Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mushroom Ketchup for the Destitute

When you say "ketchup" in modern times, it can be assumed that you mean a tomato based condiment with vinegar and spices.  This was not always so.  Ketchup has been a popular condiment since the late 1700's, when tomatoes were still viewed with deep suspicion as being possibly poisonous.  The most common base for a ketchup sauce is most definitely mushrooms, followed by walnuts.  It features heavily as an ingredient in cookbooks all the way up through the 1800's.  

But what is the modern cook to do, when one cannot simply buy mushroom ketchup unless one goes to a specialty shop in the U.K.? Make it!  How hard can it be? 

To make Ketchup.
Take the large Flaps of Mushrooms, pick nothing
but the Straws and Dirt from it, then lay them
in a broad earthern Pan, strow a good deal of
Salt over them, let them lie till next Morning;
then with your Hand brake them, put them
into a Stew-pan, and let them boil a Minute
or two, then strain them thro’ a coarse Cloth;
and wring it hard. To take out all the Juice,
let it stand to settle, then pour it off clear,
and run it thro’ a thick Flannel Bag, (some
filter it thro’ brown Paper, but that is a very
tedious Way) then boil it, to a Quart of the
Liquor put a quarter of an Ounce of whole
Ginger, and half a quarter of an Ounce of
whole Pepper, boil it briskly a quarter
of an Hour, then strain it, and when it
is cold, put it into Pint Bottles; in each
Bottle put four or five Blades of Mace,
and six Cloves, cork it tight, and it will
keep two Years. This gives the best
Flavour of the Mushrooms to any Sauce,
if you put to a Pint of this Ketchup a Pint
of Mum, it will taste like foreign Ketchup.
-The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, by Hannah Glasse (1747)

Hold on, that's like... a LOT of mushrooms.  Like, A LOT OF MUSHROOMS.  Do you understand how many mushrooms it takes to extract a quart of juice?  And here's me without a money tree.  

There we go.  Yes.  That's what I like to call... good enough.  

Cheater Mushroom Ketchup
1 quart water
2 T. mushroom bouillon
1 T. dry ginger (preferably in chunks rather than powder, but hey, I didn't have any)
1 T. peppercorns
1 t. mace
6 cloves

Simmer together.  Strain and bottle.  Refrigerate.  

Verdict:  Yowsers.  This is HOT.  And salty!  I think it came out right.  It reminds me very very much of Worcestershire sauce, or steak sauce.  It isn't something you want to swipe a french fry through, but it does have a lot of flavor.  I don't think I can appropriately judge it before using it in a recipe, you know?  


Further reading:

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

To make Collops like Bacon of Marchpane

To make Collops like Bacon of Marchpane.
Take some of your Marchpane paste and work it with red sanders till it be red, then roul a broad sheet of white marchpane paste, and a sheet of red paste, three of white, and four of red, lay them one upon another, dry it, cut it overthwart, and it will look like collops of bacon. [The Accomplisht Cook: OR THE ART & MYSTERY OF COOKERY.: Wherein the whole ART is revealed in a more easie and perfect Method, than hath been publisht in any language. by Robert May (1685)]

To make Collops of Bacon in Sweet-meats.
Take some Marchpane Paste, and the weight thereof in fine Sugar beaten and searsed, boil them on the fire, and keep them stirring for fear they burn, so do till you find it will come from the bottom of the Posnet, then mould it with fine Sugar like a Paste, and colour some of it with beaten Cinnamon, and put in a little Ginger, then roll it broad and thin, and lay one upon another till you think it be of a fit thickness and cut it in Collops and dry it in an Oven. [The Queene-like Closet or Rich Cabinet: Stored with all manner of RARE RECEIPTS For Preserving, Candying and Cookery, Very Pleasant and Beneficial to all Ingenious Persons of the FEMALE SEX., by Hannah Wooley (1672)]

To make all kind of Conceits with Marchpane as pies, Birds Biskets, Collops Eggs and soum to print with moldes
Take half a pound of Marchpane past being made as before written for yr marchpane make soum littel pies & fill them with Littell peices of marchpins cast Biskets & carawaies on them & so gild them & serve them you may make some of them like Collops of Bacon; so yt you Colour a pice of white & red paste one upon another; & then cutt it in slices & ye red being mingled with ye white will shew like intertarded Bacon fatt & leane, some you may print with Moldes. [Elizabeth Capell Her Same Booke Anno Domini 1699]

I guess this was the joke du jour in the latter 1600's!  Hilarious.

I cheated by not making my own marzipan.  Instead, I bought a tube from the store.  I only made a little bit of it red, because old timey bacon is a lot more fatty than modern bacon.  In fact, it should be even MORE fatty than I've gone for!  Jas. Townsend shows you how fatty in his video.

I combined recipes and kneaded red coloring, cinnamon, and ginger into the smaller portion.  "Sanders" is red sandalwood, which makes red food coloring when dissolved in alcohol.

I was able to convince some urchins to be my kitchen drudge assistants, in exchange for the promise of "bacon candy." They smooshed the stacks of marzipan flat, then banged the sides into a rectangle shape.  After I cut slices of bacon off, they were happy to dispose of the off-cuts.

Verdict: It's marzipan!  If you like marzipan, you will like this marzipan shaped like bacon.  My urchins had a great time offering "bacon" to people, especially when people pretended to totally buy that it was bacon, and then were shocked, SHOCKED to discover it wasn't.

In conclusion, it is a great, easy kid project.  Give it a try!  Teach some history!