#434 To Pot Ham with Chicken

This is a fairly straight-forward recipe from the book that I have only just got around to making as I have never had a situation where I had left over ham and chicken at the same time! In fact, I ran out of patience with myself and manufactured the situation.

This recipe is one of several taken from Elizabeth Raffauld’s 1769 classic The Experienced English Housekeeper. Back then, and right up to the early 20th Century, in more well-to-do houses, cold roast meats were served up for luncheon. The meat was left over from the previous evening’s roast. If the meats had to be kept longer, or eked out, they would be potted, i.e. made into a pâté. Follow this link to see all the potted meat & fish recipes cooked thus far (this is the tenth!).

Jane only gives an abridged version of the receipt, but here it is in full:
Take as much lean of a boiled ham as you please and half the quantity of fat. Cut it as thin as possible, beat it very fine in a mortar with a little oiled butter, beaten mace, pepper and salt, put part of it in a china pot. Then beat the white part of a fowl with a very little seasoning, it is to qualify the ham. Put a lay of chicken, then one of ham, then chicken at the top, press hard down, and when it is cold pour clarified butter over it. When you send it to the table cut out a thin slice in the form of half a diamond and lay it round the edge of your pot.


Jane also updates the recipe: she allows us to use an electric food processor, and she uses already ground mace. She also uses clarified butter to make the pâté, not just to seal it. 


She also suggests letting it sit for a few days before eating it, so that the flavours can develop.


If you’ve never potted your own meat or fish, this recipe is a good place to start. In fact, it more of a system than a recipe, and can be adapted easily for other meats. I’d just add that a smoked ham would work best here – I used a smoked ham hock – and that you should over-season everything ever-so-slightly. If you are using cold meats, add a tablespoon or two of boiling water when blending to produce a nice smooth paste.

At Christmastime, you’re more likely to have left over turkey than chicken and I think it would work just as well.
#434 To Pot Ham with Chicken. Rather a subtle one this one, but no worse for it. Many of the other recipes are quite strongly flavoured, so this is a good introduction. The combination of salty ham and bland chicken is a good one, and it was great spread on toast with a little medlar jelly. As mentioned above, a great way to use up left-over meat at Christmastime. 7/10


#291 Burnt Cream or Crème Brulée

Often considered a French dessert, Crème Brulée was thought to have come out if the kitchens of Trinity College, Cambridge via the sister of a librarian there, others think from an Undergraduate from Aberdeenshire in the 1860s. When the student graduated, so did the pudding and it became a favourite of the college. This is all nonsense because a recipe can be found in The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffauld which was published in 1769 (I have a facsimile of it). Grigson gives three recipes for it – the first, from the librarian who called it a Crème Brulée, the second and third – both dating earlier – called it Burnt Cream. Jane Grigson got a bee in her bonnet about whether the dessert had French or English origins. Where did Raffauld get her recipe from? It is a question that cannot answered, it seems, as the two nations’ cuisines are overlapped and interwoven so much since the Norman conquest of 1066. She did find a sixteenth century English manuscript with a recipe for burnt cream though, which was written around the time that Charles II came back to England after returning from exile in France.

I did this pudding whilst I was in England to go after the roast pork. I’d been wanting to do it for a while, as it is a pud I really enjoy, but mainly I just wanted to get the blowtorch out and melt the sugar. I’d never done it and it has always looked such a satisfying thing to do. None of the receipts ask for a blowtorch, but rather a very hot grill or ‘salamander’, as overhead grills were called in days of yore.

There are three recipes given by Jane, I went with the first, which was also her favourite, from a 1909 book called The Ocklye Cookery Book by Eleanor L. Jenkinson:

Place the yolks of six eggs in a bowl and bring a pint of double cream to the boil and let it boil for a full half-minute. Quickly whisk the hot cream into the eggs and return the mixture to the pan. Cook on the very low heat until the cream thickens somewhat – it should coat the back of your wooden spoon. I then sweetened it with a little sugar and added some extra flavor with some orange-flower water (lifted from Raffauld’s recipe). Don’t cook for too long or on too high a heat, as the eggs will scramble. If you think the eggs have scrambled, pass the whole lot through a sieve. Pour the custard into a shallow dish and let it chill in the fridge for as long as possible – overnight, if possible. If not possible (as it wasn’t for me), place it in the freezer as soon as it has cooled down to set. To burn the cream, scatter it with a thin, even layer of caster sugar and pop it under a very hot grill until it turn to a lovely melted caramel. Or use a blowtorch. Put it back in the fridge to harden.

For the sake of completion, here are the other two recipes:

From Domestic Cookery by a lady (Maria Rundell), 1848

Boil a pint of cream with a stick of cinnamon, and some lemon peel; take it off the fire, and pour it very slowly into the yolks of four eggs, stirring until half cold; sweeten, and take out the spice, etc.; pour it into the dish; when cold, strew white powdered sugar over, and brown it with a salamander.

From The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffauld, 1769

Boil a pint of cream with sugar, and a little lemon peel shred fine, then beat the yolks of six and whites of four eggs separately; when your cream is cooled, put in your eggs, with a spoonful of orange-flower water, and one of fine flour, set it over the fire, keep stirring it till it is thick, put it into a dish; when it is cold sift a quarter of a pound of sugar all over, hold a hot salamander over it till it is very brown, and looks like a glass plate put over your cream.

#291 Burnt Cream or Crème Brulée. ‘The best of all English puddings‘ says Griggers. Well I’m not sure of that, but it was pretty good. The cream tasted very light due to the heady perfume of the orange-flower water and the crackling caramel was satisfying to smash and delicious to eat. It wasn’t quite as thick as I expected to be. We all dug in with spoons, not bothering with bowls. I expect several of us now have herpes. Overall, a pretty good recipe – I think I will try it again with the lemon and cinnamon flavourings from the 1848 recipe. 6.5/10

#269 Elizabeth David’s Everlasting Syllabub

I made this syllabub to end to the little meal Hugh and I cooked for Maartin and Ninja. I’d had a feeling no one had tried one before as they have gone out of fashion rather. I’d only had one in my life before.
Syllabubs were very popular up until recently. Originally they were simply a mixture of ales or cider mixed with milk or cream, which was probably like a boozy curds-and-whey. The more solid, whipped and ever-lasting syllabubs first appeared in the seventeenth century, according to Griggers, although both were kinds were obviously eaten because recipes for both appear in the Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffauld from 1769 (I have recently got hold of a copy of it).
The recipe in English Food, is from a pamphlet called Syllabubs and Fruit Fools, written by the great Elizabeth David, but I thought I’d give this one from Elizabeth Raffauld too, you know, for those of you who want to keep it real. And have your own cow….
“To make a Syllabub under the cow
Put a bottle of strong beer and a pint of cider into a punch bowl, grate in a small nutmeg and sweeten it to your taste. Then milk as much milk from the cow as will make a strong froth and the ale look clear. Let it stand an hour, then strew over it a few currants well washed, picked, and plumped before the fire. Then send it to the table.
Brilliant. Sounds awful.
Anyway, here the recipe from Ms David:
This serves four to six. Bear in mind that you have to start this one the day before you want to serve it.
To a small bowl, add 4 fluid ounces of white wine or sherry (I went with wine, as sherry seemed a bit too rich), 2 tablespoons of brandy and the pared rind and juice of a lemon. Cover the bowl and let the flavours infuse together overnight. Strain everything into a large bowl and dissolve into the liquor two ounces of caster sugar. Next slowly mix in half a pint of double cream and grate in some nutmeg. Whisk the syllabub until it almost reaches the stiff peak stage so it is still a little floppy. Don’t over-whip it. There’s nothing worse than over-whipped cream; it goes all weird and cloying. You have been warned. Spoon onto glasses or ramekins and cover with foil or cling film. Leave them somewhere cool. Sir Kenelm Digby in 1669 recommends ‘[a] tiny sprig of rosemary or a little twist of lemon peel’, so I pared some thin pieces of lemon peel and let those stand in sugar overnight too as a traditional garnish. I served them with those little caramelised biscuits you get with coffee, I forget their name.
#269 Elizabeth David’s Everlasting Syllabub. Quite a boozy affair, this dessert, and I have never really got used to alcoholic puds, we just do eat them these days. However, as far as those kinds of desserts go, this was a good one, and nothing like the awfulness that was the Whim-Wham. The lemon and the fact it was a whipped dessert made it feel lighter than it was. Hugh ended up scoffing loads of them and made himself sick. Oh dear. I can’t scoff, cos I did exactly the same with the Whim-Wham. 6/10.

#154 Mrs Raffald’s Bacon and Egg Pie

I’ve cooked some recipes by Elizabeth Raffald before and they’ve come out well each time – there’s a potted history of her life in Salford in Greater Manchester in this earlier post. It comes from her book The Experienced Housekeeper, and I must try and get hol of a copy (if it still exists)

Technically this bacon and egg pie can be made any time of year, but I thought it seemed perfect for this time of year, served warm with a salad. The English bacon and egg pie seems to have gone out of favour, with people preferring quiches with roasted vegetables etc. added these days. Well, I love bacon and egg pie – in fact it was my second favourite school dinner (spam fritters came first) – and I think it deserves a come-back. It’s great for picnicking too, I reckon, due to its double pastry crust. I would advise to make this pie only with proper free-range farm eggs (surprisingly cheap in delis and fishmongers and the like) and good dry-cured bacon, it’s well worth spending a bit more money for what is, overall, a pretty cheap recipe.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place a baking tray on the shelf that the pie will be cooked on (important for later!)

Start off by making some shortcrust pastry with 8 ounces of flour (or more, or less, depending upon how thick you like it). Use two-thirds of it to line a flan dish; Griggers doesn’t give sizes, but an 8 inch one was perfect. Chop 8 ounces of smoked streaky bacon and sprinkle it over the pastry base. Next, whisk up 4 large (or 6 medium) eggs and pour out a little of the mixture into a ramekin for later. Beat the eggs along with ½ pint of crème fraiche and some salt and pepper. Pour the custard into the pie dish and roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid, using some of the reserved egg to glue it on. Trim excess pastry and paint more egg over the top so that it glazes nicely in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes on the hot baking tray (it stops the base from going soggy), then lower the heat to 170°C for another 30 minutes. Serve warm with a salad.


#154 Mrs Raffald’s Bacon and Egg Pie – 9/10. This did not disappoint! I must admit I was unsure about not blind baking the pastry first, but it worked a treat. The inclusion of crème fraiche over cream or milk plus good quality eggs and bacon are the key to it though – so don’t skimp. The pie was ten times better than the one I used to get at school, yet it brought back all the memories at the same time. Bring on the spam fritters!

#40 Elizabeth Raffald’s Orange Custards

I knew that we’d be hungover on Saturday after a big drinking session on Canal Street, so I knew I’d have to choose a recipe for a dessert I could prepare ahead for the meal we were having at Greg sister’s boyfriend’s in the evening. I wanted to do a sticky toffee pudding really, but it would have to have been cooked there. I went for (#40) Elizabeth Raffald’s Orange Custards as I had a couple of Seville oranges in, and it would be a shame not to use them. It was a bit of a risk however, as custards are either loved or hated. I realise that they don’t look that nice on the picture, but they were very good.

They were easy to prepare: In a blender the juice of one Seville orange, the blanched peel of half of said orange, granulated sugar, a splash of Cointreau (which I happened to have in! Get me!) and six large egg yolks were all whizzed up until the peel was just tiny specks. I then boiled half a pint of double and half a pint of single cream and slowly pored this into the whirring mixture. Pour the whole thing into eight ramekins and bake in a bain Marie for half an hour in a cool to moderate oven.

All would have gone well if my stupid oven hadn’t conked out! I got it sorted in the end though. I cannot wait to get my new oven in. My partly-done kitchen is getting pretty depressing now. My stuff is still in the lounge in boxes and bags…

Anyways, enough whingeing…

FYI: Elizabeth Raffald did many things in her short 18 year career (she started aged 14, but died at 32). She wrote the first English cookbook (The Experienced English Housekeeper), was the landlady of two inns, including the King’s Head pub in Salford, ran two shops, ran the first domestic servant’s employment agency, organised the first street and trade directory in Manchester as well as two newspapers as an eminence rose (not sure what that means, anyone know?) and had fifteen daughters! I think I might try and get hold of a copy of her book…

#40 Elizabeth Raffald’s Orange Custards – 8/10. Surprisingly orangey bearing in mind the fact you only need one to make eight. The Seville orange makes your tongue go all tingly – they really are superior to normal oranges when cooking.