Are you fascinated by historical food? Would you like to recreate the Christmas flavours of the past? Come and join a Christmas cooking workshop in a unique historic Regency kitchen in Hove. Down in the basement we will work with historic recipes recreating the tastes […]
Month: October 2018
Amelia Simmons’s book American Cookery appeared in 1796 and it sought “the improvement of the rising generations of females in America”. Almost nothing is known about the author herself except, mentioned by herself in the cookbook, that she was brought up as an orphan. I […]
Have you ever wanted to cook from an old recipe book? Just to find out what something from the past could taste like?
I’m lucky enough to be able to use a beautiful, handwritten cookbook that was donated to The Regency Town House. On page 99 this recipe for Lemon Mince Pies appears. It is coming up to Christmas. I had to find out how mincemeat from the 1830s was different.
Here’s the recipe as it appears at the top of the page in the photo above:
A pound of currants, a pound of suet and three lemons, squeeze out the juice, then boil the lemons in water and change the water to take off the bitterness, when they are boiled quite tender rub them through a sieve, then mix juice and all together with near three quarters of a pound of sugar, when you make your pies put in orange and citron and a few almonds.
I have simply changed the quantities to grams so I could measure easily. I followed the method exactly. The old Regency kitchen where I tested the recipe was being used for a writing workshop. I prepared the mincemeat in the old scullery.
I made the recipe below: 564 grams or 1lb currants 564 grams 1lb suet 3 lemons 423 grams 3/4 1lb sugar Orange and citron A few almonds
The ghost story writing workshop was taking place as I heated the mincemeat up, slowly in the oven. The basement scullery smelled deliciously of Christmas. As I filled the sterilized jars I could hear the stories being read out. Tales of paralyzed fear, blood on shoes and door slamming shut filled the kitchen as I screwed on the lids to the full jars.
The lids popped beautifully after I had displayed them on our dresser as if on cue, when pauses came in the stories. I wasn’t happy with the look of the mincemeat. They did look beautifully old-fashioned but would people buy these jars, thick with the white of the suet? Would you?
They looked so different to the mincemeat we are used to today. I did sell two jars but it might be too risky.
I will set out to try a different recipe and this time I will turn to my battered 1970s copy of Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families first published in 1845. Next to be tried is Superlative Mincemeat. Wish me luck.
The damp fug of a pudding gently boiling in a old kitchen. The rattling of the saucer I put in to let me know all is still good. The air getting colder. To me these are all signs of Christmas coming up and although it […]