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Steventon Roast Potatoes Recipe

Jane Austen News

Potatoes were grown at Steventon as early as 1773. In this, Mrs. Austen was decades ahead of her time, and the wonder of her neighbours who supposed them to be a dish fit only for gentry. Puddings had served as the main source of starch in English diets, but a wheat shortage in 1794 led the Board of Agriculture to advise all clergy “to encourage, as much as they can, the farmers and cottagers to plant potatoes this spring, in order that the kingdom may experience no scarcity…”

mrsausten
A silhouette of Mrs. Austen.

Though nearly seventy when the family moved to Chawton Cottage, Mrs. Austen “found plenty of occupation for herself, in gardening and needlework. The former was, with her, no idle pastime, no mere cutting of roses and tying up of flowers. She dug up her own potatoes, and I have no doubt she planted them, for the kitchen garden was as much her delight as the flower borders, and I have heard my mother say that when at work, she wore a green round frock like a day-labourer’s.” (Fanny Caroline Lefroy, great-granddaughter of Mrs. Austen)

There was, at the time, some difference of opinion about the preparation of potatoes, as voiced by Susannah Carter: “Some pare potatoes before they are put into the pot; others think it the best way, both for saving time and preventing waste, to peel off the skin as soon as they are boiled.” I chose the former manner for this roast potatoes recipe as an easier alternative to handling boiling hot potatoes.

potatoes

To Dress Potatoes
You must boil them in as little water as you can, without burning the sauce-pan. Cover the sauce-pan close, and when the skin begins to crack, they are enough. Drain the water out, and let them stand covered for a minute or two; then peel them, lay them in your plate, and pour some melted butter over them. The best way to do them is, when they are peeled to lay them on a gridiron till they are of a fine brown, and send them to table.
Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747

  • 900 g / 32 oz / 2 lbs All Purpose potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons Flour (see recipe)

In a large sauce pan, place the potatoes in enough water to cover them and bring them to a boil. Allow them to boil furiously over a medium to high heat for 20 minutes or until they are fork tender.

Melted butter was perhaps the most common sauce to be served with any number of dishes. To make your own, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over a medium heat. Quickly whisk in 2-3 tsp of flour and remove the butter from the heat. Do not allow the mixture to boil or the sauce will separate, thus becoming “oiled”.

Preheat your oven to 218° C / 425° F. Drain the potatoes and place them on a foil lined baking sheet. Pour the melted butter over them and bake them until they are brown and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.

Serves 4-6

This roast potatoes recipe is an excerpt from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends by Laura Boyle.

 

 

 

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Mrs. Martin’s Mashed Turnips

“They must not over-salt the leg; and then, if it is not over-salted, and if it is very thoroughly boiled, just as Serle boils ours, and eaten very moderately of, with a boiled turnip, and a little carrot or parsnip, I do not consider it unwholesome.”
Emma

The turnip, while an extraordinarily humble vegetable was, like the carrot and potato, one of the few fresh vegetables that could be counted on throughout the winter without the help of a hothouse. They provided a double benefit as well, since both the vegetable root and greens could be eaten. Turnips are quite a bit sweeter than potatoes and this recipe makes a lovely, fluffy side dish. White or yellow turnips may be used.
mashed turnips

To Dress Turnips
They eat best boiled in the pot, and when enough take them out and put them in a pan, and mash them with butter, a little cream, and a little salt, and send them to table.
Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

Continue reading Mrs. Martin’s Mashed Turnips

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Bubble and Squeak

Alas! I must leave undescribed the gibier,
The salmi, the consommé, the purée,
All which I use to make my rhymes run glibber
Than could roast beef in our rough John Bull way:
I must not introduce even a spare rib here,
“Bubble and squeak” would spoil my liquid lay:
But I have dined, and must forego, Alas!
The chaste description even of a “bécasse;”
Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto XV

Bubble and squeak is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The main ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added. The cold chopped vegetables (and cold chopped meat if used) are fried in a pan together with mashed potatoes or crushed roast potatoes until the mixture is well-cooked and brown on the sides. It is often served with cold meat from the Sunday roast, and pickles.

The meat was traditionally added to the bubble and squeak itself, although nowadays it is more commonly made without meat. The name comes from the bubble and squeak sounds made as it cooks. The earliest printed recipe can be found in  Mrs. Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell’s 1806  edition of,  A New System of Domestic Cookery: Founded up Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families.

 A New System of Domestic Cookery was the most popular English cookbook of the first half of the nineteenth century; it is often referred to simply as “Mrs. Rundell”. The first edition  was a short collection of recipes published by John Murray. It went through dozens of editions, both legitimate and pirated, in both Britain and the United States, where the first edition was published in 1807. The frontispiece typically credited the authorship to “A Lady”. Later editions included many contributions by Emma Roberts.

Bubble-and-Squeak
Cut slices from a cold round of beef; let them be fried quickly until brown, and put them into a dish to keep hot. Clean the pan from the fat; put into it greens and carrots previously boiled and chopped small; add a little butter, pepper, and salt; make them very hot, and put them round the beef with a little gravy. Cold pork boiled is a better material for bubble-and-squeak than beef, which is always hard; in either case the slices should be very thin and lightly fried.
A New System of Domestic Cookery: Founded up Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families

by Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell

The major ingredients of “Bubble and Squeak” are potatoes and cabbage, though it can include other veggies (consider Brussels sprouts, peas, carrots. ) Chopped meat is also often added, although the original recipe suggests serving it with “raredone beef, lightly fried.”

Mainly prepared using previously cooked “left over” ingredients, it is a quick snack and often prepared for breakfast.  It is such a quintessential British recipe– as much a comfort food as Macaroni and Cheese is to Americans, that it was served (in elegant, royal form) as an appetizer Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding reception last April!

The modern version begins with left-over, boiled vegetables and mashed potatoes (Food Network Chef, Jamie Oliver,  suggests that the recipe should be a bit more than half potatoes.) Chopped meat, such as sausage, bacon or the end of a roast can be added.

  1. Heat some butter or oil in a pan.
  2. Mash your potatoes and vegetables together and mix in the meat.
  3. Create a thick “vegetable pancake” and fry it in the oil.
  4. Flip the mixture so that both sides are crispy and lightly browned.

Serve hot or cold!

 


 

Historical information from Wikipedia.com. Recipe suggestions from Bubble and squeak: A British breakfast favorite.

 

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‘To Make a Tart of ‘Parsneps & Scyrrets’

The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler and have a stronger flavor. Like carrots, parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times. Zohary and Hopf note that the archeological evidence for the cultivation of the parsnip is “still rather limited”, and that Greek and Roman literary sources are a major source about its early use, but warn “there are some difficulties in distinguishing between parsnip and carrot in classical writings since both vegetables seem to have been sometimes called pastinaca yet each vegetable appears to be well under cultivation in Roman times.”

Until the potato arrived from the New World, its place in dishes was occupied by the parsnip. Parsnips can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles. In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root and contributing starch to thicken the dish. Roasted parsnip is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English speaking world and, in the north of England, frequently features alongside roast potatoes in the traditional Sunday Roast.

February is the traditional month in which to plant parsnips. Parsnips are a vegetable that have been grown, in their present form, for hundreds of years. They are tougher and less prone to pests and diseases than the majority of the vegetables that we now grow in our gardens.

The reason for planting parsnips early, is that this allow them a long growing season in which to get as large as possible: it is quite common to get parsnips over 18 inches long and weighing more than 2 lb (1 kg).*

To Make a Tart of Parsneps & Scyrrets
Seeth yr roots in water & wine, then pill them & beat them in a morter, with raw eggs & grated bread. bedew them often with rose water & wine, then streyne them & put sugar to them & some juice of leamons, & put it into yr crust; & when yr tart is bakes, cut it up & butter it hot, or you may put some butter into it, when you set it into yr oven, & eat it cold. Ye juice of leamon you may eyther put in or leave out at yr pleasure.
From Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery

Though at first the instructions for this pie seem strange, a closer examination reveals a recipe quite similar to modern pumpkin pie with wine replacing the milk used in the latter. The skirret is a perennial plant sometimes grown as a root vegetable. It has a cluster of sweet, bright white roots which are similar to sweet potatoes, but longer (15-20 cm). Skirrets may be boiled, stewed, or roasted. It was thought in early times to be an aphrodisiac. Some later recipes suggest replacing them with carrots if unavailable.

A modern variation of this pie uses only parsnips, along wiht 4 eggs (for four cups of pulp), one cup of wine, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, sugar and rose water to taste. Most pumpkin pie recipes call for 3/4 cup sugar though parsnips and carrots are generally sweeter than pumpkin. Add one to two tablespoons of butter. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan and bake at 400° for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake about 35 minutes longer, or until center is set.

Historical information from Wikipedia the online encyclopedia as well as Jamboree: The Young People’s Real Education Website.

Recipe suggestions by Karen Hess, from Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery.

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Mashed Potatoes for Christmas

 

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone–too nervous to bear witnesses–to take the pudding up, and bring it in.
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, 1843

Goose, stuffing, applesauce and mashed potatoes. The Cratchitt’s Christmas dinner sounds a lot like what many of us will be enjoying this Christmas, but in Jane Austen’s day, only twenty or thirty years before the writing of A Christmas Carol potatoes were a fairly new offering on the dinner table. One that was often eyed with suspicion more than anything else.

Though potatoes were brought to Spain from South America in the 1500’s, it would take almost 300 more years before they were adopted with any alacrity by the rest of Europe. Eventually, they were recognized to contain almost every necessary vitamin for survival. The idea that one acre of potatoes could support a family of 10 was especially well received in Ireland. In 1780 widespread cultivation of white (versus sweet) potatoes began in Ireland, eventually reaching Britain and beyond. The population explosion in Ireland in the early 1800’s owes itself to this new food source, and when, in the 1840’s a blight wiped out the entire crop, there was widespread famine across the country, bringing to life a massive exodus of Irish immigrants to the United States.

We know that Jane Austen was familiar with potatoes and probably enjoyed them frequently, though it is left to our imaginations to wonder if the dish enjoyed by Dr. Grant in the Mansfield Parsonage was baked, boiled, roasted or mashed. It is curious to note that what was once served as a delicate and rare dish became, in a few decades time associated with a poor man’s dish and therefore fit for the Cratchitt’s table.

Mashed Potatoes
Ingredients:
Potatoes: to every lb. of mashed potatoes allow 1 oz. of butter,
2 tablespoonfuls of milk, salt to taste.

Mode
Boil the potatoes in their skins; when done, drain them, and let them get thoroughly dry by the side of the fire; then peel them, and, as they are peeled, put them into a clean saucepan, and with a large fork beat them to a light paste; add butter, milk, and salt in the above proportion, and stir all the ingredients well over the fire. When thoroughly hot, dish them lightly, and draw the fork backwards over the potatoes to make the surface rough, and serve. When dressed in this manner, they may be browned at the top with a salamander, or before the fire. Some cooks press the potatoes into moulds, then turn them out, and brown them in the oven: this is a pretty mode of serving, but it makes them heavy. In whatever way they are sent to table, care must be taken to have them quite free from lumps.
Isabella Beeton Book of Household Management, 1859

 

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
    (Yukon Gold are best)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A potato masher

Put potatoes into a saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add water until potatoes are covered. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until done (a fork can easily be poked through them.)

Warm cream and melt butter together, either in microwave or in a pan on the stove. Drain water from potatoes. Put hot potatoes into a bowl. Add cream and melted butter. Use potato masher to mash potatoes until well mashed. Use a strong spoon to beat further, adding milk to achieve the consistency you desire. (Do not over-beat or your potatoes will get gluey.) Salt and pepper to taste.

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Cottage Pie

“Dinner to day, Cottage-Pye and rost Beef.”
Reverend James Woodford, 29 August 1791
Diary of a Country Parson

Cottage pie and shepherd’s pie are traditional methods for using leftover roasted meat, either beef or mutton, with mashed potato as a convenient pie crust. In early recipes, the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top. The use of previously uncooked meat is a recent adaptation, suited to the techniques of commercial food processing companies.

Early cookery writers did not use the terms “cottage pie” and “shepherd’s pie” and the terms did not appear in recipe books until the late part of the 19th century. From that time, the terms have been used interchangeably, although there is a popular tendency for “shepherd’s pie” to be used when the meat is mutton or lamb. The first mention of Cottage Pie was in 1791, when the Rev. James Woodford mentions eating it with “rost beef” for dinner.

Cottage Pie
Required: a pound and a half of cooked potatoes, half a pound to three-quarters of cold meat, seasoning and gravy as below. Cost, about 9d. The potatoes must be nicely cooked and mashed while hot…The should be seasoned, and beaten until light with a wooden spoon. A pie dish should then be greased, and the potatoes put at the bottom, to form a layer from half to an inch in thickness. The meat should be made into a thick mince of the usual kind with stock or gravy…or it may be mixed with Onion Sauce, or any other which may be sent to table with meat. The nicer the mince, the nice, of course, will be the pie. The meat doest next, and should be put in the centre of the bottom payer, leaving a little space all around. The crop the remainder of the potatoes on the top, beginning at the sides–this prevents the boiling out of the gravy when the meat begins to cook–go on until all the used, making the pie highest in the middle. Take a fork, and rough the surface all over, because it will brown better than if left smooth. For a plain dish, bake it for fifteen to twenty minutes. Or it may be just sprinkled with melted dripping (a brush is used for this), or it may be coated with beaten egg, part of which may then be used in the mashed potatoes. As soon as the pie is hot through and brown, it should be served. There are many recipes for this pie, or variation of it, and in some, directions are given for putting the meat in the dish first, and all the potatoes on the top. The plan above detailed will be found the better, because the meat being enveloped entirely in potatoes runs no risk of becoming hard, as it wold do it exposed to the direct heat of the oven. Any other cooked vegetables may be added to the above, but they should be placed between the meat and potatoes, both top and bottom. If a very savoury pie is desired, make the mince very moist, and allow longer time for baking. The potatoes will absorb some of the gravy, and found tasty. In this case, the heat must not be fierce at starting, only at the end for the pie to brown well. For a richer pie, allow a larger proportion of meat. For a very cheap one, half a pound of meat will do for two pounds of potatoes.
—Cassell’s New Universal Cookery Book
, Lizzie Heritage, 1894


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes chopped or one small can of peeled, diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock or bouillon
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 5 medium potatoes (boiled and mashed)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter or bacon fat
  • salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the beef in oil.

Remove from pan and set aside.

Drain most of the accumulated fat from the pan. Sauté onions until tender, and then add chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add broth and stir in herbs and seasonings.

Return brown meat to skillet and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Transfer all ingredients to an ovenproof casserole.

Top with mashed potatoes (scoring them with a fork.) Dot with butter and bake uncovered in 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

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