Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HFF 2.24: Redo!

The Challenge: Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Or, sometimes they go so well, you just want to do it again! Pick a challenge you already did and want to revisit, and try it once more.

I didn't actually use this receipt for an earlier challenge--I first tried it for the Candlelight Tour Dinner Party; the lemon cake from that event was used to fulfill challenge #10 in the first HFF round.  I realized half-way through that the pudding actually called for a pastry crust, and have been intending to remedy the error ever since.  Also, I wanted to experiment with less rosewater, as it was... overwhelming the first time.

The Receipt: Pumpkin Pudding from Miss Leslie's Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats
Half a pound of stewed pumpkin. Three eggs. Quarter of a pound of fresh butter or a pint of cream. Quarter of a pound of powdered white sugar. Half a glass of wine and brandy mixed. Half a glass of rose water. One tea spoonful of mixed spice nutmeg mace and cinnamon.  
Stew some pumpkin with as little water as possible. Drain it in a colander, and press it till dry. When cold weigh half a pound and pass it through a sieve. Prepare the spice. Stir together the sugar, and butter, or cream, till they are perfectly light. Add to them, gradually, the spice and liquor. 
Beat three eggs very light, and stir them into the butter and sugar alternately with the pumpkin.  
Cover a soup-plate with puff-paste and put in the mixture. Bake it in a moderate oven about half an hour.  
Grate sugar over it when cool.  
Instead of the butter, you may boil a pint of milk or cream, and when cold, stir into it, in turn, the sugar, eggs, and pumpkin. 
The Date/Year and Region: 1836 (9th edition), Boston

How Did You Make It: [I made a double receipt, ie two pie-sized puddings, as I had canned pumpkin to use up.] 

Creamed the butter and sugar in the electric mixer, then stirred in the spice (1/2 tsp mace, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1 tsp cinnamon), 1 wineglass of liquor (about 2 Tbsp brandy, topped off to about 4 oz with red table wine) and 1/4 cup of rosewater. [Last time, I could the "1/2 glass" to mean half a wineglass each of rosewater and of 50/50 wine/brandy.  The pudding ended up looking like pumpkin pie and tasting of rose...and only of rose.]  Beat six eggs and added them tot he mixture, along with a pound of pumpkin.

I made up puff paste (1 lb of flour, 1 cup, 1 lb of butter, made in the usual fashion--this was sufficient for two puddings and a generous plate of pie-crust cookies), lined two 9" pie plates with it, and poured in the pudding.  The pie tins were not particularly full, so 8" pans might work better in the future.  I baked it at 350F for about 40-50 minutes.  The pudding was basically solid at that point (if flooded with molten butter), though I'd be tempted next time to cook it at a slightly higher temperature or for a longer time.

Time to Complete: I didn't keep track.  It made up fairly quickly, and took about 40-50 minutes to bake.  Call it 1:15 at the most.

Total Cost: One pound of butter (for two puddings) on sale for $2, all other ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It? Alright.  The rosewater wasn't as over-powering this time, which was a benefit.  That, combined with the red wine, gave it an "interesting flavor profile" in the opinion of my test subjects the people who tried it.  The general consensus was that it was alright, different, and not too sweet. I think that it could, perhaps, have used a few more minutes of baking time.

How Accurate Is It? I used the modern stove and kitchen utensils, and canned pumpkin. The spice and rosewater/wine proportions were estimated

Historical Food Fortnightly 1830s Pumpkin Pie/Pudding
Pumpkin Pudding, 1836

Friday, November 25, 2016

HFF 2.23: Sweet Sips and Potent Potables

I'm a little late posting this one.  In fairness, it was done within [four days of] the challenge fortnight.

The Challenge: Sweet Sips and Potent Potables

The Recipe: Posset  (page 168) from Cookery, Rational, Practical and Economical, Treated in Connexion with the Chemistry of Food by Hartelaw Reid

Posset consists of hot wine added to custard (see page 107) the whole being well mixed by pouring it alternately from one vessel to another. It is generally made with canary or sack wine and called Sack Posset. 
Page 107:
Custard Sauce for Sweet Puddings and Fruit Pies or Tarts--Heat in a very clean saucepan till just about to boil a pint of new milk. Beat together in a basin the yolk of two eggs, a little cream and some pounded loaf sugar. Pour over this the hot milk and immediately return the whole to the saucepan and continue pouring it from the saucepan into the basin and back again until thoroughly mixed. Lastly return it to the saucepan set it over the fire and stir it continually till nearly boiling. Serve it cold in a glass dish or jug with nutmeg grated over the top.

According to Wikipedia, Canary or sack wine is a fortified white wine, such as sherry.

The Date/Year and Region: 1855, London

How Did You Make It: As instructed, I warmed 1 pint of milk until almost boiling, meanwhile mixing two eggs, 1/3 cup cream, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar (quantities guessed).  I poured the milk into the mixture, poured everything back into the pan, and repeated pouring.  I then heated up the whole mixture to almost-boiling, then set it aside to thicken.  While it cooled (in the freezer), I heated a bottle of sherry on the stove.  When the custard was cool, I poured the sherry into it, and repeated the pouring twice more until it was thoroughly mixed.

Time to Complete: I didn't note the time.  A bit over an hour, perhaps?

Total Cost: Ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?: Not very.  It ended up somewhat grainy in texture, and didn't taste particularly noteworthy--mostly just like sherry.  Perhaps it would work better with different quantities of cream and sugar in the custard?  Or with the right kind of wine?  I probably won't be making this again.  In fact, all of the recipes I try which contain sherry end unsuccessfully, so I probably will avoid it in the future.

How Accurate Is It?: Usual disclaimer about using modern heat sources.

Posset, 1855 recipe

Friday, November 4, 2016

Quilt Idea

Squirelling this design away for when I have more time. I've been meaning to do a red-on-white appliqué quilt at some point...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

HFF 2.22: Soups, Stews and Porridges

The Challenge: Whether it’s a delicate broth or a hearty porridge, if it’s served in a bowl, it’s fair game!

The Receipt:  Chicken Soup from Mrs. Hale's New Cook Book (page 56)
Chicken Soup Cut up a large fowl, and boil it well in milk and water; thicken with cream, butter, and flour. Add vegetables of different kinds cut in small pieces such as potatoes, turnips, the heart of cabbage, one or two onions, celery, &c, with thyme, parsley, cayenne or black pepper, and mace. Boil all together and just before you dish it, add wine, or a little lemon juice, and salt to your taste.
The Date/Year and Region: 1859, Philadelphia

How Did You Make It: As no measurements are given, I guessed on all of them--with variable results. Carved up a pre-cooked chicken (very badly), and boiled the meat in 4 cups of water and 4 cups of skim milk for about two hours.  Strained the broth through a cloth, then added the meat back it (to ensure that any bones or other fragments were removed). Added 1/2 c. of cream, 3 Tbsp butter, and about 1/2 c. of flour.  Sliced and added 4 small russet potatoes, 1 turnip, half of a large onion, and half of a head of cabbage.  At this point, I added another 2-3 cups of water, as the broth had boiled down.  Flavored with 1/2 tsp mace, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp dried thyme, and 1 Tbsp parsley flakes.  Added 1 cup of white wine before serving 

Time to Complete: Several hours.

Total Cost: Uncertain.

How Successful Was It? Too much cayenne pepper.  It smelled very nice--primarily of chicken and mace--but all I could taste was the cayenne.  I would like to try this again starting without about 1/8 tsp of cayenne (or switching to black pepper) and slowly adding more.

How Accurate Is It? I used the modern stove and kitchen utensils, but otherwise kept to period ingredients and techniques. 
1859 Mrs. Hale's Chicken Soup
Chicken soup in progress.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Still Here

I'm pretty busy with school just now, and my projects are moving at the pace of particularly slow snails.  So here's something I learned to do in class: make archival boxes.
Archival storage box with antique hair comb.
There will be acid-free tissue added.
Also, a lid.

Monday, October 10, 2016

HFF 2.21: Party Foods

This challenge lined up nicely with The Fort's event schedule, falling over Candlelight Tours.  So, what shall I have Mrs. Tolmie serve at her final reception in the Fort Nisqually Factor's House?

The Challenge: If there’s a party, there has to be food! Pick a dish meant to be served to a crowd, or at a festive gathering, and show your work!
"This plan is to ornament the sideboard with a basket of fruit, instead of insignificant pieces of pastry. Place in their stead things that can be eaten--such as jelly, plates of mixed pastry, and sandwiches of a superior kind, but not in too great profusion. Affix a label to each plate, indicating its contents...This is what is called a stand up supper..." --John Timbs Hints for the Table (London, 1859)

Though indicated for a ball, this "stand up supper" will do well for the Fort's 1859 Candlelight Tour itinerary: Mr. & Mrs. Tolmie are hosting a final evening party for their American friends before they depart for Fort Victoria.  With fourteen people in two rooms, the buffet-like arrangement will allow guests to mingle, converse and move freely.  Having all the dishes set out will also make a pretty display for the audience, while not over-burdening the servants with errands.

The Receipt:  
A PYRAMID OF TARTS from Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery 
Roll out a sufficient quantity of the best puff paste, or sugar paste; and with oval or circular cutters cut it out into seven or eight pieces of different sizes stamping the middle of each with the cutter you intend using for the next. Bake them all separately and when they are cool place them on a dish in a pyramid gradually diminishing in size the largest piece at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Take various preserved fruits, and lay some of the largest on the lower piece of paste; on the next place fruit that is rather smaller; and so on till you finish at the top with the smallest sweetmeats you have. The upper one may be not so large as a half-dollar containing only a single raspberry or strawberry. 
Notch all the edges handsomely. You may ornament the top or pinnacle of the pyramid with a sprig of orange blossom or myrtle. 
The Date/Year and Region: 1858 (1st ed. 1837)/ Philadelphia PA, USA

How Did You Make It: I took some liberties with this one.  The main being I used jam instead of preserved fruits as a matter of logistics (and, in my defense, "sweetmeats" elsewhere in this book names jams, jellies, and preserved whole fruits).

First I prepared puff paste using my usual period receipt from Mrs. Beeton (1 cup of water to 1 pound of flour, make a paste, fold in butter and roll out 3-4 times until 1 lb of butter has been incorporated). I cut out seven rounds of decreasing size; the scraps of paste were stamped into star shapes. The paste baked about 10-12 minutes at 400F.  To assemble, I spread cherry jam over the largest past circle, set the next largest round on pastry on top of it, and repeated the process, alternating raspberry and blackberry jam.  The pyramid was then decorated with the paste stars and sprigs of lemon balm.

A pyramid of tarts,from Miss Leslie's "Complete Cookery" 1858
A pyramid of tarts. 

Time to Complete: About an hour to roll and bake.  Twenty minutes or so to assemble.

Total Cost: $10 for three jars of jam and 1 pound butter, other ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?/How Accurate Is It? I'm treating these together, because I realized half-way through that the preserved fruit would give a much more impressive dimensionality.  So, my major deviation from the instructions was also a major point against the dish's successful appearance. Next time, I either need to make this during the summer when a lot of fresh fruit is in season, or else plan far enough ahead to have whole-fruit preserves.  That being said, the tart was tasty and well-received by the group.  It also didn't look as bad as I feared: even with the relatively flat individual layers, taken all together the dish made a nice pyramid shape.  I would make this one again, hopefully with improved presentation.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

HFF 2.20: Foods Mentioned in Songs

The Challenge: Find a historic song that mentions a food - and then cook a historic recipe around that food and the time of the song. Whether it’s Yankee Doodle’s macaroni, mussels a la Molly Malone, or the Muffin Man’s muffins, make sure it’s documented!

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, and in the Victorian period were mostly purchased from street-sellers, whose calls supposedly gave rise to the song.

The Receipt:  Cross Buns from Five Thousand Receipts: In All The Useful And Domestic Arts, by Colin MacKenzie (page 179)
Cross buns 
Put 2 1/2 lbs. of fine flour into a wooden bowl, and set it before the fire to warm; then add 1/2 a lb. sifted sugar, some coriander seed, cinnamon and mace powdered fine; melt 1/2 lb of butter in half pint of milk; when it is as warm as it can bear the finger, mix with it three table spoonsful of thick yeast, and a little salt; put it to the flour, mix it to a paste, and make the buns as directed the last receipt. [...cover it over and set it before the fire an hour to rise, then make it into buns, put them on a tin, set them before the fire for a quarter of an hour, cover over with flannel, then brush them with very warm milk and bake them of a nice brown in a moderate oven.] Put a cross on the top not deep.
The Date/Year and Region: 1854, American (Philadelphia), adapted from a British source

How Did You Make It:  Using this helpful conversion chart, I decided to use 6 tsp of dry yeast for the amount of flour in the receipt*.

Measured out 2.5 lbs of all-purpose flour (about 9 cups) and 1/2 lb of granulated sugar, then added 4 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp coriander, and 1 tsp mace. The spices are pure guesswork; I used all of them pre-ground, as that's what was on hand.  After mixing the dry ingredients, I melted 1/2 lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter on the stove, added 1 cup of 1% milk to the butter, then stirred in 6 tsp of active dry yeast and 1 tsp salt.  The liquid ingredients were the incorporated with the dry, and the resulting dough was placed inside the oven (on the lowest warming setting) to rise for one hour.

After rising, the dough was kneaded and worked into rolls.  The rolls were incised with crosses per the instructions ("not deep" indicates the cross should be cut rather than drawn in sugar), and allowed to rise a further 15 minutes, with the second pan rising a bit more while the first baked.  Baked at 375 for just over 20 minutes.  I brushed the second pan with milk before baking.

*As it turns out, I probably should have used a bit more yeast.

Time to Complete: About 3 hours, include rising and baking time.

Total Cost: $2 worth of butter, other ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It? Tasty, but a bit dense. The dough didn't rise as much during the first hour as I would have hoped.  It may be that I didn't use enough yeast, or that I didn't knead it enough initially, or that the temperature was too high, etc. Next time, I'd try a bit more yeast (at least 3 full packages or 6.75 tsp, maybe 4 packs), and ask one of my friends who is actually good at making bread for advice on kneading/shaping buns.  The flavor gave satisfaction--sweet and spicy, but not overly so.  I think I picked good starting values for the spices, though I'm tempted to experiment a bit, particularly with adding a little more mace and/or coriander (or using the specified coriander seeds rather than pre-ground).

How Accurate Is It? Deviations on yeast and estimated spices previously noted.  Of course, these are apparently an item that is normally purchased rather than made at home in the 19th century, so my amateurish attempts are already of questionable accuracy.

Hot Cross Buns from 1854 recipe, for Historical Food Fortnightly
The densest Cross Buns ever.