Wednesday 14 December 2011

More Christmas Fare

Browsing around, I found a wonderful description of a medieval Christmas feast, complete with links to other sites and recipes, at A Book of Gode Cookery.
Below are a couple of recipes in their modern versions; click on the links for the original. 

  • 4 cups honey
  • 1 lb. unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs. each ginger & cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • pinch saffron
  • whole cloves
Bring the honey to a boil and skim off any scum. Keeping the pan over very low heat, stir in the breadcrumbs and spices. When it is a thick, well-blended mass (add more bread crumbs if necessary), remove from heat & let cool slightly, then lay out on a flat surface & press firmly into an evenly shaped square or rectangle, about 3/4 of an inch thick. Let cool, then cut into small squares to serve. Garnish each square by sticking a whole clove in the top center. OPTION: add a few drops of red food coloring when adding the spices, "if thou wolt haue it Red."

  • 3 -4 pears, sliced
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 2 Tbs. vinegar
  • few threads saffron
Boil pears until they just become tender; drain well. In a separate pot, bring wine and cinnamon to a boil, stirring well. Let cool, then strain. Bring wine back to a boil, then add the sugar, ginger, saffron, and vinegar, stirring until spices are dissolved. Add pears, and allow to cook for several minutes until they soften slightly and change color. Remove from heat. Serve hot or cold. Serves 4. 
This is essentially poached pears in wine, with a little vinegar added for sharpness. The period receipt advises to cook the pears first, then pare and cut them, but I find cutting and paring cooked pears a bit difficult, and prefer to pare and slice them before boiling. "Wardonys" or "Wardens" were a type of English pear not common today - feel free to substitute any slightly hard, not-too-sweet variety. Be sure that the final product is both "poynaunt" (piquant with vinegar) and "dowcet" (sweet).

Friday 9 December 2011

Christmas Fare

 Where did the time go?  First Thanksgiving, and then Finals time at the university, and I realize it's been several weeks since I posted.  For the Christmas season, I thought I'd pass on some historical recipes in the next couple of weeks.  First, two treats from the Edwardian era:

This recipe makes a quick and lighter alternative to traditional Christmas cake. It can be decorated or left as it is

 4oz butter or margarine
 4oz soft brown sugar
 7oz mincemeat
 2 large free range eggs
 7oz self raising flour
 3 tbsp brandy/sherry
 7in deep round cake tin – lined

Pre-heat oven to 325F/160°C/gas mark 3. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add eggs, mincemeat and brandy.
Stir in flour until well mixed. Put mixture into lined cake tin and place in oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
Cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
It keeps for up to two weeks in an airtight container.

This can be served as a cold cake at tea time or warm as a pudding with custard

 8oz butter or margarine
8oz caster sugar
 10oz self raising flour
3 free range eggs
 1 medium orange
1 cup of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
 8in deep round cake tin – lined

Pre heated oven 350F/180°C/gas mark 4.Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs and flour. Finely grate the rind from the orange and squeeze out the juice. Add both the rind and the juice to the cake mixture, stirring well. Now gently fold in the cranberries.
Place the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake fro 40 to 50 minutes.
When cool dust with icing sugar. This cake keeps for two to three days stored in a cool place in an airtight container

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