON.
Cod, skate, thornback, salmon, soles, eels, perch, carp, tench, flounders, prawns, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, cockles, muscles, oysters, smelts, whiting.Game and Poultry.
Hares, pheasants, partridges, wild ducks, widgeon, teal, capons, pullets, fowls, chickens, squab-pigeons, tame rabbits, woodcocks, snipes, larks, blackbirds, and wood-pigeons.Fruit.
Portugal grapes, the Kentish russet, golden French kirton, Dutch pippins, nonpareils, pearmains, russetting apples, and all sorts of winter pears.Roots and Vegetables.
Many sorts of cabbages, savoys, sprouts, and greens, parsnips, carrots, turnips, potatoes, celery, endive, cabbage-lettuces, leeks, onions, horseradish, small salad under glasses, sweet herbs, and parsley, green and white brocoli, beet-root, beet-leaves and tops, forced asparagus, cucumbers in hotbeds, French beans and peas in the hothouse....