Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1st Class Dinner on the Titanic: An Edwardian Menu

Dining aboard the luxurious R.M.S. Titanic during the Gilded Age was a lavish affair, with first-class dinners comprising up to ten courses. As Lynne Hockney, producer of "Titanic Etiquette: A Time Traveler's Guide" and expert in Edwardian table manners, explains: "Dining was a social occasion that could last several hours." Dishes were served from the left and removed from the right. Drinks were poured from the right and never more than two-thirds full (half a glass for wine). The elegant appetizers served aboard the ill-fated ship included oysters, consomme olga, cream of barley soup, roast squab & cress, pate de foie gras, and salmon in Mousseline sauce with Cucumber. Main courses included filet mignon, lamb in mint sauce, beef sirloin with chateau potatoes, baked haddock in sharp sauce, curried chicken and rice, and roast turkey with cranberry sauce. Finally, desserts included Waldorf pudding, peaches in chartreube jelly, chocolate and vanilla eclairs, and French and American ice cream. Guests also ended their dinners by sipping coffee and snacking on assorted fruits, nuts, and cheese. Our menu below includes several of the actual dishes served during the legendary last dinner on the Titanic.

Canapes a L'Amiral

A canape (known in Italy as tartine) is a small, prepared and usually decorative hors d'oeuvres, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite. Crackers or small slices of bread or toast cut into various shapes serve as a base for such savory foods as meat, cheese, fish, caviar, foie gras, purees or relish. Traditionally, canapes are made from stale white bread, cut in thin slices and then shaped with a cutter or knife. Shapes might include circles, rings, squares, strips or triangles. These pieces of bread are then prepared by deep frying, sauteeing, or toasting. This particular dish as follows was the first course on the last dinner on the Titanic, and was paired with Oysters a la Russe. Our recipe makes twenty hors d'oeuvres, one per serving. As a note, saute shrimp in their shells to enhance their flavor. If desired, peel and devein raw shrimp before sauteing. If desired, substitute lumpfish caviar for caviar. (Lumpfish caviar costs around $4.75 for a 2-ounce jar and usually can be found near the canned meats in supermarkets.)

20 slices (about 1/2-inch thick) baguette
1 teaspoon lime juice
10 small cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise
20 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons caviar (see Cook's Note below)

Shrimp butter:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large shallot, peeled, ends removed, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled, ends removed, minced
8 ounces shrimp in shell, rinsed
1/4 cup brandy
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (regular or reduced fat)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of vanilla

To make canapes:
1. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast under broiler for 1 minute per side or until lightly golden. Remove from broiler and set aside.
2. Drizzle lime juice over cooked shrimp halves; stir and reserve.

To make shrimp butter:
1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
2. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until softened.
3. Increase heat to high and add the shrimp. Saute shrimp for 4-5 minutes or until the shells are pink and the flesh is opaque.
4. Remove the shrimp and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard shells.
5. Transfer shrimp mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade or a blender.
6. Return skillet to the heat and add brandy. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds or until the brandy is reduced to a glaze. Scrape the glaze into the shrimp mixture.
7. Pulse shrimp mixture until it is coarsely chopped.
8. Add the cream cheese, butter, tomato paste, salt, pepper and vanilla. Process until almost smooth and set aside.

To assemble canapes:
1. Place shrimp butter in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tube.
2. Decoratively pipe the shrimp butter onto the toasted baguette slices, or spread mixture on slices using a table knife.
3. Top each with a cooked shrimp half, parsley leaf and a small amount of caviar.

Creamed Carrots

This dish was part of the fifth course dinner entree on the Titanic's final dinner. Our recipe makes four servings, about 1/2 cup per serving.

1 pound carrots, peeled, ends removed, julienned
1 cinnamon stick (or substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1. Place the julienned carrots in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Add the cinnamon stick and bring the mixture to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook 6-8 minutes or until the carrots are fork-tender. Drain the carrots and remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
3. Return the carrots to the saucepan. Add the butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper; mix well.
4. Add the lemon juice and cream. Bring to a boil for 1 minute or until cream is slightly thickened.
5. Adjust the seasonings if necessary. Transfer the mixture to a shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Asparagus Salad with Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette

This salad was the eighth course on the Titanic's last dinner. Our recipe makes six servings.

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, rinsed
Boiling salted water
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon boiling water
1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 sweet red or yellow pepper, diced
Leaf lettuce

1. Holding the asparagus halfway up the stalk, snap off the woody ends at a natural breaking point and discard.
2. In a wide, deep skillet or large pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus spears 3-5 minutes or until they are tender but not limp.
3. Drain and run spears under cold water until completely cooled. Drain well and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, stir the saffron into the teaspoon of boiling water. Let it stand for 2 minutes or until it is softened.
5. Stir in the champagne vinegar, mustard and sugar. Whisk in the olive oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Add the asparagus and diced pepper; toss gently to coat with the vinaigrette.
7. Line a platter with lettuce leaves and arrange the asparagus mixture on top.

Calvados-Glazed Roast Duckling with Applesauce

This delectable entree was the fifth course on the Titanic's final dinner. Our applesauce recipe makes two servings, with 1/2 cup applesauce per serving.

1 duckling (about 4 pounds)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 shallots, peeled, ends removed, halved
1 small tart apple, washed, cored, quartered
1/2 cup chicken stock or reduced-sodium canned chicken broth
1/2 cup calvados or apple cider
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small shallots, peeled, ends removed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tart apples, peeled, cored, chopped

To make duck:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Remove the giblets and neck from the duck; rinse and pat it dry inside and out. Trim the excess fat from both ends of the cavity.
3. In a small bowl, combine the thyme, salt and pepper. Rub the thyme mixture over the entire duck, inside and out.
4. Place the shallot halves and apple quarters inside the cavity. Using poultry pins or a basting needle, truss the cavity closed. Twist wing tips behind back.
5. Place the duck, breast side up, on a rack in a large metal roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Shield the breast with foil, then reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake for 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer registers 180 when inserted into the leg.
6. Remove the duck from the oven (keep the oven set at 350 degrees) and place it on a heated platter or keep it loosely covered with foil to keep it warm.
7.Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat; skim off and discard fat.
8. Stir in the chicken stock and calvados or apple cider. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to scrape up any brown bits. Boil for 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced to about 1/2 cup.
9. Stir in the brown sugar and continue to cook 3-5 minutes or until mixture is slightly syrupy. Pour into a heat-proof bowl.
10. Return the duck to the roasting pan. Remove the foil and brush the duck with half of the glaze. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes.
11. Brush the duck with remaining glaze and roast for 20 minutes longer.
12. Increase the oven temperature to 475 degrees and roast for 5 minutes or until skin is well browned and crisp.
13. Remove to a heated platter. Tent with foil and let the duck rest 15-20 minutes before carving.

To make applesauce:
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute 5 minutes or until they are softened.
2. Sprinkle the sugar over the shallots and continue sauteing them, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until shallots are well browned and very soft.
3. Stir in the cider vinegar and apples. Reduce heat slightly. Cover and cook 7-8 minutes or until apples are tender.
4. Mash mixture until smooth and serve with duck.

Punch Romaine

This drink was the sixth course of the Titanic's final dinner, and was served immediately after the main course. What followed was roasted squab, asparagus salad, foie gras, and dessert. Our recipe makes eight servings, about 1 cup per serving without rum. As a note, the simple syrup can be stored in a sterilized container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

6 cups crushed ice
1 cup simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 cups champagne or sparkling wine
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Orange peel, slivered, optional

Simple syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water

To make punch:
1. In a blender, combine the crushed ice, simple syrup, champagne, white wine, orange juice and lemon juice. Blend until mixture is well combined.
2. Spoon the mixture into individual dessert cups. Drizzle with rum, if desired, and garnish with a sliver of orange peel. Serve immediately.

To make simple syrup:
1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Bring to a boil and cook one minute or until syrup is clear. Remove from the heat and cool. Makes 2 cups.

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