To make Newport Ginger Bread

In search of something quick and festive, I made this recipe at my mom’s house, in between walks with the dogs. UPenn MS Codex 895 is signed “Ann M. Plowden, 1756” on the inside front cover; a page later in the book is dated 1844, and the whole thing is written in at least four hands. This is the first time we’ve cooked from this particular recipe book, and I look forward to returning to it.

We didn’t have candied peel or fresh ginger or mace, so I used orange zest and ground ginger and some cinnamon and cloves; I’m not sure that its texture was what it should have been, or whether this should have been baked as a large cake, or rolled out, or in small patted rounds as I made them. But I liked these very much regardless–gingerbread is forgiving! (*Note: thanks very much to our reader who pointed out that I misread/miscalculated and used only 2 tbsp. molasses rather than 3/4 c. Oops! I did in fact enjoy these very much despite that mistake. However, with the proper amount of molasses, these might work better as rolled out cookies. I will be making them again and will provide an update!)

The Recipe

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To make Newport Ginger Bread

Take a p[oun]d of flour a quarter of a p[oun]d of sugar 2 ounce
of candied orange peel or Lemon a little mace
the weight of a two shilling of grated white ginger
half a pint of melted butter 4 spoonful of brandy
a p[oun]d or something better of treacle mix it well
& bake it on wafer paper on tin pans in a quick oven

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Our Recipe

[halved from the original]

1 2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 oz. orange peel
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 stick butter, melted
2 tbsp. brandy
3/4 c. molasses

Heat oven to 375F.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until fully incorporated. Form the gingerbread as you’d like. For small cookies, bake ~20 mins., until a deeper golden brown and dry to the touch. Cool on a wire rack. This made 20 small cookies.

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The Results

These are certainly ginger-y! The brandy is a tasty addition that I hadn’t encountered in gingerbread before. They’re dense and a little chewy, and have plenty of flavor. From the instruction to bake it on paper, I was expecting a cake that would bake on parchment in order to turn out more easily. This was more of a dough than a batter, though, and a crumbly one at that (because of my molasses mishap). I settled on patting them into flattened golf-ball-sized rounds, but I will try rolling it out next (with more molasses).

When I’m not distracted by a pug wearing a jinglebell collar and the need to finish wrapping gifts, I might look into why these are “Newport” gingerbread. For now, they taste of ginger and the kitchen smelled festive and warm while they baked. That’s a good Christmas Eve eve cookie.

Happy and peaceful holidays to you.

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to make (lamb) Cuttlets

Lamb dishes will always have a special place in my heart. From this stuffed shoulder I made last spring to these stuffed eggplants from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem that I’m preparing for a gathering next week, I’m always eager to try new lamb recipes. So when I saw this receipt for lamb “Cuttlets” in MS Codex 252, of course I was immediately intrigued.

The Recipe

lamb cutlets

to make Cuttlets
take a neck of mutton and cut it Rib from rib then beate them flatt
with a cleaver throwing one some salt and pepper, grate crust of
french bread be sure it tis not burnt for it will be bitter and throw it
one and broyle them, for your sauce take some grauey squese in some
Lemon mince one oynion and put in heat it over the fire and soe put it one
the cutletts

This recipe is relatively straightforward: season and cook your meat, make a delicious sauce, serve. Lamb is a perfectly fine substitute for mutton.

Lamb neck is a cheap and flavorful cut. Sold whole or cut into rounds, it’s perfect for stewing or braising. Despite my love of lamb, I wasn’t familiar with this specific cut when I purchased a frozen lamb neck from the Livengood Farm stall at my local farmers’ market intending to make these cutlets. As took the defrosted meat out of the refrigerator and looked at my recipe notes, I was immediately confronted with a home butchery challenge. How was I going to cut this neck into cutlets!? Thanks to aid and encouragement from my spouse Joseph and our handy, heavy-duty, serrated bread knife, I managed to separate two “cutlet” rounds from the neck. (I slow-cooked the rest of the neck whole in flavorful stock and it was delicious.) To keep this cutlet recipe quick and easy, make sure you ask your butcher to  cut you some nice bone-in rounds or boned neck fillets.

Our Recipe

Makes two cutlets. 1-2 cutlets per person would make a nice serving.

2 lamb neck fillets
2T bread crumbs (unseasoned)
1/2 onion
2T butter
2+ T flour
2T-1/4 c stock (I used homemade chicken stock. Feel free to use whatever you have around.)
2T lemon juice
2T parsley, chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Turn on your broiler.

Finely mince the onion and sauté in butter. Leave this cooking on a low heat as you prepare and broil the cutlets.

Coat the lamb cutlets with breadcrumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put them in an a roasting dish that you are also comfortable using on the stovetop and place under the broiler to cook. (I used a skillet.) Cook for 5 minutes and then turn the cutlets over and cook for another 3-5 minutes. 8-10 minutes total cooking time. Remove the cutlets from the pan.

Transfer the butter and onion mix into the lamb cutlet roasting pan or skillet. Add flour to the pan and stir to make a roux . Add stock to the pan little-by-little and stir to make a thinner gravy. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the cutlets, pour the sauce on top, sprinkle with parsley. Consume immediately.

The Results

Flavorful lamb, crisp breading, zesty  gravy: this dish is a warm, rich, and comforting treat. Next time I might add sage to the sauce as it cooks. Serve alongside some baked squash, roasted brussels sprouts, or a simple salad.