Thusfar, I’ve discussed the Shrewsbury and Ginger-Bread cakes
that I made for use at the Israel Crane House during the Essex
County (NJ) Holiday Historic Houses Tour this past December.
I provided several other foods, as well, including a couple more
that I made and some that were store-bought. The latter items
consisted of a small ham, chestnuts, walnuts, candied lemon and
orange peels, dried apple slices, and assorted fresh fruit. I hung
a spice bag in some cider, as well, and heated it over the open fire.
The former, the additional items that I made in advance at home,
were Pounded Cheese and a Mincemeat Pie. First, the cheese.
Now, Pounded Cheese is a hold-over from my days of working
at Conner Prairie (CP) nearly two decades ago. At the time, it
was served every night during CP’s “Hearthside Suppers.” This
dish made for an excellent appetizer then, and it still does today.
I’ll often try to find a reason just to mix up a batch! In addition,
it was always served at CP with Carr’s Table Water Crackers, and
so I usually do the same. Incidentally, Carr’s is a British company
that was established in 1831, so I think the crackers are appropriate
from an historical standpoint.
The receipt (recipe) for this tasty treat can be found in The Cooks
Own Book, Being a Complete Culinary Encyclopedia (1832), by
a Boston Housekeeper (aka Mrs. N.K.M. Lee):
Cut a pound of good mellow
cheese into thin bits; add to it
two, and if the cheese is dry,
three ounces of fresh butter;
pound, and rub them well
together in a mortar till it
is quite smooth. When cheese
is dry, and for those whose
digestion is feeble, this is
the best way of eating it; and
spread on bread, it makes
an excellent luncheon or
supper. The piquance of this
is sometimes increased by
pounding with it curry powder,
ground spice, black pepper,
Cayenne, and a little made
mustard; and some moisten
it with a glass of Sherry. If
pressed down hard in a jar,
and covered with clarified
butter, it will keep for several
days in cool weather.
I just love the part about spreading this cheese on bread, and
how it’ll make “an excellent” supper. Who needs anything else
to eat when you have pounded cheese on bread?! HUZZAH!
The cheeses I used this time were a sharp cheddar, parmesan,
and gouda. Typically I cut the cheese into small pieces, and
then pound everything with a mortar and pestle. However, this
time I first grated all the cheeses, and then, well, gulp, I cheated.
It was in the interest of time, mind you, as I had just spent several
days on the two sets of cakes! In any event, I chopped and mixed
it all up (cheese, butter, spices) in a small electric grinder. Then
I packed it in a plastic container and took it to the Crane House,
where it was transferred to a redware bowl. The Carr’s crackers
were arranged on a pewter plate and placed beside it. As with
the Shrewsbury and Ginger-Bread cakes, the tangy Pounded
Cheese was definitely a major hit with the visitors! HUZZAH!
NEXT: the Mincemeat Pie