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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALEX BEECROFT
In the 18th Century, the Christmas season didn’t start until the 25th of December. But then it went on until the 6th of January, where it ended with a massive 12th Night Feast.
Follow the link on the picture for a fantastic article about exactly how massive a good Georgian feast might be. Suffice it to say, if we think we know anything about stuffing our faces these days, we don’t have anything on the Georgians.
These days we tend to start celebrating earlier and stop earlier. But when chocolates and turkey sandwiches start to pall, why not try bringing back some 18th Century opulence (and oddness) to your festive season with these recipes:
A Sack Posset, or what is called the Snow Posset
Boil a Chopin of Cream or Milk with Cinnamon and Nutmeg; then beat the Yolks of ten Eggs and mix them with a little cold Milk; then by Degrees mix them with the Cream; stir it on the Fire till it is scalding hot; sweeten it to your Taste; put in your Dish a Mutchkin of Sack, with some sugar and Nutmeg; set it on a Pot of boiling Water, and when the Wine is hot, let one take the Cream and another the Whites of the Eggs and pour them both in holding your Hands high, and stirring all together while it is on the Fire; when it is scalding hot, take it off, cover it, and let it stand a while before you send it to Table. The Whites must be beaten with a little Sack.
To Make a Hedge-hog.
Blanch and beat a Pound of Almonds very fine, with a Spoonful of Sack or Orange-flower Water, to keep them from oiling; make it into a stiff Paste, then beat six Eggs and put two Whites, sweeten it with fine sugar, then put in half a Mutchkin of Cream and a Quarter of a Pound of beat Butter, set it on your Stove and keep it stirring til it is stiff, that you make it into the Shape of a Hedge-hog, then stick it full of blanched Almonds cut in Straws; set them on it like the Bristles, with two Currants plump’d for Eyes; then place it in the Middle of the Dish, and boil some Cream; put in it the Youlks of two Eggs, and sweeten it to your Taste; put it on a slow Fire and when it is scalding hot take it off; you must keep it stirring all the while; when it is cold put it about the Hedge-hog.
Slice the Apricocks the long Way, but not pare them; take their Weight of double refined sugar, boil it to a thin Candy, put in the Apricocks and let them stand on the Fire till they are scalding hot; let them ly a Night in the Liquor, then lay them on thin Plates and set them in the Sun to dry.
To Make Shrub
Take five English Gallons of Rum, three Chopins of Orange and Lemon juice, and four Pounds of double refined Sugar; mix all together, but first pare the Rind of some of the Lemons and Oranges, and let them infuse in the Rum for six Hours: Let all run through a Jelly bag, then cask it till it is fine, and bottle it.
All these recipes are from “A New and Easy Method of Cookery” by Elizabeth Cleland, published in 1755.
Or, if that’s a little too much in one go, here is a modern recipe for Lemon Shrub from the wonderful “Lobscouse and Spotted Dog” by Ann Grossman and Lisa Thomas:
Zest of 1 Lemon,
three-quarters a cup of sugar
Half a cup of lemon juice,
2 cups of rum
Combine all the ingredients, stir well, bottle and set aside in a cool place. It will be ready to drink after about a week.
To serve, mix 2-3 parts boiling water to 1 part Shrub.
You could always add some orange zest and juice, in honour of Elizabeth Cleland’s recipe. I think I’m going to have a go with this one myself :)
1 Mutchkin = 16.1 fluid ounces
1 Chopin = 32.1 fl oz
Advent Calendar Giveaway!
I have an ebook to give away. Your choice of the ebook of Captain’s Surrender, or Hidden Conflict to the first person to tell me what spice I’m thinking of adding to my shrub when I make it.