Posted on

Peach Preserves

peach-preserves

There was now employment for the whole party; for though they could not all talk, they could all eat; and the beautiful pyramids of grapes, nectarines, and peaches soon collected them round the table.
Pride and Prejudice

Pemberly was most certainly self-sufficient when it came to providing summer fruits for their guests’ enjoyment, and it comes as no suprise that the bounty provided included peaches…a most difficult fruit to cultivate in England at that time. Perhaps Pemberley’s kitchen garden resembled that belonging to Chawton Great House, a place Jane Austen would no doubt have enjoyed and been familiar with. Edward Knight’s “new” and now existing garden was, according to the Great House trustees, “built in 1818-1822 as a kitchen garden with fruit trees on all the inner walls and on the outer sides of the south and east walls and with hard and soft fruits within. The garden was fully enclosed by malmstone and brick walls with small doorways in each wall”. The trees planted along the inner walls are trained in an espalier fashion which is both decorative and useful when harvest arrives.

Although peaches originated in China, they were brought to the Middle East by means of the Silk Road and from there made their way to Europe and England.

Oceanic climate areas like the Pacific Northwest and the British Isles are generally (more…)

Posted on

Blanched Asparagus

Asparagus isolated on white background

I never saw any thing equal to the comfort and style…The baked apples and biscuits, excellent in their way, you know; but there was a delicate fricassee of sweetbread and some asparagus brought in at first, and good Mr Woodhouse, not thinking the asparagus quite boiled enough, sent it all out again.

Now there is nothing grandmama loves better than sweetbread and asparagus — so she was rather disappointed, but we agreed we would not speak of it to any body, for fear of its getting round to dear Miss Woodhouse, who would be so very much concerned!
Emma

Asparagus has been used from very early times as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties. It was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter. It lost its popularity in the Middle Ages but returned to favour in the seventeenth century.

Only the young shoots of asparagus are eaten. Asparagus is low in calories, contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber, and rutin. The amino acid, asparagine, gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound.

The shoots can be prepared and served in a number of (more…)

Posted on

Yorkshire Pudding

yorkshire2

The Yorkshire pudding is a staple of the British Sunday dinner and in some cases is eaten as a separate course prior to the main meat dish. This was the traditional method of eating the pudding and is still common in parts of Yorkshire today, having arisen in poorer times to provide a filling portion before the more expensive meat course. “Them ‘at eats t’most pudding gets t’most meat” is the common saying. Because the rich gravy from the roast meat drippings was used up with the first course, the main meat and vegetable course was often served with a parsley or white sauce.

Yorkshire pudding is cooked by pouring batter into a preheated greased baking tin containing very hot oil and baking at very high heat until it has risen.

Traditionally, it is cooked in a large tin underneath a roasting joint of meat in order to catch the dripping fat and then cut appropriately. Yorkshire pudding may also be made in the same pan as the meat, after the meat has been cooked and moved to a serving platter, which also takes advantage of the meat’s fat that is left behind. It is not uncommon to cook them in muffin tins as popovers, using 2+ tbs batter per muffin, with 1-2 tsp oil in each tin before preheating pan to very hot. Wrapped tightly, Yorkshire Puddings freeze and reconstitute very well.

(more…)

Posted on

Make your Own Butter

churns2

Susan and an attendant girl, whose inferior appearance informed Fanny, to her great surprise, that she had previously seen the upper servant, brought in everything necessary for the meal; Susan looking, as she put the kettle on the fire and glanced at her sister, as if divided between the agreeable triumph of shewing her activity and usefulness, and the
dread of being thought to demean herself by such an office. “She had been into the kitchen,” she said, “to hurry Sally and help make the toast, and spread the bread and butter, or she did not know when they should have got tea, and she was sure her sister must want something after her journey.”
Mansfield Park

 

What is more traditional at tea time than bread and butter? Butter, that all essential ingredient to the rich sauces and pastries enjoyed during the Regency was a kitchen staple. Common in the country, its expense was lamented in the city, where fresh cream was harder to obtain. While living at Steventon, the Austen ladies would have been intimately familiar with the management of the family’s dairy and with all aspects of milking, cream separating and butter making. Wealthier families, like the Lefroys, at Ashe, could leave the dairy to trained dairy maids, but Mrs. Austen took a very hands on approach to feeding her family.

Who knows but what the traditional view of Dairy Maids as having rosy cheeks and a sweet temperment (more…)

Posted on

Partridges…Remarkably Well Done

partridge

The soup was fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases’ last week; and even Mr Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at least.
Pride and Prejudice

Pigeons, partridges and other small game birds were easy to hunt or raise in the yard and along with the traditional chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, formed a staple of the Georgian table. The following recipe, from Martha Lloyd’s Household Book is easy enough to follow in any modern kitchen. Substitute Cornish Game Hens or other small poultry for the birds, if partridges are not available.

To Stew Pigeons Brown
Take a piece of fat & lean bacon, and a piece of butter, let this brown in a stew pan, and when you have stuffed four pigeons put them into the pan and brown them. When they are brown all over, put to it an onion, a bundle of sweet herbs. Put to them warm water enough to cover them, with an anchovy, put the giblets in it, this will help the gravy. When it is cooked enough strain it and add a piece of butter and a little flour.
Martha Lloyd’s Household Book

Enjoyed this article? Browse our giftshop at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk for Regency recipe books!

(more…)
Posted on

Roasted Pork Ribs

Silhouette of summer garden BBQ isolated against fire

My father furnishes him with a pig from Cheesedown; it is already killed and cut up, but it is not to weigh more than nine stone; the season is too far advanced to get him a larger one. My mother means to pay herself for the salt and the trouble of ordering it to be cured by the sparibs.
Jane Austen to Cassandra

When Mr. Woodhouse talks of killing a porker (Hartfield pork is so superior to any other kind) he is talking of a pig raised specifically to be eaten as pork. Pigs reared to be eaten as ham or bacon would have been fed on a different diet as they were wanted as large as possible; 40-50 pound hams and sides of bacon were not unusual. Porkers were killed when just grown and used fresh or salted.

Roasted Pork Ribs
Take the ribbes of a boor… and parboyle hem tyl thai byn half sothen, then take and roste hem, and when thai byn rosted, take and chop hem and do hem in a pot, and do thereto gode fresshe brothe of beef and wyn, and put thereto clowes, maces and pynes, and raisynges of Courance, and pouder of pepur, and take onyons and mynce hem grete, do hem in a panne with fresshe grees, and fry hem and do hem in the potte, and let hit wel sethe al togedur, and take brede stepet in brothe, and drawe hit up and do
(more…)

Posted on

Early Macaroni and Cheese

mac & cheese copy

While it was once thought that Marco Polo discovered macaroni in China and brought it back to Europe in 1274, modern scholars believe the true origin lies somewhere in Sicily, where it is mentioned in manuscripts as early as 1188. However it arrived, macaroni (and pasta in general) soon became a staple in the Western diet.

What, though, of the famous line in Yankee Doodle, “stuck a feather in his cap and called it Macaroni”. Did it actually resemble a noodle, as so many children imagine? Not in the mid-1700’s.

“The Macaroni Club consisted of young, wealthy British gentlemen who traveled to France and Italy and adopted the ostentatious and flamboyant fashions popular in those countries during the eighteenth century. The Macaronis, not members of a true club but rather a new generation of continental society, were often ridiculed by the British establishment.

The Macaroni moniker was a tongue-in-cheek reference to their import of foreign cuisine as well as fashion. Macaronis wore form-fitting trousers and short waistcoats with ruffles and braiding, and sported superfluities such as tasseled walking sticks, spy glasses, and nosegays. They wore elaborate toupees and wigs topped by tiny tricorn hats that were definitely form over function. These trends may have been en vogue at the Court of Versailles, but they didn’t go over well back home with the more staid Brits, who perceived the Macaronis’ style as extreme, effeminate, and silly.

What’s worse than a pretentious British fop? How about a Yankee with aspirations to the (more…)

Posted on

A Ragout of Beef

ragout2 copy

Miss Bingley was engrossed by Mr Darcy, her sister scarcely less so; and as for Mr Hurst, by whom Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards, who, when he found her prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her.
Pride and Prejudice

By Georgian times, Roast Beef* had become the staple of the Englishman’s diet. The subject of song and legend, this particular dish was credited with everything from Englishmen’s courage and stout hearts to their victories over France. A traveler of the 1700’s observed:

“Roast meat is the Englishman’s delice and principal dish. The English roasts are particularly remarkable for two things. 1. All English meat, whether it is of ox, calf, sheep, or swine, has a fatness and delicious taste, either because of the excellent pasture…or for some other reason. 2. The English men understand almost better than any other people the art of properly roasting a joint, which also is not to be wondered at; because the art of cooking as practiced by most Englishmen does not extend much beyond roast beef and plum pudding.”

During the Regency, however, British cooking had changed. French recipes became the rage. Indeed, Mrs. Bennet supposed Mr. Darcy to keep “…two or three French cooks at least.” With this change came a desire for more “exotic” dishes. Fricassees and Ragoo (ragout) began to appear on English tables. Though merely stewed meat and vegetables, they were (more…)