In the 18th century, English life started to breed the frantic, money-fueled materialism that we are familiar with today. As the middle classes grew, there was an increasing demand for books to save the lady of the house from the task of teaching her kitchen maids. Many households cooked for themselves. Books such as Hannah Glasse’s, The Art of Cookery, were directed at the servants, and were written in plain and accessible language.
The first edition of Hannah Glasse’s book, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, was published in London in 1747. It became a bestseller for over a hundred years, both in England and the colonies, and a second edition was published within a year of the first.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned a copy and Benjamin Franklin translated it into French. Over the many years that I’ve been hearth cooking, I’ve used many of her receipts so I thought receipts combined for a meal would make a wonderful workshop. What you might not know about Hannah is that she was a housewife and this was a way for her to make some badly-needed money. Even though this seems bit altruistic, the book was written for the common good, and like so many other cookbook authors of the times, she too copied directly from other books. However, she added a few new receipts and including ingredients like Indian Curry and Asian food.
Unfortunately, Hannah Glasse was not successful making money with the book, and she went into bankruptcy by 1754. She needed to sell her copyright to stay afloat and therefore relinquished all control of further publications of her first book. She wrote again, her second book , The Servants Directory in 1755, was on the management of a household. But still debt plagued her and she ended in debtor prison for a while. Free by 1757 she wrote her third and last work, The Complete Confectioner. This was reprinted several times, but did not match the past success. So the newer editions of The Art of Cookery, with Modern Improvements, was mostly copied from the original , but not written by Hannah Glasse, who by that time had long since departed this world, passing away in 1770.
OUR WORKSHOP BEGINS:
The anchor of the meal is a roast leg of lamb:
The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy – Hannah Glasse, 1747
To collar a breaſt of veal.
To Collar a breast of mutton, do the same way and it eats very well
TAKE a very fharp knife, and nicely take out all the bones, but take great care you do not cut the meat through ; pick all the fat and meat off the bones, then grate fome nutmeg all over the inſide of the veal, a very little beaten mace, a little pepper and falt, a few feweet-herbs fhred fmall, fome parfley, a little lemon-peel fhred fmall, a few crumbs of bread and the bits of fat picked off the bones; roll it up tight, ftick one fkewer in to hold it together, but do it clever, that it ftands upright in the diſh : tie a packthread acroſs it to hold it together, fpit it, then roll the caul all round it, and roaſt it. An hour and a quarter will do it. When it has been about an hour at the fire take off the caul, drudge it with four, baſte it well with freſh butter, and let it be of a fine brown.
Bob prepares the butterflied lamb and spreads it with the herbs mixture. Leslie helped by toasting the bread to be made into crumbs for the filling.
Then it was rolled up with bacon and tied, placed on the spit, and put before the fire with a pudding pan underneath to catch the drippings
For a dessert I chose “To make White Pot” with “Clear Lemon Cream.” Hannah has two receipts for white pot, one plain and one with rice and sweet meat. We used the addition of the sweet meat for the first White Pot. I have a fondness for this and don’t make it for myself, as I would eat the whole thing.
First the cream and egg mixture, with all the spices, needs to be heated and then cooled. The bread is sliced and buttered on one side. This was all assembled, and it sat a while for the bread to soak up all the liquid.
It was time to put the Yorkshire pudding together.
Before Hannah’s first edition of the The Art Of Cooking was published, Yorkshire Pudding, was called Dripping Pudding. So the receipt has nothing to do with Yorkshire Scotland or England. A baked pudding under the roast before a fire was called a dripping pudding way before the War of the Roses.
A Yorkshire Pudding
Take a quart of milk, four eggs, and a little salt, make it up into a thick batter with flour, like pancake batter. You must have a good piece of meat at the fire; take a stew-pan and put some dripping in, set it on the fire ; when it boils, pour in your pudding ; let it bake on the fire till you think it is nigh enough, then turn a plate upside down in the dripping-pan, that the dripping may not be blacked; set your stew-pan on it under your meat, and let the dripping drop on the pudding, and the heat of the fire come to it, to make it a fine brown. When your meat is done sent to table, drain all the fat from your pudding, and set it on the fire again to dry a little; then slide it as dry as you can into a dish; melt some butter, and pour it into a cup, and set it in the middle of the pudding. It is an excellent good pudding; the gravy of the meat eats well with it.
The batter for the Yorkshire Pudding was made early by Kate and kept cool, away from the fire. This gave the flour time to absorb the wet ingredients.
Once the lamb had been dripping for half an hour, the dripping pan was removed and the batter carefully placed back under the roast. You could hear the sizzle the batter made as it was poured into a smoking hot dripping pan.
As I mentioned we would be making a lemon sauce for the white pot. Kate peeled the lemons, simmered them in water on the hearth. This lemon juice was then strained through a cloth and poured into a bowl that had sugar and egg white beaten. Leslie watched as Kate stirred the pot to thicken the sauce.
Hannah’s receipt to “To Dress Potatoes” and “To Dress Asparagus” were next on the lineup.
Very few cooks had Hannah’ s love of al dente vegetables. In her book she suggest the following:
“Directions concerning Garden Things
MOST people spoil garden things by over-boiling them. All things that are green should have a little crispness, for if they are over-boiled, they neither have any sweetness or beauty”
Leslie boiled the potatoes whole in a kettle over the fire when they were done she and Deana peeled them. Leslie chopped chives, parsley, thyme and rosemary very fine and sprinkled them over the potatoes after they were cut and buttered. These would go into the bake oven to brown.
TO DRESS ASPARAGUS.
SCRAPE all the stalks very carefully till they look white, then cut all the stalks even alike, throw them into water, and have ready a stew-pan boiling;. Put in some salt, and tie the asparagus in little bundles. Let the water keep boiling, and when they are a little tender take them up. If you boil them too much you lost- both colour and taste. Cut the round of a small loaf, about half an inch thick, toast it brown on both sides, dip it in the asparagus liquor, and lay it in your dish: pour a little butter over the toast, then lay your asparagus on the toast all round the dish, with the white tops outward. Do not pour butter over the asparagus, for that makes them greasy to the fingers, but have your butter in a basin, and send it to table.
Leslie was in charge of the asparagus. We discussed Hannah’s use of the bread. It seemed to us that the toast should have been left dry to soak up the liquid from the asparagus and not have more poured on it. However, Leslie did follow the directions and with the added butter on the side the crisp asparagus turned out just as Hannah would have made it.
Mrs. Glass had many excellent cooking techniques, she also expected a roast of meat to be well-browned, and not soggy, as if it were baked.
Our lamb was just that, brown and crisp on the outside and just enough pink inside to suit us all. The Yorkshire pudding is nothing like the modern version, it is dense and has a subtle flavor of lamb and bacon, a combination that can’t go wrong.
Hannah would be proud of these vegetables, the asparagus was al dente, and the potatoes soft outside and crisp on the outside, with a great flavor of herbs and butter.
The white pot came out and was moist and had perfect layers of sweet meets in-between the bread. The lemon sauce, made with egg whites to thicken it, added just the right amount of tang to counterbalance the sweet dessert.
Hannah’s cookery book was not written for the kings and gentry’s chefs. It was written for the common women. However, our meal was fit for a king.
Each dish was made with many helping hands and as Hannah writes, “who can but read, will know how to do Cookery well.” And we did well.
Hannah Glasse: The original domestic goddess
“Centuries before Elizabeth David put garlic on our menus, in the days when Mrs. Beeton was still a Miss, one book transformed the eating habits of the nation.” The first domestic goddess, the queen of the dinner party, and the most important cookery writer, Hannah Glasse.”