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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/981

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RECIPES FOR COOKING VEGETABLES

on a few browned breadcrumbs, bake in a moderate oven for 10 or 15 minutes, and serve on the croûtons.

Time.—Altogether, 30 minutes. Average Cost, 1s. 6d. to 1s. 9d. Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons. Seasonable at any time.

1619.—TRUFFLES. (Fr.Truffes au Natural.)

Ingredients.—Truffles, buttered paper.

Method.—Select some fine truffles, and wash and brush them in several waters, until not a particle of sand or grit remains. Wrap each truffle in buttered paper, and bake in a hot oven for quite 1 hour; take off the paper, wipe the truffles, and serve.

Time.—To bake the truffles, 1 hour. Average Cost, 6s. to 10s. per lb. Seasonable from November to March.

The Common Truffle (Fr. truffe.)—This is the Tuber cibarium of science, and belongs to that numerous class of esculent fungi distinguished from other vegetables, not only by the singularity of their forms, but by their chemical composition. Upon analysis, they are found not only to contain the usual components of the vegetable kingdom, such as carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, but likewise a large proportion of nitrogen, from which they approach more nearly to the nature of animal flesh. It was long ago observed by Dr. Darwin that all the mushrooms cooked at our tables, as well as those used for ketchup, possessed an animal flavour; and soup enriched with mushrooms only has sometimes been supposed to contain meat. It is certain that the truffle must possess, equally with other plants, organs of reproduction, yet, notwithstanding all the efforts of art and science, it has been impossible to subject it to a regular culture. Truffles grow at a considerable depth under the earth, never appearing on the surface. They are found in many parts of France; those of Périgord and Magny are the most esteemed for their flavour. There are three varieties of the species, the black, the red and white; the latter are of little value. The red are very rare, and their use is restricted. The black has the highest repute, and its consumption is enormous. When the peasantry go to gather truffles, they take a pig with them to scent out the spot where they grow. When that is found, the pig turns up the surface with his snout, and the men then dig until they find the truffles. Good truffles are easily distinguished by their agreeable perfume; they should be light in proportion to their size, and elastic when pressed by the finger. To have them in perfection, they should be quite fresh, as their aroma is considerably diminished by any conserving process. Truffles are stimulating and heating. Weak stomachs digest them with difficulty. Some of the culinary uses to which they are subjected render them more digestible, but they should always be eaten sparingly. Their chief use is in seasoning and garnitures. In short, a professor has said: "Meats with truffles are the most distinguished dishes that opulence can offer to the epicure." The truffle grows in clusters, some inches below the surface of the soil, and is of an irregular globular form. Those which grow wild in England are about the size of a hen's egg, and have no roots. As there is nothing to distinguish the places where they are, dogs have been trained to discriminate their scent, by which they are discovered. Hogs are very fond of them, and frequently lead to their being found, from their rutting up the ground in search of them.

1620.—TRUFFLES SERVED ON A SERVIETTE. (Fr.Truffes à la Serviette.)

Ingredients.—Large truffles, equal quantities of white wine and veal or chicken stock, slices of ham or bacon, a bouquet-garni (parsley, thyme, bay-leaf).

Method.—Fresh truffles must be well washed and scrubbed to free them from dirt, and afterwards very carefully peeled. Line a stewpan with slices of ham or bacon, put in the truffles and herbs, barely cover them with equal parts of wine and stock, lay a buttered paper on top, and put on a close-fitting lid. Stew gently from 1 to 1½ hours, according to size, and add more wine and stock