Friday, March 31, 2017

Fantaisies de Fées (Fairy Fancies): Pastry in Style


Fairy Fancies
The Recipe
Source: Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families, Reduced to a System of Easy Practice (London, 1857):




About Eliza Acton (1799-1859)
Acton is considered to be a highly influential and accomplished British cookbook writer. Ironically, Acton originally wanted to be a poet. When she presented some of her verses for review to a publisher, she was told that they were not interested in her poetic efforts but would rather  she offer a cookery book for publication. Acton conceded and by 1845 published Modern Cookery. She revised the book and it was reprinted in 1855 and several more times until well past her death. Modern Cookery is one of my favorite books because it contains a lot of illustrations as the recipe for Fairy Fancies demonstrates. Though it is sad to think that she never got to fulfill her dreams of becoming a notable poetess, it is fortunate that she was able to create such a lasting and informative cookery book.

Eliza Acton lived in Suffolk, Kent, London, and even spent some time in France. Because her experience living in many places, Acton's recipes are interesting to read and sometimes promoted as French, albeit grounded in English roots. Some examples are recipes for Truffled Butter, Truffles Sausages, Quenelles (French forcemeat), and a French Receipt for Boiling Ham. This recipe for Fantaisies de Fées (Fairy Fancies) is a perfect example of her tendency to "Frenchify" her recipes to make them seem more exotic and exciting. However, this recipe needs no embellishment--it is truly beautiful and is a genuine work of art!

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Fairy Fancies
Ingredients for the Short Crust:
  • 8 Ounces All-Purpose Flour 
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Ounces (1 Stick) Butter, Cut Into Small Pieces
  • 6 Tablespoons Cold Milk
Ingredients for Assembling the Pastry:
  • 2 Pieces of Parchment Paper, About 12" x 16" in Size Each
  • 4 Wide Mouth Canning Jars with Lids Fastened
  • 1 3.5-inch Round Biscuit Cutter
  • 1 2.75-inch Round Biscuit Cutter
  • 1 Egg White 
  • Pastry Brush
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Each of 4 Different Fillings, of Various Colors (Apple, Strawberry, Raspberry, Black Currant, Red Currant, Peach, Apricot, etc and/or Lemon Curd, Clotted Cream, Fruit Flavored Whipped Creams, etc)
1. Directions to Make the Short Crust:
  • To make the short crust, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingers to work the butter evenly into the dry ingredients. The butter should be no larger than the size of peas.
  • Add the milk to the flour/butter mixture and mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, complete step 2 (Directions to Make the Pastry Template).
2. Directions to Make the Pastry Template:
  • Lay the piece parchment paper on a flat work surface. Place the Mason jars upside-down on the paper as follows:
  • Trace around the perimeter of the jars.
  • Remove the jars. This is how the template should look:

  • Then cut out the template and set aside.

3.  Directions for Assembling the Pastry:
  • Heat the oven to 375º F.
  • Place the remaining piece of parchment paper on a flat work surface, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and roll out the pastry dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. 
  • Lay the paper template on top of the dough. Weigh the paper down with some lightweight kitchenware to keep the paper from moving and lifting up such as this:
  • Using a sharp knife, cut around the template. Your finished dough should look like this:
  • Pull the parchment paper underneath the pastry dough cut-out onto the cookie sheet.
  • Roll out the the dough again and make the thickness a bit bigger. Using the larger 3.5-inch biscuit cutter, cut four circles. 
  • Using the  smaller 2.75-inch biscuit cutter, cut four circles out of the larger pastry circles thus transforming the larger circles into rings.
  • Place the  rings into position on the larger pastry base. Line up the circles so that they reach to the edges of the base. Trim off any areas of the base that are not centered or sit outside the ring. 
  • Remove the rings, and cover the top of the base with egg white using a pastry brush. Return the rings to their original positions and cover them with egg white, as well. Dock the insides of each circle to prevent the pastry from puffing up during baking.
  • Bake for 13-14 minutes, until the pastry just starts to develop a get golden color. Remove from the oven and place on a serving dish.
  • Fill each of the holes in the rings with a different color/flavor filling. 
References:

  • Davidson, Alan, The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford University Press, 2014)



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Egg Nog: An American Christmas Classic with a British Heritage

Egg Nog

Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).


The Recipe: Egg Nog
Miss Hoffman
To make four gallons of Egg Nog, two gallons of cream, one gallon & one quart of new milk, two lb. lump sugar, three pints of French Brandy, half-pint Peach Brandy, thirty-three eggs. Pound the sugar & beat it with the eggs very light, then stir in the Brandy slowly on it till well mixed. Then the cream & milk, stirring all very well.

About Eggnog
The first written mention of eggnog dates back to 1796 when it was listed as a breakfast item at City Tavern in Philadelphia. While the iteration of the particular drink known as eggnog is an American thing, cream and/or egg based drinks infused with spirits is definitely based on English tradition. These types of drinks were usually called possets, sack possets, or even some types of syllabubs). Here are some examples of these recipes dating back to the 17th century from The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened by Sir Kenelm Digby (London, 1669):

A PLAIN ORDINARY POSSET
Put a pint of good Milk to boil; as soon as it doth so, take it from the fire, to let the great heat of it cool a little; for doing so, the curd will be the tenderer, and the whole of a more uniform consistence. When it is prettily cooled, pour it into your pot, wherein is about two spoonfuls of Sack, and about four of Ale, with sufficient Sugar dissolved in them. So let it stand a while near the fire, till you eat it.

A SACK POSSET
Take three pints of Cream; boil in it a little Cinnamon, a Nutmeg quartered, and two spoonfuls of grated bread; then beat the yolks of twelve Eggs very well with a little cold Cream, and a spoonful of Sack. When your Cream hath boiled about a quarter of an hour, thicken it up with the Eggs, and sweeten it with Sugar; and takPage 113e half a pint of Sack and six spoonfuls of Ale, and put into the basin or dish, you intend to make it in, with a little Ambergreece, if you please. Then pour your Cream and Eggs into it, holding your hand as high as conveniently you can, gently stirring in the basin with the spoon as you pour it; so serve it up. If you please you may strew Sugar upon it.

You may strew Ambred sugar upon it, as you eat it; or Sugar-beaten with Cinnamon, if you like it.

AN EXCELLENT POSSET
Take half a pint of Sack, and as much Rhenish wine, sweeten them to your taste with Sugar. Beat ten yolks of Eggs, and eight of whites exceeding well, first taking out the Cocks-tread, and if you will the skins of the yolks; sweeten these also, and pour them to the wine, add a stick or two of Cinnamon bruised, set this upon a Chafing-dish to heat strongly, but not to boil; but it must begin to thicken. In the mean time boil for a quarter of an hour three pints of Cream seasoned duly with Sugar and some Cinnamon in it. Then take it off from boiling, but let it stand near the fire, that it may continue scalding-hot whiles the wine is heating. When both are as scalding-hot as they can be without boiling, pour the Cream into the wine from as high as you can. When all is in, set it upon the fire to stew for 1/8 of an hour. Then sprinkle all about the top of it the juyce of a 1/4 part of a Limon; and if you will, you may strew Powder of Cinnamon and Sugar, or Ambergreece upon it.

Here is a recipe from the 18th century from Court Cookery, or the Compleat English Cook by R. Smith (London, 1725):



Modern Recipe Adaptation: Egg Nog
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Pasteurized Eggs (such as Egglands Best Brand)
  • 3/4 Cup French Brandy
  • 1 Tablespoon Peach Brandy
  • 4 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 2 1/4 Cups Whole Milk
  • Grated Nutmeg, Optional
Directions:
  1. Place the sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Whisk  them together until light and fluffy.
  2. Whisk in the two types of brandy.
  3. Add the cream and milk and whisk until frothy.
  4. Ladle into serving glasses and sprinkle a small amount of nutmeg over the tops of each glass, if desired.


Friday, March 10, 2017

'Flipped' Mulled Wine with Eggs and Toast

Flipped Mulled Wine with Eggs and Toast
Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

The Recipe: To Mull Wine
Grate half a nutmeg in a pint of wine & sweeten to your taste with loaf sugar, set it over the fire & when it boils take it off to cool, beat the yolks of 4 eggs exceeding well, add to them a little cold wine, then mix them carefully with your hot wine, a little at a time, then pour it backwards & forwards several times ‘till it is quite hot, and pretty thick – serve it in chocolate cups, with thin pieces of toasted bread.

About the Recipe

This recipe is actually a flip. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, flips were made as far back as 1695 when beer, rum and sugar were heated with a hot iron. This caused the drink to froth. Eventually, eggs were added to hot ale, wine or spirits and the drink was frothed by flipping it back and forth from one vessel to another. Overtime, flips started to be served cold, as well.


According to Leo Engel in American and Other Drinks (1878), "the essential in Flips of all kinds is to produce the smoothness by repeated pouring backwards and forwards from one vessel to another, and beating up the eggs, two or three, well in the first instance. The sweetening and spicing according to taste." Engel's book includes recipes for rum flips, ale flips, and flips with brandy or rum. Morris's recipe is clearly a bit different because it uses wine. 

The other interesting thing I found in researching mulled wines made with eggs in the manner of a flip is that they were often recommended to give to the sick. I am guessing the egg gives the drink more nutrition and protein which would be necessary if the patient is not taking solids.
 Leo Engel, American and Other Drinks (1878)
1869, Domestic Cookery By Elizabeth E. Lea (Baltimore)

1886, Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery
by Juliet Corson (New York)


Here is a recipe that shows how the flip went from a hot drink to a cold one in the twentieth century. Note that this recipe used red wine, much like Morris's recipe.
1917, The Ideal Bartender by Thomas Bullock (St. Louis)

I was very skeptical about how good this recipe would be. I will admit I was wrong to fear this concoction. It is absolutely delicious. Good to drink if it's cold outside or if you have a cold!

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Mulled Wine
Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 Cups Red Wine, Divided
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg, or to Taste
  • Yolks of 4 Eggs
  • Slice of Toast, Cut into 4-6 Strips 
Directions:
  1. Place the two cups of the wine, sugar, and nutmeg in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. While the wine is heating, place the egg yolks in a bowl and mix with the remaining 1/4 cup of cold wine.
  3. Temper the eggs: In small increments, add about 1/2 cup of the hot wine into the egg/cold wine mixture and whisk. Then, add the yolk/wine mixture to the pot of hot wine. Whisk very well.
  4. Place the wine in a large Pyrex measuring  cup or pitcher and pour it into a second pyrex measuring cup of pitcher. Do this repeatedly until about 8-10 times, or until the wine is frothy.
  5. Serve the wine in teacups along with 2-3 strips of toast.
Leo Engel, American and Other Drinks (1878)

Vanilla Custards: A Classic in any Time Period

Vanilla Custards

Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

The Recipe: Custards
Boil a quart of new milk with Vanilla, or lemon, until it is suffciently seasoned. beat the yelks of 12 eggs very well with a quarter lb. of sifted sugar. Pour the hot milk out of the kettle, on the eggs~sugar in another vessel, stirring it all the time to prevent its curdling. --- pour all again in the kettle, set it on the fire and continue stirring until it thickens take it off & stir until it cools.

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Vanilla Custards
Serves  6

Ingredients:
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 4 Cups Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 8 Whole Eggs

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 325º F. Place six 4-ounce ramekins in a large casserole dish.
  2. Slit the vanilla bean in half and scrape out all of the seeds.
  3. Place the milk, vanilla bean seeds & pod, and the sugar in a large saucepan. Place on the stove over medium-high heat. Cook until the the temperature reaches just below the boil and then remove from the heat.
  4. While the milk is heating, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks in a medium-size bowl.
  5. Temper the eggs into the milk by ladling about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs and whisk together. Then add the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk. Whisk together.
  6. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
  7. Pour the vanilla custard into the ramekins that are sitting in the casserole dish.
  8. Pour enough boiling water into the casserole dish so that it reaches about half-way up the height of the ramekins. Place in the oven and bake for about 26-28 minutes, or until the custard is set and firm.
  9. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight until completely cold. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sago Custard Infused with Nutmeg

Notice the Round "Pearls" of
Starchy Sago in the Custard

Sago Cream

a tea cup of Sago, Boiled to a jelly, in water, add a quart of rich milk, when it boils, put in the yelks of eight eggs well-beaten, sweeten to your taste, and add a little nutmeg.

About Sago
Sago is an almost pure starch that comes from the centers of the stems of many different types of tropical palm trees, especially Metroxylon sago. This palm is found in the tropical lowland forests and freshwater swamps of Southeast Asia and New Guniea. 

Sago is used as a thickener and is very similar to tapioca or arrowroot. Sago was exported to the West beginning in the early 18th century in the form of small pearls or balls (also similar to tapioca). It was very popular in British and American cooking well into the 19th century but has dropped off in popularity since then, presumably for its odd texture.

Sago in American Recipes
In addition to being used as a thickening agent in custards/puddings, sago was widely used in 19th century American recipes in many other types of dishes. Sago was used in many types of soups including just plain sago soup, veal and sago soup, wine soups, and fruit soups, especially cherry soup. It is also an ingredient in jellies such as cranberry and sago jelly. I also found it was used to make bread and as a thickener for potato puree.


Historic American Sago Recipes

1839, Sarah J. Hale, The Good Housekeeper (Boston)

1886, Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery (New York)
1870, Jane C. Croly, Jennie June's American Cookery Book (New York)


1889, Aunt Babette's Cook Book (Ohio)

1893, Favorite Dishes by Carrie Shuman (Chicago)

About the Recipe
This is one of those recipes in this manuscript that really does not yield anything remotely edible when prepared as written. Also, I was confused by the name "cream" because I could not find a contemporary American recipe for a sago cream though there were lots for puddings (custards), so I decided that this recipe was really meant to be a custard (though possibly a very thin one). To make this edible, I found I needed to use whole eggs as well as egg yolks to make it richer, and I needed to bake it to get it to set properly. 

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Sago Cream

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Sago Pearls
  • 2 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
  • 3 Large Eggs


Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 300º F. Place eight 4-ounce ramekins in a large casserole dish (you will probably need two casserole dishes).
  2. Rinse the sago pearls with cold water and drain. 
  3. Add the sago and the milk to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook on medium-low until the sago softens. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the sugar and nutmeg and whisk until it dissolves. 
  5. Place the eggs in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. 
  6. Temper the Eggs: Add about 1 cup of the hot mixture in small increments to the eggs in the mixing bowl and whisk together. Then, add the warmed eggs to the milk in the saucepan, whisk together.
  7. Then, add the nutmeg and whisk together. 
  8. Pour the sago custard into the ramekins that are sitting in the casserole dishes.
  9. Pour enough boiling water into the casserole dishes so that it reaches about half-way up the height of the ramekins. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the custard is set and firm.
  10. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight until completely cold. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How the Sausage Gets Made . . . in a 19th Century Kitchen

Pork and Herb Sausages
Notice How the Fat Nicely Marbles the Raw Meat in the Bottom Photo

Recipe Provenance
The following recipes come from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations.

The Recipes

Sausage Meat –Mrs. Nicols Darley
To 25 lb. of meat put 15 lb. of Back of chine 13 tablespoonsful of Sage 11 of salt, 7 of pepper, 5 of Thyme & 9 of sweet marjoram—chop up the meat very fine and mix the herbs (after they are well pounded) well through it—put it in jars and keep the air from it—or cover the jars with Lard and it will keep some time. A very nice recipe.

Sausage Meat
To 34 lb. of meat, add 17 lb. fat of chine – 18 table spoonsful of sage, 12 ditto of salt- 9 of pepper – 6 of Thyme –11 sweet marjoram.

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Pork and Herb Sausage
Yield: About 22 patties

Ingredients:
  • 3 Pounds Pork Shoulder, Including All of the Fat
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Sage
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Marjoram
  • 2 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Directions:
  1. Using an electric meat grinder, grind the meat with its fat.
  2. Add the herbs and spices.
  3. Measure the sausage into 2 ounce patties, about 2 tablespoons.
  4. Fry in a cast iron pan on medium heat, 5-7 minutes per side, or until the centers are no longer pink (about 150º F.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

As American as Mince Pie? The Early American Love Affair with this British Classic

Slice of Mincemeat Pie

Recipe Provenance

The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

The Recipe: Mince Meat
1 ½ lb. of Beef’s Tongue chopped very fine 2 lb. of stoned raisins, 3 lb. currants & half dozen Pippin apples cut fine, rind of 3 lemons grated and juice to your taste 1 ½ lb. of sugar, half oz. Mace half oz. cloves, 3 nutmegs grated in ½ pint of Wine. A pint of Brandy 3 lb. of Suet, citron to your taste Mix all these ingredients well together—bake them in a paste. & do not add he apples until you are ready to use the Mince meat, as it, will keep some weeks—without them.

About Mincemeat
In 1907, the Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the Republican National Committee, George B. Cortelyou, was often hounded for his appreciation and frequent indulgence in mince pie at luncheon. There is what I can only assume was meant to be a tongue in cheek editorial in the 11 March 1907 Washington Post about Cortelyou's propensity for mince pie. According to the editorial," Cortelyou felt mince was the "pie of pies and that "mince pie is the food of mature men. It is the cosmopolis of pie, yielding treasures to the true lover of research but completely bewildering the untutored." The article goes on to state that "[m]ince pie has helped to make him what he is . . . . If the discovery of his long association with mince pie brings home political honor, it will be merely another piece of good fortune in a singularly fortunate career." 

Another editorial on Cortelyou and mince pie appeared two weeks later in the Washington Post and continued to laud the benefits of this inimitable pie in American life: "Mince pie is mince pie. There is no other pie to take its place. Custard pie is good and so is apple pie, but neither has the uplifting power and the soothing, gratifying flavor possessed by mince pie when served hot, with a crisp brown crust.” 


It sounds like mince pie was a favorite American pie well into the early twentieth century, even besting apple pie as a symbol of greatness. Was it really so popular back then? Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery and Household Management by Juliet Corson (New York, 1886), describes a typical American meal appropriate for either Thanksgiving or Christmas as thus:

"A favorite American combination is nuts, raisins, apples, and cider: this belongs with the old-fashioned American Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner of roast turkey, chicken-pie, sweet-potatoes, steamed squash, oyster or chicken salad, celery, cranberry-jelly, squash, pumpkin, and mince pies, and plum-pudding."

Notice that the mince pie is paired with pumpkin pie; no mention of apple pie is made at all. A search of mince pie recipes in 19th century American cookery books does reveal that it certainly was important enough to be given lots of space in those books. Here are some examples of recipes from that time period:


1830, Lydia Child, The Frugal Housewife (Boston)
1839, Sarah J. Hale, The Good Housekeeper (Boston)


1845, Ann Allen, The Housekeeper's Assistant (Boston)

Whether mince pie was more important than apple pie up to the  time of the turn of the twentieth century on American dinner tables is very hard to know for sure. However, the preference for this particular pie  by Americans certainly did not last well into the twentieth century. Apple pies, pumpkin pies, pecan pies, chocolate pies, fruit pies, pudding/custard pies all seem to take precedence over the once lauded mince pie. When I spent a Christmas in England in 2014 I was very surprised to see how popular mince pie still is in that country. They were on store shelves in every grocery store and offered for sale in pubs, tea shops, open-air markets, bakeries, and coffee shops, including Starbucks! It was very nice to see that the very long British tradition of mince pie was still alive and well in the 21st century.


Mince Pie in England
The history of the mince pie in England stretches back to at least the middle ages when little, individual-sized pies called chewetts were popular. Chewetts were filled with chopped hard-cooked eggs and ginger with either chopped meat and liver or fish (on fasting days). Eventually, these fillings were enhanced with the addition of dried fruits and other sweet ingredients.

By the 16th century, mince pies were called shred pies and continued to include meat and suet or just suet, along with the dried fruit, sugar, and other tasty morsels. 
In England, the tradition of serving mince pies in small, individual-sized pies lingers to present-days; however, North Americans prefer to prepare mince pies in larger pans that can serve about eight.  


Modern Recipe Adaptation: Mince Pie
Yield: Two Pies

Ingredients:
  • Enough Pastry Crusts for Two Double Crust Pies
  • 1/2 Pound Beef (Tongue or Sirloin), Chopped Fine
  • 12 Ounces Atora Brand Shredded Suet 
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Any Combination of Dried Fruit (Raisins, Zante Currants, Candied Lemon or Orange Peel or Citron, etc)
  • 2 Medium Apples, Peel, Cored and Chopped
  • Fresh Zest from 1 Lemon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mace
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/3 Cup White Wine
  • 2/3 Cup Brandy
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk

  Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 375º F. 
  2. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. 
  3. Line a pie plate with one of the pastry crusts. Place on the prepared baking sheet and set aside. 
  4. Mix together all of the ingredients except the egg and milk to make the mincemeat filling. Divide the mincemeat filling evenly between the two prepared pie plates. Cover the tops of the pies with the remaining pie crusts. 
  5. Make several slits in the top pie crusts. 
  6. Make an egg wash with egg and milk. Brush the top crusts with the egg wash. 
  7. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. 
  8. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing into the pies. 
  9. Serve warm either plain or with whipped cream or ice cream. 
References:

  • Davidson, Alan, The Oxford Companion to Food, Oxford University Press: 2014
  • Washington Post

Monday, March 6, 2017

Braised Beef with Dumplings with a Taste of a Bygone Era

Braised Beef with Dumplings


Recipe Provenance

The following recipes come from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations.


The Recipes: 
To Stew a Rump of Beef
Rub your beef very well with salt, pepper, nutmeg, a pinch of mace & cloves. Stick some whole cloves in the Beef. put it in a Dutch Oven with ½ gallon water—let it stew until half done then add 6 large potatoes, 2 or 3 turnips quartered, 3 or 4 sliced carrots and 2 onions, a few Tomatoes 1 pint Red Wine ½ pint white wine add one tea cup catsup – dredge flour over it- and let it stew until the vegetables are all soft. skim off the fat dish it with the vegetables over and around the Beef it will all be a dark colour by keeping it covered with a hot oven lid -- Etting

Suet Pudding

Shred a pound of suet; mix with a pound & quarter of flour, three eggs beaten separately, a little salt, & as little milk as will make it, boil 5 hours.

Suet Dumplings
Make as above, and drop into boiling water, or into the boiling of Beef; or you may boil in a cloth. 


About the Recipes
The beef and dumpling recipes were listed separately but seemed like they were meant to go together. Therefore, I made the suet dumplings and cooked them in the braising liquid following the dumpling recipe's instructions to "drop . . . .into the boiling of Beef." As for the beef recipe, I decided to brown the meat first before slow-cooking it to give it more flavor. I also decided to wilt the vegetables in oil and then sprinkle them with flour. The way the recipe is originally written does not indicate to do any of these steps, but I think the author may have just assumed these steps were obvious and therefore did not need to be mentioned (as is often the case with historic recipes).

The sweet spices such as nutmeg, mace and cloves give this savory recipe that distinctly historic flavor, and the use of suet in the dumplings is a reminder that this country was once part of England! 

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Braised Beef with Dumplings


Ingredients:

For the Beef:
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mace
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • Chuck Roast, About 3 Pounds
  • 12 Whole Cloves 
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil + Extra
  • 6 Medium Red Potatoes (about 2 Pounds), Chopped in Large Chunks
  • 2 Onions (about 1 Pound), Sliced in Half-Moons
  • 2 Turnips, Peeled and Chopped
  • 4 Carrots, Peeled and Chopped in Large Chunks
  • 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Tomatoes (About 1 Pound), Chopped
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Red Wine
  • 1 Cup White Wine
  • 1/2 Cup Ketchup
  • Fresh Sweet Herbs of Choice (Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme, Marjoram), Enough for Cooking and Garnish
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried and Sifted Rosemary
  • Additional Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to Taste
For the Dumplings:
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Pounds Suet (1 Box Atoro Brand)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Milk

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 325º F.
  2. Mix together the seasonings. Rub the seasoning mixture all over the beef. Stick the whole cloves evenly around the beef.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the beef and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the beef from the Dutch oven.
  4. Place the chopped potatoes. onions, turnips and carrots in the hot Dutch oven and cook on high. You may need to add more olive oil to make sure all of the vegetables are covered in a thin layer of the oil. Sprinkle the flour evenly over all of the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook for about five minutes, until the flour is cooked.
  5. Add the water and both wines to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil while scraping the bottom to remove all the bits of flavor
  6. Add the tomatoes, ketchup, fresh herbs, dried herbs, salt, black pepper and stir. Then add the beef. 
  7. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat, cover, and place in the heated oven. Cook for about 2 1/2 -3 hours, until the meat is tender enough to shred with a fork.
  8. While the beef is cooking, prepare the dumpling dough: 
    • Whisk the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Add the suet and rub it into the flour using your hands to break up all of the clumps. Whisk together the eggs and milk and then add them to the flour and suet. Mix gently with a wooden spoon. The dough will be wet and sticky.
    • Using wet hands, roll the dough into small balls about the size of walnuts and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate the dumpling balls until needed.
  9. When the beef is done, remove it and the vegetables to a platter. Cover the platter and put it in the oven on the warm setting.
  10. Add the dumplings to the pot and cook in the braising liquid until they are puffy and firm, about 15 minutes.
  11. When the dumplings are done, pour them and the gravy over the meat and vegetable on the platter. 
  12. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs, if desired.