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Medieval Historical Backgrounds
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These are recipes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The first thing that struck me was that they would probably be easy for someone to follow today. Most of the ingredients are familiar in today’s kitchen (except the larks and the huge turtle!), and a kitchen scale could measure the amounts.
These first ones are from a book published in 1773 titled The Lady’s Assistant.
A Ragout of Larks
Fry them, with and onion stuck with cloves, a few truffles, and mushrooms; pour off the fat; shake over the larks, etc a little flour; put to them some good gravy; stew them till enough; if there is any fat, scum it off; add chopped parsley, lemon-juice, pepper, and salt, if necessary.
Larks aux Poires
Pick the larks, and truss them as close as possible; cut off one leg, season them with pepper and salt: make a forcemeat as follows:——Take a veal sweetbread, as much suet, some mushrooms, and some morels, a little lemon-peel, and some sweet herbs; chope them very fine, mix them with the yolk of an egg; wrap every lark in some of this forcemeat and shape it like a pear, leaving the leg for the stalk; wash them over with the yolk of an egg, and strew over them crumbs of bread; bake them in a gentle oven of fine brown, and serve them without sauce.
When the larks are trussed, cut some pieces of bacon larger every way than a lark; spit them on a skewer (as before directed) with one of these bards between every one of them; when they are near done, throw over them some breadcrumbs and a little salt. For sauce —bread-sauce and plain butter
The following recipes are from a recipe book published in 1801.
Italian sauce, brown
Chop a few mushrooms, shallots and truffles; put them into a stewpan, with a little stock, and a glass of Madeira; boil it a few minutes, then add a little coulis; squeeze a Seville orange, if you have one, or a lemon; put in a little sugar.
Chop about four large handfuls of sorrel; put it into a stewpan, with a small piece of butter, a slice of ham, and two onions chopped fine; put them on the fire to simmer for half an hour; then rub it through a tammy, and add a little coulis to it; squeeze a lemon and a Seville orange, if to be had; if not two lemons; a little pepper and salt, and sugar to make it palatable.
A Bread Pudding, either baked or boiled
Boil a quart of milk with lemon peel and cinnamon, for a few minutes; put the crumb of four French rolls into a bason, pour the milk over the rolls, and cover the bason quite close for about half and hour; break eight eggs into another bason, beat them up, and sweeten it with moist sugar; add a glass of brandy, a little nutmeg, and a few currants if you think proper; if baked, put puff paste on the rim of the dish, and butter the dish; if for boiling, butter the mold. N.B. all boiled puddings should have wine sauce
A best sort of Plum Pudding
A pound of raisins, stoned, a pound of currants, well washed and picked, a pound of suet, chopped very fine, about a pound of flour, and as much bread crumbs, a little pounded spice, an ounce of preserved lemon peel, an ounce of orange peel, an ounce of citron, about half a nutmeg, grated, and a quarter of a pound of moist sugar, mix all together by rubbing it between your hands, then put it into a bason, break eight eggs into it, put about half a pint of new milk, and two glasses of brandy; stir it up well with a wooden spoon; be careful not to wet it too much, for if it is not very thick the fruit will settle at the bottom; it will take four hours to boil.
A Family Plum Pudding
It is made the same way as the best sort, but not so rich. The lemon and orange peel, and citron is left out, and use all flour instead of the bread crumbs, but which means it will take two more hours of boiling.
The following recipes come from a 1813 cookbook
Take a quarter of the under part of a turtle of sixty pounds weight, and scald it, and when done, take the shoulder-bone out and fill the cavity with a good high-seasoned forcemeat made with the lean of the turtle; put it into a stewpan, and add a pint of Madeira wine, cayenne pepper, salt, lemon juice, a clove of garlick, a little mace, a few cloves and allspice tied in a bag, a bunch of sweet herbs, some whole onions, and three quarts of good beef stock. Stew gently till three parts done; then take the turtle and put it into another stewpan, with some of the entrails boiled and some egg balls; add a little thickening of flour and butter to the liquor, let it boil, and strain it to the turtle etc, then stew it till tender, and the liquor almost reduced to a glaize. Serve it up in a deep dish.
Put into a deep china or glass dish half a pound of sponge bisquits, two ounces of ratafias, two ounces of Jordan almonds blanched and pounded, citron and candied orange peel and ounce each cut into small pieces, some currant jelly and raspberry jam, a small quantity of grated nutmeg and lemon peel, half a pint of sweet wine, and a little of the liquor of the syllabub. Then make the same kind of cream as for pies, and when the cold put it over the ingredients. When it is to be served up put plenty of the stiff froth of the syllabub raised high on the cream, and garnish.
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