Turnips and carrots, For a ffridays dish of meat

Half of the cookbooks in my house are out. They’re opened to enticing recipes and stuffed with paper bookmarks. My spouse and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time and our imaginations are running wild. Thankfully, we’ll have some help from guests with crucial dishes.

Turnips

Since the early modern recipe books that I’m researching are from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, they do not dwell on Thanksgiving in the same way that they celebrate holidays like Christmas or even seasonal changes associated with planting and harvest. These recipe books show the slow importation and integration of ingredients from the Americas such as chocolate, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, and, of course, sugar, but you won’t find cranberry sauce or pecan pie. These family manuscripts do, however, include many dishes that would be welcome on a Thanksgiving table. I’ve been looking back over recipes on this site for carrot pudding, caraway buns, macaroni cheese, and stewed peas that will compliment the yams, green beans, and turkey.

This turnip and carrot side dish that I found in Lettice Pudsey recipe book, now  Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.a.450, fits the bill. Pudsey includes the date 1675 in her cookbook and the recipes in it are a range of late seventeenth-century favorites. These savory and flavorful root vegetables make a delicious dish to be served with roast meat or on its own.

Original Recipe

For a ffridays dish of meat : /
tack turnipes whit & cleane washed; & if you pleas a
carriot or tow amongst them ffinely minced: putt them
into a dish with butter uppone a chafing dish of coles: then
beatt seauen or eight Egges togather very well: & stire them
with the turnipes until the beegin to harden: & thereto
putt uiniger & peper : /

Turnips sometimes get bad press, but they’re packed with flavor and grow wonderfully throughout Europe and Asia where they have been cultivated for ages. Deborah Madison’s brilliant cookbook Vegetable Literacy and my spouse’s roasting efforts have taught me to love these humble root vegetables. Vinegar elevates this dish and harmonizes the flavors. The butter and eggs compliment the turnip’s sharp flavors and the carrots add sweetness. To learn more about how our carrots became sweet and orange, listen to this fascinating episode of the Gastropod podcast that blew my mind earlier this month.

Updated Recipe

I roughly halved the original recipe to make this in a small casserole dish. This dish can easily be prepared in advance. It reheats beautifully in an oven or microwave.

3 turnips
2 carrots
3T butter
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1t apple cider vinegar (or other light vinegar)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare a buttered casserole dish.

Clean and peel the turnips. Cut them in half and then in pieces. The number of pieces will depend on the size of your turnips, but the resulting pieces should be bite size.

Clean the carrots. Peel them if you prefer to do so. Cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick.

Put the vegetables in the prepared dish. Season with pepper and salt. Dollop the butter on top of the vegetables. Pour the eggs over the dish evenly and allow to settle amongst the vegetables.

Bake for about 50 minutes until the eggs are starting to set and the vegetables soften. Add the vinegar. Cook about 20 minutes more until the dish is golden and bubbling and the vegetables are tender when poked with a fork.

turnips

The Results

This is comfort food: rich, flavorful, sweet, savory, and satisfying. The eggs and butter mollify the turnips without disguising their distinct tang. Carrots and vinegar add brightness to a dish that would otherwise be stodgy. These turnips and carrots would stand up alongside roast beef, a cooked chicken, pork sausages, or even, roast turkey.

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Carrott Puff.

Carrot pudding was one our early experiments in this project, and it’s a recipe that we consistently mention when asked for our favorites. So when I found this recipe for “Carrott puff” in UPenn Ms. Codex 1038, it seemed like a good candidate for some more carrot experimentation. A go-to for us, this recipe book has also given us the caraway-studded Desart Cakes, the perplexing Artificial Potatoes, the satisfying Herb Soop, and the wonderful maccarony cheese.

Speaking of which: Marissa worked with Carley Storm Photography to make and photograph some of our favorite dishes. As we’ve joked about before, this project features a lot of beige food that can be hard to photograph, but Carley did so wonderfully. Here is the maccarony cheese’s glamor shot, and we’ll be featuring more of Carley’s photographs.

Photo by Carley Storm Photography http://www.carleystormphotography.com

Photo by Carley Storm Photography http://www.carleystormphotography.com

The Recipe

carrott-puff-ed

Carrott Puff.

Boyl some Carots very Tender, Scrape them, then Mash them, and
take good Cream, and Eggs, and the Whites of two–Beat them with a little
Salt and Grated Nutmeg, Mix all with a little Flower to thicken them,
then Fry them in Liquor.

Our Recipe

6 carrots
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 egg + 1 egg white
salt to taste
pinch nutmeg
5 tbsp. flour
oil, for frying

The Results

This was one of those choose-your-own-adventure recipes: with the exception of calling for two egg whites, it lacks specific measurements. I was thinking these would turn out something like fritters or like pancakes made with leftover mashed potatoes, which was … optimistic. But we write about our first attempts with these recipes, successful or less so, and here’s how my attempt at carrot puffs fell into the latter category.

I decided to mash the carrots by hand with a potato masher, which left them just a bit chunky. (Already sounds appealing, right?) I guessed at the cream, eggs, and flour based on general fritter-/pancake-making experience, though I played with flour along the way. The raw mixture was, shall we say, not entirely appetizing. But I maintained hope!

I fried the first few “puffs” and realized as soon as I went to flip them that they were way too soft – they slid and slumped and were generally uncooperative. I added more flour to the next batch and used more oil and a higher temperature for frying them, which helped, but they were still just not very solid. You might think, as I did, well, maybe these would taste better than they looked? Not particularly. I like carrots – carrot cake, carrot sticks, carrot salad – but these just didn’t taste like much. And they were just too fragile. As Marissa said when I told her my carrot puff woes, “I feel like the carrots have failed us this time.” The carrots, or my ingredient guesses, or a bit of both.

img_7573

I still think these sound good, and I’m reasonably sure that additional tinkering with the proportions might help. (I was running low on carrots, though, and didn’t want to waste additional supplies trying right away.) I did a little digging and found this recipe from Nigel Slater for carrot fritters, made with grated carrots and held together not only with egg and flour but with the help of parmesan. This recipe is actually similar to the proportions I used, except with less flour, so I think that additional tinkering might yield successful puffs. I was running low on carrots, though, and didn’t feel like taste-testing any more carrot puffs immediately. When and if I tackle these again, I’ll report back. In the meantime, I’ll be eating carrots as soup for a little while instead.

Carrot Pudding

Carrot cake is generally a crowd-pleaser. But carrot pudding? When we found this recipe in UPenn Ms. Codex 631, we were intrigued. We also wanted to try a pudding simply because we’ve found so many of them in early modern recipe books. Puddings may have been the eighteenth-century equivalent of the recent cupcake craze.

This two-volume recipe book is dated 1730 (vol. 1) and 1744 (vol. 2) and belonged to Judeth Bedingfield, though it contains the handwriting of multiple persons. The carrot pudding recipe comes from the first volume, which includes not only other recipes for cooking – pickled pigeon, for instance, “quaking pudding,” quince cream, and many more – but also for making various kinds of wine and cordials and for household remedies for ailments like colic. It provides a wonderful example of the range of recipes that early modern recipe books can include. (In fact, stay tuned for when we make our way through some of its other recipes in Ms. Codex 631!)

carrot pudding

The Recipe

To make a Carrot Pudding    Mrs Bransby Kent[xxx]

Take six Carrots not to large boyl them well & as many pip[pins]
with the juce of one lemon & four sugar rouls beat them very
well in a Marble Mortor Mix with these a pint of cream
& three Eggs Sweeten it to your tast Bake in a dish with pu[xxx]
& put in Cittern & Candid Oringe

The corner of the recipe is damaged, but comparing this to other contemporary carrot pudding recipes confirms the “pippins” in the ingredients. “Cittern” is not defined in the OED as anything other than a stringed instrument, so unless the writer was garnishing this pudding with a very surprising ingredient, “cittern” probably means citrus, probably candied or preserved. We could have tracked down candied peel for the “Candid Oringe” but concluded that zest would impart a similar taste. If you happen to have candied peel readily available to you, 1) we’re jealous, and 2) it would probably be great here.

In our modern kitchens, we’re used to pulling out granulated sugar rather than the sugar loaves or rolls that early modern cooks would have used. But Marissa happened to have some minimally-processed “panocha” cane sugar rolls in the pantry that we wanted to try here. We ended up grating a fraction of one roll – hard work for just a sprinkling of sugar! Rather than continuing the arm workout, we used primarily granulated cane sugar.

 

Our Recipe

{We were somewhat unsure of how much we would enjoy carrot pudding, so we halved the recipe. And even though we did enjoy it, this amount still works well, as it fills two-thirds of a standard pie dish. We also added cinnamon and ginger because we suspected that they’d work here, and they do; any spices you would add to a pumpkin pie would also work.}

3 carrots, peeled and chopped roughly

2 apples, peeled and chopped roughly (*we used Macintosh apples but might try a tarter variety like Granny Smith next time)

1/4 – 1/3 c. sugar (start with 1/4 and add more if necessary)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

scant 1/2 pint heavy cream

2 eggs

zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 350F; butter a pie dish or other ovenproof dish.

Boil carrots for ~8 mins. or until tender; add apples for last 2 mins.

In food processor or blender, puree carrots, apples, sugar, zests, cinnamon, and ginger. Then add cream, eggs, and lemon juice; blend until smooth.

Pour carrot mixture into dish and bake 30-40 mins., until set. (It will be slightly more wobbly than baked pumpkin pie filling.)

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

The Result

Very orange. And surprisingly pleasant: the apples, citrus, and spices balanced the vegetal base of the carrot. The consistency was somewhere between a pumpkin pie filling and a flan: firm enough to hold its shape when sliced, but jiggly enough that a few dollops ended up on the floor between pie dish and plate. (Oops.) We might bake it in a pie crust next time, or add another apple to the mixture, or perhaps roast the carrots and apples before pureeing them for additional depth of flavor. Adding some pureed carrots to a pumpkin pie base might also work well.

We assume that there will inevitably be a few recipes in this project that we make out of curiosity, gulp down a taste or two, agree that it’s “interesting” (with air quotes), and then continue on with our culinary lives, never to make it again. But carrot pudding does not make that list.