Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rules to Live and Eat By.

There is an interesting appendix in Culina famulatrix medicinæ: or, Receipts in modern cookery; with a medical commentary, written by Ignotus, and revised by A. Hunter (1810) which give us some perfect blog fodder. The chapter is entitled “Men and Manners,” and it consists of 267 aphorisms to live by. It seems to me that many of these are as applicable today – or should be - as they were two centuries ago. Naturally, a number of these adages relate to food and dining, and I thought it would be interesting to look at them to see how many could be made fashionable again.
1.Remove the tax upon sugar, by using only one lump to sweeten your tea, instead of two.
6. Weigh your tea, sugar, and Shambles meat when it comes in.
9.  Dine late, it makes the day longer, and saves a supper.
11. Look now and then into your kitchen and larder, and always know what is for dinner.
29. Instead of drinking three glasses of wine after dinner, drink only two, and if you want more, drink a glass of ale. The saving will bring wine back to its old price.
43. After we have eat a hearty meal, we think no man is hungry.
63. Waste not; want not; is a good motto for a kitchen.
65. When you sit down to a luxurious banquet, consider how many persons there are in the world who would be glad of the crumbs that fall from your table.
67. A glutton eats as much to-day, as if he expected to die to-morrow; and he build’s a house, as if he expected to live for ever.
84. If you are disposed to grow fat, keep your eyes open, and your mouth shut.
87. Eating is the spur to industry. Could we live without eating, all the world would be idle.
139. She is not a good housewife who is always buying pennyworths.
154. There is something unmanly in hunting the hare. Fox-hunting is only destroying the destroyer.
167. To be able to carve well, is a useful and elegant accomplishment. It is an artless recommendation to a man who is looking out for a wife.
172. When fruit is offered, always take what is next to you.
191. A Roman emperor did not enjoy the luxuries of an English washer-woman. She breakfasts upon tea from the East Indies, and upon sugar from the West.
192. A glutton is emphatically said to dig his grave with his teeth.
196. When you enter into the world, endeavour to get a genteel deportment at table. Observe a well-bred man, and mark his behaviour. Take him for a copy, and regulate your manners by his. Do not stick out your elbows to the annoyance of your neighbour, or hold your knife and fork upright, as if you were in hostility with the company. When you enter the drawing-room, before going into dinner, do it gracefully; and after paying your compliments to the lady and gentleman of the house, bow respectfully to the company; then take your place at the table according to your rank in life. Habit, and good company will do the rest.
200. Rise from table with an appetite, and you will not be in danger of sitting down without one.
250. Families that use brown bread, will find much economy in having it cut with a slicing knife. This instrument cuts bread without waste, and does the business with ease and expedition.
264. Avoid the tavern and the ale-house. Money spent there never returns.

If you agree with the economy of brown bread cut with a slicing knife, the following recipe, from the same book, may please you even more, as it is at another level of economy again, being made with potato in place of some of the flour.

Bread for Toast and Butter.
Take two pounds of fine flour, after being gently warmed before the fire and rub it into half a pound of warm mealy potatoes. When well mixed, add a proper quantity of yest and salt, with warm milk and water sufficient to make into dough, which must be allowed two hours to rise, before being formed into a loaf. Put the loaf into a tin to preserve its shape, and when placed in the oven, take care that it be not over-browned.

And to solve the dinner/supper decision (No. 9) the following recipe would suit either meal:

Oyster Sausage.
Take a half a pound of lean mutton; three quarters of a pound of beef suet; two score of oysters scaled, and the beards taken off. Chop all together, and add some breadcrumbs, and  yolks of eggs to bind the materials together. Season well with salt, white pepper, and mace. Make this composition into the form of sausages, and fry them lightly in the usual way.

Obs: This is a very neat supper dish, and will in general be liked by those who are fond of savoury things. If required, the sausage meat may be put into skins. Some persons prefer the inside of a sirloin of beef to mutton, but that cannot be so conveniently obtained.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lovely Leeks.

I bought some lovely leeks at the farmers’ market at the weekend  - young and tender they were indeed -  and naturally my thoughts turned to potato and leek soup. Leeks have been used since ancient times, and it seems that pottage of one sort or another is their usual final resting place. There must be some other good ideas for good leeks, I thought, so I went looking – just in case I end up with a glut of lovely leeks and get tired of lovely soup.

Here are a couple of my finds:

Pilchard and Leek Pie
Clean and skin the white part of some large leeks; scald in milk and water, and put them in layers into a dish, and between the layers, two or three salted pilchards which have been soaked for some hours the day before. Cover the whole with a good plain crust. When the pie is taken out of the oven, lift up the side crust with a knife, and empty out all the liquor; then pour in half a pint of scalded cream.
A New System of Domestic Cookery (1808) by Maria Eliza Rundell.

Leek Flammish.
Cut up a dozen leeks (previously washed clean and free from grit) into pieces half an inch long; place these in a basin with half a pint of good thick cream, season with nutmeg, pepper and salt, and mix all well together. Prepare a pound of short paste (No. 756) divide it into four equal parts, mould these into balls, roll them out to the size and shape of pudding-plates, and place them on a baking-dish or tin; with a paste-brush dipped in water wet all round the edges of the paste, fill the centre of each flat with enough of the prepared leeks to fill the flammish - when, by gathering up the sides of the paste, each flat assumes the form of a puckered purse; this must be secured by fastening the plaits together with a wetted small circular piece of paste gently pressed upon their centre. Bake for half an hour.
The Cook's Guide, and Housekeeper's & Butler's Assistant (1867) by Charles Elmé Francatelli.

This is clearly a flamiche – a leek and cream tart which is a specialty of parts of Northern France and Belgium. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dishing it up with Marmalade.

I have been making marmalade lately – cumquat marmalade, to be exact – thanks to a friend with a tree in the family. For the first time in living memory, this extended family may have more marmalade than it can eat on breakfast toast (true marmalade afficionadosof course do not think there is any such thing as too much of the good thing.) So, what to do with it? Eat more breakfast toast, I say – and plenty of butter too, if you please But there are other ideas.
You could, for example, treat it as jam (true marmalade-lovers don’t agree that true marmalade is the same as orange jam) and make chutney from it. The recipe is here, and it would, methinks, be quite interesting. You could try one of the Marmalade Pudding recipes which we have also had before on this blog (they are here, and here.)

I have a few more new/old ideas for that marmalade surplus:

Various authors suggest it be spooned on top of ice-cream, to make a Marmalade Sundae, or thinning it down to make Marmalade Sauce for a plain pudding, or spread on the bread you are going to make into bread-and-butter pudding. Miss Eliza Leslie suggests it as a filling for a cake:

Marmalade Cake.
Make a batter as for queen-cake, and bake it in small tin rings on a griddle. Beat white of egg, and powdered loaf-sugar according to the preceding receipt, flavouring it with lemon. When the batter is baked into cakes, and they are quite cool, spread over each a thick .ayer of marmalade, and then heap on with a spoon the icing or white of egg and sugar. Pile it high, and set the cakes in a moderate oven till the icing is coloured of a very pale brown.
Directions for Cookery in all its Branches (1844)

I rather like this idea for a different type of marmalade cake:

Orange Nut Bread
1 cup pecans, Persian walnuts, or hickory nuts, chopped
½ cup orange marmalade
2 ½ cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter or other fat.
Sift together the dry ingredients and add the nuts. Add the milk and eggs, and stir until just moistened. Stir in the orange marmalade and the fat, and pour into a well-greased bread pan. Bake in a moderate oven (350° F.) for about 1 hour, or until lightly browned.
If desired, shredded orange rind cooked in a sirup may be used in place of the marmalade. Use the rind of one orange, or three-fourths of a cup of thinly shredded rind. Cover the rind with water, and cook for 20 minutes; then drain. Make a sirup of one-half cup of sugar and one-fourth cup of water. Cool, add the rind, and cook with very little stirring until about 2 tablespoons of sirup are left; then cool before adding to the bread mixture.

Miscellaneous Publications, U.S Dept Agriculture, 1938, Elizabeth Fuller Whiteman.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Honey Preserves.

I cannot resist one more little foray into yesterday’s source - The Feminine Monarchie, Or the Historie of Bees: Shewing Their Admirable Nature, and Properties, Their Generation, and Colonies, Their Government, Loyaltie, Art, Industrie, Enemies, Warres, Magnamimitie, &c. Together with the Right Ordering of Them from Time to Time: and the Sweet Profit Arising Thereof, (1623) by Iohn Haviland.
Instead of bottling fruit with sugar, perhaps honey would give an even more delicious result? (Be sure when bottling to check that the method you are using is in line with modern food safety precautions!)

Preserve Fruits after this manner,
The Damascens, or other Fruit, being gathered fresh from the tree, faire,and in their prime, neither greene or sower, nor ouer-ripe or sweet, with their stalks,but cut short;  weigh them, and take their weight in raw fine Honie: and putting to the Honie the like quantitie of faire water, boile it some halfe quarter of an houre, or till it will yeeld no skum:then hauing slit the amascens in the dented side for feare of breaking, boile them in this liquor with a soft fire, continually skimming and turning them till the meat commeth cleane from the stone, and then take them vp. If the liquor be then too thinne, boile it more: if in the boiling it be too thick,put in more faire water,or Rose-water if you like it. The liquor being of a fit consistence, lay vp and preserue therein your Fruits.
If they be greater Fruits, as Quinces, Pipins, or the like; then shall it bee expedient, when you haue bored them through the middle, or haue otherwise coared them, to put them in as soone as the liquor is first skimmed: and then to let them boile till they be as tender as Quodlings.

I cannot imagine every having enough heavily perfumed red roses to sacrifice to provide an ounce of fresh rose juice, but if I had, I would surely make the following conserve.

Conserves of Roses is thus to be made. Take of the juice of fresh Red Roses one ounce, of fine Honie clarified tenne ounces, boile this together; then it beginneth to boile, adde of the leaves of fresh Red Roses clipt with Scisoors in little pieces four ounces, boile them up to the consumption of the juice, and presently put up the Conserves into some earthen vessell. Keepe it long therein, for in time it waxeth better and better.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Sweet Profit of Bees.

Yesterday’s post arose out of my search for a recipe for old-style gingerbread which was a variation of marchpane or marzipan. I am sure I will find what I am looking for, but during the search I was side-tracked by a new find. It is The Feminine Monarchie, Or the Historie of Bees: Shewing Their Admirable Nature, and Properties, Their Generation, and Colonies, Their Government, Loyaltie, Art, Industrie, Enemies, Warres, Magnamimitie, &c. Together with the Right Ordering of Them from Time to Time: and the Sweet Profit Arising Thereof, (1623) by Iohn Haviland.

The book contains some lovely ideas for using the sweet profit of your bees, including the following idea for ‘marmalade’ which was originally a sliceable quince preserve similar to the modern ‘fruit sticks’ made from dried fruit pulp marketed as childrens’ snacks.

Marmalade is thus made. First boile your Quinces in their skins till they be soft: then,hauing pared and strained them, mix therewith the like quantitie of clarified Honie: and boile this together till it be so thicke, that in stirring (for you must continually stirre it for feare of burning) you may see the bottom ;or, being cooled on a Trencher, it be thicke enough to slice: then take it vp and box it speedily. You may also adde a quantitie of Almonds, and Nut-kernels: also Cinamom, Ginger, Cloues and Mace, of each a like quantitie pounded small and put into the Honie with the Quinces, and in boiling to be stirred together. This is very good to comfort and strengthen the stomack. For want of Quinces you may take Wardens, Peares, or Apples, and specially the Peare-maine, Giliflower, Pipin, and Roiall.

The recipe for marchpane in the same book was not the one I was specifically seeking, but nevertheless it does sound delicious – but then, Rosewater gets me every time.

Marchpane may be made after this manner. Boile and clarifie by it selfe, so much Honie as you thinke meet: when it is cold,take to every pound of Honie the white of an Egge, and beat them together in a Bason, till they bee incorporat together and wax white, and when you haue boiled it againe two or three walmes vpon a fire of coles, continually stirring it, then put to it such quantitie of *blanched Almonds or Nut-kernels stamped, as shall make it of a iust consistence: and after a warme or two more, when it is well mixt, powre it out vpon a Table, and make vp your Marchpane. Afterward you may ice it with Rose-water and Sugar. This is good for the Consumption.
*Steepe them a night in cold water, and the peeles will come off.

Perhaps tomorrow we will see what else this interesting book has to offer. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gingerbread, Revisited.

A return to one of my favourite topics of gingerbread is way, way, overdue, so I thought I should go back - not to the beginning, which would be near impossible, - but to the early days of printed cookery books. Well, not cookery books exactly, but to “other sources” of recipes. I know from emails and comments to a post a short while ago that the concept of making a profit from cookery is a dream rather than a reality for many of you – even those of you who are actual professionals in the business - so the title of my source for the day will probably give you cause for some wry amusement.

The book is by Gervase Markham, and was published in 1631. The title page reads:

Containing Six Principal Vocations, Or Callings, in which Every Good Husband Or House-wife May Lawfully Imploy Themselves, as:

1.      The Natures, Ordering, Curing, Breeding, Choice, Use, and Feeding of all sorts of Cattel, and Fowl, fit for the service of Man: As also the Riding and Dieting of Horses, either for War or Pleasure.
2.      The Knowledge, Use, and Laudable Practice of all the Recreations meet for a Gentleman.
3.      The Office of a House-wife, in Physick, Chirugery, Extraction of Oyles, Banquets, Cookery, Ordering of Feasts, Preserving of Wine, conceited Secrets, Distillations, Perfumes, Ordering of Wooll, Hemp, Flax, Dying, Use of Dayries, Maulting, Brewing, Baking; and the Profit of Oats.
4.      The Inrichment of the Weald in Kent.
5.      The Husbanding and Inriching of all sorts of Barren Grounds, making them equall with the most fruitfull; With the Preservation of Swine. And a Computation of Men and Cattells Labours, &c.
6.      The making of Orchards, Planting and Grassing, the Office of Gardening, and the Ornaments, with the best Husbanding of Bees.

Some of these occupations of housewives and gentlemen are, sadly, no longer lawful. I do not suggest you attempt to try to make yourself wealthy by practicing chirugery or distillation unless you are properly licenced by the relevant authorities! Enriching barren ground or planting orchards however, are surely legal wherever you live, although whether or not these will provide significant income is another point altogether.

In the cookery section of his book, Markham gives a recipe for gingerbread which is quite unlike the modern version. In Markham’s time, gingerbread was somewhat closer to a confection or sweetmeat. It was a solid, dried but not cooked, ‘cake’ or slab of honey and breadcrumbs, flavoured with (usually) ginger and other sweet spices. I like the idea of licorice and aniseed in this one. Perhaps the recipe could be adapted to a confection which could be lawfully sold at a farmers’ market?

How to make course Gingerbread.

To make course Ginger-bread; take a quart of Honey, and set it on the coals, and refine it: then take a penny-worth of Ginger, as much Pepper, as much Licoras, and a quarter of a pound of Anniseeds, and a penny-worth of Saunders: all these must be beaten and searced, and so put into the hony; then put in a quarter of a pint of Claret-wine, or old Ale: then take three penny manchets finely grated, and strew it among the rest, and stir it till it come to a stiff past, and then make into Cakes, and dry them gently.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Garibaldi and Biscuits

For several years now, I have intended, on July 4, to invite you to celebrate with me the birthday (in 1807) of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian leader who played a significant role in the unification of Italy. His birthday is regularly eclipsed by some other pesky Fourth of July celebration, however, and Garibaldi gets forgotten.

Today, I intend to honor his birthday a little belatedly. There is nothing political in my motivation, I assure you, but it is a marvelous excuse to celebrate the biscuits named for him, which were a favourite in my childhood. I have no idea how ‘Garibaldi Biscuits’ came to be so named. As a child, we know them as ‘squashed fly biscuits.’

Garibaldi biscuits are made according to a common theme of enclosing currants or other dried fruit in pastry – a time-honoured way to use up scraps left over from making pies or tarts. In 1861, so the story goes, the English biscuit company Peek Freans released the commercial biscuit and named it after the popular Italian folk hero, who was also quite popular in the North of England (I am not sure about the South, which has always felt itself to be a bit more upper class.) My favourite version of the creation myth is that Guiseppe 'invented' his biscuit when he accidentally sat on an Eccles Cake - which is a very plump version of the same idea.

Should you wish to make your own, here is a recipe from an Australian source, of all things (perhaps an expatriate Pom couldn’t get the commercial variety in the 1940’s, and was forced to attempt them at home?

Garibaldi Biscuits
Take four oz. of self-raising flour, one oz. of margarine or butter, one oz. cf sugar one oz. of chopped sultanas, or raisins a pinch of salt and milk to mix. Chop up the sultanas or stoned raisins. Sieve the flour and salt into a basin. Rub in the margarine or butter and add the sugar. Mix to a very stiff paste, using as little milk as possible. It is better to do the mixing with the hand, and knead the ingredients together. By this way it is much easier to keep the mixture firm, and net too wet. Roll out on to a floured board to about an eighth of an inch in thickness. Cut the paste in half, and on one half spread over the chopped sultanas. Then place the other half of the paste on top and again roll out to an eighth of an inch in thickness. With a sharp knife cut into fingers, or use a pastry cutter to make circles. Place on a well-greased baking sheet and bake in a moderately hot oven for 15 minutes.
Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld.) January 18, 1946.

I have even less idea about the origin of the sauce which also bears his name:

Garibaldi Sauce.
Prepare a Génoise sauce* made with meat or fish basis, flavor it with a suspicion of pounded garlic and curry powder, finely chopped capers, and anchovy essence or paste to which a little chili vinegar should be added, just enough to flavor. Careful blending of the above named flavoring ingredients is essential when making this sauce.
*Génoise Sauce: Melt an ounce of butter in a stewpan, and fry in it a sliced onion, a shallot, half a clove of garlic and a small bouquet garni, add a glass of Burgundy, and let simmer until the onions are done, then add a pint of Espagnole sauce, and let simmer gently for ten minutes. Strain through a fine sieve or tammy, add a pinch of mignonette pepper, and a teaspoonful of anchovy essence, and use as directed.

The Book of Sauces, (Chicago, c1915) by Charles Herman Senn.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mixing it up with Spices.

I dislike commercial curry-powders, on the whole, but for some reason I am intrigued by the idea of spice-mixes in general. Don’t ask me to explain that little quirk, because I cant!

Some time ago, over a number of posts, (see the list following the story) we enjoyed the spice blends in eccentric William Kitchiner’s Magazine of Taste (here.) I remembered some more recently, in another of my favourite sources, Domestic economy, and cookery, for rich and poor, by a lady (1827.) They would make a find addition to your pantry, methinks.

First of all the author makes some general comments:

For very nice seasoning, it would be advisable to use the spices whole or sliced; they can be afterwards dried for common purposes. When they are ground, they should be passed three times through the mill, tightening it every time, and kept in well-stopped labelled bottles. Grate nutmeg, beginning at the top, for, if begun at the stalk end, the fibres will separate, which wastes, and rubs off in lumps. When the different peppers are mixed, they ought to be passed through the mill once or twice together.
To use truffles and morels in powder is great economy. Let them be cut in chips, and dried in the sun, pounded and ground. The French use them in dried chips. Mushroom powder is better made in the same way than any other, and may be mixed with any spices.
These powders are ready to mix into farces, and to powder panures, and other dressed meats. There should always be fine-pierced dredging-boxes kept on purpose, with double heads.

Peppers for Soups and Ragouts.
Allspice, nutmegs, cloves, long pepper, in equal parts, with a double quantity of common pepper; sweet herbs to be used with it. Lemon, thyme, winter savory, sweet basil, parsley, coriander, or celery ground together, in equal parts.
Fricassée Pepper
Lemon Zest, Mace, White Pepper

For Pease Soup
Mint, Celery, and Black Pepper

For Pig, Pork, Geese, Ducks, and Water Fowl.
Sage, Lemon or Orange Zest, Black Pepper, and Cayenne

Italian Pepper
Coriander, 2 oz; Cloves, 2 oz; Anise, 1 oz; Fennel 1 oz; Cinnamon 1 oz; Winter Savory 1 oz.

Scotch Pepper.
Mace, 2 oz; Nutmegs, 1 oz; Cloves, 1 oz; Ginger, 1 oz; Allspice, 1 oz; Lemon Thyme, 1 oz;

Colouring Substances
Red,- Sanders Wood, Cochineal, Beet Root.
Yellow, - Saffron, Turmeric
Green, - Spinach and Parsley Juice

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Long History of Long Pepper.

The article which formed the basis for yesterday’s post mentioned ‘long pepper,’ and I indicated that I would feature it today. No other ideas pushed it out of my consciousness, so long pepper it is in this post.

Long Pepper (Piper longum) is closely related to the more familiar Piper nigrum, from which we obtain the familiar black, white, and green peppercorns. Long pepper is native to India and Indonesia, and this is reflected in some of its alternative names - Balinese pepper, Javanese pepper, Indian long pepper, Bengal pepper, Thippili, and no doubt numerous other names which have not come across my path. The catkin-like fruits of the vine bear tiny seeds which are the source of the complex, pungent flavour.

Long pepper was highly prized in ancient times for both its medicinal and culinary uses, but was eclipsed by black pepper when this became cheaper and more easily available. Its virtual death-knell in European cuisine was assured by the opening up of the New World and the increasing familiarity of chili pepper, and it is now little used outside its natural homelands.

If you are able to source some long pepper, here are some ideas from the first decades of the nineteenth century, when it was still quite popular.

To Pickle Radish-Pods.
Gather the radish-pods when they are quite young, and put them into salt and water all night; then boil the salt and water, and pour it over the pods in jars, and cover them closely to keep in the steam. When the brine is cold, boil it, and pour it hot upon the pods again, repeating the process until they are green; then put them in a sieve to drain, and make a pickle for them of white-wine vinegar, mace, ginger, long pepper and horseradish: pour it boiling hot upon the pods, and, when nearly cold, boil it again and pour it over them. When cold, tie down the jars.
A New System of Domestic Cookery (1808) by Maria Rundell.

Bouillon Maigre pour les Potages de la Table. Meagre Broth for Soups.
Scald all sorts of roots, as onions, parsley roots, carrots, parsneps, half a savoy, turnips, leeks, and celsry; boil all together in peas broth, as directed above; put it into a clean bag called a minionette,* with a small quantity of long pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, mace, a clove of garlick, shallots, and winter savory; boil till the greens are done; and, to give it a good colour, make a brown gravy with sliced onions, and other roots, and butter; when it yields a proper colour, as in all cullis, salt it according to taste, and mix it together. It will serve you to make what soups you please.
The Professed Cook (1812) by B. Clermont

Third Way – Troisième Manière [to make Vinegar]
For very strong vinegar put into a cask of wine thirty pods of ripe long pepper, which ought to be of a fine red, and a quarter of a pound of ginger; leave it fifteen days, then draw out the pepper, which has been suspended by a thread in the cask on purpose, and the bag of ginger; dry them that they may be in readiness to be used again for the same purpose. —Note this attention.
The Art of French Cookery (1827) by Antoine Beauvilliers.

Hippocras (red).
Pour a gallon of claret into an earthen pan, put to it a blade of mace, some long pepper, four grains of white pepper, a drachm of cinnamon, and a little coriander-seed (all bruised separately); add two pounds of powder sugar, and a dozen sweet almonds pounded.

The Cook's Dictionary and House-keeper's Directory (1830) by Richard Dolby.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

All Sorts of Pepper.

I love to find food stories in strange places, as you know. If you want to know about black pepper, white pepper, long pepper and fake white pepper, The Engineer's and Mechanic's Encyclopaedia, Comprehending Practical Illustrations of the Machinery and Processes Employed in Every Description of Manufacture of the British Empire … (1836) has just the story for you.

PEPPER. A well-known spice, of which there are three kinds,— the black, the while, and the long pepper; to these we may now add a fourth, bleached pepper, a patent process which the black pepper undergoes in this country to render it white.

Black pepper is cultivated with such success at Malacca, Java, and especially at Sumatra, that from these islands pepper is exported to every part of the world where a regular commerce has been established. The ground chosen for a pepper garden is marked out into regular squares of six feet, the intended distance of the plants, of which there are usually a thousand in each garden. The pepper vines are supported by chinkareens, which are cuttings of a tree of that name planted on purpose. Two pepper vines are usually planted to one chinkareen, round which the vines twist for support. After being suffered to grow for three years, they are cut off about three feet from the ground, and, being loosened from the prop, are bent into the earth in such a manner that the upper end is returned to the root. The fruit, which is produced in long spikes, is four or five months in coming to maturity: the berries are at first green, turn to a bright red when ripe and in perfection, and soon fall off if not gathered in proper time. By drying they become black, and more or less shrivelled, according to their degree of maturity.

The common white pepper is the fruit of the same plant, differently prepared. It is steeped in water, and then exposed to the heat of the sun for several days, till the rind or outer bark loosens; it is then taken out, and when it is half dry rubbed till the rind falls off; and the white fruit remaining is dried in the sun. A great deal of the heat of the pepper is taken off by this process, so that the white kind is more fit for many purposes than the black.
The long pepper is a dried fruit, of an inch or an inch and a half in length, and about the thickness of a large goose-quill; it is of a brownish grey colour, cylindrical in figure, and said to be produced on a plant of the same genus. It is a native of the East Indies, especially Java, Malabar, and Bengal. This fruit is hottest to the taste in its immature state, and is therefore gathered while green, and dried by the heat of the sun, when it changes to a blackish or dark grey colour. Dr. Cullen observes, that long pepper has precisely the same qualities with those of black, but in a weaker degree.

The method of preparing the bleached pepper appears to be engrossed by Mr. Fulton, of London, who has taken out two patents, one in 1828, the other in 1830. By the specification of the first we are informed that the common black pepper is steeped in water for a day or two, then laid in heaps, and occasionally turned; fermentation ensues, and in a space of time, varying from a week to a month, the outer or black skin bursts and falls off. The pepper is then bleached by oxymuriate of lime, sulphur, or other well-known means. This done, it is washed, and lastly dried in the air, or in an oven. Black pepper thus metamorphosed, so exactly resembles, it is said, the genuine white pepper as to deceive experienced dealers. In the second patent, Mr. Fulton's claim seems to be in the inverse ratio of his invention; for he has invented, he says, the application of a common groat or barley-mill to the cleansing of pepper from the husks, and he claims the exclusive right to use all sorts of machinery in preparing pepper.

The public should be upon their guard against the quantities of spurious pepper, both whole and ground: the latter is, of course, easily counterfeited; but the manufacture of the former is somewhat ingenious. The pepper dust from the sweepings of warehouses is mixed with oil-cake, and rolled up into little balls resembling pepper.

Perhaps we will explore ‘long pepper’ tomorrow, but in the meanwhile, here is a recipe for Pepper Sauce which would be just as good today as it would have been almost two hundred years ago.

Sauce à la Poivrade.—Pepper Sauce.
Put two ounces of butter into a stewpan, with two or three sliced onions, some carrots and turnips sliced, also a clove of garlic, two shallots, two cloves, a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, and some basil; keep turning these ingredients over the fire, till they begin to be coloured; then shake in some flour, and moisten the whole with a large glass of red wine, a glass of water, and a spoonful of vinegar; let the sauce boil half an hour, skimming frequently; season with salt and coarse white pepper, making it rather pungent. Serve with all dishes that require a high flavour.

French Domestic Cookery, by an English Physician (1825)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Basting and Dredging.

I have a final puzzle today from A dictionary of archaic & provincial words, obsolete phrases ... (1852), by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps.

Basteler: A person who bastes meat. In the accounts of the churchwardens of Heybridge, 1532, is the following entry: “Item: to the basteler, 4d.”

Now, this word is most intriguing. If there was such a specific occupation in the Tudor period, I would expect there to be other references, but there are none. I eagerly await the advice or opinions of those of you who may be scholars of that period.

Naturally, during my very brief research, I looked up the word baste in the Oxford English Dictionary, and found to my surprise, that the origin is unknown, but ‘it has been conjectured to be a transferred sense of baste [the verb meaning ‘to beat soundly, thrash, cudgel.’]  I admit to being at a loss to see the connection between the gentle art of ‘moistening (a roasting joint, etc.) by the application of melted fat, gravy, or other liquid, so as to keep it from burning, and improve its flavour’ and giving someone a sound thrashing.

I suspect that the definition of basteler is that of the author of the nineteenth century dictionary, and is based on a mis-spelling or mis-interpretation of pasteler, meaning ‘a person who makes pastries; a pastry-cook; a baker.” What do you think?

Whether the occupation of basteler ever existed (and I would like to think that it did), or the task was simply carried out by an nameless kitchen minion, it was an important technique to help prevent meat drying out. It was often accompanied by dredging, which added further flavour and texture. The process is nicely explained in the following recipe from A Modern System of Domestic Cookery, (1823) by M. Radcliffe.

Curious method of Roasting a Pig.

The pig is not to be scalded; but, being drawn and washed, must be spitted with the hair on, and put to the fire, yet not so as to scorch. When it is about a quarter roasted, and the skin appears blistered from the flesh, the hair and skin is to be pulled clean away with the hand, leaving all the fat and flesh perfectly bare. Then, with a knife, the flesh is to be scotched or scored down to the bone, and exceedingly well basted with fresh butter and cream very moderately warm, and dredged plentifully with fine bread crumbs, currants, sugar, and salt, mixed up together. Thus basting on dredging, and dredging on basting, must be constantly applied, in turns, till the entire flesh is covered a full inch deep; when, the meat being fully roasted, the pig is to be served up whole, with the usual sauce for a pig roasted in the common way. In a very old manuscript collection, this is stated to be a peculiarly delicious as well as curious dish.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Belly full of Fruit.

I have another old food phrase for you today from A dictionary of archaic & provincial words, obsolete phrases ... (1852), by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps. It is said to come from Lancashire:

Croghton-Belly: A person who eats a great deal of fruit.

 An edition of the Transactions of the Philological Society (1855) gives a similar definition, with an attempt at an etymological explanation:

Croghton-Belly: One who has eaten too much fruit. I give this word on the authority of Halliwell. It is probably from the W. croth, what swells or bulges out, a rotundity; croten, a plump little girl.

Just before this definition, the same source gives the word crogged as meaning ‘filled,’ which seems to me could be connected. What do you think? Any Lancastrians dialect experts out there?  The Oxford English Dictionary is no help, and I cannot find any other written context. Where I grew up in Yorkshire, the word for ‘full to bursting’ was pogged – which the OED also does not know.

I grieve the loss of any words, but especially food words, and very especially those which were rare and obscure in the first place. The language is less rich for their loss, don’t you think?

For those Croghton-Bellies out there, I give you a couple of nice ideas to help you to indulge your passion.

Summer Fruit Salad.
The fruit must be fine, quite ripe and fresh gathered. Strip off the stems. Mix in equal quantities red currants and raspberries, or white currants and strawberries. To every pint of fruit add three tablespoonfuls of sifted sugar, a dessertspoonful of sherry, and a dessertspoonful of cold water. Stir frequently, with a silver spoon, and let it remain to saturate for six hours or longer. Serve either at dessert or instead of tart.
The young housewife's daily assistant: on all matters relating to cookery ... (1864) by Cre-Fydd.

Fruit Pudding.
Cut nice, pared apples into pieces; mix with these a few currants, raisins, chopped figs or dates, dried cherries or dried plums—in fact, almost any kind of dried or fresh fruits or berries; put into a baking dish. Now make a batter (do not make it stiff) of wheat meal or corn meal, or both, mixed with water, either hot or cold (boiling water is best if you use all corn meal), and pour over the fruit until all is covered.
What to Eat, and how to Cook it: With Rules for Preserving, Canning and Drying

Fruits and Vegetables (1870)