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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1827

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1639
HERBS, CONDIMENTS, AND AUXILIARIES

Burnet.—The use of this perennial plant has gone somewhat out of fashion. In former times it constituted one of the principal ingredients of claret cup, its leaves, when slightly bruised, smelling like cucumber. Its modern use is confined to salads.

Capsicums.—Several varieties of this plant are cultivated in the East and West Indies and in America. The red chilli, which invariably forms part of mixed pickles, is the pod of the capsicum, and chilli vinegar is made by infusing capsicum pods in vinegar until some of their pungency and strength is extracted. From the same source comes cayenne pepper, obtained from the pods and the seeds, which are well dried and pounded until they are reduced to a fine powder. Capsicums owe their stimulating power to an active principle called capscin, and when used in moderation produce no injurious effects.

Carrots and Turnips.—The small pale-coloured carrot that grows wild in England is not the original of the cultivated variety, which is certainly one of the most valuable and useful vegetables we possess. The garden carrot in general use is a genus of the umbelliferae, and was introduced into England in a cultivated state during the reign of Elizabeth. Turnips also grow wild in England, but naturalists have asserted that the wild turnip is not the progenitor of the valuable culinary esculent of the present day. In this cultivated state they are generally supposed to have been originally introduced from Hanover, in the reign of George I. The manifold purposes for which both these vegetables are employed are too well known to need comment. In adding them to a soup, sauce or ragout, the rule of using less turnip than carrot should always be observed. Both should be used sparingly, otherwise their flavour overpowers that of the materials with which they are cooked.

Chervil (Fr.—Cerfeuil).—This umbelliferous plant is used as a flavouring agent in entrées, sauces, and soups, its peculiar flavour being greatly appreciated by many. But it is still more usefully employed for decorative purposes, its small, pretty, delicately tinted leaves being invaluable as a means of introducing a green garniture to chaudfroids, savouries, salads, etc. In Scotland and in the north of England this plant is commonly called Myrrh.

Chives (Fr.—Ciboulette). The root of this plant consists of small, flat, clustering bulbs. Like other small varieties of the onion tribe, it has a very powerful flavour, and consequently must be sparingly used.

Garlic (Fr.—Ail). The genus Allium includes the chive, garlic, leek, onion and shallot. Of these garlic possesses the most powerful aroma and flavour. In Spain, Italy, and other parts of the Continent, garlic is highly esteemed, but unless very sparingly used the flavour to the English palate. The root consists of several bulbs called cloves, and sufficient flavour may be added to any dish or salad by simply rubbing the vessel containing it with the end of half of of these cloves.