Food and Entertaining

There’s Something Fishy About This 200-year-old DESSERT! | How To Cook That Ann Reardon

Welcome to How To Cook That I’m Ann Reardon 
and today I have something exciting,   it’s new to me but it’s very old … it’s 
called Domestic Cookery by a Lady. Now if   we have a look inside we can see it was given 
to a beloved wife in 1845. The first edition of   this book was printed 216 years ago and they 
cost a lot of money to get a first edition,   this is actually a 67th edition and it’s dated 
1843 so this one is nearly 180 years old.   So who wrote it? Early editions just say 
‘by a lady’ which was common at the time   and to give you some insight into that let me read 
you this … while man has been characterized as   a cooking animal the capabilities of a woman to 
undertake even the minor branches of the culinary   art have been doubted and denied all gastronomes 
of a refined grade unite in denouncing she-cooks   and M Ude when he wishes to express his contempt 
for any commonplace dish says a woman can do it.   An observation of Dr Johnson shows up on how very 
low scale that learned person rated the culinary   talents of the sex women he remarks can spin very 
well but they cannot write a book of cookery.   Well I’d like to disagree with that one 🤨 and even 
this excerpt goes on to disagree with it. Women   have written more extraordinary things since his 
time and Mrs Rundle’s excellent work a work which   far surpassed all its predecessors shows that the 
doctor did not do justice to feminine ingenuity.   They were having to defend the fact that the 
cookbook was written by a woman! This book   actually sold more than half a million copies in 
her lifetime and if we go back a page it actually   says that this little work would have been a 
treasure to herself the author when she first set   out in life and therefore she hopes that it may 
prove useful to others in that expectation it’s   given to the public and she will receive from it 
no emolument (now that means no profit she would   not get paid for this book) so she trusts that it 
will escape with no sense here or no disapproval.   So she gave this book of recipes to a friend John 
Murray who was a publisher and he published it and   put himself down as the copyright owner. Extra 
recipes have been added into this book with each   new edition but original ones are still marked by 
ER if they were by Mrs rundle so let’s make one of   those let’s try this lemon sponge. To a pint of 
water put an ounce of isinglass. Isinglass comes   from the air bladder of fish. Flat fish like this 
pomfret don’t have one but bony fish like this   schnapper do. If we take off the fillet then lift 
up the ribs and pull this bit out of the way oh   i don’t really like raw fish, i’m sorry it’s 
a bit gross but this is the air bladder here   and it’s used by fish to control their buoyancy 
so they can stay at a depth that they want to   without floating up or sinking down and that 
makes swimming a lot more efficient for them.   I’m going to cut two of these up i’m not really 
sure how much i should use here. Sturgeon fish   are the most commonly used ones for isinglass and 
it’s still used today in beers and wines to make   it clear to clarify it and so why do we need them 
for this dessert? Well it’s going to help it set   so we put them in a pot with some water and simmer 
it for several hours until only a small amount of   the liquid is left and we’ll just strain that into 
a bowl. After leaving it in the fridge overnight   you can see it sit like a very firm jelly. Now 
I’m not sure if they were making this using   fresh like I just did or using dried so that makes 
the quantities quite tricky but it does say we   need the rind of a lemon the juice of three half 
a pound of sugar and the isinglass. I’m going to   have to warm that up again just to melt it again 
in the recipe they just had it warm from the   beginning they didn’t let it set in the fridge but 
I wanted to show you that it sets like gelatin.   Now we need to add the white of one egg and 
whisk until it’s white and thick. The vintage   egg beaters that some of you might be familiar 
with were not invented for another 40 years so   we’re just stuck with a whisk! Electric beaters 
would be another 40 years after that because   there was no electricity yet. Once that is white 
and thick I guess we just tip it into a glass   now I’ve also repeated this recipe but used 
gelatin instead of the fish air bladders so   that we can compare how they set. What 
else can we make? This one caught my eye   egg mince pies it just sounds weird it has 
ER there so we know it was by Eliza Rundle…   it says boil six eggs hard and cut them small. 
Now i’ve boiled these and let them cool i’ve never   seen a dessert recipe with boiled eggs in it and 
that’s why i thought this would be interesting. It   said to cut them small so hopefully that 
is small enough. I’ve weighed the eggs   so i could then measure double the quantity of 
chopped suet which is what it said we needed next   this is sewage so it is fat from red meat 
like lamb or beef. This really seems like a   lot of meat fat for inside a pie. Then it says 
add a pound of currants half a pound of chopped   raisins and the peel of a lemon grated. Okay 
so let’s chop some raisins and add those in   next the currants and some grated lemon rind. 
I do wonder if the currants were not dried   currants like nowadays if you see currants in a 
recipe it does mean dried currants but back then   I’m wondering if they meant the berries like 
red currants. Next it says add half a nutmeg a   teaspoon of allspice and a little salt. That’s the 
grated nutmeg the allspice and a pinch of salt.   Now it says we need sugar candied lemon 
peel and two glasses of sweet wine.   It didn’t actually say how much sugar to add so 
i’m just guessing here and there’s no quantity   for the candied lemon peel either so i’ll just 
put some in it’s a bit bitter so i won’t put   too much on and then the two glasses of wine and 
that’s it. It doesn’t say what to do with this   but it is in the section of pies so i assume we 
mix it all together and then line a pie dish with   pastry and tip it in. I can’t help but think that 
once all this suet melts it’s going to be an oily   mess but perhaps it’s supposed to be served cold 
once it’s baked so maybe i’ll try that. I did   some research on Mrs Rundell and there’s not a lot 
about her that has been recorded. I couldn’t even   find any portraits of her, she’s a best-selling 
cookbook author and there’s no information.   She was born Maria Eliza Kettlebee in 1745 she was 
an only child and she was described as a woman of   wealth. When she was 21 years old she married 
a surgeon called Thomas Rundell which is where   she gets her last name obviously. Rundell was 
one of 16 children and one of Thomas’s brothers   worked at a jewelers in London and he 
borrowed money off Eliza and Thomas   to buy into the store with his business partner 
Bridge. Maria and Thomas went on to have two sons   and three daughters and when she was 50 sadly her 
husband passed away. She then apparently traveled   and lived with her daughters and obviously wrote 
books. It says here the authoress Mrs Rundell,   sister of the eminent jeweler on Ludgate Hill 
was afterwards induced to accept the sum of   2000 guineas from the publisher. With inflation 
that’s equivalent to about 188,000 pounds today   which is a lot of money and it sounds so nice when 
it says she was induced to accept it when in fact   she took the publisher to court when she was 74 
years old over the rights to the book and as a   result of that he had to pay her the money. One of 
their sons ended up working at the jewelry store   on Ludgate Hill with his uncle so it was renamed 
Rundell and Bridge and Rundell. The store was   the principal jewelers and goldsmiths for the 
royal family making everything from crowns to   candelabras this was a very successful jewelers 
and it may have so outweighed the success of   the cookbook that there’s more written 
about the jewelry store than there is   about Eliza Rundell. Estate Diamond Jewelry in 
New York who specializes in rare vintage rings   have sent me a very old ring for this video. The 
ring is actually from England originally i don’t   think it’s from Rundell and Bridge but i’ll get 
a close-up so you can see the hand carving on the   side which is indicative of its age this was very 
common in that period. Vintage rings like this   are one of a kind there isn’t another one that 
looks the same as this because it is handmade.   You can see on the inside it says 1854 but to be 
honest anyone could engrave a ring so you really   need an experienced jeweler that you can trust 
to be able to date old jewelry like this for you.   Let’s make one more recipe and then taste 
them all … here we have a sponge cake by   Mrs Rundell and it says we need eight eggs half 
the whites three-quarters of a pound of sugar   half a pound of flour a quarter of a pint of 
water and the peel of a lemon and mix as follows.   Now, this is interesting to me because 
this is the first old recipe i’ve seen that   has the ingredients listed first and then the 
directions usually it’s all just mixed through.   Overnight pare a good sized lemon 
thin and put the peel into water   and when about to make the cake put the sugar 
into a saucepan and pour the water and the lemon   peel into it and let it stand by the fire to get 
hot. Break the eggs into a deep earthen vessel   that has been made quite hot whisk the eggs for 
a few minutes with a whisk that has been well   soaked in water. I’m not quite sure 
why the whisk was supposed to be wet   but you might be able to tell me in the comments. 
Make the sugar and water boil up and pour it   boiling hot over the eggs and continue to whisk 
them briskly for about a quarter of an hour, wow! This is really hard work even swapping between 
Dave and me, a quarter of an hour whisking is a   long time 😰 or until they become quite thick and 
white which is proof of their lightness. Have   flour well dried and quite warm from the fire and 
just stir it lightly in and put the cake into tins   lined with white paper and send them immediately 
to be baked in a moderately hot oven. These have   so much air in them that they didn’t need baking 
powder they rose up nicely as they cooked but then   shrunk back down a little. Well I think it’s 
time to taste all these goodies … Here we go… It’s a bit sort of chewy 
and dry, um, flavor is okay   but yeah just the texture’s not quite it’s not 
quite Ann Reardon. It’s almost as if you took a   regular sponge and you left it out overnight and 
then you came back to it the next day like it’s   not bad and it’s not stale but it’s definitely a 
bit too tough and also maybe slightly less sweet   than what I would expect from a sponge 
cake but it’s certainly edible. And now   on to the boiled egg and suet fruit pie. 
This looks possibly more dangerous… Um, all right I’m just delaying because 
I don’t really want to eat it… I don’t mind it’s sort of fruity and it’s 
got a little bit of a different texture to it   but it’s quite pleasant, feels a bit um 
sort of sticks to the top of your mouth   a little bit sort of oily or buttery.
It kind of tastes how it looks it’s just   a lot of raisins in some pastry it might be 
better hot could I taste can I taste it warm? Well it’s kind of falling apart now that it’s 
hot. What is in here, is it actual mince? I liked it better when it wasn’t hot. 😂
Mix them with double the quantity of   chopped suet … oh so it’s like 
just pure fat. Meat fat yeah.  What are you doing with the eggs cause it doesn’t 
really taste like egg. It’s got hard-boiled eggs   chopped up that’s what those white bits are. 
Maybe that’s why it tasted worse when it was hot.   The lemon dessert settled out into two 
layers with the froth on the top and   the lemony bit down the bottom the one set 
with the air bladders of fish settled out   more so than the one with the gelatin the 
foam was a bit more stable on the gelatin one.   All right so this is the 200 year old traditional 
lemon sponge did you say that’s what they   called it okay let’s have a little taste I’m 
hoping for a lemon meringue pie type of vibe. Anything from 200 year old can be a little scary   it’s, it’s kind of liquidy I’m not sure if 
the setting agent really worked that well… It tastes fine. That’s not bad lemon 
meringue pie-ish minus the pie.   If there’s something weird if they’ve blended 
peasant’s feet in there or something I   can’t taste it. I can’t imagine having more than 
about two or three teaspoons before I just turn   into a sugary mess. So in that dessert they used 
the air sacs from fish as the gelling agent.   Okay. Oh yeah well it still tastes fine 
I would eat it. Air sacks and fish… no I didn’t taste that but it’s pretty 
unappealing the thought of it. But the   thought of gelatin in itself is unappealing 
that’s made from bones and … Yeah true   true. So so if you didn’t taste fishy it’s 
an improvement … Sure it’s an improvement,   it’s an improvement until you find out what’s 
in it. If you’d like to see more recipes from   this book be sure to like comment share and 
watch more of the 200-year-old episodes.   With thanks to my wonderful and 
amazing patrons for your support   and encouragement it means so much to me make 
it a great week and I’ll see you on Friday 💕
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