In the Kitchen with Scratch

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For The Bod of Avon wrap party Scratch promised “some genuine Elizabethan delicacies, a Shakespeare-inspired cocktail (probably hot), and some genuine English beer.”

As it turned out, the beer was a challenge. Our local liquor store has a vast selection of beers from small New England breweries, which is normally a good thing. And plenty of German and Irish imports. And many varieties of hard cider. But Scratch wanted English beer. We finally found some Newcastle brown ale.

The cocktail was inspired by the gossip’s bowl, mentioned in both Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer’s Night Dream, a hot beverage of ale & cider with roasted apples floating in it. Scratch’s version was soft cider, Shipyard Applehead beer, Jack Daniels (it was supposed to be bourbon, but the Maker’s Mark was mysteriously absent from the liquor cabinet), lemon juice, honey, grated fresh ginger, grated fresh nutmeg, all warmed together. The drink was garnished with dried apple rings (homemade).

The food was a fun project. It had to be Elizabethan, not weird (my offer of pickled herring & fruit pie was struck down), easy to make for a group, and basically finger food. Also, mostly savory because we knew guests were going to bring stuff and a lot of it was going to be dessert.

The first item was hedgehogs. No, not actual hedgehogs, but small meatballs that look like prickly little beasts. The original recipe is in Middle English and involves a pig’s stomach and spit roasting. This is Scratch’s very loose interpretation. As he tends to cook in a loose interpretive style, I don’t have a formal recipe for you.

He started with about 2 pounds total of ground beef, pork, and veal (heavy on the pork) and seasoned it with the Elizabethan quartet of spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove), emphasis on the ginger, plus black pepper and salt. Then the meat was formed into little footballs and garnished with 2 currants for eyes and slivered almonds for prickles. Then baked until they were done (about half an hour at 350°F).

Ta da!

Aren’t they cute! And tasty too.

The second dish was Puffes, On the English Fashion, from A New Booke of Cookerie by John Murrell (published 1615).
Take new Milke curds, presse out the Whay cleane, take the yolkes of three Egges, and the white of one, fine Wheat floure, and mingle amongst your Curdes. Season it with Nutmeg, Sugar, and Rosewater, mingle all together. Butter a fayre white paper, lay a spooneful at once upon it, set them into a warme Oven, not over hot, when you see them rise as high as a halfe peny loafe, then take Rosewater, and Butter, and indale them over: scrape on Sugar, and set them in the Oven again, until they be dryed at the tops like yce. Then take them out, and serve them upon a Plate, either at Dinner or supper.

2 pounds “country style” cottage cheese, allowed to drain for several hours
2 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1 cup flour

These were all beaten together. Scratch wanted a savory dish, so instead of nutmeg, sugar, and rosewater, he seasoned them with chives, dry mustard, salt, pepper. They were dropped by spoonfuls on greased foil on a baking sheet and baked for about 15 minutes at 350°F. Because they were savory, he didn’t bother with the sweet glaze in the original.

They really puffed as soon as they came out of the oven, but by the time I snapped this, they had fallen.

Besides the historic treats we also provided crudites & dip, goat’s milk cheddar & crackers, hummus, salt & vinegar crisps (okay, really potato chips). I know guests brought stuff but I only remember Alissa’s corset cookies, Evie’s pigs in blankets, Red’s quince goo deluxe (another story for another time), and Devora’s enormous avocado.


Published in: on 4 March 2013 at 10:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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