Posts Tagged ‘historic cookbooks’

After taking part in a hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane House
about a year ago, a woman rounded up several friends and arranged
to do another this year. So on Saturday, February 28, they all arrived,
each one ready, willing, and oh-so-eager to whip up a winter’s mid-day
meal. We had seven lovely ladies, and I tell you, they were great fun!
Everyone worked so well together. And given the ease with which they


tackled the five different receipts, nobody would’ve known that all but
one had never done any hearth cooking before. It was a fantastic group,
one that operated like such a well-oiled machine, that we even ended
early. A hearty HUZZAH to them all!

As for the day’s menu, my goals in creating it were to include dishes
that were not only appropriate for the season, but also for a merchant’s
family such as the Crane’s, and to showcase multiple cooking processes,
including frying, baking, and roasting. We traveled through time, as well,
for the receipts we used came from cookbooks of the 17th, 18th, and
early 19th centuries:

An Excellent Way to Roast Pigeons or Chickens.
The Art of Cookery Refin’d and Augmented (1654), by Joseph Cooper;

Carrot Pudding.
American Cookery (1796, 1st ed.), by Amelia Simmons;

Potato Fritters.
The Cook’s Own Book: Being a Complete Culinary Encyclopedia
(1832), by A Boston Housekeeper;

To Make a Tart of the Ananas, or Pine-Apple. From Barbadoes.
The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director…Part II (1732),
by Richard Bradley; and

No. 51. Chocolate Drops.
The Complete Confectioner, or, The Whole Art of Confectionary
(1790, 2nd ed.), by Frederick Nutt.

Okay. Enough of that! On to some photos. And thankfully, THIS time
I was able to take quite a few. Unlike the class I conducted late last fall,
when I totally spaced it and forgot. Heck, even I was disappointed! In
any event, as you’ll see from the following, when all was said and done,
and the ladies had worked their magic, we had a truly marvelous meal,
one which definitely provided some mighty good eating! HUZZAH!


The fire was blazing and the ingredients were set…

photo 1(1)

photo 3

All the ladies arrived, and we were ready to begin. First, I presented
the background of our menu. I also explained some unfamiliar terms
and gave a few basic tips on cooking at an open hearth, handling all
the various equipment and utensils, what cooking technique to use
for which dish, and other such matters.

photo 5

And thus, it was on to the prepping ‘n cooking…

First up, our chicken. Now, Cooper’s receipt directs the cook to make
a forcemeat (what we might call stuffing or dressing today) containing
grated bread, hard boiled egg yolks, the fowl’s liver, a couple of spices,
and so on, which is finely minced. This mixture is then placed between
the bird’s skin and flesh, instead of in its cavity. Finally, it’s trussed
and roasted.

Of course, if a portion of skin tears during the process, a few little
well-placed stitches will take care of the problem…


into the reflector oven it went…


photo 1(2)

After several unsuccessful attempts to insert the chicken “normally”
(aka horizontally) and securely in the oven (so it wouldn’t flop
around), it was decided to place it perpendicular to the spit…


It worked! It may’ve looked a bit odd, but at least it was roasting…


On to the carrots for the pudding, which were cleaned, sliced,…


and boiled, along with the potatoes for the fritters…


The carrots were then mashed, combined with other ingredients,
and the whole set into a bake kettle. Soon, our Carrot Pudding
was cooked to perfection!


Pineapple pieces were par-boiled in Madeira for the tart…


a simple paste was made…


the two were put together, and it was ready for the bake kettle…





Mashing those previously-mentioned boiled potatoes for the fritters…


the clumps of ‘tater fritter batter may not’ve looked too pretty, but…


once fried, either in a spider…


or on the griddle…


they were very, VERY delicious! So much so that we nearly ate
them ALL before the cooking of the entire meal was completed!


Several of our dishes posed on the hearth for a group photo…


Our chicken cooked up fairly quickly!

photo 5(1)

And finally, the Chocolate Drops, which proved to be the easiest
and simplest dish to prepare!


And so, after all the chopping, slicing, grating, mixing, pounding,
stirring, boiling, frying, baking, and roasting, our wonderful winter’s
mid-day meal was ready to be eaten:


The Carrot Pudding…


Our “Tart of the Ananas, or Pine-Apple“…


and the Chocolate Drops…


Excellent job, ladies! HUZZAH!!! I look forward to working
with you, again.

photo 2(2)

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I’ve had several requests for the receipts that were used to create
the chocolate dishes presented in my previous posting. All of them
were compiled by Deb Peterson, the workshop’s instructor, and they
came from an assortment of 18th century cookbooks.

Let’s start with the most-awesome Chocolate Tart.


We used the following receipt from John Nott’s The Cooks and
Confectioners Dictionary
, which was first published in 1723:

132. To make a Chocolate Tart.
Mix a little Milk, the Yolks of ten Eggs,
with two Spoonfuls of Rice-flour, and
a little Salt; then add a Quart of Cream,
and Sugar to your Palate; make it boil,
but take care it do not curdle; then grate
Chocolate into a Plate; dry it at the Fire;
and having taken off your Cream, mix
your Chocolate with it, stirring it well in,
and set it by to cool. Then sheet a Tart-pan,
put in your Mixture, bake it. When it comes
out of the Oven, glaze it with powder’d Sugar
and a red hot Shovel.

Note there’s no mention of the crust with which to “sheet your
tart-pan.” I imagine any would do, but Deb choose to have us
make the one below, which is found in the cookbook Bradshaw’s
Valuable Family Jewel
(1751), by Mrs. Penelope Bradshaw:

To make proper Paste for Tarts.
Take three Quarters of a Pound of Butter
mixed well with a Pound of Flour. Or thus:
Take equal Quantities of Flour, Butter, and
Sugar mixed well; beat it with a rolling Pin,
and roll it thin.

Interestingly, the above tart receipt is also in The Court and
Country Confectioner
(1770), by a Mr. Borella. His version,
however, is ever so slightly re-worded, and the quantities
of all the ingredients have been cut in half. I suppose that’s
one way to avoid claims of plagiarism, ay, Mr. B.?!

Ahh, well…

In addition, I found a fun video the other day wherein a similar
tart is prepared. It was filmed as part of the 2012 long-awaited
opening of the newly-renovated Royal Kitchens of London’s Kew
. Unfortunately, no clue is given as to what receipt the cook
was using, and it’s been modernized/adapted, but it sounds very
similar to the one above. Even his process matches (somewhat)
what we did during our workshop. And, dagnabit, I think his
comment dealing with the “is chocolate a food or a beverage?”
debate is still a bit off, albeit he’s closer than some others.
I’m beginning to think that, in some ways, it’s all in how it’s
stated. But even if by 1789, a Chocolate Tart receipt had been
floating around since at least 1723 (nearly 70 years! almost
a century!), surely somebody had to’ve been whipping it up
now and then, so just how “unusual” was it?! Particularly for
the “better sort”! Ahh, well…so it goes.

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Shortly after my recent self-proclaimed “Apple Day” at the Israel
House, the Culinary Historians of New York (CHNY) and
the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum (MVHM) together sponsored
a program at the latter’s facility. And wouldn’t you know it,
the almighty apple was once again the focus. HUZZAH!

Of course, this meant it was time to prepare another apple dish.
So I made a Cider Cake, using my go-to receipt (recipe) from the
manuscript cookbook of Mrs. Lefferts, who lived during the early
1800s in the then-town of Flatbush, near my own neighborhood
here in Brooklyn. Incidentally, in 1918 the Lefferts family home
was re-located to Prospect Park, where it was restored to its
1820s condition and then opened in 1920 as a museum.

When I first received my copy of the Cider Cake receipt several
years ago, the manuscript was in the Lefferts House archives.
Since then, however, all of the Family’s papers, including the
cookbook, were turned over to the Brooklyn Historical Society
(BHS). In fact, the collection has been digitized, and it can be
accessed online.

The cookbook, which is entitled simply “Mrs. Lefferts Book,”
was most likely started in the early 1830s (more on this later).
Here’s the receipt:

Cider Cake
2 lb of Flour 1 lb of Sugar 1/2 lb of Butter
1 lb of Raisins 1 pt of Cider 1 1/2 tea spoon
full of pearlash.

Interestingly enough, except for the ingredient amounts being
roughly doubled and the addition of raisins, the above is identical
to Mrs. Child’s receipt in her The American Frugal Housewife (12th
edition, 1833; 1st, 1832):

Cider cake is very good, to be baked
in small loaves. One pound and a half
of flour, half a pound of sugar, quarter
of a pound of butter, half a pint of cider,
one teaspoonful of pearlash; spice to your
taste. Bake till it turns easily in the pans.
I should think about half an hour.

I’m guessing, perhaps to Mrs. Lefferts, “spice to your taste”
meant adding raisins and nothing else. The call for pearlash
is another clue that she likely copied Mrs. Child’s receipt. In
addition, it means her manuscript wasn’t created until AFTER
the publication of American Frugal.

I also looked in various 18th century cookbooks for cider cake
receipts, but surprisingly found none. I then searched other
early to mid-19th century works (in addition to American Frugal)
and only found one other. It’s in The Kentucky Housewife (1839),
by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, and is quite different than the other two:

Beat together six ounces of butter, eight
ounces of sugar and two powdered nutmegs;
add six beaten eggs, a pint of sweet cider,
and enough flour to make it a thick batter.
Beat it very well, put it in a buttered pan,
and bake it in a moderate oven.

Note that the spice is specified (nutmeg) and that eggs are
used, thus enriching the batter and making it more cake-like.
Another big difference is the call for “sweet cider,” as opposed
to just simply cider, as in the previous two receipts. Of course,
the latter meant hard, fermented, alcoholic cider, as that was
the only kind available. Apple cider, once made, ferments easily
and quickly; it’s only thanks to modern methods and refrigeration
that sweet, non-alcoholic apple cider can be produced and sold.
And so a call specifically for “sweet” meant that which had just
been made, probably only hours earlier, before the natural, and
expected, process of fermentation had begun. I wonder, too,
if perhaps the call here for sweet was a result of this country’s
then-burgeoning temperance movement. At the same time,
this receipt IS from The KENTUCKY Housewife, so…maybe not!
Nevertheless, it’s rather curious.

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We had a great group of folks
at the recent (April 15) hearth
cooking class at the Israel Crane
. Everyone worked diligently
on all the various dishes, and I think
it’s safe to say that a fun time was
had by all. Of course, the absolute
BEST part was sitting down to enjoy
a lovely meal of delectable goodies
straight from the open fire. HUZZAH!

So, without further ado, here are a few scenes, and some
receipts (recipes), from that day. Let the fun begin!

First up, from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796):

To stuff and roast four Chickens.
Six ounces salt pork, half loaf bread,
six ounces butter, 3 eggs, a handful
of parsley shredded fine, summer-
savory, sweet marjoram; mix the
whole well together, fill and sew
up; roast one hour, baste with
butter, and dust on flour.

Next, from the Ashfield Family’s (of New York and New Jersey)
manuscript cookbook (1720s-1780s)*:

81. To make a Tansey to Bake
Take 18 Eggs and beat them well.
Put to them a quart of Cream and
the Crumb of a Stale penny Loaf
grated fine, one Nutmegg grated,
a little Salt, a Spoonfull of Orange
flower water, as much juice of Spinage
and Tansey as will make it green.
Sweeten it to your tast and put it
in your dish. Strew over it a quarter
of a pound of melted Butter. Put it
into a moderate Oven. Half an hour
will bake it. When you take it out,
Strew it with loaf Sugar and garnish
your dish with Oranges cut in Quarters.

Then it was on to:

Peeres in Confyt. XX. VI. XII.
Take peeres and pare hem clene.
take gode rede wyne &. mulberes
oper saundres and seep pe peeres
perin & whan pei buth ysode,
take hem up, make a syryp of
wyne greke. oper vernage with
blaunche powdour oper white
sugur and powdour gyngur & do
the peres perin. seep it a lytel
& messe it forth.

from The Forme of Cury, the published version of the manuscript
compiled by the Master Cooks at the Court of England’s King
Richard II (1399-1420):

Ahhh, there’s just nothing like a crackling fire:

Finding an original, historic receipt for cornbread has always
been mighty difficult. So I usually fall back on my recollections
of what we did when I worked at Conner Prairie long ago.
Thus, our somewhat “mo-dern” cornbread (made according
to my own recipe

In addition, we cooked one of my favorites, “Salmon in Cases,”
courtesy of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, made [sic] Plain
and Easy
. We also churned butter.

Finally, our sumptuous mid-day meal is served. Let’s eat!:

‘Til next time!


* Published as Pleasures of Colonial Cooking, by The New Jersey
Historical Society, Newark, NJ (1982).
**There’s been a discussion about this very subject on one
of Plimoth Plantation’s blogs. I wanted to provide a link to it,
but, dagnabit, I can’t remember which one it was!

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After spending a day happily sharing the joys of hearth
cooking with a gaggle of Homeschoolers (and eating the
results) at The Israel Crane House, my next Big Event was
to do basically more of the same with about 60 teachers
at the Queens County Farm Museum (QFM). I had devised
a “menu” for the QFM event about a month earlier, and so
I knew I needed to prepare several items a day or two
in advance, including baking a batch of Naples Biskets.
I also had a Seed Cake to make for the Culinary Historians
of New York (CHNY) program that was to take place the day
after my adventures at the Crane House. And believe me,
scheduling all these required cooking tasks during that
hectic week was vital! Thus, I spent that Sunday and
Monday baking both the Biskets and the Cake.

TA-DA! The Naples Biskets:

Hmmm, do I see a Carrot Pudding in my future?:

Naples Biskets were typically made to be used in other dishes.
However, I did find awhile back an instance in a period novel
where they were eaten by themselves. And although receipts
for Naples Biskets are ubiquitous, they also tend to be quite
different from one another. I have two that I frequently use,
and both are unique. The one below is what I employed this
round. It’s taken from John Nott’s The Cooks and Confectioners
, (1726, 3rd edition):

To make Naples Biskets.
Take a Pound and half of fine Flour,
and as much double-refined Sugar,
twelve Eggs, three Spoonfuls of
rose-water, and an Ounce and half
of Carraway-seeds finely powdered,
mix them all well together with Water;
then put them into tin-plates, and bake
them in a moderate Oven, dissolve some
Sugar in Water, and glaze them over.

As for the CHNY program, it was to feature Anne Willan, who’s
written a book based on the vast collection of historic cookbooks
she and her husband have acquired through the years. In keeping
with that “history” theme, original receipts selected from works
in the Willan’s collection were sent out to those who’d be creating
the evening’s refreshments. Before seeing all of them, I picked
the one for Seed Cake. I’ve made them before, so I figured it’d
be fairly quick ‘n easy, especially considering the somewhat
limited time I’d have that week.

Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of my Seed Cake:

Below is the receipt. It’s from The Compleat Housewife,
by E. Smith (1727):

To make a fine Seed Cake or Nun’s Cake
Take four pounds of your finest flour,
and three pounds of double-refin’d
sugar beaten and sifted, mix them
together, and dry them by the fire
till you prepare your other materials.
Take four pounds of butter, beat it
in your hands till it is very soft like
cream, then beat thirty-five eggs,
leave out sixteen whites, and strain
out the treddles of the rest, and beat
them and the butter together till all
appears like butter; put in four or five
spoonfuls of rose or orange-flower-
water, and beat it again; then take
your flour and sugar, with six ounces
of carraway-seeds, and strew it in
by degrees, beating it up all the time
for two hours together; you may put
in as much tincture of cinamon or
ambergrease as you please; butter
your hoop, and let it stand three
hours in a moderate oven.

Now, I’ve made a few Seed Cakes in the past, and I’ve always
used a receipt in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery (1747),
which, coincidentally, just happens to be an exact match to
the one above! So I announced to everyone that perhaps
Ms. Willan had made a mistake, that it should be attributed
to Glasse and not Smith. Well, not so fast! Turns out this is,
most definitely, courtesy of Smith’s book; seems it’s Glasse
who stole, er, “borrowed,” it from her. Oops. Silly me!

However, soon after I felt somewhat vindicated when I noticed
that the receipt Willan sent for “A Crookneck or Winter Squash
Pudding,” which she stated is from Lucy Emerson’s cookbook,
The New England Cookery (1808), is indeed a mistake. You see,
Emerson plagiarized, lock, stock ‘n barrel, Amelia Simmons’
American Cookery (1796). Tsk! (And an “oops, silly me”
for Ms. Willan.)


NEXT: Teachers and Carrot Puddings at the Queens County
Farm Museum and a return to the Crane House

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Okay. Back to my Yorkshire Pudding experiment. Sorry for the delay.
Although, you didn’t miss too much, as I only did one other! Now,
as you may recall (or not!), I used an 18th century receipt (recipe)
for the previous pudding (from Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery).
I decided to jump ahead a few years, into the early 19th century,
for the second and selected the following from The Cook’s Oracle,
by William Kitchiner, M.D. (1831; first edition published 1817):

Yorkshire Pudding under Roast Meat,
the Gipsies’ way—(No. 529).

This pudding is an especially excellent
accompaniment to Sir-loin of Beef,—Loin
of Veal,—or any fat and juicy joint. Six
table-spoonsful of flour, three eggs,
a tea-spoonful of salt, and a pint
of milk—so as to make a middling
stiff batter, a little stiffer than you
would for pancakes; beat it up well,
and take care it is not lumpy; put
a dish under the meat, and let the
drippings drop into it till it is quite
hot and well greased; then pour in
the batter;—when the upper surface
is brown and set, turn it that both
sides may be brown alike; if you
wish it to cut firm, and the pudding
an inch thick, it will take two hours
at a good fire.
N.B. The true Yorkshire Pudding is about
half an inch thick when done; but it is
the fashion in London to make them
full twice that thickness.

TA-DA! Here it is:

This time, I followed the receipt as written (no halving of ingredients
or anything), as all the amounts were quite manageable. What was
interesting, however, is that this specifies “six table-spoonsful of flour,”
yet it also instructs the cook to make a “middling stiff batter,” and,
in fact, to make it:

a little stiffer than you
would for pancakes;

Really?! But with only six tablespoons of flour, that’s mighty difficult.
In fact, I’d say it’s nigh impossible! I used my reproduction pewter
“table spoon” to measure out the flour, and each spoonful was fairly
heaping. The resulting batter, however, was far from stiff, “middling”
or otherwise. I considered adding more flour, but I didn’t want to
deviate too much from the receipt. Besides, surely it was tested by
an assortment of 19th century cooks, yes? So maybe it was just my
mo-dern sensibilities of what constitutes “stiff”? Or…who knows?!
In any event, I just had to go with it and trust that it’d turn out
perfectly fine. And, lo and behold, it did! (see photo above)

Of course, as before, the cooking was done in my modern oven. No
telling how different things would’ve been if I’d been able to cook
either of my puddings as they would’ve been done centuries ago
(i.e. under roasting meat on a spit before a fire).

And then there are those three little words in the receipt’s title,
declaring this pudding is done per “the Gipsie’s way.” What does
that mean, exactly? What is the difference between how Gypsies
prepare it and how “regular” people do? How does that fit into
the equation? I have no idea, but I welcome any you may have!

However, it did seem a little egg-y. And a bit dense. It reminded
me of one of the quotes given with the Oxford English Dictionary’s
definition of Yorkshire Pudding:

[Hooton] Bilberry Thurland 1. vii. 140
At the bottom of all…lay
about half an acre of sad
and heavy Yorkshire pudding,
like a leaden pancake.

It was, indeed, rather heavy and “like a leaden pancake”! But then,
the receipt DID say to mix up the batter “stiffer than you would for
pancakes”! So…I guess…”leaden” it is! Despite all that, however, it
tasted fine. It was even good re-heated the following day. Overall,
I deem it a success. Two Yorkshire Pudding receipts, both the same,
yet both different! HUZZAH!

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Here are the receipts (recipes) for the pumpkin pudding and
the apple tarts that I made recently at the Israel Crane House.
Both are from Amelia Simmons’ book American Cookery (1796).
As I mentioned previously, the fillings for each were cooked
down ahead of time. I used a basic pie crust, as well, rather
than the specific “pastes” that are given.


No. I. One quart stewed and strained,
3 pints milk, six beaten eggs, sugar,
mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into
paste No. 7, or 3, cross and chequer
it, and bake in dishes three quarters
of an hour.

Now, I only had about a pint of cooked pumpkin, so I cut this
receipt in half. In doing so, however, I think perhaps I erred
in the amounts of the other ingredients. I used three eggs
but I think two would’ve been enough. It IS a pudding, and
a custard-y one at that, but I thought the final result was
rather egg-y. And although I strained most of the cooked
pumpkin, I also left some of it chunky, hoping to make sure
the taste of it would be prominent. It might’ve been better,
however, to strain it all. Yet, at the same time, it was quite
good, as evidenced by those who had more than one piece!


Apple Tarts.
Stew and strain the apples, add cinnamon,
rose-water, wine and sugar to your taste,
lay in paste, No. 3. squeeze thereon orange
juice—bake gently.

I was very pleased at how these turned out. The apples were
tasty, so full of flavor, and the crust cooked just beautifully, very
light and flaky. And in this instance, retaining the chunky-ness
of the apples proved beneficial. They were so good, in fact,
that I even made a few more later at home!

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