Perhaps one of the most famous recipes in literature begins, “Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–“. This is, of course, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but when I came across the following recipe in Eliza Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery, it seemed as if it might fit right in to the list of inedible ingredients. “Cold Neat’s Tongue”, as it was called, was suggested as an appropriate side dish for a supper party in 1807,
Hot suppers are not much in use where people dine very late. When required, the top and bottom, or either, may be Game. Fowls. Rabbit. Boiled Fish, such as Soles, Mackerel. Oysters stewed or scalloped. French Beans. Cauliflower, or Jerusalem Artichokes, in white Sauce. Brocoli with Eggs. Stewed Spinach and ditto. Sweetbreads. Small Birds. Mushrooms. Potatoes. Scallop, &c. Cutlets. Roast Onions. Salmagundy. Buttered Eggs on Toast. Cold Neat’s Tongue. Ham. Collared things. Hunter’s Beef sliced. Rusks buttered, with Anchovies on. Grated Hung Beef with butter, with or without Rusks. Grated Cheese round, and Butter dressed in the middle of a plate. Radishes ditto. Custards in glasses with Sippets. Oysters cold or pickled. Potted Meals. Fish. Birds. Cheese, &c. Good plain Cake sliced. Pies of Bird, or Fruit. Crabs. Lobster Prawns. Cray-fish. Any of the list of sweet things. Fruits. A Sandwich set with any of the above articles, placed a little distance from each other on the table, looks well, without the tray, if preferred.
The lighter the things the better they appear, and glass intermixed has the best effect. Jellies, different coloured things, and flowers, add to the beauty of the table. An elegant supper may be served at a small expense by those who know how to make trifles that are in the house form the greatest part of the meal.
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
“How very ill Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy,” she cried; “I never in my life saw any one so much altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so brown and coarse! Louisa and I were agreeing that we should not have known her again.”
However little Mr. Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented himself with coolly replying that he perceived no other alteration than her being rather tanned — no miraculous consequence of travelling in the summer.
-Pride and Prejudice
Regency ladies, such as Caroline Bingley fancies herself to be, were fastidious about their complexions. The following recipe for “cold cream” would have been a common enough recipe with women spending literal fortunes each year on commercial cosmetics (such as Gowland’s Lotion or Sperry’s Lavender Water) as well as their own home-grown recipes. Cold cream is used not only to clean the skin (especially the face) from cosmetics, dirt and grime, but if left on over night, it will soften the skin, as well. It is also often used on the hands.
The ingredients listed here are not too hard to come by when you consider that white wax was white beeswax and spermaceti— an oily product of the Sperm Whale, is easily substituted with Jojoba oil– a naturally occurring plant oil with curiously similar properties.
—Take 2 ozs. of oil of almonds, one half oz of spermaceti, 2 ozs of white wax and one half pint of water; melt them in a new pipkin, and when all is melted, whip it till cold; then let it lay in a little rose water till you put it in pots.
How to Cook, 1810
Having now cleared away my smaller articles of news, I come to a communication of some weight; no less than that my uncle and aunt are going to allow James 100£. a year. We hear of it through Steventon. Mary sent us the other day an extract from my aunt’s letter on the subject, in which the donation is made with the greatest kindness… The hundred a year begins next Lady-day.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
December 9, 1808
In the western Liturgical year, Lady Day is the traditional name of the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The term derives from Middle English, when some nouns lost their genitive inflections. “Lady” would later gain an -s genitive ending, and therefore the name means “Lady’s day.”
In England, Lady Day was New Year’s Day up to 1752 when, following the move from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar, 1 January became the start of the year. As a year-end and quarter day that conveniently did not fall within or between the seasons for ploughing and harvesting, Lady Day was a traditional day on which year-long contracts between landowners and tenant farmers would begin and end in England and nearby lands (although there were regional variations).
In Swedish, the word våffla is attested since 1642 and derives from the German Waffel but is possibly associated by ancestors with Vår Fru (The Virgin Mary). Waffles are served, even today, in a large number of Swedish householdson Våffeldagen, that is to say, on Lady Day, which is observed the 25th of March. In modern times, March 25 has been designated as “International Waffle Day”.
Waffles, although a popular breakfast, dinner and dessert food, depending on where you are from, trace their roots back to the Greeks and have long held religious significance.
Wafer and waffle share common etymological roots. Wafre (“wafer”) occurs in Middle English by 1377, adopted from Middle Low German wâfel, with the l changed to r. Modern Dutch wafel, French gaufre, and German Waffel, all meaning “waffle”, share the same origin. The Dutch form, wafel, was adopted into modern American English as waffle in the 18th century.
The modern waffle has its origins in the wafers—very light thin crisp cakes baked between wafer irons—of the Middle Ages in the Province of Brabant (modern-day Belgium) Light and airy, Geoffery Chaucer considered them delicate enough to entice love, writing of Absalom’s love for Alison in The Miller’s Tale (The Canterbury Tales) :
He sent her sweetened wine and well-spiced ale
And waffles piping hot out of the fire,
And, she being town-bred, mead for her desire.
For some are won by means of money spent,
And some by tricks, and some by long descent.
Wafer irons consisted of two metal plates connected by a hinge, with each plate connected to an arm with a wooden handle. The iron was placed over a fire and flipped to cook both sides of the wafer. The irons were used to produce a variety of different flat, unleavened cakes, usually from a mixture of barley and oats, instead of the white flour used today.
In 14th-century England, wafers were sold by street vendors called waferers. The modern waffle is a leavened form of wafer. On holy days, doors to churchs would be besieged by waferers selling their wares, most often with “cross shaped” markings, though waffle irons might also be imprinted with coats of arms or other symbols. The resulting chaos was solved by the passing of a law by Charles IX of France (27 June 1550 – 30 May 1574) that waferers had to stand at least eight feet apart at all times when selling their wares.
By Elizabethan times, waffles were enjoyed by those in all levels of society, with the rich adding eggs, cream, leavening and sugar to the recipe. The first recorded waffle recipes began to appear in print in the 1730’s, though waffles were first introduced to North America in 1620 by Pilgrims who brought the method from Holland. Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron and “modernized” recipe from Holland in 1790, when he returned to the United States after his time as ambassador to France. Waffle frolics or parties became popular in the late 18th century, where prepared waffles were topped with anything from sweet sauces and fruits to savory kidney stew.
It has been recorded that Jefferson served yeast-leavened waffles to Merriweather Lewis at a dinner at the White House, before Lewis and William Clark made their famous trip to the West Coast in 1804.
With the advent of Baking Powder (called soda ash, when it was invented in 1791) baking, especially “quick breads”, changed, and modern American waffles are no longer made with yeast. To get a more authentic “Regency” flavor, one has to try a recipe similar to Belgian waffles, or Brussels waffles. These are generally, but not always, lighter, thicker, and crispier and have larger pockets compared to other waffle varieties. Despite their name, ‘Brussels waffles’ were actually invented in Ghent in 1839. They were introduced to America by restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, who sold his Brussels waffles under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair.
Early 19th Century Raised Waffles (Makes about 14 waffles)
Whole wheat flour*, divided
7.5 oz. (200g)
All purpose flour, divided
3.75 oz. (100g)
Brown sugar, firmly packed
½ oz. (14g)
1/6 oz (5g)
¼ cup (1/2 stick)
2 oz. (56g)
Active dry yeast
2 ¼ tsp (1 pkg)
¼ oz (14 g)
Milk or water, warm (105 degrees F)
2 cups (1 pint)
* Whole white wheat flour is ideal
Combine 1 cup whole wheat and ½ cup all purpose flour, brown sugar, salt, butter and yeast in a large mixer bowl. Stir in the milk and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute more. Add the remaining flour and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Let stand at 75 to 80 degrees F., covered (unsealed lid), for 4 hours or overnight (refrigerate, if overnight).
When ready to bake, beat the eggs into the mixture, Heat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pour 1/3 cup batter into each segment of the hot iron. Bake until golden brown; (baking time will vary with the type of iron used). Serve immediately with honey or jam.
Used by permission
The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark: Recipes for an Expedition by Mary Gunderson, History Cooks® 2003. historycooks.com
If you are like me, you can tell which recipes are your favorites by the way the pages stick together in the cookbook. Treasured recipes from family and friends lie jumbled in a recipe box…some actually on recipe cards– others printed on index cards, slips of note paper, sticky notes and even the backs of other recipes.
Instead of hunting to find each recipe every time you want to use it, why not “take a page” from the women of old and create your own household book! Not only will you have all your favorite recipes in one place, it will, no doubt, become a treasured family keepsake in years to come.
Many of these types of little books with recipes ranging from puddings to shoe blacking, have found their way back into print and they are as delightful to read, as they are fascinating windows into history. Both Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats (edited by Karen Hess) and
A Jane Austen household book, collected by Peggy Hickman, offer hand written recipes (in Austen’s case, by Martha Lloyd, her dear friend) as well as editorial insight into the food of Jane Austen’s era.
Start with a small, blank notebook (like the floral journal from the giftshop!) and dedicate a page or two to each recipe. Don’t forget to include the names of those who gave you the recipes! Martha Lloyd often does this and it gives an added layer of texture to Jane Austen’s letters when the same friends and neighbors she gossips so freely about with Cassandra show up in these pages of biscuits, puddings and marmalades.
Randalls’ Roast Chicken and Egg Sauce is a traditional Regency recipe which could be found on many a fine table. It’s also a nice roast chicken recipe to prepare for Sunday lunch.
The chickens are all alive and fit for the table, but we save them for something grand.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
May 29, 1811
Fowls of every size and type were to be found on Regency tables, from larks and snipes to large geese and turkeys. Most were freshly prepared and the type of bird served was dependent on the season. Some were, as they are now, associated with major holidays such as Michaelmas Goose and Christmas Turkeys. Game birds were available only in the fall and winter; all others had to be reared at home or purchased from the local poulterer.
For this reason, most country homes, from small rectories to the grandest houses, kept their own poultry yards containing Pheasant, Guinea Fowl, and other more exotic birds along with the usual chickens, turkeys and geese. These were tended by dairymaids, though overseen by the housekeeper or lady of the house. Larger estates also boasted Dovecotes, which guaranteed a reliable source for fresh meat throughout the winter.
To Roast Large Fowls Take your fowls when they are ready dressed, put them down to a good fire, singe, dust and baste them well with butter, they will be near an hour roasting, make a gravy of the necks and gizzards, strain it, put in a spoonful of browning; when you dish them up, pour the gravy into the dish, serve them up with egg sauce in a boat.
To Make Egg Sauce Boil two eggs hard, half chop the whites, then put in the yolks, chop them both together, but not very fine, put them into a quarter of a pound of good melted butter, and put it in a boat.
The Experienced English Housekeeper, 1786
Roast Chicken with Egg Sauce
2 kg / 4 lb roasting chicken
3 tbsp butter, divided
5 tbsp Flour, divided
1 tsp Gravy Browning (such as Gravy Master)
2 hard cooked Eggs
Preheat your oven to 218° C / 425° F. Remove the neck and gizzards from your chicken and set these aside. Pat your chicken dry and place it on a baking rack in your roasting pan. Sprinkle it with ¼ cup flour, rubbing it in so that it is fully coated. Melt 2 tbsp butter and pour this over the chicken, spreading it with a basting brush, if necessary to ensure even coverage.
Roast the chicken for 50-60 minutes (13-15 minutes per pound) until fully cooked and browned on top. Larger birds may be prepared in the same way. While the chicken is roasting, place the neck and gizzards in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring them to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain the broth through a colander and discard the meat and bones. Return the broth to the pot and bring it back to a boil. Add one tablespoon of butter, rolled in 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tsp gravy browning. Stir well to eliminate lumps and reduce heat to low. Keep warm until you are ready to serve your chicken.
Coarsely chop the two eggs and add them to the warm, melted butter*. Serve this sauce alongside of the chicken and gravy.
This roast chicken recipe is excerpted from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends by Laura Boyle.
*Melted Butter 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”.
She is tolerably well…she would tell you herself that she has a dreadful cold in the head at present; but I have not much compassion for colds in the head without fever or sore throat.
Jane Austen to Cassandra, February 8, 1807
Imagine a time before Sudafed and Benedryl. A time when there was no Tylenol Cold and Flu or Robtussin. What would you do if you caught a cold? Read through Jane Austen’s novels and you will see everyone from Miss Bates to Mrs. Bennet worrying and plotting about catching a cold. Beyond chicken soup, most people would be forced to grin and bear it, but even then, Regency apothecaries had their cures.
Dr. Twiton’s Recipe for a Cold: Take volitile salt of ammonia 32 gms– salt of Petre 40 gms. Put them in a marble mortar to a fine powder, then add one oz of Syrup of Balsam and on oz of oyl of sweet almonds, add 6 ozs of pump water. The whole of the above will make four draughts, one of which should be taken three times in 24 hours and to the night one add one dram of paragoria.
-From Martha Lloyd’s Household Book
“The Hattons’ & Milles’ dine here today– & I shall eat Ice & drink French wine and be above Vulgar Economy.”
July 1, 1808
Ice Cream has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. Some legends attribute the first frozen dessert to Emperor Nero, of Rome. It was a mixture of snow (which he sent his slaves into the mountains to retrieve) nectar, fruit pulp, and honey. Another theory states that Marco Polo, 13th century bard and adventurer, brought recipes (said to be used in Asia for thousands of years) for water ices to Europe from the Far East.
Whatever the story, it is now an established treat- not just in the summer (or winter when ice is plentiful)- but all year long. Traditional ice cream was not invented until sometime in the 1830’s. In fact, the Ice Cream Maker wasn’t even patented until 1843 (by a woman, no less!) Even still it was a popular treat among those who could afford it. During his reign in the 1600s, King Charles I of England offered a cook a job for life if he made him ice cream and kept it a secret. George Washington loved ice cream so much that he ran up a $200 bill for the dessert treat one summer in the late 1700s and Dolly Madison served ice cream in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812.
The key factor in the manufacture of ice cream was ice. Where was it to come from? In the early 19th century importation of ice started from Norway, Canada and America, this made ice cream readily available to the general public in the UK. Ice was shipped into London and other major ports and taken in canal barges down the canals, to be stored in ice houses, from where it was sold to ice cream makers. This burgeoning ice cream industry, run mainly by Italians, started the influx of workers from southern Italy and the Ticino area of Switzerland to England.
While innumerable recipes abound (the first one appearing in 1718, the easiest to concoct are “Ices” similar to today’s Italian Ices. Light and refreshing, they make a perfect summer treat. Ices have no dairy content, where Sorbet has a slight amount of cream and ice Cream is based entirely on diary products.
Lemon Ice Recipe
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp grated lemon rind
Dash of Salt
In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, water and lemon rind.
Boil for 5 minutes. Cool.
Add lemon juice to cooled sugar water.
Churn freeze (in Ice Cream maker) or pour into a dish and cover. Freeze at least 6 hours. Break frozen mixture into chunks. Place chunks in food processor; process until smooth. This method produces more of a “smoothy” texture. Makes 1/2 gallon of lemon ice.
If Churn Frozen or slightly stiff, this looks lovely served inside half of a lemon. Simply cut your lemons in half lengthwise before beginning process. Squeeze out the juice to be used in the recipe, cut a small slice of peel off the bottom of the lemon half so that it sits upright. Scoop out excess pulp and membrane, cover in plastic until ready to fill with frozen mixture. Garnish with Mint and berries.