What happens when you partner the ‘King of Fruits’ with a ‘rogue melon’? A delicious marriage of flavour and texture which also craftily extends the expensive, exotic pineapple with the more easily sourced jam melon.
Alysha and Scott, the Curator, in the kitchen at Elizabeth Farm. Photo Tim Girling-Butcher © HHT
The Cook and the Curator is the result of an inspiring collaborative effort from our colleagues at the HHT. Now that it feels like the canapés have finally made it to the table (with many courses to follow!) we want to thank the staff at the HHT, from our fellow curators to the teams of gardeners and guides at our houses, who have supported this project. We value their enthusiasm and encouragement – and thank them for cleaning up their kitchens and staff rooms when we left them in chaos!
In particular, extra slices of pudding go to Beth Hise for her vision, web gurus Tim Girling-Butcher, Ondine Evans and Jay Smith, recipe editor Rhiain Hull and designer Sarah Christensen; and to Alysha Buss for her calm demeanor and tireless patience in the eye of the culinary storm.
Thank you all!
Jacqui and Scott
After all the effort of growing a pineapple, what exactly happened next to the king of fruits?
Spot the imposter! An uninvited intruder in Janet Tavener’s ‘Out of the Mould’ installation at Vaucluse House, 2010. Photo Jacqui Newling © HHT
Jellies were often savoury dishes, used to extend and preserve offcuts and left over meats. Brawn and presswurst are remnants of this craft. Jelly was also used to ‘sculpt’ sweet and savoury dishes, formed into whimsical shapes to look appealing at the table.
Jelly filled oranges, presentation inspired by Eliza Acton. Photo Scott Hill © HHT
Desserts have always had the benefit of being somewhat frivolous – the ‘dessert course’ for a formal meal was served ‘once the cloth was removed’, marking the time when guests could finally loosen up and adopt a more relaxed repose at table. Scott – The Curator – will have more to say on the proceedings and protocols at table in future posts, but I’m going to focus on the star of the nineteenth-century dessert course – jelly!
Batterie de cuisine in the Vaucluse House kitchen. Photo Scott Hill © HHT
A phrase you’ll often hear in a historic kitchen is batterie de cuisine. Though the term today is not often heard outside of professional kitchens and house museums, every household has one. It simply refers to the moveable collection of pots, pans and equipment used in a kitchen, though not the stove or large appliances.
Decorative and often valuable shells were commonly displayed in colonial houses, particularly arranged across chimneypieces; we display them in the same way in the recreated interiors at Vaucluse House.
Oyster loaf. Photo Jacqui Newling © HHT
Oysters have been enjoyed since ancient times for their unique texture, flavour and perceived nutritive properties. In coastal Sydney oysters were a staple for local Aboriginal people, to which their many middens attest, and European settlers consumed them with gusto.
Vaucluse Bay, Port Jackson, James Wallis, artist; Walter Preston, engraver, 1820. Reproduced courtesy Beat Knoblach collection, photograph Jenni Carter
This 1820s engraving is annotated:
Oysters of a delicious flavour cover the rocks about here, as well as those in every part of Port Jackson…
How to sterilise glass jars and bottles: a step-by-step process.