Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald

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University of Massachusetts Press, 2011

Ready for some wine-soaked bass served with oysters and cranberries? Or how about some elegant Boston cream cakes (that's right, we said "cakes," not "pie")? In our blog, we'll show you how we cooked (in a modern but pretty basic kitchen) a goodly number of the vintage recipes to be found in our recent book, Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England. We think it's well worth the effort to try to cook historic foods. It gives a unique look at history, a glimpse at what cooks from times gone by had to do to get a meal on the table. But more to the point, these dishes make good eating. They might be considered lost culinary treasures--now found!

Cooking New England

“To rost a Capon with Oysters and Chesnuts,” from Hannah Woolley’s The Queen-like Closet (1670)

December 5, 2011

Tags: capon, chicken, oysters, chestnuts, Hannah Woolley

Capon roasted with oysters and chestnuts, from 1670

This recipe comes from one of three English cookbooks that are known to have been part of the stock of Boston booksellers in the 1680s. (Gervase Markham's The English Hus-wife, featured in our last blog post, was one of the other two.) It offers an alternative to roast turkey, one that is just as delectable but that better suits our smaller modern families. A capon is a cockerel (young rooster) that has been “fixed.” The operation produces a 7-9 lb. bird whose flesh when cooked is more moist and tasty than that of other chickens. To find out how we “rosted” our capon,


and also about Hannah Woolley and her cookbook,


take a look at our column on a great website about All Things New England.

The original recipe, with commentary, can be found in Northern Hospitality, p. 186.

Selected Works

Nonfiction
"An excellent and original attempt to go deep into the detail of New England’s cooking heritage."
--Kathryn Hughes
"A standard work in culinary history."
--Andrew F. Smith
Stavely uses Paradise Lost to survey the historical and cultural evolution of New England.

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