Tagged ‘oil’

Sallet Days, Plain and Simple.

October 26th, 2013 by KM Wall

If it’s Saturday, it must be Sallet -day….

Of Sallets, simple and plain
First then to speak of Sallets, there be some simple, some compounded, some only to furnish out the Table, and some both for use and adornation: your simple Sallets are Chibols pilled, washt clean, and half of the green tops cut clean away, and so served on a fruit dish, or Chives, Scallions, Rhaddish roots, boyled Carrets, Skirrets and Turnips, with such like served up simply: Also, all young Lettuce, Cabbage-Lettuce, Purslane, and divers other herbs which may be served simply without any thing but a little Vinegar, Sallet Oyl and Sugar; Onions boyled; and stript from their rind, and served up with Vinegar, Oyl and Pepper, is a good simple Sallet; so is Camphire, Bean-cods, Sparagus, and Cucumbers, served in likewise with Oyl, Venegar and Pepper, with a world of others, too tedious to nominate.

The English Huswife
Containing the inward and outward Vertues which ought to be in a Compleat Woman…
A Work generally approved, and now the Ninth time much Augmented, Purged, and made most profitable and necessary for all men, and the general good of this NATION.
By G. Markham.
LONDON, Printed for Hannah Sawbridge, at the Sign of the Bible on Ludgate Hill, 1683

  • A simple salad is one main thing, with what we now call dressing. A compound  salad had several different elements. A tossed Garden Salad is a modern example of a compound salad construction. A modern Potato Salad is a simple salad, even if it has hard boiled eggs in it, maybe even especially so.
  • for use or adoration means  – they’re for eating or for looking at – we’re just concerned with the eating ones
  • Chibols are a green onion, scallions and chives, are oniony as well, and, like radishes, are often served right at hand

    Annibale Carracci - The Bean eater

    Annibale Carracci – The Bean eater – notice the green onions by his hand – no plate, not a dish – a spoonful of beans and a bite of oniony goodness.

  • Boil your carrots, turnips and skirrets before eating them (or not, maybe having some by the side of your plate to eat a spoonful of beans and then a crunch of carrot)…..but if you have skirrets, they really are better off cooked before eating

    Turnips lurking in a Pilgrim Village garden - ready for a salad

    Turnips lurking in a Pilgrim Village garden – ready for a salad

  • Assorted little leafy green things served with oil, vinegar and salt….Cabbage-lettuce is headed lettuce, as apposed to loose leaves.
  •   Olive oil, wine or cider vinegar and, well, salt. There’s also ‘sallet oil’ in the 17th century. It’s made from rapeseed; rapes being part of the turnip family. We now call that oil canola oil….
    Rapeseed flowers

    Rapeseed flowers

    Canola seeds

    Canola seeds




  • Onions, boiled, bean cods (what we call ‘green beans’ ) boild; Asparagus (not at this time of year, unless you’re living in Australia) and of, course, cucumbers, are all good with oil vinegar, salt and pepper. Perhaps a pinch of sugar. When in doubt, boil. These days, we’re more likely to try raw, but the 17th century thinking was that cooking improved things for mans body by making it more artificial. Artificial was GOOD, because the hand of man was there. Raw was how the horse and cows ate the garden, and they were looking for a little emotional distance from the barnyard animals.
  • Boil, oil; boil, oil; boil, oil.
  • Simple simple simple simple
A Gentleman buys a Turnip

A Gentleman Buys a Turnip – except they look like radishes and he’s a little skeevy. I think he’s looking for more then salad fixin’s…



Jean-Baptiste Chardin - The Turnip Cleaner - 1738 - it's a little later, and a little French, but I'm pretty sure she's about to make some turnip sallett

Jean-Baptiste Chardin – The Turnip Cleaner – 1738 – it’s a little later, and a little French, but I’m pretty sure she’s about to make some turnip sallet

To make a sallet of all kindes of hearbes

September 19th, 2013 by KM Wall

To make a sallet of all kindes of hearbes
from Thomas Dawson’s The Good Husewifes Jewell, 1597, p 25.

“Take your hearbes and picke them very fine onto faire water, and picke your flowers by themselves, and wash them al cleane, and swing them in a strainer, and when you put them into a dish, mingle them with Cowcumbers or Lemmons payred and sliced, and scrape suger, and put in vineger and Oyle, and throwe the flowers on the toppe of the sallet, and of every sorte of the aforesaide things and garnish the dish about with the foresaid things, and harde Egges boyled and laid about the dish and upon the sallet.”

And now for a modern translation –

A sallet is just another way to say salad.

Hearbes are herbs, which are also of things we now call vegetables – the sorts of things you’d expect to find in a salad. This recipe doesn’t specify any particular herbs, but from other period sources all leafy greens are mentioned: lettuces, spinach, endive, chicory, cabbage, violet leaves, strawberry leaves and borage leaves. Sorrel, salad burnet, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary and mint leaves could also be added.

Flowers are, well, flowers. Edible flowers include those of calendula (pot marigolds), violets, roses, borage, pinks, and the flowers from sweet herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage. Not sure if it’s edible? Don’t eat it unless you know it’s not toxic. Don’t guess – be safe!
NOTE: If you are gathering herbs and flowers outside of 1627 make sure that they haven’t been treated with herbicides, pesticides or car emissions.

Cowcumbers are cucumbers. Lemmons are lemons. Suger is sugar; vineger is vinegar (wine or cider) and Oyle is oil (olive).

Aforesaide things (which are mentioned several pages back, so no, you didn’t miss it) include raisins, olives, capers, almonds and currents, figs and dates.

harde Egges boyled are hard boiled eggs.

A version of this salad will be on the table for the Bridale for Jane Cooke and Experience Mitchell Saturday September 21, 2013.


Dunghill fowl

July 12th, 2013 by KM Wall

Dunghill fowl doesn’t sound like the most appetizing thing to eat – until you realize it’s free-range, local, organically fed heirloom breed chicken. Then you might be willing to pay a pretty penny for it.  Language is SO important!

Dung hill fowl

Dung hill fowl

This boy (in a photo taken last summer) is not a chicken – he’s too old – and he’s not a capon – to many boy bits. So he’s safe for now. His job is to keep his hens and chicks safe. And make more chicks with his hens. Hens will lay eggs even without a rooster (more properly called a Cock in the 17th century), they just can’t hatch any chicks out of them. The eggs from your supermarket will never hatch, no matter how nice and warm a nest you put them in. They will turn in to rotten eggs, given some time and warmth, though. What was the name of the rat in Charlotte’s Web that was stashing some eggs that turned?

We now think of chicken as a staple, a standby, something always on hand and easy to prepare. We use it in bits – chicken fingers, anyone?- for children and fussy eaters. We raise poultry to eat poultry. But Our 17th Century English Housewife would look at these hens as feathery little egg machines.

The real profit in poultry is EGGS.

Chicken is the occasional dish, something that is on-hand, as it were, but not every day or every week. Occasion. For nice. Sunday chicken dinner is the  last remains of this attitude. Chicken is often mentioned in the plural in early modern recipes, because one would not be enough. Young birds are small birds in the past.

We don’t tend to boil a chicken now, unless we’re making soup. Boiled chicken has the advantage of not needing a terribly watchful eye, and you get the bonus of broth. It also doesn’t dry out. The huge downside – pale and flabby skin, not at all pretty. But if you pull the skin off, make a fantastic sauce and serve it on sippets….by candle light…you now have an occasion!


Jacob Gerritsz

Jacob Gerritsz – don’t make pets of dinner

10. To boyle Chekins or Capons with Peascods.

Take greene sugar Pease when the pods bee but young, and pull out the string in the backe of the podde, and picke the huske of the stalkes ende, and as many as you can take up in your hand at three severall times, put them into a pipkin, with halfe a pound of sweete Butter, a quarter of a pint of faire water, a little grose Pepper, Salt, and Oyle and Mace, and let them stue very softly till they bee very tender, then put in the yolkes of two or three rawe egges strained with sixe spoonfuls of Sacke, and as much Vinegar, put it into your Peascods and brewe them with a ladle, then dish vp your Capon or Chickins vpon sippets, then poure your Pascods and broath vpon them, then strewe on salt and serve it to the table hott.

- 1621. John Murrell. A Delightful daily exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen. Falconwood Press: 1990.p. 35

peascods - Fuller garden

peascods – Fuller garden

More pease in pods

More pease in pods or cods

another view of pease

another view of pease



“citius quam asparagi coquintur”

May 6th, 2013 by KM Wall

“quicker than you can cook asparagus”, as according to the Roman emperor Augustus.

Good advice for the asparagus,  no matter what the century – cook that sperage quickly. No mushiness allowed. Just the taste of green -  and a little butter, perhaps.


About Asparagus.

Asparagus are just boiled, not too well done, and then eaten with Oil, Vinegar, and Pepper or otherwise with melted Butter and grated nutmegs.
- 1661. The Sensible Cook, Rose ed. p. 48.

And now in the original Dutch:

Van Aspergies.

Aspergies worden flechts ghekoockt/ niet al te murruw/en dan gegeten met Olie/ Azijn/ en Peper/ of anders met gesmolten Boter en geraspte Notemuskaten.
- (p. 63 . fasc page)

Ortus sanitatus. Moguntiae: J. Mayenbach, 1491. Leaf: 27 x 20 cm.; Illus.: 10.5 x 6.5 cm. Woodcut Wangensteen Historical Library of Medicine and Biology

Ortus sanitatus.
Moguntiae: J. Mayenbach, 1491.
Leaf: 27 x 20 cm.; Illus.: 10.5 x 6.5 cm.
Wangensteen Historical Library of Medicine and Biology

illustration from  University of Minnesota Libraries.

Everything old…..

January 10th, 2013 by KM Wall

Purple dragon carrot..

…is new again. This year’s seed catalogs have carrots in many colors. Like purple, although it looks rather more violet to me.






Purple sun carrots – these are almost black



Atomic Red carrots







Yellowstone carrots



The Story of the English Underground, Colonial Edition.Continued.

Chapter: Carrot.

Before carrots were orange – which is Soooooo Modern – so back in the good old Early Modern days, carrots were violet. Or black. And white. Yellow and even red. Just beginning to be seen in orange. Orange is tres Flemish and Dutch. The Dutch are very fond of Orange. Consider it Princely, even. The English, on the other hand, were fine with things they way they had always been. They were latecomers to the orange bandwagon.

Carrots color wheel- 21st AND 17th centuries






















Carrot colors are fashion – and have been for the last 400 years.

“A Carrot Sallad.

Carrots boyled and eaten with Vinegar, Oyle, and Pepper serve for a special good sallad to stirre up appetitie, and to purifie blood.”

-        1617 Wm Vaughn in Dining with William Shakespeare. Madge Lorwin.(1976)  p. 299.


Willem Frederik van Royen The Carrot 1699

Check out the World Carrot Museum. It’s on the blogroll. Totally amazing.

‘a rare kinde of sallet’

December 6th, 2012 by KM Wall

Les Cris de Paris, 1515 "my beautiful beets and my beautiful spinach"

‘Poiree’  is now translated as ‘swiss chard’, but in Cotgreve’s French/English dictionary of 1611 it is “Poiree: f. Beets, Looke Poree” – and the dictionary is search-able…..


Salad of ribs of beets

“The Italian Beete, and so likewise the last red Beete with great ribbes, are boyled, and the ribbes eaten in sallets with oyle, vinegar and pepper, and is accounted a rare kinde of sallet, and very delicate.”

-   Parkinson, John. A Garden of Pleasant Flowers. 1629. p. 490.

Beets by the basketful, November 30th

In the great minds think alike…here’s more from the New York Times

So just how did beets become both Swiss and Chard? It’s all part of …..

The Secret Life of BEEtS.

Stay tuned – it’s BEET WEEK.

‘a most excellent and delicate sallad’

December 5th, 2012 by KM Wall

Beet roots (red roman beets)

“The great red Beet or Roman Beet, boyled and eaten with oyle, vinegar and pepper, is a most excellent and delicate sallad: but what might be made of the red and beautifull root (which is to be preferred before the leaves, as well in beauty as in goodnesse) I refer to the curiouos and cunning cooke, who no doubt when he hath made view thereof, and is assured that it is both good and wholesome, will make thereof many and divers dishes both faire and good.”

-1597. John Gerard, The Herball. p. 319.

Beetroot tops, November 30th (and there's more left in this bed)

Sallet of cucumbers – recipe

September 4th, 2012 by KM Wall

The Use of Cowcumbers
Some use to cast a little salt on their sliced Cowcumbers. And let them stand halfe an houre or more in a dish, and then poure away the water that commeth from them by the salt, and after put vinegar, oyle, &c. thereon, as every one liketh: this is done, to take away the overmuch waterishness and coldness of the Cowcumbers.
In many countries they use to eate Cowcumbers as wee doe Apples or Peares: paring and giving slices of them, as we would our friends of some dainty Apple or Peare.
- Parkinson, J. Paradisi in Sole.1629, p. 524.

Drain the water, then add pepper, vinegar, oil, and a little sugar…and that’s the salad.


Eat with onions, Dragonwort, mint, rue, pepper, and other hot things.

- Butte, H. Dyets Dry Dinner, 1599.

1. The plant Dracunculus vulgaris; = dragons n.

1565–73    T. Cooper Thesaurus,   Dracontium‥Dragonwort, or dragens.

1578    H. Lyte tr. R. Dodoens Niewe Herball iii. vi. 322   It is thought‥that those which carrie about them the leaues or rootes of great Dragonwurtes, cannot be hurt nor stong of Vipers and Serpentes.

1608    E. Topsell Hist. Serpents 4   A certaine experimentall vnguent‥made of‥the rootes of Dragonwort.

Cucumber salad is one of the most requested recipes from the theme dining programs. But the very simplicity of the preparation makes it one of the most difficult to write out as a ‘recipe’.

Long years ago, when the theme dining programs were new to Plimoth Plantation, there were several menus, based on the seasons for each program. The problem was, people wanted the same food each time they booked the same program…..my, how the world has changed. But that’s how cucumbers got to be on the menu year round.

In the Pilgrim world, the season for cucumbers is about to end….a cold night or two in September kills off the vine (although this year the woodchucks and cutworm have taken a pretty good toll already).

In Thomas Tusser’s 500 Points of Husbandry (1582 edition) September is the beginning of the agricultural year. Many leases in England begin – and end – at Michaelmas, the 29th of September, so…..

Now enter Jon

Old fermer gone.

New new agricultural, new school year – what are you interested in seasoning this Autumn, this Fall of the Leaf? This is definitely the beginning of the Pilgrim time of year…..

Fish to fry or fricassee

July 13th, 2012 by KM Wall

Jakob Gilling Freshwater Fish

Of simple Fricasese.

Your simple Fricases are Egges and Collups fried, whether the Collops be of Bacon, Ling, Beefe, or young Porke, the frying whereof is to ordinarie, that is needeth not an relation, or the frying of any Flesh or Fish simple of it selfe with Butter or sweere Oyle.

- 1623. Gervase Markham. Covntry Contentment, or The English Huswife. London. p. 63.

To make a Fricace of a good Haddock or Whiting.

First seeth the fish and scum it, and pick  out the bones, take Onions and chop them small then fry them in Butter or Oyle till they be enough, and put in your fish, and frye them till it be drye, that doon : serue it forth with powder of Ginger on it.

- 1591. A.W. A Book of Cookrye. London. p. 27.

Ordinary, a fricassee is a dish of meat that is first boiled and then fried. Gervase Markham upsets this apple cart by identifying two sorts of fricassees: simple and compound. Simple fricassees for him are fried meats or fried eggs (some with meat) or plain fried fish. Tansys , fritters and pancakes and quelquechoses are what he is calling compound fricassees, none of which involve a boiling first step.

Since Plimoth is right on the ocean, ocean fish are common on Plimoth tables for half the year – the summer half. One account states that they send a boat out with 5 or 6 men in the morning, and they’re back in a few hours with enough fish to feed the town.

There will be several fish dishes on the bride-ale table on Saturday, including these two fried  dishes.

The fricassee with the powdered ginger on top is also very healthy, according to the Doctrine of Humours : the hot, dry ginger counters the effects of eating the cool, wet fish.

And the flavor is divine.

Fish Heads – references and recipes, no pictures

June 16th, 2012 by KM Wall

“When there is a great store of them[bass], we eat only their heads and salt up the bodies for winter, which exceeds ling or haberdine.”

William Wood, New Englands Prospect. 1634.Vaughn ed. p. 55


When [bass] are so large, the head of one will give a good eater a dinner, and for daintiness of diet they excel the marybones of beef.

Thomas Morton, New English Canaan. 1637.Dempsey ed. p. 84.

The reason there are so many roly-poly fish heads in New England is because  salt fish are just the bodies. After you catch it, and  scale it and garbage it, you cut the head off. Not all bits of the fish salt up well. That leaves you lots of heads to eat right away. And there’s plenty of good eating in the head of a fish. The cheeks and the jowls are well esteemed, and then and still in fishing communities.

And a little note on our two authors – Thomas Morton mentions a certain   Wooden Prospect several time with not a little disdain in his New Englands Canaan…whatever could he be referring to?

To Fry a Codshead

First cleve it in pieces and washe it cleane and fry it in Butter or Oyle. Then cut onions in rundels and so fry them, that doon put them in a vessel, and put to them red wine or vingre, salt, ginger, sinamon, cloves & mace, and boile all these well together, and then serve it upon your cods head.”

A.W.  A Booke of Cookrye . 1591.London. p. 12.

To Fry a Fish head


  • Cleve means to cut  – you might use a cleaver
  • Rundels are slices cut the round way, which make these boiled onion rings…..
  • Doon means done
  • Vinegre is vinegar, and it’s interesting to see vinegar and wine being considered interchangeable.  Usually you cut the vinegar with a little water and and a small (very small, perhaps a pinch or two) of sugar.
  • Sinamon is cinnamon – you probably figured that one out.
  • Mace is a spice that tastes like nutmeg. It actually is the outer coating of the nutmeg, so if you don’t have mace use some nutmeg instead.

Remove the gills and rinse off your fish heads, which can be cod, bass, halibut, or salmon. Seventeenth century New England cod and bass were running between 20 and 50 pounds, which is somewhat larger that what’s generally caught now. Emmanuel Altham in 1623 caught a cod of 100 pounds. Seriously larger then what’s caught now.

This recipe has you cut the head into pieces and fry that in butter or oil. Pretty simple, but if you rather not have have the fish give you the fish eye at the table, you can boil it, and then fry the meat you’ve picked off to make a fricassee.

To make the sauce: Mix together red wine or red wine vinegar (I’d add a little water to the vinegar) with spices and oil them together.  This gives the spices to mix and meld. The smell is fantastic, and would remind our English housewife of hypocryse, a spiced wine beverage. When the sauce has somewhat mellowed, and the sharp edges have boiled off the wine and the spice, pour it over the fish. Sops of bread to catch up all the sauce would not be the least bit amiss.

Eat them up, YUM.





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