|Agnes Marshall's Parisian Cucumber Cream served on a base of nougat paste and pistachios glazed with boiled sugar. The highly realistic cucunber is flavoured with finely chopped angelica, pistachios and maraschino or noyeau.|
For many years a favourite dish of mine has been a 'ragoo of cucumbers', a lightly cooked cucumber stew, a variety of recipes for which are included in most English cookery books of the eighteenth century. I frequently serve it to guests who attend my courses. All appear to enjoy it immensely, but often express surprise that the English once had a variety of cooked cucumber dishes. Nowadays, cucumber is rarely used in this country outside a few Michelin starred restaurants other than as a raw salad ingredient. So they are even more surprised when I explain that cucumbers in Georgian England were often preserved in sugar syrup as a 'wet' sweetmeat for the dessert course. In the late Victorian period they were even used to flavour ice creams and sorbets. Some ice cream makers took this to extreme lengths, even moulding their cucumber flavoured ices into the form of trompe l'oeil cucumbers, so realistic that they were barely discernable from the real thing.
|This recipe is one of a number for cucumber ices in Agnes Berthe Marshall, Fancy Ices (London nd 1890s)|
Mrs Agnes Berthe Marshall, the great entrepreneurial London based cookery teacher of the late Victorian period, not only offered a number of cucumber ice cream recipes in her books, like the one above for Parisian Cucumber Cream, but also sold life size cucumber moulds in her showroom in Mortimer Street. I recently acquired one of these moulds and have 'test driven' it a few times in the process of replicating some of her cucumber ice recipes.
|Advertisement pageof ice cream moulds from Agnes Berthe Marshall, The Book of Ices ILondon: 1885)|
|My 1890s pewter cucumber ice cream mould has distinctive hinges which tells me that was made by Harton and Son|
|The mould is in two hinged halves fixed together with steel pins|
|The long pin is left in prior to the mould being filled with semi-frozen ice cream|
|The Parisian Cucumber Cream is paddled into the two separate halvess of the mould with the back of a spoon|
|Another of Mrs Marshall's recipes from Fancy Ices. Though this is moulded into the form of a cucumber it contains no cucumber at all.|