Court Cookery

Robert Smith spent eight years cooking under a Mr. Lamb, the cook to His Majesty King William. During this time he jotted down many receipts that he thought better than others. When he left there he went to live in the families of the Dukes of Buckingham, Ormond, D’Aumont (the French Ambassador), and others of the Nobility and Gentry.

The receipt we used in the workshop came from his 1725 book Court Cookery Or The Complete English Cook: Containing The Choicest And Newest Recipes. I also sneaked in one receipt from Sarah Tully’s personal receipt book 1745. It just seemed to round out the menu.

With all the receipts handed out, everyone started in. First and foremost were the French rolls. The starter was made the night before and Susan added the rest of the ingredients and set them to rise.

Heather started on the sauce for the cauliflower and cut all the flowerets in smaller pieces

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To Drefi Colliflowers with Butter First pick them very clean and boil them over a quick Fire with Water Salt and a few Cloves when tender drain them well and lay them in little dishes Take for Sauce which must be very thick, Butter, Vinegar ,Salt Nutmeg a little Pepper and sliced Lemon Roll up your Butter in Flower to thicken the Sauce

On a trivet over coals, Heather made the lemon sauce for the cauliflower receipt above. Wendy was in charge of making Sarah Tully’s receipt for Pilau below. This was made in a kettle hung over the fire on a crane.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPaul floured the chicken for the fricassee, then began making the batter for the Caraway Cake. I needed an extra receipt to keep everyone busy so I included a lemon cream which Susan made.
Untitled-1 copyThe chicken fricassee also has meatballs in it. Wendy mixed it together and made small rounds. These were fired for a bit then mushrooms were added. When they were browned they were taken out and set aside.

1a5A  Brown Fricajsey of Chickens, or Rabbets
CUT them in pieces, and fry them in brown Butter; then have ready a Pint of hot Gravy, a little Claret, White-wine, strong Broth, two Anchovies, two shiver’d Pallats, a Faggot of sweet Herbs, a little Pepper, Salt, Mace, Nutmeg, and some Balls; thicken it with brown Butter, and squeeze on it a Lemon.

To make Force Meat Balls
Pound of Veal and the fame Weight of Beef suet and a Bit of Bacon shred all together beat it in a Mortar very fine then season it with sweet Herbs Pepper Salt Cloves Mace and Nutmegs and when you roll it up to fry add the Yolks of two or three Eggs to bind it; you may add Oysters or Marrow at an Entertainments

Once again the starter for the Cake was made the night before. Paul creamed the butter and sugar, added the started and more flour, caraways, currants which were soaked in brandy, spices and the liquids. This made a thick batter.

1a3 copyWhile Paul beat the batter, Wendy and Heather tied the brown paper to the bottom of the bottomless cake tin that was buttered and floured.

1a4 copyWith a few of the receipts in different stages of readiness, Allan and Paul sat on the porch which was warm from the sunny day. (Yes, that is snow out there, lots and lots.)

1a7 copyThe dough had risen and Susan cut it into equal pieces to make rolls. Paul put the chicken into the spider and cooked it to a golden brown.

1a6copy The lemon cream was heated over the fire by Susan and when it coated the back of a spoon she took it off. The cream needed to be stirred until it was cool so it would not separate. Heather was waiting for the water to boil for her cauliflower, so she took the task of stirring the lemon sauce until it was cool. 1a8

To make Lemon Cream

Take three smooth Malaga Lemons pare them and squeeze out the Juice, and cut the Peel in Small Pieces and put it to the Juice for three Hours cover it close and when it tastes of the Peel add to it the Whites of five Eggs and the Yolks of two and a half beat this well with two spoonfuls of Orange Flower Water strain it and sweeten it with double refin’d Sugar  and  strain it before you set it over a gentle clear Fire and stir it carefully till it’s as thick as Cream Put it into your Jelly Glasses and let it stand two or three Days

The chicken was removed from the pan, and the wine, broth and spices were added. The chicken and meatball/mushroom mixture were put in the sauce along with a faggot of fresh herbs. This was covered and simmered for 25 minutes.

1a9The French rolls went into the bake kettle and the caraway cake into the bake oven. As you can see, the oven was a bit hotter than we would have liked. However, the rolls came out wonderful.

1a10 copyWith all the receipts cooked, it was time to sit and enjoy our meal.1a12 Heather’s lemon sauce on the cauliflower was delightful, and Robert Smith’s receipt is wonderful easy too. Even Allan liked it.

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As I’m typing this, I’m having a leftover roll and coffee. Even after a few days the rolls are still delicious. I think it is the ale and yeast starter that makes all the difference.
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Sally Tully’s Pilau rice was a real hit. Mixed with the lemons, herbs and a stick of butter we decided this was a keeper of a rice receipt. The chicken and meatball fricassee had a wonderful flavor and went well with the Pilau.3

(SL)*

And last but not least, when life gives you lemons you make lemonade.
Susan and Wendy decided that the burnt part of the cake could be sliced off and because we had made a lemon sauce they were going to make trifle. And they did. It was scrumptious.

1a11My arm is now out of the cast and doing fine. I’m looking forward to the next two workshops. One on Hannah Glasse’s receipts, and the last one, a mix of receipts for Spring.
I love my fireplace and the snow, however, I am looking forward to SPRING.

Sandie
Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart. Wolfgang Puck

(SL)*  Thanks to Susan Lindquist for the great pictures.

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

RECEIPT TRIALS

Bread/Wafers/Waffles

Using 17th & 18th century original receipts can be difficult, as they were written in the narrative, like a story. They don’t always have measurements, unlike the modern cook books of today. Flours are made differently and other ingredients are not exactly the same. However, reading the receipt is fascinating; and rewarding, and the only way to truly understand them is to cook them. So a few friends decided to spend a day testing receipts for wafers and I baked bread in a kettle and buns a tin oven, instead of my bake oven. The following are the results.

The day started off with a definite chill in the air, great weather for heating up the hearth. With a stack of receipts for wafers and waffles, and armed with six irons, we were ready. I also made a bread dough the day before and let it rise all night long.

I conducted the bread experiment to see how a small loaf would bake in the cast iron kettle and a few rolls in the reflector oven. I am giving a workshop for the folks at Old Fort Western in Maine next month and they do not have a bake oven. They want to put together a group of receipts that can be demonstrated to the public when they are open. So bread is always a great showpiece, and the smell is glorious. I used a French bread receipt from, The English Art of Cookery, Richard Brigg, 1788. I wanted to make the texture more like that of a less milled flour, so I added some King Arthur Harvest blend of seeds and grains , whole and flaked to add a bit of rustic crunch to the finished bread. 

In the morning, I heated up a 12-inch bake kettle and the reflector oven. I divided the dough, worked it a bit and put a round loaf on some parchment paper in the kettle and made a ring of coals around the outside of the top and bottom. I was careful not to put any in the center as I did not want to scorch the bread, just bake it. I placed a few rolls in the oven, set that on coals and faced it towards the heat. The loaf was done in 35 minutes and the rolls needed to be taken out and turned around, so they took about 45 minutes. Below you can see the finished bread and wonderful fresh eggs Nancy brought for our receipts.

5jpgNancy brought four irons, and I had two, so we greased them all up and chose two to warm on the trivets.

Nancy began on a Dutch yeast wafer receipt by Mary Kettilby that she was eager to try. This batter needed to rest, so, after she mixed it she placed it on the high shelf of the cupboard to rise. While I was busy with the bread Barbara started on the Elizabeth Moxon’s 1764 receipt for making Goofer Wafers.

Now the word Goofer with wafer might mean several things and the more you read wafer receipts the more confusing it becomes; does Goofer mean the iron shape or does it mean a deeper pancake-like wafer. I have not found any good explanations for the word. It is a mystery for now. However, as we know, when you’re looking for something you often find something else; it might pop up yet.

With the irons hot, we started with Moxon’s and found that the coversion to a smaller amount needed adjustment. So, by adding a bit more milk and cream, we ended up with a consistency we thought was okay. The next issue was how much to put on the irons. We were very careful not to overfill at first and ended up with small wafers that did not fill the iron. Also one round iron kept making pancakes. This iron had a very deep lip round it so flat wafers were out of the question.

3 copyI mixed up a receipt translated by Peter Rose from, The Sensible Cook Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World. This called for wheat flour and chardonnay. We tried this batter in several irons and none of them came out to our satisfaction and they tasted awful to boot. So we dumped that one with haste.

We kept trying all six irons and found that my small one, two of Nancy’s round ones and her rectangle one made the best wafers while her deep surface iron made pancakes.

This was getting exhausting. The irons are heavy and the heat was starting to get to us, time for a break.
We took our lunch out onto the screened porch. There was a very chilly breeze blustering through and cooling us down while we chatted about old houses and restoration. Fortified, and ready to stand by the fire once again, we took the Dutch receipt off the shelf and found that it had not risen very much. Again we added to the amounts, more butter and sugar, and returned it to its warm place.

Hannah Glasse has a receipt To Make Whafles. Barbara mixed up the batter that was to be rolled in small balls the size of a nutmeg and baked. Dividing the batter into smaller portions didn’t work out very well and we ended up with a loose batter. So we thought why not give it a try. Well, they were not bad, however, we ran out of the irons too quickly. We then added lots of flour and made round balls and that worked wonderfully. Nancy’s rectangle iron made the most beautiful designs. With the small round irons we could roll them up in cones or sticks.

The Dutch yeast receipt had risen and had a weird sticky egg color glue like batter. We again started out cautious, putting just a bit in each of the irons and commenced to putting in more. We liked the results produced by several of the irons and stopped using others.

I ran off and made Lemon Cheese from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies, to fill our cones and rolls. During the day a pot of chocolate with a teaspoon of cream melted by the fire ready to be dug into.

3 copyWith each receipt we tried different irons and the most interesting iron which I thought was a waffle iron turned out to be a 1611 wafer iron. It was decorated with a family crest in the center surrounded by many rectangles of stars and on the other side a wonderful center with initials MC surrounded by flying birds with a small star over their heads, a most remarkable iron.

Now, from what I have learned, pizzelle are a traditional cookie from the Abruzzi region of Italy. They are thin wafer cookies that look almost like our 18th century wafers. And perhaps this 1611 iron is one made for a woman in Italy to make her cookies or thin wafers on; oh, if it could only talk. We all loved it and I must say I was sorry to see it go home with Nancy, the lucky gal.

4 copyTo sum the day up I would say our two top favorite receipts were Hanna Glasse’s “To Make Wafers,” and “The Right Dutch-Wafers” from Mary Kettilby. And we all learned a lot about making wafers.

We still have other receipts we want to try. One has cheese in it and might be great with a glass of wine.

Some hints for making wafers, make sure the irons are hot, listen for the steam to whistle and don’t over-pour the batter. We are looking forward to doing more receipt trials.

Sandie

“Today we will live in the moment unless it’s unpleasant in which case me will eat a cookie “ Cookie Monster

JUST DESSERTS #1

Our dessert workshop day arrived and this would be a full day of making, baking and mixing. Everyone began with a receipt that would need some things to be prepared and readied for the bake kettle or oven.

This first blog is about Frogger Cookies, a Marblehead, Massachusetts, receipt made with peal ash, a Pound Cake receipt from Hannah Glass, and a Chocolate Tart receipt from The Whole Duty of a Woman, 1737, Guide to the Fair Sex, Virgins Wives or Widows.

In our workshop papers, I added the wonderful story about the Joe Frogger cookies, named for the patriot and tavern owner Joseph Brown of Marblehead. Heather quickly began the receipt and worked the molasses, rum and butter into the dry ingredients and rolled them out between parchment paper. The dough needed to sit in the refrigerator for two hours before she could cut them. The originals Froggers were an invention of Joe’s wife, Lucretia Brown, and were served in their tavern and sent by the barrelful off to sea with the merchant ships. If you wish to know more about the cookies, go online and you will find the whole delightful story.

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Heather picked a decorative tin mold to cut large cookies and put them on a greased tin sheet ready for the bake oven.

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The Hannah Glass Pound Cake receipt has a batter that needs to be beaten for an hour by hand. Paul, having the strongest arm and biggest hands, jumped right in and started off whipping the eggs and butter together.

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Following Hannah’s narrative receipt, he mixed the liquids with the dry and mixed and mixed and mixed, for a whole hour, by hand. This was hot work and we had to wipe his forehead once in a while.

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Thanks to Paul the batter was light and fluffy and Heather helped by buttering the patties pans and spooning the batter in. Paul deserved a rest.

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The bake oven had been heating for about two hours and, after being cleaned out, into it went the pound cake and Joe Froggers.

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For our chocolate tart, there were two receipts. One is for the chocolate, from The Whole Duty of a Woman, and one for a sugar paste crust, Charles Carter 1730. Tracey started by melting the American Heritage Chocolate, adding eggs, the rice flour and other ingredients and melted everything together over the coals on the hearth. It was important to stir often so the mixture would not burn. When ready, the chocolate was put to the side and the sugar paste made.

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All the desserts that were made in the workshop were going home, so the sugar paste, tart crust was placed in small patties pans.

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With the crust ready, Tracey filled them and baked them in the kettle. The tarts did not take long, and once they were brown, out they came.

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After six weeks my arm is healing, however I’m still typing with one hand. I will try and finish the Just Desserts blog with #2 soon. 

Enjoy the warm weather,

Sandie

Life is too short, eat dessert first.

Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Dessert

It’s a while since our last workshop, “JUST DESSERTS.” I haven’t posted as I went in for surgery two days later. Three weeks have passed, and I thought I would give you a peek of what we made.

On the table we displayed our desserts before they were all taken home to be enjoyed. Here you see the Joe Fogger molasses cookies made with pearl ash, Chocolate Tarts made with 18th century chocolate from Mills Co, Hannah Glasse’s Pound Cake that was whipped by hand for hours, a syllabub, a wonderful rice pudding stuffed into casings, wafer (only one came out), and molded walnuts.

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When I’m once again two-handed, I’ll share the full day of the workshop.

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Sandie

Look like I’ll be cooking with one hand tied behind my back

 

 

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.

Ragout with a Cabbage

Hanging Cabbages

Hannah Glass has a receipt called “Or this Way Beans Ragoo’d with a Cabbage. “ If the 17th and 18th century mothers were lucky, they might still have a cabbage hanging in the root cellar now and a few carrots and turnips. The cabbages would be hung from their roots with the large leaves left on. The turnips and carrots would be stuck in sand to stay damp (not wet) so they think they are resting in the ground. This was the common practice of looking ahead and providing fresh produce for one’s family throughout the winter months and into early spring. So, hopefully, you still have something left in the root cellar.

I talked with Ryan Beckman at Old Sturbridge Village to see what they had in the root cellar there. Unfortunately, no cabbage, as they were hit badly with blight last year and are not growing any this year in an effort to thwart it. Ryan said they had just run out of carrots last week and are focusing on the potatoes and the multitude of eggs they are blessed with at the moment. This is the time of year that they interpret the “six weeks of want.” We have cabbage still at our Farm Markets so, here in New Hampshire, we were lucky. And I found a nice small one. The turnips fared well too and the carrots may be a bit on the wilted side yet usable.

Along with my planked fish I needed a vegetable, so this receipt seemed doable, given the coolness of the season. Having no beans yet, I omitted them and decided on fresh spring asparagus. Now this receipt has a lot of steps to it. First you must clean the cabbage and cut the stem side flat so it sits nice on a plate. Then it needs to be par-boiled so it can be pierced with a fork but not fall apart. Hannah has you put the carrots and turnips in the same pot, I did mine separately.

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When the cabbage was soft, I took it out and cut a cavity in the upper part for the ragout and saved the cone to mix with the other vegetables.  I mashed all the vegetables together with salt and pepper and added a little of the cabbage liquid I had saved.

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The cabbage went back into the pot with a bit of water, wine, vinegar from the pickled mushroom, butter and the mushroom ketchup I had made I made last fall. This was covered and simmered gently. I needed to check on it often to make sure it did not run out of liquid. With the other vegetables mashed, I placed them by the fire to keep warm.

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Once the fork slid easily through the cabbage it was removed and put on a plate stem side down. The cavity was filled with the ragout’d vegetables, and the asparagus were placed around the plate. The liquid for the last cooking of the cabbage was poured over it and my side dish was complete. I added a little more vinegar, as I like mine tart, and, as a whole, it was tasty and looked very nice on the plate.

 

cab 4I’m really looking forward to using my new root cellar come fall. It is now clean of construction debris and I can start planning the shelves and boxes I’ll need. It will be a fun project.

Sandie

“The cabbage surpasses all other vegetables. If, at a banquet, you wish to dine a lot and enjoy your dinner, then eat as much cabbage as you wish, seasoned with vinegar, before dinner, and likewise after dinner eat some half-dozen leaves. It will make you feel as if you had not eaten, and you can drink as much as you like.”
Cato (234-149 B.C.)

HERBS AND SPICES AND EVERYTHING NICE

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.

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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.

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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.

HAPPY SPRING

Sandie

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

A Simple Meal

3The hearth was christened by a wonderful group of beginning hearth cooks. I was thrilled to have them, as they all have cooking fireplaces at home and hope to start using them as they were meant to be.

We start out with traditional cooking techniques, including fire safety, proper fire maintenance and learning skills in using the bake kettles and other hearthside equipment. Our meal was simple. Chicken on a String with root vegetables, Hannah Glasse’s Onion Pye made with Lydia Maria Child’s common pie crust, John Nott’s fried beets and Elizabeth Raffald’s boiled bread pudding, with a wonderful sauce.

After we read through the receipts, we were off and running, gathering up needed ingredients. Paul started on the pie crust which was really a puff pastry dough with lots of butter rolled into it. Barbara picked the bread pudding, a daring choice for a novice as boiled puddings are notorious for being soggy if not done correctly. 1 While Barbara mixes up the bread with the candies fruit and currants, Paul rolls out the dough a second time, after it had rested for 15 minutes in a cool place. Once the dough was ready, Heather, who had prepared the filling, assembled the pye. Heather toasted some bread on the hearth to dry out and used the mortar and pestle to make the crumbs for the beets. Being a confessed toast burner, I must say that Heather made the best dry toast, golden and light.4

With the pudding in the boiling water and the chicken and pye done, it was time to do the beets. Heather had cooked the beets to fork-tender in a bake kettle on the hearth. They were put in a batter then rolled in the bread crumbs she had made from the toast. Into the fry pan they went with butter, and were fried so they had a crunchy exterior and a soft interior. They were so good I ate them like candy. Paul worked on carving the chicken that had a lovely brown and crispy skin. He had put butter, parsley and garlic in the cavity and basted it while it spun. This was one tender and juicy bird.

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The pye was retrieved from the bake oven and it was cooked perfectly, and tasted as good as it looked.

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We all sat down to a hearty lunch and while we chatted, Barbara discovered that Paul and Heather had purchased their home from a friend of hers. The conversation turned to antiques and all the shows they all went to and the upcoming ones. Conversation did not lag with this group. Then it was Barbara’s time to present her boiled bread pudding and sauce. Taken out of the water, it was put in a strainer and covered with a dish, flipped over and then the pudding cloth slowly removed. Perfection! It was flawless and made a wonderful ending to our meal.8

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As with every meal there is a time for clean-up and this day was no different. Everyone pitched in and the job was quickly done.5

This was a very congenial group. I was able to share my cooking skills and resources with them and I enjoyed meeting Paul and Heather. And it is always nice to have Barbara visiting.

Sandie

OPEN HEARTH COOKING CLASSES

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I have just posted my up-coming classes for April – May

Look for them in the gray box on the right side of the site –

OPEN HEARTH COOKING CLASSES

Hope you can join us

Sandie