SEVILLE ORANGES

The receipt, “An Orange Pudding Another Way,” from Elizabeth Moxon’s English Housewifry, 1764, cookery book intrigued me. I love to make puddings and this seemed special, as she uses Seville oranges. These oranges are very bitter, and most often you find them being made into marmalades with lots of sugar. So how would they taste as a pudding? Late February I went off to my local specialty store to see if I could acquire some. As it happened, they were available and I just needed to order them, which I did.  When they called me to let me know they were in, I purchased a dozen and went home. I put them in the closet under the pantry sink and there they kept very well. A week later I tried the receipt and loved it. This is a keeper, and I’m sure it could be made with any orange. Following are the results of the Orange Pudding made in the last workshop.

After cutting a small, round top off the oranges, Lynn and Mary grabbed spoons and scooped out the meat. The next task was to try and remove as much pith as possible without breaking through the skin. It was important to the overall taste of the finish pudding to have the bitterness gone.1

To insure that the pudding would be sweet, the carved-out oranges and tops were boiled for 15 minutes, then removed and boiled in clean water again. This helps reduce the bitterness, and make the skin softer.

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While the oranges boiled, the pudding was made. Naples biscuits were torn asunder and put in a pot, with cream, to scald. Eggs were whipped and added slowly to the cream mixture and blended together.2copy

With the addition of a glass of sack, sugar, currants, and a bit of salt, the pudding was ready. The oranges were cool enough to handle. Like most boiled puddings, this was going to be done in a cloth. I had made individual bags for the oranges out of fine linen. An orange was placed in each bag and the pudding mixture spooned into it.3copy

The tops were placed on the stuffed oranges, and the bags tied. Mary gave us all a good laugh as she used what she called a half-hitch knot to tie the bags to the supports on the pot. Then again, what would you expect from someone who lives by the sea? As long as the oranges did not touch the bottom, and stayed in the bag, we were safe. The pot was placed over the fire and boiling water was added. The pot was watched for the next 45 minutes to make sure it never stopped boiling. When the pudding was done, the oranges were placed into the pantry to cool.

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There was some pudding left over, so the girls put it in a dish and grated some nutmeg over it. HMMM, NUTMEG!! If you notice, I never mentioned nutmeg above in the ingredients they use. It seems that it was forgotten. The dish went into the oven and came out smelling wonderful. We had high hopes for stuffed Seville oranges.

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At the end of Moxon’s receipt she writes, “You must have a little white wine, butter and sugar for a sauce.” Our sauce included dry sack instead and was warmed by the fire while we waited for the rest of the meal to be done.9 copy

Natalie and Mary removed the oranges from their bags and placed one on each plate. In the 18th century, you ate dessert with your meal. (How civilized!)

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The Orange Puddings came out wonderfully, and, with the sweet, buttery sauce poured over it, you did not notice that the nutmeg was missing.

This is definitely, as I said before, a keeper receipt; unique, yet simple and elegant.

 Sandie

 Fine Sevil oranges, fine lemon, fine;

Round, sound and tender, inside and rine

(An old street cry of London)

LOBSTER PIE

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According to Mark Strauss at the Smithsonian, we have celebrated Valentine’s Day since Roman Times. I like this passage he writes of a traveler’s diary from the early 18th century that notes: “On the eve of St. Valentine’s Day . . . An equal number of maids and bachelors get together; each writes his or her true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up, and draw by way of lots, the maids taking the men’s billets, and the men the maids’ . . . Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the Valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses [and] wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves.”

I’ve also read that gift-giving and exchanging handmade cards on Valentine’s Day had become common and handmade Valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts began to be created on this day and handed over to the man or woman one loved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies due to the import from England of booklets, or “writers,” which had “be my Valentine” verses and messages which could be copied into cards or letters.

It was not until 1843 that Valentine’s Day greeting cards began to be commercially produced, the first one created by Esther A. Howland, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts. 

So I find that Valentine’s Day has come around again, and last year I made Allan a cheesecake. (See February 2012 Post) This year I decided on a Lobster and Scallop Pie. Looking at several cookery books, I found first a receipt from Hannah Glasse called “To Make a Lobster Pie.” 

 This is a rather simple receipt with few ingredients and seemed a bit bland, so I continued to look to find something a bit special for this Valentine’s Day treat. In Charles Carter’s 1730 cookery book I found one that I also liked yet it had too many sweet seasonings. Hannah uses vinegar in her lobster, Carter uses sack (sherry or a red wine) and this sounds more interesting. He also uses a leer (sauce or gravy) in the pie. So I will combine the two receipts to satisfy our taste in seafood.

I had two small lobsters and a few scallops for the pie. I started by cooking the lobster about 10 minutes, just enough so the meat could be removed from the shell. Next a puff paste as per Hannah. She does not mention blind baking the crust and it may be just something they did or did not do and did not write down. I wanted to try it without baking the bottom first. I think the heat under the kettle will brown it up nicely. I had already put the kettle by the fire to warm up, as I wanted a high heat.

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 I lined the pie tin with the puff paste and filled it with lobster and scallops. For a sauce, Allan heated cream in a sauce pan, then added some to, two whipped egg yolks to temper them. After he whisked the egg mixture back into the cream he added anchovy paste, salt and pepper, butter and sherry, to round off the sauce. This became our leer and we poured it over the lobster and scallops. 2 copy

I rolled out the top paste and cut some hearts out from the sides. With the top in place and decorated with the hearts, into the kettle it went. I turned it every 10 minutes or so and took a look half-way through. It was not cooking as fast as I would have liked, so I put more coals under and over the kettle.

3 copy The added coals worked, and the hearts puffed up and the sides pulled away from the pan. It took about 45 minutes total. I scooped it out onto the plates. It lacked presentation as it flowed out of the crust onto the dish, however, it tasted wonderful. There were some leftovers and they will make a nice starter for our next meal.

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We will celebrate Valentine’s Day, on the 14th of February by going off to lunch at one of our favorite resturants in Portsmouth. I doubt they will have a seafood pie as great as this, however.

 Happy Valentine’s Day

 Sandie