Archive for April, 2011

In my recent post wherein I shared pictures
of the peacocks at Pennsbury Manor, I also
mentioned there are many historic cookbooks
which contain receipts for cooking this exotic
bird. It would seem they were eaten often,
and were quite a popular dish, during the
Medieval and Renaissance periods. In fact,
it apparently may’ve appeared quite frequently
at King Henry VIII’s table, for there’s a receipt
in The Taste of the Fire, the little booklet about the Tudor kitchens
at Hampton Court Palace. It instructs the cook to first kill and roast
the bird, then to wrap the skin, feathers and all, around the cooked
meat before serving, so that it would look as it did when alive:

Take a Pecok, breke his necke, and
kutte his throte, And fle him, the skyn
and the ffethurs togidre, and the hede
still to the skyn of the nekke, And kepe
the skyn and the ffethurs hole togiders;
drawe him as an hen, And kepe the bone
to the necke hole, and roste him, And set
the bone of the necke aboue the broche,
as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve, And
abowe the legges to the body, as he
was wonte to sitte a-lyve; And whan
he is rosted ynowe, take him of, And
lete him kele; And then wynde the skyn
wit the fethurs and the taile abought
the body, And serue him forthe as he
were a-live; or elle pull him dry, And
roste him, and serue him as thou
doest a henne.

Of course, you could always just make a pie made up with peacock
meat and then stick the head and tail feathers into it:

Although they seemed to fall out of favor by the end of the 17th
century, peacock dishes were likely served now and then amongst
the well-to-do, even in this country. In fact, I understand that just
such a dish was prepared at Colonial Williamsburg not too long ago.
Unfortunately, I don’t know any of the specifics as to how it was
prepared, what receipt was used, and so forth. It certainly would
have been interesting to see!

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It’s not food-related, historically or otherwise, but I thought
I’d share some photos of some animals I saw while attending
Deb Peterson’s recent Symposium at Pennsbury Manor. First,
a very friendly kitty, and then several peacocks, including one
proudly struttin’ his stuff.

On second thought, I guess a peacock could be food-related,
particularly during earlier centuries! (There are many receipts
for preparing peacock in historic cookbooks. Yum! Or not.)


hmmm…Ms. (Mr.?) Fence-Sitter doesn’t seem too impressed!

his backside is purty, too!

a couple more were on the other side of the barn:

So there you have it, the kitty and the peacocks who live
at Pennsbury Manor!

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Thus far, I’ve mainly shown photos of just one group of participants
in the recent hearth cooking workshop that followed Deb Peterson’s
Symposium at Pennsbury Manor. Here now are a few of the second
group, as well as all the final dishes.


Clarissa Dillon checking the receipts:

First up, “To Stew Pears in a Sauce-Pan,” which is, oddly enough,
very similar to the “Peeres in Confyt” of King Richard II’s era:

Another pasty:

cooking is complete:

Pat Roos works on the stewed salmon dish:

Linda Ziegler and Clarissa deep in discussion:

Ronnie Pedersen checks on a second pasty:

preparing LOTS of sippets:

Finally, the spread of food was set out on the table. It all looks
mighty tasty…and it was! HUZZAH!

One last look at our (Jacob, Bill, and mine) lovely trout dish:

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More photos of the recent hearth cooking workshop in the kitchens
at Pennsbury Manor. As I mentioned previously, it was conducted
in conjunction with Deb Peterson’s annual Symposium.


Eileen Mercer making force-meat balls:

dusted with flour and ready for a light frying before being stuffed
into hollowed-out cucumbers:

the “forced” cucumbers were then cooked:

our illustrious leader, Mercy Ingraham, speaks to participants:

fellow hearth cooks working diligently on the “Mutton Pasty” (yes?):

the finished “pasty,” hot off the fire; note the little ram figure
on the upper right:

adding a little gravy:

ready to serve:

another dish, “To stew Cucumbers”:

our illustrious co-leader, Nancy Webster:

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Finally (!), here is the first set of pictures I took during the hearth
cooking workshop that followed Deb Peterson’s recent symposium
at Pennsbury Manor. Overall, the group of about 24 made a dozen
or so dishes. Although we were split
into two groups, with one led by Mercy
Ingraham and Nancy Webster, the other
by Clarissa Dillon and Ronnie Pedersen,
everyone was free to move between
the two, and, in fact, was encouraged
to do so. I spent most of my time working
under Mercy and Nancy’s tutelage, but I did manage to “go to the other
side” now and then in order to check out what those folks were doing.

Naturally, in keeping with the Symposium’s topic, “Drink friendly to
Nature, and accommodated to General Use…,” each receipt (recipe)
we used called for one or more of the following: beer; wine, both
Claret (red) and white; ale; and sack (sherry). It was great fun,
most definitely! HUZZAH!


Photo-wise, I’ll start with the two dishes that I prepared together
with Jacob (or was it Jason?! just kidding!) Fish of Long Island
and Bill Martell of New Jersey.

First up was the receipt “Trout to dress, from Walton’s compleat
Angler,” which is from Mrs. Gardiner’s Family Receipts, a manuscript
cookbook of 1763 Boston. Now, the Angler was written by British
author Izaak Walton in 1653 (there were to be five editions in all).
The book is a comprehensive, information-packed treatise on fish
and fishing that includes: when and where to fish; the types of
baits to use and how to make your own; the history, origins, and
habits of different fish; general basic fishing advice; and so on.
It even includes a few poems and songs. However, I didn’t find
any receipt specifically for trout in the one version I found online.
There were a couple for other fish, but even so, none matched
Mrs. Gardiner’s. Perhaps I just need to look in another edition?

In the meantime, enjoy a few photos.


Our trout:

“…give him three Scotches with a Knife…” (although, I don’t
think we needed to do this, as we were working with fillets
and not the whole fish):

then “throw” in “a good quantity of Horse-radish Root…”:

“…put in as much hard stale Beer…Vinegar, and a little white Wine and
Water as will cover the Fish you intend to boil…”:

“Set your Kettle on the Fire…”:

Before long, it was ready to plate:

mmm, steaming hot trout:

add the butter sauce:

garnished with lemon slices, more horse-radish, and a few herbs just
for fun…mmm-mm-mmm, lookin’ mighty good!

Next, our posset. Interestingly, we used a receipt from Robert May’s
The Accomplisht Cook (1678). This seemed a bit odd to me for two
reasons. One, the people* leading the workshop, in fact, the entire
Symposium weekend, usually tend to stay adamantly in the 18th
century only; and second, if they’ve now decided it’s okay to use
a receipt from another century, particularly the 17th, then why
wasn’t something chosen from the Penn Family’s manuscript,
a work that’s connected directly to William and Pennsbury?

Nevertheless, our posset. Heating up the milk:

add the wine:

stirring continuously:

and finally, poured into Nancy’s reproduction posset:


*Deb, Mercy, Nancy, Clarissa, and Ronnie are all members of the group
known as
Past Masters in Early American Domestic Arts


NEXT: what else was cooking?

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Whew. I’ve been busy the past few days! First, I attended Deb
Peterson’s Symposium on Saturday at Pennsbury Manor. It was
highly informative, as usual. I also participated in the hearth
cooking workshop in the Pennsbury kitchens that followed on
Sunday. Then, yesterday (April 12), was Culinary Historians
of New York’s (CHNY) monthly program, held here (finally!)
in Brooklyn, for which I spent a large portion of both Monday
and Tuesday making a mincemeat pie.

Of course, I have oodles of photos documenting all of the above.
It’ll take some time, however, to sort, download, and post them
all. There are only a few of my mincemeat pie making, though,
so I’ll show those first. That’ll give me a bit more time to tend
to all the others. But don’t worry, the photos of hearth cooking
at Pennsbury WILL be up here soon. I promise!

So, first up, the mincemeat pie I made for CHNY’s April event.
Again, the receipt (recipe) I used is from Martha Washington’s
Booke of Cookery, which originated in the 17th century. It includes
meat (in this case, veal), suet (beef fat), and a host of other
ingredients. All of which had to be minced, mind you. Which took
time, patience, and a whole lotta muscle. AND, this time, I didn’t
“cheat,” for I rolled out my own pie crust, thank you very much.
None of that “store-bought” junk this time. HUZZAH!

Incidentally, Martha’s receipt would’ve fit in well with all the other
dishes we prepared this past Sunday at Pennsbury, for it was
a meat pie, and it included “a quarter of a pinte of…sack.”


At the event, held at Bergen 61, a new bar space in Brooklyn:


Here’s the receipt. I cut all the quantities by four; thus, it was one
pound of meat, the same of suet, and so on:

To Make Mincd Pies
Take to 4 pound of the flesh of a legg
of veale, or neats tongues, 4 pound
of beefe suet, 2 pound of raysons
stoned & shread, 3 pound of currans,
halfe a pound or more of sugar,
3 quarters of an ounce of cloves,
mace, nutmegg, & cinnamon, beaten,
halfe a dosin apples shread, some
rosewater, a quarter of a pinte
o[f] muskadine or sack, some
candied orringe, leamon & citron
pill minced. shread your meat &
suet very fine, & mingle all togethe[r].
for plaine mincd pies, leave out the fruit
& put in blanchd almond[s] minced small.


NOTE: sack = sherry
pill = peel

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Appropriately enough, I spent this past Sunday cooking
at the hearth in the kitchen of The Israel Crane House.
It was quite a delightful way to spend the anniversary
of the birth of my passion for hearth cooking. HUZZAH!


Early morning at the Crane House:

Got a good fire going:

Fryin’ up some smoked salt pork (aka slab bacon):

Mmmm, gonna be some good eatin’!:

Simple “Johnny Cakes” of just Indian meal (corn meal) and water
would’ve been made during the winter, when things like milk,
eggs, and butter were mighty scarce. In fact, Lettice Bryan
has a receipt for such cakes in her cookbook, The Kentucky
, only she refers to them as “Indian Water Cakes.”
So I made some, using corn meal, a bit of salt, and water.
They were quite tasty! Oh, and I again used the roasted
corn meal that I’d purchased last summer from Anselma Mills:

Slap ’em on the griddle with the last of the salt pork:

However, it IS spring. Your chickens would again be laying eggs.
The cow probably would’ve just had a calf, meaning plentiful milk,
as well as cream for churning butter. So, I made more cakes that
were enriched with those very ingredients: eggs; milk; and butter.

As the chickens would be laying again, I also decided to demonstrate
how one would make a few hard boiled eggs. Now, I haven’t done
this very often, nor have I done it recently (well, other than at home
on my “mo-dern” stove), so I was both excited and a bit trepidatious.
However, there was no need to worry, as they boiled up beautifully.

My day of cooking at the hearth has come to an end. Farewell, ’til next time!

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