Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quince Liqueur - Ratafia de Coigns

Mash some very ripe quinces and take care to remove the pips and cores; macerate pulp for three days in a jar; then squeeze out all the juice; measure it, and mix it with an equal quantity of brandy; add six ounces of sugar to each quart of the mixture, some cinnamon and cloves; leave it to infuse two months; then filter it and bottle it. This liqueur becomes more excellent the longer it's kept.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bits of Sugar

Relaxing with a cup of tea is a time-honored tradition. Settling in a cozy chair before the fire, sipping a strong brew sweetened by little bits of sugar actually required some strong-armed preparation.
Sugar came in hard cones in the 18thC, and pieces small enough to serve with tea meant nipping off small chunks with specially made nippers. Our modern sugar cubes approximate the size of the nips, but because of their odd shapes, special tongs were created to grasp the nips. The extra spring in the handle of the nipper kept the ends from overlapping and insured a smooth [s]nip off the cone.

Jean-Étienne Liotard, Still Life: Tea Set
Swiss, Geneva, about 1781 - 1783

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anise Comfits

In honor of Think Spice, a monthly event hosted by Baking History and whose theme is anise, I submit anise comfits, a Medieval sweet made of anise seed coated in sugar, still made today in France and known as Anise Pastilles.

The Old Foodie has posted a 17thC recipe for anise confits and Historic Food offers instructions and illustrations for its process.

Continuing to add sugar syrup and continuing to roll around will smooth the surface, but it adds more sugar, which today's taste may think is excess. Use as a breath sweetener, an additive to tea, or just to munch--a unique taste in candy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crème à l’Angloise frite - Fried Crème Anglaise

In honor of Sugar High Friday, hosted this month by The Well Seasoned Cook, and whose theme is all that glitters, I offer a fried crème Anglaise sprinkled with sugar. Here is Mario Batali’s modern recipe for Fried Cream or Crema fritta.

Fried Crème Anglaise
Make an ordinary crème Anglaise, with extra egg yolks in a double boiler; cool; cut in diamonds, flour them well, & fry until a beautiful color; sugar, & serve.
* * * * *

Crème à l’Angloise frite.
Vous faites une crême à l'Angloise ordinaire , à la reserve que vous la faites plus forte d'oeufs; étant prise au bain-mari, & froide, vous la coupez par losanges , la farinez bien, & la faites frire de belle couleur, glacée, & serve.

Le Cuisinier Gascon. A Amsterdam. 1740, p. 137-138.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November and December for the Confectioner

Forasmuch as the Fruits of the Earth now cease, recourse must be had to the Provisions that have been made during the preceding Months; as well with respect to dry and wet Sweetmeats, as to Jellies and Marmelades, which may be dried, in order to make Pastes that are wanting: A greater quantity of roasted Apples and Pears are likewise prepar'd, from time to time, with some Compotes of Chesnuts, which may also be iced and dried.

Lastly, The assistance of Oranges and Lemmons, which are brought over at this time, is considerable, more especially China-oranges; but the other are not preserv'd till the following Months.
* * * * *

The court & country cook, faithfully translated out of French into English by J. K. A. J. Churchill, London, 1702, p. 14 New Instructions for Confectioners.

Notice the wooden boxes--these were usually lined with white paper (see also paper coverings on the jugs) which folded over the sweetmeats inside.

Melendez, Still life with oranges and walnuts, 1772

Saturday, November 01, 2008



Join me on November 8 as Zorra shows us how foodies learn to choose and use their cameras for the best food photography!
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