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.