Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crackling Crust for Marmelade and Cheese

Crackling crust another way used to form a rustic tart baked on paper and filled with a jar of very old plum jam I couldn't bear to throw away. I seasoned it with a few grinds of black pepper to cut the cloying taste of the jam. As you can see from the crumbs on the plate, my husband had more than one piece. Pepper with sweets is an old taste, but a very interesting one and very good. The crust was so delicious that I tried it with sweetened cheese, as well. Superb with coffee for breakfast or dessert!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preparing for treize (13) desserts …

Image Source

Groaning holiday tables, after le «gros souper», reflect the special treats, a little something for everyone, known as treize (13) desserts, one for each of the 12 apostles and Christ. Now is the time to begin to gather the ingredients for the preparation of items such as pâte de coigns, nougats, calissons, dried fruits and nuts. Fresh fruits known as winter (meaning their flavor and texture will improve with storage) apples, pears and melons can be sat back in special boxes and nets to bring out at the last minute. Fondant stuffed dates and nutmeat farced figs and an assortment of nuts can be cured in paper-lined boxes with bay leaves which can then be used to dress they plate when serving these sweetmeats. Chocolates and fresh citrus fruits will round out the menu.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Raifort - voyez Rave

Horseradish was used in Alsace in many ways and was taken to New France. Grated fresh it is used as a preventive against food poisoning, scruvy, tuberculosis and colic; cooked it's used in sauces with meats and soups. It is considered a bitter herb and has been used medicinally for centuries. Depending upon how young your horseradish patch is, it is best gathered in Spring. If your patch is old, dig the roots in Fall, and process only the smallest and most tender. Disburbing the patch will result in smaller and more numerous roots for next Spring.
Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 275.
RAVE: on en distingue de plusiers sortes, sçavoir, celle qu'on appelle communément rave, ou petit rave; le grand & le petit raifort, & autres. On ne mange guère de ces trois especes, que celle qu'on appelle raves & radis. Le printems est le tems où el es sont meilleures: il faut les choisir tendres, bien nourries & faciles à rompre. Lorsqu'il fait chaud, elles deviennent trop piquantes.
La rave est stomachique, apéitive, anti-scorbutique; mais comme elle se mange crue, elle ne convient qu'aux estomacs, & à ceux qui la mâchent bien.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Raifort - Horseradish

raifort - horseradishCool, brisk weather means it's time to dig the raifort - horseradish roots to grind and preserve in white wine vinegar. After several weeks, the vinegar makes a wonderful liquid to deglaze fond and to flavor vinaigrette. The root itself flavors soups, sauces and roast meats.

Scrub and peel the roots; grind and store in a jar covered with vinegar--lasts virtually forever!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Calville Rouge d'Automne

Well, I finally harvested the one apple that has been hanging on my little tree. The tag said just Calville when I planted it early in 2008. This spring the flowers were double and white, not pink as the print suggests. The skin is pale red with a tinge of yellow. Its taste is sweet, slightly strawberry or tart in flavor; its flesh crisp and juicy. Its texture would make great baked apples. There were several small bumps or ribs on its blossom end. There is only one problem--I asked for a Calville Blanc d'Hiver (1598), not Rouge d'Automne (1670), from the nursery. I shall have to reorder a Calville Blanc.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

… in the hands of the cook …

«The strength of the nation is in the hands of the cook. Feed a man well, he will work well, he will fight well.» Handwritten inscription, Célestine Eustis, 1911, from Cooking in old Créole days. La cuisine créole à l'usage des petits ménages. Eustis, Célestine.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When You Can't Have the Real Thing …

One of the first faience patterns produced in the French town of Luneville c. 1728 by Jacques Chambrette was «Old Strasbourg», a brilliant polychrome made possible by the pure white of the tin glaze. I have a few pieces, but not enough to set a table for more than one--and my husband shudders every time I take them to a reenactment. But the pattern was so popular that it has been copied by Spode with variations; and also by Royal Doulton, now Minton, known as «Arcadia».

As you can see, I have a few pieces of Arcadia; it was, indeed, the pattern I chose as my wedding china.

Imagine my delight when that wonderful carrier pigeon, eBay, procured Arcopal «Provincial» in milk glass from France. Now I can serve a table of ten with several courses. Now to get to those French recipes again to grace these lovely dishes!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Doll House Kitchens -Mon Plaisir, Arnstadt (1666-1751)

«Mon plaisir (My pleasure) is a miniature city of the princess Augusta Dorothea of Schwarzburg Arnstadt (1666-1751) for dolls. Thereby the reproduction of the reality at that time with aristocracy, middle class and farmer was aimed at. Is populated the doll city of over 400 dolls, which were made by the yard state of the princess in manual work. Since 1932 the entire plant is in the possession of the museum donation.»

A wonderful YouTube video of this exquisite creation. From the flamestitch tapestries to the kitchen pots and pans you are presented with intricate tableaux of 18thC life … enjoy!.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Amadeus Award for Taste & Excellence

18thC Cuisine is among the first to be awarded the coveted Amadeus Award for Taste & Excellence, a privilege to be cherished and a great responsibility to further its continuance by nominating my own favorite 18thC blogs.

Isaac Walters, a fellow reenactor and friend whom I first met at Fort de Chartres, is a historian and teacher who is furthering living history by reenacting with his young family.

18th-Century History of American Women and her companion blogs about gardening and women of other American centuries is Barbara's marvelous contribution to the Age of Enlightenment.

Mme. du Jards Atelier is a delightful site for embroidered garments and frolics à la 18thC.

Les Portraits au Pastel du XVIIIe is Jean Paul's lovely site where portraits that might not otherwise be seen are freely shared.

Colonial Women is not a blog, but a portal into living history in the vast French Colonial interior of our wonderful country. Carol, almost single-handedly, has done much to raise the barre of women's interpretations in the Pays Illinois.

Now it is time for these wonderful sites to send us further down the road to 18thC excellence.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Poulpette à l’Italienne

Add a drop of Peau d’Espagne to either a bit of warm, freshly brewed tea or spirits and pour over dried Grapes of Corinth to plump them up. Make a farce of finely chopped meat to which you add grated Parmesan, pinions and your plumped raisins and any leftover liquid. Mix well and shape into flat, boat shaped poulpettes [meatballs]; flour and brown in butter. Arrange in a baking dish and pour over a coulis of Partridge [I used browned chicken broth and used it to deglaze the fond from the pan used to brown the poulpettes]. Bake until hot and bubbly and serve immediately.

The Peau d’Espagne will embue your kitchen with aromas redolent of eastern bazaars—heady and delicious!
* * * * *

Poulpette à l’Italienne
Vous faites une farce cuite à l'ordinaire, point trop fine, & liée d'œufs, de bon goût; vous mettez dedans Parmesan rapé, pignons, raisins de Corinthe entiers; vous mélez bien le tout, & vous roulez vos Poulpettes comme des croquettes, mais plates, & le farinez; vous avez une tourtiere, vous mettez du beurre dedans, & le faites fondre, & arrangez les Poulpettes dedans, & les faites cuire des deux côtés vous faites un bord au plat de la même farce, & le faites cuire; & étant cuit, vous arrangez vos Poulpettes dedans, & vous avez un appareil de peau d'Espagne à l'ordinaire avec un coulis de Perdrix passé à l'Italienne, vous plissez votre plat & les mettez prendre au four, étant cuits, servez chaud; une demie heure au four.

Le Cuisinier Gascon. A Amsterdam. 1740, p.29.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peau d'Espagne

Peau d’Espagne is a combination of flower and spice oils that is used to impregnate leather with scent. To further enhance the exotic smell, civet (cat musk) and grain musk (obtained from the wild deer whose grain [gland] you see here) are added to gum (tragacanth) mucilage which is used to secure two pieces of leather together under pressure. The resulting Spanish Leather is then used to scent writing paper, ladies gloves & linens—the scent is reputed to last for years. However, the peau d’Espagne can also be used to add flavor to meat dishes.

In the kitchen, use a drop of oil in a carrier oil, such as olive, poured over a dish at the last minute prior to serving, much as one does orange or rose flower water—the heat of the dish will waft a delightfully exotic aroma. Or it can be added to warm tea or spirits used to plump up dried fruit before its inclusion in a receipt.

To scent one’s body, perhaps, is its best use today …

«This fragrance lingers on everything it touches like a rugged kiss from a cowboy soaked in campfire smoke and saddle leather sweat. It smells like the sexiest man you've ever seen in your life, taking a hot outdoor bath in a tin tub, smeared with sweet shaving lather and dust, steaming on a cold high-desert morning.»

«More specifically, according to Havelock Ellis:
“Peau d'Espagne may be mentioned as a highly complex and luxurious perfume, often the favorite scent of sensuous persons, which really owes a large part of its potency to the presence of the crude animal sexual odors of musk and civet. It consists of wash-leather steeped in ottos of neroli, rose, santal, lavender, verbena, bergamot, cloves, and cinnamon, subsequently smeared with civet and musk. It is said by some, probably with a certain degree of truth, that Peau d'Espagne is of all perfumes that which most nearly approaches the odor of a woman's skin; whether it also suggests the odor of leather is not so clear”.»

«1355. Peau d'Espagne, or Spanish Skin, is merely highly-perfumed leather. Take of oil of rose, neroli, and santal, each 1/2 ounce; oil of lavender, verbena, bergamot, each 1/4 ounce; oil of cloves and cinnamon, each 2 drachms; in this dissolve 2 ounces gum benzoin. In this steep good pieces of waste leather for a day or two, and dry it over a line. Prepare a paste by rubbing in a mortar, 1 drachm of civet with 1 drachm of grain musk, and enough gum-tragacanth mucilage to give a proper consistence. The leather is cut up into pieces about 4 inches square; two of these are pasted together with the above paste, placed between 2 pieces of paper, weighted or pressed until dry. It may then be inclosed in silk or satin. It gives off its odor for years; is much used for perfuming paper, envelopes, etc.; for which purpose 1 or 2 pieces of the perfumed leather, kept in the drawer or desk containing the paper, will impart to it a fine and durable perfume.»
Encyclopedia Of Practical Receipts And Processes, by William B. Dick.

Receipt de Cuisine:
Used in Poulpette à l’Italienne – Italian Meatballs

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Exotic Ingredients - Their Receipts & Lores

Today, with our often times bland tastebud experiences, the idea of eating a dish with exotic ingredients, e.g., tastes that we associate with perfumery, may seem off-putting. With this post, I will be creating a sidebar to include exotic ingredients, their receipts for manufacture, lore and links to 18thC recipes in which they were included.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Greens of Summer

In my bowl are greens with sometimes funny names--pigweed, lamb's quarters, corn salat, dandelion, chickories. With them I can make stewed pot herbs, fresh salad, fried greens for inclusion in an omelette, a sandwich. Some can be brewed as tisanes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Estragon - Tarragon

Estragon: plante potagere, d’un goût âcre & aromatique qu’on emploie en cuisine, & les sommités, sur-tout les plus tendres, dans les fournitures des salades.

Cette plante fournit un assaisonnement fort sain; elle augmente l’appetit, facilite la digestion, préserve les humeurs de putridité, ou la corrige; fait périr les vers; est legérement apéritive & calmante.

Tarragon: plant potagere, of a bitter & aromatic taste which one employs in kitchen, & the buds, especially most tender, in the supplies of salads.

This plant provides an extremely healthy seasoning; it increases the appetite, facilitates digestion, preserves moods of putridity, or corrects it [acid tisane]; purges worms; is slightly apéritive & calming.
* * * * *

Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 263.
* * * * *

«An old French remedy for insomnia and hyperactivity that's been tried with pretty good success is tarragon tea. Tarragon tea is used for tough insomnia. Just steep 1-1/2 tsp. of the dried, cut herb in 1-3/4 cups boiling water, covered and away from the heat, for 40 minutes. Prepare about an hour before retiring, then strain and drink the tea while it's still lukewarm.

The best way to take tarragon for digestive-related problems is in the form of a homemade vinegar, 1 tbsp. before each meal. To make tarragon vinegar, fill a wide-mouthed fruit jar with the freshly gathered leaves, picked just before the herb flowers, on a dry day. Pick the leaves off the stalks and dry a little on a flat cookie sheet lined with foil in a low-set oven.

Medicinal uses - A simple infusion of tarragon leaves has been used to stimulate the appetite, relieve flatulence and colic, regulate menstruation, alleviate the pain of arthritis and rheumatism and gout, and expel worms from the body. The fresh leaf or root, applied to aching teeth, cuts, or sores, is said to act as a local anesthetic.

Culinary uses - Tarragon is essential in the making of Béarnaise sauce, hollandaise sauce, Montpellier butter, sauce tartare, salad dressings and vinaigrettes. It is always included in French fines herbes mixtures.

Use tarragon leaves to flavor fish, shellfish, poultry, meat dishes, particularly veal, creamy soups, omelets, quiche, and delectable oeufs en gelee, as well as spinach and mushroom dishes. As it takes but a few minutes' cooking time to release tarragon's flavor, add the leaves when your dish is just about ready to serve.»

Cited from: Herbs 2000

Sunday, May 24, 2009


A Spinage-pan-pie.
Take Spinage-leaves, and scald them in Water, or else stew them in an earthen Pot, with half a Glass of white Wine, to take away their Crudity. As soon as the Wine is consum’d, let the Spinage be drain’d, and chopt very small, season’d with a little Salt, Cinnamon, Sugar, Lemmon-peel, two Macaroons* (Macarons) and sweet Butter. Them let them be put into fine Paste, and cover’d with Slips of cut Pastry-work; adding some Sugar and Orange-flower (water), as it is serving up to Table.

The court & country cook, faithfully translated out of French into English by J. K. A. J. Churchill, London, 1702, p. 261.
* * * * *
*A tablespoon of flour mixed with the sugar will work well if you have no macarons. Because of the flavor achieved from the macaron (usually ground almonds or other nutmeats), add a grating of nutmeg or a drop of almond oil.

Again, we usually don't think of spinach with sugar, but this is delicious, either for dessert or as a side dish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tisane - an herbal brew

The Tisane Seller, Françoise DuParc

On this day of protest, I bring you a medicinal brew, a tisane*, used in place of that once heavily taxed tea.

«You are cordially invited to An Independence Tea Party.

On October 25, 1774, fifty-one ladies of Edenton, North Carolina, were called together by Penelope Barker and met in the home of Elizabeth King to express their indignation over the newly imposed British tax on tea. The ladies vowed (while sipping tea made from raspberry leaves) that: "We, the ladies of Edenton, do hereby solemnly engage not to conform to the Pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea."»

* * * * *
Invitation quoted from The Military Wives' Cookbook, Carolyn Quick Tillery. Cumberland House Publishing, Nashville, TN, 2008, p. 5.

*[Middle English tisane, peeled barley, barley water, from Old French, from Latin ptisana, tisana, from Greek ptisanē, from ptissein, to crush.]

Monday, April 06, 2009

As Those Tea Parties Brew …

Detail, Lady Taking Tea, Chardin

Back in 1773, the powers that be imposed an unpopular tax on tea. The colonists, already seething with rebellion over taxation without representation, dumped a boatload of the stuff into Boston Harbor in protest.

Today it appears that we have not learned the lessons of history--our leaders are once again heaping unfair taxes upon us--so it's time once again to proclaim liberty!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tourte of franchipanne

Take the fairest flowre you can get, and allay it with whites of eggs. Presently take the twelfth part of your paste, and spread it untill you may see through it. Butter your plate or tourte pan, spread this first sheet, dress it up, butter it at the top, and do the same to the number of six. Then put what cream you will, and make the top as the bottom to the number of six sheets. Bake your tourte leasurely, After it is baked, besprinkle it with water of flowers, sugar it well and serve.
You must have a care to work up your paste as soon as it is made, because it drieth up sooner than you are aware, and when it is dry, it is unusefull, because your sheets must be as thin as cobwebs, therefore you must choose a moist place.
* * * * *
The French Cook, François Pierre La Varenne, Englished in 1653, p. 200.

Basically this is describing using phyllo dough, and the adjuration to work it in a moist place is imperative. Thaw your dough in the fridge and place your 12 sheets of dough between waxed paper with a moist towel laid over the top. Remove one sheet at a time and recover the rest immediately. Lay your dough in a pan and brush with melted butter, one layer at a time.
Prepare a mixture of 5 oz of pounded almonds, 4 oz of sugar and 2 eggs. Pour into your pan and cover with 6 more layers of dough brushed with melted butter. You could also use beurre cream or a cream cheese mixture with sugar and eggs.
Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes; then reduce temperature to 400°F and bake for 10-20 minutes more until golden brown and a broom straw inserted in the center comes out clean.
Removed from oven and sprinkle with orange or rose flower water and a sprinkle of sugar. Cool, slice and serve.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine …

It seems the way to a man's heart has always been through his stomach. If the lady who supplies the bread and honeyed wine is also good in other wifely arts, so much the better.

Here is a plate of barley bread & goat cheese with honey, served with that infamous Pramnian wine in honor of Novel Food, an event celebrating food immortalized in prose or poetry, and a dish that Circe served Odysseus, hoping to tempt him to stay.

While my Homer eschewed the wine, he thoroughly enjoyed the honeyed cheese and barley bread baked on the griddle. He liked it so much, he has requested that I bake them again for Days of Unleavened Bread.

Barley Bread.
Take leftover mashed potatoes or other root vegetable, add a little milk and enough barley flour to make a soft dough--adjust taste with more salt if needed. Stir or knead, cover and allow to rest for about an hour.

Heat griddle to medium heat. Prepare several pats of butter or clarified butter to grease griddle.

Roll out dough, cut into circles, squares or triangles and fry on both sides on buttered griddle. Adding a cover to the griddle will help with baking the bread all the way through. The vegetables in the dough help the dough stay fresh and moist.

Serve with butter, cheese, jam or honey.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Chloe, the Widow Black of Slightly Obsessed, has lately granted 18thC Cuisine the Tempus Fugit Award. My thanks go out to her for both her support & for her continued blogging on various 18th century subjects.

"The TEMPUS FUGIT Award is given to writers & living historians whose journals represent the best aspects of the 18th Century. These writers aim to inform and entertain the public with tales from events, historic research & experiments and highlights from 18th Century arts and culture. It is the hope of TEMPUS FUGIT that this award will forge a web of friendship and knowledge that will aid in creating a tight community of reenactors and living historians on the internet and beyond. Winners of the TEMPUS FUGIT Award should pass this award along to six other 18th Century blogs that meet the above criteria, and include this text with the Award, as well as a link back to the TEMPUS FUGIT blog."

Here is a list of my nominations, which alas, seems somewhat short by comparison, due to so many already being named.

Culinary History Online: not a blog, per se, but an extensive onine resource for 18thC culinary arts

New Orleans Cuisine: Danno blogs about his love, New Orleans, and his recipes are modern adaptations of Creole la Louisiane. Bon Apetit!

Les portraits au pastel du XVIIIe: JP has access to beautiful portraits from the 18th Century, many never seen by those of us on this side of the pond.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tourte de beurre

Butter Tourte.

Melt a peece of butter; after it is melted, put some sugar in it, and some stamped almonds, with a little cream or milk, allayed with flower sod. Then make a sheet of fine or puft paste. Put your implements into it, make a brim about it, bake it, and serve it sugred, and with sweet water, if you have any.

The French Cook, François Pierre La Varenne, Englished in 1653, p. 198.
* * * * *
Sugar High Friday is the brainchild of Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess, and is hosted this month as The Test of Time - Desserts over a century old by In My Box.

Similar sweets to this 1653 tourte de beurre are known today as crème brulée or sugar cream pie. Whether baking in a puff paste shell on a sheet of paper on the sole [floor] of the oven or in a flaky pastry crust in a pie pan, this rich pastry cream flavored with almonds has been delighting palates for centuries.

Steep your crushed almonds in warm milk. Mix melted butter with an equal amount of sugar and flour then stir in heated milk and almonds, continuing to heat and stir constantly until mixture bubbles for one minute. Pour onto a plate and cool.

Roll puff paste and cut into desired shape. Build up the edges with waste strips of puff paste and place on baking paper. Chill until pastry cream is cold. Fill cold paste shell with cold pastry cream. Bake in a hot oven [400°F] until crust is golden and flaky. Sprinkle baked tourte with sugar and pass a red hot fire shovel [salamander or torch] over the top of the tourte to melt the sugar. Cut into portions and serve with a drizzle of orange flower or rose water--an oldie but goodie!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Excessively Diverting Blog Award

Chloe, the Widow Black, of Slightly Obsessed, and one of the circle of 18th century bloggers, has generously nominated 18thC Cuisine for an Excessively Diverting Blog Award. Started by the blogging team at Jane Austen Today the "aim of the Excessively Diverting Blog Award is to acknowledge writing excellence in the spirit of Jane Austen’s genius in amusing and delighting readers with her irony, humor, wit, and talent for keen observation. Recipients will uphold the highest standards in the art of the sparkling banter, witty repartee, and gentle reprove." What an honor, and, yes, what a delight to be in such good company!

Here is a list of my nominations, which alas, seems somewhat short by comparison, due to so many already being named.

La Cuisine du Jardin: a beautiful blog with sunny photos of home grown food and recipes from Portugal

The Long Eighteenth: a blog by academics with wonderful 18thC resources and interesting ventures

A Reenactor’s Journal: a blog about the journey of soon to be reenactors as they walk the steps of their ancestors through the 18th and 19th century.

Recipients, please claim your award by copying the HTML code of the Excessively Diverting Blog Award badge, posting it on your blog, listing the name of the person who nominated you, and linking to their blog. Then nominate seven other blogs that you feel meet or exceed the standards set forth. Nominees may place the Excessively Diverting badge in their side bar and enjoy the appreciation of their fellow blogger for recognition of their talent.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creme Triangles

triangle of puff pastry and cremeSometimes you just want richness in the dead of Winter. All it takes is a few scraps of puff pastry, some left over pastry cream, crème Chantilly or whipping cream and some preserved fruit.

Take chilled pastry cream and whip it with a little heavy cream until smooth and fluffy or fold in crème Chantilly. Spread between two sheets of baked puff paste. Chill until firm. Dust with powdered sugar, cut in traingles and serve with a piece of fruit preserved in syrup. I used apricots. Fresh berries or a drizzle of heated jam would work, as well. This is a very simple but elegant dessert to serve throught the year.

Variation: Chocolate pastry cream with raspberries or strawberries.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Another way to disguise leftovers, Bouillans would make great finger food at your next get-together and are made thus: Take the Breasts of roasted Pullets or Capons, with a little Marrow, about the thickness of an Egg, some Calves-udder parboil’d, as much Bacon and a few fine Herbs, and put the whole Mixture will minc’d and season’d upon a Plate: Make some fine Paste and roll out two pieces, as thin as Paper: wet one of them lightly with a litter Water, and lay your farced Meat upon it in small heaps, at a convenient distance one from another: Cover them with the other piece of rolled Paste, and with the tips of your Fingers, close up every Parcel between the two Pastes; then with an Instrument proper for that purpose, cut them off one by one, and set the uppermost underneath; dressing them neatly, as if they were so many little Pies. Thus they are to be bak’d, and may be used for Out-works or to garnish Side-dishes; but they must be serv’d up hot to Table.

The court & country cook, faithfully translated out of French into English by J. K. A. J. Churchill, London, 1702, p. 70.
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