In preparation for a feast I am doing this fall with my dear friend, Magdalena, I tried this historical bite and wanted to share it with you. The theme of this feast is “A Tudor Christmas” so I will probably be posting alot of 15th & 16th century English recipes in the coming weeks.
This particular recipe comes from Thomas Dawson’s The Good Huswife’s Jewel (1). Dawson first published his cookery book in 1596 and a second printing was made a year later. This work seems to be a liason between the rennaissance and a more modern cooking style of the 17th century. The dishes are simpler but delicious and seemed to be geared towards the growing middle class of the time.
Note: At this time England was still using the 12 ounce pound and a pint was 16 ounces rather than the imperial 20 ounces.
This is a from Southover Press published in 1996
“To Make Fried Toast of Spinach
Take spinach and seethe it in water and salt. When it is tender, wring out the water between two trenchers. Then chop it small and set it on a chafing dish of coals. Put thereto butter, small raisins, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, a little of the juice of an orange, and two yolks of raw eggs. Let it boil till it be somewhat thick. Then toast your toast, soak them in a little butter and sugar and spread thin your spinach upon them. Set them on a dish before the fire a little while. So serve them with a little sugar upon them.”
- 1 10oz. pkg of frozen spinach
- 4-5 tbsp. of Butter
- 1/4 c. raisins
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 2 tsp. Ginger, fresh
- 1/2 tsp. Ginger
- 2 tbsp. Sugar
- 1/4 tsp (or to taste) Orange Zest
- Juice of 1 orange
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Loaf of good Homemade Bread
Thaw the spinach in a strainer over the sink or a bowl. When it is completely thawed, squeeze by hand as much water out of it as you can. Using several papertowels, remove even more moisture from the spinach by pressing it between two layers. When you have removed all the water set it aside until it is needed.
In a small frying pan melt the butter and raisins together. The butter will help to plump up the raisins so put it on a lower setting and allow the raisins about 5-10 minutes in the butter being careful not to let the butter burn.
When the raisins are plumped, add the fresh ginger, ground ginger, and sugar and stir. Cook for a few minutes until well incorporated.
Add the spinach and orange zest and saute for five minutes or so. Add the orange juice to the egg yolks and beat them together. I did this so that the eggs wouldn’t scramble when I added them to the spinach.
Lower the heat and add the egg mixture. Make sure you mix it in well so you do not get patches of cooked egg. Leave this to thicken, stirring every once in a while until it thickens. Let this saute while you prepare the toast.
Take a good homemade bread and slice it in half inch slices. Cut them into squares or triangles as you prefer. Toast or broil them, just until golden. I buttered them with a butter knife and sprinkled a small amount of sugar on them. If you wish, you can “soak” them in melted butter and sugar as Dawson directs. I chose not too because I was worried it would be too saturated and I wanted them as a finger food.
I then put a good helping of the spinach mixture on the toast or “sippets” sprinkled a little more sugar as a garnish on top and served them.
- Dawson, Thomas. The Good Huswife’s Jewell. Published by Southover Press 1996. Originally published 1596, London for Edward White.