First day of Lent and a I thought I would try a simple fish dish.

To Fry Haddock

Gut and wash them clean, Cut the fins on the back close, slip off the skins, turn them round with the tails in their mouths, and fasten them with little skewers, then with a brush put some yolk of eggs on, and strew bread crumbs over them; have a pan of hogs-lard or beef-drippings boiling hot, put them in, and fry them quick of a fine light brown; take them out,and put them on a drainer in front of the fire to drain; put the fish in a hot dish, and garnish with the fried parsley, with anchovy sauce in a boat.

Another way is, scale and gut the fish, wash them very clean, cut them in slices about an inch thick, dry them well in a cloth, and flour them; put a pound of butter into a frying pan, and melt it till it is done hissing, put in your fish, and fry them on both side till they are brown; put them in a dish before the fire to keep hot, and put a pint of boiling water, a quarter of a pound of butter, a spoonful of anchovy liquor, two spoonfuls of ketchup, boil it up, pour over the fish, and garnish with horseradish.
The English art of cookery, according to the present practice: (1788)

To Fry Haddock

Take fresh small ones, gut, and wash them; take off the skin and small bones, sprinkle a little salt on them, dredge them with flour.  Make your drippings or butter boiling hot.  Fry the a little brown.  Lay them round a the dish.  Garnish with crisped parsley.  For sauce, melted butter, with anchovies.
N.B. Do whitings in the same manner, but with the skin on.
The Lady’s housewife’s, and cookmaid’s Assistant: (1769)

I basically followed the second receipt for cooking the fish.  I bought four fillets of Haddock, dredged them in flour and pan fried them in butter.  The sauce is the anchovy sauce found in the first receipt.  The ketchup I used was mushroom.  It turned out to be a thinner sauce then we are used to but it actually complimented the haddock.  I would like to find a thicker form of it so as not to end up all over the plate.

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

40 days

Spring will not get here soon enough.  I say this because we still have 2 feet of snow and even had some visit yesterday which thank goodness left nothing behind to worry about.  But the other ritual before spring that is officially part of my life is Lent.  Today many people are having a party for Fat Tuesday, the end of Mardi Gras.  Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday,  there will be repentant heads and souls.  Some will be in church, as was the original thing to do, to having ash place on their head and promising to give something up for the next forty days.  If you pull your calendar out you will find that there is actually 46 days till Easter the end of Lent.  This is because the church originally had a non-beast eating rule during Lent.  Beasts were defined as those that walked upon the earth, because they were cursed when Adam and Even sinned; “…cursed is the ground for thy sake: in sorrow shalt thou eate of it all the dayes of thy life.” (Genesis 3:17b)  The thought being, because the earth was cursed so must the animals that walk upon it including birds. Lent was the time in preparation for easter and also our being like Jesus, who fasted for forty days in the dessert.  I am not sure but I would believe that they knew we were human and not god like and would fail, so making it forty-six days allowed for 6 days of reprieve during this long time.  These six days were Sundays.

In addition to the two major fasting periods, Advent and Lent, there were three other official fasting days: Wednesday, to fast for we are sinners;  Friday, for our Lord gave himself as a sacrifice on a Friday and therefore we fast in thanks and acknowledgement that we have salvation; Saturday, to fast to ask to be vessels of his works as the Virgin Mary herself gave herself to be used by God.  But never was there fasting allowed on a Sunday, because Sunday is a holy day and therefor a day of celebration.  Incidentally, if a holy/saints day fell on a fasting day the fasting was cancelled.  As time rolled along, there became too many saints days and of course amendments were made to the fasting rules.  There was also exceptions to whom fast rules apply, like the elderly and young children, not to mention the sick.  There even were Papal dispensations given out.  Then with the Protestant Revolution, fasting diminished or done away with completely.  It is now a personal choice to have a time of fasting.  When I was growing up Friday was observed in the Catholic church as Fish day but even that is a personal choice, however, one is encourage now to give something up in reflection of the Lenten season.

All of this brings me to the fact that I now have 46 days of Lent to look forward to, and yes my family gives up something, red meat.  Since too much fish has in the past caused me some physical ailments, we continue to have fowl, eggs or cheese.  However, this year I am going to try replicate a few historic receipts.  There are Lenten sections in cookery books up to about the year 1745 and event past this time, but I am unsure if it is just added because there has always been a Lenten section or if there is anyone still practicing.  I say this because in An Essay on Regimen: Together with Five Discourses, Medical, Moral, and Philosophical(1740, London), the author,George Cheyne, talks about fasting for Lent being for Catholics in France, Italy and Spain. I am neither Catholic, French, Italian or Spanish but I love history and this is part of history.

I will admit this is my third year of giving up red meat and I still struggle with not having it, but this will be the first year I will try out “Lenten” receipts.  I am not sure it is right to as for luck in this endeavor but it’s probably ok to as for your prayers.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Cheese: Cotswold

Cotswold cheese is a Double Gloucester cheese with minced onion and chives.  To give a little information on what a Double Gloucester cheese is, you must know that there is also a single type.  Gloucester is a county on the southwest border of England that borders Wales.  They have been making cheese in this area since the 16th century.  Single Gloucester is made with skimmed milk and Double Gloucester is made with whole milk.  This particular cheese was made by the Clawson company.  Clawson known as “Long Clawson Dairy Limited”  is a 12 farm co-op created in 1911.

John Perkins writes under the title Cheese:

The Double Gloucester is a cheese that pleases almost every palate.  The best of this kind is made from the new, or (as it is called in that and ajoining counties) covered milk.  An infirior sort is made from what is called half covered milk; though when any of the cheeses turn out to be good, people are decieved, and often purchase them for the best coverd milk cheese; but farmers who are honest have them stamped with a peice of wood in the shape of a heart, so that any person may know them.  Every Woman Her Own Housekeeper (1796)

It is a strong hard cheese and the onion flavor compliments it perfectly.  Many sites recommend it for a plowman’s lunch.  A Plowman’s Lunch usually consists of cheese, pickle, butter and crusty bread, at times there is a meat.  I can definitely see why this is recommended.  We ate the cheese with a biscuit which went perfectly together.  I did try it alone but it was too strong for me, however, the rest of my family didn’t mind it on it’s own.

Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm  Comments (2)  


I found I had about four lamb chops in the freezer, so, out come the cook books to find a receipt to make with them.  No lamb chops are to be found in my receipt books, but a few Mutton chops.  So what is the difference between mutton and lamb? Lamb is a sheep under 12 months old, and mutton is usually a ewe or wether (castrated male) that is over 1 year.  Knowing that mutton and lamb are basically the same animal, I decided to try a mutton-chop receipt from Hannah Glass

Baked Mutton Chops

Take a loin or neck of mutton, cut it into steaks, put some pepper and salt over it, butter your dish, and lay in your steaks; then take a quart of milk, six eggs, beat up fine, and four spoonfuls of flour; beat your flour and eggs in little milk first, and then put the rest to it; put in a little beaten ginger, and a little salt.  Pour this over the steaks, and sent it to the oven; an hour and an half will bake it.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1775)

Taking the four chops, salted and peppered, I laid them in a buttered rectangular stone pan.  In a large bowl, I took the 6 eggs beat them then adding 4 heaping Tablespoons of flour.  (Put the flour in slowly keeps lumps from happening.)  I slowly added the milk following what the receipt said.  I added about 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, because I didn’t want it to overwhelm the meal, and a pinch of salt.  The batter it makes is quite thin and there is a large amount but I poured it in over the chops, it  cover them completely.  Into a heated 350 degree oven it went for 1 1/2 hours.

Not very attractive but quite tasty.

Result:  As you can see it looks unique but it actually tasted quite nice.  Although the batter did initially cover the chops is seems in the cooking that either the chops floated to the top or the batter shrank with cooking.  Whatever did happen, this receipt turned out to be very similar to toad in the hole (sausages in an egg batter).  The one thing that I would do differently is remove the extra fat.  Leaving it on the chops caused a lot of fat to bubble up to the top.  Also, the receipt did not say to remove the bones.  Leaving the meat on the bone did not cause too much trouble when eating, but I may try to remove the bones also when I make it again.

Gosh Tomorrow is Friday…new cheese day!  I can’t believe how much I have blogged this week.  Thank you all for reading!  Till tomorrow…

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Potato Soup

The comfort food in our house is either mash potatoes or potato soup.  I have been making potato soup since I can remember cooking.  I decided to see what potato soups are in my historic cookbooks.

Potato Soup

Pour two quarts water on six or seven large peeled potatoes, adding two or three slices of middling;  boil thoroughly done.  Take them out, mash the potatoes well ad return all to the same water, together with pepper, salt, one spoonful butter, and one quart milk, as for chicken soup.-Mrs. W

Potato Soup

Mash potatoes, pour on them one teacup cream, one large spoonful butter.

Pour boiling water on them till you have the desired quantity.  Boil until it thickens; season with salt, parsley, and pepper to your taste-Mrs. R.E.

Both are from: Housekeeping in Old Virginia (1897)

What I do is similar to combination of these two.  Just to let you know, Middling is salt pork but I use bacon.

I fry up the bacaon, remove most of the drippings, then add sliced leeks (not in either receipt but adds a great flavor), once the leeks are slightly cooked I add cubed potatoes then cover with water or chicken broth (the broth again is great for flavoring).  I allow the liquid to come to a boil, lower the heat and allow the potaoes to cook through.  Instead of removing the potatoes to mash them, I just mash them in the liquid.

This is what it looks like just mashed.

I add cream and if cooking for an historical event I have a wooden masher and work it to get it a more fine consistancy but at home I use a hand held emulcifier.

After using the emulsifier; you can use a blender and get the same result.

I usually get a very thick soup, but if you want to thin it use milk instead of cream or a combination of both.  I then ladle it into bowels and top it with a little cheese and bacon.  Yummy!

Still snowed in…let see what is in the freezer to cook.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Snowed in!

With close to 30″ of snow dumped on us this weekend, all our plans have gone to the wayside.  My son planned to have his buddies over for a Superbowl party, of course that didn’t happen.  But the Super Bowl went on and we had all this stuff bought to make party food.  He wanted me to make homemade pizza bites not the ones from the bag.  I think I have spoiled him a little with making homemade dinners.  He wanted my chili cheese dip, potato soup, and a vegetable pizza for his vegetarian friends.  He was going to make his buffalo chicken wings and some brownies.  No, we did not go ahead and make all that food for three of us.  We just made a regular pizza, the chili cheese dip and the wings.  I am making the potato soup for lunch today.  He would have much prefered to have his friends over but mother nature is unpredictable.

This morning I decided to cheer both my husband and son up by making breakfast on a weekday.  They love pancakes.  Me, not so much, but I will make it for them from time to time.  I must admit, I am not a morning person so I cheat and make pancakes from a mix, however, there is no mix to be found in my pantry today.  I have to make it from scratch.  I have never made pancakes from scratch, but when has that stopped me from doing anything.

To Make Pancakes

Take a quart of milk, beat in six or eight eggs, leaving half the whites out; mix it well till your batter is of a fine thickness.  You must observe to mix your flour first with a little milk, then add the rest by degrees; put in two spoonfuls of beaten ginger, a glass of brandy, a little salt; stir all together; make your stew-pan very clean, put in a piece of butter as big as a walnut, then pour in a ladleful of batter, which will make a pancake, moving the pan around that the batter be all over the pan; shake the pan, and when you think that side is enough, toss it;  If you cannot, turn it cleverly; and when both sides are done lay it in a dish before the fire and so do the rest.  You must take care they are dry; when you sent them to table, strew a little sugar over them.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy(1774)

If you notice the only leavening agent in this is eggs and lots of it.  This also looks like too thin of a batter for modern tastes.


Pancakes should be made of a half a pint of milk, three great spoonfuls of sugar, one or two eggs, a tea-spoonful of dissolved pearlash, spiced with cinnamon, or cloves,a little salt, rose-water, or lemon brandy, just as you happen to have it.  Flour should be stirred in till the spoon moved round with difficulty.  If they are thin, they are apt to soak fat.  Have the fat in your skillet boiling hot, and drop them in with a spoon.  Let them cook till thoroughly brown.  The fat which is left is good to shorten other cakes.  The more fat they are cooked in, the less they soak.

The American Frugal Housewife (1844)

By the time of this receipt, the cook uses less eggs and is using Pearlash as a leavening agent.  Pearlash is refined Potash, which is Potassium Carbonate, you know it as Baking Powder.  This receipt also sounds like a drop biscuit instead of what I call a batter pancake.  So looking at these two receipts and knowing that my family prefers to have maple syrup on plain tasting pancakes, I decided to leave out the rose-water, brandies, or spices and did the following.

3/4 cup milk, 3 eggs beaten in a bowl.  I sifted together, 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons of Baking Powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Following Mrs. Glasses recommendations I slowly added the flour to the egg mixture, making sure all was encorporated before adding more flour.  Once all was encorporated.  I heated a skillet with a Tablespoon of butter (about a walnut size I thought) and using a ladle I poured enough batter to make a 3″ pancake.  I knew to turn the pancake when the side up has a good many bubbles, turned it and it takes not too long for the other side to cook.  This batch makes about 12 pancakes.

The batter is a little thinner then I usually get with a box mix.

Result:  A very eggy pancake.  It was the right texture but not the flavour my family likes.  I guess this will be a work in progress.  I’ll update you on the changes once I do this again.  I think I would like to try it with the brandy and spices…any takers?

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Potato Sausage

I was at IKEA in their little grocery section, when I saw they had sausage called Potatis Korv or Potato Sausage.  I have never had potato sausage.  It was a long, 2 inch thick sausage link.

I was intrigued by this sausage and wanted to cook it the traditional way.  There were several sites that say how to make it and maybe one day I will try making it but I wanted to know how the Swedes cook potato sausage.  When making it they suggest placing it in a pan and put enough water to just cover and cook that way.  This way was suggested for fresh sausage and a what to do before freezing.  This was already frozen, so it seems that just pan frying was the method to use and then to serve it with mashed potatoes, which was mentioned several times as the side for this dish.  As you can see, that is exactly what I did for our lunch.

It was unique for link sausage.  Its texture is similar to scrapple but with a slight Christmas spicy flavor. This may be because this sausage seems to be a favorite at Christmas time.  The family enjoyed it, so, I will definitely have this again!

Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cheese: Beemster

I love cheese!  As I grew up the usual cheeses I was exposed to was good old American, cheddar and swiss cheese.  I must not neglect the ever-present Velveeta and Cheese Wiz.  Any other cheese was out of question because cheese costs money and when your child is happy with a chicken nugget as with a nice grilled breast, one does not waste good money.  Now that I am an adult I spend some money once in a while and try out a cheese.

Cheese is just milk with rennet added to curdle it so as to separate the milk solids from the liquids.  No one really knows when cheese was first made.  There are many speculations, like the one where the Shepard took  milk in his drinking skins, when he went to get a drink he found cheese.  Of course, since that time, man has created hundreds of types of cheese and innumerable combinations, not to mention subtleties depending on where it was made, much like wine.  I have made cheese but I am going to leave that to another post when I have made more.  What I want to start doing is trying a cheese each week and let you know what I think and what I did with it.

This week I bought Beemster from what is called The Royal Garden selection.  It is a semi-soft cow cheese with mustard seed.  I was expecting a little mustard flavour to the cheese but instead got a very flavourful smooth cheese without mustard overpowering it.  Beemster cheese is from the Beemster municipality in the Netherlands, that in 1901 a co-op was formed to make this great cheese.  Absolutely great by itself and I would recommend using it for any cheese plate at your next party.

The Beemster site states that it is great for hamburgers, instead I decided to use it with chicken.  I heated a frying pan with a little oil.  Once heated I put in one sliced onion, letting it cook for about two to five minutes.  Lowering the heat, I pour in one cup of beer, then laid boneless chicken thighs on top.  I cooked them for 10 minutes on each side.  Before serving I put slices of the Beemster Mustard Seed cheese on the chicken thighs (about two minutes till melted).  It came out lovely and tasted great.  If you find it at your market, give it a try I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Capon Capers

Sundays are usually a roast and two veg. day for the main meal.  If I am cooking for an event or historic house, our dinner will be what I cooked at the event and that could be anything.  But this Sunday was a normal regular Sunday.  When grocery shopping I noticed the meat section had some geese and capons.  We have had goose many times but never capons, so capon it was.  Nice fat bird.  For those of you not sure what a capon is, it is a castrated cockerel/rooster.  Never cooked one before, so decided why not just jump in and cook a historical receipt.  Now most people, myself included, call the chicken they have cooked in the oven roasted, but technically it is baked.  I was not desirous to stand out in the cold and roast a capon over a fire pit because it is quite cold and snowy here.  That being the case I needed a historical receipt that was for baked capon, and I found one.

To bake a Turkey, or a Capon.
Bone the Turkey, but not the Capon: parpoyle them, stick cloves in the breasts: Lard them and season t;hem well with pepper and salt, and put them in a deep coffin with the breast downeward, and more of butter.  When it is bakte poure in more butter, and when it is colde stop the venthole with more butter.
A New Booke of Cookerie: 1615

I took the capon, made holes throughout the capon’s breast and larded it with thick bacon.  I then studded it with cloves.  Salted and peppered and placed breast-down in a deep enameled cast-iron casserole pot. I then rubbed butter on the bottom as it is face up.  My thought in this is that the receipt isn’t asking the cook to put the bird in a coffin as in a pie but something the the bird is completely in.  I baked the bird for 30 minutes in a 450 degree oven then turned the oven down to 375, baking an additional 2 hours (about 17 minutes per pound).  I basted the bird about every 30 minutes.

This is before it entered the oven upside down.

This of course is after we ate…so hungry, forgot to get a picture before.

It smelled so good cooking and the flavour did not disappoint.  We, my family and I, think the dark meat is a little tough and similar to turkey (probably why the receipt is for either bird).  The white meat was juicy and tender.  Husband wasn’t so thrilled with the clove flavor, although it was subtle.  If I had completely studded the breast it would have been too much.  Capon is definitely a bird we will eat again, next time I will roast it!

Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm  Comments (1)