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.


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.


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.



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


The Complete Practical Cook

After a long and unusual blog on butchering a pig, I thought something light would be nice. For the last year I have been looking at the picture of a Banniet Tort from a receipt of Charles Carter. I first saw this tort on Ivan Day’s* site and knew I would one day want to make it. Ivan Day is best known for his recreations of historic table settings, and has forty year’s experience of cooking period food. A Banniet Tort is made of many layers of pancakes, sugared fruit, sack and orange juice. We were having company that evening, so I thought it was time to make the tort.

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I started in the afternoon making paste and candying oranges peels. I had a jar of candied lemon and orange peels leftover from Christmas but wanted more orange. Next, I made the pancakes. I did not want them to be very thick so I made a very loose batter, somewhere between a pancake and a French crepe. I ended up with eight lovely brown thin pancakes. In a bowl, I mixed the fruit, some sugar and squeezed in a bit of orange. I would have used the sack, as in the receipt, but forgot to pick it up at the store. Not much cooking liquor in the cabinet after the holidays. I buttered the pan and cut parchment paper for the bottom and sides. I buttered the bottom paper and put the pasty in the pan. I sprinkle some of the fruit on the bottom of the pasty then started layering the pancakes and fruit. I brushed the pancakes with a little butter.  I folded over the sides and put a top on it and I squeezed the oranges so I would have juice for later.


I had a brisk fire going and put the kettle right inside to heat it up for about 20 minutes. Carter says to bake it off pretty quickly. In went the tort and I turned it every eight minutes or so. Well it was a hot kettle alright. After 15 minutes I looked and the top was flaky but black. Quickly I took the tort out of the kettle and brought it to the kitchen where I found the top peeled off very nicely. I thought for sure it was so burned it would be inedible. However, the rest of the tort was golden brown. Next time I won’t put so many coals on the top.

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We had swordfish for dinner, so something fruity and sweet was a perfect finish to the meal. After I cut it up, I poured in more orange juice and served it. Everyone liked it, and I’ll make this tort again, however, I’ll watch just how much heat I pile on the top.


  *Iva Day – http://www.historicfood.com