I was really excited to try cooking from Abbey Cooks Entertain by Pamela Foster. I knew the Edwardian Period was a time of fine dining and I found it an interesting exercise to try and recreate meals which they enjoyed. There are so many recipes in the book to choose from, for all different occasions. I decided on cooking some of the recipes in the servant hall meal section. My reasons were I felt like comfort food and the options in that section seems like they would satisfy me the most in that regard. I love simple tasty fare, best served warm, which fills the stomach and coddles the soul. Also, my family were most likely in the servant halls, cooking and cleaning for their living. It was like an instant link between me and my ancestors.
For a starter I cooked Beef and Barley Soup and for the main meal I cooked Beef Bourguignon. I started at three o’ clock in the afternoon, trying to make sure both were ready by dinner time. All the while I was nervous about what my family would think and whether they would like it. My husband and two year old daughter are notorious fussy eaters. The smell coming from the kitchen was divine. It wafted through the house and out the open windows and I could smell it outside, as I took a quick break to do the gardening. My daughter enjoyed helping me stir the soup and watching everything cook. It was a great bonding activity, mother and daughter cooking in the kitchen. Finally it was done and around six o’ clock it was ready for the taste test. Both were full of flavor and it seriously was hard to stop at one mouthful. I loved it, but would my family love it?
We all sat down and I nervously waited for the first taste test. My husband took a taste and smiled at me and he took another bite and I knew I had a success. My daughter loved dipping her toast in the soup and dribbling the soup into her mouth with her spoon. She normally is very fussy, especially with vegetables and yet she couldn’t get enough of this soup. Now I know she must be a reincarnated Edwardian baby and only the best Edwardian food will do. Just as a well I have the Abbey Cooks Book, so I can cook Edwardian style more often. The best thing about the meal was the leftovers. I will be able to reheat it over the week and we can relive the experience again and again.
Beef and Barley Soup