Welcome to 18th century cooking. I’m Jon Townsend and today we’ll be going into some eighteenth-century Spanish cooking. We’ll be doing a poached salmon. Thanks for joining us today. (Theme music playing) (Music continues) (Theme music playing) For the next few episodes we’ll be concentrating on recipes that are not necessarily British cooking. So, a lot of what we’ve done in the past is specifically English cooking or British cookery. It’s very easy to research. There are lots and lots of English cookbooks and so we’ve been doing a lot of that along with some other cookery, but for these next few episodes We’ll be looking at some other cultures, specifically Spanish, French, Swedish – hopefully – and Native American recipes or dishes. Today we’ll be doing a couple of recipes out of The New Art of Cookery by Juan Altamiras and this was printed in about 1750. 1750. This book is a reinterpretation or … let’s say translation by Vikki Hayward. Excellent book. Let’s get started. So, let me read to you this translation of Altamiras’s recipe. This was just salmon. He says, “Fresh salmon is best boiled and served with a little fresh olive oil and sharp citrus juice or fried onion and salt.

Salted salmon needs soaking in clean running water for a full day and a night, like tuna, then scoured with new esparto grass before cooking. Such cleanliness, though learned, not natural is enough to make you a fine cook. Serve this salmon with a dusting of pepper and a jug of fresh olive oil.” Very very interesting recipe for what it’s got there and what it doesn’t have there. And of course, we’ll be using fresh salmon, not the- the salted salmon, which I’m not sure where I would get salted salmon from these days, but that in the time period was the inexpensive alternative to fresh salmon. This recipe we’re gonna to start off with the onions.

This one’s pretty simple. We’re gonna take about a pound of onions, cut them nice and fine, and these are gonna go into a pan with four tablespoons of olive oil. Now, this is meant to cook very slowly over a very low fire. So, I’ve picked here a cast-iron pan to cook these in because I want something that I can control the heat with. If I had a nice thin pan – boy – it can get hot or cold very very rapidly.

So, I want something with a lot of body to it. In the time period they might have used – say a – ceramic pot or a ceramic kind of pan that would cook these very slowly. So, we’re gonna- we’re gonna brown these onions – actually, not brown them, but very slowly fry them for about an hour. So, about half way through here I’ve added some saffron water and some salt and pepper. So, what’s happening here is it’s a kind of boiling off the the water that’s in the onions and kind of cooking that off and now I’m gonna add a little bit more water back in with the saffron water and let it cook for another half hour. Very very low, very slow, and stirring it so that it doesn’t burn.

So, my onions are still cooking. They’re gently cooking and I’m gonna keep my eye on them and keep them stirring. Now we can start the next part of this recipe which has to do with the salmon. Now, I’ve already got some pre-prepared, cut-up, beautiful salmon steaks that were going to be cooking. Now, he calls them- he just says “boil them”. Of course, in other parts of the cookbook he actually kind of goes into more depth about cooking fish and he references boiling these very gently. That’s one of the tricks with these old recipe books, is that they they weren’t- their vocabulary wasn’t as big for cooking as we have today and we will, of course, poach these salmon steaks. He just used boil. They probably would have understood it in the time period as a very gentle simmer. Now, many times in these cookbooks or in these situations in 18th century cooking, if they wanted to cook something very gently they would actually use a ceramic vessel.

They had all kinds of different kinds of cooking vessels and something that’s very common in the 18th century for English cooking and especially for French and other continental cooking is to use a ceramic vessel for cooking things very gently, very slowly. So we’re gonna actually poach our salmon in this clay cooking pot today. So I’ve got my pot – my ceramic pot – here on the low fire and I just let it heat up just a little bit. If we put this on on a fire without having anything in it it’ll probably bust and crack. These kinds of things are really meant to be heated very evenly. So, once this kind of gets up to a simmer – since I poured boiling water into it – once it comes back up into a simmer, I’m gonna slip the fish in here and get it cooking.

So, while our fish is poaching, let me tell you a little bit more about this particular cookbook and why I find it so very very interesting. So, published about right there about 1750 or so. And the very very interesting thing, beyond the fact that this is Spanish cooking – and there are these very very interesting similarities and differences between English cookery and Spanish cookery at the time period – the interesting thing about this cookbook is that this author doesn’t just pick out the high-end cookery, which is very easy to find in cookbooks, especially say early or 17th century cookbooks. Those were generally court cookery or, you know, cookbooks for people with a lot of money and so they would have fancy cooking in it.

This particular cookbook by this friar is full of things that were – let’s say of – modest means. So, inexpensive cookery and those can be very difficult to find. So, it’s got a different glimpse into cookery than we might find in a lot of different period cookbooks. Excellent, excellent book and this particular author, this modern author who reinterprets these things, does a really good job of connecting them with modern Spanish cookery. It might not be perfect if you’re trying to understand exactly what it was like in the 18th century, but when we try to incorporate these into our modern palate she does such an excellent job. So excellent, excellent cookbook. This book is a reinterpretation or let’s say translation by Vikki Hayward. Excellent book. Let’s get started. So, let me read to you this translation of Altamiras’ recipe. This was just salmon. It says that (copied text from book appears onscreen). Very, very interesting recipe for what it has there….for what it doesn’t have there and of course we will be using fresh salmon not the salted salmon which, I am not sure where I would get salted salmon from these days.

But that back in the time period was an inexpensive alternative to fresh salmon. For this recipe we are going to start out with the onions. This one is pretty simple. We are going to take about a pound of onions, cut them nice and fine, and these are going to go into a pan with 4 tbls of olive oil. Now this is meant to cook very slowly over a very low fire. So, I have picked here a cast iron pan to cook these in because I want something that I can control the heat with. If I had a nice thin pan boy it can get hot or cool very rapidly. So, I want something with a lot of body to it. In the time period they might have used say a ceramic pot or a ceramic kind of pan that would have cooked very slowly. So, we are going to brown these onions. Actually not brown them but very slowly fry them for about an hour. So, about 1/2 way through here I have added so saffron water and some salt and pepper.

So, what is happening here is, it’s kind of boiling off the water that’s in the onions and cooking that off. Now I am going to add a little more water back in with the saffron water and let it cook for another 1/2 hour very, very low. Very slow. Stirring it so that it doesn’t burn. So, my onions are still cooking. They are gently cooking. I’m going to keep my eye on them and keep them stirring. Now we can start the next part of this recipe which has to do with the salmon. Now I’ve already got some pre-prepared cut up beautiful salmon steaks that we are going to be cooking. Now he calls them he just says “boil them”. Of course, other parts of the cookbook he actually kind of goes into more of the depth about cooking fish and he references boiling them very gently.

That’s one of the tricks with these old recipe books. There vocabulary wasn’t as big for cooking as we have today. We will of course poach these salmon steaks. He just used “boiled”. They probably would have understood in the time period as very gentle simmer. Now many times in these cookbooks or in these situations in 18th century cooking if they wanted to cook something very gently they would actually use ceramic vessel. They had all different kinds of cooking vessels and something that is very common in the 18th century for English cooking and especially for other continental cooking is to use ceramic vessel for cooking things very gently, very slowly. So, we are going to actually poach our salmon in this clay cooking pot today. So, I’ve got my ceramic pot here on the low fire and I’ve just let it heat up just a little bit. If we put this on a fire without having anything in it will probably bust and crack. These kinds of things really meant to be heated very evenly. So, once this kind of gets up to a simmer. I pour boiling water into it and once it comes back up into a simmer I will slip the fish back in here and get it cooking.

So, while our fish is poaching let me tell you a little about more about this particular cookbook and about why I find it so very, very interesting. So, published right there about 1750 or so and the very, very interesting thing beyond the fact that this is Spanish cooking and there are these very, very interesting similarities and differences between English cookery and Spanish cookery for the time period. The interesting thing about this cookbook is that this author doesn’t just pick out the high-end cookery which is very easy to find in cookbooks especially, say earlier 17th century those are generally ‘court cookery’. Cookbooks for people with a lot of money. So they would have fancy cooking in it. This particular cook book by this friar is full of thinks that were let’s say of modest means. So, inexpensive cookery and those can be very difficult to find. So, it’s got a different glimpse into cookery that we might find in a lot of different period cookbooks.

Excellent, excellent cookbook and this particular modern author who reinterprets these things doest a really good job of connecting them with modern Spanish cookery. It might not be perfect if you are trying to understand exactly what it in the 18th century. But when we try and incorporate these into our modern palate she does such an excellent job. So excellent, excellent cooking. (Theme music playing) Well, there’s our salmon on top of our bed of onions. Looks wonderful. I’ve got a little bit of lemon here. I mean he talks about several different ways that you could actually serve this with just fresh olive oil and a little bit of lemon or serve it on this on- bed of on- yeah, bed of onions.

And we’ve got a little bit of parsley here which was mentioned in the recipe. Let’s give this a try, see how it turned out. Let’s see here. Whoop Mmm. Boy! That is tremendous. The The onions are just really good with this dish. What a wonderful combination of these wonderful sweet onions, this really interesting texture on the onions, and was so softly, you know, gently cooked and they’ve got a little bit of spice in there, you know, the pepper.

You could add a little bit of garlic to it or whatever that’s in some of these recipes along with this gently cooked fish which is so wonderful and tender and that isn’t, you know, fishy flavor didn’t in the least, especially the way this was cooked. Gently poached. So, a just a great combination of flavors. So, make sure to stay tuned for the coming episodes that are coming up. We’ll do another Spanish one and some other cookery that’s outside of English cookery that really connect with North American cookery.

So, it’s going to be really great. I want to thank everyone out there for all your wonderful support: Patreon and checking out the merch on our website – all that kind of – sharing our videos. Thank you so much for that and thanks for coming along with us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century. Mmm that’s good. (Ending theme music playing) That was good. .

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