Tag Archives: Historical Cooking

Mrs Beeton for the Fall: Soup is on again!

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Finding inexpensive items to cook for large amounts of people can be a bit challenging. Seasonality is key to making truly delicious dishes for your family and friends. This recipe hails from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton and published 1861.

Cabbage is a fantastically healthy vegetable which is good both raw and cooked. This recipe can be adjusted for vegetarian preferences if you remove the bacon and replace with a dab of butter. You can also add mushrooms to this to add in a more “meat like” and umami flavor.

CABBAGE SOUP.
118. INGREDIENTS.—1 large cabbage, 3 carrots, 2 onions, 4 or 5 slices of lean bacon, salt and pepper to taste, 2 quarts of medium stock No. 105.

Mode.—Scald the cabbage, exit it up and drain it. Line the stewpan with the bacon, put in the cabbage, carrots, and onions; moisten with skimmings from the stock, and simmer very gently, till the cabbage is tender; add the stock, stew softly for half an hour, and carefully skim off every particle of fat. Season and serve.
Time.—1-1/2 hour. Average cost, 1s. per quart.

Seasonable in winter.
Sufficient for 8 persons.

Mrs Beeton for the Fall: Soup is on!

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Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton and published 1861.  She had all manner of advise on how to run a household, but I am focusing on some of her recipes that sound particularly interesting for modern palates.

Fall is apple season, though most supermarkets will sell apples year round in many major cities.  Here is a recipe for Apple Soup:

APPLE SOUP.
111. INGREDIENTS.—2 lbs. of good boiling apples, 3/4 teaspoonful of white
pepper, 6 cloves, cayenne or ginger to taste, 3 quarts of medium stock.

Mode.—Peel and quarter the apples, taking out their cores; put them into the stock, stew them gently till tender. Rub the whole through a strainer, add the seasoning, give it one boil up, and serve.

Time.—1 hour. Average cost per quart, 1s.

Seasonable from September to December.

Sufficient for 10 persons.

Fava Beans in Sour Sauce with Hazelnuts: Kanz

Here is the second recipe in my series of Egyptian recipes that I found in Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali (ISBN: 978-0-520-26174-7). The recipes were tagged K, for Kanz (the original Kanz al-Fawaid fi tanwi al-mawaid which was “The Treasure of Useful Advice for the Composition of a Varied Table”).

This recipe in particular is great for warm weather since this is very much a cold vegetable dish. It’s also a great vegan dish. It was found on page 66 under cold appetizers. Some of the comments on this: you can use all fava beans and not bother with broad beans, or all broad beans. I did this mostly for color and texture difference. Also, the atraf-tib is a mixture of fairly “flowery” herbs and spices which is made up of lavender, betel, bay leaves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, cloves, rosebuds, beech-nuts, ginger and long pepper. It is also safe to say that you should use what you have available. Not all of these are easily available. What I ended up using was bay leaves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, cloves, giner and long pepper. I used 4 parts of ginger, to one part of all the other ingredients, but you may want to change these up. You also don’t need to make it if you’d prefer.

Fava Bean in Sour Sauce with Hazelnuts

1 can Fava Beans
1 can Broad Beans
¼ tsp saffron threads
¼ tsp dry ground coriander
¼ atraf-tib (spice mixture)
½ cup roasted hazelnuts
2 tbs fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
4 tbs fresh mint leaves
2 tbs tahini
1 tbs salt

Drain beans and place in large mixing bowl. In Cuisinart, place the rest of the ingredients (not the beans) in and grind that all into a smooth consistency (can be left chunky depending on your preferences). Pour mixture over beans and combine everything so that the beans are well covered.

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Kanz – Egyptian Flair for the medieval kitchen

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Every year I try to do one major luncheon or large “meal” as it forces me to redact a bunch of new historical recipes. This year, I am doing a luncheon for the local “chapter” of the Society for Creative Anachronism (www.sca.org). My “Barony” is doing an Egyptian/Roman themed event, so I decided to try to find some Egyptian recipes since I hadn’t really done any Middle Eastern cooking myself. I figured this would make a really good change and challenge.
Urtatim Al-Qurtubiyya has been very kind to point me in the correct direction of where to look. I own a number of Middle Eastern cookbooks, but I wasn’t sure which ones would be closer to Egypt rather than more of what is typical to Middle Eastern cuisine.
The book I used for these recipes is Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali (ISBN: 978-0-520-26174-7). I looked over all the recipes with the donation of K, for Kanz (the original Kanz al-Fawaid fi tanwi al-mawaid which was “The Treasure of Useful Advice for the Composition of a Varied Table”).
First recipe is Fried Meatballs, which was from page 87 of the text. The original said to boil until halfway cooked, and then fry. We tried frying all the way and boiling, and really there wasn’t much of a flavor difference. Probably best to bake these if you are doing a large batch of them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (or until done, depending on the size of the meatball and your oven.

The original just says “meat” and not the type of meat. I chose ground beef as this was one of the cheaper meats that were ground up. Also, the original recipe calls for the onion to be roasted. Because of time limits, we sautéed the onions in a pan of olive oil, but if you wanted to roast the onion, feel free to do so.

Fried Meatballs

1 lbs. Ground Beef, 15-20% fat is good
1/8 tsp Long Pepper, ground fine
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp. Dry Coriander, ground fine
½ cup Fresh Cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1 large Brown Onion, chopped fine
Olive oil to cook

Take chopped onions and sauté in a hot pan with olive oil. Cook those until they caramelize. Once completed allow to cool, then put in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until all the ingredients are evenly mixed together. Roll into balls. I made them smaller (maybe an inch in diameter) for faster cook times. Place olive oil in a pan to heat up until hot. Add meatballs into pan to brown and cook thru, rotating them for even browning. Serve.

Feeds about 6.

Rumpolt Salads for Summer

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Ein new Kochbuch (lit. “A New Cookbook”), written in 1581 by Marx Rumpolt, was the first textbook for professional chefs in training. He was head cook to Elector of Mainz, Daniel Brendel of Homburg. Currently this is being translated by Sharon Ann Palmer on her lovely blog over here.

I found a few easy salads that are perfect for the Summer.

Salat 20. Schel die Murcken/ vnd schneidt sie breit vnnd dünn/ mach sie an mit Oel/ Pfeffer vnd Saltz. Seind sie aber eyngesaltzen/ so seind sie auch nit böß/ seind besser als roh/ denn man kans eynsaltzen mit Fenchel vnd mit Kümel/ daß man sie vber ein Jar kan behalten. Vnnd am Rheinstrom nennet man es Cucummern.

20. Peel the Cucumbers/ and cut them wide and thin/ mix them with oil/ pepper and salt. If they are salted/ then they are also not bad/ they are better than raw/ for one can salt them down with fennel and with caraway/ that one can keep over a year. And on the Rhine river (in the Rhine valley) one calls it Cucummern.

Cucumber Salad

3 Medium Cucumbers, English or whatever you prefer
1 Small Bulb of Fennel
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper (adjust to taste)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/8 Tsp Caraway Seeds

Take skin off and then thinly slice cucumbers. Clean and slice fennel as well. Place in bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Combine everything evenly. Serve.

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Salat 33. Nimm ein rot Häuptkraut/ schneidts fein klein/ vnd quells ein wenig in warmen Wasser/ küls darnach geschwindt auß/ machs mit Essig vnd Oel ab/ vnd wenn es ein weil im Essig ligt/ so wirt es schön rot.

33. Take a red cabbage/ cut it very small/ parboil it a little in warm water/ cool it rapidly/ mix with vinegar and oil/ and when it lays awhile in the vinegar/ then it will be beautiful red.

Red Cabbage Salad

1 large Red Cabbage
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt

In a large pot fill with water, leaving at least 3″ from the rim. Boil water.

Get another large bowl and fill with an ice bath.

Shred cabbage.

Once water is boiling, take off heat and strain off liquid.

Drop hot cabbage carefully into ice bath. Let stand for a few minutes until cabbage is cool to touch.

Drain water. Squeeze cabbage loosely to get as much water off as you can.

Place in clean, dry bowl cabbage and add the rest of the ingredients. Toss cabbage to make sure everything is well mixed.

Libre del Coch — Amored Hen

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Libre del Coch was published in 1520 in Barcelona. It was written in Catalan – a language related to, but distinct from, Spanish, written by Ruperto de Nola.
Armored Hen [GALLINA ARMADA]

Roast a good hen. And when it is nearly half-roasted, baste it with bacon. Then take well-beaten egg yolks, then with a spoon or with the tip of a large wooden spoon rub the hen with these yolks, little by little. And then sprinkle wheat flour well-sifted with ground salt over the eggs, turning the hen constantly and swiftly; and the crust is worth more than the hen.

My Thought process:

I’m doing these redactions/recipes for a large cooking event, however, I have no space to actually cook full chickens. There is absolutely nothing wrong with switching this up if you have the equipment and space for full hens. I created this so it was easy and faster to cook, as well as prepare.

I also added a few more spices than the original for better flavor. If you want to stick with just salt and the yoke, then by all means, do that. * means optional.

Recipe:

8 Chicken Legs (about a pound)
8 strips of bacon
¼ cup flour
1 tbs Thyme*
1 tbs Sage*
1 tbs Onion Powder*
1 tbs Garlic Powder*
½ tbs Salt
½ tbs Pepper*
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven for 450 degrees. Take tin foil strips and crunch them up into long tin foil ropes, lining your cook pan with them. This method lifts the chicken on crunched up tin foil to allow it to not cook in fat and crisp skin (if you have another way to lift the legs, feel free to do that).

Put all dry ingrediants together either in a plastic resealable bag or in a bowl. Dredge chicken legs in egg yoke and then coat with the flour mixture. Place chicken on top of coiled tin foil pan and cover each piece of chicken with a strip of bacon.

Roast. Cook at 450 degrees until fully cooked and skin gets crispy.

Cooking Over a Fire

One of the classes that I was able to watch a bit of at the West Coast Culinary Symposium last weekend was Baroness Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn “Cooking over a Fire.” As a potter, I’ve been making stoneware cooking pots for over 12 years now, selling pipkins, pans and a variety of cookware over the years, but I’ve never seen anyone actually use them. I knew in theory how to use them and have had clients of mine test the pots to make sure they work, but this experience was very different for me.

Alton Brown has used Earthenware pots in a number of his episodes. The ones I’ve seen have been mostly baking, but to let my readers know that ceramics were the first “dutch oven” pretty much. Ceramics were used in ancient Rome and Greece, as well as in other ancient cultures around the world. They were used for the usual things one would cook in a stainless steel pot (i.e. stews, soups, sauces, vegetables, meats, rice, etc). You can even bake bread in clay (there is a roman/greek clay cloche I found the documentation for), serve wine, prepare your items (mortars and kitchen items)… well, I think you get the picture. The thing with Alton was he usually uses flower pots to cook in. It’s nice to see the pots I’ve made being used for what I intended them for, and them being enjoyed.

Anywho, the way to use clay cookware is actually fairly simple. To avoid thermal shock, you need to make sure you evenly warm the clay vessel and slowly heat them. No open flames at all.

Usually they start with coals. If a pot doesn’t have feet (it’s a sauce pan instead of a pipkin…) then a trivet is put down on a sturdy fire proof area. Someplace dry and away from a lot of wind is an ideal spot. If your pot as feet, don’t worry about the trivet.

This woman is heating up the coals and trying to get some air into them. Bellows would be fairly helpful at this point, but not needed when skirts and lungs are had. Just be careful not to set yourself on fire.

I’ve always told to slowly warm the pots by keeping the pot next to the coals as you are building the fire (a few feet) and as the coals settle into gray, hot useable goals, slowly move the pot closer and closer to the pile. Even heat to the pot. You don’t want to drop a cold pot into a hot fire because the pot may crack due to thermal shock (think of a glass of ice and pouring boiling water into it and the usual ramifications of that).

Pans of french toast added. Cooking commences. More coals are added as cooking is done.

Here are more examples of pots and cooking with fire.

Differences in handles… the hallow handles you would use a long stick in order to help pull it out of the fire. Some of the ladies would also use a mitt in order to help steady the pot and the stick to remove the cookware from the coals.

Items that were being cooked: french toast, custard, apple fritters and a game hen of some sort in wine sauce. There were also pancakes/prizelles I believe being made. From what I ate, it was all very yummy.