Sunday, March 27, 2016

Maryland Stuffed Ham: A St. Mary's County Tradition

St. Mary's County, Maryland Stuffed Ham
Those who have spent even just a short time in St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland would have heard of, if not tasted, the classic traditional stuffed ham. 

What is the Stuffed Ham Recipe?

  • The recipe starts with a corned (brined) ham. A corned ham is cured in salt but not smoked like a regular ham. 
  • The bone is removed and then it is stuffed with a mixture of many things including cabbage, kale, onions (wild onions could have been used historically), mustard seed, celery seed, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Note that folklore states that people in northern St. Mary's County use more kale  than cabbage but the people in the southern portion of the county tend to use more cabbage than kale. 
  • The ham is then wrapped in cheesecloth and boiled. 
  • Usually, the ham is served cold.

What is the History of the Maryland Stuffed Ham?
The Stuffed Ham is one of those dishes that goes back so many generations that its precise origins are lost. It is a recipe that has largely been passed down through oral tradition; no pre-modern written recipes exist.

Here are Some Theories as to the Origins of the St. Mary's County Stuffed Ham:

  • Medieval European Origins: Stuffing meat goes way back in time –just not usually stuffed ham. Although the Lincolnshire Stuffed Chine from England is very similar to this American stuffed ham. The dish uses the chine, a cured pork neck/backbone, and it is stuffed with simmered or steamed parsley and sometimes other herbs such as lettuce leaves, young nettles, thyme, marjoram, sage and blackcurrant leaves.  You can read more about it at Slow Food in the UK.
  • Caribbean/American Origins: According to historian Dr. Henry Miller, the use of hot spicy red peppers is not part of the traditional Anglo-American diet. Therefore  . . .
    • Enslaved Afro-Marylanders may have introduced the peppers as they were not common practice in English cooking at that time.
    • An old unproven theory says that a slave of Jesuits at St. Inigoes (in St. Mary’s County) invented it (possibly a slave from the Caribbean).
    • One theory suggests that while the best parts of the hog were reserved for the slaveowners (the best hams and bacon), the slaves may have been given just the lower jaw of the pig (the jowl) and they stuffed pockets in these jowls or jam bones.
    • Another theory suggests slaves may have stuffed hams given to them at Christmas to make the meat stretch further - a practical way to extend the amount of servings of the special ham.
  • The preference for adding hot spice to hams can also be found in many recipes for curing hams in 19th century Maryland manuscript and printed recipes. Salt, saltpeter, molasses and/or brown sugar, hickory ashes, and cayenne pepper are prolific in recipes for Maryland curry hams.
The Recipe
I have an extensive collection of cookbooks published in Maryland by Marylanders. Some were authored by professional chefs, some by professional cookbook writes and a lot (most) by religious and/or civiv organizations for fundraising purposes. In all of the dozens of cookery books I have, there are really only two that have recipes for this ham dish. 

In Frederick Philip Stieff's 1932 publication of Eat, Drink & Be Merry in Maryland stuffed ham is described as follows:

"Hams of twelve pounds or more are best to use for 'stuffed ham,' a popular dish with Southern Marylanders, particularly at Easter. The ham to be used is best when less than a year old.

For a sixteen-pound ham use one peck of greens: cabbage sprouts, turnip greens or kale, two dozen bunches of spring onions or their equivalent in chives, red and black pepper and celery seed.

Allow fifteen minutes per pound after the ham starts boiling and cook steadily until three-fourths done. Then put aside to partly cool while the greens scald in the ham liquor. When well wilted, take greens up and chop well. Season the greens with celery seed and pepper to taste.

Then with a sharp knife cut crescent-shaped openings in the ham, top and bottom, as deep as the knife will go. Stuff the mixture of greens in the incisions, as much as they will hold. Make as many incisions as the ham will conveniently take.

Fold in a stout cloth and sew fast. Replace ham in the boiling liquor for the remaining quarter of the time allowed for cooking. Cool in the liquor, and when thoroughly cold, it is ready for use. Keep cloth on the ham to preserve the moisture and keep in a cool place. It is truly a dish for the gods.--Mr. J. F. Coad, A.M. Cherry field's Manor, St. Mary's County

These two recipes are from Timeless Treasures from St. Paul's, a 1998 collection of recipes published by St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Prince Frederick, Maryland:

My Recipe Adaptation
Note: You will want to start this recipe about 2 days in advance of serving it.

  • 1 De-Boned Corned Ham (18-22 pounds); In Maryland, you should be able to order one from your local PA Dutch/Amish Butcher; Keep the Bone!
  • 10 Pounds Cabbage, Shredded
  • 1 Pound Kale Leaves (no stalks), Chopped Finely
  • 6 Large Onions, Chopped or Shredded in Food Processor
  • 2 Tablespoons Mustard Seed, Cracked in a Spice Mill
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper, Crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 Packages Cheesecloth


1. Preparing the Vegetable Stuffing:
  • Place the ham bone in a very large  (24-quart size) stock pot and cover with about 4 gallons of cold water. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

  • As the foamy scum rises to the top, remove with a ladle. You will beed to do this about 5 times. This is important because if you do not remove the scum, a bitter taste will be imparted.
Remove the scum as it rises to the
surface of the water.
  • Add the prepared cabbage and kale to the water and blanch for about 15 minutes. Drain the vegetables and place in a large mixing bowl. 
Blanched Cabbage and Kale

  • Add the onions and spices and toss together well. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate overnight.
Adding Onions and Spices to the Vegetables

2. Stuffing the Ham: 
  • Lay out two packages of cheesecloth on the counter table like this:

  • Set the ham in top of the center of the cheesecloth.
  • Stuff the cavity left from the bone first and then tie up the ham with kitchen twine.
Placing Stuffing in Cavity Left After Removal of Bone

  • Make several 1-2 inch slits all over the ham. Insert the stuffing into the slits in the ham.
Stuffing Slits All Over the Ham

  • When finished stuffing the ham, tie it up with string and then wrap it snuggly in the cheesecloth. You can tie it closed or sew it closed.
Tied Ham

Toe up the ends of the cheesecloth like in the above picture.
Then Place ham on third pack of cheesecloth and
wrap over the top of the ham.
This is how it should look after
it's been wrapped and tied.

3. Cooking the Ham:
  • Place the wrapped, stuffed ham back into the cooking pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 hours (about 15 minutes per pound).
  • Allow ham to cool off in the cooking liquid. When cool to the touch, remove the ham from the liquid and refrigerate overnight.

4. Serving the Ham:
  • When cold, the cheesecloth can be removed and the ham can be carved. 
  • Serve cold.
Sliced St. Mary's Stuffed Ham

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lemon Pop: A Fizzy Drink You Can Make Easily at Home

Lemon Pop: A Fizzy Drink Recipe From 1916

About the Recipe 

I found an interesting recipe for a carbonated drink using yeast from a cookery book published by the Fleischmann Company in 1916.  Here it is:

These instructions for making fizzy drinks using yeast were also provided in the recipe book:

Modern Recipe Adaptation
  • 2 Quarts Water
  • 1/2 Ounce Fresh Ginger Root, Unpeeled
  • 1/2 Pound Granulated Sugar (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 Ounce Cream of Tartar
  • Juice from 2 Small Lemons
  • 1 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast*

1. Heat the water to boiling.
2. While the water is heating, wash the ginger and then chop it up. If you have a manual food chopper like the one pictured below use it to chop the ginger. Otherwise, you can just use a knife or gently pulse it in a food processor until it's chopped but not pasty. 

Crushing the Ginger in a Vintage Food Chopper

3. When the water reaches the boiling point, carefully pour it into a stoneware crock or bowl. Add the ginger, sugar, cream of tartar, and lemon juice.

Lemon Pop Ingredients

4. Allow the hot mixture to cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes. After it cools down, add the yeast and stir. Cover and place in a warm spot for 8 hours. I placed mine on a warming ring on the top of my stove that has a very low setting.
5. Strain all of the ginger out of the drink.
6. Store Lemon Pop in canning jars in the refrigerator.

*Note: You can add more or less yeast to adjust the carbonation to your liking.

Lemon Pop Cocktail:  Add a shot of vodka to 6 ounces of Lemon Pop for an adult version of this refreshing drink.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Crumpets: An American Take on a Classic British Tea Cake

Toasted Crumpet with Butter . . . Nothing Tastes Better Than This!

Eating a Freshly Homemade Crumpet is a Truly Magical Experience!

What is a Crumpet?
In every supermarket across the United States, English Muffins take up a large section of the bread aisles. However, the toasted tea cake known more popularly in England is actually the crumpet, and you will be hard pressed to find them in average American grocery stores, although they can be found in Trader Joe's and The Fresh Market, among other boutique shops.

A crumpet is a yeast-leavened thick pancake that is punctuated with lots of air bubbles. It is cooked on a greased griddle in a metal ring. A good crumpet will have lots of those little air bubbles punctuating the cooked surface. After the crumpet is cooked on a griddle it needs to be toasted whole (do not split in two as you would for an English Muffin). Then, spread the top with butter which melts into all of the little pores giving the crumpet a rich and delicious taste. English muffins are made in a similar fashion but with a much thicker batter and are meant to be torn open into two halves first before toasting.

How Old are Crumpets? 
Going back to the 14th century, there is a reference to a "crompid" cake and there are 17th century references to buckwheat griddle cakes called 'crumpits".  The Welsh also have a pancake called a "crempog" and the Bretons have the 'krampoch", a buckwheat pancake.

The earliest recipe for the more modern form of crumpet known to us now can be found in The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald in 1769. Here is the recipe from the 10th edition of her cookery book from 1786:

Here is an interesting orange version of a crumpet also found in Raffald's cookbook: 

19th century Americans definitely did not ignore the tasty delights of the crumpet. Here is an American version by Mary Randolph in her much loved work, The Virginia Housewife (1824):

Here is another American version of the crumpet by Rufus Estes in his 1911 work, Good Things To Eat, As Suggested By Rufus; A Collection Of Practical Recipes For Preparing Meats, Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, Etc.  Rufus Estes was born a slave in Tennessee in 1857. After the civil war was over, while still quite young, he worked at various jobs to help support his family. He milked cows, carried dinners out to laborers in the fields, was employed in a restaurant, and then, in 1883, he began work as a private car attendant for the Pullman Company. He was assigned the task of taking care for special parties which brought him into contact with many prominent people such as Presidents Cleveland and Harrison. In addition, Estes also worked for private individuals serving them in their own personal train cars. As result of this job and from his experience as a chef, Rufus learned a lot about good food and his cookbook is a testament to his experiences.

Crumpets: Modern Recipe Adaptation of Rufus Estes Recipe

Yield: Makes 18 9.5 cm crumpets


  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Package Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup Warm Water
  • 3 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1. Scald the milk and then take off the heat. Add the butter and let it melt into the milk. Whisk in the salt. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside to allow it to cool.
2. While waiting for the milk to cool, dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water. Set aside until it becomes bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.
3. After the milk cools to lukewarm, add the dissolved yeast and the flour to it. Stir until well-mixed, cover and set aside in a warm place and let rise at least 1 hour. 

Crumpet Batter Should Be Thin

4. Heat an electric skillet to 325º F. Grease the skillet with oil or spray oil. Grease crumpets rings (measuring 9.5 cm in diameter). Arrange crumpet rings on the surface of the skillet.

Greased Crumpet Rings on Greased Skillet

5. Spoon 1/4 cup of the batter into each ring. Allow the crumpets to cook for about 7 minutes, until they begin to develop holes on their surfaces and firm up. 
6. After the crumpets are sufficiently cooked (see picture below), remove the rings and flip. Cook for just 1 minute on the other side to make sure the batter on the tops is cooked thoroughly. 

Holes will form on the tops of the crumpets as they cook.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until all of the batter is gone. 

Crumpets Straight Off the Griddle!

To Store Crumpets

  • Stack the crumpets between layers of parchment paper.
  • Store the crumpets in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container or bag 

To Serve Crumpets:

  • Toast until golden.
  • Top with butter, jam, lemon curd, or anything else you like!

Monday, March 7, 2016

To Roast Venison According to John Nott, c. 1723

Sliced Roasted Venison in Cullis Based Sauce

About the Recipe 

This recipe is very complex and comes from John Nott's, The Cook's and Confectioner's Dictionary: Or, the Accomplish'd Housewife's Companion published in 1723 in London by C. Rivington. John Nott was the cook to His Grace the Duke of Bolton.  

After having made this recipe I can see why it would be served to someone as aristocratic as a duke!  There are many steps to make this recipe and it took me 2 days!

Here is the recipe (the steps follow):

Modern Recipe Adaptation: To Roast Venison

Step 1: Making Veal Stock and Gravy
Before you even begin to think about making the roast, you need to make the veal stock for the cullis. Do this the day before. According to Nott, a cullis is used for "thickening all sorts of Ragoos and Soops, and give them an agreeable Taste." A cullis is a rich meat stock that is made by slow-cooking meat, vegetables, herbs, spices, and bread and then grinding everything up and straining out the lumps.


  • 1 1/2 - 2 Pounds Bone-In Veal (I used an osso-bucco cut)
  • 1 Large Onion, Unpeeled and Chopped 
  • 1 Cup Diced Carrots
  • 1 Cup Diced Celery
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Bouquet Garni of Sweet Herbs (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram or Oregano)

1. Place the veal in a large stock pot. 
2. Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper and herbs.
3. Cover the contents of the stock pot with cold water.
4. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil.
5. As the scum rises to the surface of the water, skim it off with a ladle.
6. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for two hours, until the meat is so tender it starts to fall apart.
7. Strain the meat and vegetables from the stock. Use the stock to make a gravy in Step 2.

Step 2: Making the Veal Gravy


  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose White Flour
  • 2 Cups Veal Stock (from Step 1 above)

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the flour and whisk until well-blended.
2. Cook the butter/flour mixture (roux) until the flour smell is gone.
3. Add the veal stock and whisk until there are no lump. 
4. Bring the gravy to a boil and then immediately reduce the temperature to low and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until the gravy thickens.
5. Refrigerate the gravy and the remaining stock for use in making the cullis (step 4).

Step 3: Preparing the Venison Roast


  • 1 Venison Roast, About 2-3 Pounds
  • 3 Slices of American-Style Pork Belly Streaky Bacon, Cut into Several 3-4 Inch Pieces
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Wine
  • 1/2 Cup Verjuice (click here to read about verjuice)
  • 4 Fresh Bay Leaves
  • Grated Rind and Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Bundle of Sweet Herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme)

(The roast needs to marinate for 3-4 hours, so plan accordingly.)

1. Lard the Roast: Use a larding needle to insert pieces of bacon into the venison roast. Here are some pictures to help guide you:

Inserting Bacon in Larding Needle
Inserting the Needle into the Roast

The Larded Roast

Step 2: Make the Dry Rub: Mix together 1 teaspoon of the salt (you will have 1 1/2 teaspoons left for later use), black pepper, nutmeg and cloves. Rub this all over the larded roast.

Roast covered with the dry rub.

Step 3: Make the Marinade: 

  • In a large bowl, mix together the wine, verjuice, remaining salt, bay leaves, and the grated rind and juice of the lemon.  
  • Add the bundle of sweet herbs. 
  • Insert the roast into the marinade and cover.
  • Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Step 4: Make the Cullis

Here is Nott's Cullis Recipe:

  • 3 Pounds of Veal (I used veal chops)
  • 1/2 Pound Canadian Bacon
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Carrots
  • 1 Large Parsnip, Diced
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • Dripping from 4 Slices of Bacon
  • 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • Veal Gravy (from Step 1)
  • 3 Cups Veal Stock (from Step 1)
  • 1/2 Pounds Mushrooms, Sliced
  • 2 Teaspoons Whole Cloves
  • 1 Leek (Sliced and rinsed well)
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Small French Bread Rolls, Sliced
1. Heat a thick-bottomed stock pot on medium-high heat.  Add the veal to the hot pot (no need to oil the pan first).
2. Layer the Canadian bacon, carrots, parsnips, and onions on top of the veal. Lower the temperature to medium and cover.
3. Cook until the veal starts to caramelize:

The veal will caramelize like this.

4. Once the veal is caramelized, add the bacon drippings and the flour. Stir well until all of the flour is moistened by the bacon fat.
5.  Add the gravy and the stock. Stir well.
6. Then add the mushrooms, cloves, leeks, parsley, and bread slices. Stir well.
7. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat and vegetables are tender enough to grind.
8. Remove the bones.
9. Using a food processor or a hand-held blender, blend all of the cullis ingredients together.
10. Strain about 1-2 cups through a sieve to use in the cullis (in the final step below).
11. You can strain the remaining cullis, or you can leave it unstrained. Either way, you can serve it as the thick soup topped with croutons.


Step 5: Roasting and Finishing the Venison

  • Marinated Venison Roast
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Venison Drippings
  • 2 Cups Cullis (from Step 4)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon White Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Verjuice
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers, Drained
1. Roasting: 
  • Remove the venison from the marinade. Pat dry.
  • Roast the venison in an oven heated to 350º F for about 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the roast reads 145º F. for medium rare.
  • Let the roast rest for about 3-5 minutes before slicing.
Allow the roast to rest for at least 3-5 minutes before slicing.

2. Make the Sauce: Mix together the drippings, cullis, white pepper, verjuice, and capers together.
3. Slice the venison to your taste (thin or thick) and then ladle the sauce over it.

Sliced Venison Draped in Cullis-Based Sauce

Finally done  . . . now enjoy with a glass of red wine!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Chocolate Almonds: An 18th c. "Eating Chocolate"

Chocolate Almonds

If you were to travel back in time to the 18th century or early 19th century and walk into a chocolate shop, you might be surprised to find that chocolate was usually prepared for sale in cakes or tablets meant to be grated and then dissolved in water to make a hot chocolate drink. While there were certain recipes such as chocolate tarts, creams, and meringue biscuits in which chocolate was used as an ingredient, the idea of eating a bar of chocolate candy was not popular because chocolate then was a bit coarse, dry, and maybe even a little gritty. Things changed over the course of the 19th century when new technologies were discovered to knead the chocolate with a melanguer (1850s) and then with its improvement, the conch machine (developed in 1879 by Rudolph Lindt).  These types of machines were able to knead the chocolate to make it more malleable, more stable, less acidic, and gave chocolate a smoother, more velvety mouth-feel than any prior finished chocolate product.

Additionally, until the middle part of the 19th century, chocolatiers did not temper their chocolate. Tempering develops the beta crystals in chocolate to make the finished product more stable, make it shrink a bit so it can be removed from moulds easily, gives it a nice shiny appearance, and results in a satisfying snap when a piece is broken off of it.  Tempering chocolate seems to have started only by the middle of the 19th century when the technological ability to isolate and manipulate the cocoa butter in chocolate was achieved.

Therefore, these technological advancements of the 19th century ushered in the era of chocolate that was meant to be eaten as opposed to chocolate that was meant to used as an ingredient in a recipe or more importantly, to be made into a drink. Having said all of that, some 18th and early 19th century recipes for chocolate pastils or candies can be found. While some of the recipes do give instructions to melt the chocolate, these recipes do not instruct the reader to "temper" the liquid chocolate. These recipes usually instruct the reader to either just simply melt the chocolate or, more commonly, to just grate it up and add a natural stiffener called gum tragacanth (a.k.a gum dragon) to help bind the grated chocolate together. Orange flower water is often used as the vehicle in which to dissolve the gum. The orange flower water definitely imparts a distinct orange perfume-like flavor in the chocolate marking it with a   true flavor the 18th century.

Here is a list of some early period chocolate candy recipes:

  • 1733: To Make Chocolate Almonds (Mrs. Mary Eales's Reciepts, Confections to Her Late Majesty Queen Ann, London)
  • 1739: To Make Chocolate Almonds (The Compleat Housewife by E. Smith, London)
  • 1770: Chocolate Pastils; Chocolate Conserves, and Chocolate Dragees (The Court and Country Confectioner, by an Ingenious Foreigner Now Head Confectioner to the Spanish Ambassador in England, London)
  • 1777: Chocolate Almonds (The Lady's Assistant, 3rd edition by Charlotte Mason, London)
  • 1827: Chocolate Harlequin Pistachios, Chocolate Candy, Chocolate Drops in Moulds, Vanilla Chocolate Drops, Cocoa Nuts in Sugar (The Italian Confectioner, by William Alexis Jarrin, London )
  • 1844: Lemon or Chocolate Drops (The Lady's Own Cookery Book, and New Dinner-Table Directory, by Lady Charlotte Campbell Bury, London)

The Recipe: Chocolate Almonds 
Source: E. Smith, The Compleat Housewife: London, 1739

I chose this recipe because it is a very typical type of recipe for a chocolate candy in the 18th century. I also like E. Smith's cookbook because an edition of it was printed in 1742 in the North American colonies at Williamsburg, Virginia.

Modern Recipe Adaptation

1/2 Ounce Gum Tragacanth (Gum Dragon)
1 Ounce Orange Flower Water
10 Ounces Taza Mexican Chocolate, Broken Up Into Chunks
  • Use this brand or another stone-ground chocolate to try to mimic the texture of 18th c. chocolate
  • I prefer the dark or vanilla types with no less than 60% chocolate in them.


1. Soak the gum in the orange flower water until a paste is formed. Set aside.

Gum Tragacanth (Dragon)

2. In a food processor, grate the chocolate until it is powdery.

3. Add the soaked gum paste to the chocolate powder in the food processor and pulse until it is evenly distributed throughout the chocolate.

4. Place the chocolate mixture onto a board or countertop lined with parchment paper. Using your hands, divide the chocolate into about 6 small sections and knead each section until it becomes a pliable dough.

The chocolate mixture will look powdery like this until you work it with your hands.

5. If you have a chocolate or candy mould, you can use it to form shapes with the chocolate. If not, you can roll the chocolate into small balls.

Here is the chocolate almond mould I used to make the "chocolate almonds":

Almond Shaped Candy Mould

Pack the chocolate mixture into the mould. Use a small spatula or knife to help pry out each of the "almonds".

The finished chocolates are quite refreshing in flavor, given all of the orange flower water used. If you do not like the strong perfumed flavor, you can use just plain water or part water/part vanilla extract.