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The Cookbook Guru – Mrs Beeton’s Veal Olives


It’s generally a pleasurable task, perusing a cookbook with the intention of making a family meal, but when the book was first published in the British Victorian era, finding an appealing recipe to suit the tastes of Australians 150 years later is a challenge. The Cookbook Guru is cooking from Mrs Beeton’s publication this month, so I had no choice but to persevere and at least find a recipe to work with. I was constantly distracted by small oddities, like a table indicating digestive time for a selection of food cooked in different styles, and advice for the cook, “the queen of the kitchen.” Close scrutiny however made me realize there were plenty of adaptable ideas and because I had veal escalopes in the fridge, veal became a criteria for selection.

I have transcribed verbatim the recipes I used for inspiration from “Mrs Beeton’s Family Cookery, New Edition” published in 1907, at the end of this post. Don’t be daunted however, by the list of ingredients, I used to make Veal Olives, they were quick and simple, although in hindsight I probably should have just poached the veal in some well flavoured stock as the recipe suggested. The subtle flavour of the meat was overwhelmed by my piquant sauce.

Veal Olives inspired by Mrs Beeton (serves 2)
2 large veal escalopes
4 short loin rashers of bacon
1/3 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
250 minced pork, not too lean
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage
1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped bacon trimmings
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Good grinding of black pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 spring onions
1 large tomato, finely chopped
125mls white wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
Freshly ground black pepper
Parsley chiffonade to garnish

Pound the veal escalopes until an even thickness then cut in half.

You need 4 pieces roughly 7.5cm X 12cm. Trim the bacon to fit onto the veal.

Thoroughly mix all the stuffing ingredients together and divide evenly into four.

Form the stuffing into croquette shaped patties and lay on the end of the bacon covered veal.

Roll the meat around the stuffing and secure with a toothpick.

Roll the veal olives in rice flour.

Over a medium heat melt the butter and oil together, the brown the veal olives.

Remove to a deep heatproof casserole dish with a lid.

Add the garlic and spring onion to the pan and sauté until the garlic is golden.

Add the tomato, and cook until it softens.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine then add the remainder of ingredients.

Bring the sauce to the boil, pour over the veal olives then simmer gently over a low heat for 40 minutes.

Remove the veal olives to a warm place then increase the heat and reduce the cooking liquid to saucing consistency.

To serve, remove the toothpicks from the veal olives and spoon some sauce over.

Serve the remainder of the sauce in a gravy boat,

I accompanied my veal olives with sweet corn cooked in a little milk with finely diced red pepper and spring onion greens, steamed baby potatoes and broccolini.

VEAL OLIVES (from Mrs Beeton’s Family Recipes 1907)
INGREDIENTS.-1 1/2 lbs.of fillet of veal, cut into 8 thin slices, an equal number of slices of bacon , veal forcemeat, 1 pint of brown sauce, 1 1/2ozs. of butter, salt and pepper, olives*.
METHOD.- The slices of meat and bacon should be about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide. Place a slice of bacon on each piece of meat, spread on a thin layer of forcemeat, roll up tightly, and fasten securely with twine. Melt the butter in a stew pan, put in the olives, and fry until lightly browned. Pour away the butter, add the brown sauce (hot), cover closely, and simmer gently from 1 3/4 to 2 hours. When done, remove the strings, arrange the olives in 2 rows on a foundation of mashed potatoes, and strain the sauce over. Or, arrange them in a circle on a border of mashed potato, and fill the centre with purée of spinach, or any other suitable vegetable.
TIME.- To prepare and cook, about 2 1/2 hours.
SUFFICIENT, 8 fillets for 6 persons.
INGREDIENTS.- 1/2lb lean veal, 1/4 pound finely-chopped beef suet, 2ozs. fat bacon cut into fine strips, 2 tablespoonfuls of freshly-made breadcrumbs, 1 dessertspoonful of finely-chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoonful of finely-chopped onion, 2 eggs, salt and pepper, a pinch of ground mace, a pinch of nutmeg.
METHOD.- Pass the veal twice through the mincing machine, then pound it and the suet and the bacon in the mortar. Pass through a wire sieve, add the rest of the ingredients, season to taste, and use.
TIME.- About 45 minutes.
AVERAGE COST, 1s.3d. For this quantity
*Other than listing olives here, she makes no mention of them at all in the recipe at all


About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

21 comments on “The Cookbook Guru – Mrs Beeton’s Veal Olives

  1. ohlidia
    May 8, 2014

    Cooking from a cookbook written in 1907 would definitely prove to be a challenge for me. Just finding an interesting enough recipe would be difficult, from the ingredient list to even just the tone of the writing. Well done Sandra!


    • ladyredspecs
      May 8, 2014

      It’s quite an historical (hysterical) insight into Victorian England domesticity


  2. nancy@jamjnr
    May 7, 2014

    I can’t help but picture the kitchen from Downton Abbey every time I read the online version of the book. I can’t believe you have a 1907 edition it’s amazing it has survived this long. I’ve never had veal olives before but I think I’d prefer your updated version to the original!


    • ladyredspecs
      May 7, 2014

      LOL! Yes I get that same picture, Downton’s kitchen, a cook, a kitchen maid a blackened solid fuel stove….My poor old book, it needs to be treated with kid gloves, the spine is broken, the pages are falling out, and horror of horrors, my Mum cut some of the pictures out of it when she was little.


  3. Leah
    May 7, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:

    Mrs Beeton is certainly challenging our members of The Cookbook Guru this month, but it is wonderful to see how creative we are being in adapting the recipes to suit our tastes. Here Lady Red Specs has adapted a traditional Veal Olive into a more modern dish.
    Happy Reading,


  4. Leah
    May 7, 2014

    Looks Great… I’m loving that we are finding this book a little challenging, but I think that’s a good thing as we see how our tastes have changed, but also where the flavours may have originated from. Well done for evolving your recipe to the 2000’s 🙂 xx


    • ladyredspecs
      May 7, 2014

      Thanks Leah, it was an interesting exercise, particularly given the amount of effort that went into the stuffing in the original recipe! Xx


      • Leah
        May 7, 2014

        lol… it’s very interesting comparing versions! I’d love it if you could bring your edition up to brisbane for me to have a flick through. I’ve downloaded the 1861 edition from for free so we can compare notes 🙂 xxx


  5. Michelle
    May 7, 2014

    I just adore old cookbooks.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 7, 2014

      I have a 1907 edition of Mrs Beeton’s book that belonged to my Grandma, so this ol’ book I especially love


  6. My Kitchen Witch
    May 7, 2014

    My mother-in-law used to make beef olives (which I loved) in a similar way, but her recipe came from a newspaper clipping, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be traced back to one or other edition of Mrs. Beeton. Speaking of which, I couldn’t find this recipe (nor any mention of rolled meat “olives”) in the original 1861 Book of Household Management – the only edition that Isabella Beeton actually had a hand in. But did find 3 variations of veal olives in the 1907 edition plus a veal olive pie! Yours was the first recipe listed.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 7, 2014

      I’d love to have both editions to see the changes that were made, what was discarded, what was added. I know how food has changed in my lifetime, I’m sure that it was no less significant in Victorian England.


  7. bakeritalia
    May 7, 2014

    The veal olives sound yummy to me but I am not so sure I’d enjoy the sauce…I remember Mrs.Beeton’s name being thrown around the kitchen when I was a kid


    • ladyredspecs
      May 7, 2014

      The sauce tasted good but it overpowered the subtlty of the veal and pork. I have a 1907 edition on Mrs Beeton’s book, it’s quite a curiosity


      • bakeritalia
        May 7, 2014

        I bet it is! Some of the sauce recipes of that era are very experimental and it makes you appreciate the clean flavours of today


  8. cheergerm
    May 6, 2014

    We learnt how to make these at cooking school at TAFE years ago, it’s a hoot to see them again.


  9. marymtf
    May 6, 2014

    I seem to remember having / making beef olives years ago. You did good, Sandra, I believe that it’s not only a matter of your having to find an appealing recipe but also cutting it down to size. The queens of their kitchens cooked on large stoves and what practically amounts to masses of people.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 6, 2014

      I think I may have made them at high school in the 60s. Not sure I’d bother again!


  10. Francesca
    April 25, 2014

    I remember this dish with some fondness from my meat eating days way back. I love the detail in the original recipe, including the cost of One shilling and threepence. This recipe seems to fit in with my nostalgic mood today.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 6, 2014

      Sorry I ignored you the other day. Your comment sent me into a flat spin because I thought I had scheduled the post for today, but it went live immediately. I had no choice but to pull it. These things are sent to try us. These veal olives cost me a bit more than 1/3d…


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This entry was posted on May 6, 2014 by in FODMAP diet, Food, Gluten Free, Main Meals, Pork and veal, The Cookbook Guru and tagged , , .
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