Parsnip Cakes to Fry

The stereotype of British cookery as nothing more than meat and potatoes post-dates the manuscript recipe books that I’ve been cooking from over the past six years. Potatoes are an American vegetable. They slowly rose to prominence in a cuisine that already made good use of many other root vegetables.

The staple root vegetables of British cookery in the medieval period through the Renaissance were parsnips, carrots, turnips, and skirret. Parsnips are starchy and slightly sweet with a uniquely herbaceous flavor. John Gerard’s Herbal  (1597) describes both garden and wild varieties as well as offering advice on cultivation, consumption, and humoral properties. 

garden parsnip - Gerard's Herbalwild parsnip - Gerard's Herbal

I love parsnips. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw a recipe for “Parsnip Cakes to Fry” in Margarett Greene’s recipe book (f MS.1980.004), dated 1701, now held in the Clark Library collections.  Somewhere between a starchy pancake and a fritter, these make a wonderful side for any roast dinner or hearty vegetarian meal. 

The Recipe

Parsnip Cakes to Fry.

Take Parsnips Boyle them tender peil them & rub them through a
Seive whilst thay are hott. then take halfe a pinte of Creame & –
as much new milke, the yealkes of 6 Eggs & the whites of 3 make this as
[t]hick as a pudding. with a Spoonefull of Flower & the parsnips Season
it with Salt Sugar, & Beaten Nutmeg & Sack to your tast. froy them
with [B]oyleing hott Butter. Serve them with Butter Sack & Sugar./

peeled parsnipsThe recipe describes a cooking method of boiling the parsnips with their skins on, peeling them, and using a sieve to break them down that is well suited to contemporary kitchen equipment. Parsnip skins can easily be removed with a knife after cooking with less loss of vegetable matter. Pushing cooked parsnips through a sieve creates a fine mash. I peeled and chopped the parsnips before I boiled them (because modern vegetable peelers are excellent) and mashed them with a potato masher. 

Updated Recipe

Halved from the original. Makes approximately 14 cakes.

7 parsnips (about 1.5 lbs)

1/2 t salt

1/2 t sugar

1/8 t nutmeg (grated or ground)

1 t sack (sherry)

1 1/2 t flour

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1/2 c whole milk

1/2 c heavy cream

about 3 T butter for frying

Peel the parsnips and cut them into small pieces (approximately 1 inch).

Put them in a pot filled with water and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and boil for about 20 minutes (until parsnips are tender and easily pierced with a fork). 

Drain parsnips and put them in a large mixing bowl. 

Mash the parsnips until they have a regular consistency with no large chunks. Season this mash with salt, sugar, nutmeg, and sack. Add the flour and eggs. Finally, pour in the milk and cream and stir until a slightly chunky batter forms.

Heat a cast iron skillet or large frying pan.

Add butter to the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Use a 1/4 cup measure to pour cakes into the pan. (I could fit four cakes at a time in my twelve-inch cast-iron skillet.) Cook for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side. The fritters should be golden brown and slightly crispy. Repeat this process until you have cooked all your batter. Make sure the pan is still buttery before you start each batch.

Serve hot.

cooked parsnip cakes

The Results

Buttery, fluffy, and lightly scented with nutmeg, these parsnip cakes are delicious. Although I would serve them with savory dishes, they are sweet and could easily be treated more as a desert if I’d served them with sugar and sack (sherry) as the original recipe instructed. The combination of flavors speaks to a common way of eating in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries where sweet and savory dishes were not divided into separate courses. (I touched on this in my recent post about a recipe for Portugal Eggs).

The next time I make these, I might add a bit more flour or start with another parsnip or two to create a stiffer mixture. The cakes were prone to collapse during flipping and required careful handling with a spatula.

Finally, although these parsnip cakes are at their best immediately after making them, you can reheat them if you’ve prepared them in advance of a holiday meal or made more than you can eat in one sitting. Deb Perelman recommends reheating previously fried cakes on a baking sheet in a 325F oven before serving on her site Smitten Kitchen (where you will find many wonderful modern fritter recipes).

To preserve Strawberries

2020-05-30 05.34.30

Description: Strawberries in a bowl.

There are more recipes for preserving fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat in early modern recipe books than there are for cakes. I often gravitate to the cakes – because I love cake – but if I ever cooked one of these recipe books cover-to-cover I would be up to my elbows in pickling brine and sugar.

This delicious recipe for a strawberry and blackcurrant jam, “To preserve Strawberries” from the Clark Library MS.2012.011, capitalizes on sugar’s potent preserving power (just like this marmalade I posted last year). As sugar prices dropped over the course of the seventeenth century, sweet preservation recipes – rather than sour, vinegary ones –  became increasingly accessible to middle class families. The Hornyold family who began compiling and using this recipe book in the 1660s seem to fit this description. (I made Jasmine Butter from this same manuscript last summer.)

The declining price of sugar obscured what we would now think of as its true costs: Plantation slavery in the Caribbean and the Transatlantic slave trade. As Kim F. Hall’s ongoing work on sugar demonstrates, this prized ingredient in English kitchens both conveyed status to socially mobile families and embedded them in global systems of oppression. Distilling one of Hall’s recent lectures on the subject at the Race Before Race conference in January 2019, Ambereen Dadabhoy writes, “if we talk about women’s cooking cultures in the early modern period, we have to as Professor Kim F. Hall stated, call out the white women who participate in this culture and also uphold a racial regime of bondage and servitude in the plantation colonies and the metropole.” The Honryold household, like all households that consumed sugar in this era, benefited from and perpetuated systems of bondage. Slavery is an unavoidable part of the history of sweets in the seventeenth century.

Jam making was a seasonal, annual activity when fresh fruit was at its peak. This recipe specifically calls for “scarlet strawberries,” but notes that others “will do.” Here the manuscript may be referring to domesticated varieties of wild European strawberries or the recently arrived American wild strawberry fragaria virginiana. This American strawberry is one of the parents of modern commercial strawberry hybrids and it is sometimes called the “scarlet strawberry.” “Strawberries, Scarlet Strawberries,” was a cryer’s call in eighteenth-century London. Preserving fragile foods such as strawberries was crucial for survival during good times and bad times, years of abundance as well as plague. It’s strawberry season in Philadelphia and a wonderful time to make this recipe.

The Recipe

To Preserve Strawberries cropped

To preserve Strawberries –
To a quart of scarlet strawberries, and a pint
of currant juice, you must put a pound of Loaf sugar
bruise the Strawberries well in a pan then add the
Currant juice & the sugar, set it over a Charcoal fire
& let it boil Gently till it jellies, then put it into
pots for use —- any Strawberries will do
But not so well–

The first challenge of making this recipe was trying to find an unsweetened black currant juice without visiting lots of stores. I was able to order this juice made by R.W. Knudsen and have it delivered. Although the black currant juice adds something special here, you could omit it if you can’t find it and cook the jam for a shorter period. The second challenge was that I used a full pint of black currant juice the first time that I tested this recipe and ended up scorching the jam as I tried to reduce it adequately. When I made it again with a quarter cup of juice, the jam came together perfectly. I also consulted Marisa McClellan’s recipes for small batch strawberry vanilla jam and small batch strawberry balsamic jam.

Updated Recipe

Makes 3 cups of jam

1 quart strawberries (4 cups chopped)
455g sugar (scant 2 cups)
1/4 cup black currant juice

Prepare fruit

Cut strawberries into quarters.

Mix the strawberries with half of the sugar (1 cup) and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Make jam

Put a small plate in your freezer.

Prepare your storage jar(s). If they’re not fresh from the dishwasher, rinse them with boiling water.

Put the macerated strawberries and sugar as well as the remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan with ample extra room. If you’re using a candy thermometer, affix it to the side of the pot.

Cook at a high heat and bring the strawberry mixture to the boil. Continue to cook and stir. Add the black currant juice after 15 minutes of cooking. Cook until the jam reaches 220°F and/or when you run a spoon along the bottom of the pan the jam does not immediately flood the space again. (My total cooking time was 25 minutes, but this will vary.)

As your jam nears temperature or the spoon parts it more effectively, put 1 teaspoon on the freezer plate and let sit for 30 seconds. If the jam holds its shape when you tilt the plate, it has set. If the jam is browning quickly or looks set before the temperature reaches 220°F, try the plate test earlier.

Store this small-batch preserve in the refrigerator and consume within two weeks. You can extend the life of your jam by properly canning it or by freezing it.

The Results

The first taste is sweet, then bright strawberry flavor, and finally the deep berry notes from the blackcurrant juice. I’ve been eating this delicious preserve on bread, toast, waffles, and biscuits. Even though I don’t have to wait almost another year to eat a strawberry, I know I’ll savor this peak summer flavor.

Further Reading

Dadabhoy, Ambereen. “After Race Before Race” January 19, 2019. https://ambereendadabhoy.com/2019/01/19/after-race-before-race/

Hall, Kim F. “Culinary Spaces, Colonial Spaces: The Gendering of Sugar in the Seventeenth Century,” in Feminist Readings of Early Modern Culture: Emerging Subjects, eds. Valerie Traub, Lindsay Kaplan, and Dympna Callaghan (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 168-90.

Hall, Kim F. “History, Pleasure, Identification: The Case for Early Modern Food Studies.” Race Before Race Conference. Arizona State University, Tempe. 19 Jan 2019. Lecture

Hall, Kim F.“Sugar and Status in Shakespeare” Shakespeare Jahrbuch145 (2009): 49-61.

MintzSidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Meringues – To Make Lemmon (or Chocolett) Puffs

Quite a few recipes are labeled “puffs” in seventeenth and eighteenth-century recipe books. Last month, I was (wistfully) looking through the notes that I took on Clark Library manuscript fMS.1975.003 during my residential fellowship last summer and realized that a recipe for puffs that I’d flagged looked markedly like modern recipes for meringues. The instructions describe whipping egg whites and sugar until “light and stif” and baking the puffs on sheets of paper. In my non-historical baking life, I love making Yotam Ottolenghi’s gorgeous, giant rosewater and pistachio meringues and I knew I needed to give this recipe a try.

“Lemmon” or “Chocolett Puffs” uses the alchemy of eggs and sugar to showcase imported citrus and chocolate. The original recipe begins with instructions for lemon-flavored puffs, but then includes an option to make a chocolate variation in a note at the end. Like the recipe for “The Ice Cream” that I tested this summer, this recipe for puffs is from Elisabeth Hawar’s late-seventeenth-century London manuscript. The contents of this manuscript coincide with a drop in commodity prices for sugar, citrus, and chocolate. This was due to an increase in cultivation on plantations in the Americas worked by enslaved African laborers. Lower prices made these luxury items more accessible to middle-class consumers in England. (Read more about these commodities via the links.)

The Recipe

Lemon Puffs cropped

To Make Lemmon Puffs
Take a pound of Double refined shugar sarted very fine
2 Large Lemmons, scrape the Rhind of them very small &
rub it well into the sugar, then beat up the whites of
3 eggs with a twigg, and as the froath rises putt it into
the shugar, by a litle att a time, rub it up the side of
the bason till you find it light and stif enough to
drop, or sc[xx]e it upon papers, then sett them upon papers
into the Oven aftr after bread bake them pale.

Chocolett puffs are the same only putt in Chocolett
instead of Lemmons as much as you think fitt
a litle serves.

One can do amazing things with whipped egg whites and sugar. As I stood in my kitchen with my hand-held electric mixer, I was grateful that I didn’t need to use a twig to beat my egg whites as the original recipe instructs. That said, I did find that the proportions of eggs whites and sugar needed to be adjusted to achieve the stiff peaks that I knew I needed to produce a luscious meringue – crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. After some trial and error, I ended up liking the texture best with six egg whites to a full pound of sugar. Feel free to experiment with fewer egg whites – the original recipe calls for three – and let me know how it goes!

Updated Recipe

This recipe made about two dozen puffs.

2 cups sugar (1 lb)
6 egg whites
lemon zest
cocoa nibs, finely ground, or cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 225F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs and place the whites in a large bowl. Beat until just frothy with mixer.

Slowly add the sugar to the eggs. You can do this in batches or maintain a slow stream with a mixer running.

Beat until the mixture is glossy and will hold a stiff peak on a spoon or beater. The time this takes will vary widely depending on your eggs and sugar and the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. When in doubt, keep beating. Given the amount of sugar in this meringue, it is very unlikely that you will over-mix the meringues.

When you have achieved stiff peaks, add the flavoring.

For lemon meringues: Zest two lemons. Add most of the zest to the mix. Sprinkle the remaining zest over the top of the meringues.

For chocolate meringues: Grind 2T cocoa nibs. Cocoa powder should be a reasonable substitute here. Add most of the ground cocoa nibs to the mix. Sprinkle the ground cocoa nibs over the top of the meringues.

For a batch that is half lemon and half chocolate: Divide the meringue mix into two bowls. Use the zest of 1 lemon to flavor and decorate meringues from one bowl and 1T ground cocoa nibs to flavor and decorate meringues from the other.

Dollop meringues onto the paper-covered baking sheets. Leave space in between for expansion. Sprinkle with zest or cocoa nibs.

Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes until the meringues are hard on the outside and still soft in the center. Remove from the baking sheets and allow to cool completely. Meringues can be stored in an air-tight container for a few days.

The Results

Crunchy and yielding, these meringues have a delightful texture. The flavors are subtle: the citrus zest is first a smell and then a faint taste; the cocoa nibs add a nutty chocolate flavor that varies bite-to-bite. When I shared these with friends, I was asked if rosewater was one of the flavorings because of the floral smell of the citrus. I might increase the flavorings next time, but sometimes a subtle delight is best.

meringues – lemon or chocolate puffs

Lemmon Cream

Luscious lemon cream does not necessarily require “cream.” The gorgeous texture of this lemon cream is the product of eggs, lemon juice, low heat, and gentle stirring. Emulsification creates a delectable, tart, floral pudding.

 

I had the pleasure of testing this recipe using Clark Library lemons with the help of guests at an event earlier this summer. (The same event where we tested The (Rosewater) Ice Cream.) The original recipe is from Margarett Greene’s recipe book (f MS.1980.004), dated 1701, now held in the Clark collections. 

The Recipe

Lemmon Cream.jpg

Lemmon Cream
Take the white of 7 & the Yolke of 3 Egg, beat them very well & put to
them the Peel of one & juice of two Lemmons Stir it Soundly & put
in half a porringer of Rosewater & the like Quantity of fair
water, Sweeten it to your Tast, then Straine it & sett it on th
Fyre, & keep it Constantly Stirring untill it bee as Thick as
as you desire to have it.

After reading this recipe (and a few recipes for Lemon Cream in other books), I decided to follow a method similar for making Lemon Curd. I also investigated porringers, early modern cups that varied somewhat in volume. Food historian Ken Albala uses 3/4 cup as an approximate porringer measure in one of his accounts of recipe reconstruction and I followed his lead (81).

 

Updated Recipe

7 eggs (7 whites, 3 yolks)
2 lemons (zest 1, juice 2)
¼ c rosewater
¼ c water
½ c sugar

Zest one lemon into a small mixing bowl. (You can also peel the lemon and finely chop the peel.) Add the juice of the lemon that you zested and the juice of a second lemon. Add the rosewater and water. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Transfer the mixture into a saucepan.

Separate seven eggs. In a large bowl, combine seven egg whites and three egg yolks. Add the eggs to the lemon mix. 

Over a low heat, whisk the lemon cream as it thickens for approximately 20 minutes.

Chill before serving.

2019-06-26 14.50.04

lemon cream

The Results

Sharp with lemon, fragrant with rosewater, and just sweetened enough with sugar, this lemon cream delighted Clark Library guests, fellows, and staff alike. Although it does require some attention on the stove and careful egg-separating, its relatively easy to prepare.

When I make this again, I’ll chill it in a prepared graham-cracker crust.

Jasmine (Jessimin) butter

This recipe only has two ingredients – jasmine flowers and butter. When I first read the recipe in the Hornyold family manuscript at the Clark Library (MS.2012.011), I knew that jasmine was blooming in the garden outside. It was the perfect occasion to try it.

2019-06-28 12.02.52

Jessimin butter

The Hornyolds were a well-established Catholic family. They began keeping this recipe book in the 1660s and a few of the recipes included show connections to their religion through mentions of feast and fast days and references to the liturgical calendar, such as this recipe “To pott mushrooms to keep till Lent.”

Although “Jessimin butter” does not appear to be connected to the family’s confessional identity, it does include seasonal notes. Ideally, this recipe should be made with “the first may-butter” and, of course, freshly flowering jasmine. I highly recommend that you make this butter when jasmine is in bloom.

The Recipe

Jasmine butter.jpgJessimin-butter.
Take some of the first may-butter, & wash it out of
the salt & buttermilk;, then spread it thin on 2 pewter
dishes fill one dish with: Jessimin-flowers & cover it with
the other; you must change the flowers every day
or 2, & now & then take off the butter, & lay it on again.
when you find it perfumed enough, put it up in pots.

 

Updated Recipe

1/2 cup butter (I used Kerrygold cultured, salted butter)

1 cup jasmine flowers, loose

Two plates with rounded edges that can hold material between them

Divide the butter in half as slice it thinly. Spread, place, or arrange the butter onto the two plates.

Put the jasmine flowers on top of the butter on one plate. Cover with the other.

Rest at room temperature overnight.

Spread on hot toast in the morning.

2019-06-29 23.23.23

Jessimin butter

Infused with the heady scent of jasmine, the butter delighted my senses as I spread it on my morning toast. I could smell the flavor much more than I could taste it.

When I shared the butter with colleagues at the library, they were struck by how strong the scent was after one night. They were also eager to take some home.

2019-06-30 07.32.09

Jessimin butter

The Ice Cream.

Elisabeth Hawar wrote her name in the front of her recipe book and dated her collection 1687. She also wrote two addresses in the Shoreditch and Spitalfields East London neighborhoods inside the front cover. These tantalizing biographical and geographical details link her manuscript, now held at UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Library (fMS.1975.003), to the thriving mercantile communities of London’s East End in the aftermath of the Restoration and the Great Fire.

2019-06-29 09.13.42.jpg

When I first saw this book in the reading room, I was equally excited about her recipe for “The Ice Cream.” In the five years that I’ve been testing recipes for this site, I’d never tried a receipt for ice cream even though I experiment with modern ice cream whenever the temperature rises above 85F each summer.

The Recipe

Clark, ice cream 1.jpgClark, ice cream 2.jpg

(37) The Ice Cream./
Take a quart of good Cream sweeten it with
sugar Rosewater or what you please you must have
little tin things which are made on purpose for Ice
cream, first put your Cream into the tin things, do the
cover close on then, & do it up close with butter
about the edge of the cover then take 4 ll [pounds] of ice
lay clean Cloth on the ground & with a hammer
break the Ice in pieces then have some Roach Allom
& bay salt strew this on the Ice beat the Allom small
Then have an earthen pot, put some of the Ice in the
bottom of the pot, then put in the tin things with the
Cream, & lay all the Ice about them that they may
stand fast in the pott, & cover them all over with Ice
then lay the Cloath over the pot which the Ice was
broken on, so set in a Cold celler let it stand one
hour then take it out of the tin panns, put it on silver
plates so serve it up./

The original recipe describes a detailed method for sealing the flavored cream in “tin things” that were especially made for ice cream, breaking the ice and using salt to alter its temperature, and chilling the cream in an “earthen pot” in the cellar. Since the recipe does not describe churning – which radically changes the crystallization of the frozen cream – the texture would have been rather different than the churned, updated version below. If you recreate the recipe using the original method, please let me know how it goes in the comments!

Tasting my updated recipe, below, you might notice that the ice cream has a slightly different texture than some of your favorites. Modern American ice cream falls into two main camps – custard-based (which includes eggs) or cream-based (which is egg-free). This recipe is cream-based and when I was reworking the proportions I used Melissa Clark’s recipe for egg-free ice cream as a guide. (I also may have texture on my mind because I’ve been editing a series on the topic for The Recipes Project with Amanda Herbert.)

Updated Recipe

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 T rosewater
3/4 c sugar

Heat cream and milk in a sauce pan. Add sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add rose water.

Put mixture in the refrigerator to chill for approximately 30 minutes, or until the mixture is no longer warm to the touch.

Use ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s specifications. (For my KitchenAid ice cream maker, this involves freezing the bowl for 12+ hours before using and churning the ice cream on “stir” for 20 minutes.)

Put the mixture into a container to chill in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.

Results

Subtly flavored with rosewater and sweetened with sugar, this ice cream is simple and refreshing. If you have an ice cream maker and some lead-time, it’s a perfect dessert for a summer gathering.

I was thrilled to share this recipe with participants in the Clark’s “Antique Ice Cream Social” event last month. During the test-tasting, a few participants who expressed a general dislike for rosewater found that this recipe passed muster. It didn’t taste “soapy” or overly perfumed. (You can watch a clip of me talking about ice-cream making here.)

 

Hippocras, or spiced wine

Hippocras is a kind of spiced wine. As Paul Lukacs writes in his book Inventing Wine, wine drinkers at all levels of society in medieval and early modern Europe drank spiced wines, “Spices not only would disguise a wine beginning to turn bad but also could make an otherwise dry wine taste somewhat sweet. And medieval men and women craved sweets. They used cloves, cinnamon, honey, and the like to season” their wines and their foods (43). Wines made before the invention of modern bottling technologies were highly perishable and markedly different from the wines we drink today. According to Lukacs, some were made from raisins and fermented to be sweeter and almost syrupy in texture, others were thin and sour depending on age and style. Fresh from harvest in the autumn, cloudy and fragrant wines were shipped in huge volumes from France, Italy, Germany, and later Spain to wine-consuming countries such as England which did not (at that time) have a local wine industry of its own. Adding spices to these wines as they aged made them more palatable and also added health benefits from the spices themselves. After the wine was infused with spices and sweetener, but before it was served, it was strained through a linen “hippocras bag” to remove the spices and other flavoring. This linen bag was named after Hippocrates, the ancient physician who advised the consumption of spiced wine drinks and was thought to have strained them through his voluminous sleeves.

I’m excited about this post because I developed a hippocras recipe that I think is truly delicious and I learned a lot along the way. After many hours in the reading room at the UPenn library and many more hours clicking through digital images of manuscripts and printed books online looking for Hippocras (or its variant spellings Ipocras , Ypocras, Hypocrass, Hippocris, and Hipocras), I decided to prepare a recipe “To make Ipocras” from Robert May’s The accomplisht cook, a very popular cookbook that was first published in London in 1660. I’ve been thinking about May quite a bit over the last six months and I updated another recipe from this cookbook for the upcoming exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library, First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas. (Stay tuned for that recipe!) May’s Ipocras recipe beautifully seasons the wine without eradicating the original flavors. This was especially important to me because I was using a wonderful 2016 Côtes du Rhône made by Clovis thanks to T. Edward Wines. The wine is delicious on its own and I knew, with proper care, it would make a delicious hippocras as well.

Below, you will find May’s recipe, my updated version of it, and quite a few hippocras recipes from manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Clark Library, and UPenn Library. These recipes showcase a range of methods and I’ve including images and transcriptions below. I might make them someday, but feel free to experiment and let me know how things go in the comments.

May’s Ipocras Recipe

To make Ipocras.

TAke to a gallon of wine, three ounces of cinamon, two ounces of slic’t ginger, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, an ounce of mace, twenty corns of pepper, an ounce of nutmegs, three pound of sugar, and two quarts of cream.

Otherwayes.

Take to a pottle of wine an ounce of cinamon, an ounce of ginger, an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, seven corns of pepper, a handfull of rosemary flowers, and two pound of sugar.
Robert May, The accomplisht cook, or The art and mystery of cookery. Wherein the whole art is revealed in a more easie and perfect method, then hath been publisht in any language. Expert and ready wayes for the dressing of all sorts of flesh, fowl, and fish; the raising of pastes; the best directions for all manner of kickshaws, and the most poinant sauces; with the tearms of carving and sewing. An exact account of all dishes for the season; with other a la mode curiosities. Together with the lively illustrations of such necessary figures as are referred to practice. / Approved by the fifty years experience and industry of Robert May, in his attendance on several persons of honour. (London: Printed by R.W. for Nath. Brooke, at the sign of the Angel in Cornhill, 1660), Wing M1391. Photo courtesy of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts. (T3r).
I decided to follow May’s instructions for “Otherwayes … To make Ipocras.” As I show below (and you can see above in May’s first recipe), many Hippocras recipes are intended for white wine, add sack, or use milk or cream during the straining process. May’s “Otherwayes” showcases the characteristics of the original wine as well as the added spices.

May’s Ipocras Updated

1 bottle red wine (ideally an earthy Côtes du Rhône like this one from Clovis)
4 cinnamon sticks
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
2 slices of a whole nutmeg, or 1/4 t ground
4 whole cloves
4 black peppercorns
2 springs fresh rosemary
1/3-1/2 c sugar (optional, I preferred it without)

Combine the wine, spices, and sugar (if using). Cover tightly and let infuse at room temperature for 24 hours before you plan to serve it.

Strain out spices before serving using a metal or cloth strainer.

The first scent that reaches my nose is rosemary, then cinnamon, then the aroma of the wine itself. The cloves, pepper, and nutmeg all appear in the first sip. Within hours of first pouring it, the hippocras was all gone. The neighbors that stopped in to taste it loved it. One likened it to a brandy cocktail. Another thought the spice flavors were similar to Charoset, the fruit paste from the Passover seder. We all preferred the unsweetened hippocras. In this, we are probably unlike May’s original audience who had quite a sweet-tooth.

Other ways to make Hippocras
May’s recipe adds the flavors of spice and sweetness to red wine. Other Hippocras recipes take a range of approaches. I’ve also recently tested Mary Baumfylde’s recipe for White Hippocras from Folger V.a.456 for another essay I’m working on. This recipe uses a “milk punch” method to clarify and strain the hippocras. After the initial infusion, milk is added. It curdles and the curdled milk solids are strained out along with the spices. This made a very tasty drink, but I could not taste any of the characteristics of the wine at the base. These hippocras recipes below are all promising, but all showcase fewer of the original wine’s characteristics due to the addition of lemon juice, other alcohol such as sack, or milk.
This white wine and sack Hypocrass is from Elisabeth Hawar’s recipe book now held at the Clark Library in fMS.1975.003. It is likely that Elisabeth, or another owner, lived in East London as the book includes manuscript directions to places in Shoreditch and Spitalfields.

To Make Hypocrass

Take 3 pints of white wine & a quart of Sack & a
pinte of milk, Sinamon 2 oz Ginger 1 oz of Nutmegs
2/1 an oz beaten of Cloves halfe a pennyworth, 2 t of
powder shuger or else all the spice & shuger must be
steeped in the Sack all night, Red Rose water 6 spoonefull
one bunch of Rosemary & 3 bay leaves lett it run throw
a bagg till it be as clear as rock water

This recipe from Judith Bedingfield’s manuscript at UPenn (Ms. Codex 631) is driven by orange flavors, includes apples (pippen), and uses the milk punch method. The wine infuses with the sweetness and the spices and once the milk is added it curdles. When the curdled solids are removed, the mixture is clarified and flavorful.

To Make good Hippocras, red or White

To Make the Quantity of two Quarts, you must take two Quarts of good French White Wine
or Red Wine is much better if it be of a very good Red: on the said two Quarts of wine you’ll
put a Pound of Loaf sugar, the Juice of two Lemons, seven or eight thin Slices of Sevill
orange peel, if you have any Portugal Oranges you’ll put in the Juice of one, with ten
or twelve Zests, or thin Slices of the Peel of the same Orange. if you have none there needs
none. you’ll  put also on the said two Quarts  of wine one Dram of Cinnamon broke a little
four Cloves broke in two, a Leaf or two of mace, five or six Grains of White Pepper, half
broken, & a small handful of Coriander seeds, also half broken or beaten, half a golden Pippen
or, if small, a whole one, peel’d & cut into Slices, & half a Pint of good Milk: then stir them
well together with a spoon, & strain it through a clear straining Bag,  untill it comes clear;
& when it is very clear & transparent, make it run into a jug or any thing else that you’ll
cover with a strainer (that is named Stamine) & so let it run through that into your jug:
then take, on the Point of a Knife, some musk & Amber Powder. #

Alternatively, this recipe from UPenn LJS 165 uses all sack, a sweet wine from Spain or Portugal and precursor to modern sherry.

Hippocris to make

Take 1/2 a pound of Curran seed 3 ounces of long pepper
6 ounces of Cinamon: 2 Ounces of ginger 1 ounce of Nutm[eg]
a Sprig of Rosemary a Lemon Sliced 6 quarts of of Skimed mi[lk]
but not Sower, 6 pound of cleane suger 6 gallons of sack steep
(but the Milke and suger) in the sack 6 dayes Stir it twice or th[xx]
a day put it into a large Tub & poure in the Milke leasurely th[xx]
stirring the sack very fast putting in the suger into the Tub before
let it run through the bag

Lady Grace Castleton’s recipe book Folger Ms. V.a.600 includes a receipt “To make Hipochras” from a “Lady Cauendishe.” This version includes cardamon and, like the previous examples, starts with white wine and is strained with milk.

To make Hipochras L[ady] Chauendishe 85
Take a pound of white lump sugar, two ounces
of symonan, a quarter of ounce of gingar, &
a quarter of an ounce of cloves, bruse these
spices, & put them with the sugar to steep in
a gallon of good white wine, stir them
well together, & lett them stand all night clos
covered in astone pott, in the mourning putt
halfe a pint of new milk in’t, & lett it run
through a jellye bagg, wetting it first in
milkwringe it out again, Lett it
run through the bag, soo often till it be cliar
taste stronge of the spices, a few cardemum
seedes a mongst the spices will give it agood
taste.

Hippocras took many forms. Enlivened with spices and fruit, enhanced with strong sack, or tempered with dairy, Hippocras recipes were designed to healthfully and deliciously amend premodern wines. Despite what Lukacs and others suggest about early modern cooks using spices to amend spoiled wines, the Castleton and Bedingfield recipes insist on starting with good wines. That way, the resulting spiced wines will be as delicious and efficacious as possible.

Special thanks to Daniel Veraldi and T. Edward Wines for supplying the Clovis 2016 Côtes du Rhône.

 

Jumballs from “Mariabella Charles her booke” Clark Library MS.1950.009

I have a thing for jumballs. When Alyssa and I started this website (four years ago this month!), I only had the vaguest idea of what “jumball” was or might be. Then I read many, many recipes for these delicious early modern sweets. It seems like there is at least one jumball recipe in every manuscript that I’ve consulted. I’ve also posted some here: My Lady Chanworths Receipt for Jumballs (UPenn) and Almond Jumballs (Folger). The first recipe has seamlessly entered my regular baking repertoire and my friends love them. Toothsome, spiced, and versatile, jumballs showcase my favorite parts of early modern confectionary and baking. I think this recipe for jumballs flavored with aniseed and sack then twisted into letters and knots has the potential to become a perennial crowd-pleaser as well.  And I promise you, for better or worse, this is not the last you’ll hear from me about jumballs.

This recipe is from Mariabella Charles’s recipe book, UCLA’s Clark Library MS.1950.009. I had the pleasure of consulting this manuscript on a recent visit and I’m looking forward to returning for a month-long residential fellowship next year. I’m excited to share more recipes from this manuscript, and other Clark holdings, soon. Mariabella Charles started this recipe book in 1678 and it includes entries in three other seventeenth-century hands by individuals who the catalog suggests may, or may not, be connected to Charles. Like most recipe books from this era, Charles’s has a recipe for jumballs and I was intrigued to see flavorings that I hadn’t tried in a jumball before listed among familiar ingredients.

Aromatic with aniseed and sack, rich with egg, these jumballs reminded me of my Grandmother’s Italian cookies. When I called her to ask about this she confirmed that she puts these flavors in her biscotti. In her words, “It’s a good cookie to have around so you can have it with coffee” and I heartily agree. If you don’t have aniseed around you can substitute fennel, but I loved the specific flavor of the aniseed here.

The Recipe

To make Jumballs

Take A quarter of A pound of fine flower
two ounces of suger and one spoonfull of sacke
one spoonfull of Craime and two eggs make
this up in paste and mould it with Anniseed and
roule it in small rouls make it in the fashon of
knotts and lettors and soe bake itt

At first, this dough wouldn’t come together. I added an extra half cup of flour tablespoon-by-tablespoon until I could shape the dough into “knotts and lettors” as the recipe instructs. The recipe below includes the flour that I added in the total flour amount. I successfully shaped a few knots and the letters M, C, and J for Mariabella Charles’s Jumballs. Although shaping letters and patterns is often a part of making jumballs (as this GBBO technical challenge showcased), I’ve often found the doughs difficult to handle. I think these pliability issues have to do with the liquid content of twenty-first-century eggs and the texture of modern, milled flour.

Our Recipe

1 c flour, plus more for shaping
1/4 c sugar
1T sherry
1T cream
2 eggs
1T anise seed (or less to taste)

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Mix ingredients together. The dough will still be tacky, but you should be able to roll it into strips on a floured board. Shape rolls into letters, knots, etc.

Bake on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or greased for approximately 30 minutes. Check at 20 minutes and extend your baking time if needed. The jumballs should be golden on the outside and still soft in the middle.

The Results

These were truly delicious. I ate one. Then another. They paired beautifully with my morning coffee and my afternoon tea. As usual, my grandma was right. They’re a great cookie to have around. I’m glad to have another jumball recipe in my pocket and especially pleased that I can shape this one in creative ways.