To Order Mushromes

Last week, I spent a few hours typing up recipes that were originally written in a  lovely, erratic cursive in Jane Dawson‘s cookbook. Dawson’s manuscript cookbook is held at the Folger Shakespeare Library, but I was transcribing recipes into readable pixels alongside students and colleagues on my campus as well as participants located all over the country and around the world. This year’s  “Transcribathon” was both successful and energizing.  We completely transcribed Dawson’s book and, as you may remember from my previous discussions of early modern handwriting, this is not a small achievement. Participants were also inspired to try some of Dawson’s recipes in a Cook-Along. Both the original transcription event and subsequent cook-along were organized by the Early Modern Recipes Online Collective, ie. EMROC.
How could I say no to a Cook-Along? Although the coordinators suggested trying a recipe for Lemon Wafers, I was intrigued by a mushroom recipe that I’d transcribed: “To Order Mushromes.” First of all, the recipe sounded tasty. Mushrooms with onions, herbs, and spices? What could be more delicious and comforting as the temperature dropped and the autumnal equinox came and went? But I was also intrigued by Dawson’s use of “order” as  a culinary verb. I imagined regimented mushrooms aligned in neat rows on a cutting broad or chopped into impossibly regular slices.  Of course, none of these senses of “order” operate in Dawson’s recipe. Instead, as the Oxford English Dictionary informed me, Dawson was using an obsolete definition, “To put in order or readiness (for a purpose); to make ready, prepare,” that was often used in culinary contexts. This lovely dish is not especially orderly, but it is a wonderfully simple preparation for mushrooms.
Original Recipe
To order Mushromes
Take mushrums pill them & wash them well in salt & water then
put them in a pewter dish with a little water sume sweet hearbs an
onyon; some mace cloves & whole peper, let them stew betwixt
two dishes about half an houre: then put to them some strong
broth mixed with yolkes of Eggs & sarve it up
Slowly cook the mushrooms with seasonings. Then flavor the rich broth with stock and egg yolks. A simple and delicious mushroom preparation.  I decided to use the “sweet herbs” sage and thyme because both are going wild in my container garden right now.

Updated Recipe

16 oz baby Bella mushrooms, quartered
1 small onion, sliced
thyme, 8 sprigs fresh
sage, 2 sprigs fresh
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t mace
1/4 t cloves
2 c water
1 c broth (vegetable or meat based)
2 egg yolks

Chop the mushrooms and onion. Put these vegetables, the fresh herbs, seasonings, and water into a heavy pot and place on the stovetop.

Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Then remove the lid and simmer for an additional 18 minutes. Remove the herb stalks with tongs. Add the broth and simmer for 5 minutes.

While the broth simmers, temper the egg yolks with some of the cooking liquid. This should help prevent the yolks from cooking instead of thickening your broth. Remove the pot from the heat and slowly and gently add the egg yolks.

Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

to order mushromes

The Results

Easy, satisfying, and endlessly adaptable, Dawson’s recipe for ordering mushrooms makes a wonderful main or side. I could imagine serving this alongside polenta or freshly baked biscuits. I can see myself pairing this with braised collards or a kale salad. I would eat this alongside a delicious roast chicken and creamy mashed potatoes. Dawson’s mushroom recipe is vegetarian friendly as long as you use a strong vegetable broth and you can easily make it vegan by leaving out the egg yolks.

A confession: As you might have noticed from the photos, my egg yolk turned into scrambled egg in the hot liquid despite my best efforts. Luckily, I’d planned to eat my mushrooms with toast and eggs for lunch.

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