History on A Plate: 3 Recipes


At Da Vinci’s Table: Renaissance Foodie and Bon Vivant

Da Vinci Salad

Combine the following ingredients in desired proportions according to your taste:
assorted bitter greens
quartered dried figs
fennel, slices thin
red onion rings
orange slices (blood oranges if in season)
pine nuts

Leonardo’s Salad Dressing:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh mint, minced
` 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper to taste
(Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well)

Honey Citrus Salad Dressing:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
juice of one lemon
1 tsp of orange honey
1 chopped garlic clove
1/2 tsp of fresh rosemary, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Leonardo’s Winter Minestrone
In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté 1 chopped onion for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic for another minute. Add and continue to sauté: one stalk of celery chopped, 1 carrot peeled and chopped, 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped, 1 large zucchini chopped, 2 medium leeks chopped. Seasonings: sprig of fresh basil, 2 springs of fresh rosemary minced, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add 8-9 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. Then add 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas. Simmer another 10 minutes. Serve with hearty dark bread.

At Shakespeare’s Table: Food and Cooking Imagery in Shakespeare’s Plays

Elizabethan Nightcaps

Posset recipes varied widely, but they usually contained wine or beer, cream, sugar and egg, and were thickened with bread, biscuits, oatmeal or almond paste, which formed the top layer. They were served hot as a festive finish to a meal or before bedtime. Special posset pots and cups held spiced and sweetened ale with mashed apples added.

‘a posset pott, or a wassell cup, or a sallibube pott, having 2 handles, with a pipe on the side’.

Shakespeare makes reference to posset in Act II of MacBeth, the scene where Lady MacBeth slips a couple of Mickeys into the evening possets of the guards at Duncan’s quarters.
The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugg’d their possets
That death and nature do contend about them,
Whether they live or die.

To make a Sack Posset:
‘Take a quart of thick cream, boyle it with whole spice, then take sixteen eggs, yolks and whites beaten very well, then heat about three quarters of a pint of sack , and mingle well with your eggs, then stir them into your cream, and sweeten it, then cover it up close for half an hour or more over a seething pot of water or over very slow embers, in a bason, and it will become like a cheese.’ -A Boke of Gode Cookery, 17th century

Unlike posset, syllabub was enjoyed cold and was thicker, more custard-y or cheese-like The top layer, curdled by the alcohol, required a spoon to dig down to the wine finish.

‘Take one Quart of Cream, one Pint and an half of Wine or Sack, the Juice of two Limons with some of the Pill, and a Branch of Rosemary, sweeten it very well, then put a little of this Liquor, and a little of the Cream into a Basin, beat them till it froth, put that Froth into the Sillibub pot, and so do till the Cream and Wine be done, then cover it close, and set it in a cool Cellar for twelve hours, then eat it. ‘  ~Hannah Wooley, The Queen-like Closet, 1674

Victorian Victuals: The Kitchen of Queen Victoria

Mulligatawny Soup (from Mrs. Beeton’s All About Cookery, 1861)

1 lb. veal or beef shank /beef short rib and ham steak— any combination
1 onion
1 apple
1 carrot
1/2 small parsnip
1 oz butter
1/2 oz curry powder
1 oz flour
1 qt bone stock or water
Bunch of fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley)
Lemon for juice
1/4 tsp of black treacle (molasses)
2 oz. Boiled rice

Optional: Substitute lentils for meat, or simply add about a 1/4 cup lentils.)

“Cut the meat off the bone into bitesized cubes. Chop the onion fi: and chop the apple. Heat the butter in a deep pan and in it quickly fry the onion, then the curry powder. Add the apple and cook it gently for a few minutes, then stir in the flour. Add the liquid, meat and salt, and bring slowly to simmering point, stirring all the time. Add the other vegetables, the herbs tied in muslin ad a few drops of lemon juice. Simmer until the meat is very tender. This will take between 2-4 hours. Taste the soup and add more lemon juice or add black treacle to obtain a flavor that is neither predominatingly sweet nor acid. Strain the soup, cut some of the meat in neat cubes and reheat them in the soup. Boil, drain, and partly dry the rice as for curry and hand it with the soup.”

( I cut meat into small cubes when removing it from the bones. I also chopped the apple before adding. I added cooked rice into the soup in the last 15-20 minutes. This soup just gets better the longer it sits!)

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