With the museum closed for the winter months it is always nice to get-together with co-workers once and awhile to visit with each other and have some fun. There was a trip to the MFA in Boston and on Saturday a few ladies came to cook at my hearth. This was a full workshop as well as a time to talk about up-coming events. We will all be going to the “Life and Death Symposium” next Saturday in Portsmouth. However for now we are going to cook, roast and bake.
Marsh, Lisa and Sidney arrived first, followed by Sherry and Cathy. After a few house keeping things and a run-through of the receipts we were on our way to a great meal. Chicken on a string and fish on a plank were the first order of the day.
Sidney and Sherry took apples, onion, herbs and spices and put them into the cavity of the chicken, then sewed it up to keep all the goodness inside. On the other side of the table, Cathy, Lisa and Marsha stuffed the fish with lemons and herds with butter.
While the butter churned and the chicken was stitched up, a medley of vegetables were prepared to par boil. Cathy egged and breaded the outside of the fish.
With skewers pushed through the wings and highs a string was attached and the chicken hung before the fire about 4 inches above the drip pan
The girls tried their hand at everything and took turns churning the butter that we would be use for our potatoes rolls and cooking as we went along. The fish was secured to the board with string and it was placed in the fire and every so often it needed to be turned upside down
The vegetables were taken out of the water and deemed par boiled, the apples also came off the fire and had the perfect tenderness to them. Our fish needed to be re-planked. The strings were cut and the fish was gently turned over, so the other side could bake. It was washed with eggs and sprinkled with bread crumbs and salt and pepper. Tied once more to the board it went into the fireplace for more roasting
Our dessert was from Charles Carter 1730. Tort De Pomme made with a sugar paste crust. Cathy made the dough and every one pitched in and peel apples and par boil them, cut oranges rinds and made the custard. Cathy’s sugar paste came out beautiful and there was some leftover so she made a large fruit roll up with preserves fig, plumb and apple. Wastes not want not! With the softened apples in the shell Cathy put the dish by the fire to warm before adding the custard and putting it in the bake oven. One must always remember that cold crockery will break if not heated a bit before it goes into a bake oven or kettle.
Sidney the newest member of the Moffatt Ladd family, and a professed non-cook, dove right into cracking eggs and not scrambling them in the hot cream, to make the custard for the pie. With a little encouragement from Marsha she made velvety smooth custard with no lumps. Go Sidney!
This custard was poured over the apple, orange peel and citron mixture and popped into the bake oven.
Sidney was a fast and efficient worker at the sink and kept us all in clean utensils and bowls. We didn’t make her do all the dishes she had help. However she was the head dishwasher for the day. Our chicken was not cooking fast enough for me so we moved it inside the fireplace and hung it from the crane. It needed to be spun often, however everyone did their share of twisting the string. In the pan under the chicken you can see the vegetables roasting, infused with garlic, sweet oil and herbs, it gave off a tantalizing aroma.
Allan dropped in to see how we were doing and took a picture of all of us having a brief respite from the days work.
Sherry made the Potato rolls. Potatoes were approves as a food fit for humans in the mid 1700 and a French pharmacist Antoine Parmentier may have written down the first receipt for potatoes bread. From there various receipts were propagated by authors I have read. However the earliest receipt I can find is one from 1794 by Madame Merigot. This receipt is a no-knead dough and very sticky. It made the loveliest browned rolls which were light in texture and made you ask, where is that home churned butter?
With all the main food preparation done it was time to make sauces for the fish and chicken. From the Cookbook of Unknown Ladies the receipt for “How to make sauce for a Fish without gravy” was made. Butter, wine, lemon juice, lobster stock, anchovies and horseradish was heated through, with thyme and parsley for a tangy sauce. I forgot to purchase the cranberries for the chicken sauce so Marsha and I improvised. I had an orange, a jar of cranberry preserves, and some sherry and into a redware pipkin they went. Add a little garlic and salt and pepper and it was ready to reduce by the fire. Now it was time to plate all our hard labor. The fish was cut down the back and plated with the bones carefully removed.
The chicken was hoisted from the fire and un-strung and the skewers removed. Sidney wanted to carve
With the table washed down and set for lunch, the plates of food were placed. First the fish and chicken was put on the table.
Then a large plate of roasted vegetables, potato rolls and two graves ready for hungry dinners.
Sherry gave a toast to the accomplished cooks, friends and a new year’s start at the Moffatt Ladd House and Garden Museum
OH and I did not forget about the Tory De Pomme. Glistening with citron that looked like gold and apples sitting on a sugar paste, all held together with custard, and was a perfect finish for a winter’s day.
I’m looking forward to the up-coming workshop just as much as I did this one. There is still room in some workshops and I hope you will join me for a day of fun and hearth cooking. Click on the Open Hearth Workshop Bar for more information.
Food is our common ground, a universal experience.