Thursday, May 28, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 8: Lancashire Chicken Salad

St Peter Bolton-le-Moors, Bolton Parish Church
In Lancashire, there is a traditional dish called Hindle Wakes, which is a cold, prune-stuffed chicken slathered in cold lemon-cream sauce. It was supposedly brought to Lancashire (Bolton-le-Moors, specifically, parish church pictured above) in the fourteenth century by Flemish weavers.* I thought this was a rather fussy and baroque recipe, better suited to a Victorian picnic than a weeknight dinner in twenty-first century Kansas. So, I turned it into a sandwich, because I thought that the flavor combination sounded interesting. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. The sandwiches turned out to be very tasty and not difficult to make. I've adapted my recipe from Jane Grigson's Hindle Wakes recipe.

Lancashire Chicken Salad

For 4 people:

½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon flour
¼ cup milk
½ cup (homemade) chicken stock
5 tablespoons heavy cream
Juice and zest from half of a lemon
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
½ cup pitted prunes, chopped
1 sprig parsley, minced
4 croissants, split and lightly toasted
4 leaves of crisp lettuce (such as iceberg)

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, make a roux with the butter and flour then add the stock then milk. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream, lemon juice and zest, and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the sauce from the stove and stir in the chicken and prunes, along with the parsley.

Line one half of each toasted croissant with lettuce and top with chicken salad. Top with other half of croissant.

Last night, I went to the introductory lecture of the Jane Austen Challenge at Watermark. There were at least forty people there! I think the challenge is going to be fun. Paul and I are going to the showing of Becoming Jane on Friday.

I've also finished the back of my Lady's Jumper from Knitting Fashions of the 1940s. My goal is for it to be ready by the fall.

*Jane Grigson, British Cookery (Ipswich: W S Cowell Ltd, 1984), 146; photo from Earth in Pictures website

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 7: The Cooking of the British Isles

If you've known me for any length of time, you probably know that I'm obsessed with books. One of my favorite categories is (naturally) cookbooks, especially ones that are out-of-print. I happen to love the TimeLife Foods of the World series (first published 1968, now out-of-print) and pick up the individual books wherever I happen to see them. The Friends of the Library book sale in OKC is where I've bought most of them. Last weekend, Paul and I were downtown and I suggested we go into A Legacy Antiques to see if they might have the British Isles entry in the series. Lo and behold, they did actually have the wire-bound recipes notebook. I couldn't believe it! I went home and ordered the hardcover book from Amazon. It came Friday and I read all of it this weekend.

Above: My four Foods of the World books (recipe notebooks not pictured)
Below: A housewife in County Mayo makes Irish Soda Bread (from Foods of the World: The Cooking of the British Isles)

Irish Soda Bread (love it!) is the first recipe I've tried and it turned out really well. We had it hot, just out of the oven, with dinner Sunday night and I've been eating it with butter and strawberry preserves at tea time. Being a quick bread (meaning yeast isn't used for rising), it's very easy to make and the results are definitely worth it. It's very similar to biscuits (the Southern kind, not the British kind), but it doesn't have butter/lard/shortening. We just slathered on butter after it came out of the oven.

Here's the recipe (adapted from The Cooking of the British Isles):

Makes one loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (see why it's called Soda Bread?)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk*
a couple of butter papers

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the buttermilk, stirring with a wooden spoon until you can form the dough into a ball. You may not need all of the buttermilk. Be sure not to add too much or the dough will be too sticky.

On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into an 8-inch circle that is about 1 1/2 inches tall, being careful to handle the dough as little as possible. Using a razor blade (or very sharp knife), cut a 1/2-inch-deep "X" into the top of the loaf.

Grease a baking sheet with the butter papers, place the loaf in the center (X side up), and then bake for 45 minutes in the center of the oven, or until top of loaf is golden brown.


*I needed 1 3/4 cups, but the original recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

In parting, another decorated nook of the living room:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 6: Grilled Cheese, Jane Austen-style

Welsh Rabbit

According to Jean-Anthèlme Brillat-Savarin, in The Physiology of Taste, a Welsh Rabbit is "the epigrammatical English name for a piece of cheese toasted on a slice of bread." He continues, "the concoction is certainly not as substantial as a rabbit; but it brings on a thirst, makes wine taste good, and is a perfectly acceptable savory for a small party." I don't know from first-hand experience whether it improves the taste of wine, because Jane Grigson insists, "ale is the drink with Welsh rabbit." Ale was what we had.

This recipe is based on Jane Grigson's recipe from British Cookery, "Welsh Rabbit" from The Cooking of the British Isles, and "Jane Austen's Regency Toasted Cheese--Welsh or Scotch Rarebit," available here.

Serves 2

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese*, grated
1 tablespoon beer (an ale works well)
1 teaspoon cream
1 teaspoon butter for sauce plus 1 teaspoon per slice of bread
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
pinch mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
4 slices white bread*, 1/2" to 3/4" thick

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the cheese, beer, cream, teaspoon of butter, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper. Melt the cheese, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, put the bread on a baking sheet and toast it (unbuttered) under the broiler (just one side of the bread). When the bread is toasted, turn the bread over, butter the untoasted side, and pour the cheese over the toast (on the untoasted side). Put the cheese-covered toast back under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and browned.


*About the ingredients: I've had problems with the quality of imported English cheeses. It's not a problem with the cheese itself, but with shipping and storage. I've had great tasting Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Lincolnshire Poacher, etc., but I've also had English cheese that had absorbed the off flavors of the cheese shop or grocery store and I've also had some Double Gloucester that had really weird crunchy bits in it. I've found imported cheeses (at least in Norman and Wichita, even in specialty shops) to be hit and miss. For this recipe, I used an extra sharp Vermont cheddar and it turned out really well. On the subject of white bread, do not use grocery store sandwich bread. You'll need a bread with substance that will retain a soft interior after toasting and stand up to the cheese sauce. (My English White Bread works well, by the way.)

According to French Tart, in the introduction to her recipe, Welsh Rabbits were commonly served after dinner and before dessert at Regency dinner parties. She also quotes one of Jane Austen's letters: "We were greatly surprised by Edward Bridge's company...It is impossible to do justice to the hospitatlity of his attentions towards me; he made a point of ordering toasted cheese for supper, entirely on my account."

Speaking of Jane Austen, Watermark Books has a Jane Austen Challenge this summer with discussions, movies, and a whist tutorial (web page here). I've already finished Sense & Sensibility and have moved on to Pride & Prejudice, where I found a quotation perfectly suited to my last discussion on the Roast Beef of Old England: " for Mr. Hurst, by whom Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards, who when he found her prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her" (The Complete Novels, p. 228). Elizabeth Bennett is a true culinary patriot!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 5: The Roast Beef of Old England

When mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman's food,
It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good
Oh! the Roast Beef of old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

-Henry Fielding, "The Roast Beef of Old England"

Roast beef is the quintessential English dish. Colin Spencer, in British Food, writes that, after the Reformation, "roasted and boiled carcass meats, the exterior burnt and caramelized," became a symbol of "Protestant Englishness" (340). It was the antithesis of both highly-sauced French cuisine and the fish dishes of medieval fast days. Elizabeth kept the prohibition on meat on Fridays and during Lent, but the reason given was to support England's numerous coastal towns (ibid. 105).

In the eighteenth century, the unwitting roast beef was still being used as anti-French, anti-Catholic propaganda. Observe the remaining stanzas of Fielding's song:

But since we have learnt from all-vapouring France
To eat their ragouts as well as to dance,
We're fed up with nothing but vain complaisance
Oh! the Roast Beef of Old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

Our fathers of old were robust, stout, and strong,
And kept open house, with good cheer all day long,
Which made their plump tenants rejoice in this song--
Oh! The Roast Beef of old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

But now we are dwindled to, what shall I name?
A sneaking poor race, half-begotten and tame,
Who sully the honours that once shone in fame.
Oh! the Roast Beef of Old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

When good Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne,
Ere coffee, or tea, or such slip-slops were known,
The world was in terror if e'er she did frown.
Oh! The Roast Beef of old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

In those days, if Fleets did presume on the Main,
They seldom, or never, return'd back again,
As witness, the Vaunting Armada of Spain.
Oh! The Roast Beef of Old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

Oh then we had stomachs to eat and to fight
And when wrongs were cooking to do ourselves right.
But now we're a . . . I could, but goodnight!
Oh! the Roast Beef of Old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

Isn't it fun to ridicule the French and stick it to the Spanish, just by what we choose to eat? Poor Paul. It seems I'm well on my way to subjugating his heritage through my cooking. I may have to make some paella to make it up to him.

Anyway, the recipe for the roast beef is adapted from Jane Grigson's British Cookery. I used a 3 1/3-pound rump roast instead of the (impossible-to-find) standing rib roast. Just make sure it's tied, so it doesn't lose its shape. I must say making roast beef out of a rump roast is much more satisfactory than making a pot roast, which can be so disappointing (at least, I've never made a very good one). This recipe should feed up to 8 people. The ingredients:

For the roast and vegetables:
3-4 lb rump roast, tied
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Beef or bacon drippings (lard would work, too)
1 potato per person
1 parsnip for every 2 people

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the roast, fat side up, in a 9x13 Pyrex casserole. Mix the mustard powder, sugar, and Dijon together in a bowl. Add enough drippings to make a paste that will cover the top of the roast (I have no idea what quantity of dripping I actually used). Scrub the potatoes and peel the parsnips. Boil in salted water 5 minutes. Drain and lay aside. Add a few spoonfuls of drippings to the pan around the beef and put the beef in the 475-degree oven for 5 minutes while you peel the potatoes (prick them all over with the tines of a fork, as well) and slice the parsnips. After 5 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees and throw the potatoes and parsnips into the pan, surrounding the beef. The vegetables should take 45 minutes. Be sure to turn them half way through. The beef will take 15 minutes per pound for medium rare. (Don't make this if you want fully-cooked meat. Make a pot roast instead.) Remove the vegetables when they are done. When the meat is done, place it on a carving board to rest and tent with foil. DON'T turn off the oven or clean out the pan. Advance to Yorkshire Pudding.

For the horseradish sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
juice from 1/2 lemon
prepared horseradish

Whip the cream until stiff, then whip in the lemon juice and horseradish to taste. This can be done in advance and refrigerated.

For the Yorkshire Pudding (not pictured, I took the photo while it was baking):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well and add the egg, salt, and a little bit of milk. Whisk enthusiastically while gradually adding the rest of the liquid. Pour into the hot pan that your roast has just occupied (If there is more than about 1 tablespoon of drippings, strain into a container and save for next time.) and return to the oven for about 20 minutes (time will depend on the size of your pan) while the roast rests.


Serve roast and vegetables as soon as the Yorkshire Pudding comes out of the oven. Season the beef, potatoes and parsnips.  Don't forget the horseradish sauce. I also boiled some asparagus, but you're welcome to pick your own green vegetable. Brussels sprouts or cabbage are common.

Paul and I really enjoyed the roast beef (Paul even liked the parsnips, which I found to be rather cloying) and we were left with more than enough for sandwiches, like this one (toasted white bread, horseradish sauce, roast beef, cheddar, and arugula):

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 4: Our Daily Bread

English White Bread

This recipe is a combination of this cottage loaf recipe and split pan bread from this book about "the breads of the world and how to bake them at home." The first recipe sounded like the most appealing combination of ingredients, but I wanted to bake the bread in a loaf pan, because the shape of a traditional cottage loaf is a little unwieldy and I wanted bread that was easy to put into the toaster (of which Paul is totally ashamed because it brands a Hello Kitty onto one side of the bread, but, hey, it's already lasted over 5 years).

4 cups white bread flour*
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Heat the milk and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until a thermometer reads 100-110 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Stir the sugar and yeast into the flour/salt mixture, make a well in the center and pour in the heated milk and water. (If you're unsure whether your yeast is still alive, you'll want to change this method so you can bloom your yeast.)
  • Use a wooden spoon to stir the dough. Don't worry about the mixture not being very cohesive. The kneading will take care of that.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. You're trying to get it to feel like a baby's bottom and all that. Shape it into a ball.
  • Grease a large bowl (or a stockpot works well, too) with butter paper**, roll the dough around to cover all surfaces with butter grease, cover the dough with a clean (obviously) kitchen towel. When the dough has doubled in size, the first rising is complete. This step will take anywhere from 1 1/2 hours (warm room, or the front porch in my case) to 8 hours or more (refrigerator).
  • After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead for another minute on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a rough loaf and place it, seam side down, into a greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" loaf pan. Cover with the kitchen towel you used before and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled (anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour).
  • After this second rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Make a vertical slash down the center of the bread with a razor blade (or very sharp knife). Dust the top of the loaf with flour and let it sit 10-15 minutes.
  • Bake the loaf in the center of the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 400 and keep baking for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Be sure to cool the loaf completely on a wire rack.
I made this bread yesterday afternoon and, while it may seem complicated, it's the easiest bread recipe I've tried. I think it would be a good recipe for someone making their first loaf of homemade bread.

Not only is it easy, it makes a really satisfying bread. It tastes just like white bread ought to taste, plus it has a moist, dense crumb and a chewy crust. I took the bread out of the oven last night around 7:20, Paul and I went to the 7:50 showing of Star Trek (which was so much fun, definitely recommended, worth the $9 to see it in the theatre, child Spock so cute wanted to take him home), then came home and nibbled on some homemade bread. Oh, and we also turned in our keys to the apartment and said good-bye for good. It was a great evening.

*When I use the bread machine, I weigh out 1 pound of all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, because it bakes more evenly for some reason.

**Save all of your butter wrappers. They're perfect for greasing. Plus, you get more use out of them before you throw them away.

P.S. This made me laugh.

Plus, the original series episodes are available online here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 3: As Nutty as a Fruitcake?

Yes, Lincolnshire Plum Bread looks like fruitcake, but it's not. Not quite. According to Merriam-Webster, a fruitcake is "a rich cake containing nuts, dried or candied fruits, and spices." Lincolnshire Plum Bread has the dried fruits and the spices, but no nuts. Also, thankfully, the fruit is of the dried, not candied, kind. Of course, the Oxford English Dictionary simply states that a fruitcake is "a cake containing fruit." The whole time I was in school, we were never allowed to define a word using that particular word. Shame on the OED for being so unhelpful.

Suffice it to say, Lincolnshire Plum Bread may be fruitcake, but it's so much better. It's gooey and buttery and has a nice hint of spice. In fact, if you make it, "through a mouthful of fruit cake" you may be "congratulated...crumbily." (This quote was given under the OED fruitcake definition. Evidently, it's from an out-of-print novel from 1967 by one Jeremy Potter entitled Foul Play. From what I can find out, it's not the same Foul Play as the movie.)

Lincolnshire Plum Bread

I've adapted this recipe from Jane Grigson's British Cookery, which, unfortunately, seems to be out of print. I'm looking forward to cooking a lot of recipes from it, though, and will share them here. I did a bit of internet research and found this video, an interview with a baker in Lincolnshire, and learned that "plum" used to refer to any dried fruit. There are no plums in Jane Grigson's recipe (which differs very much from Pete Welbourne's), but there are dried plums--that's "prunes" to you and me. If you can't find dried currants (I got mine at the local health-food store), use raisins instead. They taste a lot alike.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice*
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon molasses (haven't ordered black treacle yet)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon brandy or cognac
1 cup (1/4 lb) pitted prunes
3/4 cup (1/4 lb) dried currants
3/4 cup (1/4 lb) golden raisins (sultanas)

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Put prunes into a bowl and cover them with hot (almost boiling) water
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and mixed spice. (I just place a large sieve over the top of the mixing bowl.)
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars, then beat in the molasses, eggs, and brandy.
  • Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.
  • Add the currants and golden raisins then use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the prunes into strips into the mixing bowl. (Discard the prune soaking water. You don't have to worry about drying off the prunes, though.) Fold in the fruit.
  • Line an 8 1/2"x 4 1/2"x 2 1/2" loaf pan with parchment paper. Spoon the batter into the pan.
  • Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until a cake tester comes out clean. My cake only took 2 hours, so be sure to check.
  • Cool the cake in its pan and then turn out and store (wrapped in the parchment) in an airtight container (I used a gallon-sized plastic bag) with an apple. This will supposedly keep the cake moist. I haven't tried it without the apple.
  • Wait a day or two and then enjoy.

*To make 1/4 cup of mixed spice (from this recipe), combine the following spices (all ground):
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon coriander

I also like to buy spices from the health-food store because I can buy them in just the quantities I need, so I don't have to worry about them going stale before I get to them and just having to throw the rest out.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 2: Comfort Food

Yes, I made another pie, but I promise to make other things. It's just that this pie was quite possibly the best chicken pot pie I've ever eaten. Last post's chicken pie was subtle and sophisticated and very very good, but this one was the epitome of comfort food. It has bacon and a pastry crust! Admittedly, it's better suited to cool weather (the last chicken pie is perfect for spring/summer with its lemon and parsley) but that didn't stop me. Plus, Paul threw out his back and was in need of some culinary comfort. This pie fits the bill and you really should try it. The original recipe is here. My version:

Chicken and Mushroom Pie

8 slices bacon (approximately 6 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch-wide pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered if large, halved if small
Thyme (either a few sprigs fresh or a generous sprinkle dried)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken stock (see previous post)
1/3 cup milk
4 cups cooked chicken (also see previous post)
salt and pepper
1/2 pound puff pastry (thawed, but cold)
1 egg, beaten

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and fry for 5 minutes until cooked but not crispy.
  • Add onions, mushrooms, and thyme to the skillet and continue cooking another 5 minutes or until the onions soften and just start to brown.
  • Add flour and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute then remove skillet from heat.
  • Stir in the stock and milk and add in the chicken.
  • Return skillet to the heat and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is thick and slightly reduced (you still want moisture but not too much liquid). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Put this mixture in a pan with a 1 quart (4 cup) capacity (9-inch pie plate, Le Creuset Oval Gratin 28, etc.) and place on a baking sheet.
  • Roll out the pastry (on a floured surface) to slightly larger than the pan and then place it on top of the pan. Trim and tuck under the extra pastry then brush with enough of the beaten egg to moisten the top of the pastry.
  • Cook in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes or until pastry rises and browns.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 1: A Chicken in Every Pot

Welcome to the first edition of my Traditional British Food Project! Last night, I made my version of a BBC Good Food recipe, Chicken, Leek & Parsley Pie. I got to use my basic math skills when converting metric units to English units. I really don't like the metric system. It lacks the romance of the English system. I think that tablespoons and cups are friendlier than milliliters, which always sound so sterile. Anyway, here's my version of the recipe:

Chicken, Leek, and Parsley Pie

4 cups cooked chicken*, chopped into bite-sized pieces or pulled apart by hand (my preferred method)
2 cups chicken stock (you really should use homemade if at all possible, see how here)
3 1/2 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
2 leeks (of average size)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (also average size)
2 cups (lightly packed) flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup crema mexicana (closest thing to creme fraiche in Wichita)
1/2 pound puff pastry (thawed, but cold)
Milk or beaten egg or egg white (to glaze crust)

Pan with a 4-cup capacity, such as a 9-inch pie plate, a Le Creuset oval gratin 28, a 9-inch round cake pan, or an 8x4-inch loaf pan

  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Halve and thinly slice white and light-green part of leeks. Soak in a large bowl to remove silt.
  3. Roughly chop parsley and zest lemon. Set aside.
  4. Place chicken in the bottom of your pan.
  5. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add drained leeks and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Then, gradually stir in the stock and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
  6. Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in lemon, parsley, and crema. Season to taste with salt and pepper then pour over the chicken and set pie dish aside.
  7. Roll out the puff pastry until it is approximately 1 inch larger all around than the top of the pie dish. Moisten the rim of the dish with water, place the pastry on the dish and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to trim the overhanging pastry to 1 inch all around. Turn the edges under then seal with the tines of a fork. Any leftover pastry can be used for decoration.
  8. Brush the pastry with the milk or egg wash and bake on a baking sheet (to catch bubblings over and make it easier to remove from the oven) in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden.
(Serves 4)

*Cooked chicken can be left over from a roast or from making stock with a whole chicken (as opposed to just bones and leftover bits). To make stock with an entire bird:
  1. Put an entire 3 to 5-pound chicken in a large stockpot or dutch oven.
  2. Add a peeled and roughly chopped carrot, a roughly chopped celery stalk, and a peeled and quartered onion.
  3. Add enough water to cover the chicken by half an inch.
  4. Add 1 bay leaf, a handful of peppercorns, and thyme sprigs or dried thyme.
  5. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Check the heat every once in a while.
  6. Strain the stock into a mixing bowl (discarding the solid parts). Cover and cool overnight. In the morning, you can skim off the fat (which will now have solidified) and store the stock in the refrigerator. I like to use quart-sized mason jars.
  7. Cool the chicken overnight and then remove the meat and store in the refrigerator.
In other news, we've had one strawberry from our hanging basket reach maturity thus far. It was red all the way through and juicy and a bit tart. We'll have to see how the other ones turn out. (The demitasse cup and saucer are part of a set I found at A Legacy Antiques on Douglas.)

In other antique dish news, I found a set of nine of these (for $8.25) at an estate sale this weekend:
That's all for now. Until next time!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Come, let's go a-Maying*

I'd love to, Mr. Herrick, but it's still a-raining. I love dreary weather, but this is getting to be a bit much. No maypole dancing today. However, I doubt there's a place for maypole dancing in Wichita even if it weren't raining. Perhaps it's for the best. According to Henry Burton's Divine Tragedy, anyone who has fun catches the plague and dies. Or falls through the ice and dies. Or gets pregnant. And dies.**

While we're on the subject of things of which Mr. Burton is bound to disapprove, here's my recipe for Kentucky Derby Bourbon Pecan Pie. Paul was dying for pecan pie and the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, so it seemed natural. I did some internet research and didn't really find the recipe that was what I was looking for, so I cobbled a few together and made my own. My biggest problem with pecan pie is that the filling is usually sickly-sweet, but the whiskey does a good job of cutting the sweetness and giving the filling more depth of flavor.

I started with the Martha Stewart short crust recipe, but I made it in a bowl with my hands and a fork and skipped the aggravating clean-up associated with a food processor. This pie only needs half a recipe, so I froze the rest for later. The crust is blind baked (20 minutes at 375 with docking and pie weights) and then cooled. For the filling:

1/2 c. unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 c. light corn syrup
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t fine-grained salt
3 T Bourbon whiskey (I used Maker's Mark)
1 1/4 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat then remove from the heat and let cool. Add the remaining ingredients except the pecans and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the pecans and then pour filling into the cooled pie shell. Bake for around 50 to 60 minutes, or until the tip of a knife comes out relatively clean from the center of the pie. If needed, cover the edge of the pie with tin foil to keep the crust from burning. Be sure to cool the pie completely so the filling will set up.

n.b.: Don't be lazy like I was and neglect to chill the formed crust before blind baking it. That's how I lost my fluting. :-(

In other cooking news, I'm announcing a new project! Beginning this month, I'm going to be adapting traditional British recipes and posting my results. If you feel like making any of the recipes, I'd love to know how everything turned out (and I'd like to see pictures, if possible). I know British food has a bad reputation and isn't very popular, but a lot of the recipes I've been researching sound really appetizing. I'm looking forward to adapting them and cooking them for the blog.

While we're on the subject of things British, I have to share a recent awesome estate sale find: a Brown Betty teapot. It was only $11 because we went on the half-price day.

I also got all these cloth napkins for $3, which means that I won't have to sew any. Paul and I are trying to drastically reduce our trash output. We already recycle and try to reuse things, but now we're starting a compost heap and trying to only buy things that either (a) have no packaging or (b) have recyclable packaging. It's going to be quite a challenge!

by Robert Herrick

ET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air :
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bow'd toward the east
Above an hour since : yet you not dress'd ;
Nay ! not so much as out of bed?
When all the birds have matins said
And sung their thankful hymns, 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown or hair :
Fear not ; the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you :
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept ;
Come and receive them while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come ; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimm'd with trees : see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch : each porch, each door ere this
An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields and we not see't ?
Come, we'll abroad ; and let's obey
The proclamation made for May :
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying ;
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

There's not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream
Before that we have left to dream :
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
Many a green-gown has been given ;
Many a kiss, both odd and even :
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, love's firmament ;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick'd, yet we're not a-Maying.

Come, let us go while we are in our prime ;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun ;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying. (published 1648, check out this Robert Herrick site.)

**This took locating my notes from
HIST 4973: Revolutionary Britain 1640-1660, which have now moved with me twice. And yet, I can't find my purse. Burton's indignant Puritan response to Charles I's Declaration of Sports, which encouraged fun on Sunday, is worth reading just for the sheer amusement. It reminds me of the sex-ed scene in Mean Girls: "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant. And die."

Robert Herrick was a great supporter of the monarchy and many of his poems extol the glory of country amusements.