The sky was blue, and with herbs popping up everywhere, it was time to feast on a spring meal. With the fires going, our class began. Reading the instructions through is an extremely important thing to do. I give both the original narrative receipt and the modern scientific one. Getting your entire ingredients list and pans together and having a plan is the next step.

Hannah Glasse’s receipt,” To Stuff a Chine of Pork” was the first charge of the day. Bob and Vicky took sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary, spinach and cloves and chopped it into a forced meat to stuff the pork with. The collops were pounded, larded and stuffed, then tied up to roast on the fire. Dana and Barbara watched as Bob stacked the collops and tied them. There was leftover forced meat and we saved that to add to the drippings at the end.  untitled-1-copy Vicky was in charge of the applesauce. I had given two receipts, Eliza Smith’s and Elizabeth Rafald’s sauce for a goose. The first extant print citation of the word “applesauce” is in Eliza Smith’s, Compleat Housewife, 1739. However, the practice of combining pork and apples dates back to ancient times. Hannah Glasse, in the mid-18th century instructs her readers to serve roast pork with “some good apple-sauce.” The receipt, Sauce for a Goose, by Raffald, is applesauce.

Fiddleheads are just coming in and no spring meal would be complete without them. They have a nutty taste and with bacon and shallots you can’t go wrong.


Asparagus is also on the rise in the fields and gardens. We put a large pot of water on so we could parboil the bundle of asparagus. Vicky was busy making manchets bread, and here we see it having a final rise by the fire.


Dana decided she would try her hand at making crepes for the Banniet Tort which will be our dessert. As always with crepes, the first one went into the fire and the next eight came out wonderful.untitled-2-copy

Barbara made the puff pastry for the tort, and with the crepes made, she began to assemble it. Dana removed the asparagus from the water and cut the tops off long and the bottoms into little pieces and put them aside.

Candied lemons and oranges, a few dates and currants sprinkled with orange flower water and sack and layered with sugar. YUM! Barbara slides it into the bake oven.untitled-6-copy

The fireplace became a busy space with Bob and Allan at the reflector oven, Dana and Barbara making a sauce for the asparagus. The applesauce Vicky made keeping warm over the fire. In the bake oven the manchets and a tort cook.untitled-5-copy

The Chine of stuffed pork was ready and Bob removes the strings and adds the extra stuffing that was fried in the drippings.  I had made a Rhubarb Shrub to have with our dinner. We added ice, a luxury in the 18th century; however we were all on the warm side.untitled-8-copy

Shrub is the name of two different, but related, acidulated beverages. One type of shrub is a fruit liqueur that was popular in 17th and 18th century England, typically made with rum or brandy mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit.

A second type of shrub is a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing drinking vinegar syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The name also is applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, also known as drinking vinegar, from which the latter drink is made. Drinking vinegar is infused with fruit juice (and at times herbs and spices) for use in mixed drinks.

The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America.

The first citation for shrub is 1747, in the OED, however the word was in use before that. In Martha Washington’s, Book of Cookery, written before 1709 there is a shrub receipt. (See Receipt’s- Drinks)

Vicky and Barbara put together Hanna Glasse’s asparagus forced in rolls.Untitled-7 copy

Allan took a picture of our spring feast, chine of stuffed pork, apple sauce, fiddlehead ferns, asparagus forced in rolls and rhubarb shrub.

Vicky gives us a lesson on 18th century eating habits.untitled-11-copy

The Banniet Tort came out of the oven and was delightful, with all the fruit and tender crêpes wrapped in a crisp pastry. A fitting ending for a dinner well made.Untitled-12copy

We had fun and experienced an array of receipts with many spring herbs and greens, and produced a wonderful meal.



 “A Receipt is but a Promise of a Dish, but the Dish is the Measure of its Cook.”   John Saturnall’s Feast



Recap – Sunday night we had a meet-and-greet at a wonderful local tavern for those who traveled far to Sandra Oliver’s workshop in Deerfield. The next day was all work and Sandy led the pack through a course on recipe research.

After several days it was time to head over to Hall Tavern and put our research to use. Claire had purchased all our ingredients and we were off and running, in many directions, finding pots and pans, spices and flour. It was a busy scene.


I had eggs to boil, forced meatballs to make, chicken to partially fry, herbs and spices to put together and gravy to make. Then on to the coffin, and that is where the disaster began. I had all the right amounts and began working the pastry. Barbara Blumenthal was at the same table making a crust for an apple pie. I’m not sure who said it first but it looked like I was making a sand castle. The rye flour would not absorb the liquid it was like grains of sand. I pushed, beat, and molded and it continued to fall apart. I added more hot water and butter and it almost worked. I rolled it out and it cracked every time I tried to raise the pye. Well, I was determined not to let this stop me from making my coffin. Into the wastebasket it went. I got a bag of unbleached flour and started all over. As I’m working the new batch, Sandy comes over to see what might have happened. She grabbed a handful of the first pastry out of the garbage and put it in a bowl and played with it.


Sure enough she likened it to rye grain and not flour at all. I was happy to know it was not just me who thought that. So I hurried along so the coffin would cook in time for the meal.

I raised a quick pastry wall and stuffed it with all the filling and on to a peel to be placed directly on the floor in the bake oven along with the apple pie and the gingerbread.


It took about one and a half hours to bake the coffin hard. Sandie and I worked together to retrieve it from the oven and I cut the top to reveal a well-cooked coffin that tasted as good as it looked.4

With all hands busy, it was hard to get photographs of everyone. However, I did manage to get some. Here we have Barbara working on the apples for the pie with Sandy looking on and Mary Lou making her gingerbread.6-copy

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Here we see Elyse, who made a wonderful salmon soup, and Terri, who made a wilted salad of bacon and spinach.9jpg

Bill made a Tharîda with Lamb and Spinach, Moist Cheese and Butter, Don who spent time showing us some of his rare cookbooks at the workshop made a stuffed pudding that I want the receipt for.8-jpg


Erica made scotch collops and they were not Scottish at all we learned. Fiona made sugarplum that danced in our mouths with joy.7-copy

I wish I had more pictures of the other cooks and their food; however one can’t be everywhere, although we sometimes try.

As a side note, the wonderful copper pots and some of the other equipment were donated to Historic Deerfield by a friend of mine, Paul, I know he is smiling knowing that we put them to task and they worked to our advantage in making the food come out grand. Thanks, Paul. I also would be remiss if I forget to thank Julie, who fed us three meals a day in splendid fashion. What a wonderful ending to a great workshop. I know each time I research a receipt in the future I will think back on this great group of food historians and triumphing over a challenge.


Every Dish Has A Past:

A Workshop in Historic Recipe Research

Historic Deerfield Mass.

March 18, 2013 – March 20, 20138:30 am – 5:00 pm

gillis_tablesettingSandra L. Oliver, noted food historian and celebrated author, will lead an intensive three-day workshop in historic recipe research. Each participant selects a recipe and an alternative they would like to research. Class time is divided between lecture and discussion time, and Oliver will teach a method of conducting the research. Each participant will use a combination of resources both real—books in the room—and virtual—on-line resources via computer—to conduct research. Participants are encouraged to bring a computer with wireless capacity. The workshop concludes with a cooking afternoon to test your recipe on the final day in the 1786 kitchen at the Visitor Center at Hall Tavern. Registration includes 3 nights stay Sunday, March 17 to Wednesday (morning), March 20 at the Deerfield Inn Carriage House and all meals. Traveling companions not attending the workshop may come and share in meals for an extra cost. The workshop is limited to 15 participants.

To register Contact

Julie Orvis     Historic Deerfield       413-775-7179         events@historic-deerfield.org

Scotch Collops and Coddling Tart

I have not forsaken Pepys at theTable ; the dessert course at the end is from that book.  However, I wanted to make Scotch Collops, and looking through several 1600s receipt I did not find one that suited me.  I finally settled on one from Martha Washington’s  Booke on Cookery which is a collection of 1600s and 1700s receipts so I feel safe in using this as a 1600s receipt.

So in tandem I made the pie and collops and for the sake of following the receipts, I will start with the  main course.

Scotch Collops are not Scottish.  The Collops can be veal, beef or, in this case, pork. What makes them scotched is the process of using the back of a knife blade to tenderize them, as seen in this picture. Next the receipt calls for tenderizing them in vinegar or verges; I used apple cider vinegar and some salt and let them sit in a bowl for ½ an hour.  During this time, I chopped onions, lemons, and gathered the capers, anchovies and herbs.  I had frozen some veal stock that my husband made last week and so melted about two cups of it for the pan.

With the meat tenderized and the spider hot I tossed them in and poured on the strong broth and added the herbs.  Cooking on a small hearth has its drawbacks. To produce enough coals, you need a big fire. This, however, causes a problem in that you can’t take the coals too far into the room without smoking up the room.  The liquid towards the fire boiled so the meat needed to be switched often. I miss my huge museum hearth and I’m looking forward to March when we will be open once again.  I put on a pot of beans for a side dish.

The collops, having been scotched, cooked quickly and the fire, being very hot, boiled more of the liquid out than I wanted.  Next time I will add an extra cup of water to the broth.  I took the collops out of the pan and added the lemon, anchovies, capers and the butter to finish off the sauce.  The combination of scents from the herbs and lemon was sensational.

Time for plating, the beans are ready and the sippets done. (More on cooking sippets later, see below.)  So we sat in front of the fire as it snowed outside to dine on our Scotched Collops, sippets and beans.  I was surprised at how tender the collops were and the diced fresh lemon and capers added an enjoyable burst of freshness to every bite. I did not taste the anchovies, which I’m sure added a depth to the flavor. I would make this receipt again anytime.

You can see the Coddling Tart in the photo above, and having a bit of custard leftover I made a small dish.

Continuing with my theme of Pepys at the Table (see first post) I decided to do a dessert for my husband who loves apple pie and custard.  So I found that on July 27th, 1663, Samuel Pepys met a friend and headed to Fox-hall (Vauxhall) to the new spring gardens for a midday meal.  Finding the best house full, they found a lesser house and dined on Coddling Tarts, while there an idle boy showed them some tumbling tricks which he did very well.

In The Court and Kitchen of Elizabeth, 1664, there is a receipt to make a double tart.  Elizabeth was commonly called Joan and was the wife of Oliver CromwellLord Protector of England, Oliver loved music and Joan liked cooking.

It is an interesting receipt using coddlings and it is called a tart, yet in the receipt, we find mentioned both tart and coffin and it is baked with a separate decorative lid (See receipt file).  Coddlings are described as apples having an elongated and tapered shape and also immature or windfalls. The choice of a paste for a tart in the 1600s was a thinly rolled fine rich paste as opposed to the heavy standing coffin paste. What type of crust Joan used is not mentioned.  The receipt calls for cutting off the lid, filling it with the custard and then placing a decorative lid on top. In Delightes for Ladies 1609, Hugh Plat, gives a receipt for a butter paste made with flour, water, egg whites which are then beaten rolled and dotted with butter.  Sounds like our modern day puff pastry so this is the paste I will use for the tart.  As Karen Hess writes in Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, English flour was soft and to make a 1600’s putf  paste our pastry flour would be comparable.  Well, I did not have pastry flour, so I used good old King Arthur unbleached and it worked fine.

I started with 2 ½ cups of flour to which I added the whites of three eggs and the yoke of two and 3 Tbps of water.

Mixing this first with a fork, then with my hands, I formed a ball and beat with a roiling pin turning it over several times to bring the mixture together.  I then rolled it out and added little pieces of cold butter to one side folding it over and then beating it with the roiling pin again.  I continued rolling it out adding butter and beating it five times.

When I thought the butter was incorporated as planned I cut one- third off for the top and rolled the larger piece out for the shell.  I placed it in a tart pan, rolled my edge with the rolling pin, and pulled off the extra  and put that with the remaining dough.

I put the shell into the bake kettle for 15 minutes to blind bake the bottom. I used a variety of apples that my husband likes, some firm and some soft, 6 in all. These I stewed over the fire with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. While the apples cooked, I made the tops for the coffin and tart.

With the apples ready I filled the tart shell and placed the first crust on.

Into the bake oven the tart went once more.  Alongside I browned my whole wheat toast to make the sippets for under the scotched collops. As you can see from the picture the fire is very close to the bake kettle so I had to constantly turn it a quarter of a turn often and look inside the lid.

The receipt is called “To Make A Double Tart.”  I wonder if it is doubles because it has two tops or both coddlings and custard.  With the fire so hot, I remove the first top from the tart as it browned quickly, poured in the custard over the apples and put on the new top with the decorated top. Don’t worry the first top did not get wasted it became an hors d’oeuvre.

It took the custard longer to set than I thought, a good 25 minutes. I carefully watched and turned the bake kettle every ten minutes or so. No rest for the weary. However, delicious meals are not cooked on the hearth the same way as we use our microwave and the aroma of food and fire smoke is much better. When it was ready I took it out and strewed fresh minced figs on top and placed the tart ceremoniously on a redware plate.

With sippets cut in triangles, the collops were placed on them, beans nestled besided and a tart for dessert, we passed a wonderful winter night full and happy.

If I have inspired you to try a little home hearth cooking, please see the receipt file and have fun making a little bit of the past.

Until next week.