Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Blancmange and Black Caps.

Our old friend Parson James Woodforde had a fine dinner and supper with friends on this day in 1783. As was his habit, he recorded the meals in his journal:

“…..went by appointment to Mr. Priests and there dined, supped and spent the Evening…. We had for Dinner some fresh Salmon and Oyster Sauce, a boiled Turkey and Oyster Sauce, a fore Qr. of London Lamb, mince Pyes, &c … We did not sup till near 10 at night – and then we had a very handsome supper – A Couple of boiled Fowls and Oyster Sauce, a rosted Hare wch. I sent them – one Duck rosted, a hot Tongue, Tarts, Italian Flummery – Blamanche [blancmange], black Caps and Sweetmeats. I did not get to bed till after 12 tonight.”

That was certainly a substantial supper for 10 o’clock at night! The Black Caps were a favourite eighteenth century dish of baked apples – the caramelisation of the sugar on top giving it its name. A dish worthy of reviving, I believe – especially with Orange-Flower water included. A nice homely dish after some of the more outlandish that we have had this week.


To make Black Caps.
Take a dozen large Pippins, or Golden-runnets, cut them in halves, and lay them single, with the flat sides downward in a pretty large Mazareen, as close by each other as they can lie; then squeeze a Lemon into two spoonfuls of Orange Flower-water, and pour over them; shred some Lemon-peel very fine, and shake between them; then grate over them some double refin’d Sugar; put them into a quick Oven, and they will be done in half an Hour.
Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary, John Nott (1724)

The story of blancmange is a long and fascinating one, and I have covered it piecemeal in previous posts. Two fourteenth century versions are HERE and HERE, and there is a wonderfully artistic nineteenth century Coffee Blancmange from the Baron Brisse HERE. Methinks I must find some inbetween versions to properly demonstrate its evolution from a medieval sweetened and spiced chicken/rice/almond milk “porridge” to a bland, wobbly gelatinised and coloured modern dessert.


Quotation for the Day …

Happy and successful cooking doesn't rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.
Georges Blanc, Ma Cuisine des Saisons

1 comment:

Mrs. Mordecai said...

I can't believe how much meat they used to eat! Ugh.

Your blog is too fun. Thanks!