Category Archives: Elizabethan

A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes and Cucumbers

A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes and Cucumbers
From Thomas Dawson, The good huswifes Jewell, 1587.

Take your hearbes and picke them very fine into faire water, and wash them all clean, and swing them in a strainer, and when you put them in a dish, mingle them with Cowcumbers or Lemmans payred and sliced, and scrape Sugar, and put in Vinegar and Oyle and hard Egges boyled and laid about the dish and upon the Sallet.

For the dressing:

1 tbsp sugar, either white or brown
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Mix together in a bowl and set aside.

For the salad:

1 package, mixed salad greens
1 bunch flat-leafed parsley, stemmed
1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
1 bunch fresh tarragon, stemmed
3 tbsp fresh chervil leaves
1 medium-sized cucumber, peeled and sliced coarsely
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into wedges.

Wash all greens and herbs. Place into a medium sized muslin draw-string bag and spin the bag until most of the moisture has been removed. [This is an early form of a salad spinner.] Place the greens in a salad bowl and add the cucumbers. Pour on the dressing and toss to mix. Just before serving, add the hard boiled egg wedges decoratively on top and serve it forth.

Notes:

Olive oil: I just used regular, but any kind you like on a salad would be fine.  The recipe said only oil, not even olive oil, but I used my preference of olive oil.  I suppose that sesame or almond oil could be okay also, but I don’t think of those as salad oils.  The vagueness of this recipe I find challenging and exciting.  I could make it so many different ways and, as long as I use period ingredients known to that country and era, I am within the parameters of the recipe.
 
Sugar: Again, whatever you prefer.  I used regular white sugar, but I thought that a light or golden brown sugar would be fine also. Elizabethans had both.  I suppose that raw sugar could be used if you don’t mind the added expense.  All have slightly different tastes, but all are within period usage.
 
Flat-leaf parsley is also called Italian parsley.

Cucumber: A personal choice, whatever you have or like.  I would assume that English would be closer to what Thomas Dawson used, but hot house would be fine also.  Just consider the size of the cucumber and make adjustments.

Tarragon: with no measurements, it is a personal choice.  You could leave this out and still be fine.  I checked other recipes in the book and picked herbs that were used fresh.

Eggs: I used AA large.  It is mostly for decoration.  From discussions that I have read, period eggs were smaller than ours are, but then whatever you like is fine.

I picked this recipe because of it is so non-specific.  It does not even tell you what herbs to use.  To me this is a kind of a “what’s fresh and what do I want to do with this?” kind of recipe.  You can make it in hundreds of different ways and keep coming up with different mixes and flavors.  The last time I served it, I used the Moroccan Preserved Lemon, but most people didn’t like it.  It is expensive to buy, so I left it out of this recipe, but YMMV.  I know very few modern people who would eat fresh lemons sliced in a salad. Meyer Lemons, which are modern, and the sweet lemon was not known in Europe, although India and China knew of it.  This is one of the few specifics mentioned, but it is cucumbers OR lemons. For me cucumbers won out.

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Drunken Pears

By Mercy Asakura

“Now, Sire,” quod she, “for aught that may bityde,
I moste haue of the peres that I see,
Or I moote dye, so soore longeth me
To eten of the smalle peres grene.”
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
(l. 14,669), The Merchant’s Tale

Homer considered the Pear God’s gift to humanity. In the 17th Century, the pear was the fruit of the nobility and European courts and in the 18th Century was the hayday of development of the fruit in France and Belgium.

Following along with my “romance” theme and since Pears are in season, I came across this recipe in “Dinning with William Shakespeare” that would make a terrific dessert to a romantic meal.

And when you mix wine with a pear, how can you lose?

TO STEW WARDENS OR PEARS

Pare them, put them into a Pipkin, with so much Red or Claret Wine and water… as will near reach to the top of the Pears.  Stew or boil gently, till they grow tender, which may be in two hours.  After a while, put in some sticks of Cinnamon bruised and a few cloves.  When they are almost done, put in Sugar enough to season them well and their Syrup, which you pour out upon them in a deep plate.

Sir Kenelme Digbie, The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Senelme Digbie, Kt., Opened

From “Dinning with William Shakespeare” page 372

Poaching Pears in red wine is not a new technique in history, nor to this English period, per Madge Lorwin.  She states that there was at least one other recipe dating back to the middle of the 15th century with the same sort of technique.

The Redaction:

2 Cups Red Wine or Claret
2 Cups Water
1 Pound of Pears, peeled & thinly sliced
1 three-inch cinnamon stick, bruise before using
10 Cloves
1 cup sugar

Find a Pipkin (a clay cooking pot) or a casserole dish and place the pears within.  Put in bruised cinnamon stick and cloves.  Pour in the wine and water.  Place in oven at 350 degrees, covered for 4 hours.  Dump in sugar. Mix, remove from heat and serve.


Peeling the pears in slow motion on a handmade peeler…

Options:

We left ours in for four hours and as you can see by the recipe, we put the cinnamon and cloves in with the wine and the water to stew and poach.  I thought this gave a really great flavor.  You can always do as the original recipe says and put the cinnamon and cloves in last.

I would think not covering would speed up the cooking/poaching process.  Since we had a pipkin, we thought we would slow cook it and really get it going in the best way possible.

It’s great by itself, but I can see this wonderful with ice cream (since there is a syrup that is created by the poaching liquid) or with Angel food cake.  Neither are historically correct ways of eating it, but it would be VERY yummy.


The final purple product.

HOW TO FRY A DISH OF CHEESE

By Mercy Asakura

With February slowly approaching, thoughts of romance abound.  Shakespeare was quite the man with the golden tongue and had a way with words.

The book “Dining with William Shakespeare” by Madge Lorwin has 13 complete Shakespearean feast menus, essays, many recipes and comments about Elizabethan England.  I decided to look through this book and pick something from it that was sort of a mixture of Shakespeare’s romance and something that could be a “romantical” food.

Cheese is one of those foods, at least in my mind, that pairs well with romance.  Wine and cheese.  It could be a textile food, eaten with the hands.  And well, most people love cheese.  So, well, that’s at least my logic when I can across this simple, yet delicious recipe.

HOW TO FRY A DISH OF CHEESE

Take a quarter of a pound of a good Cheese, or Parmysant, and grate it and put to it a little grated bread, a few Caraway seeds beaten, the yokes of as many eggs as will make it into a stiff batter, so it will not run, fry it brown in Butter, and pour on drawn Butter with claret wine when they are dished.

William Rabisha, The whole Body of Cookery Dissected

Page 330 of Dining with William Shakespeare

The Redaction:

¼ Pound of Grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Bread Crumbs
9 egg yokes
Pinch of Caraway seeds (slightly crushed)
2 tablespoons Ghee or Clarified Butter

Take Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and caraway seeds and put them into a bowl, mixing them together.  Once ingredients are combined, add egg yokes until total mixture is moist.

Take frying pan and use ghee as the fat.  Form little pancakes and brown each side of your cheese-bread cake.  Take off flame and drain on paper towels.

We didn’t make the “sauce” mentioned, as the cheesy goodness called to us, but we did try using cheddar cheese, which worked fine as well.

Several Elizabethan recipes that I have redacted

From John Murrell, “A Booke of Cookerie”, 1621

How to butter a colleflowre.

Take a ripe Colle-flowre and cut off the buddes, boyle then in milke with a little Mace while they be very tender, then poure them into a Cullender, and let the Milke runne cleane from them, then take a ladle full of Creame, being boyled with a little whole Mace, putting to it a Ladlefull of thicke butter, mingle them together with a little Sugar, dish up your flowres upon sippets, poure your butter and cream hot upon it strowing with a little slicst Nutmeg and salt, and serve it to the Table hot.

My redaction:

1 cauliflower, at least 5 inches in diameter
3 cups of whole milk
1 large piece of whole mace
1 cup cream
1 stick unsalted butter [if using salted butter, eliminate the salt]
1 large piece of whole mace [different from above]
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
4 slices hot buttered toast, cut into triangles.

Cut cauliflower into small florets and remove any green leaves and the thick base. Heat the milk with mace to just below the boiling point and add the florets. Lower the heat to simmer and cook until tender but still crisp, about 12 to 15 min.

While that is cooking, take the cream, butter, another piece of whole mace and sugar and bring to just below boiling.

Arrange the toast on a heated serving dish. Remove the cauliflower from the milk and arrange them on the toast. Pour the sauce over them and sprinkle them with salt and nutmeg and serve hot.

To make a tarte of Spinnage    [From The good huswifes Jewell. 1596]

 

Take three handfull of Spinnage, boile it in faire water, when it is boyled, put away the water from it and put the spinnage in a stone morter, grind it smal with two dishes of butter melted, and four rawe egges, then straine it and season it with sugar, Sinamon and ginger, and lay it in your Coffin [pie crust], when it [the crust] is hardened in the oven, then bake it and when it is enough, serve it upon a faire dish, and cast upon it Sugar and Biskets.
My redaction:

Pie Crust
1 package 12 oz fresh baby spinach
9 eggs
8 oz melted butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

Line a 9″ pie pan with pie crust.  Blind bake it for 15 min in a preheated 450 degree oven.
Take spinach and boil in a saucepan with a cup of water for 10 to 15 min. until tender.  Drain and grind in a morter until smooth.  Mix eggs, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger together. [I used a mixer on high.]  Add spinach and mix until eggs are somewhat fluffy.  Pour mixture into prepared pie crust and bake 30 to 40 min. in a 350 degree oven.  Sugar may be strewn on top just before serving.  [I didn’t.]

To boile onions [From The good huswifes Jewell. 1596]

 

Take a good many onions and cut them in four quarters, set them on the fire in as much water as you think will boile them tender, and when they be clean skimmed, put in a good many raisons, halfe a grose pepper, a good peece of sugar, and a little salte, and when the onions be through boiled, beat the yolke of an Egge with Vergious, and put into your pot and so serve it upon soppes.  If you will, poch Egges and lay upon them.
My redaction:

3 large sweet onions, pealed and quartered.
8 oz. raisins
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
16 oz water
Toasted bread for sops
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced

Throw first six ingredients into a crock pot and boil on high for 7 hours.  Serve with the sops and decorate with sliced eggs.

This was the last item that I made.  I almost decided not to make this as it was late and I was very tired.  I didn’t relish standing over a hot stove watching this boil.  Just as I was about to go to bed, the thought occured to me that I could make this in a crock pot and still get some sleep.  I decided to hard boil the eggs as I thought it would be prettier to decorate with them than with a poached egg.  I also didn’t thicken this dish, because the onions remained so large.  If they had mushed up, I would have added the thickener.  The next time I make this, I will chop the onions finer.  While this dish tasted very good, the large pieces of onion were somewhat hard to keep on the sops.  But that is just a personal choice for me.

To make red deere [From The good huswifes Jewell. 1596]

 

Take a legge of beef, and cut out all the sinews clean, and take a roling pin and all to beate it, then perboile it, and when you have so doon lard it very thick and lay it in wine or vinegar for two or three howers, or a whole nigh, then take it out & season it with peper, salt, cloves and maice, then put it into your past, & so bake it.
My redaction:

4 small steaks tenderized by the butcher
1/4 bottle of claret
4 or 5 strips of bacon
Pie Crust
1 tsp each salt, pepper, ground cloves and ground mace.

Put steaks in a dish or pan and marinate them with the claret for two or three hours.  Take an 8.5×11″ pan and line the bottom with pie crust.  Place your steaks into the crust, sprinkle with spices and then lay bacon on top of steaks.  Place another crust on top of the meat and seal the top and bottom together.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 min., then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for a further 60 min.  May be served either hot or cold.