Friday night it poured buckets and there was thunder and lightning that worked me up as I lie sleeping on the rope bed. It was the only noise in the whole tavern and I loved it.
Saturday started off with more rain and thunder in the Berkshire Hills soon giving way to a sunny day. I got the fire going as Bob was at work this day and I needed to have breakfast. Of the cooks only three of us braved the village nights. Two went out early in the morning to town and I ate alone waiting for the group to come moseying in. And there are always a few leftover things to be washed in the sink so I was busy.
When everyone arrived Niel rang the bell and we all jumped right into the receipts he gave us. Whipped syllabub, chicken on a spit, vermicella pudding, celery in cream, mushroom ragout, rich cake. And a few things I may have forgotten.
Katy, Holly and Dave made “To Whipt Syllabub,” poured it into cups and put it on the bar to separate during the day and be ready for our evening meal.
I started on my Fritters Royal. I needed to boil milk and then curdle it with sack. Bring it to a boil again and then let it rest for 6 minutes and drain the curds. I ended up with superb curds. At the fire with me was Linda, making a sauce, perhaps for the carrot pudding. As you can see it was very hot in the kitchen and I’m covered in a shiny sheen. We needed to tie a towel on the clock Jack so we would not hit out head.
With the Fritter Royal resting until later, I started on the Westminster Fool. I cut bread that we used the crust from the day before. I slices about 8 pieces and put it in a low sided bowl and soaked it in sherry. Then I made a custard added rose water, nutmeg, mace and put it over a slow fire so it would not curdle. After it began to thicken I poured this on the bread and let it soak in. When it was cool I put it in the refrigerator, as the room and even out of doors was reaching an alarmingly hot temperature. I would not need to do anything else with it at that point, just let it set.
Niel gave Carl some instructions on the carrot pudding and the boiling process. It was time for us to take a break and Trudy and Kim brought a lovely spread of cheese, fruit , bread and jams. Dave brought a bowl of wonderful tomatoes from his garden in Pennsylvania. I ate several as they were my first fresh-off-the-vine summer tomatoes. Thanks Trudy, Kim and Dave.
Lee, Katy, and John made vermicella noodles for the pudding and a short bread crust too.
Karl had taken great care to make sure the water in the pot boiled all the time so the carrot pudding would not soak up water. After careful tending, the pudding was ready to be taken out. The pot is huge and so it was brought out of doors and the water dumped and the pudding saved in a bowl.
And of course everyone came out for a bit of air and to have a look. From left to right Niel, our fearless leader, John, Kim, Karla, Carl, Holly and Katy. In back on the steps is Lee and looking out the windows are Linda and Scott.
The Vermicella Pudding and the carrot pudding ready for dinner.
I started the ” To ragoo Mushrooms” receipt and as I read it I found a bit of a problem. I was to pour the mixture in a bladder and boil it. Humm NO BLADDER. So I cooked it in a pan over the fire with onions, nutmeg, mace, rosemary, salt and pepper and added a good deal of red wine, butter and a bit of flour. This simmered and came out splendid. When faced with a lack of something go to plan B.
I know Linda was involved with the celery and not sure who else helped out. The celery was boiled tender drained and an egg and cream sauce with nutmeg and a little salt poured over it after it was thickened. We were all surprised at how enjoyable it tasted. It’s a dish we should all make more often.
Dave and John made a Rich Cake with tons of candied fruit , brandy and spices. It had a pleasant taste. There was bread made in loaves and in small manchets. The Fritters Royal were fried and the Westminster Fool put on the table.
No one had ever made the Westminster Fool or the Fritters Royal and we were all delighted with how they came out. Particularly the Fools custard that was poured on anything we could eat the next two days. The Vermicella Pudding was good and the crust even better. The carrot pudding came out well, and the roasted chicken was excellent.
The table was set and the afternoon was getting late, so candles were lit , manchets were rolled in a classy napkins (paper towel). And we all sat down to another wonderful meal. We started with the Syllabub and then filled our plates for another, Hannah Glass inspired, hearth-cooked meal at the Village. Leftovers were again put on the table for the tin-smithing class who all appreciated a bite of food as this was their last evening there and most headed home. On the far left in the middle you can see the Westminster Fool, what’s left of it.
We are all tired, sore and hot, so we decided to make it an easy day of cooking and give everyone an early start home. Our receipts for the day were bacon and sausage, pan perdue, Nuns cake, curd fritters of a different kind, transparent pudding and jumbles. I started on a crust for the transparent pudding while Carl and Katy made the filling of eggs butter sugar
Bob, as always, was at the fire, making sure we had coals. Trudy made the pan perdue to go with the bacon and sausage. We ate this early in the day. It was a great brunch and we brought out the Westminster Fool again to put on top. Yummy.
Linda and Lee made the jumbles. Buy this time the Tavern was so hot and muggy the butter was melting fast and the flour reacting strangely. Alterations were made for completing the jumbles. Several styles were made and some were baked and some fried. I did get to taste a fried one before I left and it was nice and crunchy.
It was time for me to leave the Village and its wonderful rustic way of life. I met many wonderful people and learned a few new receipts. I wish I had taken more pictures, however, we were all like whirling dervishes, darting from room to room making various receipts and vying for room at the hearth. I know I’ve missed a few receipts here so let’s just say there were many dishes made by everyone in the three days of the workshop and they were all good.
So I took a last look around.
Visited the 1805 necessary one more time,
and said goodbye to a weekend experience at Eastfield Village, something I always wanted to do.
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
And with that said, we can thank Hannah Glasse for leaving us with a book full of worthy receipts and advice that we can still use today and Niel for providing us the opportunity to use some of them that we have not used before.
Have a look at Facebook for Eastfield village: http://www.historiceastfield.org/