Recipes and Stories

14 December 2016: Mince Pies

December 14, 2016

Tags: Mincemeat, Mince-Pies, Christmas Cookery, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Classic English Cookery, Eliza Acton

Individual Mince-pies, here cooked with a puff pastry topper instead of the usual full top crust.
A while back I was asked to—or perhaps more accurately, was cajoled into—planning and cooking a supper for a Dickensian Christmas ball earlier this month. The menu was to be drawn from Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, published in 1843. As we started to plan, the first heady morsel from the text to tease our imaginations, and the first name to pass our lips was “mince-pies.” Mentioned at least twice, these pastries were, back then, the very essence of Christmas and to this day remain an iconic symbol of holiday feasting.

There would, therefore, be mince-pies on the dessert board. (more…)

2 May 2013: Asparagus Season

May 2, 2013

Tags: Asparagus, Spring Cooking, Classic French Cooking, Entremet, Eliza Acton, Classical Southern Cooking

Newly gathered asparagus, kept fresh for the table in a vase of water.
A glance through cookbooks of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries might give the casual reader the impression that our ancestors played a one note theme when it came to asparagus. (more…)

31 March 2012: Mulligatawny

April 1, 2012

Tags: Shannon Hayes, Eliza Acton, William Kitchiner, Mulligatawny, Historical Cooking

Mulligatawny, as interpreted by Shannon Hayes in her forthcoming cookbook
One never knows what will catch the imagination and send one down the rabbit hole of history. Over the last few months, it has been my privilege to edit a lovely little cookbook called A Long Way on a Little, written by friend and colleague Shannon Hayes, a farming food writer from upstate New York whose family farm specializes in all natural, pasture-raised animals. (more…)