18th Century Vermicelli Pudding aka Kugel

This is an interesting vermicelli pudding from 1784 edition of  The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse.

vermicelliPudding-image1 Pint Milk
4 Oz Vermicelli
Ground Cinnamon to taste
1 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Oz Melted Butter
4 Oz Sugar
4 Egg Yolks Well Beaten

Boil Vermicelli in the milk, making sure to stir constantly until the vermicelli is soft.
Add in Cinnamon, heavy cream, butter, sugar, and egg yolks. Stir well.


Pour straight into pie pan, leaving enough room at the top for expansion during cooking.


Place in oven at about 350 degrees for an hour.

Allow to cool before serving.


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A Stupendously Fresh Soup

Life on the trail in the 18th century was often a difficult and dangerous endeavor. It’s easy to romanticize from our overstuffed chairs what wilderness living may have been like — being one with nature, living in a symbiotic relationship with the land. In reality, however, even for the expert leather-skinned woodsman, it was more likely an unrelenting struggle for one’s own survival.

Maintaining the most basic food supply was of utmost importance to the trekker, as the trail was an intolerant host. Traveling, especially over long distances, required planning ahead. The only meal one could count on was the meal he packed in. You could only hope for additional opportunities while nature wasn’t looking.

But that’s not to say that on occasion nature eases her grip, and the supply to be found is of the delicious sort — even by modern “civilized” standards. One such instance can be found in the annals of the great 18th century explorer, Captain James Cook.

It was this passage that prompted Jon to try a springtime soup made from a few of the same essentials often carried by trekkers, and supplemented with what nature offered up.

Jon mentions a number of ingredients that he had prepared earlier.  For these recipes check the videos out below:

Soup with Wild Greens


  • 1 quart of water
  • 2/3 cup of barley
  • 1 handfull stinging nettles chopped
  • 1 handful wild garlic green stems chopped
  • 3-4 wild garlic bulbs sliced
  • 3-4 leaves of garlic mustard
  • 1 handful dandelion greens
  • 3 medium size pieces of portable soup (about 1-1/2 inch size pieces)
  • 2 large pinches of Mushroom ketchup powder
  • 1 pinch Salt, 1 pinch Pepper, and 1 pinch Cayenne all from Jon’s Pocket Spice Box


Pour the water and barley in a small sized pot and set it over your campfire.


After about an hour, add in the wild greens.


Finally stir in the portable soup.  The pot will need to be removed from heat immediately after the portable soup is dissolved, so make sure to pay extra attention to this stage.


Once it has cooled a bit, season the soup to your liking.  Jon adds powder he made from leftovers of a mushroom ketchup (which is flavorful enough to fully substitute portable soup for a vegetarian version).


Next add salt, pepper, and cayenne.


For some extra thickness enjoy this soup with Ship’s Biscuits.


This soup encapsulates a timeless tradition as beloved in the 18th century as it is today.  Jon hits the nail on the head when he says that “there is nothing like cooking your meal out over an open fire like this with greens that you just gathered”.

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A Simply Fantastic Lemon Cream

Don’t be fooled by the word “cream.” This delicious recipe for Lemon Cream from Amelia Simmons’ cookbook American Cookery (1796), is ironically completely dairy-free. Instead, it uses an interesting egg-cooking technique which yields a delicious custard-like dessert. While fruit creams of this nature have over time fallen off most modern culinary menus, lemon cream is one of the few survivors. It’s most recognizable today in the form of lemon cream pie.

This is a very easy recipe. Be sure to use only fresh lemon juice!

recipe lemon cream

Lemon Cream


  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • the juice of 4 lemons (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • the rind of one lemon


Mix together the egg whites, egg, lemon juice, and water.


Whisk in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture through a sieve to strain off any egg treadles.


Put the whole mixture in a pot with the lemon rind, and place it over medium-low heat.

Stirring constantly, slowly bring the mixture up to a simmer — just under boiling. If any foam or scum forms, remove it.

Lemon3The mixture will remain very liquid as it heats up. It’s very important that you stir the mixture continuously. Immediately prior to boiling, the mixture will suddenly and noticeably thicken. When this happens, immediately remove it from the heat.

Lemon4Remove the lemon rind.

Serve the cream warm or cold “in china dishes”. (Jon serves them in these beautiful bowls.) The cream will continue to set as it cools.


This cream can be served by itself or in other desserts. Jon, Michael, and Ivy brainstorm a few such desserts, like a tart, pie, and doughnuts.


What would you make?

Post your ideas and or pictures below!

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Delightfully Whipped Syllabubs

Sweet recipes and desserts exploded in popularity during the 18th century. Cook books from that time are full of sugary treats that are as assorted in form as you can imagine. As delicious as many of these treats were, it can be a bit perplexing that they didn’t survive — at least in the North American context. The Syllabub is an example of a yummy dessert that for some strange reason has fallen into obscurity.

Syllabub was always a dessert beverage. Trying to define it further is a bit complicated. This is because the characteristics of syllabubs vary greatly. Recipes from many books, from over a broad span of time, call for many different wines, densities, processes, and flavors. Even just within Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife (1739), are three very different recipes for Syllabubs. To simplify things we will talk about just one fantastic version; the whipped Syllabub.

recipe whipt syllabub

While it may be difficult to concisely define a syllabub, don’t despair! You should see the variety as a green light for your creativity! Feel free to embellish, add, subtract, substitute or change the recipe however you desire. With syllabubs, if you imagine it is delicious, it will be — this is undoubtably one of the reasons why there are so many variations in the first place. In the video below Jon and Michael make a few variations of Smith’s “Whipt Syllabubs”.

Whipt Syllabubs


For the drink

  • approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine per serving (Smith’s recipes call for Sack or sherry, Rhenish White Wine, or Claret, but feel free to use another white wine or even hard cider. For a nonalcoholic version try white grape juice or apple juice.)
  • about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar per serving (you may wish to eliminate the sugar altogether if you’re using a sweet wine)

For the topping

  • 1 cup white wine or juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons (less if you desire a less-tart topping)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • garnish with grated nutmeg and a squeeze of lemon rind


For the drink


Combine the wine and sugar and stir until dissolved.


For the topping

Combine the wine or juice, the lemon juice, and a 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.


Once the sugar is dissolved, mix in the heavy cream.


Whisk the mixture until it forms soft peaks.  This can be done by hand or with a mixer with a whisk attachment.


Serving Procedure

Fill each of your serving glasses until about half full, then top with the whipped cream topping.


Garnish with a sprinkle of grated nutmeg and squeeze of fresh lemon rind.

Sit back, relax, enjoy your syllabub. For yet another variation, stir the whipped topping with the drink to create what was called a “jumble syllabub.”


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Switchel: the Original Energy-Ade

What do you drink if you’re worn out and need a little kick? An Ade, soda, an energy boost? In the 18th century, before supermarkets had shelves lined with this stuff,  many people drank a delicious beverage called Switchel.

Beverages similar to switchel date all the way back to ancient Greece, and were drank all the way around the world. This recipe was typical of those popular in America from New England all the way to the Caribbean. Of course regional influences made for local flares. In Vermont, for example, Switchel was made with Maple Syrup and mixed with oatmeal. (The oatmeal was eaten as a snack once the beverage was finished.) While in Trinidad the drink was almost always mixed with special branches from the quararibea turbinata plant. (Also known as the swizzlestick tree.)

Like Jon mentions in the video above Switchel is excellent with alcohol rum. The succulent balance of vinegar and sweetness makes for an exquisite cocktail base.



  • 1/2 gallon of Drinking Water
  • 1/2 cup of Unsulfured Molasses (not blackstrap!) — to understand better what type of molasses this is, make sure you watch the video on Switchel posted above. You may also substitute maple syrup or honey.
  • 1/4 cup of Apple-Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Powdered Ginger


Mix all ingredients in a large vessel. Stir vigorously, especially making sure the ginger is well assimilated. Refresh yourself accordingly!

Switchel, along with many other tasty beverages, can be found in Libations of the Eighteenth Century by David Alan Woolsey, sold at Jas. Townsend and Son.

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Puddings in Haste!

In the 18th century, puddings were once a culinary staple of much of the western world. Many types existed but most called for long cooking times. Hasty puddings (or as they were often called “puddings in haste”) became popular for their convenience. This was especially favorable for frontiersmen and frontierswomen who, armed with versatile and expedient cooking utensils like the Dutch oven, desired a hearty and delicious meal on-the-go. Jon discusses Dutch ovens and a lovely recipe for a hasty pudding in the video below:

This Hasty Pudding recipe is from Maria Eliza Rundell’s 1807 cookbook A New System of Domestic Cookery:


Puddings in Haste (makes 10-12 puddings)

Ingredients (Measurements by Jon Townsend)

  • 1 Cup fine bread crumbs or crushed Ship’s Biscuits (purchasable here)
  • 1/2 cup Zante currants or raisins
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1 cup Grated Suet (Make sure to watch the episode “Rendering Suet” or read the blogposts, “Suet” parts one through four, to better understand the importance of and how to work with this product.)
  • Flour for Dredging
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger


Bring water to a boil in a Dutch oven

In a bowl incorporate evenly the bread crumbs, raisins, lemon zest, and suet.

Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and ginger.

Mix all of ingredients together until the dough is even. (It should be quite thick.)

Roll the mixture into egg sized balls.

Dredge the pudding balls in flour.


Cook in boiling water for 15-20 minutes.

Remove them from the water and let them dry for about 3 minutes.


Serve them hot or cold.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 11.46.52 PM

Rundell recommends serving her recipe with a “pudding sauce”. Below is a pudding sauce recipe:

Pudding Sauce


  • 1 Cup Butter (cubed and chilled)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Sack (or Sherry Wine)


Simmer the sugar and sack together in a small saucepan.


Remove the mixture from fire and immediately add cold butter (a few cubes at a time) while whisking vigorously.


Serve immediately atop the hasty pudding and enjoy!


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Pickling Onions in 18th Century England

Although pickling has been around since the dawn of time, records of food preservation techniques exploded in the 1700s. Helped by the growing industrialization of the printing industry, house management handbooks and cookery books became high in demand. Food preservation techniques became ubiquitous; pickling went 18th century viral. The premise of soaking foodstuffs in a highly acidic (vinegary) environment to protect the food from spoilage remained unchanged, but the recipes and methods varied greatly. The types of pickled foods were diverse as well. Throughout the western world, pickles were made of locally prized ingredients. One very popular English vegetable to preserve was onions. The following recipe comes from Sarah Harrison’s 1739 cookbook The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book, (however, the special onion preparation we use below originates from another source).


The plethora of spices in these pickling recipes is fascinating. Ginger (which is discussed on the previous page) and Jamaica pepper (known today as allspice) are influences from opposite sides of earth! In something as ordinary as a pickle, we can see how global colonialism affected all aspects of British culture.

Pickled Onion Recipe
Our recipe for is for approximately one pint of pickled onions. We’re using a stoneware lidded jar, but a glass canning jar will work as well. You can adjust the amounts below if you choose to make a larger batch.


  • 20 to 30 Pearl Onions
  • Water (enough for blanching the onions)
  • 1 cup Malt Vinegar or Distilled Vinegar
  • 1 ounce of Kosher Salt or Pickling salt (not iodized)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger (thinly sliced)
  • optional seasonings: 1/3 nutmeg (crushed) and three bay leaves


Put all of the onions and water in a pot and place over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove from the heat, and strain the onions. Set the onions aside to let them cool completely.


Once the onions are cool, cut off the roots.


Separate the onions from their outer skins by gently squeezing them on the end opposite from the root cut. Place the blanched onions in your storage jar.


To Prepare Pickling Liquid

Mix the vinegar and all of the spices in a non-reactive saucepan and bring the liquid to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Final Preparation

Put all of the ingredients in the Jar and let the onions pickle for 10 days in your refrigerator.


Beautiful pickled onions!


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