The Receipt Book of Lady Anne Blencowe

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Click to enlarge A book of cookery and medicinal recipes collected and recorded by Lady Anne Blencowe towards the end of the seventeenth century, with 43 of the cookery recipes interpreted for today's use by Christina Stapley. The medicinal recipes are largely unsuitable for use in this century. However, for easy and interesting reading in this section of the book, the unusual ingredients are detailed, some of their sources are given and medical thought of the time is explained as necessary.

The only previous edition being 1925 with only a foreword to guide the reader, this new edition brings Lady Anne's recipes and times to life for the first full appreciation of the rich flavours and elegance Lady Anne offered her family and guests. The work sprang from a chance meeting between Christina Stapley who was already using the 1925 edition recipes at historical workshops and descendants of Lady Anne. Jack Blencowe has drawn the unique combination of Lady Anne's original format and words and Christina's interpretation of individual recipes for the modern cook and well-researched explanations together.

The Blencowe family have been deeply involved in the development of the book with Peter Blencowe writing the foreword, giving a family background to Lady Anne and his writing together with Jack's footnotes provide explanations for the identity of some of the recipe contributors.

At 7.50 this hard-back book is an excellent value gift for anyone interested either in cookery, history or both.

Although the format of the book has been retained, a second, ordered Contents list offers an easy guide to cooks of recipes for today. These are divided into cakes and biscuits, desserts, savoury dishes, preserves and drinks. For samples of the interpreted cookery recipes see below.

Extract page 32.
To Make Bisketts, Mrs. B.'s way.

Take a pound of fine powder shugar, put it into a stone morter & brake into it 5 egges, leaving out 2 whites. Then beat them very well & put in 6 spoon- fuls of Rose watter, & beat it very well againe till all ye lumps be broken, & then strike in by degrees a pound of fine flower, wanting 3 spoonfuls, & beat all together for half an houer, or not so much if your Ovon be hott. Let your Ovon be heating all ye while, if not before you go about them. When your ovon is hott, put in 2 spoonfuls of caraway seeds or ye pell of a Lemon greated & put a spoonfull into a plate, being butterred, & scrape over them a littil fine sugar when it gos in. As soone as they are a littill yellow, cut them out. If you lay them when warm it will be ye better.

This recipe is reminiscent of one for Prince Bisket in Sir Hugh Platt's Delights for Ladies published in 1603. To the modern cook, it may be appreciated as a very light biscuit, towards the flavour of a macaroon, despite the absence of almonds. Very tasty.

1/4 lb (120g) golden caster sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons of rosewater
4oz (120g) white self raising flour less 3/4 dessertspoonful, ground caraway, or grated lemon peel and caraway seeds (optional)

Beat the eggs well with the sugar, then add the rose- water and beat again. Add the sieved flour steadily and beat all together for half an hour, or 3-5 minutes in an electric mixer. Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground caraway, or the grated lemon peel. Ladle 1/2 dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto a well greased or lined tray, with a little sugar sprinkled on each. If using lemon peel, a few pounded caraway seeds can be sprinkled on top of biscuits. Put into a moderate oven (170oC for fan assisted) on a low shelf for 10-12 minutes - until golden.

Extract page 84
To make Petty Pattys
(Mrs. Barnardiston)

Take the breast of a fowl or Turkey, mince it very fine, with the marrow of one bone, a few Crumbs of bread, a little Parcely and thime, some peper & salt, & a little onion. Mix all these together with an Egg as for forst meat, then bake them in the smallest patty pans you have, in puff paste, & before you send them to Table cut the tops off, and put in a little gravy. To be eat hot.

12oz (340g) minced turkey breast
3 small slices of brown bread
1 teaspoon of fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 medium onion
2 eggs
1lb (450g) puff pastry

Mix the meat, breadcrumbs, herbs and finely chopped onion together; season with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs and add sufficient to bind the ingredients together. Save a little to paint onto the pastry case before it goes into the oven.

Roll out the puff pastry and line small bun tins or a larger dish, leaving sufficient to lay over the top. Fill the pastry cases and seal the puff pastry lids with the egg you have set on one side. Paint the top of each patty with egg and cook at 170oC for 40-50 minutes in a fan-assisted oven. Following Mrs. Barnidston's instruction, remove the lids just before serving and pour in a little gravy.

These are very tasty and suitable for serving for a light meal with salad.

The physic recipes are as fascinating as the cookery is delicious. However, most are not to be tried at home.

Recipe to make ye Green Ointment that cured Lady Probyn's Coachman's back
(Mrs. Lethiculear)

Take of Sage and Rue of each one handfull, of wormwood and bay leaves, each half a pound. Gather these in the heat of the Day. They must be unwashed and Shread small. And take a pound and half of sheep suet and stamp it with the herbs untill they be all of one couler; put it in a pint and half of the best Sallet Oil, and stir them well together, and put it in a pot and stop it close up, and let it stand nine days. Then boil it till the strength of the herbs be gon, and take care in boiling that, you doe not burn it. And when it is boil'd put in an ounce and half of Oil of spike, and keep it for your use. It is good for all manner of wounds, bruises, burns and sprains. The best time to make it is in may.

This is a typical early ointment for treating muscular Aches and pains. Wormwood is no longer commonly Used in external applications. Handling rue can produce a long-lasting blistering rash. I have previously made recipes with sage, bay and lavender and have found these very comforting and analgesic. Oil of spike would be a rather powerful lavender oil.

The Emulsion
Spermaciti, one Drachm, Nitre, half a Drachm, fine Sugar, two or three Drachms. Beat all these together with the Yolk of an Egg, then gradually add near half a pint of Barley water. Give two spoonfulls Every two or three hours.

Spermaceti is described by Quincy as more properly Oleum Ceti being an oil from the head of a particular sort of whale. He recommends it as safe and effectual in coughs, pleurisies and dysentery. Nitre, or salt- petre seems to have been imported largely from India for medicine, Quincy suspects it to have been obtained from the excrement of a large fowl. He writes it has greater repute as a universal medicine abroad.

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