Ice Cream, as we know it, was a relatively new invention in Jane Austen’s day. Enjoyed in Italy and France in the 17th c, the first recorded English recipe was published in 1718.
Recipes featuring fruit not available until early summer were, no doubt, a treat reserved for the wealthy, who could afford to buy their ice and keep it cool in ice houses, until wanted. If you did not have access to ice in the summer, you could always visit the local Pastry Cook for a variety of sweets, including ice cream. Molland’s, in Bath, was one such establishment.
In Jane Austen’s, The Beautiful Cassandra, her heroine “…then proceeded to a Pastry-cook’s, where she devoured six ices, refused to pay for them, knocked down the Pastry Cook & walked away.” Slapstick comedy does seem to have been the name of the game in Austen’s early work. Mr. Punch would be proud. The following recipe for Apricot Ice Cream is taken from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, and is based on one first printed by Hannah Glasse in her Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1755.
To Make Ice-Cream
Pare and stone twelve ripe apricots, and scald them, beat them fine in a mortar, add to them six ounces of double refined sugar, and a pint of scalding cream, and work it through a sieve; put it in a tin with a close cover, and set it in a tub of ice broke small, with four handfuls of salt mixed among the ice. When you see your cream grows thick round the edges of your tin, stir it well and put it in again till it is quite thick; when the cream is all froze up, take it out of the tin, and put it into the mould you intend to turn it out of; put on the lid and have another tub of salt and ice ready as before; put the mould in the middle, and lay the ice under and over it; let it stand for four hours, and never turn it out till the moment you want it, then dip the mould in cold spring water, and turn it into a plate. You may do any sort of fruit the same way. HG
12 ripe Apricots
170 g / 6 oz / ¾ cup Powdered Sugar
470 ml / 16 fl oz / 2 cups of Cream
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Score the bottom of each apricot and place them in the pan. Let them boil furiously for 3 minutes. Drain the apricots in a colander and rinse them in cold water. The skins will now slip easily from them. Slice them in half and remove the pits.
Place the apricots, cream and sugar into a blender and purée until smooth. Pour this mixture into a dish with a tight fitting lid and place it in the freezer.
After 1 ½ hours, stir the ice cream so that it is smooth once more and return it to the freezer. Continue this process every few hours until it is semi-hard. Spoon the mixture into prepared moulds or allow it to harden in the dish and serve it in small scoops. You may also use an ice Cream maker to speed this process and produce a uniformly creamy ice cream. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
One of the joys of April is the appearance of green and growing gardens after the chill of winter. In her quintessential guide to English cooking, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse offers a round of up all the dainties one might expect to harvest this month. She does not offer hopes that one has a garden or tips for growing the garden– these are already assumed– she merely states what might be found in the garden. Estates and even cottages relied on their gardens for fresh produce throughout the year and the lack of a garden was one annoyance of city living.
As a plant, Tansy has a distinguished history of medical use dating back to ancient Greece. Used in the 8th century by Swiss Benedictine Monks to treat everything from fevers, digestive issues, worms and rheumatism, it is still listed in the United States Pharmacopeia as an acceptable treatment for fevers and jaundice.
According to some sources, “In the 15th century, Christians began serving tansy with Lenten meals to commemorate the bitter herbs eaten by the Israelites. Tansy was thought to have the added Lenten benefits of controlling flatulence brought on by days of eating fish and pulses and of preventing the intestinal worms believed to be caused by eating fish during Lent.”*
Lent is, of course, the period of fasting (either wholesale or from certain foods and activities) observed by many branches of Christianity during the forty days prior to Easter, allowing the participant an opportunity to focus more deeply on pious thoughts and deeds. As the daughter of an Anglican clergyman, Jane Austen would have participated in this ritual in some way.
In her book, Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History, Andrea Broomfield reiterates this line of thinking and relates how “tansy cake”, which was more commonly called simply “a tansy” served health and medicinal purposes, with deep ties to England’s Catholic heritage. She writes,
“Tansy was a bitter herb whose stalks were juiced and then mixed…with a pint or less of the juice of green wheat, spinach or anything else that is green and not strong tasted. The juice was then mixed with a pint of cream, twelve eggs, nutmeg, sugar and salt. A quantity of white bread to make it thick enough for a bread pudding was mixed in. The batter was placed in a buttered dish and put before a…fire or oven…until it was hard enough to turn out on the dish. People had been eating tansy cakes since the middle ages to purify their bodies, especially after Lent…by the 1700’s, many also ate a tansy cake at Easter in remembrance of the Jewish Passover. Religious reasoning aside, tansy was considered a vital green food for people who had spent the winger eating too much salted meat and pickled vegetables; it was a welcome harbinger of spring’s bounty.”
–Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History, Andrea Broomfield
In Hannah Glasse’s seminal work, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, she boasts an entire section titled “A Variety of Foods for Lent”. Variety (that spice of life) is the key word in this chapter, which includes instructions for everything from Eel-Soup to Soused Mackerel, Baked Apples, Barley Soup, Hasty Pudding, Pancakes and even Stewed Spinach and Eggs. Food for thought. With Lent bringing the removal of many meats and meat products from the table, the beef heavy diet of Georgian England was no doubt happy for any help that could be given.
Hannah rounds out her collection with instructions “To Make A Tansey”. As we have seen, this was a sort of vegetable bread pudding, however, her recipe, surprisingly, contains no actual tansy—just “the juice of spinach to make it green”. A “mock” tansy perhaps? From looking at other period recipes, “Tansy” (or Tansey) seems to have evolved into a term for any pudding baked in the same general way. Recipes for Apple Tansy abound from the period (again, no actual tansy harmed in the making of this recipe) while William Gelleroy’s 1770, The London Cook includes no fewer than eight tansy recipes, with such tantalizing names as A Tansey, Another Tansey, A Gooseberry Tansey, Another Gooseberry Tansey, A Beef Tansey…you get the picture.
And so, without further ado, Hannah Glasse’s Tansey for Lent:
Blancmange , from French blanc-manger, is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss (a source of carrageenan), and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mould and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given alternative colours. Some similar desserts are Bavarian cream, vanilla pudding (in US usage), panna cotta, the Turkish muhallebi, and haupia.
The historical blancmange originated some time in the Middle Ages and usually consisted of capon or chicken, milk or almond milk, rice and sugar and was considered to be an ideal food for the sick. Tavuk göğsü is a sweet contemporary Turkish pudding made with shredded chicken, similar to the medieval European dish.
The true origin of the blancmange is obscure, but it is believed by some that it was a result of the Arab introduction of rice and almonds in early medieval Europe. However, there is no evidence of the existence of any similar Arab dishes from that period; though the Arabic mahallabīyah is similar, its origins are uncertain. Several other names for related or similar dishes existed in Europe, such as the 13th-century Danish hwit moos (“white mush”), and the Anglo-Norman blanc desirree (“white Syrian dish”); Dutch calijs (from Latin colare, “to strain”) was known in English as cullis and in French as coulis, and was based on cooked and then strained poultry. The oldest recipe found so far is from a copy of the oldest extant Danish cookbook, written by Henrik Harpestræng, who died in 1244, which dates it to the early 13th century at the latest. The Danish work may simply be a translation of a German work which is in turn assumed to have been based on a Latin or Romance vernacular manuscript from the 12th century or even earlier.
The “whitedish” (from the original Old French term blanc mangier) was an upper-class dish common to most of Europe during the Middle Ages and early modern period. It occurs in countless variations from recipe collections from all over Europe and is mentioned in the prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and in an early 15th-century cookbook written by the chefs of Richard II. The basic ingredients were milk or almond milk, sugar and shredded chicken (usually capon) or fish, and often combined with rosewater, rice flour, and mixed into a bland stew. Almond milk and fish were used as substitutes for the other animal products on fast days and Lent. It was also often flavored with spices like saffron or cinnamon and the chicken could be exchanged for various types of fowl, like quail or partridge. Spices were often used in recipes of the later Middle Ages since they were considered highly prestigious. The whitedish was one of the preparations that could be found in recipe collections all over Europe and one of the few truly international dishes of medieval and early modern Europe.
On festive occasions and among the upper classes, whitedishes were often rendered more festive by various colouring agents: the reddish-golden yellow of saffron; green with various herbs; or sandalwood for russet. In 14th-century France, parti-colouring, the use of two bright contrasting colours on the same plate, was especially popular and was described by Guillaume Tirel (also known as Taillevent), one of the primary authors of the later editions of Le Viandier. The brightly coloured whitedishes were one of the most common of the early entremets, edibles that were intended to entertain and delight through a gaudy appearance, as much as through flavour.
In the 17th century, the whitedish evolved into a meatless dessert pudding with cream and eggs and, later, gelatin. In the 19th century, arrowroot and cornflour were added and the dish evolved into the modern blancmange.
By the 18th century, noted chef Antonin Carême remarked:“These delicious sweets are greatly esteemed by gastronomes, but, to be enjoyed, they must be extremely smooth and very white. Given these two qualities (so rarely found together), they will always be preferred to other creams, even to transparent jellies. This is because almond is very nourishing and contains creamy, balsamic properties which are just right for sweetening the bitterness of humors.”
Blancmange was considered both a delicate dish for the table as well as a wonderful food for invalids. In her 1800 book, The Complete Confectioner, Hannah Glasse offers several varieties of Blanc Mange (“a fine side dish”, she later notes). Jenny Underwood of National Trust has adapted Hannah’s recipe, for Jerseylovesfood.com. Hannah’s recipes follow.
To make Blanc-mange with Isinglass.
Put an ounce of picked isinglass to a pint of water; put to it a bit of cinnamon, and boil it till the isinglass is melted; put to it three quarters of a pint of cream, two ounces of sweet almonds, and six bitter ones, blanched and beaten, and a bit of lemon peel; sweeten it, stir it over the fire, and let it boil; strain it, stir it till it is cool, squeeze in the juice of a lemon, and put it into what moulds you please; turn it out, garnish with currant jelly and jam, or marmalade, quinces, &C. If you choose to have your blancmange of a green colour, put in as much juice of spinach as will be necessary for that purpose, and a spoonful of brandy; but it should not then retain the name of blanc-mange, (white food,) but rerde-mange, (green food): if you would have it yellow, dissolve a little saffron in it; you should then call it jaune-mange: or you may make it red, by putting a bit of cochineal into little brandy, let it stand half an hour, and strain it through a bit of cloth; it is then entitled to the appellation of rouge-mange. Always wet the mould before you put in the blanc-mange. It may be ornamented, when turned out, by sticking about it blanched almonds sliced, or citron, according to fancy.
To make clear Blanc-mange.
Take a quart of strong calf’s foot jelly, skim off the fat, and strain it, beat the whites of four eggs,’put it into a jelly-bag, and run it through several times till it is clear; beat one ounce of sweet almonds, and one of bitter, to a paste, with a spoonful of rose water squeezed through a cloth; mix it with the jelly, and three spoonfuls of very good cream; set it over the fire again, and keep stirring it till it is almost boiling; pour it into a bowl, and stir very often till it is almost cold; then wet your moulds and fill them.
To make Blanc-mange with a preserved Orange. Fill your orange with blancmange; and, when cold, stick in it long slips of citron, like leaves; pour blanc-mange in the dish; when cold, set the orange in the middle; garnish with preserved or dried fruits: or you may pour blanc-mange into a mould like a Turk’s cap, lay round it jelly a little broken; put a sprig of myrtle, or small preserved orange on the top.
Turducken is a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is in turn stuffed into a deboned turkey. The word. turducken is a portmanteau of turkey, duck, and chicken. The dish is a form of engastration, which is a recipe method in which one animal is stuffed inside the gastric passage of another.
The bake house at Chawton cottage shows the types of ovens used by the Austen family. The bake house was quite often a detached building as an added measure of safety against fire and to preserve the house from the heat of year round baking.
“There is nothing she likes so well as these baked apples, and they are extremely wholesome, for I took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr Perry…” Miss Bates rattles on to Emma about Jane Fairfax’s enjoyment the apples sent by Mr. Knightley. As the Bates’ had no bake house, they were obliged to rely on Mrs. Wallis to bake their apples, though in reality, they are a simple dish to prepare. You may wish to pair this dish with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and cookies.
To Bake Apples Whole
Put your apples into an earthen pan, with a few cloves, a little lemon-peel, some coarse sugar, a glass of red wine: put them into a quick oven, and they will take an hour baking.
Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747
4 Medium sized Apples
1 ½ tsp Lemon Peel
57 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup Brown Sugar
240 ml / 8 fl oz/ 1cup Red Wine or Apple Juice, divided
While researching Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, I found many recipes that called for lard or suet (the beef alternative). It was often not immediately clear whether or not the authors were talking about straight, diced lard (like the kind used for adding fat and flavor to drier cuts of meat, as in “larding your roast”) or rendered lard, however a trip the local living history museum helped put my questions to rest. A basic rule of thumb when looking at period recipes, if it goes into the food (larding your meat, dicing it for mincemeat, etc.) you are talking about lard straight off the meat, often with tiny bits of meat still attached. If you are using it for frying or in pie crust, basically anywhere you might substitute modern Crisco or solid shortening, use rendered lard.
According to Wikipedia, “Lard is pig fat in both its rendered and unrendered forms. Lard was commonly used in many cuisines as a cooking fat or shortening, or as a spread similar to butter. Its use in contemporary cuisine has diminished; however, many contemporary cooks and bakers favor it over other fats for select uses. The culinary qualities of lard vary somewhat depending on the part of the pig from which the fat was taken and how the lard was processed.
The well appointed Georgian table relied heavily on a variety of meats served at each course of every meal. This included not only your run of the mill beef, mutton and poultry, but also game such as venison and hare. In her letters, Jane Austen mentions receiving gifts of meat, such as the “a pheasant and hare the other day from the Mr. Grays of Alton” in 1809 and the “hare and four rabbits from G[odmersham] yesterday”, claiming that they are now “stocked for nearly a week.” (November 26, 1815). Perhaps the most famous recipe for Hare is, of course, Jugged Hare.
Jugging is the process of stewing whole animals, mainly game or fish, for an extended period in a tightly covered container such as a casserole or an earthenware jug. In French, such a stew of a game animal thickened with the animal’s blood is known as a civet.
One common traditional dish that involves jugging is Jugged Hare (known as civet de lièvre in France), which is a whole hare, cut into pieces, marinated and cooked with red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water. It is traditionally served with the hare’s blood (or the blood is added right at the very end of the cooking process) and port wine. Continue reading Hannah Glasse’s Jugged Hare
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