Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vermicelli Pudding, Reviving a Delicious 18th Century Recipe

"Vermicelly Pudding" from Eliza Smith's 1739 Recipe

This recipe, also known as a noodle kugel, can be found in several 18th century British cookery books. This particular recipe comes from the 1739 edition of Eliza Smith's, The Compleat Housewife (London). I like this version of vermicelli pudding because of the inclusion of fragrant lemon peel and orange flower water.

Eliza Smith, The Compleat Housewife, 1739

On a side note, the first cookery book published in America was an edited version of this cookbook published in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1742 by William Parks. This recipe for "Vermicelli Pudding" was excluded from this publication, one of the editorial decisions made by Parks to eliminate recipes he thought might involve ingredients that would not be accessible to Americans. Other British cookbooks imported into America in the 18th century do include this type of recipe, therefore it was likely known. 

Modern Recipe Adaptation 
1 Quart Whole Milk
5 Ounces of Vermicelli Noodles (or any extra fine spaghetti noodles)
1 Teaspoon Ground Mace or Ground Nutmeg
Rind of One Lemon, Grated
1 Teaspoon Orange Flower Water, Optional
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
8 Ounces (2 Sticks) Butter, Cut in 1 Tablespoon Chunks
4 Whole Large Eggs plus 2 Large Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
Pastry for  Bottom of Pie Dish, Optional

1. Place the milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the vermicelli, stir, and reduce heat to low. Cook until the vermicelli is just tender, but not overly soft, about 8 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove from the heat. Do NOT drain the milk.

2. Add the spice, lemon, orange flower water, sugar, and butter to the vermicelli/milk mixture. Stir until the sugar and butter are melted and dissolved.

3. Allow the mixture to cool to just warm, not hot. This is important because if the mixture is too hot the eggs will cook when you add them to it.

4. While mixture is cooling, whisk together the eggs and egg whites. You can also go ahead and heat the oven to 350º F at this time.

5. Add the eggs to the warm (not hot) mixture and mix thoroughly. Then salt to taste (about a pinch).

6. Pour into a pie dish lined with pie pastry dough or pour into a greased casserole dish or deep-dish pie dish. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to collect any spills or overages that may occur during cooking.

7. Bake at 350º for about 60 minutes, or until cooked through and set.

8. Allow to cool before serving.

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