Tag Archives: 17th Century

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.

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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.

My Lord of Carlisle’s Sack-Posset

Written by: Mistress Huette

Take a pottle of Cream, and boil in it a little whole Cinnamon, and three or four flakes of Mace. To this proportion of Cream put in eighteen yolks of eggs, and eight of the whites; a pint of Sack; beat your eggs very well, and then mingle them with your Sack. Put in three quarters of a pound of Sugar into the Wine and Eggs, with a Nutmeg grated, and a little beaten Cinnamon; set the Bason on the fire with the Wine and Eggs, and let it be hot. Then put in the Cream boiling from the fire, pour it on high, but stir it not; cover it with a dish, and when it is settlede, strew on the top a little fine Sugar mingled with three grains of Ambergreece, and one grain of Musk, and serve it up. From Sir Kenelm Digby The Closet (London: 1671)

1 pint cream
18 egg yolks
8 egg whites
1 cup + 1 tsp granulated sugar
1 whole mace
1 stick cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg, grated
1 tsp cinnamon, grated
1 pint cream sherry

Scald the cream in a pan with the whole mace and stick cinnamon. Beat egg whites until frothy. Beat egg yolks until lemon colored. Fold in together and then fold in one cup sugar and grated spices. Remove mace and cinnamon from cream. Temper eggs with a bit of cream, then mix the cream and egg mixture together continually beating all the time. Place over a medium-low heat and cook until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and add the sherry. Pour into posset pots and let cool somewhat, allowing it to settle/separate. Sprinkle one tsp sugar on top of all and serve. I have deliberately left off the ambergris and the musk, as I don’t like the taste, they are hard to find, and are expensive. This posset tastes just fine without them.

A well made posset was said to have three different layers. The uppermost, known as ‘the grace’ was a snowy foam or aerated crust. In the middle was a smooth spicy custard and at the bottom a pungent alcoholic liquid. The grace and the custard were enthusiastically consumed as ‘spoonmeat’ and the sack-rich liquid below drunk through the ‘pipe’ or spout of the posset pot. At weddings a wedding ring was sometimes thrown into the posset. It was thought that the person who fished it out would be the next to go to the altar.

The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, defines posset as a drink composed of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or other liquor, often with sugar, spices, or other ingredients; formerly much used as a delicacy, or as a remedy for colds or other affections. Its use predates Digby by a couple hundred years; it was referenced in the mid-1400s by J. Baker’s Boke of Nurture. It said, Milke, crayme, and cruddes, and eke the Ioncate, they close a mannes stomake and so doth the possate. (Translation: Milk, cream, and curds, and also the junket, they close a man’s stomach, and so does the posset.)