PUMPKIN WORKSHOP

SOUP TO NUTS BLOG

What was I thinking!!!

In my workshops I like to have a theme and use original receipts, from medieval times up to the 1820s. It takes some doing to rewrite them in modern language. Now this theme took me by surprise. Fall and pumpkins just sounded too good not to do. So off to the cookery books I go to put together a sensible meal to cook over the hearth. First stop Amelia Simons. On the title page she writes that it is the first cookery book “Adapted to this Country”. What I find is pompkin No1 &2, a pie. As I read on through the Historical Notes written in my copy of Simons 1796 edition, Karen Hess has much to say about pumpkin and other squashes and gourds. She mentions Hannah Woolley’s 1675 receipt for pie that is very different from Simons. And she goes on to say how the use of edible gourds go as far back as ancient Rome. Great, I should find lots of receipt for my Pumpkin Workshop!

NOOO! However what I do find is more interesting. Great information from the Food Time Lime, a description from the travels of Peter Kalm in 1750 to the colonies, A history on “Eating in America” by Root and De Rochemont and a great 1630 poem from Plymouth.

Stead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies. Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies, We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon, If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.

And I can go on and on. There is a lot of information on the use of pumpkin in America , but not many receipts.

However, I forged on and this class will be a bit different, some original old receipts, and some I’m making judgment calls on ways pumpkin might have been used in the 1700s.

I went to the local farmer and bought several types of pumpkins some for this workshop and some for the next one. On the wall dresser I put out the red kabocha squash and a Long Island cheese pumpkin.

1

Everyone arrived and started right in. We had two Heathers so we called them Heather 1 & 2

peter3

Heather 2 and her husband Ken wanted to work on the sausages. I used “To make Sausage” by John Nott for a receipt. No, we did not put pumpkin in the sausage, this sausage would top the Pumpkin sauce for the Vermicelli. It is always fun to see someone cleaning the guts and using a hand held sausage stuffer for the first time.

8

Pumpkin soup had to be on the menu. Paul and Heather 1 picked the red kabocha squash as they felt it looked like a pumpkin and had the right color. They chopped the pumpkin, a potato, leeks, onions and garlic and sautéed them in butter in the iron cauldron.

5

Brenda flew in from Pennsylvania for the workshop and to visit her daughter Heather 2. She is a delightful lady and unafraid in the kitchen. Here she soften up pumpkin over the fire to use in a Pumpkin and Maize bread as described by Peter Kalm. In the morning I made barm to be added to the bread. Brenda scalded the cornmeal first then added the pumpkin and a cup of wheat flour. When that cooled she put in the yeast and mixed it up.

Notice my new marble pastry board. Thanks to Niel Vincent De Marino for information on where to buy it. 6 copy

Ken and Heather looked over the receipt for Nott’s sausage and chopped the pork very fine. I had rendered some suet and added a bit of goose fat from the workshop beforehand; this was chopped and mixed in. The receipt also called for spinach and cloves . 4

Heather reads the soup receipt and gets the chicken stock out. Allan made the fresh chicken stock just for the workshop. Heather gathers the brandy, cloves coriander, nutmeg and cayenne to mix in with the sautéed mixture in the cauldron. Ken and Heather are still chopping and I’m adding a bit of water to Brenda’s bread. The day was very low in humidity and the cornmeal needed just needed a bit more liquid one teaspoon at a time. 9

With all the ingredients in the soup, Paul hangs it from an S-hook on the crane. After much attention, it was taken off and put to the side to keep warm. The cauldron was turned now and again to make sure one side did not get too hot and burn.

10

17th  Century Cheese Cake by Robert May was next to be made. The dough is made of wheat flour with cold butter,  just pinch of salt and sugar and a three egg whites. It is very stiff. After Brenda mixed it together it went into the refrigerator for a hour. Brenda rolled out one disk and I showed her how to make a round into a triangle for the base.

13

Ken and Heather take turns with the hand sausage stuffer. Ken said next time he makes sausages he’ll really appreciate an electric grinder.

11

Being that this is a pumpkin workshop and we have Robert Mays cold butter crust, it needs a pumpkin filling. I picked a filling form Plymouth Plantation and we added pumpkin. Paul softened the pumpkin over the fire and drained it. Heather and Paul mixed up a filling with a good amount of ground almonds, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, butter, sugar, salt, eggs, mace, a hint of rose water and the pumpkin.

The triangle paste held its shape wonderfully and Heather filled it up. 7

With the sausages made, Ken and Heather fry them up in a pan. They were then taken out and set aside to keep warm. The drippings would be used in the pumpkin sauce.  14

Our two Heathers put in the cheese cake and the risen pumpkin maize bread into the bake oven. 1 copy

Hannah Glasse’s receipt “To Make Vermicelli” was made by Paul with help from Heather.  12 copy

Paul tried the roll and slice technique and the dough was a bit too sticky to unroll the strains of vermicelli. Paul unrolled what was left and cut the vermicelli, that worked better. Every day is different in the kitchen. 15

I found two receipts and I decided to combined them. One is “The Vse Of Pompkins,” by John Parkinson, 1629; and “Fried Sausage” by Hannah Glasse where she puts stewed apples and cabbage around sausage.

Hannah’s receipt will be the base for our pumpkin sauce. Heather uses the kabocha again cutting the chunks into bite size pieces. Brenda cut onions, apples and half a cabbage. Ken put the butter in a the pan that had the sausage drippings, added the cabbage, apple, pumpkin, garlic, chicken broth salt and pepper. This would be put on the vermicelli and topped with sausages and parmesan.

21

Then my 21st century sensibility kicked in. I wanted something green on the table and I needed it to be done just before we served our lunch. I decided on braised greens. My favorite green is Swiss Chard which has nothing to do with Switzerland but with someone who coined the name, as he was from there. With a bit of research, I found that Chard is a cousin to spinach and the beet greens. Back in the fourth century B.C. Greek philosopher, Aristotle, wrote about chard, as the Greeks and Romans used it for its medicinal properties. Then things get very confusing as the French called cardoon and chard “carde”. The English had many names for it as well, white beet, strawberry spinach, seakale beet, Spinach beet and Roman Kale among others. Well I know it existed and I have no reason to think it was not braised somewhere, sometime, perhaps with meat in a stew . So my batting average on Pumpkin receipts “Soup to nuts” was taking a dip here.

The receipt I chose had bacon, chard, garlic, anchovies and fresh peeled tomatoes. No pumpkin in this although you certainly could. I thought better of it though, with all the pumpkin we did put in other things, I thought  a fresh braised green on the side would be better. Heather and Paul put this together and it looked great.

16

Everything was coming together as Paul put the vermicelli in the boiling water and Ken took out the bread and cheese cake.

17jpg

The pumpkin sauce was scooped out and the soup put in bowls.19

The Pumpkin Maize bread and Robert May/ Plymouth Plantation/Pumpkin cheese cake were cooling. Brenda and Heather cut the sausages in pieces for the top of the vermicelli and pumpkin sauce.20

The table was set and everything plated. 18

This workshop really stretched my brain and though it was different from the others it was an interesting learning curve. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. We had a great group and the food was outstanding.  1a

We feasted on a bowl of Pumpkin soup, a plates full of braised greens, pumpkin cheese cake, pumpkin maize bread, vermicelli topped with pumpkin sauce, sausage and parmesan cheese.

142

 Sandie

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child

 So What the hell it had a lot of pumpkin!

 

 

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