SUGGESTIONS ON THE MAKING OF MENUS. ACCOMPANIMENTS TO THE SEVERAL COURSES. WHAT TO SERVE WITH SOUP, FISH, MEATS, GAME, SALADS, DESSERTS, ETC.
THE MAKING OF MENUS
IN planning menus, the chief points to be considered are food value, money value, and aesthetic value. A housekeeper should make a study of foodstuffs and combinations. A knowledge of what is in the market at different seasons of the year is essential, for there is a time when each thing is at its best and cheapest, and that is the time for its use. Many buy foods when they first appear in market on account of their choiceness, but one has to pay for such gratification.
Care should be used to have courses contrast decidedly, that a food or a flavor may not be repeated in the menu. In serving more than one kind of sauce, have each differ distinctly in color and flavor, and, if possible, in consistency.
Heavy and light courses should alternate in a long menu. They should be lighter in character for a luncheon than for a dinner, with possibly two exceptions, the soup and the salad. Heavy dressings, such as mayonnaise and cream dressings, may be served at luncheon but are too heavy for dinner.
For the formal dinner, the soup is invariably thin and usually clear. For the informal dinner, when the courses are few and not heavy, cream or heavy soups are allowable. For the formal luncheon, a roast is never served except when a roasted bird is offered. At luncheon two vegetables or their equivalent may be served ; if potato is chosen as one, it should be prepared in some light form. Often rice or hominy takes the place of potato.
When cocktails are served in the drawing-room, a caviare sandwich or a canape is passed ; but if the dinner is begun with a canape, some wafer or plainer sandwich accompanies the cocktail. With a course of raw oysters or clams, or any of the cocktails ( lobster, scallop, sardine, oyster, or clam), it is well to pass a brown or a graham bread sandwich. With oysters on the shell, served on cracked ice, a horseradish sandwich is appetizing. A brown-bread sandwich or the long oyster cracker may be used.
Celery, radishes, and olives are usually served after the soup has been placed. Sometimes one of these and sometimes all three are passed. Bread or crackers are needed with soup ; following are a few suitable combinations :
There are many garnishings for clear soup, namely :
Grated Parmesan cheese is often passed with clear soups, when garnished with Italian pastes.
At Italian stores one may buy, put up in small boxes, macaroni cut in fanciful shapes, especially intended for soup. Vegetables cut with a small French cutter into balls the size of peas, then cooked, drained, and served in a clear soup, are very effective, especially when of varied colors, as turnips, carrots, beets, etc.
Acid in some form usually accompanies the fish course in the shape of lemon slices, from which the seeds have been removed, dressed cucumber, or dressed tomato. For a formal dinner, a fish not difficult to eat should be chosen ; that is, either fish without small bones, or filleted fish (which is fish freed from skin and bone).
Suggestions follow for suitable combinations with fish.
Broiled fish is improved by being spread with maitre d'hotel butter, which gives it a moist appearance and improves the flavor. One can vary the flavor by the addition of chopped red and green peppers or by using tarragon vinegar in place of lemon juice. Watercress and slices of lemon garnish effectively. The lemon may be sliced with or without the rind; the latter way is newer, but it does not give so much color. With some fish dishes, it is better to serve a lemon cut in quarters or halves, from which the juice can be extracted more easily. Fried parsley used as a garnish adds an attractive touch of color. With fried fish, one may serve the popular Sauce Tartare and fried potatoes. Serve with broiled halibut or pompano, Hollandaise sauce to which is added chopped, well-drained cucumber. With broiled or baked shad use a cucumber cream sauce (merely whipped cream with chopped, drained, and well seasoned cucumber added). A folded napkin should be placed on the platter under boiled fish, to absorb the moisture. Heavy rich sauces, such as drawn butter, egg sauce, Hollandaise, and Bechamel are appropriate here. Boiled potato balls, dressed with maitre d'hotel butter, often accompany boiled fish. Fillets of flounder or halibut, either baked or steamed, need a highly flavored sauce, such as lobster, shrimp, brown caper, or tomato. With hot boiled salmon use drawn butter, Hollandaise, or caper sauce, and with co'ld boiled salmon, Sauce Tartare, green mayonnaise, or vinaigrette sauce.
When fish is served as a course, in a menu of many courses, it is seldom accompanied by potatoes or other vegetables, although peas are appropriate with salmon, and fried or stuffed tomatoes with a white fish such as halibut and flounder. If fish is the main course at a home dinner, potatoes and any of the vegetables which blend well with the chosen fish are always served. Winter vegetables, with the exception of onions and carrots, are not suitable, but all green vegetables are good. Canned corn and shell beans are well placed with broiled fish.
Almost all entrees are served with an appropriate sauce, and crisp bread or a roll is the only accompaniment. Patties are served alone, as the pastry takes the place of bread. Meat croquettes sometimes have peas or pea puree served with them.
With most of the salad greens when simply dressed, cheese croquettes or cheese balls are particularly good. A thin, unsweetened cracker ( buttered, sprinkled with mild paprika, and heated), is good with fruit salads. A simple sandwich is appropriate also. Whatever is offered, it should be something to bring out, rather than to overpower the flavor and seasonings of the salad.
Heavy desserts, such as steamed puddings or puddings with rich sauces, should not be served after a heavy dinner. Cold or frozen desserts take their place and are usually accompanied with small cakes or wafers. The sweet or dessert course is frequently omitted at a home dinner and a salad takes its place; a salad composed of fruit is especially popular in just this place.
SUITABLE COMBINATIONS FOR SERVING