Wartime Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

In a total coincidence, it is both jam month in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, and the Recipes Project Virtual Conversation month. If you haven’t been following along with the conversation, check it out because there are loads of really interesting things going on covering all types of recipes in all periods.

 

One of the projects that I’ve been really interested in is the series of videos by Simon Walker called “Feeding Under Fire”. In each video, Simon recreates a dish that soldiers would have eaten during World War 1, and contextualises it with information about nutrition, supply lines and what was happening on the home front.

 

The second video in the series (see it here) was all about the important role that jam played in soldiers’ diets. The recipe that he used was for plum and apple jam, which seems to have been the most common type of jam sent to the front lines. Even though Simon wasn’t very happy with how his jam turned out, it inspired me to make a WW1 era jam too.

Capture

A recipe for the ubiquitous plum and apple jam, from the Southland Red Cross Cookery Book, 1916.  

In Australia during the First World War, there wasn’t rationing like there was in Britain. Food prices rose rapidly, and the State and Federal governments had only mixed success in setting prices for staple food. With complete control over the sugar industry, it was easier to restrain the market. When sugar prices rose overseas, the Australian government banned exports, in order to maintain sufficient supply at home.[1]

 

Because sugar was available in greater quantities, and generally for a lower price than in Europe, it was easier for Australian home cooks to keep making jam. Large quantities of jam were made to be sent to Australian soldiers overseas, often in packs of treats sent by the Red Cross or the Australian Comforts Fund.

bcp_05694h

“Special Effort – 2 tons of jam made by the Cobar Ladies Jam Club”. World War I – Cobar, NSW. Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.

Commercially made jam was available too, and it featured prominently in the meals provided to Australian soldiers. A large surplus of tinned jam was also sold to the British and American armies. In total, the export of jam during the war was 40 times as large as in the pre-war years.[2] As in England, much of this jam seems to have been plum and apple, but sometimes more unusual varieties appeared too.[3] According to Barbara Santich, the Imperial forces bought nearly 2,000 tons of Queensland pineapple jam![4]

 

Strawberry jam doesn’t seem to have been very common, presumably because strawberries are expensive to buy and comparatively low yielding. Some newspapers published recipes for mock strawberry jam, made with rhubarb and raisins (I also like this recipe from the Second World War which uses tomatoes and strawberry flavouring).

 

Still, strawberry jam was clearly available. In 1940, Colonel J. Travers suggested that it should be given to all soldiers, because he recalled that “During the last war, we were usually issued with strawberry jam only before a fight … but there seems no reason why these men should not have strawberry jam at other times.”[5] It’s not hard to imagine the excitement that a jar of strawberry jam would have caused, nestled in a comfort box with warm socks and a bit of cake. It was a taste of home, and a welcome distraction from the monotony of bully beef and hard tack.

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

The Recipe

This recipe was published in The Farmer and Settler, a NSW newspaper in January 1915.

Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe

Personally I prefer this method of making, as it does not mash the fruit: – Strawberries that are to be used for the purpose of this jam must be gathered after two or three days of dry weather. The berries should not be over-ripe.

The usual method is to lay the fruit and the sugar in alternate layers in the preserving pan, and to boil the jam very gently over a medium heat until it jellies when tested in the usual way. Three-quarters of a pound of sugar per pound of strawberries is generally sufficient, but if the berries do not appear to be particularly sweet, five pounds of sugar to each six pounds of strawberries will be a better proportion.[6]

 

If you want a jam with large pieces of fruit in it, this method of layering the fruit and sugar works really well. However, the proportion of sugar to fruit is quite high, so the final result is very sweet. It is also a very soft set jam, almost a syrup, because strawberries are low in pectin and there is no pectin added to the recipe.

[1] Scott, Australia during the War, XI:646–48.

[2] Ibid., XI:544.

[3] “War With Jam On It: As It Seems to Veterans.”

[4] Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage, 254.

[5] “Strawberry Jam for the Soldiers.”

[6] “Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe.”

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

The Redaction

Strawberry Jam No. 2

Strawberries

Sugar

 

  1. Hull your strawberries, and weigh them. Measure out 3/4 of that weight in sugar (so if you have 400g strawberries you need 300g sugar).
  2. Take a preserving pan large enough to fit all your strawberries and sugar. Place half the strawberries in the bottom of the pan and spread them out to make an even layer. Put half the sugar on top, followed by the remaining strawberries and the rest of the sugar. For large quantities you may want to increase the number of layers.
  3. Slowly heat the mixture, without stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. Then cook the jam over medium heat until it set using the wrinkle test (it will be about 105C). Pour the hot jam into sterilised jars and seal.

 

 

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe (available here)

The Date: 1915

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 45 mins.

How successful was it?: It’s very sweet, with a strong strawberry flavour. I really like the large pieces of strawberry, but I found the set too syrupy for my taste.

How accurate?: The main difference would probably be in the bottling process, although I suppose that there could also be differences in the type of strawberries and sugar. Overall, though, it’s a pretty good approximation.

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

References

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield

Press, 2012.

Scott, Ernest. Australia during the War. Vol. XI. The Official History of Australia in the War of

1914-1918. Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1936.

“Strawberry Jam for the Soldiers.” Sydney Morning Herald. January 12, 1940.

“Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe.” Farmer and Settler. January 5, 1915.

“War With Jam On It: As It Seems to Veterans.” Worker. January 23, 1940.

 

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

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To Candy Orring Pills

Candied Orange Peels, 17th century recipeI don’t quite know why, but I had kind of assumed that candied orange peel would date to the late 17th century, like jellied marmalades. I was quite surprised, then, to find that candied fruits, and candied peel, are actually quite a bit older.

 

Preserving in a sugary syrup – whether it’s made from honey, wine, grape must, or sugar – is a very effective way of preserving seasonal products. There is a long history of preserved or candied fruits in China and Korea, dating back to the 10th century, and the Romans preserved quinces and other fruits in honey, or in desfrutum (boiled down new wine) or must.[1]

 

Candied citrus in particular was an expensive gift, and an extravagant ingredient during the 14th and 15th centuries.[2] In Medieval Europe, both honey and sugar were used for preserving a range of fruits, herbs, nuts and spices. This late fourteenth century recipe from The Menagier de Paris uses honey:

 

To make orengat, cut the peel of an orange into five segments, and with a knife, scrape off the white pith that is inside. Then soak them in nice, fresh water for nine days, and change the water every day; then boil them in fresh water until it comes to the boil, then spread them on a cloth and let them dry thoroughly; then put them ina  pot with enough honey to cover the completely, and boil over a low fire, and skim it; and when you think that the honey is done (to see if it is done, put some water into a bowl and drop into that water a drop of the honey, and if it spreads it is not cooked; and if that drop of honey holds its shape in the water without spreading, it is done); then, remove your orange peel, and make a layer of it and sprinkle ginger powder on top, then another layer, and sprinkle etc., ad infinitum; leave for a month or longer before eating.[3]

 

In the fifteenth century, Platina suggests that sugar could be used for candying almonds, pine-nuts, hazelnuts, coriander, anise and cinnamon, while honey was better for apples, gourds, citrons and nuts.[4] The Catalan book on confectionary Libre de totes maneres de confits gives both options in most cases, whereas the Italian Libro per Cuoco only uses honey for candying orange peel.[5] Over time, as sugar become cheaper and more widely available, the use of honey became less common.

 

In England, by the sixteenth century, the primary distinction is between wet suckets (stored in syrup) and dry suckets (removed from the syrup and dried).[6] Nearly every published cookbook and private receipt book that survives contains recipes for these kinds of sweetmeats, which would be served in the banquet course at the end of the meal. Sugar was considered health promoting, especially when combined with spices and it was eaten at the end of the meal to promote digestion (for more on this see my post on gingerbread).[7]

 

The range of products which were candied is staggering. Fresh fruits, seeds, spices, green walnuts, marshmallow, angelica, lettuce stalks (sometimes called gorge d’ange or angel’s throat), and eringo (or sea-holly) roots were all fair game. Nor has the tradition completely died out. Many types of dry suckets still survive: in England, particularly around Christmas, baked goods often include candied citrus peel, candied ginger, glace cherries and candied angelica. In France, candied melon is an essential ingredient in calissons while marrons glaces (candied chestnuts) are a specialty of Northern Italy and the Piedmont region. Elvas, Portugal, is famous for its candied greengages. Wet suckets have been less enduring, but you can still buy ginger preserved in syrup.

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Given how many 16th and 17th century still lives exist showing all kinds of sweetmeats, there are surprisingly few with candied fruits. This early 17th century painting shows a range of candied fruits, both whole and in sections. On the left at the back is what looks like a whole candied citron, slices of another type of citrus, and what might be candied greengages. On the plate in front are candied figs, or maybe small pears. The boxes on the right would hold fruit pastes, and the jars contain fruits preserved in syrup.  Juan van der Hamen, Still Life with Sweets and Pottery, 1627. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Recipe

All of this leads us to today’s recipe, which comes from Martha Washington’s Booke of Sweetmeats (the second half of the Booke of Cookery). This receipt book is typical in that it provides a range of recipes for preserving and candying. The candying section alone has recipes for rose leaves, marigolds, violets, rosemary flowers, borage flowers, eringo roots, elecampane, ginger, orange peel, gooseberries, angelico stalks and roots, and apricots.[8]

 

To Candy Orring Pills

Take Civill orringes & pare them very thin. Then cut them in little pieces, & lay them in faire water a day & a night, & shift them evening and morning. Then boyle them, & shift them when the water is bitter into another water, & continew this till the water & boyling hath made them soft & yt theyr bitterness be gon. Then dreyne ye water from them, & make a thin sirrup, in which boyle them a pritty while. Then take them out & make another sirrup a little stronger, & boyle them a while in yt. Then dreyne ye sirrup from them, & boyle another sirrup to candy heigh, in wch put them. Then take them out & lay them on plats one by one. When they are dry, turne them & then they are done.[9]

 

This is a fairly straightforward recipe for candied orange peels, and indeed modern recipes aren’t dissimilar. The recipe explicitly calls for Seville oranges, which are very bitter (they are still preferred for marmalade) and this explains the soaking and boiling process.

 

What is more unusual, is the way that the peels are removed from each syrup. What is unclear is whether a completely new syrup is made each time, or whether the existing syrup is simply made stronger, either by reducing it, or perhaps by adding more sugar. In the end, I opted to simply use the same syrup, but to boil it down between each stage.

 

For the stages, there are a series of instructions at the beginning of the book which describe each stage. A thin syrup is “will look thin & pale cullered.”[10] A full syrup is a bit stronger, “it will change its culler and looke high cullered like strong beere.”[11] It is not as strong as manus christi height, at which point it will form a thread between the fingers. Hess notes that this is 215F (105C), but this stage would normally be considered a bit hotter at 230-234F or 110-112C.[12]

 

Candy height, which is the final stage required for this recipe is what is now called the large pearl stage. Again, Hess’ temperature of 232F seems a bit low, it’s normally given as 235-239F or 113-115C.[13] Having said that, I have tried it with the temperatures that Hess gives, and they do work. You will just have a more syrupy peel at the end.

 

[1] Vehling, De Re Coquinaria of Apicius, 52; Palladius, The Fourteen Books of Palladius Rutilius Taurus Æmilianus, on Agriculture, 148; Richardson, Sweets, 92; The Korea Foundation, Traditional Food.

[2] Tolkowsky, Hesperides A History of Culture and Use of Citrus Fruits, 150, 166, 269.

[3] Redon, Sabban, and Serventi, The Medieval Kitchen: Recipe from France and Italy, 218.

[4] Scully, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, 57.

[5] Anonimo Veneziano, “Libro Di cucina/Libro per Cuoco”; Faraudo de Saint-Germain, “Libre de Totes Maneres de Confits. Un Tratado Manual Cuatrocentista de Arte de Dulceria.”

[6] Young, “Stages of Sugar Syrup,” 102.

[7] Scully, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, 130–31.

[8] Hess, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats, 278–87.

[9] Ibid., 284.

[10] Ibid., 226.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., 227; Young, “Stages of Sugar Syrup,” 651.

[13] Hess, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats, 227; Young, “Stages of Sugar Syrup,” 651.

Flegel_-_Stilleben_mit_Gebäck_und_Zuckerwerk

Here is another still life with candied fruit. At the back left, the fruit has clearly been stored in syrup and is still quite wet. It’s hard to make out what the fruit is, but some pears, a lemon, and maybe some melon or gourd. On the plate on the right, the fruit is very dry. This could simply be dried fruit, but it could also be candied fruit. In particular, look in the center, where there is citrus peel holding the dried grapes. Georg Flegel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What can I do with my Orange Peel and Syrup?

 

The easiest thing is to eat it straight, because it is delicious. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but some people might like to roll the peel in sugar, or for a modern option you can dip them in good-quality dark chocolate.

 

You can also keep your orange peel for baking. Lots of modern recipes contain candied peel, including fruitcake, Christmas pudding, panettone or this delicious spiced honey cake. If you want something historical, try one of these recipes:

 

Eccles Cakes via The Old Foodie

Orange Gingerbread via The Old Foodie

Scotch Short-bread via the Old Foodie

Hot Cross Buns via The Cook and the Curator

Mince Pies via Colonial Williamsburg Historic Foodways

This updated recipe of Martha Washington’s Excellent Cake via the Chicago Tribune

Skirret Pie via Historic Food Jottings

 

And the syrup? It’s got a lovely, gentle orange flavour which would be perfect for pouring over baklava or awamat (Lebanese doughnuts). You could also use it as a simple syrup in cocktails, or use it for an orange syrup cake.

 

My Redaction

Candied Orange Peels

4 oranges, Seville if possible

2 cups water

225g sugar

 

  1. Slice the top and bottom off the oranges with a very sharp knife. Steady the orange on the now flat bottom, and carefully cut the peel of the knife in vertical sections. Carefully remove as much pith as you want (more pith = more bitter) using either a teaspoon or a knife. Slice the peel into thin slices.
  2. Place the peel in a large bowl and cover with fresh water. Cover the bowl and leave for 24 hours, changing the water after 12 hours. The next day, drain the peels, place them in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil, then drain the peels, cover them in fresh water and bring to the boil again. Repeat this once more, for a total of three times, then drain the peels.
  3. In the saucepan, combine the water and the sugar. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to a simmer. Add the peel, but try not to stir as this will lead to crystallisation. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the peel.
  4. Heat the syrup to 105C, then add the peel. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the peel.
  5. Heat the syrup to 113C,then add the peel. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Remove the peel from the hot syrup and lay them on racks to dry. Once dry, remove them and store them in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Note: you can collect orange peels over time, and keep them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. Simply defrost them when you want to use them, and continue with the recipe. If they have been frozen, it is much easier to scoop out the pith with a spoon.

 

 

The Round-Up

 

The Recipe: To Candy Orring Pills from Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweemeats

The Date: 17th century

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 2 days

How successful was it?: I was really happy with how they turned out. They’re very moreish wish a pleasant residual bitterness from the pith.

How accurate?: I didn’t use Seville oranges, which would have been more bitter, and might have needed more pith removed. I also am not sure whether using the same syrup and just making it stronger was the right approach or not.

Candied Orange Peels, 17th century recipe

References

The Korea Foundation. Traditional Food: A Taste of Korean Life. Seoul: Seoul Selection, 2010.

Anonimo Veneziano. “Libro Di cucina/Libro per Cuoco.” Translated by Thomas Gloning.

Corpus of Culinary & Dietetic Texts of Europe from the Middle Ages to 1800, 2000. http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/frati.htm.

Faraudo de Saint-Germain, Lluis. “Libre de Totes Maneres de Confits. Un Tratado Manual Cuatrocentista de Arte de Dulceria.” Boletin de La Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona 19 (1946): 97–134.

Hess, Karen. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats. Reprint edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Palladius, Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus. The Fourteen Books of Palladius Rutilius Taurus Æmilianus, on Agriculture. Translated by Thomas Owen. J. White, 1807.

Redon, Odine, Francoise Sabban, and Silvano Serventi. The Medieval Kitchen: Recipe from France and Italy. Translated by Edward Schneider. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Richardson, Tim. Sweets: The History of Temptation. Random House, 2004.

Young, Carolin C. “Stages of Sugar Syrup.” In The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, edited by Darra Goldstein, 650–53. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Scully, Terence. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages. 5th ed. Suffolk and Rochester: Boydell Press, 2005.

Tolkowsky, S. Hesperides A History of Culture and Use of Citrus Fruits. London: John Bale Sons & Curnow LTD, 1938.

Vehling, Joseph Dommers, trans. De Re Coquinaria of Apicius. Chicago: Walter M. Hill, 1936. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Apicius/1*.html.

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Milk

IMG_3707

So catching up on missed challenges, here is my HFF entry for ‘Roasts’. Of course, I couldn’t just do a normal roast could I? and so I present to you a recipe for Roasted Milk.

 

Yes, you read that right, I said Roasted Milk. You may be wondering, as did I, exactly how one roasts milk. Well, it turns out it’s not really roasted at all, but you make a kind of set custard, slice it up and fry it. The trick of course was to get the right proportion of milk to eggs to make custard when there are no amounts given in the original recipe.

 

The recipe comes from the 15th Century MS Harley 5401 which I’ve used before when I made chewets. This manuscript contains two very similar recipes for roasted milk. The first says:

 

“To rost Mylk. Recipe swete mylk & do it in a pan, & swyng egges Perwith, & colour it with saferon & put certo flour; han set it on he fyre & let it boyle, & strene all Pise to gydyr & cast it agayn into pe pan. Pen take hard 3olkes of egges & breke ham small, & do Pam in De mylk tyll it be right thyk. Pen set it down & let it kele, & lech it & roste it on a gyrdyren, & cast berto sugur, & serof it forth. go Frutowr for Lentyn. Recipe flour & almondes mylk, & temper ham togyder; han take fyges & rasyns of corance & fry ham with he batour with oyle & tyrne [Pis] & sero”[1]

 

“To roast Milk. Gather sweet milk and put it in a pan, and stir eggs therewith, and color it with saffron and put thereto flour, then set it on the fire and let it boil, and strain all this together and cast it again into the pan. Then take hard yolks of eggs and break them small, and put them in the milk until it is quite thick. Then set it down and let it cool, and slice it and roast it on a gridiron, and cast thereto sugar, and serve it forth.”[2]

 

While the second omits the flour and the sugar, and uses the whole raw egg:

 

“Mylk Rostede. Recipe swete mylk & do it in a pan, than take pe egges with be whyte & bete bam togyder, & do it to he mylk, & colour it with saferon; & boyle it tyll it be thyk, and strene it & do kerin; take bat pat levis in Pe strenerour: presse it on a borde with a lever, & when it is cold lard it & sheve it on shyves, & rost it on a gyrdyryn, & serof it forth.”[3]

 

“Roasted Milk. Gather sweet milk and put it in a pan, then take eggs with the white and beat them together, and put it in the milk, and color it with saffron, and boil it until it is thick, and strain it and put it in; take the leaves (what remains?) in the strainer: press it on a board with a lever, and when it is cold lard it and shave it in slices, and roast it on a gridiron, and serve it forth.”[4]

 

I primarily used the second recipe, but I did end up sprinkling my milk with some sugar, as recommended in the first.

A_woman_milking_a_cow,_woodcut,_1547_Wellcome_L0029211

This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. Refer to Wellcome blog post (archive).

As is often the way with these things, recipes for roasted milk appear in many other manuscripts. The Medieval Cookery website has five alternative versions from: The Noble Boke of Cookry (England, c. 1468), Liber Cure Cocorum (England, 1420-1440), Ein Buch Von Guter Spise (Germany, c. 1345), Two-Fifteenth Century Cookery Books (England, 15th C) and the Forme of Cury (England, c. 1390).

 

The English recipes are all very similar. You cook together eggs, sweet milk (as in, not sour), and a little saffron. Once the mixture has thickened you strain it and leave it to cool and set, often with a weight upon it. Once the mixture has set it is cut into slices and then grilled (except in the case of the Noble Boke of Cookry which is served cold without grilling). It can be sprinkled with some sugar at the end.

 

The German recipe is different, and worth consideration because of that. It is made without eggs, just with curdled milk. The milk is strained and pressed overnight before being sliced and roasted on a spit. Rather than being sprinkled with sugar it is sprinkled with salt, pepper and butter or fat (on meat days). It would be interesting to see how this recipe compares to the English versions.

[1] Hieatt, “The Middle English Culinary Recipes in MS Harley 5401: An Edition and Commentary,” 65.

[2] Wallace, “MS Harley 5401.”

[3] Hieatt, “The Middle English Culinary Recipes in MS Harley 5401: An Edition and Commentary,” 58–59.

[4] Wallace, “MS Harley 5401.”

IMG_3700

The Redaction

2 cups milk

4 eggs, beaten

Pinch of saffron

Oil to fry in

 

  1. Whisk the eggs and milk together over medium heat. Once it is warm add the saffron. Whisk constantly until it comes to the boil and thickens (the consistency is somewhere between scrambled eggs and cottage cheese).
  2. Line a colander with clean muslin and strain off the liquid. Place the mixture in a rectangular mould (I used a tupperware container lined with baking paper), place something heavy on top like a tin or a plate to weigh it down, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove the mixture from the mould and slice it thinly. Heat a frying pan (or gridiron) with a little oil. Grill the slices until golden brown on each side, it should look like French toast. Sprinkle with sugar if desired and serve hot.

 

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Roasted Milk from MS Harley 5401 (available here).

The Date: 15th century

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 30 mins, plus setting overnight.

How successful was it?: I was really please that this actually set, because I wasn’t at all sure that it would. The flavour is somewhere between custard and the eggy part of French toast. It’s quite bland, and at first I didn’t like it but a little bit of sugar really improved it, and once you began eating it it was surprisingly moreish.

How accurate?: The hardest part to figure out was the proportions of egg to milk. I went with the proportions for a modern custard which seemed to work well enough but I don’t know how accurate that is. I also wasn’t sure how much saffron to add, so perhaps the colour was not as pronounced as it should have been.

 

References

Hieatt, Constance. “The Middle English Culinary Recipes in MS Harley 5401: An Edition and Commentary.” Medium Aevum 65, no. 1 (1996): 54–69.

Wallace, Sam. “MS Harley 5401.” Translated by Constance Hieatt. Corpus of Culinary & Dietetic Texts of Europe from the Middle Ages to 1800, April 9, 2011. http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/harl5401/.

 

Mastabas, Pyramids and Gumdrops: Cocoa-nut Cakes from Gaskell’s North and South

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My blog has been sadly neglected over the past few months; my thesis, a family wedding, an unexpected trip overseas and just normal life craziness has been getting in the way. I’m afraid that it probably isn’t going to get much better this year, but as an apology here is my entry for the HFF Literary Foods challenge (which was only due a week ago).

 

One of my favourite books is North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I like to describe it as Jane Austen with a social conscience; although it is ultimately a romance, the novel is bound up in concerns about class, industrialisation and poverty. Like many other Victorian novels (and indeed earlier English novels), food often isn’t discussed explicitly because it is not in good taste to talk about food too much in public [1]. That being said, there is a lot of food in North and South and the food, or lack thereof is a major device within the novel[2].

 

Luckily for me, there is one scene in particular which mentions an actual dish and it just happens to be one of my favourite sections of the novel in which Mr Thornton, mill-owner and love interest, comes to the Hales’ for tea.

“Behind the door was another table decked out for tea, with a white table-cloth, on which flourished the cocoa-nut cakes, and a basket piled with oranges and ruddy American apples, heaped on leaves.”[3]

IMG_3982.JPG

The Recipe

The cocoa-nut cakes which Dixon, the cook and special confidante of Mrs Hale, has made were made from eggs, sugar and grated coconut. Koivuvaara believes that these were made from eggs, sugar and grated coconut[4]. This lines up with the recipe provided in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. It is also similar to that provided in Miss Leslie’s book, Seventy-five Receipts For Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats (1828) which also contains spices. However, other recipes call only for egg whites e.g. Jennie June’s American Cookery Book (1870), Creole Cuisine (c. 1885) and Eliza Acton’s recipe for ‘Very Fine Cocoa-nut Macaroons’ in Modern Cookery for Private Families (1868). Robert Wells provides quite a different recipe in The Bread and Biscuit Baker’s and Sugar-Boiler’s Assistant (1890) including flour, chemical leaveners, butter and milk. I chose Mrs Beeton’s recipe, but perhaps it would have been more successful if only the egg whites had been used.

 

IMG_3968

Mrs Beeton’s recipe is as follows:

 

COCOA-NUT BISCUITS OR CAKES.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—10 oz. of sifted sugar, 3 eggs, 6 oz. of grated cocoa-nut.

Mode.—Whisk the eggs until they are very light; add the sugar gradually; then stir in the cocoa-nut. Roll a tablespoonful of the paste at a time in your hands in the form of a pyramid; place the pyramids on paper, put the paper on tins, and bake the biscuits in rather a cool oven until they are just coloured a light brown.

Time.—About 1/4 hour. Seasonable at any time.[5]

However, I’m sure that Dixon did a much better job than the melted, collapsing pyramids that I managed. My only solace is that I don’t seem to be alone in having difficulty with this recipe. SJ Alexander over at The Queen’s Scullery had a go at the same recipe a few years ago, and said “Shaping the coconut was not even remotely possible, and the eggs migrated out of the coconut haystacks to form custardy pools around the macaroons’s ankles, which turned crispy in the oven. When they came out, they tasted delicious, but fell apart the minute I tried to move them off their tray. The funny thing was that the recipe did not differ greatly from modern coconut macaroon recipes–I’m not sure what went wrong, exactly. Shelling and preparing fresh coconut was a fun experience, and it was noticeably different from preshredded coconut from the store.”[6]

 

Mine seemed to hold up a bit better than hers, and I think that’s because I used store-bought desiccated coconut. Desiccated coconut was first produced in 1880 in Sri Lanka, before then it had to be produced at home.[7] Eliza Acton describes how it’s done:

“Rasp a fresh cocoa-nut, spread it on a dish or tin and let it dry gradually for a couple of days, if it can be done conveniently …”[8] Whilst making your own desiccated coconut would certainly be an interesting thing to try, it wasn’t something I had time to do, and other than perhaps giving some insight into the coarseness of the coconut required, I’m not sure that it would make all that much difference.

IMG_3973

The first batch which melted into one big mass

Using the quantities given, I could roughly shape the mixture, but they were more mastaba than pyramid. What I found was that with a bit of extra coconut, I could shape the mixture into pyramids, but when my first batch went into the oven (at 150ºC), they slumped joined together. I had better luck with the last couple, to which I added even more coconut and cooked at a higher temperature (180ºC). This batch also had far fewer on the tray, and so they had room to spread out without touching each other. I’m still not sure though that they are quite the shape that Mrs Beeton was suggesting. They went into the oven as pyramids, and came out as large gumdrops.

 

[1] McWilliams, “‘A Vulgar Care’: Talking about Food in Eighteenth-Century Anglo-American Novels”; Moss, Spilling the Beans.

[2] see Koivuvaara, “Hunger, Consumption, and Identity in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Novels.”

[3] Gaskell, North and South, 90.

[4] Koivuvaara, “Hunger, Consumption, and Identity in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Novels,” 136.

[5] Recipe 1740 Beeton, Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

[6] Alexander, “Doing Bad Things to Innocent Cucumbers.”

[7] Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage, 201.

[8] Acton, Modern Cookery, for Private Families, 545.

IMG_3979.JPG

The second batch, they held together but I’m still not sure they could really be called pyramids. 

The Redaction

Cocoa-nut Cakes

290g sugar

2 large eggs

170g desiccated coconut, plus enough to make into a mouldable paste (about 5 tbsp more)

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Whisk the eggs until pale and frothy. Gradually whisk in the sugar to make a thick, silky batter. Stir in the coconut. Try to shape a dessert-spoonful into a pyramid. If the mixture is too soft, add more coconut, until they will hold the shape nicely.
  3. Place the pyramids on the baking tray, leaving lots of room between them. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Cocoa-nut Biscuits or Cakes from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management  (available at http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10136/pg10136-images.html).

The Date: 1861

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 30 mins.

How successful was it?: The first batch melted into one shapeless mass, and while they tasted great (like coconut ice but crunchier) the fell apart when you lifted them. The second batch held their shape much better, thanks to extra coconut and you could even lift them up.

How accurate?: I wonder if including the egg yolk was a mistake, because a lot of the other recipes just use the egg white beaten to stiff peaks. I think that would help hold the shape better. I didn’t grate and dry my own coconut, but I do think that the coconut should be dried and not used fresh. At the same time, I don’t know exactly what texture of coconut should be used, mine was quite fine and maybe it should have been coarser.

IMG_3976.JPG

Bibliography

Acton, Eliza. Modern Cookery, for Private Families: Reduced to a System of Easy Practice, in a Series of Carefully Tested Receipts, in Which the Principles of Baron Liebig and Other Eminent Writers Have Been as Much as Possible Applied and Explained. London: Longman, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1868.

Alexander, SJ. “Doing Bad Things to Innocent Cucumbers.” The Queen’s Scullery, January 28, 2010. http://thequeenscullery.com/2010/01/28/doing-bad-things-to-innocent-cucumbers/.

Beeton, Isabella, ed. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. London: S.O Beeton, 1861.

Cunningham Croly, Jane. Jennie June’s American Cookery Book. New York: The American News Co., 1870.

Gaskell, Elizabeth. North and South. London: Penguin Books, 1994.

Hearn, Lafcadio. La Cuisine Creole: A Collection of Culinary Recipes, from Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, Who Have Made New Orleans Famous for Its Cuisine. New Orleans: F.F. Hansell & Bro. Ltd., 1885.

Koivuvaara, Pirjo. “Hunger, Consumption, and Identity in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Novels.” University of Tampere, 2012. http://tampub.uta.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/66893/978-951-44-8780-4.pdf.

Leslie, Eliza. Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats. Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1828.

McWilliams, Mark. “‘A Vulgar Care’: Talking about Food in Eighteenth-Century Anglo-American Novels.” In Food and Language: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking 2009, edited by Richard Hosking, 227–36. Great Britain: Prospect Books, 2010.

Moss, Sarah. Spilling the Beans: Eating, Cooking, Reading and Writing in British Women’s Fiction. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012.

Wells, Richard. The Bread and Biscuit Baker’s and Sugar-Boiler’s Assistant. London: Crosby Lockwood and Son, 1890.

 

 

 

 

To Stew Carrets

IMG_3556

Purple carrots have been undergoing something of a renaissance in the last couple of years, and you may well have seen them at your local farmer’s market or even in the supermarket. If you have, then you’ve probably also heard that purple carrots are the original colour. It’s true that the earliest domesticated carrots were probably purple or yellow in colour, but purple was one of just several colours available until the 17th century[1]. The rise of the sweeter, orange carrot in the 17th century meant that the white, yellow, red and purple varieties fell out of favour until their hipster return in the 2000s.

With their deep and unusual colouring, these stewed purple carrots seemed like the perfect candidate for the HFF ‘Pretty as a Picture’ challenge! The recipe comes from a receipt book held by the Wellcome Library (I originally found the recipe on http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/history3.html). It is signed Elizabeth Jacob and has a date of 1654, but there are lots of different handwritings evident, so some of the recipes are later, probably up to about 1685[2].

 

The Recipe

Stewed Carrots

“To Stew Carrets” – recipe from Jacob, “Physicall and Chyrurgicall Receipts. Cookery and Preserves.,” 103.  Via the Wellcome Library, used under Creative Commons, Public Domain Mark 1.0 

 

To Stew Carrets

Take your carrets and cute them in long little pieces, and take a pretty many onions and cut them small. A bunch of sweet hearbes, a little whole peper and a little nutmegg, and put as much water as will cover your sauce pan. A good piece of butter cover them close and sett them on a slow fire Stire them some times, and when they are enough serve them.[3]

 

Given the date of this recipe, they may not have been using purple carrots, because they were already losing out to the more popular orange carrots. That being said, you do get depictions of purple carrots well into the 17th century (see Nicholaes Maes’ market scene below).

 

[1] Stolarczyk and Janick, “Carrot: History and Iconography.”

[2] Wellcome Library, “Jacob, Elizabeth (& Others).”

[3] Jacob, “Phyiscall and Chyrurgicall Receipts. Cookery and Preserves.,” 103.

 

SK-A-3254

Vegetable Market, Nicholaes Maes, 1655-1665. [Public Domain] via Rijksmuseum.

The Redaction

Stewed Carrots

 

1 small bunch of carrots, sliced into long pieces (julienned perhaps?)

1/2 onion, chopped small

A knob of butter, around 15g

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Black pepper

Thyme or other herbs to taste

 

  1. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan. Add enough water to just cover them, put a lid on the saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until just soft. Serve hot.

IMG_3560

The Round-Up

The Recipe: To Stew Carrets from Physicall and chyrurgicall receipts. Cookery and preserves.  (available at http://wellcomelibrary.org/item/b19263302#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=217&z=0.3438%2C0.3634%2C1.1627%2C0.7284&r=180 pg. 103).

The Date: 1654-1685

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 20 mins.

How successful was it?:  The carrots looked really pretty but I added too much thyme and they had a very savoury, meaty smell which put me off a bit although they actually tasted OK.

How accurate?: I think it’s maybe unlikely at this date that they would have been using purple carrots, although it’s hard to know because the exact process and timeline for the takeover by the orange carrot is unclear. That was something that only became clearer after I had actually made the dish. Other than that, it’s mostly a matter of which herbs they would have used and I imagine that depended very much on what was fresh and available whenever you were making them.

IMG_3542

References

Jacob, Elizabeth and others. “Phyiscall and Chyrurgicall Receipts. Cookery and Preserves.,” c.1654-1685. Wellcome Library. http://wellcomelibrary.org/item/b19263302#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=217&z=-0.761%2C-0.0283%2C1.1111%2C0.9916&r=180.

Stolarczyk, John, and Jules Janick. “Carrot: History and Iconography.” Chronica Horticulturae 51, no. 2 (2011): 13–18.

Wellcome Library. “Jacob, Elizabeth (& Others).” Wellcome Library. Accessed April 5, 2016. http://wellcomelibrary.org/item/b19263302#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0.

 

A Dish of Earth Apples

 

IMG_5721.JPGIt’s a new year, and a new round of Historical Food Fortnightly Challenges (and of course I’m already running late!). If you missed the last one, the HFF is a series of themed challenges where you choose a historical recipe (from before 1960) and follow it as closely as you can. Of course it’s not possible to be completely accurate, modern cooks have budget constraints, modern (for the most part) kitchens, and some ingredients are impossible to find, but we do our best. If you want to find out more about the challenge, the challengers or the different themes then head to the HFF blog to read all about it.

 

The first challenge of the year is ‘Meat and Potatoes’, and I’ve interpreted this quite literally with a recipe for bacon and potatoes. I feel a bit bad doing this recipe after Betsy’s impassioned plea to primary sources, so Betsy I apologise in advance. The impetus for this post came from a good friend of mine who gave me William Sitwell’s A History of Food in 100 Recipes for Christmas. At number 26, tucked in between zabaglione and trifle, is a recipe for earth apples from Marx Rumpolt’s Ein new Kochbuch (1581).

 

“Peel and cut them small, simmer them in water and press it well out through a fine cloth; chop them small and fry them in bacon that is cut small; take a little milk there under and let it simmer therewith so it is good and well tasting.”[1]

Sitwell translates earth apples, or erdäpfel/erdtepffel in German, as potatoes and calls this recipe the earliest surviving recipe using potatoes. However, this is a very controversial claim, although maybe not for the reason you think. On blogs and message boards across the internet there is a powerful undercurrent that this recipe refers not to potatoes, but to some type of squash. The closest that I’ve come to an explanation for this comes from The Potato: A Global History when Andrew Smith claims that the German folklorist and historian Günter Wiegelmann maintains that the earth apples are a type of round squash.[2] Unfortunately, since there’s no reference for this claim and since I can’t read German I haven’t been able to follow it up any more. Dr Thomas Gloning form the University of Giessen has also cast doubt upon the potato identification when posting on message-boards, seemingly on linguistic grounds.[3] Similar references in Anna Wecker’s Ein Kostlich New Kochbuch have also been refuted.[4]

Ein_new_Kochbuch,_Marxen_Rumpolt,_1581,_Einleitung

Frontispiece from Ein New Kochbuch, 1581, [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Without a clearer understanding of why these historians think that the earth apples are squash rather than potatoes it is difficult to come down on one side or the other. Yet potatoes were certainly circulating through Europe in this period, as exotic gifts and curiosities. The white potato or Solanum tuberosum were seen in the Andes by the Spaniards in 1532 and introduced to Canary Islands prior to 1567.[5] Archival research by Hawke and Francisco-Ortego has shown that potatoes were being exported from the Canary Islands to Antwerp in 1567 and Rouen in France in 1574.[6] By the 1570s and 1580s potatoes were being grown in Spain, and by late 1581 they were being grown in Germany.[7]

According to Smith, Wiegelmann describes the earliest recipe as boiled potatoes cooked simply in butter.[8] The recipe came from a letter sent in 1581 by Wilhelm IV von Hessen to the Elector of Saxony, Christian I. Gloning also quotes Wiegelmann and gives a rough translation for what seems to be the same recipe but gives the date as 1591.

“We also send to your Highness among other things a plant that we got from Italy some years ago, called Taratouphli (…) Below, at the root, there hang many tubers. If they are cooked these tubers are very good to eat. But you must first boil them in water, so that the outer shell (peeling?) gets off, then pour the cooking water away, and cook them to the point in butter.”[9]

Taratoufli_-_Clusius_1588

A potato plant in flower, watercolour sent by Philippe de Sivry to Clusius in 1588. There is a better, but copyrighted, version of this picture available on the website of the Museum Plantin-Moretus. See page for author [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

These potatoes were probably the type of potato that was described by Clusius in 1601: small and smooth, with beetroot red skin, white flesh and deep eyes.[10] There appears to have been a second introduction of potatoes to England in around 1590 and a different type was described by the John Gerard in 1597, these potatoes were white, irregularly shaped with yellow flesh and deep eyes.[11] Gerard explained that the potatoes could be roasted or boiled and suggested serving them with oil, salt and pepper.[12]

Gerard_potatoes (1)

Potatoes from Gerard’s Herball – By McLeod [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So, does Rumpolt’s recipe suggest the use of potatoes or not? I don’t think that I’ve seen enough evidence to make a clear judgement either way. Potatoes and recipes for them, or at least descriptions of how to cook them, were certainly circling through the elite circles of Europe at the time. As chef to the Elector of Mainz, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Rumpolt would have come into contact with these exotic tubers. The recipe itself is certainly more advanced than contemporary potato recipes, but uses ingredients and techniques which make sense when dealing with potatoes.

 

The Redaction

A Dish of Earth Apples

4 medium sized potatoes

160g bacon

Butter and oil to fry

1/2 cup of milk

Salt and pepper (optional, not listed in the original)

 

  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place the potatoes in the boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain the potatoes and leave to cool a little.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add some butter and oil. Chop the bacon into 1 cm cubes and fry until golden. Meanwhile, chop the potatoes into 1 cm cubes. Add to the bacon and fry until golden and crunchy.
  3. Lower the heat and add the milk. Simmer gently for 5 mins. Add salt and pepper if using. Serve hot.

 

IMG_5719

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Erdäpfel from Marx Rumpolt’s Ein new Kochbuch (translation found in William Sitwell’s A History of Food in 100 Recipes)

The Date: 1581

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 40 mins.

How successful was it?:  A little bland, but very comforting. Warm and stodgy in the best possible way.

How accurate?: Well, potato/gourd issue aside, there are no quantities or times given so everything was a bit of guesswork. The quantity of milk in particular was hard to know. Should the potatoes be swimming in it?

[1] William Sitwell, A History of Food in 100 Recipes (New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2013), 85.

[2] Andrew Smith, Potato: A Global History (London: Reaktion Books, 2011), 53–54.

[3] Thomas Gloning, “SC – Re: 16th Century Potato Soup Recipe?,” Stefan’s Florigelium, March 27, 1999, http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-VEGETABLES/potatoes-msg.html.

[4] Smith, Potato: A Global History, 54.

[5] J. G. Hawkes and J. Francisco-Ortega, “The Early History of the Potato in Europe,” Euphytica 70, no. 1–2 (January 1993): 1–7, doi:10.1007/BF00029633; J. G. Hawkes and J. Francisco-Ortega, “The Potato in Spain during the Late 16th Century,” Economic Botany 46, no. 1 (1992): 86–97.

[6] Hawkes and Francisco-Ortega, “The Early History of the Potato in Europe,” 3–5.

[7] Smith, Potato: A Global History, 24.

[8] Ibid., 53.

[9] Thomas Gloning, “SC – Help with 1650s+ Info: Potatoes (long),” Stefan’s Florigelium, February 5, 2000, http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-VEGETABLES/potatoes-msg.html.

[10] Redcliffe N. Salaman, Potato Varieties (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926), 4.

[11] Ibid., 3–5.

[12] Smith, Potato: A Global History, 54.

IMG_5714

Bibliography

Gloning, Thomas. “SC – Help with 1650s+ Info: Potatoes (long).” Stefan’s Florigelium, February 5, 2000. http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-VEGETABLES/potatoes-msg.html.

———. “SC – Re: 16th Century Potato Soup Recipe?” Stefan’s Florigelium, March 27, 1999. http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-VEGETABLES/potatoes-msg.html.

Hawkes, J. G., and J. Francisco-Ortega. “The Early History of the Potato in Europe.” Euphytica 70, no. 1–2 (January 1993): 1–7. doi:10.1007/BF00029633.

———. “The Potato in Spain during the Late 16th Century.” Economic Botany 46, no. 1 (1992): 86–97.

Salaman, Redcliffe N. Potato Varieties. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926.

Sitwell, William. A History of Food in 100 Recipes. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2013.

Smith, Andrew. Potato: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books, 2011.

 

Peach Snowballs

Peach Snowballs, recipe from 1895

I made these peach snowballs months and months ago, but never quite got around to writing up the recipe. We’ve talked before about Mina Lawson’s The Antipodean Cookery Book when I made potato corks. Just like the potato corks, these peach snowballs are all about fast, cheap and filling food; they only have three ingredients after all!

The Recipe

Recipes like this one are known from the late 18th century and continue to appear throughout the 19th century. Nearly all are balls of rice wrapped around an apple, or apple pieces, but some are more unusual. Rachel Snell has written about snowballs in the context of 19th century class concerns and budget constraints[1]. She has suggested that the rice versions may be a variation on earlier dumpling recipes which use pastry rather than rice. Another possible forerunner of the snowball might be something like the recipe for ‘A cheap Rice Pudding’ from The Whole Duty of a Woman[2]. This recipe calls for the rice to be mixed with raisins then gathered in a pudding cloth and boiled.

Yet another variation is to omit the apple and a recipe for this appears in the Canadian book The Frugal Housewife’s Manual, where we are instructed to simply form balls of rice and serve them with a sauce[3]. A similar recipe appears in an 1895 Australian newspaper, however these snowballs are moulded in cups rather than being boiled in a cloth[4]. Interestingly, this is followed by a recipe for ‘Apple Dumplings’ which are clearly the same as ‘Snowballs’.

Yet in all these recipes, except for the one with raisins and a single Eliza Acton recipe which uses oranges[5], the fruit is always apples. This makes the following recipe for peach snowballs in The Antipodean Cookery Book rather unusual.

“Peach Snowballs: – Ingredients: 1 pound of rice, some sugar, 6 peaches. Mode: Throw the rice into a saucepan of boiling water and let it boil from five to seven minutes. Drain it, and when it has cooled spread it in equal parts on six small pudding cloths. Peel the peaches carefully, coat them thickly with sugar and place one in the centre of each layer of rice; gather the cloth round and securely tie it. Then plunge these puddings into boiling water, and when done turn them out, sprinkle with sugar, and serve with a sweet sauce over them. Time, one hour and a half to boil.”[6]

Peach Snowballs, recipe from 1895

The Redaction

As I’m sure you’ve already figured out from the picture above, I had a lot of difficulty getting the rice to form a nice smooth ball around the peaches. Kevin Carter over at Savoring the Past has an excellent article about apple snowballs, and it includes a video which you might want to watch if you are going to give this recipe a go. He also recommends using medium grained sticky rice, and that might be better than the long grained rice that I used.

Peach Snowballs

For 2 snowballs

150g rice

Sugar

2 peaches

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the rice. Boil for 5-7 minutes. Drain the rice and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Carefully peel the peaches and roll them in sugar until evenly covered.
  3. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
  4. Cut a piece of calico into 2 squares with sides about 20cm long. Place half the drained rice into the middle of each square and spread it out in a circle. Place the peach in the middle and gather the four corners of the cloth at the top. Use your hands to spread the rice around the peach and when it seems to be evenly covered tie off the cloth.
  5. Place the balls into the boiling water and boil for an hour and a half.

Peach Snowballs, recipe from 1895

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Peach Snowballs from The Antipodean Cookery Book by Mrs Lance Rawson

The Date: 1895

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 2 hours.

How successful was it?: The peach was delicious, but the rice fell apart around  and was so watery that it didn’t taste very good.

How accurate?: I’m not sure what type of rice Mrs Lawson would have used, I used what I had on hand and maybe it was the wrong type since it didn’t hold together well.

[1] Rachel A Snell, “Snowballs: Intermixing Gentility and Frugality in Nineteenth Century Baking,” The Recipes Project, August 13, 2015, http://recipes.hypotheses.org/category/family-and-household.

[2] Anonymous, The Whole Duty of a Woman, Or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex: Containing Rules, Directions, and Observations, for Their Conduct and Behavior Through All Ages and Circumstances of Life, as Virgins, Wives, Or Widows : With … Rules and Receipts in Every Kind of Cookery … (London: Printed for T. Read in Dogwell Court, White-Fryers, Fleet Street, 1737), 476.

[3] A.B of Grimsby, The Frugal Housewife’s Manual : Containing a Number of Useful Receipts, Carefully Selected, and Well Adapted to the Use of Families in General : To Which Are Added Plain and Practical Directions for the Cultivation and Management of Some of the Most Useful Culinary Vegetables (Toronto: s.n., 1840), 9, http://eco.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.90013/13?r=0&s=1.

[4] “SOME RICE RECIPES.,” Leader, June 15, 1895.

[5] Eliza Acton, Modern Cookery, in All Its Branches: Reduced to a System of Easy Practice, for the Use of Private Families. In a Series of Receipts, Which Have Been Strictly Tested, and Are Given with the Most Minute Exactness (Lea and Blanchard, 1845), 282.

[6] Mrs. Lance Rawson, The Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion (Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press, n.d.), 64.

Peach Snowballs, recipe from 1895

Bibliography

A.B of Grimsby. The Frugal Housewife’s Manual : Containing a Number of Useful Receipts, Carefully Selected, and Well Adapted to the Use of Families in General : To Which Are Added Plain and Practical Directions for the Cultivation and Management of Some of the Most Useful Culinary Vegetables. Toronto: s.n., 1840. http://eco.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.90013/13?r=0&s=1.

Acton, Eliza. Modern Cookery, in All Its Branches: Reduced to a System of Easy Practice, for the Use of Private Families. In a Series of Receipts, Which Have Been Strictly Tested, and Are Given with the Most Minute Exactness. Lea and Blanchard, 1845.

Anonymous. The Whole Duty of a Woman, Or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex: Containing Rules, Directions, and Observations, for Their Conduct and Behavior Through All Ages and Circumstances of Life, as Virgins, Wives, Or Widows : With … Rules and Receipts in Every Kind of Cookery … London: Printed for T. Read in Dogwell Court, White-Fryers, Fleet Street, 1737.

Rawson, Mrs. Lance. The Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion. Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press, n.d.

Snell, Rachel A. “Snowballs: Intermixing Gentility and Frugality in Nineteenth Century Baking.” The Recipes Project, August 13, 2015. http://recipes.hypotheses.org/category/family-and-household.

“SOME RICE RECIPES.” Leader. June 15, 1895.

Pass the Pickled Eggs

So a couple of months ago, just before my birthday, I was talking about birthday presents with my cousin Ryan and his girlfriend. While my request for a penguin seemed perfectly reasonable, I was a bit surprised when he said that all he wanted for his birthday was some pickled eggs. When The Old Foodie posted a selection of historical pickled egg recipes a week later, it just seemed like the universe was sending me a message.
Fast forward several months and the week of his birthday I was not only ridiculously busy but also quite sick. I suppose I could have changed my mind and used a modern recipe with, you know, quantities and real instructions, but where is the fun in that? Oh and why just make one historical recipe when you can do two?

Girl with a Basket of Eggs by Joachim Beuckelaer (circa 1533–1575) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Girl with a Basket of Eggs by Joachim Beuckelaer (circa 1533–1575) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Recipes

And so, although the process was not without hiccups, the eggs were pickled and enjoyed and I sat down to write this post. Actually I’ve tried a number of times, but each time I got side-tracked into doing more research. In spite of scouring dozens of cookbooks, I cannot find an older English recipe than the sage recipe which was posted by The Old Foodie and dates from 1725.

“Boil New laid Eggs in Vinegar, Cloves, Pepper, and a Handful of Sage-leaves, till hard, then peel them and put them into Glasses; when your Pickle is cold, put it to them, and cover them down close.”[1]

Sage Pickled Eggs, recipe from 1725

Since the pickled egg is a favourite among re-enactment groups I had just assumed that they were much older, and so apparently do lots of modern cookbook writers. These led me back to Dorothy Hartley’s book Food in England which says that, “When eggs are plentiful, farmers’ wives take four or six dozen newly laid, and boil them hard; then, taking off the shells, they place them in earthenware jars and pour upon them scalding vinegar well seasoned with pepper, allspice, ginger, and garlic. The eggs are fit to use after a month.”[2] She says this recipe comes from 1700 or thereabouts, although nearly identical recipes appear throughout the 19th century, the earliest version I can find is from 1844 in The Mechanic’s Magazine[3].

In fact pickled eggs are much older, just not in England. Going back further, there is a reference to pickled eggs in Andrew Boorde’s A Dyetary of Helth from about 1542 which says that:

“In Turkey, and other hyghe chrystyan landes anexed to it, they use to seth two or thre busshels of egges togither harde, and pull of the shels, & sowse them, and kepe them to eate at all tymes; but hard egges be slow and slack of dygestyon and doth nutryfye the body grosly.”[4]

Sousing is the process of preserving meat or animal parts in a pickle, so these are definitely pickled eggs. Boorde’s comment that these eggs come from Turkey and surrounding lands is interesting in light of a recipe from Kitab Wasf al-At’ima al-Mu’tada or The Description of Familiar Foods. A 14th century cookbook written in Arabic, possibly from Cairo, The Description of Familiar Foods includes the following recipe:

“Baid Mukhallal – Take boiled eggs and peel and sprinkle with a little ground salt and Chinese cinnamon [cassia] and dry coriander. Then arrange them in a glass jar and pour wine vinegar on them, and put it up.”[5]

That’s definitely going to be the next pickled egg recipe I try, but I doubt that it will be as pretty as the second recipe that I made. Dyed pink with beetroot juice, this recipe comes from The Practical American Cook Book, Or, Practical and Scientific Cookery. The Old Foodie quoted an 1855 edition, but I have only been able to find an 1863 edition. Today these pink eggs are particularly associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch and they make a lovely addition to salads with their variegated colours.

Pickled Eggs. Boil them until hard; throw them hot into cold water, which will make the shell slip off smoothly after the eggs have remained in it about ten minutes; boil some red beets till very soft; peel and mash them fine, and put enough of the liquor into cold vinegar to color it pink; add a little salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cloves; put the eggs into a jar and pour the beets, vinegar &c., over them. This makes a pretty garnish for fish or corned meats. Cut the eggs in slices when used.[6]

Pink Pickled Eggs, Recipe from 1863

The Redactions

Safety Note: These are the quantities and processes that I used to make these recipes, but because the liquids are cold when poured over the boiled eggs there is a higher chance of bacterial growth than in modern pickled egg recipes. If you decide to try these recipes you should keep the eggs refrigerated and consume them within days of making them. You can also increase the safety heating the pickling liquid to boiling point and pouring it over the eggs. 

Sage Pickled Eggs

12 eggs

2 1/2 cups vinegar

3 cloves

1 tsp peppercorns

Small handful of sage

  1. Hard boil eggs, then allow to cool and shell them. Place into a sterilised jar.
  2. Mix the vinegar, spices and sage in a saucepan and just bring to the boil. Allow the liquid to cool and pour over the eggs.

Beet Pickled Eggs

12 eggs

1 beetroot, or use the whole, pre-boiled beetroots that you can sometimes find vacuum sealed

1tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup normal vinegar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup juice from beetroot

3 cloves

  1. Quarter the beetroot, place in a saucepan and cover in boiling water. Bring the pot to the boil and cook until the beetroot is soft, this takes longer than you would think, about 30 mins. When soft, remove the beetroot and allow the pieces to cool enough to handle. Peel the beetroot, then dice it and roughly mash the cubes.

2. Put the eggs into a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a rolling boil and simmer for 8 minutes. Allow to cool and peel.

  1. Place the eggs in a sterilised jar, then add the beetroot over the top. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over.

Pickled eggs, recipes from 1725 and 1863

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Pickled Eggs from Robert Smith’s Court Cookery: Or, The Compleat English Cook 128.(available here) and from The Practical American Cook Book by A Housekeeper (preview available here).

The Date:1725 and 1865

How did you make it?: See above.

Time to complete?: The beetroot took a very long time to cook, so those ones took over an hour and a half, but the sage ones were faster; including cooling time they probably took about an hour.

How successful was it?: I only tried the beetroot ones which were a beautiful colour, slightly rubbery but very pleasant. Ryan preferred the sage eggs, but that may be because he isn’t the biggest fan of beetroot.

How accurate?: I ended up changing the process of the sage eggs somewhat, because the first time that I made them I diluted the vinegar with water which would have changed the eggs preservative properties. The sage also through off a nasty scum when boiled like that. In the end I started again, boiling the eggs in water and then heating the other ingredients separately. The biggest difference in terms of ingredients is probably the type of vinegar used, but there was no indication of the type of vinegar in the recipes and I haven’t done enough research to really know what would have been used.

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[1] Robert Smith, Court Cookery: Or, The Compleat English Cook (London: Printed for T. Wotton, at the Three-Daggers in Fleet-Street, 1725), 128.

[2] Dorothy Hartley, Food in England (London: Little, Brown & Company, 1999), 345.

[3] Robertson, ed., Mechanics Magazine (London: James Bounsall, 1844), 352.

[4] Andrew Boorde, The Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge Made by Andrew Borde, of Physycke Doctor. A Compendyous Regyment; Or, A Dyetary of Helth Made in Mountpyllier, ed. Frederick James Furnivall (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by N.T. Trubner & Co, 1870), 265.

[5] Charles Perry, “Kitab Wasf Al-At’ima Al-Mu’tada [The Description of Familiar Foods],” in Medieval Arab Cookery, by Maxime Rodinson, A.J Arberry, and Charles Perry (Totnes, U.K.: Prospect Books, 2001), 397.

[6] A Housekeeper, The Practical American Cook Book (New York: D Appleton and Company, 1863), 91.

And my penguin? He's already making friends.

And my penguin? He’s already making friends.

Bibliography

A Housekeeper. The Practical American Cook Book. New York: D Appleton and Company, 1863.

Boorde, Andrew. The Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge Made by Andrew Borde, of Physycke Doctor. A Compendyous Regyment; Or, A Dyetary of Helth Made in Mountpyllier. Edited by Frederick James Furnivall. London: Published for the Early English Text Society by N.T. Trubner & Co, 1870.

Hartley, Dorothy. Food in England. London: Little, Brown & Company, 1999.

Perry, Charles. “Kitab Wasf Al-At’ima Al-Mu’tada [The Description of Familiar Foods].” In Medieval Arab Cookery, by Maxime Rodinson, A.J Arberry, and Charles Perry, 373–450. Totnes, U.K.: Prospect Books, 2001.

Robertson, ed. Mechanics Magazine. London: James Bounsall, 1844.

Smith, Robert. Court Cookery: Or, The Compleat English Cook. London: Printed for T. Wotton, at the Three-Daggers in Fleet-Street, 1725.

An Excellent Family Pudding of Cold Potatoes, with Eggs etc.

Potato pudding, recipe from 1861

Last year when I first started looking at recipes for the Historical Food Fortnightly I came across a recipe for Potato Cheesecake in The Antipodean Cookbook. This recipe, which has no cheese, no flour and doesn’t have instructions for baking, was unlike any other recipe I had come across. Having looked at a lot more cookbooks since then, I’ve found that there are actually quite a few similar potato recipes.

Potato Cheese Cake Ingredients: 3 or 4 boiled potatoes, 1 tablespoonful butter, 1 tablespoonful sugar, 2 eggs, grated peel and juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoonfuls brandy, and a few currants. Mode: Mash the 3 or 4 potatoes quite smooth. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the potato, the sugar, and eggs well beaten. Stir over the fire till it thickens, then add the grated peel and the lemon juice, the brandy, and lastly a few well-washed currants.[1]

These recipes were both sweet and savoury, sometimes baked in a pie case and sometimes without, and they lasted from at least the mid-18th century to the end of the 19th. It’s not hard to understand why these puddings would have been popular, they are basically all cheap starch, flavoured with relatively small amounts of more expensive ingredients – brandy, citrus fruits, currants, sugar, or a little spice. They are also quite an appetising way of using up left over boiled potatoes, The Family Save-All specifically recommends saving up the potatoes left from two or three days meals. I also quite like that it is recommended for children, “children of larger growth”, invalids and the elderly, i.e. everyone.

Potato pudding recipes from The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook pg. 115.

Potato pudding recipes from The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook pg. 115.

I was a bit suspicious of adding marmalade though, so in the end I went with the savoury version of the pudding and served it with gravy. I’ll have to come back when I’m feeling more adventurous and try one of the sweet recipes.

Potato pudding recipe form The Family Save-All, 1861, pg. 90.

Potato pudding recipe form The Family Save-All, 1861, pg. 90.

The Redaction

An Excellent Potato Pudding

6 large potatoes

4 eggs

568ml milk

Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 200˚C. Peel, chop and boil the potatoes if you aren’t using left over potatoes. Mash them well and stir in the beaten eggs and milk. Season well.
  2. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and smooth the top or make patterns in it with a fork. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the top has formed a golden crust. Serve hot with gravy.

Potato pudding, recipe from 1861

The Round-Up

The Recipe: An Excellent Family Pudding of Cold Potatoes, with Eggs etc. from The Family Save-All by Robert Kemp Philp (available here, pg. 90)

The Date: 1861

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: About an hour.

How successful was it?: It was hot, starchy and quite plain. It was a bit like eating very smooth mashed potatoes. It definitely needed more seasoning.

How accurate?: Pretty good, but I wasn’t sure if the instruction to add sugar was for both versions, or just the sweet version. In the end I didn’t add it, but that may have been the wrong choice.

[1] Mrs. Lance Rawson, Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion, Facsimile of 2nd ed. (Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press Pty.Ltd, 1992), 34–35.

Bibliography

Harrison, Sarah. The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook. 4th ed. London: Printed for R. Ware, at the Bible and Sun on Ludgate-Hill, 1748.

Philp, Robert Kemp. The Family Save-All, a System of Secondary Cookery. By the Editor of “Enquire Within”. 2nd ed. London: W. Kent and co., 1861.

Rawson, Mrs. Lance. Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion. Facsimile of 2nd ed. Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press Pty.Ltd, 1992.

Orange You Glad

Chicken with Orange SauceI felt that for the next Historical Food Fortnightly challenge, which was to make something with oranges, I wanted to do something that was a bit earlier in date. Flicking through ‘The Medieval Kitchen’ by Redon, Sabban and Serventi I stumbled across Chicken with Orange Sauce which sounded promising and was very budget friendly.

The recipe is a translation from Maestro Martino’s ‘Libro De Arte Coquinaria’ which was composed before 1465 (one of the versions is dedicated to his patron who died in that year).[1] Martino was the official cook for several important Italian gentlemen in the mid fifteenth century, and something of a celebrity chef. He was a part of an international network of courts that shared recipes and tastes, ‘De Arte Coquinaria’ shows affinities with Catalan manuscripts in particular.[2]

The Recipe

“Roast Chicken. To prepare roast chicken, you must roast it; and when it is cooked take orange juice or verjuice with rose water, sugar, and cinnamon, and place the chicken on a platter; and pour this mixture over it and send it to table.”[3]

What I soon discovered though, was that oranges in this period were not the sweet oranges which we are familiar with today. Originating in an area comprising north-eastern India, northern Myanmar and southern China, the bitter orange was brought to Europe via Islamic Spain.[4] Bitter oranges were used to give a sour taste to dishes, especially sauces, and could be used as an alternative to verjuice. Although there are some mentions of sweet oranges in the 15th century, it wasn’t until the 16th century that they were cultivated in Europe. It may be that it was the introduction of a new variety from China by Portugese traders that was the impetus for eating oranges as a fruit, rather than using them just for their sour juice (in much the same way as we use lemons today).[5] That the oranges called for in our recipe were bitter oranges is clear from the option to use verjuice instead.

By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen (List of Koehler Images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Citrus Aurantium by Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As an interesting aside, one of the other results of the introduction of the orange was the invention of the colour ‘orange’. Mark Morton has pointed out that before the orange was being consumed in Europe, there were few things that were genuinely orange, and that anything that was orange-y could be described as ‘red’, ‘scarlet’ (both of which described a wider range of colours than now), ‘tawny’, or ‘brusk’.[6] It wasn’t until the 17th century that ‘orange’ was accepted as an adjective.

The Redaction

There are no quantities called for in the recipe, but as the authors of ‘The Medieval Kitchen’ provided a redaction of their own I saw no reason not to use their recipe, with one major exception. In the book, the authors say to use either bitter orange juice, or to use verjuice with rosewater. Having looked at the translation provided and, as much as possible with my basic Italian, the original recipe, I see no reason to read it as:

juice OR verjuice and rose water PLUS sugar and cinnamon

instead of:

juice OR verjuice PLUS rose water, sugar and cinnamon.

I also chose to add a bit of butter to the chicken, but that is a personal preference and you can certainly do as they suggest and use no fat. Of course, the original recipe calls for the chicken to be roasted, that is cooked in front of a fire, rather than baked in an oven, but if, like me, you don’t happen to have an open fire available then the oven will have to do.

Chicken with Orange Sauce from 'Libro de Arte Coquinaria'

Chicken with Orange Sauce

Adapted from ‘The Medieval Kitchen’ by Odile Redon, Francoise Sabban and Silvano Serventi.

1 chicken

Butter (optional)

Juice of 3 Seville oranges (or 2 sweet oranges and 1 lemon and omit the sugar) or 10 tbsp verjuice

1 tbsp rose water

1/2 tsp of sugar

1 pinch of ground cinnamon

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Place the chicken in a pan and, if desired, dot with pieces of butter. Bake until the chicken is golden and the juices run clear, basting frequently with the pan juices.
  2. Mix together the other ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the chicken and serve on a platter, or serve as a sauce with the chicken.

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Chicken with Orange Sauce from Maestro Martino’s ‘Libro De Arte Coquinaria’, translation in ‘The Medieval Kitchen’[7].

The Date: before 1465

How did you make it?: See above.

Time to complete?: The chicken took about an hour, the sauce itself was very quick.

How successful was it?: I liked the sauce, I was worried it would be very sweet but it wasn’t. It was a bit watery though, and I think it could have been even sourer. I would be interested to try it with Seville oranges if I can find them in season. It also made a lot of sauce for just one chicken, although it might not seem as much if you poured if over the chicken.

How accurate?: Well, I couldn’t get Seville oranges, I added a bit of butter, and I used an oven so it was really baked rather than roasted, so it could definitely be better.

Chicken with Orange Sauce from 'Libro de Arte Coquinaria'

[1] Nancy Harmon Jenkins, “Two Ways of Looking at Maestro Martino,” Gastronomica 7, no. 2 (2007): 97.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Odine Redon, Francoise Sabban, and Silvano Serventi, The Medieval Kitchen: Recipe from France and Italy, trans. Edward Schneider (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998), 115.

[4] Frederick G. Gmitter Jr. and Xulan Hu, “The Possible Role of Yunnan, China, in the Origin of Contemporary Citrus Species (Rutaceae),” Economic Botany 44, no. 2 (1990): 267–77; Clarissa Hyman, Oranges: A Global History (London: Reaktion Books, 2013), 7–13.

[5] Hyman, Oranges: A Global History, 13–17; Herbert John Webber, The Citrus Industry …, [1st ed]. (Berkeley, 1948), 12–14.

[6] Mark Morton, “Hue and Eye,” Gastronomica 11, no. 3 (2011): 6–7.

[7] Redon, Sabban, and Serventi, The Medieval Kitchen: Recipe from France and Italy, 115.

Bibliography

Gmitter, Frederick G., Jr., and Xulan Hu. “The Possible Role of Yunnan, China, in the Origin of Contemporary Citrus Species (Rutaceae).” Economic Botany 44, no. 2 (1990): 267–77.

Harmon Jenkins, Nancy. “Two Ways of Looking at Maestro Martino.” Gastronomica 7, no. 2 (2007): 97–103.

Hyman, Clarissa. Oranges: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books, 2013.

Morton, Mark. “Hue and Eye.” Gastronomica 11, no. 3 (2011): 6–7.

Redon, Odine, Francoise Sabban, and Silvano Serventi. The Medieval Kitchen: Recipe from France and Italy. Translated by Edward Schneider. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Webber, Herbert John. “History and Development of the Citrus Industry.” In The Citrus Industry …, edited by Herbert John Webber, [1st ed]. Berkely: University of California Press, 1948.