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Parbake & Prose: Making Mr Bingley’s soup

Parbake & Prose is a project created by sibling bibliophile and chef team, Daniella Rossi and Eric Upper.

The concept is pretty simple: Parbake & Prose takes a look at great works of literature, from Greek epic poems to modern classics, and creates recipes based on the dishes in them. Daniella lives in London and is a committed bibliophile, having studied languages and literature at New York University and receiving a doctorate from the University of Cambridge. After graduation, she spent years working at one of the world’s oldest rare book specialists in London. So books are her thing. Eric lives in New York. He studied at the French Culinary Institute there, and has chefed at Michelin-star restaurants including Charlie Palmer’s Aureole and Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. He is currently working on a restaurant startup in NYC. Eric creates the recipes.

The blog explores intriguing books with important food references that help to either progress the storyline, showcase character development or reveal history. Then it provides a step-by-step recipe and cooking guide so you can recreate each dish. Eric and Daniella spend hours conceiving and testing the recipes and balance staying as true as possible to the literary reference with the tastiness of the end product.

Continue reading Parbake & Prose: Making Mr Bingley’s soup

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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 not satisfactory for peach growing due to inadequate summer heat, though they are sometimes grown trained against south-facing walls to catch extra heat from the sun. Trees grown in a sheltered and south-facing position in the British Isles are capable of producing both flowers and a large crop of fruit. Peach trees are the second most commonly cultivated fruit trees in the world after apple trees.*

To Preserve Peaches
Take a pound of ye fayrest & best cullered peaches you can get, wipe of theyr white hor with a clean linnen cloth, then parboyle them in halfe a pinte of whate wine, & a pint & half of running water. then pill their white scin, & weigh them, & to a pound of peach, take 3 quarters of A pound of refined sugar. dissolve it to ye height of a sirrup. then put your peaches, and let them ly in the sirrup for more then a quarter of an houre If they require it. then pot them up & keepe them all ye year; they must have A little quick boyle in ye sirrup till they jelly.

*the white wine must be of qood quality or it would be better to use water.
Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats


Chunky Peach Preserves

  • 3 pounds freestone peaches
  • ice water
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup strained fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Cut an X in the rounded end of each peach. Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil over high heat. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Add peaches a few at a time to the boiling water and blanch 30 seconds, then transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, lift out and peel. The skin should peel back easily from the X.

Cut peaches into wedges about 1/2 inch thick, then cut each wedge in half crosswise. Transfer to a large bowl, add sugar and lemon juice and stir well. Let stand several hours or overnight, stirring two or three times, until sugar dissolves and mixture no longer tastes grainy.

Transfer to a large pot, bring to a simmer over moderately high heat and simmer, skimming any white foam that collects on the surface, until peaches are tender and syrup thickens slightly, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, cover and let rest overnight to “plump” the fruit again.

Drain the fruit in a sieve set over a bowl. Taste the syrup and add more lemon juice if it seems too sweet. Return the syrup to a pot and cook over moderately high heat until it reaches 220°F 105°C). Or test for jamlike consistency by spooning a little onto a chilled saucer, then returning the saucer to the freezer for a couple of minutes to cool the syrup quickly. It should firm to a soft jelly consistency.

Return the peaches and any collected juices to the pot and cook a couple of minutes more, until mixture returns to 220°F (105°C). It will seem thin. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, then spoon into clean, hot jars to within 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe rim clean with a towel dipped in hot water. Place lids and rings on jars and seal tightly. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 months. Or, for longer storage, place just-filled jars in boiling water to cover by 1 inch and boil 15 minutes for half-pint jars, 20 minutes for pint jars. Transfer with tongs to a rack to cool; lids should form a seal. Sealed jars may be stored in a pantry for up to a year.

Yield: makes 3 pints

From Fresh From the Farmers’ Market, by Janet Fletcher and Victoria Pearson.

*From Wikipedia the online Encyclopedia.

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Blanched Asparagus

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!

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 ways, and are often boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Tall asparagus cooking pots allow the shoots to be steamed gently. The best asparagus tends to be early growth (first of the season) and is often simply steamed and served with melted butter.

Blanched Asparagus

  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 bowl of iced water
  • 1 tray, lined with paper towel
  • 1 set of tongs
  • 1 slotted spoon
  • 1 small knife
  • Salt
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • Olive oil or melted butter to taste
  1. Heat the water
    Blanching is a quick way of cooking vegetables while retaining their nutritional values and this technique is especially good for green vegetables. Begin by placing the saucepan on a high heat and fill it with about with 2 litres of water. Now add the salt and bring it to a strong rapid boil. Use 30 grams / 1 oz of salt for every litre / 1.5 pt of water. The salt creates a barrier on the surface of the vegetables and also raises the temperature of the water, sealing in the nutrients.
  2. Blanch the asparagus
    Now place the bowl of iced water next to the pan in preparation for ‘shocking’, the vegetables, later on. Then add the asparagus into the boiling water. Allow the water to come back to the boil then prick them with a small knife to check for readiness. The asparagus should be soft but firm at the same time. Blanching the asparagus for roughly 30-60 seconds is enough for it to be perfectly cooked.
  3. Shock the asparagus in ice water
    Remove the asparagus with your slotted spoon. Place it into the bowl of ice water, to shock the asparagus, for 30 seconds, or until cold. This will immediately stop the cooking process as well as preserve colour, and crispiness. Once removed from the ice, set them aside on the tray lined with paper towel. Keeping them in a cold place will also help to maintain colour and freshness.
  4. Season and serve
    Transfer all your blanched and steamed vegetables onto a serving platter. Season to taste with olive oil, salt and pepper. Your vegetables are now ready to serve. They go wonderfully with any type of meat, can be served with a cheese or herb sauce, or even just as they are.

Reprinted from Wikihow.

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Yorkshire Pudding

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.

According to Food and Drink in Britain,”When wheat flour had come into common use for cakes and puddings, some economically minded cooks in the north of England devised a means of utilizing the fat that dropped into the dripping pan to cook a batter pudding while the meat roasted. In 1737 the recipe for ‘A dripping pudding’ was published in The Whole Duty of a Woman. ‘Make a good batter as for pancakes; put in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little then put the pan and butter under a shoulder of mutton, instead of a dripping pan, keeping frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savoury, and fit to take up when your mutton is enough; then turn it in a dish and serve it hot.’ Similar instructions were reproduced by Hannah Glasse eight years later under the title of ‘Yorkshire pudding’.”

Written in 1747, Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy represents one of the most important references for culinary practice in England and the American colonies during the latter half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. It was the dominant reference for home cooks in much of the English-speaking world during its original publication run, and it is still available (in somewhat limited quantity) and used as a reference by those doing food research and historical reconstruction. As is the case in modern times for The Joy of Cooking, the book was updated significantly both during her life and after her death, before finally passing out of print in the mid 19th century.

Hannah wrote mostly for domestic servants (the “lower sort”, as she referred to them), writing in a conversational style familiar to anyone who has learned a recipe at the elbow of a parent or grandparent. The food is surprisingly recognizable, with staples such as Yorkshire pudding and gooseberry fool still known and eaten today, and there are even early traces of the Indian food that eventually became naturalized in the UK. She showed marked disapproval of French cooking styles and in general avoided French culinary terminology.

Several facsimile editions are still in print, though primarily as a historical work rather than a modern cooking reference.

A Yorkshire Pudding
Take a quart of milk, four eggs, and a little salt, make it up into a thick batter. You must have a good piece of meat at the fire; take a stew-pan and put some dripping in, set it on the firel when it boils, pour in your pudding; let it back on the fire till you think it is nigh enough, then turn a plate upside down in the dripping pan, that the drippings may not be blacked; set your stew-pan on it under your meat and let the dripping dorp on the pudding, and the heat of the fire come to it to make itself a fine brown. When your meat is done and sent to table, drain all the fat from your pudding, and set it on the fire again to dry a little; then slide it as dray as you can into a dish; melt some butter, and pour it into a cup and set it in the middle of the pudding. It is an excellent pudding; the grave of the meat eats well with it.

From The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, by Hannah Glasse, 1747


Head over to Video Jug to watch a step by step Video : How To Make Yorkshire Pudding

Historical information from Wikipedia.

Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991 (p. 99-100)

Video instructions courtesy of

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Make your Own Butter

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 may not be true. There is a story told of Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh who, “lived a prodigal life at Uppark entertaining lavishly and included the Prince Regent among his frequent guests. In 1810, however, he withdrew from society and devoted his attentions to discussing improvements to the house and grounds with Humphry Repton.

When passing by his newly renovated dairy one day, he heard the dairymaid’s assistant, Mary Ann Bullock, singing. Sir Harry presented himself and asked for her hand in marriage. Mary Ann Bullock, aged twenty-one, was sent to Paris to be educated before being married to Sir Harry in September 1825.


After taking this extraordinary step (he was well over 70!) he left the entire estate to her on his death in 1846. She, in turn, left it to her unmarried sister and together they made provision for the estate to pass, after the life tenancy of a neighbour, to the second surviving son of another friend and neighbour, the fourth Earl of Clanwilliam, on the condition that he should assume the name of Fetherstonhaugh.*

So…who’s to say that butter making was not the way to fame and fortune!! Still, it was a back breaking job. Cows needed to be milked (by hand) twice a day. Milk was then set out in cold “dairies”, often lined in stone. Once cooled, the cream would rise to the top to be skimmed off. The resulting milk could be drunk or used in baking. The Cream would be taken to be used as cream or made into butter in one of the many churns available at the time.

Once made (all churns used the concept of agitating the cream until the milk solids congeled into butter and separated from the resulting “butter milk”) the butter would be washed in cool water and salted, to preserve it.

Butter is very easily procured at any grocery store or market, but there is charm in making it on your own, and eating it fresh, as Jane Austen would have done. It is undeniably quicker to make your butter using an electric mixer, but you will never get a good feel for the life of a dairy maid until you’ve made it yourself.

This may take half an hour to an hour.

Things You’ll Need

  1. Regular (not heavy) whipping cream – 1 pint
  2. approximately 1 tsp. of salt
  3. medium-sized sealable plastic container (such as Tupperware), or a Mason Jar with a lid
  4. 1 cup or bowl
  5. paper towel/cheese cloth
  6. refrigerator

Getting Started

  1. Gather your ingredients (below).
  2. Pour the cream into your container and seal the lid. Make sure that there is as little air inside aspossible.
  3. Start shaking at a steady pace – about one shake per second.(It is very important to shake at a steady pace.Changes in speed will ruin your butter.)
  4. When the cream thickens to a paste, add a pinch of salt.
  5. Keep shaking, but do not open the container. This is a crucial time for the butter fats.
  6. When a liquid is formed, you should keep shaking steadily, about 100 more times.
  7. Place paper towel/cheese cloth over cup, and make a well.
  8. Slowly pour the liquid into the paper towel, and let the liquid drain into the cup below.
  9. Remove the butter from the cheese cloth or paper towel.
  10. Gently knead the butter, while running under very cold water to wash the butter, work the butter with yourhand or utensil until all the milk is washed out and any liquid is clear,any milk left in will spoil the butter.
  11. Add salt to taste. (Do not open after adding salt unless you want sour buttermilk.)
  12. Let cool and set overnight.
  13. Enjoy on crackers, toast, etc.

How to Make Butter using an Electric Mixer

  1. Purchase a container or more of heavy cream. Try to find plain cream without added sugar.You will want to buy a lotof heavy cream because the amount of butter is smaller than the amount of cream used. One gallon of cream will produce approximately three pounds of butter
  2. Chill your bowl in the refrigerator prior to butter making.
  3. Pour the cream into a bowl. Whip it using an electric mixer until it gets stiff. It won’t be as stiff as astick of butter yet.
  4. It will go through different stages- the first two are pretty self-explanatory.
    • Frothy Milk Stage.
    • Whipped Cream Stage.
    • Break Stage(This is where the whipped cream appears very dry looking)
    • Break Down Stage-Continuous whipping will cause the air cells to collapse into, BUTTER.
  5. It might get stuck to the whisk. Drain some liquid and repeat. The liquid you drain off is buttermilk. Addback an equal amount of clean water to the forming butter
  6. Chill the butter in the refrigerator for an hour. If it is not hard, drain more liquid out and refrigerate again. Taste the butter and if it doesn’t taste like butter but like cream, whip it some more.

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Partridges…Remarkably Well Done

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

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Roasted Pork Ribs

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 thereto, and colour hit with saunders and saffron, and in the settynge doun put thereto a lytel vynegur medelet with pouder of canell, and take other braune and cut smal leches of two ynches of length, and cast into the pot and dreue up tone with tother, and serve hit forthe.

From Carodiac’s Miscellany

Preparing Pork to taste like Wild Boar
This marinade is rather strong, but the result is really quite good. If you like wild boar, this does taste a lot like it. We used ribs, although the recipe calls for a fresh ham leg of pork, not smoked or salted). You need to vary the time you marinade the pork according to its thickness I left the ribs in 24 hours and that seemed to be about right. Marinade for 5-6 lbs pork ribs or leg:

  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 tablespoons of wine vinegar
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 shallots minced
    (or add an extra onion and a touch more garlic)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 parsley stalks
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2 tsp saltPut all the ingredients in 8′ sauce pan bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.Allow to cool.Put the meat in a deep china bowl and pour the marinade over it. Place in the refrigerator and turn the meat at least once a day. Or, you can put the meat in a boiling or roasting bag with the marinade and turn it once a day. A pork leg should marinate for 4 days.At the end of the marinading period, remove the meat and wipe it off.At this point you can:
    1. Roast the meat as usual (350 degrees for ½ hour per pound).
    2. Place the meat in a roasting bag and cook for the above time.If you wish you can reserve the marinade, mix with the cooking juices and 1 cup of beef stock and add a flour and water paste to make sauce. Boil the sauce for several minutes to evaporate the alcohol

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Early Macaronis and Cheese


Early Macaronis and Cheese

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 Macaroni Club? The famous pasta line of Yankee Doodle pokes fun at unsophisticated New Englanders and their attempts to be stylish. “American fashions followed the English, though at some distance, as is usual in the provinces,” states Alison Lurie in her book The Language of Clothes. The entire Yankee Doodle lyric, one of America’s most beloved patriotic songs, is a joke at the expense of the Colonists.”

This recipe, from Martha Lloyd’s Household book, looks as though it could be an early version of baked macaroni and cheese. It is actually a form of pasta in Alfredo sauce. Use any type of pasta (shells, elbows, etc.) though it looks beautiful with penne.

Stew a quarter pound of pipe macaroni in milk and water until it is tender, then lay it on top of a sieve to drain. Put it into a stewpan with two large spoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese, a quarter pint of cream, a small piece of butter and some salt. Stew it gently ’till the whole seems well done and then put it into a dish. Strew grated Parmesan cheese over it, and brown it with a salamander or in a Dutch oven. It may be done with gravy instead of cream if preferred.

Historical information provided by Harry Montgomery.

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