For these a cardinal rule has already been given in Part I., but can not be enforced too often; viz., the necessity of fresh water boiled, and used as soon as it boils, that the gases which give it character and sparkle may not have had time to escape. Tea and coffee both should be kept from the air, but the former even more carefully than the latter, as the delicate flavor evaporates more quickly.
To begin with, never use a tin teapot if an earthen one is obtainable. An even teaspoonful of dry tea is the usual allowance for a person. Scald the teapot with a little boiling water, and pour it off. Put in the tea, and pour on not over a cup of boiling water, letting it stand a minute or two for the leaves to swell. Then fill with the needed amount of water still boiling, this being about a small cupful to a person. Cover closely, and let it stand five minutes. Ten will be required for English breakfast tea, but never boil either, above all in a tin pot. Boiling liberates the tannic acid of the tea, which acts upon the tin, making a compound bitter and metallic in taste, and unfit for human stomachs.
The best coffee is made from a mixture of two-thirds Java and one-third Mocha; the Java giving strength, and the Mocha flavor and aroma. The roasting must be very perfectly done. If done at home, constant stirring is necessary to prevent burning; but all good grocers use now rotary roasters, which brown each grain perfectly. Buy in small quantities unground; keep closely covered; and if the highest flavor is wanted, heat hot before grinding.
A noted German chemist claims to have discovered an effectual antidote to the harmful effects of coffee,—an antidote for which he had searched for years. In his experiments he discovered that the fibre of cotton, in its natural state before bleaching, neutralizes the harmful principle of the caffein. To make absolutely harmless coffee which yet has no loss of flavor, it is to be boiled in a bag of unbleached cheese-cloth or something equally porous. In the coffee-pot of his invention, the rounds of cotton are slipped between two cylinders of tin, and the boiling water is poured through once or twice, on the same principle as French filtered coffee. The cloths must be rinsed in hot and then cold water daily and carefully dried; and none are to be used longer than one week, as at the end of that time, even with careful washing, the fibre is saturated with the harmful principle. The same proportions of coffee as those given below are used, and the pot must stand in a hot place while the water filters through.
For a quart of coffee allow four heaping tablespoonfuls of coffee when ground. Scald the coffee-pot; mix the ground coffee with a little cold water and two or three egg-shells, which can be dried and kept for this purpose. Part of a fresh egg with the shell is still better. Put into the hot coffee-pot, and pour on one quart of boiling water. Cover tightly, and boil five minutes; then pour out a cupful to free the spout from grounds, and return this to the pot. Let it stand a few minutes to settle, and serve with boiled milk, and cream if it is to be had. Never for appearance's sake decant coffee. Much of the flavor is lost by turning from one pot into another, and the shapes are now sufficiently pretty to make the block tin ones not at all unpresentable at table.
Where coffee is required for a large company, allow a pound and a half to a gallon of water.
COCOA, BROMA, AND SHELLS.
The directions found on packages of these articles are always reliable. The cocoa or broma should be mixed smoothly with a little boiling water, and added to that in the saucepan; one quart of either requiring a pint each of milk and water, about three tablespoonfuls of cocoa, and a small cup of sugar. A pinch of salt is always a great improvement. Boil for half an hour.
SHELLS are merely the husk of the cocoa-nut; and a cupful to a quart of boiling water is the amount needed. Boil steadily an hour, and use with milk and sugar.
This rule, though unlike that given in cook-books generally, makes a drink in consistency and flavor like that offered at Maillard's or Mendee's, the largest chocolate manufacturers in the country.
Scrape or grate fine two squares (two ounces) of Baker's or any unsweetened chocolate. Add to this one small cup of sugar and a pinch of salt, and put into a saucepan with a tablespoonful of water. Stir for a few minutes till smooth and glossy, and then pour in gradually one pint of milk and one of boiling water. Let all boil a minute. Dissolve one heaping teaspoonful of corn-starch or arrow-root in a little cold water, and add to the chocolate. Boil one minute, and serve. If cream can be had, whip to a stiff froth, allowing two tablespoonfuls of sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence to a cup of cream. Serve a spoonful laid on the top of the chocolate in each cup. The corn-starch may be omitted, but is necessary to the perfection of this rule, the following of which renders the chocolate not only smooth, but entirely free from any oily particles. Flavor is lost by any longer boiling, though usually half an hour has been considered necessary.
THE EASIEST WAY IN HOUSEKEEPING AND COOKING.
Adapted to Domestic Use or Study in Classes