WEEKEND WORKSHOP

Day Two

Another lovely cool and sunny day outdoors, Trudy got the fire going with no help at all and Carl arrived about 8:30.

First thing was to look at the Venison Jerky.  Carl took it out of the oven and we all took a bite.  It was fantastic.  It was nothing like you buy in the store, it has a more pliable texture and you could tell it was venison.  The receipt is simple. Just some Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion and garlic powder, liquid smoke and a pinch of pepper all placed in a bowl and the venison marinated in it.

 I think the bake oven imparted a nice flavor also and the slow dehydration worked very well.  I tested the oven temperature and found that it was still warm at 116°.

Next thing was to dig into the coffin.  Carl did the honors of cutting the slices.

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They say a picture says a thousand words, and I think these two do.  What it can’t tell you is how luscious it tasted. Bits of savory forced meat mixed with spices, whole meat marinade and liver confit. A surprise of egg and a crisp bit of the pistachios rounded out the rustic pate.  It was heaven on a plate. Thank you, Carl.

If you have a chance you can see Carl,  at the open hearth, cooking at Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, PA, every third Sunday.

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Our breakfast also included some fruit and some of yesterday’s sweet and savory pies and Indian pudding.  A meal fit for a king.

We did linger awhile at the table to truly enjoy the repast.  Then we were off again to experience some new techniques and receipts.

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Carl started on the Cheese Bread so it would have time for its two risings.  The cheese was less than stellar, but enough to add flavor to the flour mix.  When it was ready, it was covered with a damp cloth and left to rise on the high shelf.Untitled-4

Trudy wanted to do marzipan, so she mixed up a batch, rolled it in parchment paper and stored it in the refrigerator until later.

Meanwhile Carl wanted to do pickles. I gave him a bowl with heirloom red carrots, pickling cucumbers, regular carrots, string beans, cauliflower and a medium hot pepper. I also bought a red pepper, forgetting Carl doesn’t like them.

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After all the vegetables were cut, Carl toasted the aromatic spices in an iron pan to release their flavor. They were then put into a pot with water, vinegar, and salt and simmered for about seven minutes.Untitled-8

Carl packed the jars with the vegetables and some garlic and poured the hot liquid over them.  These were to sit uncovered for two hours.Untitled-9

In the refrigerator there were many packages of fish to be used for our dinner.  Trudy had picked the two fish receipts and she began to read all the directions before she started.

The cheese bread had risen, and because the room was so hot, the cloth dried out.  However, this is never a problem; you just push the center down, fold the edges in and knead it.t4

After kneading the dough, it was cut in eight pieces.  This is very sticky dough and Carl floured his hands so his could handle it and make the rolls.

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All types of seafood would be available at Fortress Louisburg in the summer months, and Trudy wanted to make Potage Deux Poissons (Two Fish Soup) after Le Varenne.  This is a soup with salmon and haddock.

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With the fish for the soup cut, Trudy put them in the cauldron and added vinegar, parsley, thyme and pepper.

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The mushrooms were  sautéed until they were caramelized then removed from the pan while a roux was made. The mushrooms were mixed back in.

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The roux and mushrooms were added into the soup and the soup was left to simmer the rest of the day to develop its flavors.

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Don’t know where the time went; all of a sudden it was time for lunch. Carl put the salad together and I tossed the chicken, which he had cooked on a string, in some salad dressing.  I made a lemon butter sauce for the leftover Indian pudding.

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Once again the porch was perfect for our respite from the fire.Untitled-17

Carl wanted to do something with sorrel and the 17th century French food writer, Nicholas de Bonnefons recommended a variety of greens for pies. He was instrumental in creating a revolutionary vision for the cuisine in France.

 De Bonnefons “Pot Herb Pie – A Spring Tonic” was the receipt Carl worked from, which had dandelions, sorrel, spinach and Swiss chard.

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After the greens were blanched, they were gently squeezed in a towel to remove as much of the liquid as possible.  Trudy was making a Béchamel sauce for the second fish dish and   added to the receipt so there were two more cups for Carl’s pie. The greens went into the sauce with eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and lemon zest.

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The crust was Pate Fine, which, when made, was put in the refrigerator and then rolled out for the pie. This is a particular wonderful receipt by  La Varenne. Carl poured the filling in and sprinkles a dusting of sugar and a drizzle of rose water on top before it was give its second crust.Untitled-20

Trudy went to the Cordon Bleu. And, of course, she learned a few neat tricks that she shared with us. One is how to use the other end of a wooden spoon to crimp the pie edges. Carl picked up the technique nicely and his pie looked wonderful even uncooked.Untitled22

Trudy put out all the ingredients for the Cod Sainte-Menehould. This turned out to be an interesting receipt. It has fresh cod fillets surrounded by a fish hash.  After reading it through, Trudy questioned the preparations of the hash of two types of white fish.  When our modern recipes call for us to make a hash we think it needs to be cooked.  With further discussion and rereading the receipt I reassured her that it was not cooked, but a raw hash.tu4

The large cod pieces were poached just a bit and put aside then the hash made.  Then Trudy made a béchamel sauce some of which was used by Carl.t3

The cod was placed in a buttered casserole dish and the hash put in between the fillets. Mushrooms and spices were added to the sauce and that was poured on top.  Next would come a topping of bread crumbs.t1

Now it was time to have some fun. Trudy is thinking of making marzipan at Fortress Louisbourg. To make a color for the painting of their creations Trudy boiled up some greens and I gave her some saunders for the red. While Trudy and Carl made fruit to be painted I got out some of the lovely cheese Trudy brought for a prelude to dinner. Untitled-25

Enjoying a chance to sit down, I made a small hedgehog.  The plate of candied orange and lemon peels was made from the leftovers from the birds nest. Untitled-26

We took out the jellies and unmolded them for our dessert. The bird nest came out wonderfully; on the other hand, the fish pond did not.  Next time we won’t put the hazelnut oil on the inside of the fish forms. The gold did not stick to the fish but stuck to the jelly instead. The flummery tasted amazing and the pigs feet jelly tasted more savory than I’d have liked. However, it was an experiment and I will try this again. They do look beautiful.Untitled-27

The last made dish for dinner was artichokes and mushrooms.Untitled-24

 Carl and Trudy pitched in, and cooked them in the spider.United-25

The cheese bread, made into rolls, smelled divine and was placed in a basket by Carl.Untitled-28

The Spring Tonic Herb Pie and the Cod- Sainte-Menehould were cooked to perfection. The last touch was to add the anchovies and capers to the top of the fish casserole.Untitled-23

The Potage aux Deux Poissons, that simmered throughout the day, was served by Trudy.Untitled-291

Allan joined us for dinner and dug into the two fish receipts. He was pleasantly surprised to find out how great they tasted. Sometimes he worries about what he might be served. Carl’s rolls went great with the soup and the main meal. We compared Carl’s spring tonic-pie and Trudy’s herb pot pie that she made the day before. They had many of the same ingredients; however; the herb pot pie had the addition of ground almonds, pine nuts and bread crumbs.  I would say that they were remarkable different.  Carl’s was more like a quiche and Trudy’s denser in texture, and they both had a different taste.!soup

Then it came time of our desert. Trudy played with her fish pond jelly and you can see how the gold stuck to it.  It was an experiment we wanted to try and we learned from making it, sometimes it best not to get too focused on a receipt. Though with all the receipts we were doing at the same time, it was hard not to.  Carl just enjoyed the taste o f the flummery. !jelly

This weekend was fun and we all learned from each other and had a chance to select some techniques and receipts we might not have had the chance to experience in a one day workshop. There is talk of doing it again in the fall.

After dinner we packed a large box of leftovers for Carl and put Trudy’s in one place in the refrigerator to take home in the morning.Untitled-39

Over the next few days we all emailed back and forth still talking about the food we made, our success and failures, and just how good leftovers are. Both Carl and I will see Trudy again when we go to the Eastfield Village workshop given by Neil Vincent De Marino this summer.

Sandie

 “Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”  Marcel Boulestin, chef, food writer (1878-1943)

 

Two Day Workshop

 DAY ONE

This workshop would be a different type than what I normally do for one day.  Trudy came  from  Canada,  and Carl from New Jersey, both had given me a list of different receipts and techniques they wished to  try at the hearth, some of which take a few days to do.

They  arrived on Friday night, and we had a nice dinner by the hearth fire. In the morning  one of Trudy’s objectives for this workshop was to start the fires and bake oven. Allan stood by and instructed her on just how to do this, and from then on she and Carl were in charge of keeping it going all weekend long.

Carl and Trudy made Payn Purde, bacon and sausage for our breakfast. We left the dishes with Allan and went out to the herb garden to see what was up. Carl picked some sorrel and I picked lady’s bed straw and chives. Carl said this was the first time he had gone and picked what he wanted to cook with from a garden.

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Carl and Trudy started on the flummery  and the pig’s foot jelly for the Nest of Eggs and the Fish Pond.1a

I’ve never used Lady’s Bed Straw for making cheese, so we thought we would give it a try. Carl wrapped some of the bedstraw in a cheesecloth, and when the milk was warm, put it in,  and we waited.Untitled-3

And waited, though it looked like it might turn, it didn’t, so out came the lemon. The milk just didn’t want to curd like we wanted, however, there was some. This was poured into the cloth and hung for the day in the corner to drip in my chamber pot. (Well, it needs to be used for something, I even put it to use as a bowl sometimes.  No, it has never been under the bed!)

This cheese is to be used for cheese bread tomorrow. Untitled-4

I found some plastic Easter eggs and Allan drilled a nice size hole in the top so we could pour in some flummery. We coated the inside of the eggs, fish and shell with hazelnut oil.  Trudy made the flummery with isinglass, whole milk and cream, adding grated lemon rinds and a bit of cinnamon. This was strained into a bowl with a spout. Untitled-1 copy

Carl stirs a pot and checks on the pig’s feet jelly. Then he expertly peeled an orange in long strips for the birds nest. Untitled-2

We poured the flummery into the forms and placed them in the refrigerator. pouring

I made a quick salad, and Allan cooked up some shrimp for our lunch. We ate this out on the porch away from the fire.

It was a nice break from the heat. The sun had warmed the three-season porch, so we cracked the door a bit to let tin he fresh cool air.Untitled-10

Trudy built a bird’s nest wrapping the poached orange rind around the flummery eggs.Untitled-13

Now it was time to start on dinner. Carl wanted to practice spinning a chicken. He stuffed the bird with onions, apples, thyme, parsley, butter and salt and pepper. He put two skewers through the chicken, tied the string to it, and hung it on a hook very near the fire. He gave it a good spin and it was twirled on and off during the day, being turned upside down once to insure the inside was fully cooked.Untitled-15

Next on Carl’s list was to make an Indian Pudding. He used Amelia Simmons “A Nice Indian Pudding” receipt. The cornmeal was gently simmered on the hearth with the milk until it thickened. When it cooled, the eggs were added with the spices and molasses, poured into a redware dish, and baked in the bake kettle.Untitled-14 - Copy

Trudy whipped up the almond filling, a Galette des Rois (Kings Cake) with a Rough Puff Pastry from a Fortress Louisbourg recipe. She will be cooking there at the Engineer’s house in July. In the filling she poured a bit of Grand Marnier and orange zest. Untitled-16

Carl had hoped to make one of the coffin workshops. However, life got in the way.  This was a great opportunity for us both to do something a bit different.  A two-day cold coffin.

He mixed the dough and used the big coffin form to make the sides. It was the filling that was going to be interesting. He was making a rustic Pate with both forced and whole meats.  I had pre-marinated  chicken and pork in two different sauces for a week, and did several confits of chicken liver to be ready for Carl when he arrived. He made the forced meat of pork, veal and beef, and one of chicken, adding savory herbs, shallots , pistachios, assorted mushrooms, garlic, white wine and brandy. Untitled-5 copy

With all the meat layered plus four boiled eggs filling up the coffin Carl made a top and egg washed it and pinched it on. It was decorated with a Celtic knot and leaves were stuck on the side.Untitled-6

Both Carl and Trudy wanted to do an Herb Pie. I decided it would be nice to do them on different days and see how the different receipts compared.

Trudy went first, combining blanched spinach, arugula, lettuce, spring greens and adding bread crumbs and ground almonds, candied lemon peels, rosewater, sultanas and pine nuts.  This is after the style of La Verenne. For a paste she made French Fine Paste. Untitled7 copy

Next to be made was a Beef Ragout after La Vareen and Massialot. While Carl was looking after the chicken, he helped chop some of the ingredients.

The beef was marinated for one hour in red wine vinegar, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Untitled-19 copyOnions, carrots, turnips and spice were put into bowls ready to be assembled.Untitled-18 copy

Finger-sized lardons were tossed with flour and  rendered. Then the beef was added in to cooked for 30 minutes.

Cold water was added along with the vegetables and spices. This was covered and simmered for the rest of the day. Untitled-20 copy

Allan cleaned out the bake oven as we were all busy. He swept it out with a damp broom as the Sun King’s Galette des Rois waited to be cooked.Untitled-8 copy

The bake oven was at the right temperature and the cake, coffin, and the herb pie were carefully positioned  in the oven. The new metal door was placed on, and we timed everything, peeking only once to make sure things were doing okay.Untitled-9

And yes they were. As you can see Carl was really pleased with his coffin. It held its shape and turned a lovely golden brown.Untitled-01

Sitting on the side table, waiting for our dinner, sat the Indian pudding, herb pie, Galette des Rois and the rustic coffin pate.3

The beef ragout and the chicken were ready. Carl carved the bird, while always-hungry Trudy grabs a piece and pops it into her mouth. It was cooked to perfection.Untitled- 21 copy

Trudy and Carl worked hard all day to prepare many dishes for our evening meal. Allan  joined us and we sat and discussed what they had made. A long but productive day. However, it was not over yet.Untitled- 23 copy

Carl warmed the saved pig’s foot jelly and poured it into the coffin. This would become our breakfast tomorrow. Carl wanted to do a jerky in the oven overnight. I was lucky to have some venison in the freezer, thanks to my friend Susan L.  Carl thought that would make a great jerky. He sliced it really thin, and placed it in a marinade earlier in the afternoon. He placed it on a rack and put it into the falling bake oven to make venison jerky. This was another of his requests.Untitled 22 copy

So the day came to a close, and so does this blog. Stay tune for the Day Two soon.

My work for the 50th anniversary of the Historical Society has kept me very busy.  However with the open house behind  us I now have more time.

Sandie

Once you have mastered a technique, you hardly need look at a recipe again and can take off on your own.

 Julia Child
 

Historic Deerfield Workshop

HISTORIC DEERFIELD COOKS

After a year of going back and forth with venues and dates and who was available, Claire Carlson the Education Program Coordinator of Historic Deerfield set the day.  On Monday 28 of March, Claire and the Deerfield hearth cooks arrived at my door.  It was rainy cool and perfect for a day of hearth cooking

Claire had asked specificity for several things.  To make Lumber Pie and show everyone how to make a receipt that had many parts to it. They wanted to stretch their creative minds.  So out came the coffin forms and all the stations were set up and ready for them when they arrived.1

First to arrive were Cynitha, Richard and Beth.  They started right in.  I needed the marrow bones to be taking care of and the lumber pie and we will be needing to start on the  Naples Biscuits for our orange fool.3

Shortly after the rest of the group came in and we went right to work dividing tasks.1a copy

Laura  started in on the Forme of Crury reciept for  Flampoyntes. She browned the pork added sweet spices and graded  a soft cheeses . This would be put into Traps, know as open coffins.10

Ellen  made  Robert Smiths, Paste -Royal, this pastry would go with the Flampoynets.  Laura was done with the meat filling and made a pie crust that we used later for the coffin tops.  Claire and Melinda made the filling for a fish coffin. 

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The shrimp was boiled and the only fish that was cooked was the cod. The cod needed to be beaten in the mortar and pestle and mixed with the stuffing mix Melinda had made.7

Richard liked the nutmeg grater and added the ground nutmeg into the  forced meat.  Cynitha took the force meat and made meat balls with a small nugget of marrow in the center.  Then that was wrapped in caul and fried in sweet oil.5

Beth  put the Naples Biscuits in the bake kettle and when they were done they sat on the edge of the bake oven to dry out for her orange fool. I took them off when they were ready.

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While Claire cut the salmon Melinda peels the shrimp.  Claire is not fond of shell fish and Melinda has no problem, so they were a great team.

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With the Paste Royal made Cynitha rolled the paste and cuts it in to long diamonds.8

Many helped fry the small points and drain them for use later.

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With all the fillings made and all the ingredients ready  I talked the group thru the process of making the coffin dough. 

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Everyone measured out their flour then one by one poured in the melted lard and butter. This was stirred with a spoon and then when cool enough, made into a ball and placed on the work surface.

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We made three dough’s  and Beth prepared the egg wash for the coffins, then the kneading began.

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 Ten minutes not a second less.

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Then  the dough gets wrapped in linen and sits for ten minutes.

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Now the fun starts. The dough is flattened, both the form and dough get’s lots of flour. Then the shaping begins. 

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Clair and Melinda’s fish form is quite large so  paper was use around the edges to hold it up before it was filled with many layers of salmon, oysters, shrimp, and a force meat of cod. 17cpy

Then it was dotted with butter and slices of lemons put over it all.  Using the Laura’s pie dough a top was cut out and pinched on with the egg wash.

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Forced meat balls, grapes, eggs, figs , dates, leeks, mushrooms, shallots and spices all layered in the Lumber Pie.  A lid of pie crust and it was ready for the  bake oven.18 copy

 The third coffin dough was divided in five pieces and Beth, Cynitha and Laura each worked to make the shallow Traps.

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Melinda smiles at the well decorated fish.  Many hands helped putting scales on the top and an eye to. She waits to put it in the bake oven right in front of the Lumber Pie, The traps went into the bake kettle.

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Beth and Clair read the receipt from Hannah Glass, Orange Pudding, Another Way.  Orange pudding was so popular that she has four receipts for it. The centers needed to be taken out of the oranges and Melinda starts on it.

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They need to be boiled to remove some of the bitterness from the peel.

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Beth made a filling and remarked that it is just like a bread pudding. And yes that is what it is, only you use Naples biscuits instead of bread. Then you stuff the hollow oranges and  replace the top. They go into a linen sack and get tied very tightly. 23 copy

They were boiled in a large cauldron and when cooled taken out for the table.  Sadly I did not get a picture of one on the plate ready to eat.  But I can tell you they were delicious.24 copy

Time to take out the coffins, the fish looks ready to swim away with its scales, and the Lumber pie stood tall still. 

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The Flampoyntes were taken out of the bake kettle and the points put in by Cynthia.  The center trap one was made up of left over lumber pie filling.

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Half way through the day Richard mentions he’s a vegetarian —- most of the time. So I had him make the compound salad.  He used dandelion greens and field greed, daicon radish, carrots, a golden beet, that someone cooked, hard boiled eggs and made a dressing with the left over oranges juice and sweet oil. On the side was a bowl of anchovies left over from the fish coffin.  You don’t get better than this at a restaurant. He did a lovely presentation.

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Claire and Cynthia made leers for their coffins and some were poured in and the coffin shaken.  The rest was served on the side.

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Time to open the tops of the coffins and dig into them with their layers of distinct flavors.29 copy

The traps were cut in half and served.

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What a wonderful group of hearth cooks I had a great time working with them.  Cynthia said she was going home with three new ideas and Richard was very interested in the way Allan did the wood. I do hope the others took something home also. 

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Sandie

“Secrets, especially with cooking, are best shared so that the cuisine lives on.”

         Bo Songvisava

 Dear Sandie:

We had a fabulous time at the coffin workshop. You are a skilled teacher, gracious host, and diligent task master! Some of our hearth cooks still see themselves as novices, even with almost five years hearth cooking experience. This workshop was JUST what they needed — to experience the multi-step process of preparing a receipt with a lot of steps, ingredients, and techniques to think about. I think their minds were blown (in a good way!)

Clair

COFFIN TWO

There were six people in the workshop and all wanted to learn how to make coffins. It does seem to be a popular form of pie-making these days. This day we would go a step beyond the normal and make a coffins and a ‘subteltie’ or eye-catching centerpiece.

– A castle with a keep, three towers and a center.

First thing that needed to be done was make the fillings for the coffins. Veronica made the mushroom and onion filling while Matt added bread crumbs and spices to beef to make a forced meat mixture.1

Nancy made two fillings. Both needed constant watchfulness and stirring. A rice filing hung over the fire, made with milk, could easily scorch, while the spinach sweating in a large spider over coals had to be carefully tended. Kate was done with her venison sausage filling, and she and Matt started on the Orange Fool. Veronica put the finishing touches on the mushrooms and onions.4 copy

Kate lends a hand to Nancy and places the spinach in a cloth-lined bowl to remove the last vestige of moisture.

Susan made a paste of shredded chicken breast, eggs and cream then picked all the meat off of the boiled quail. This would all go in her coffin with wild mushrooms, dates, fresh figs, and spices.6 copy

Kevin took the receipt for Cucumber a la Forced. He cut a small piece off the end of the cucumber and using a marrow spoon he removed all the seeds. Next he made a forced meat of bread cubes, eggs, melted butter and many fresh spices. This forced meat was stuffed into the center of the cucumber and the little end also.  Susan made a leer for her quail coffin over the fire with a roux.  Leers are like our modern gravies, made for pouring in the coffins and enjoying  as a side. One of the interesting things about this roux is most of us put the butter in the pan add the flour and mix it together. Early receipts call for mixing the flour and butter together in your hand and then put it into the liquid, a very different concept for us.

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Now back to Kevin and the cucumber. The small end needed to be sewn back on. I did a brief demonstration for him and he was on his way to resembling three forced cucumbers. Susan watched the surgery.5 copy

Veronica beat the egg whites for the Orange Fool. This was folded into the juice, sugar, and rinds, and thickened on the hearth by Matt. 3 copy

Nancy grated the mozzarella for the spinach filling and mixed it with parmesan, whole eggs and spices. Kate was done with her venison sausage filling and she and Matt, working as a team, strained the orange peels from the sauce for the Orange Fool. Untitled-1 copy

With all the fillings ready to go, we made our coffins. Everyone took turns pouring the hot water crust liquid into their flour.  You must stir it with a spoon first and wait until you can touch it. When that time comes, you need to work fast to get the flour to mix with the liquid. 

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Once the flour will keep its shape as a ball, out on the work surface it goes. Ten minutes of kneading and then 10 minutes of rest and you have a ball that feels much like play dough. Using a coffin form, Susan starts on her large coffin. 8 copy

Coffin forms are mentioned in early 19th century cookbooks. I have not seen any evidence, of their existence, in the previous centuries, however, they do make the work easier, and I’ll keep looking for proof.

Turning the form upside down helps to raise a nice tall coffin. Then in went the quail mixture.9 copy

Nancy used a smaller form for her spinach filling and a tall one for the rice. Kate’s venison would go in a taller form. The spinach would be the center and the rest would become part of the castle towers. 10 copy

Veronica and Matt made the flanking towers.11 copy

Susan rolled out hot water crust to make the top for her coffin; she did a wonderful edge on the side. Kevin mentioned that she is an excellent pie maker. This edge showed off her skills. Kevin was pretty good with a basting brush, and applied the egg wash all over the coffin.12 copy

Matt really gets down making his tower tall, it would become the castle keep.  Kevin does the honors of positioning the quail coffin into the back side of the beehive oven.Untitled-12psd

With the center, towers, and castle keep filled, the tops were placed on and the embattlements cut out. Then they were stuck together to form a castle Richard II would be proud.14copy

Into the beehive they went, and after an hour they came out.15b

While the coffins cooked, Kevin simmered his forced cucumber in chicken stock. In the kettle, the leers that were made were kept warm.15

With flags flying on the castle towers, Matt take it to the table. The tops was cut off to reveal, rice pudding, venison sausage, beef forced meat, mushroom and onions and a center of spinach. All worthy of a medieval feast.

We think of creating “subteltie” as being only in the medieval times, however, even Mrs. Beeton, in 1890, did a game pie with a stuffed pheasant on top.copy4

Susan’s quail pie baked perfectly and was exceptionally good with the fruit, giving it an enjoyable tang .copy3

Everyone around the table thought the spinach tasted much like spanakopita. The venison sausage was terrific, the rice pudding slightly sweet and creamy, the mushrooms and onions delightful and the ground cloves in the forced meat was a wonderful surprise. The forced cucumbers were interesting ranging in ratings from, “glad I had it once” to “it’s not bad.”

Everyone loved the Orange Fool. It was such a popular dessert in the 1800s that Hanna Glasse had at least four receipts for it. Topped with a bit of blueberry sauce it was a perfect ending to the meal.copy 1

Another coffin workshop behind me, and so glad to have shared the day with such wonderful and interesting friends.18

Sandie

“Food . . . can look beautiful, taste exquisite, smell wonderful, make people feel good, bring them together . . . At its most basic, it is fuel for a hungry machine . . . “

Rosamond Richardson, English cookery author

COFFIN WORKSHOP ONE

And the hot oven!

What a difference a year makes. Last winter it snowed almost every Saturday, and the workshops were always being rescheduled. So far this year we have had wonderful weather, even though it has been below freezing a few days. Our workshop day dawned sunny and 22 degrees outside, with wind gusts up to 15 miles an hour. Perfect day to cook over the fire!

One of the dishes we were making was a stuffed pumpkin. I bought several pumpkins in the fall to see how they would keep over the winter. I was just at Old Sturbridge Village at the Freeman farm house and Victoria, who was working there that day, told me how their pumpkins have not fared well, being that the house is so cold. I stored mine under the sink in the panty. We keep this door open on very cold nights so the pipes won’t freeze. The pumpkins survived in wonderful shape with the exception of one that we fed to the deer outside.

The pumpkin was of a good size and I started it early in the morning. When Cathy and Sherry arrived  filled the pumpkin with a stuffing of apples, raisins, brown sugar, cubed bread, butter and spices. This would need to be turned every 20 minutes or so.

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Natalie and Kathy started right in on the quail coffin. Their marble pasty board was covered in cling wrap to keep it clean while they worked on the meat. The birds would be fried brown, cooled and picked of their meat. Four legs would be save intact to stick out of the top of the coffin. A version of, “Crustardes of Flesh,” from the Form of Curry 1390.Untitled3 copy

Sherry and Cathy read the receipt from Robert Smiths , ” A Venifon Pie” and the modern version that they plan to use. With the venison cut into cubes, Sherry renders some salt pork in the pan. Untitled-6 copy

Kathy and Natalie place the cut quail pieces in the oiled pan. After it browned at bit, they added garlic, anchovies, capers, red wine, and stock. A bouquet garni of fresh rosemary and oregano went into the simmering pan.

With the salt pork rendered, Sherry added the cut venison and browned it on all sides.Untitleda-1 copy

The filling for the venison coffin has onions, garlic, celery, carrots, potato, wine, spices and butter. When everything was cut, it was all put into the pan with the venison, and simmered along with some broth. Hanging on the crane is a pot with eggs boiling for the Lumber pie. Untitled7opy

Four quail legs were set aside and the picked meat was mixed with raisins. The braising liquid from the pan and some red wine was thickened with corn flour then poured over the torn meat. This was set aside in a cool place. The cling wrap was removed; the dough was made. After kneading it for 10 minutes it was placed in a linen cloth and twisted and set aside to help the flour absorbed the fat evenly.1

To make our coffin dough we used a medieval receipt from c 1465 Konzil von Konstanz (ÖNB 3044, fol. 48v). It is a hot water crust dough which is mainly flour, water butter, lard and a pinch of salt. The trick is to make sure you knead it well then tie it in a cloth.Capture

Now I’m lucky that I have such a handy husband who has a wood lathe. He made me three coffin forms. I’m not sure when wooden forms started to be used. I do know that they existed.

Robert Deeley, The Caildron, The Spit and the Fire, shows a picture of an 19c coffin form.

Delia Smith who wrote Food in England in 1954 has a wonder article on pork pies being cook in coffyn or coffer, i.e., little box or enclosure; it lent itself to elaborate traditional decorations, on top and sides. She says these forms were made of hot pasty and molded, or raised, round wooden molds.

And this might be the best YouTube I’ve seen of making meat pie with a wooden form.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNCQlkPExHo

Cathy flours the forms really well, and Natalie takes a piece of the warm dough and makes a small bowl shape with it. The inside gets floured and is put on the floured form and made into a coffin. Allan made two small forms on the wood lathe. This way we can make individual coffins. Kathy and Natalie were very excited with this, they want to do small coffins for the Deacon Graves House Museum dinner one day in Madison, CT.

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Next the quail filling goes in with the reserved leg in the middle. A top is then placed on with a hole for the leg. The sides and top edge were washed with beaten egg. Once they are pinched together they should hold in the filling nicely.Untitled-15 copy

Susan was in charge of Robert Mays’ 1660 “Lumber Pie” receipt. While she cuts all the suet, mushrooms, shallots, and marrow, I peel the eggs.Untitled-8 copy

I had some barberries in my spice box and even though the venison receipt did not call for it I ask the ladies if they would like to try it. Susan, a superb venison cook, suggested we grind three berry’s and add it to the mix and everyone agreed. The meat for the Lumber pie was made into little sausages and were then wrapped in caul to hold them together.Untitled-9

The sausages were browned in batches. I had made a beef gravy previously and we warmed it up with a bit of verjuice for pouring on the top of the filled coffin.Untitled-10 copy

Sherry and Cathy worked on their coffin. They were using the large wooden mold. And, yes, we went through a lot of flour, with three different coffins being made it’s not surprising.Untitled-11 copy

With their coffin made the venison filling was poured in. Cathy rolled out a lid and after brushing things with the beaten egg, she crimped it together. Their coffin was not raised very high, however, it would hold a goodly amount and serve four easily.Untitled-12 copy

Susan started to make her coffin on the large form. The wood was floured very well and she was able to make it very tall.Untitled-13 copy

Susan used a wooden noodle roller to make a great outside cover. Brushed with mixed egg, she applied the design.

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Now came the layering of the grapes, figs , eggs, mushrooms and meat sausages in the coffin. The gravy was poured on last.Untitled-18 copy

With the top pinched all round she cut more designs for the top. It was definitely decorating time and everyone was busy putting on the finishing touches of their coffins.Untitled-19 copy

Susan put leaves on top of her coffin, Sherry and Cathy put hearts, Natalie and Kathy use a combination of designs.

After all Valentine’s Day was only one day away. Coffins were ready for the oven.Untitled-20 copy

Because of the stretch of cold days Allan felt the bricks of the chimney and bake oven would take a long time to heat up. He kept testing the bake oven with the Laser Infrared Thermometer. It just would not get up to heat so he added more wood. Finally, he said it was 500 degrees and falling, so in went the coffins.

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While the coffins baked away, Cathy prepared the lovely golden and red beets she had boiled and then sliced into rounds. She melted a stick of butter in a pan, added a little roux and stirred in the chopped parsley. scallions, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper and sautéed them lightly. The beets were added and simmered until the sauce thickened.

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NOW HERE IS WHERE THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN GO WRONG.

So it was time to check the bake oven. First thing that someone noticed was that there was smoke pouring out of the back of the wooden door. It was smoking and I mean really smoking. So we tossed it in the sink and poured water on it. Next we looked at the coffins. Yikes! The Lumber Pie was way in the back and BLACK. We took it out and cut off the top and found that the inside was fine. Perhaps this is why they never eat the coffin dough . (Only kidding) 

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The Venison pie did not look too bad and the small coffins were about the same. The dough was cooked, but a tad over brown!

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THEN CAME

Fredrick Nutt’s The Complete Confectioner, 1790, and his Chocolate Drops.

The chocolate was put in a brass kettle and confectionery sugar added. Sherry put it over coals and started stirring and stirring and stirring until her arm was almost baked. At this point, it was removed to the stove and it took some doing, but the chocolate and sugar melted together.

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Now the chocolate was dropped by a spoon onto a piece of parchment and sprinkled with nonpareils. When the parchment was filled, the edges were picked up, and the bottom was tapped on the marble to flatten out the chocolate. In theory, this would work. However, that would be to good to be true. What we made was glass, pretty glass, but GLASS.Untitled-25 copy

All in all the meal was enjoyable and showed off the coffin-making skills of the cooks.

Each coffin had its own distinctive taste. The capers and rosemary in the quail coffin added a nice bright taste. Putting the barberries in the venison was a great idea; you could taste them in the background. Next time I’d add more. The lumbar pie had many layers of flavors with the fruit adding sweet moisture to the gravy.

The red and golden beets with a hint of lemon and the apple pumpkin brown betty was superb.

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As we sat eating, there was lots of discussion of what went wrong with the candy. The beginning of the receipt says “Take one pound and a half of chocolate, put it on your pewter sheet or plate, put it in the oven just to warm the chocolate,….” (Our chocolate was sitting by the fire all day and was very soft.) “then put it into a copper stew pan, with three quarters of a pound of powdered sugar, mix well………” So, Cathy thought this sounded like a double boiler type process; other disagreed. What do you think? We would all be interested to know. One thing for sure we went way past the candy stage of warming the chocolate.

Here’s our group ready to feast on three coffins, a medley of beets, and apple-stuffed pumpkin24

Later that night, as Allan and I sat waiting for the fire to die down, he picked up the Laser Infrared Thermometer. Guess what? It has two settings, Fahrenheit and Celsius. It seems Allan was dealing with Celsius and didn’t know it. After all, he had it in his mind that the temperature outdoors had been so bitter cold that the brick stack would be cold. WRONG.

500 degrees Celsius is 800 degrees Fahrenheit – it’s a wonder the coffins didn’t burst into flames!

Sandie

“…no one is born a great cook; one learns by doing.”

̶ Julia Childs, My Life in France

PS: Coffin Workshop Two ̶ check the laser.

MOFFATT LADD HOUSE MUSEUM

 

FUN AT THE HEARTH – FINALLY!

I say “finally” as this is the fourth time we have rescheduled the workshop for the girls at Moffatt Ladd. This winter has been brutal, as you all know, and as much as we all like to be at the hearth on a snowy day, we like to do it in the safety of our own homes. So we waited, and the day of sun arrived.

The ladies of the museum had a few requests for our meal,  LAMB AND A COFFIN, so we have combined them. Now being that this was April and spring has arrived, I thought we should include a GRAND SALAD.

The first mention of salad that I know of is in the book, The Form of Cury, 1390. It is a tiny salad with many fresh herbs and dressed with oil and vinegar. The word salad meant many things to the English and included vegetables both raw, boiled and pickled. Many Grand Salads were works of art and presented as such. Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife, 1615, instructed “housewife’s to pay attention to the presentation of her compound sallets.” She was making an edible centerpiece.

Springtime salads were greeted with enthusiasm. The first shoots of asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, strawberry leaves, wild onions and violets found their way into a salad. These fresh greens were long awaited after the boredom of pickled and dried foods. So, should you read that the English did not eat vegetables, look further into the source.

Our meal has a centerpiece of a coffin, surrounded with the Grand Sallet. A coffin, or coffyn as it was spelled during the medieval time and earlier, meant basket or box. It was made of a tough dough that made a container. It holds food to be eaten right away, when cooked, and it also helps baked foods last longer when stored by excluding air from its host. It help preserve the fillings of meat or vegetables. The coffin was also used as an entertainment. In the 16th century translation of the Italian Epulario 1598 we find the following:

 “To Make Pie That the Birds May Be Alive In them and Flie Out When It Is Cut UpMake the coffin of a great pie or pastry, in the bottome thereof make a hole as big as your fist, or bigger if you will, let the sides of the coffin bee somwhat higher then ordinary pies, which done put it full of flouer and bake it, and being baked, open the hole in the bottome, and take out the flouer. Then having a pie of the bigness of the hole in the bottome of the coffin aforesaid, you shal put it into the coffin, withall put into the said coffin round about the aforesaid pie as many small live birds as the empty coffin will hold, besides the pie aforesaid. And this is to be at such time as you send the pie to the table, and set before the guests: where uncovering or cutting up the lid of the great pie, all the birds will flie out, which is to delight and pleasure shew to the company.

 Four and twenty blackbirds anyone? Our centerpiece was definitely not going to be filled with birds however, it did hold a lamb; however, the lamb was cooked.

Sherry started off right away on the hot paste for the standing crust of the coffin. She is hoping that this experience will help her make a fake one for the museum.

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We also needed a regular crust for the decorations and top. Marsha was in charge of that. The receipt for basic pie crust has not changed since mankind began to make flour into dough, to bake into a crust and put stuff inside it. We are using our crust for decorations on the coffin.

The English Art of Cookery, According to the Present Practice…. Richard Briggs, 1788 tart paste

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With the coffin standing tall, Marsha whipped up the egg wash and I helped to apply the decorative side to the coffin.

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Lisa and Linda began the receipt for the coffin filling. Mushroom, carrots, garlic, shallots and scallions were washed, cut, and sliced ready for the filling.

The meat needed to be cut into bite-sized pieces, salted and floured. Pieces of bacon were put into a bit of olive oil to render, then taken out. The floured lamb was browned on all sides. Carrots, garlic, scallions, shallots, mushrooms and the rendered bacon were then added. A dash of sherry, a sprig of rosemary and some beef broth went in to simmer for a while. The rosemary was removed later, and a piece of floured butter, heavy cream, parsley, tarragon, and peas were then mixed in.

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With the coffin decorated, and the lamb mixture ready, the lamb was removed from the pan with a slotted spoon, and Linda filled the coffin.

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Marsha placed her decorated top on the coffin and crimped the edges.

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I was not sure if anyone would be brave enough to eat the coffin dough, so I decided it would be a good idea to have some rolls made. Nothing smells better than hot rolls out of the bake oven and they do go so well with a salad. I picked my favorite cheese loaf receipt from –   W.M. The Compleat Cook,  1658,  with the addition of King Arthur’s 7 Grains. After the first rise, Linda reformed the dough into the rolls and gave it one more rise.

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Rolls have a surprisingly long history, having been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods. We know of the English manchet, a yeast roll popular with the Tudor Court, of which there are many variations. I did a bit of research to see when I could find the word roll being used in association with bread. I found this interesting information. In 1542 – Andrew Boorde, an English monk and physician, wrote a book called, Compendyous Regyment, or a Dyetary of Health. He discusses food he felt appropriate for Lords and good Englishman. When he expounded on BREAD he said,

“But the bread of rolls made for the Romans, I praise it not.”

I’m sure the word was used earlier I just have not come across an earlier reference as yet.

For our dessert we  had a receipt for Portugal Cakes, or as we often call them, Madeleines. The history of this little sponge cake is that it may have been named for the use of orange flower water or sack that came from Portugal Madeleines, which was made of a similar ingredients and has its origin in France. When, is the question. Some say Louis XV of France first tasted them in 1755. Others say a baker made them for his love Madeleine Paulmier in the 18th century while working for the Duke of Lorraine. When they came to England is a total mystery. However, we all think of them as being served on the English tea table. Hannah Glasse knew of them and we used her receipt. Whatever their history, they are tasty, and ours will be anointed with chocolate and spring mint.

So you say tomato and I say tomaato, but let’s not call the whole thing off, I want little cakes.

Lisa creamed the butter and sugar then added the rest of the ingredients for the batter, and spooned it into the French Madeleine tins.

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Into the bake oven goes the coffin and Portugal cakes. The rolls were baked in the kettle on the hearth.

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Time to prepare all the pieces for our Grand Salad.

To Make a Grand Sallet 

John Murrell, The Second Booke of Cookery and Carving, 1638 

Take the buds of all kind of good Hearbes and a hanfull of French Capers, seven or eight Dates cut in long slices, a hanfull of Raisins of the Sun, the stones being pickt out, a handfull of Almonds blancht, a handfull of Curans, five or six Figs sliced, a preserved orenge cut in slices; mingle all these together with a handful of Sugar, then take a faire Dish fit for a shoulder of Mutton, set a standard of paste in the midst of it, put your aforesaid sallet about this standard, set upon your sallet four half Lemmons, with the flat ends downward, right over against one another, halfs way betwixt your standard and the dishes side, pricke in every one of these Lemmons a branch of Rosemary and hang upon the Rosemary preserued cherries, or cherries fresh from the tree; set foure halfe Egges, being roasted hard, betwaene your Lemons, the flat ends downward, prick upon your Egges sliced Dates and Almonds: then you may lay another garnish betweene the brim of the Dish and the Sallet, of quarters of hard Egges and round slices of Lemmons: then you may garnish up the brim of the Dish with a preserued Orenge, in long slices and betwixt every slice of orenge, a little heap of French Capers. If you have not a standard to serue it in, then take halfe a Lemmon, and a faire branch of Rosemary. 

The eggs were put in a pot to boil and the asparagus blanched. Both were put in cool water to stop the cooking. Leaves of tarragon, marjoram, parsley, and mint were prepared. Figs and dates were julienned, while the slivered almonds were toasted. Capers were drained and lemons sliced. All of these ingredients would be used in the Grand Salad.

eggs aspar

Lisa cut the lemons in half and speared a grape onto the top of the rosemary and stuck the spear into a lemon. Linda took the sliced dates and almonds and stuck them into the eggs. We love the look of these and they were just a part of our garnishes for the grand salad.

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Sherry cut oranges, with the peel, into slices early in the morning and then cut them into triangle, blanched them, patted them dry and sprinkled Darmara sugar on them. They were then put in the electric oven for three hours to dry. This was just the beginning of all the ingredients used for the Grand Salad.

Other items for the salad included, pickled cornichons, pickled beets, pea pod leaves, mint, dates, figs, sunflower seeds, raisin of the sun, various herbs and spices.

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With the coffin and rolls ready, it was time to assemble our centerpiece.

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The Portugal cakes were the first item to come out of the bake oven. When they were cooled, melted chocolate helped finish the dessert, and Lisa chopped fresh mint for the tips.

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The coffin was placed on the plate and the grand salad was begun. Some of the items were put in a bowl and sprinkled with the Demerara sugar. A handful of mixed spring greens and the wonderful pea pod greens went around the coffin. The lemons with rosemary, the eggs with almonds and dates, asparagus, and other items were all artfully arranged on this. This was the fun part, making it a work of art, fit for a king or queen.

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Gervase Markham, The English House- wife, 1683, suggests you serve your sallet up to the table with oyl, vinegar, pepper and sugar. We all decided that the dressing was way too oily for such a delicate spring salad so we substituted good old Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette. Not 18th century but really good. The table was set and we were all ready to sit down after a busy morning and noon assembling all the parts for what looks like a simple meal. We “housewife’s paid attention to the presentation of our compound sallet,” as Markham suggested.

 The Grand Salad with a standard of a Lamb Coffin and Cheese Rolls with Grains

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Linda and Lisa did the honors and took the top off the coffin

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BEHOLD A LUSCIOUS LAMB COFFIN AND GRAND SALAD EXTRAORDINAIREopen2

In this picture we are missing Sherry. Unfortunately, she was feeling a bit unwell and left early. We shared a toast to a job well done, and we also toasted Sherry, for her wonderful coffin case and candied oranges for the Grand Salad. We packed up a doggie bag for her and Marsha will make sure she gets it.

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With the meal over and the Portugal Cakes eaten, we cleaned up, and everyone packed a goodie bag to take home for dinner.

So the season comes to an end, and all that is left is to put away all the washed dishes, and utensils we used, and season all the iron that might go into storage for the coming months. And I will think of the wonderful meals cooked, and of meeting so many interesting friends with whom I have been lucky enough to share my hearth. I’m looking forward to next fall and having several workshops. Stay tuned for the notices.

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Enjoy the Summer!

Sandie

Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is a great importance to the morale.

Elsa Schiparelli

 

THEY ATE THAT – Fall 2014

PIDGEON, COCKS COMBS, WIGGS, COFFINS & HEDGEHOGS

Cathy and Natalie drove all the way from Madison, Ct. to join in the workshop. Starting with the receipts that would need the most time, Cathy used Richards Brigg’s 1788 receipt for Carrot Pudding and Natalie began on E. Smith’s “To make a Very Good Wigg.”   1 copy Patty arrived and chopped the cook fowl filling according to Charles Carter’s 1730 receipt for “A Goode, Turkey or Bustard Pie”. This mixture went into small coffins using, once again, Carters receipt for Hot Butter Paste for Raised Baked Meat.” The wigs were sent off to rise and Natalie started the hedgehog receipt of Hannah Glasse. 2After a long time of shredding carrots Cathy was ready with the pudding mix, and all hands helped to butter and flour the pudding cloth.

6The kettle of water was waiting with a full boil as I helped Cathy tie the pudding cloth.

7 Allan kept the fires going throughout the day. Karen who drove up with Patty , also from CT, carefully read the instructions for the raised coffin dough and boiled the water, butter and lard to mix with the flour.
5 copyPatty poured the very hot water mixture into the bowl. With the dough mixed, I made the first small coffin using a shallow bowl as a form. Patty and Karen are reenactors and cook at the camp sites. I was happy to hear that they often used receipts they had tried at the workshops they had attended here.
7aEveryone pitched in to make the rest before the dough became to cold to form. While some rolled out the dough, others filled them with the fowl mixture placed a top on them and crimped the edges together.

8a copyNatalie’s wigg dough had risen nicely, and Karen cut it into equal parts. They were rolled into balls and a docker was used to poke holes in the bottom so they would get to a good height.

9cOnce they were shaped, docked and ready, they placed them in a pan to rise. And, as you can see, they puffed up nicely.

9dOur next receipt was “To dress a Pigeons with Truffles” from John Nott’s 1723 cookery book. Due to the exorbitant price of Pigeons and Truffles we substituted quail and wild mushrooms, still not inexpensive however, easier to obtain. We loosened the skin over the breast to accommodate a stuffing mix of mushrooms, parsley, thyme, chives, and egg yolk and salt and pepper. Once that was done the birds were wrapped in bacon.

11aThe birds were placed on a spit and skewed, then tied with string to keep the legs from flapping.

11cHannah Glasse has the easiest of Hedgehog receipts and we cut it down to a half portion. With all the almonds pounded and other ingredients added Natalie placed the mixture over the fireplace and constantly stirred it so it would not burn. When it formed a ball it was put on a plate and shaped into the hedgehog – two, actually, as there was quite a bit of almond dough . Patty helped to place the slivered almond for the spiny mammal look. A few big raisins and the Hedgehog‘s was complete. They were taken away from the fire so they would firm up.

12 copyAll the birds would not fit in the reflector oven so Karen put them into a bake kettle. The small coffins and wiggs went in a very hot oven. Everything was cooking on the hearth or in the bake oven and it was just a matter of time before we would be eating.

14 copyPatty sautéed mushroom and shallots in butter then added a roux to make a nice gravy for a side while Karen made “A Bog Berry Pudding” from the Cook Book of the Unknown Ladies.

3 copy Cooking for twenty minutes before a hot fire and turned a few times the birds were done. Patty checked the bake oven and removed the lovely brown wiggs.

14aThe birds that Karen stuffed and placed into the bake kettle were ready and she cut off all the stings..

15a copyThe pudding had been boiling over the fire for an hour; Allan helped to pick up the heavy pot so the pudding could be easily transferred to a bowl.

16copyCathy and Natalie opened up the pudding and with a plate on top it was flipped over and the cloth taken off. It came out wonderful. So many cooks are afraid of making pudding. The success lies in the preparations of the cloth and the constantly boiling water.

17copyWe all took a deep breath after a long day of hearth cooking and Allan took a picture before we dug into the wonderful food that was prepared.

19We placed all the food on the tavern table as we cleaned off the work table and set it for dining

20copyI had made the Candied Cocks Combs the day before as they take about 4 to 5 hours to make. They were staying cool and I forgot to put them on the table for the picture. However, when they came out the girls placed them around the baby Hedgehog. (I’ll do a special blog on the cocks combs)
21aPigeons, cockscombs, wiggs, coffins and hedgehogs graced the table and we toasted to a wonderful workshop and glorious food.
The foods with the scary names tasted magnificent and provide a rare chance to eat foods not common to our modern table and palate.

22 copyAfter we cleaned the kitchen and the hearth, the girls packed up the leftovers. Some to share with the families and the hedgehog went home with Natalie and Cathy to be reborn for the Deacon Graves Tavern Night in Madison.

23 copyI hope to post, very soon, the upcoming workshops, so stay tuned and happy cookery.

Sandie

Ordinary folk prefer familiar tastes – they’d sooner eat the same things all the time – but a gourmet would sample a fried park bench just to know how it tastes. – Walter Moers

LUMBAR PIE

DINNER WITH FRIENDS

I love making coffins, and so, when we invited three couples to dinner, that was top on the menu. I also made rolls and a warm bean salad. Our guest brought hors d’ oeuvres and dessert, a special treat was freshly dug steamers just dug off of Newburyport that same day, thank you Connie and Bart, who also brought blueberry pie. Ray and Linda provided bacon wrapped figs which were wonderful. This carried on my theme as I had figs in my coffin. Bob and Barbara made a crab dip, a receipt out of Food TV magazine.

The house was decorated for Christmas and looking very festive. I have four trees this year. The fresh one with all the family ornaments is in front of the Cage Bar as far away from the hearth as it can get. It needs water every day.

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With such a large group of guests, I made two coffins. I used the roller to make some of the designs.

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With the bake oven hot, they were ready to put in and bake for an hour.

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They came out of the oven brown and ready to eat.

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Connie took this picture with her phone. Here I’m cutting off the top of the coffins.sandie

The coffin was filled with lamb and veal meatballs that had both sweet and savory spices in them, ginger, nutmeg and cloves as well as salt and pepper. And a little nuget of bone marrow in the center. Large white grapes added some moisture and the, figs a bit of crunch. Eggs and three types of mushrooms rounded out the ingredients. I made a gravy with the drippings from the meatballs and added some fresh rosemary to it this was then added to the coffins. Most early cookery books had at least one receipt for a Lumber pie; they seemed to be very popular.  I know I love them.

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Connie was taking pictures of the opening of the coffins and got this shot of the men coming in to find a seat. We ladies sat down, and dinner began. Our conversation ranged from a new Clock Jack that was purchased, then the name of my Rooker that was used to remove embers from oven, and the trials and tribulations of moving a first-period house that might be up for sale, and discussion of early foods and many compliments on the dinner. Connie loved the crust and ate the top crust alongside her meal, so much for giving the coffin remains back to the kitchen help.

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Dessert was served, and we sat by the fire for a long time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. Our guests are friends, so it made the evening even more delightful.

I hope you will have many occasions to share food with friends and family over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I’m looking forward to having Christmas here and a Beef Wellington with family.

Sandie

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

 

17TH CENTURY COFFIN CLASS

The day of the class arrived and the fires were started in the hearth and bake oven early. The wall dresser holds most of the food stuff with the exception of the cream and butter that we need to be cold. Bowls, utensils and all the needed pot and pans were assembled for easy access when everyone arrived.

We started at 10:00, and the first order of the day was to boil eggs and roast the beets. Next we made the fillings for the coffins. Early pies were called “coffins” or “coffyns” which means a basket or box that held savory meat within a crust or pastry. The dough formed the container that was then filled and cooked in a bake kettle or in a bake oven.

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We broke up into two groups. Cathy, Dana and Debra started on the Lumbar Pie, while Barbara, Natalie and Nancy did a Turkey Pie.

Beef suet was chopped and mixed with parsley, thyme, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt and pepper and added to the chopped meat of veal, pork and beef. With it all mixed together, the meatballs were made with a piece of marrow put into the center, then rolled in a square of caul fat. These were then browned on the hearth in leaf lard.

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Turkey and chicken livers were the main ingredient in the next pie.  However a good deal of mushrooms was added along with thyme, garlic, onions, and brandy. These were sautéed in a pan to soften and brown.

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A Puff Paste was made, by making dough and rolling it out and adding pats of butter to it and folding and pounding with the rolling pin to incorporate the butter. This was cooled for 10 minutes then the process started again, more butter more pounding. After four times, the pastry was ready.  The turkey livers and mushroom mixture, was placed on the bottom crust and topped with hazel nuts. The lid was put on and the coffin shape cut. Decoration were made and added to the top.

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Over on the other table the dough for the raised Lumbar Pie was made. The process is much like a potter spinning the clay on a wheel. The dough was made into the shape of a deep bowl. Everyone had to come and take a look.

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Some of the saved dough was decorated with a rolling pin, with a vine design; this was wrapped around the coffin sides. Then the layers of grapes, figs, hard boiled eggs and the browned meat was placed in the standing coffin. A lid was placed on top and crimped together and also decorated.8 copy

With both coffins ready, they were put into the bake oven.

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With the beets roasted and cool enough to handle they were peeled and sliced and a batter was made. The manchets were grated to make bread crumbs and some flour and parsley were added the battered beets were dipped in the crumb mixture and ready to fry.

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Carrots were grated and a pudding made and put in a greased cloth. This was boiled for an hour while the beets were fried, and while custard, for a dessert, hung over the fire and was closely watched.12copy

After an hour, the coffins were removed from the oven and looked too good to eat. 10 out copy

Apples were cored and placed upside down on each person’s finger, then covered with whipped egg whites and powdered sugar. Then they were turned upside down and filled with the custard and baked while we ate our meal..11apple

Lumber Pie, Turkey Pie, gravy for both, boiled Carrot Pudding, Fried Beets, and a finish of George Dalrymple’s Custard Apples. A great beginning to the hearth cooking season, good food, good friends both old and new, and leftovers to take home. I’m sure there were a few very happy husbands.

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We had a great time, shared stories while we worked, and laughed at a few mistakes. It was a wonderful day. Some of the participants are coming back for more classes and I look forward to being with them again, as they are now old friends.
Sandie

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

I hope I have inspired.

EARLY FOOD STAPLES

Our foremothers never got a break; they were always keeping one step ahead of the next meal. They made premade gravies, sauces, jellies, bread to go stale for crumbs, among other items to have on hand to add to the fresh meat, fish, and vegetables they would have for dinner. To prepare for my hearth cooking classes I have to do the same thing.

I needed to have pig’s leaf lard to fry with and trotters for jelly. From the lamb came the caul and the lard and marrow bones from the cow. So I called Lemay’s Butchery in Goffstown and placed my order. Within a few days I picked it up. It’s amazing how many parts there are to farm animals and the foods that can be made from them

pig1

I chopped the suet and leaf lard in pieces. I put just a little water in the suet to get it started, and gave the leaf lard a good four cups to boil in. These were both simmered, as the water evaporated from the suet, it melted nicely. The leaf lard took a bit longer yet when it was strained and cold, it was a lovely white, soft paste that looks like Crisco. After sitting in the refrigerator overnight, the melted suet was white and hard as a rock, perfect for coffin dough.

pig3

Allan cut the pig’s feet in half. They were so long they would not fit into the pot. I scrubbed in between the pigs toes and took a knife and scraped the skin to remove all and any residue. After giving them a good wash into a large pot they went. They simmered for 5 hours then cooled overnight, and then simmered for 3 more hours the next day. Then the liquid was poured off into a clean towel, placed in a strainer, and then the jelly was poured into a jar with a good tight lid. The pig’s feet jelly will be added to gravy.

pig2

I rinsed and rinsed the caul and picked the small veins out. I wrapped it in parchment paper and froze it. It is a really nice piece and will be used to wrap forced meat to be fried in the leaf lard and placed in the coffin made with the beef suet.  With the marrow bone roasted and browned, I scooped out the inside and saved them for the Lumber Pie. I also made two gravies to have for the two coffins. Thankfully, I have refrigeration to be able to keep these food items in a healthy manner.

marrow-bones

Next I needed to make the manchets so they could be made into bread crumbs, then I headed to Tender Crop Farm in Newburyport, Massachusetts, for some fresh turkey breast for the turkey pie. manchetfirecopy

The day before the class I walked the farm market in Exeter to find the best carrots, beets and apples for our carrot pudding, the fried beets and custard apples.

apcart copy

There is a lot of preparation needed to have a group come and cook at the hearth. It’s not just preparing some staples ahead of time. There is also the decoding of early receipts that are written in a narrative form that need to be transformed into modern-day measurement, and sometimes food substitutions. However, I enjoy sharing my experiences with others, and though it can be messy and challenging sometimes, I love the connection with the cooks of the past and the present-day participants who come to hearth cook for the day.

 Sandie

“To speak then of the outward and active knowledge which belong to our English Houfe-Wife, I hold the first and most principal to be, a perfect skill and knowledge in Cookery,”

 Gervase Markham – The English House-Wife 1683