Tagged ‘pastry’

Sweet! Potato Pie

November 24th, 2013 by KM Wall
Potato illustration from John Gerard The Herbal

Potato illustration from John Gerard The Herbal

To make a Potato Pie.
Boyl your Spanish Potaoes (not overmuch) cut them forth in slices as thick as your thumb, season them with Nutmeg, Cinamon, Ginger, and Sugar; your Coffin being ready, put them in, over the bottom, add to them the Marrow of about three Marrow-bones, seasoned as aforesaid, a handful of stoned Raisons of the Sun, some quartred Dates, Orangado, Cittern, with Ringo-root sliced, put butter over it, and bake them: let their lear be a little Vinegar, Sack and Sugar, beaten up with the yolk of an Egg, and a little drawn Butter; when your Pie is enough, pour in, shake it together, scrape on Sugar, garnish it, and serve it up.
- 1661. William Rabisha. The Whole Body of Cookery, Dissected. London.

John Gerard with potato flowers in the frontispiece of The Herbal

John Gerard with potato flowers in the frontispiece of The Herbal

Now, about this pie……

Although sweet potato pie is much more of a mainstay in the South, but pies made from potatoes go back to the 17th century in England.

And not a marshmallow to be found.

  1. Boil the potatoes. Last winter, in the Hardcore Hearth Cooking Workshop, we boiled five pounds of sweet potatoes. Boil them whole so that they don’t get waterlogged. Drain, cool, and peel.
  2. Slice them as thick as tour thumb…I took this to mean in one inch slices – larger chunks versus smaller bits. There’s still some cooking to come, and you don’t want paste.
  3. Powder your spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, sugar – sounds an awful lot like pumpkin pie spice……
  4. Put the spices and sugared potato slices in a pastry lined dish, like this:
  5. Sweet potato, spices in pastry lined dish for pie - Debra Samuels  photo credit

    Sweet potato, spices in pastry lined dish for pie – Debra Samuels photo credit

  6. If you have marrow from marrow bones, add it now. If you do not have marrow, do not panic – add some generous dollops of butter.
  7. Add raisins of the sun without there stones (thank you seedless grapes that make seedless raisin!); quartered dates – it’s 5 pounds of potatoes, be generous.
  8. Orangeo, cittern and eringo root are probably not on your shelf…leave them out – a little grated orange rind or candied orange peel would not be amiss. Add a little more butter on the top to melt down   on the whole thing, put on the top crust and cut a vent in the center.
  9. Bake. Start at 450 and turn the oven down to 375 after 10 or 15 minutes (you know your oven better then I do). The top should be golden brown and the insides should smell GLORIOUS….but wait, we’re not done yet….this is the part that puts it over the top
  10. When the pie pan is cool enough to lift, beat and egg yolk with some sack wine, sugar, a little vinegar and drawn butter . Pour this lear into the vent hole, and shake it up . Another word for this is to shog it – sprinkle some sugar on the top, and serve.


Modern Sweet Potato Pie seems a little plain after the 17th century version...

Modern Sweet Potato Pie seems a little plain after the 17th century version…

Sweet Potato Pie - music to cook by?

Sweet Potato Pie – music to cook by?

Another group with an album Sweet Potato Pie

Another group with an album Sweet Potato Pie








Sweet Potato Pie - Brand New Day

Sweet Potato Pie – Brand New Day

Gala Pie

August 22nd, 2013 by KM Wall

In looking over pies, and seeking out images, I came across an English pie called a Gala Pie. And since tonight is Plimoth Plantation’s Many Hands Gala, it seemed too perfect to be true.

Gala Pie is a true thing, and an English thing, it’s just not a 17th century thing.


Because Gala Pie is a delightful thing.

Gala Pie - how to make - secret hard boiled egg placement - the hint is to mark the pie pan so you know where to cut

Gala Pie – how to make – secret hard boiled egg placement – the hint is to mark the pie pan so you know where to cut so it looks as if there is one egg going all around OR make the tube egg

Gala Pie is essentially a pork pie with hard boiled egg in the middle. Some will separate the yolks from the white, put all the beaten yolks in a tube and cook them and  then put the cooked yolk in a larger tube with the whites and cook them to make a giant tube egg, which you then put in the the center of the pie so that everyone gets the same view of the endless egg….this is exactly the sort of play with your food trick that would delight our 17th century housewives and husbandmen.

The Guardian has a picture by picture story, which is where these picture came from.

The finished Gala Pie

The finished Gala Pie

Gala Pie is really just a dolled up pork pie.

Pork Pie hat

Pork Pie hat

Not that pork pie….more like this220px-Pork_pie

 In the 17th century, there were also pork pies with hard boiled eggs….keep in mind that bacon can mean fresh pork, as well as salted pork.

To bake a gammon of Bacon.

Take your Bacon and boyle it, and stuffe it with Parcely and Sage, and yolks of hard Egges, and when it is boyled, stuffe it and let it boyle againe, season it with Pepper, cloves and mace, whole cloves stick fast in, so then lay it in your paste with salt butter.

1591 .A.W  Book Of Cookrye.


 and for another version that starts out exactly the same, and then ends a little differently……

For to bake a Gammon of Bacon.

Boyle your gammon of Bacon and stuffe it with Parsley and Sage, and yolks of hard Egs, and when it is boyled, stuffe it and let it boyle againe, season it with Pepper, Cloues, and Mace, sticke whole Cloues fast in it: Then lay it so in your paste with salte butter, and so bake it.

1597. The good Huswifes handmaide for the Kitchin

For a slightly different version…..

A gammon of bacon pie.

Take a gammon of bacon and only wash it clean, and then boil it on a soft gentle fire till it be boiled as tender as possible, ever and anon fleeting it clean, that by all means it may be boil white: then take off the sward, and farce it very well with all manner of sweet and pleasant farcing herbs: the strew store of pepper over it, and prick it thick with cloves: then lay it into a coffin made of the same proportion, and lay good store of butter, that as it melts, the pepper may fall upon the bacon: then cover it, and make the proportion of a pig’s head in paste upon it, and then bake it as you bake red deer, or things of the like nature, only the paste would be wheat meal.

Markham, The English Housewife, Best ed. p. 101.

Gastronomica Winter 2011 cover - gold plated pig head, not a pastry one.

Gastronomica Winter 2011 cover – gold plated pig head, not a pastry one.


From fruit of the sea to fruit of the tree…

August 11th, 2013 by KM Wall

Before you can be “As American as Apple Pie”  you need to

  1. have apples to make said pies from and
  2. be American.

In 1627 they’re neither appled nor American. Apple trees will first. Then Apples. Pies….and 149 years later….much ado  about a Tea Party.

I’m starting fruit pies with a fruit that is known in England and is being grown in North America – but not by Englishmen.

The Orange.

Florida Orange Tree

Florida Orange Tree

The orange isn’t an English fruit, although they’re might fond of it. The orange is from Spain (as far as most Englishmen are concerned) and Seville in Spain at that. These are bitter oranges.

Not mean and nasty, no good thing to say about anyone bitter, but not sweet.  These are not hand-fruit, after-school snack variety of oranges. These are oranges that need a little sugar in their lives.

Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose, 1633 Francisco de Zurbarán Spanish, 1598-1664 Oil on canvas 24-1/2 x 43-1/8 in. (62.2 x 109.5 cm) The Norton Simon Foundation

Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose, 1633
Francisco de Zurbarán
Spanish, 1598-1664
Oil on canvas
24-1/2 x 43-1/8 in. (62.2 x 109.5 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation

The Spanish start colonizing in North America about 100 years before the Pilgrims arrive. And bring oranges to Florida. Which do so well that Englishmen in the 18th century (still not American) find them growing and assume that they are a native species. The oranges, not the Spanish, that is.

I rather have oranges on the brain because 1) I found three 16th century recipes for to bake orenges (a spelling I’m starting to prefer) and 2) I’ve seen Much Ado About Nothing twice in as many weeks and there’s a wonderful orange line in it.

Much Ado About Nothing quarto

Much Ado About Nothing quarto



Beatrice. The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.

The civil orange is the Seville orange.

Citrus aurantium - Bitter or Seville orange

Citrus aurantium – Bitter or Seville orange

Plimoth Cinema brought one Much Ado….Amy Acker was great as Beatrice

Much Ado - the movie

Much Ado – the movie

And The Plimoth Players are presenting Much Ado (Live) as part of The Summer Shakespeare Series. Repertory performances will begin on Wednesday, August 7th with Much Ado About Nothing at 8:00 p.m. Thereafter Much Ado About Nothing will be performed on Wednesday and Friday nights. As You Like It will be performed on Thursday and Saturday nights. The two plays run through August with a final performance of As You Like It on August 31st at 8:00 p.m. You can buy tickets online through the Plimoth Plantation website.

Back to oranges, civil and otherwise.

Oranges were among the foods available to people to eat while taking in a theater  performance in the 17th century. Orange wenches become somewhat common by the end of the 17th century in England – except for Nell Gwynne, who ends up with the King…..


Oranges and Pies. Of the three recipes, this is the simplest, the most direct and the most likely to be attempted in a modern kitchen.

How to bake Orenges.
Faire peele your Orenges, and pick away all the white that is under the peele, and so lay them in fine paste, and put into them Sugar, very little Sinamon or none at all, but a little Ginger and bake them very leisurely.
1591 .A.W Book  of  Cookrye


Oranges with blossoms

Oranges with blossoms


Happy First Thanksgiving !

August 6th, 2013 by KM Wall

August sixth is the anniversary of the First Thanksgiving.  No, not THAT First Thanksgiving, what with 1621 being a little more then 150 years in our past, but the first declaration of a National Thanksgiving. In these United States.

We can thank old Honest Abe for this, and for his repeating the whole Thanksgiving thing again in November of 1863, beginning the holiday that we all know and love and cook too much and eat our fill and more on.

Abraham Lincoln in 1863

Abraham Lincoln in 1863

The confusion lies in that thanksgiving is a concept as well as a holiday. So, giving thanks is something that goes back long before 1621 and is practiced by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. Secular holidays are really a product of the modern era, and get their start in the early modern era. For Europeans – and Englishmen are European regardless of the whole island thing -  holidays – that is Holy Days - go back to the medieval (make that Roman Catholic) Church. The quarter days and cross quarter days that divide up the calendar are holidays, every one, starting with the start of the year March 25 which is Ladymas, through Christmas and onto Candlemas.

So, what happens when people protest the form of the Church, and try to reform it, to purify it? They start to ditch the holidays….but when do they get to get together and celebrate, rejoice, let off some steam?

Oops. Major Glitch.

In England, some start to celebrate Elizabeth’s Coronation – her Crownaton Day (November 17) on a regular basis after her coronation. A state holiday is born! Under James I there is his (and Parliaments) salvation from certain death and destruction by gunpowder with November 5th being a day of thanksgiving.

Gunpowder Plot conspirators - burn the Guy!

Gunpowder Plot conspirators – burn the Guy!

Gunpowder Plot Day being celebrated in England 2010

Gunpowder Plot Day being celebrated in England 2010

And because August is all things piewise….well, Thanksgiving and pie isn’t much of a leap. There are the usual suspects  – apple, pumpkin, cranberry, mince – but today it’s about

Chicken Pie.

Chicken Pie shows up in 19th century Thanksgiving tables, and chicken pie show up on 17th century tables…..


 To bake a chicken pie.

To bake a chicken pie: after you have trussed your chickens, broken their legs and breast bones, and raised your crust of the best paste,  you shall lay them in the coffin close together with their bodies full of butter. Then lay upon them, and underneath them, currants, great raisins, prunes, cinnamon, sugar, whole mace, and salt: then cover all with great store of butter, and so bake it; after, pour into it the same liquor as you did your marrow bone pie, with the yolks of two or three eggs beaten amongst it, and so serve it forth.

-1631. Gervase Markham. The English Housewife , Best ed. p. 100.

Note: marrow bone pie liquor: ….white wine, rose-water, sugar, cinnamon, and vinegar mixed together….

Chickens – plural – once again indicates tiny birds. Truss is to tie them up. Breaking the bones release the marrow which makes a richer pie. It also makes it messier by 21st century standards, what with jagged bone bits and all. There is also something that is both primitive and goofy about beating a dead chicken in the kitchen.  Make raised coffins – and don’t forget a vent hole in the lid on it. Fill their bodies with butter (use your judgement – a good housewife should not be butter fingered – HA ) and surround them with raisins, currents (the dried ones, not the fresh ones) and prunes (now labeled dried plums, which they are, but still…) and cinnamon and sugar and salt and whole mace – if you don’t have a blade or two of mace to drop in, a little ground nutmeg will sub. More Butter! Put a lid on it (don’t forget the vent hole) and bake  long enough for the chicken to be done. Mix up the liquor – 2 or 3 beaten egg  yolk, some white wine, some rosewater, sugar cinnamon and vinegar. This is going to mix and mingle with the fruit, spice and BUTTER that’s already in the pie. Pour it into the pie.

Let cool enough before serving for the the sauce to settle (those egg yolks will cook in the hot butter and chicken juices) and not squirt hot butter all over the place – and you. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Serve it forth and be thankful.


Chicken Pie

Chicken Pie – thoroughly modern


Proclamation 103 – Day of Thanksgiving, Praise, and Prayer, August 6, 1863
July 15, 1863

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people and to vouchsafe to the Army and the Navy of the United States victories on land and on the sea so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored. But these victories have been accorded not without sacrifices of life, limb, health, and liberty, incurred by brave, loyal, and patriotic citizens. Domestic affliction in every part of the country follows in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father and the power of His hand equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows:

Now, therefore, be it known that I do set apart Thursday, the 6th day of August next, to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise, and prayer, and I invite the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship and in the forms approved by their own consciences render the homage due to the Divine Majesty for the wonderful things He has done in the nation’s behalf and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the length and breadth of our land all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation through the paths of repentance and submission to the divine will back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 15th day of July, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State .



Another either/or Pie

August 4th, 2013 by KM Wall

I like the concept of the either/or. ..which isn’t exactly what they’re called in the Early Modern period, but when you look at a lot of pies, you start to see patterns.

One pattern -  four and twenty blackbirds aren’t the ONLY birds to go into pie. Chicken – especially Chicken Pot Pie is one  bird pie that’s still relatively common. And near Thanksgiving, turkey pie. But there are all sorts of birds that were a little more common in the 17th century that just aren’t on our tables in any form.

To bake a Crane or a Bustard. Perboyle him a litle, then Larde him with sweet Lard, and put him in the coffin. Take Pepper and salt a good quantitie, and season them together, and cast vpon it. Then take Butter, and put in the coffin, let it bake three houres.

1594, 1597. The good Huswifes handmaide for the Kitchin.


Common Cranes - no longer quite so common

Common Cranes – no longer quite so common – at least on tables or in cookbooks

The Crane just doesn’t make it into cookbooks anymore. They’re  not endangered or even on a watch list. A quick internet search finds more queries for recipes – usually for the Common Crane cousin, the Sandhill Crane – then for the recipes themselves.  Good to know that a parboil, some grease, a little salt and pepper and then some butter, pop it in a pastry and then a hot oven and you’re good to go.

Common cranes

Common cranes

The Bustard also doesn’t make it into cookbooks much these days, but for a different reason – the great Bustard IS on watch lists.


Great Bustad - in a zoo setting

Great Bustard – in a zoo setting, sitting


Great Bustard

Great Bustard – Otis tarda

The last great Bustard in England (they’re a European/Asian bird, not an  American one) died over a hundred years ago, in the mid nineteenth century. There are still some in Russia, but not many.

Bustard is often an either/or with another bird, one we’re more familiar with – the Turkey. What do the Bustard and the turkey have in common?

Bustard - notice that tail feather display! Where ELSE do we see that?

Bustard – notice that tail feather display! Where ELSE do we see that?

Proud Turkey

Proud Turkey


A little more chewet

February 26th, 2013 by KM Wall

A chewet

Two, two chewets

Two chewets and a coffee mug - a scale image. In Robert May the chewets look like soup cans. If they had had soup cans in the 17th century.

Four chewets on a plate. I somehow missed three.

Hen and a chick in a hen house. Catch, cut, pluck, clean, roast and use in the pies.


February 25th, 2013 by KM Wall

My little pie maker - this is not an endorsement - doesn't it look like a muffin tin????

A chewet pie.
Take the brawns and the wings of capons and chickens after they have been roasted, and pull away the skin; then shred them with fine mutton suet very small; then season it with cloves, mace, cinnamon, sugar, and salt;then put to raisins of the sun and currants, and sliced dates, and orange peels, and, being well mixed together, put it into small coffins made for that purpose, and strew on top of them good store of caraway comfits: then cover them, and bake them with a gentle heat, and these chewets you may make also of roasted veal, seasoned as before shown and all parts of the loin is the best.
-Markham,G. The English Housewife, Best ed, p. 103

  1. Roasted chicken or capon – there’s no reason to avoid a store rotisserie bird  – pull off the skin and shred the meat. Or use roasted veal., should you have some of that around.
  2. Mutton suet is pretty hard to find these days, and we’d probably prefer less fat – a little butter would do, but out chicken are also pretty fat…
  3. Season the chicken with spices – it should smell good and taste great, and a little cloves goes a long, long, way
  4. Raisins of the sun, little tiny currents, (the Plymouth County girl in me wants to say ‘Crasin’. Just saying.)Sliced dates or chopped if you got ‘em
  5. Orange peels  – you might want to grate this.
  6. Mix it all together. Smell and taste.
  7. Make pastry for the coffins (it’s not hard, and these are little pies). If you don’t trust your pastry skills, use one of the several little pie makers on the market or the Texas size muffin tins to act as your forms.
  8. Roll, fill.
  9. Add caraway comfits, which are caraway seeds coated with sugar, or just use regular old caraway seeds. I know at least one of you is thinking, “Caraway in German is Kummel, in Yiddish…..” Yes, you are.
  10. Put on the lids, crimp.
  11. Bake – 350°ish  until the pastry is nice and done (the chicken is already cooked, no danger of raw chicken)
  12. Chewet. Chewet, Good.

another sort of little pie maker...also not an endorsement

Idolatry in a crust

December 20th, 2012 by KM Wall

A modern mince pie

Mincemeat, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, was in fact, minced meat. Usually beef, sometime mutton, occasionally veal. Not just the meaty bits we now buy – sometimes tongue as well. But meat alone isn’t mincemeat. It also had copious amounts of raisins (a/k/a ‘raisins of the sunne’) and currents and sometimes dates and prunes, as well as generous amounts of spices and sugar. The weight of the dried fruit might equal or exceed the weight of the meat, and in the 1620 the raisins were much more expensive per ounce then the meat was.
Suet isn’t something we cook much with any more, but fat is another component of the mince pie. The fat is what makes it rich. During the 1700′s butter starts to come in as the fat of choice, and by the 20th century seems to be more common.
If I were making this mincemeat at home (and I have) I would take three pounds of beef, one to one and a half pounds of butter, three pounds of dried fruit, all cut small and well mixed (and be grateful that I don’t have to pick stems off the raisins and take the stones out of them) with some orange peel (two or three oranges worth – well washed, preferably organically grown oranges). Salt, pepper, cloves (this can be strong – not too much) and mace (or nutmeg if you have that – they have a very similar flavor profile). Put it into pastry – you can use pie pans if you want, sprinkle more sugar on top and bake them in your oven.
If you want to risk idolatry, make little rectangle pies and have them symbolize the manger where the Christ child was born. If you don’t want to fall into idolatry, make little rectangle pies just because they’re fun. You could even use frozen puff pastry and ‘let your soul delight in fatness’. And if you want to be thoroughly superstitious, go out on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas to a different house and eat a mince pie in each one to have good luck for each of the twelve months in the year ahead.

Secret Life of Beets:Lumdardy Tarts Revisited

December 10th, 2012 by KM Wall

So, back to Lumdardy tarts…..

If beets are as likely the leafy green, what is a lumdardy? Years later, even after an update and revision and going on-line, the closest the OED gets to Lumdardy is Lumbard – is this a case of close enough?


4.Cookery. [ellipt.: see B. 2.] Some kind of dish or culinary preparation. Obs.

1657REEVEGod’s Plea 130 The Hoga’s, and Olies, and Lumbards of these times.

Not terribly descriptive….but there’s more:

2.Cookery. In certain AF. names of dishes as leche lumbard (see LEACHn.1 2); frutour lumbard [frutour = FRITTER]; rys lumbard [F. ris sweetbread]. Also in lombard pie (see LUMBER-PIE).

?c1390 [see LEACHn.1 2]. c1430Two Cookery-bks. 35 Leche lumbarde. 1452Reliq. Ant. I. 88 Frutour lumbert..Lesshe lumbert. 1466-7Durh. Acct. Rolls (Surtees) 91 Et in 2 lib. dell powderlomberd empt. de eodem, 3s. 3d. 14..Anc. Cookery in Househ. Ord. (1790) 438 Rys Lumbarde.Leche Lumbarde.

So on to Lumber-pie…


Also lumbar-pie. [See LOMBARDa. 2.]

A savoury pie made of meat or fish and eggs.

1656 MARNETTÈ Perf. Cook II. 1 To make a Lumbar Pye. Take three pound of Mutton [etc.]. 1663 in Jupp Acc. Carpenters’ Comp. (1848) 206 It is..ordered..that the provision be as followeth; vizt..Roast Turkey, Lumberpie, Capon, Custurd, and codling tart. 1688R. HOLMEArmoury III. 83/1 Lumber pie, made of Flesh or Fish minced and made in Balls..with Eggs..and so Baked in a Pye with Butter. 1694MOTTEUXRabelais (1737) IV. lix. 243 Lumber-Pyes, with hot Sauce. 17..E. SMITHCompl. House wife (1750) 150 To make a Lumber pye. Take a pound and a half of veal, &c. 1849W. H. AINSWORTHLanc. Witches III. ix, There were lumbar pies, marrow pies, quince pies [etc.].

Still unclear, but….one never knows what causes light to dawn over Marblehead….

Hit the books – check. Now it’s time to get back into the kitchen.

So, beets as a leafy green – check . Grated bread still seems to be breadcrumbs – check.

Cheese – what would cheese be????

One named cheese that comes up from time to time is variations of ‘Parmysent‘ – Parmesan? The same cheese I would shake over my spaghetti and meatballs at school lunch? The same cheese I now buy in wedges and save the rinds to add to my pasta fazoole? It would fit the pattern of the so-called ‘Old Cheese‘ that is also sometimes mentioned.

This combination of Swiss Chard, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese sounds vague familiar…what does it remind me of?

Lets cut some beets and go back to the kitchen…..

Beets, cut November 30th...


How to make Lumbardy Tarts

Take beets, chop them small, and to them put grated bread and cheese, and mingle them wel in the chopping.  Take a few corrans, and a dishe of sweet butter, and melt it.  Then stir al these in the butter, together with three yolkes of egges, sinamon, ginger, and sugar, and make your tart as large as you will, and fill it with the stuffe, bake it, and serve it in.

1588. The Good Huswifes Handemaide


And now my translation:


One bunch swiss chard

Breadcrumbs (plain)

Grated Parmesan cheese

Currants or raisins


3 egg yolks





Pastry for a top and bottom for a 9 or 10 inch pie.

Wash and dry the Swiss chard carefully. Pull of any sad or buggy bits. Cut off the stems and save for a side dish. Chop the leafy parts very small, nothing larger then ½ square.

Melt 2 – 4 tablespoons of butter; when somewhat cool beat the 3 egg yolks. Toss the butter/egg yolk mix with the chopped Swiss chard. Add enough breadcrumbs so sop up all the liquid (two or three handfuls – it depends on the size of your eggs and the how juicy the Swiss chard). Add enough grated cheese to make it smell good (it depends on how strong your cheese and how much you like it). Add a handful of raisins. If you like things sweet add one or two more handfuls. Mix together ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ginger and ½ teaspoon sugar. Mix everything all together. Smell it and decide – more cinnamon? More ginger? Make it good!

Put this lovely stuff in a pastry lined pie pan and cover with a top crust. Cut some vents for the steam to escape. Bake in a 375 oven for ½ hour. Turn down the heat to 350 until it is done – the pastry should be golden brown-tan and the filling should be a darker, denser green and it should smell wonderful.

Cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature.


Jan Steen - The Fat Kitchen (notice the woman eating the pie with her fingers!)

The minute the cheese and the Swiss Chard were mixed together it hit me – tortellini. It smelled like tortellini. If the cinnamon and ginger  were nutmeg….Could Lumdary Tart be a giant early modern English tortellini? Oh, the mysteries of of food. Oh, the power of smell to invoke memory.

Here in Plymouth now, talk  of tortellini  means  it must be getting close to Christmas…..and so it is.

Humble Pie

December 1st, 2012 by KM Wall

To make a Pye of Humbles.
Take your humbles being perboiled, and choppe them verye small with a good quantitye of Mutton sewet, and halfe a handfull of hearbes folowing, time, margarom, borage, perseley, and a little rosemary, and season the same being choped, with pepper, cloves and mace, and so close your pye and bake him.
-Thomas Dawson . The good huswifes Iewell. p. 14

Perboiled is throughly boiled – it comes from a different root word then par, which is partial; sewet is suet – although why mutton and not some other….; thyme, marjoram, borage, parsley, and rosemary are the herbs; close your pie means you’ve made a bottom crust and now you’re putting on the lid.

Willem Clausz Heda 'Banquet Piece with Mince Pie

The National Gallery of Art is home to great collections. Humble pie is essentially a sort of mince pie.

But what exactly ARE humbles? This next recipe is a little more explicit.

Take ye humbles of a deere, or a calves heart, or pluck, or sheeps heart; perboyle it, & when it is colde, shred it small with beefe suet, & season it with cloves, mace nutmeg, & ginger beaten small; & mingle with it currans, verges & salt; put all into ye pie & set it in the oven an houre; then take it out, cut it up & put in some claret wine, melted butter & sugar beat together. then cover it a little & serve it.
-Hess, Karen, ed. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery. Columbia University Press: New York. 1981. p. 93, # C64.

Humbles are a collective of the inward bits, sometimes called numbles or umbles. Pluck is also organ meat. There are several painting that have lungs and heart hanging together, so I’ve always thought of them as more pluck-ish then other combinations, but  I realize that might just be my emotional read on the situation, not a documented historical one.

And as for the phrase “to eat humble pie”  meaning to be apologetic coming from some sense that the peasants had be eating humbles because they were in humble circumstances….totally confusing the numble of the inward parts with humility….here’s Queen Elizabeth I retrieving some humbles for a little pie of her own. Nothing peasant or humble here.

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