Sunday, 25 October 2015

To make an Orange Pudding

This exquisite pudding attracted a lot of interest. The taste is not what we are used to in the 21st century, it's not overly sweet and very rich and spiced. It has all the favourite 18th Century flavours in it : Roses, orange blossoms and sack. You close your eyes and take a bite, let the different tastes open themselves to you and you are nearly back in the age of enlightenment. I would have stayed if I could!

To make an Orange pudding

TAKE the yolks of sixteen eggs, beat them well, with half a pound of melted butter, grate in the rind of two fine Seville oranges, beat in half a pound of fine sugar, two spoonfuls of orange-flower-water, two of rose-water, a gill of sack, half a pint of cream, two Naples biscuits, or the crumbs of a halfpenny roll soaked in the cream, and mix all well together. Make a thin puff-paste, and lay all over the  and round the rim, pour in the pudding and bake it. It will take about as long baking as a custard.

Eggs are larger than they were in Hannah Glasse's day, I suppose they were the size that Bantam's eggs are now. For the pudding I used the yolks of twelve large eggs and it was really more than enough.
 A gill of sack (sherry)  - a gill is about a quarter of a pint. It seems like a lot really and I sloshed in most of it but was a bit concerned that the pudding would be too runny but Hannah knew what she was doing and it turned out fine, the consistency was pleasingly solid. I had made several batches of Naples biscuits for the banquet itself so I used two of them instead of a halfpenny roll soaked in cream, the rosiness was just right and complemented the orange blossom beautifully. The recipe for Naples biscuits is one of my previous blog posts, they are very quick and easy to make.
I rolled out ready made puff pastry ( don't look at me like that, my pastry is rubbish and this pudding had to work, otherwise think of the egg waste, also the guests were arriving in a matter of hours), until it was a thin soft sheet and lined a flan tin with it. I I followed the instructions for cooking exactly, apart from the amount of egg yolks and I used ordinary oranges not Seville, which are notoriously bitter, but if you want to try them please do - If you love marmalade you should be fine. I put it in the oven at 180 degrees and kept an eye on it. It swelled like a souffle while cooking and then when I took it out of the oven it subsided to the way it looks in the photograph.
 It's rich, so best served in thin slices.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

To Roast a Fowl with Chestnuts

The fowl (it was a chicken) eaten the quickest of all the dishes I prepared, save the Orange Pudding.

To roast a fowl with chesnuts.

First take some chesnuts, roast them very carefully (make sure you make crosses in the skin that go through the skin, some of mine exploded in the oven and all over the kitchen) so as not to burn them, take off the skin,and peel them, take about a dozen of them cut small, and bruise them in a mortar; parboil the liver of the fowl, bruise it, cut about a quarter of a pound of ham or bacon, and pound it;then mix them all together, with a good deal of parsley chopped small, a little sweet herbs, some mace, some pepper, salt and nutmeg;mix these together and put into your fowl, and roast it.  The best way of doing it is to tie the neck, and hang it up by the legs to roast with a string, and baste it with butter.  For sauce take the rest of the chesnuts peeled and skinned, put them into some good gravy, with a little white wine, and thicken it with a piece of butter rolled in flour:then take up your fowl, lay it in the dish, and pour in the sauce. Garnish with lemon.

In Georgian kitchens they cooked over the open fire in a big fireplace, kitchen ranges were not invented until the end of the eighteenth century or thereabouts so when Hannah Glasse wrote this book she was speaking from her experience of cooking in the only way she knew how which was over the roaring open fire. There were ovens built into the side of the fireplace, for bread and so on, but most of the dishes in her book are cooked over the flames - that's why the fowl had to be strung up by it;s feet ( so the stuffing didn't fall out), something I couldn't really recreate so I put it in the oven.  I followed her recipe exactly even down to the roasting of the chestnuts and bruising things in the mortar ( that was the fun part).
When the chicken had done in the oven, I made the sauce from the gravy that came from the roasting with all the butter and different flavours in it from cooking and added some sliced mushrooms and Madeira and a bit of salt and cracked pepper ( in the mortar again) with the essential mace and nutmeg. It was very good, and a good one to remember for Christmas.

The banquet recipes...Cheshire Pork Pie.

Cheshire Pork Pie.
To make a Cheshire Pork Pie.
Take a loin of pork, skin it, cut it into steaks, season it with salt, nutmeg and pepper; make a good crust, lay a layer of pork, then a large layer of pippins pared and cored, a little sugar, enough to sweeten the pie, then another layer of pork;put in half a pint of white wine, lay some butter on the top, and close your pie. If your pie be large, it will take a pint of white wine.

I mustadmit I was very wary of tipping in a pint of wine. I was sure that my 'good crust' would not stand it, and the lot would be a soggy mess. My good crust was frozen puff pastry that I defrosted and rolled out into a sheet. Hannah Glasse has recipes for all kinds of crust, but they usually call for large amounts of lard. I preferred a buttery puff pastry that I knew would work, but just on the top.  So I covered the pie with a lid of puff pastry ( and some fancy cut out leaves) and didn't encase it, and it was all the better for that.
Cheshire Pork Pie before the crust is added.

I used pork chops and cut out the bones, seasoned them according to the recipe, then I added the thick layer of peeled apple slices ( Cox's Orange Pippin or Elstar are especially good for this) and sprinkled a bit of sugar on them. Then came another layer of pork chop slices. I didn't put in a pint of wine, but just a couple of good glugs of it so the pork chops simmer in a thin layer of white wine. I then added the butter and closed it with the puff pastry. Put it in an oven at 180- 200 degrees for about forty minutes or so, half way through I covered it loosely with tin foil to make sure the pastry didn't blacken too much and that the pork chops were thoroughly cooked.
It was well received!

The Banquet

Gentle reader, it was a delightful evening. The eighteenth century briefly resurrected. The smells and tastes of the food along with the scent of wood smoke from the fire and the autumnal twilight outside.I felt back in a time I belonged - I even got the hairstyle right and it took me about ten seconds to do. I tell you 1789 lived again that evening. Some of my friends wore hired costumes which looked terrific by candle light, and their efforts on behalf of Miss Posset were much appreciated!

The menu was altered and changed a fair bit but that was because I had overdone things as usual, as my sister informed me when I asked why I do this sort of thing to myself, she replied succinctly ' I don't know, you're a doughnut'.
The menu I had originally thought up was far too large and complicated (the stuffed cucumbers were so stuffed with ingredients and sauces that the cucumbers themselves merely served as limp, greenish holders for the complicated fricassee of meat and butter and cabbage within) and I could certainly not have done it alone. This menu was in the realms of one woman's achievement  and after having contemplated the task ahead with my morning pipe,a cup of tea and a linen apron covering my dress by the kitchen fire, I roused myself to cook and create all Saturday, The cooking was not finished on Saturday and I continued until mid- afternoon on Sunday when I was pretty sure my feet would drop off and I would burst into wracking sobs.
 As it was a scullery maid was much needed, especially when the chestnuts exploded and covered the kitchen in tiny pale granules as Miss Posset removed them from the oven.
I was going to add broccoli done the french way but to be honest when all the dishes were on the table, no one was that bothered about the vegetables. 
The menu was as follows:
On the evening of October 4th 17-
Miss Posset had prepared for her guest's delight the following

Onion Soup - a deliciously done up in the Georgian style
Salmon pie
Cheshire Pork Pie
Roast Chicken with Chestnuts
Orange pudding
 Naples biscuits
Stilton and Cheddar with Chutney
Plenty of Sack and Burgundy

and a Sack Posset by the fire for the guests that stayed 'til late.
 I'll write the recipe for each dish I haven't written about before in separate posts.

Monday, 31 August 2015

The old fashioned french way of eating Broccoli, according to Madam Glasse


To dress brockala.
Strip all the little branches off till you come to the top one, then with a knife peel off all the hard outside skin, which is on the stalks and the little branches, and throw them into water. Have a stew-pan of water with some salt in it: when it boils put in the brockala, and when the stalks are tender it is enough, then send to the table with butter in a cup. The French eat oil and vinegar with it.

The butter in a cup was not really something I wanted to do, these warm summer months -so I followed her instructions exactly, and it is true the stalk is quite delicious and lends a lovely vegetable flavour to the water it is cooked in. So I cooked it to nice fluorescent green, just past al dente,( four or five minutes is about enough) and then drizzled a bit of good white wine vinegar on it and some mild olive oil.
It was so good we decided we're always going to eat Broccoli this way. I served it like this Roast beef that I fried in a lump of butter rolled in flour, when I took the beef out I added a splash of red wine to the pan and drizzled it over the beef, Then I served it with Horse Radish. Ms. Glasse thinks Horse radish on roast beef is enough.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Miss Posset Caters a Banquet.

It's always nice to have something to work towards, when painting I love to imagine my work when it's hanging in a gallery or having an agent really like my novel I just wrote and take me on ( am in the process of approaching agents, gearing up for endless rejection and hoping just once to strike gold). SO with this in mind I have visions of an eighteenth century banquet that I want to prepare for my birthday. My birthday falls this year exactly on a lunar eclipse which is an irrelevant detail but seems portentous of time travel via cooking or magic of some sort. However, I sent out all my invitations and no one can come on that particular weekend so that was that. It's now on the 4th of October, which has all the mysteriousness of autumn, mists and mellow fruitfulness and I can include recipes with Chestnuts and Spicy Possets. Maybe a syllabub or two but definitely plenty of sack and champagne.

I am going to choose the menu and then try out the dishes one by one beforehand. Seems like the most fun.
Miss Posset's Birthday Banquet:

Farced Cucumbers
Almond Rice
Brockely in a Salad
Ragoo of Beans/Peas
Fish pasties the Italian way
Roasted Turkey with mock oyster sauce
Roasted Chicken with chestnuts
Cheshire Pork pie
Lemon Tart
Orange pudding
Sack Posset
Cheese with chutney
Naples Biscuits
Sack, Canary,Light Ale, Claret.

The meat I use will be meticulously sourced from free range, organic farms that have been approved by Animal Protection ( In the Netherlands there is a special cruelty- free stamp)

The Idea is, that  most of the dishes are simultaneously at the table, so the meat dishes will be all on the table and the rice and vegetables, then everything is cleared and desserts are brought in.
Followed by Possets and biscuits and cheese, chutney and crackers and more Claret/Sack etc.

I hope it's 18th Century enough. The decoration of the table and the room will of course be terribly important as well, Candlelight and someone playing Mozart or Vivaldi on our piano. Will try the Cheshire Pork pie recipe first.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Miss Posset's Beetroot Chutney- Georgian Style.

Madam Glasse says nothing on chutneys, even though in the 18th century they were quite popular. At first they were called ' mangoed ' fruits or relishes before the term chutney or chutni was widely accepted. Apparently they made their presence as a condiment felt in the 17th Century when they were brought back from India. They are incredibly easy and satisfying to make and are utterly delicious. I had a lot of different vegetables in surplus at my allotment, primarily beetroots and purple carrots, and I made a chutney that echoes some of Hannah Glasse's favourite flavours.

We tried it fresh with some Gorgonzola cheese, and it will also taste amazing in a few days, the orange comes more to the fore as do the other spices. It's perfect for strong cheese or as an accompaniment to meat dishes.

Miss Posset's Chutney.
You will need;
Some beetroots - more beets than carrots if you can manage it.
Some carrots ( sweet little carrots, not big bruisers)
A couple of tomatoes
I had a yellow courgette as well,
Red wine vinegar ( organic)
Brown sugar (fair trade raw cane)
Zest and juice of an orange or two depending on how much you have chopped, or to your taste.
A slice of fresh ginger
Bay leaf
Cinnamon and Cardamom. 

Chop the vegetables into chunky little pieces and put them in a big saucepan with a thick bottom, I used one of those cast iron stewing pans, and then pour in enough vinegar to cover the vegetables, add the zest and juice of the orange and then add sugar to taste, I usually use equal amounts of vinegar and sugar but you may adjust this to your taste. Simmer gently for around and hour and a half to two hours, until the consistency is thick and jam-like and allow to cool.
Let the aroma of orange and spices waft gently around the house while cooking, but if cooking in August - as I was - close the windows because the fermenty vinegar-sweet smell brings every wasp into the kitchen within a 20 mile radius.