Outlanderday Cooking: A bit of Rarebit!

Ahhhh Well, here we are on the final episode of this first half the season of Outlander… feeling a wee bit sad about that and the fact that it will be a verra long wait till spring when they return to us! I have gotten used to this little routine of Outlanderday cooking, and apparently so have some others in my home? There was a rather disappointed question from one of them recently…”So, does this mean you won’t be cooking on Saturdays, we were just getting used to it!” Well, not wanting to disappoint my family, and also not wanting to give up this new routine… I want to reassure all that I will still do some form of Outlander Cooking on Saturdays! There are, after all, quite a few books and Novellas that cover a wide variety of cooking styles! Theresa over at  has so many recipes and ideas that I am quite sure I can keep us well fed until Spring.  When I mentioned this there was a sigh of relief… I’m thinking it was more because they were worried that I might try the more ancient medieval cooking of the Vikings with their return in January! Rest easy, I am not going to force those meals upon us, well not right now anyway? I may explore some of the more ancient styles and methods of cooking but am really not sure I’m up to actually eating them! For one thing, I do not have the required cooking utensils?

Viking food supplies

Viking food supplies

Viking cooking utensils

Viking cooking utensils

Viking cooking utensils

Viking cooking utensils


So, I do believe that I shall leave the Viking cooking to these more qualified women!


I think I will join Lagertha on her quest instead!


Ummmm and just in case anyone is wondering… I will follow Rollo (Clive Standen) where he chooses to go? Hopefully he will take me to France this year? Before Scottish Highlanders, there were Viking Warriors!

Clive Standen as Rollo Clive Stanton as Rollo


Ohhhh ummmm ahhhh where was I? So sorry for that minor lapse and digression from our  topic, I just got carried away with daydreams of Rollo! Now, back to our current subject, Outlanderday Cooking!


Since tonight is the finale and of course this also a marathon to watch, I really do not want to be stuck in the kitchen all day? Because of that, I am going as usual with Theresa’s most excellent suggestion for tonight’s meal. She suggests Scottish Rarebit and I agree with her choice!  As a child, we often ate a version of this, though we referred to it as Whelsh Rarebit? I remember once asking my Father why it was called Rarebit and his response was “Well, because back in the old days, if you were lucky there might be a rare bit of meat but probably not?” He did explain too that it was also called Whelsh Rabbit and this was what you eat when you didn’t snare the rabbit!


Alright, Dad’s explanations and jokes aside, here is a definition of Whelsh Rarebit:

Welsh rarebit (spelling based on folk etymology) or Welsh rabbit  is a dish made with a savoury sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot, after being poured over slices (or other pieces) of toasted bread, or the hot cheese sauce may be served in a chafing dish like a fondue, accompanied by sliced, toasted bread.  The names of the dish originate from 18th-century Great Britain.  Welsh rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in contrast to the Continental European fondue, which classically depends on Swiss cheeses.   Various recipes for Welsh rarebit include the addition of ale, mustard, ground cayenne pepper or ground paprika  and Worcestershire sauce. The sauce may also be made by blending cheese and mustard into a Béchamel sauce[ or Mornay sauce. Some recipes for Welsh rarebit have become textbook savoury dishes listed by culinary authorities including Escoffier, Saulnier  and others, who tend to use the form Welsh rarebit, emphasising that it is not a meat dish.


I like Theresa’s reasoning for this type of meal in some tribute to Frank Randall, who is now a bachelor busy trying to find his lost wife and too busy or frustrated to put a lot of focus or attention into meal preparation?

Outlander_Cast_Frank_420x560 claire and frank8 Frank Randall OUT_108-20140518-EM_0812.jpg

I am in somewhat the same circumstances tonight… my usual dinner and viewing partners have deserted me and it will be just me at a table for one tonight. It’s also my Dad’s Birthday.  Though he’s been gone now for 20 years, there are so many times,  like yesterday when I read the Rarebit suggestion at, that he shows up looking over my shoulder and I have to smile with him at his jokes! So, it felt somewhat fitting to make the Rarebit for him tonight.


Here are a few old versions of the simple recipe!

Recipes for rarebit


The version we used to eat was more like this?

welshrarebit2 welsh rarebit


Besides the recipe posted on, I have found a few others that are similar to what I grew up eating.

The Pioneer Woman website has a great explanation and recipe:

Foodnetwork’s Alton Brown also has an excellent version!


From Traditional Scottish Recipes:

Traditional Scottish Recipes

 – Toasted Cheese

More usually associated with the Welsh than the Scots, Toasted Cheese is also called Welsh Rarebit.

Before the days of grills and modern cookers, the cheese was melted in front of the fire and bread was toasted on both sides with butter spread on one side and the melted cheese poured on top. Sometimes beer, pepper and salt were mixed with the cheese.

In 1747 a cookery book gave a recipe for “Scots Rabbit” or Rare Bit as bread toasted on both sides and a slice of cheese, the same size as the bread, also toasted on both sides and laid on the buttered bread. The same book had “Welsh Rabbit” made in the same way but with mustard rubbed on the cheese. “English Rabbit” on the other hand had a glass of red wine poured over the toast before the cheese was added. Take your pick!




I purchased some Artisan Cheddar Cheese Garlic bread, which I will use for the toast, and I also have added some meat to my menu! In honor of my Dad, because he loved his bacon so much, I got some bacon ends and pieces to fry up along with it! Now, it will be a table for two in front of the television tonight… Dad and I will enjoy the dinner and the show together. I know he would actually like the show because he was a huge fan of history!

Previous Outlander post:

Previous Outlanderday cooking:




Outlander: After the Rhenish Wine… Some Chocolate and other historical recipes!


Previous outlander post:


In my previous Outlander post, I discussed the Rhenish Wine, it’s history, and possible reasons for it’s higher alcohol content? One reader did suggest that it could very likely have been laced with Poppy juice, which would account for it’s coloring, and for it’s pain numbing qualities. I do agree with this possibility for Colum’s private stock but I am somewhat doubtful whether he would have offered this strongest brew at the dining table to everyone… unless of course, he wanted them all quite highly numb and beyond clear thinking? I would not put this ploy past Dougal though!  Tonight, I am going to touch on a rather odd and yet interesting remedy I ran across for the after affects of the Rhenish Wine?

I can’t help but imagine that owing to Claire’s fondness for alcohol in general, and her highly stressed state in those earliest days… This picture could easily represent what she, and many others might have  woke up like on more than one morning after imbibing in too much of the strong spirits!

Claire a mess2

Then there would have been Mrs. Fitz slaving away down in the kitchens, brewing up some sort of concoction to revive all of those who had over indulged the night before!

Mrs Fitz


Now, please keep in mind that the following remedy was never mentioned in the books and  we would assume that this particular ingredient was not available to them up in the Highlands of Scotland. In fact, in some later books Claire’s daughter Bree mourned the fact that it was not available to her? Well, it may not have been available to her, but it was available and was coming into it’s own throughout Europe in finer homes as well as many middle class homes.  That odd ingredient and remedy for a hangover just happened to be none other than Chocolate!


Chocolate was first consumed as a beverage during the 1650’s in the highest class of nobility. By the 1700’s it was no longer just the Royals and Nobles consuming it, it was quickly becoming readily available to the more middle class masses and acceptable as an option other than tea or coffee.   Chocolate was first understood not only as a literally outlandish beverage, but as a medicinal wonder-drink.


In January 1697, John Houghton, apothecary and publisher of the weekly Collection for Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, was offering his own chocolate ‘nuts’ for sale, both plain and spiced, recommending them as “a great helper of bad stomachs, and restorative”. This was certainly what Pepys used it for, attempting to soothe his very sore head after Charles II’s coronation on 23 April 1661.


The earliest dated recipe, “To dresse Chocolatte”, in the manuscript recipe book of Lady Ann Fanshawe (1625–80), held by the Wellcome Library, is clearly dated ‘Madrid 10 August 1665’. Accompanied by a contemporary sketch of a chocolate pot and molinillo [wood whisk], the recipe appears to have come into her collection when she accompanied her husband, Sir Richard, on his embassy to Madrid between 1664–6.

The Fanshawe recipe is a variant on the Hispanic adaptations of indigenous central American chocolate preparations, but the only two recipes in English printed recipe books published prior to 1700 already show how chocolate was being absorbed into English dishes, and made palatable to English tastes.


Serving Chocolate

Serving Chocolate


This early painting depicts a small Chocolate pot in use as well as the Tea pot.

An English Family at Tea by Joseph van Aken

An English Family at Tea by Joseph van Aken


I was happy to read of this next recipe… I do enjoy a bit of Chocolate Wine on occasion!   Hannah Woolley’s 1670 recipe for “Chaculato” simply adds chocolate to claret, and thickens it with egg yolk. The anonymous author of the 1695 The True Way of Preserving and Candying, and Making Several Sorts of Sweetmeat, provides a recipe for “Chocolet-Puffs”, which adds grated chocolate to an otherwise very familiar pastrywork recipe.


As to it’s availability and use in the Highlands of Scotland during the 1700s,  We can probably assume that it was not widely consumed due to the cost, and the fact that it might have been looked at as one of those  outlandish and peculiar Sassenach concoctions? Jamie was well educated and well travelled, having spent a length of time in France, so he would have been quite familiar with it. Colum most likely would have looked at it as a wasteful indulgence as it would have done nothing to relieve his pains! Mrs. Fitz probably would have been skeptical and highly critical of such a frivolous and decadent  waste? I am reasonably sure though that there were probably some homes and establishments in the Highlands serving and enjoying it at the time?

Chocolate was not cheap (Houghton was selling it at between 4 and 10 shillings a pound in 1697), but it was not beyond the pockets of middling householder by the mid-18th century, who consumed it not only as a beverage, but also to flavour a repertoire of sweet dishes, familiar on genteel Georgian tables and sideboards. 

By 1737, The Whole Duty of a Woman: or, an Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex listed chocolate amongst those items absolutely necessary to take from the city to the country in the summer, just in case one’s local grocer did not sell it. Chocolate was certainly easily obtainable in the Somerset town of Wells in the 1720s, when the physician Claver Morris recorded drinking and prescribing it as part of his own dietary regime.

The equipment initially intended for the preparation of drinking chocolate also appears to have been absorbed into the kitchen drawer. In her 1747 text, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse writes of the ‘chocolate mill’ or molenillo as “the best way to whip sillibubs” and to be kept “for that purpose”: evidence that the utensil once unusual enough for Ann Fanshawe to sketch it, had become a multifunctional tool in the Georgian kitchen.

Chocolate%20pic%202_0 Chocolate%201


17th Century Chocolate recipe… We shall forward this on to Mrs. Fitz and suggest that she try it out!

Chocolate recipe

Chocolate recipe


To make Chocolate

Take your Choco Nutts and put them over the fire either
In earthern pott, or kettle or frying pan keeping them
stirring with a brass spoone till they be very hott and of black
browne, then take them and pull of[f] the shells with your fingers.
They must look of a black colour though not to[o] much burnt.

Then you must pound them in a great iron or brass mortar
and seeth [sieve] them through a fine lawne [linen] seeth [sieve], and  soe pound
them againe and soe seeth it till all
getts through, then take two pound of the powder and
three quarters of a pound of good white sugar about
5d or 6d per pound being seethed [sieved] all one as the
Choco Nutts, then put a Nuttmeg and half and ounce of
Cinnamon and pound it well together and seeth it as
herein before mentioned and to each pound of Choco
Nutt the like quantity. 

When you have mixt it altogether, take your mortar and putt it on the fire and
make it pretty hott and take the pestle also, then putt
the stuff in it and beat it till it comes to a smooth
past[e], then take it out and weigh it into Quarters of pounds
then Roll it round in your hands and putt it on a Quarter
of sheet of paper and take the paper into your two hands and
chafe it up and down till it comes to a short Roll.

English medical notebook, 1575-1663 (Wellcome Library MS.6812, p.137)


For a more recent and up to date Chocolate recipe, you should probably just use the recipe, Hot Chocolate with La Dame Blanche!   Haa… I love the suggestion and reference to Crème de Menthe! Be sure your cask of Crème de Menthe is free of any dead body!


Now, besides the verra interesting information on Chocolate,  I found a few other recipes that you might enjoy? All of the information and recipes pre-date the 1740’s time period that Claire arrived to in Scotland, so while they might not have been readily available or accessible to her or Mrs. Fitz at the time, they were in use in other areas such as England and France.  We can not go just by Claire’s observations because as many of us know well, unless it involved concocting something for medicinal purposes or experiments, Claire was not the one to be asking for cooking advice! Jamie probably knew more about the food choices and the kitchen than she did!


Lady Ann Fanshawe’s sugar cakes, 1651-1707  These would go well with the chocolate!

Lady Anne Fanshawe's sugar cakes 1651-1707

To make Sugar Cakes

Take 2 pound of Butter, one pound of fine Sugar, the yolkes of nine
Egs, a full Spoonfull of Mace beat & searsed [sifted], as much Flower as this
will well wett making them so stiffe as you may rowle it out, then
with the Cup of a glasse of what Size you please cutt them into
round Cakes & pricke them and bake them.


Or perhaps you could serve these puff pastries?

Hannah Bisaker's puff pastries

Hannah Bisaker’s puff pastries

To make puff paist

“Take halfe a quortorh of The Finest Flower then mix yo Flower and water and
Four white of Eggs together, mould up yo paste but not too stiff,
Then role yo Past out into a Sheete. Then lay some Butter in litle Pecies
Till you have Filled yo sheete but doe not lay it Towards The ends to neare, 
Then Dust a little Flower with yo Drudging Box then Fould it up
Twice before you put any more Then doe soe Till yo have put in
a pound keeping it a little dusted very Fine yo put it to yo Butter,
handle it a little Then cut it to yo own Fancie.


Once you have become adept at these recipes, you might want to try this next one?

How to cook a husband 1710-1725

How to cook a husband 1710-1725


How to Cook a Husband

As Mr Glass said of the hare, you must first catch him. Having done so,
the mode of cooking him, so as to make a good dish of him, is as follows.
Many good husbands are spoiled in the cooking; some women go about
it as if their husbands were bladders, and blow them up. Others keep them
constantly in hot water, while others freeze them by conjugal coldness.
Some smother them with hatred, contention and variance, and some keep
them in pickle all their lives. These women always serve them up with tongue
sauce. Now it cannot be supposed that husbands will be tender and good if
managed in that way. But they are, on the contrary, very delicious when
managed as follows: Get a large jar called the jar of carefulness, (which all
good wives have on hand), place your husband in it, and set him near the
fire of conjugal love; let the fire be pretty hot, but especially let it be clear – above
all, let the heat be constant. Cover him over with affection, kindness and 
subjection. Garnish with modest, becoming familiarity, and the spice of 
pleasantry; and if you had kisses and other confectionaries let them be 
accompanied with a sufficient portion of secrecy, mixed with prudence and
moderation. We would advise all good wives to try this receipt and realise
how admirable a dish a husband is when properly cooked.


Ohhhh, Ummmm  just in case you have failed to include enough fibre and vegetables in your more ancient diet… And, Claire will warn you firmly of the perils of neglecting these all important dietary needs… You would most likely be needing this additional recipe?

Soothing Remedy for Piles…

Soothing remedy for piles

Soothing remedy for piles


A Medicine ffor the piles in the ffundament being red soare akinge bleedinge especially when they goe to the stoole and that with greate paine

Take Chicken weede, mallowes, the herbe mercury, otherwise called benne[t],
of each toe or three handfulls boyle all these together in a gallon of runinge
water untill halfe be boyled away, then take a basin full thereof
and sett it in a close stoole and lett the patient sitt over it and receive the
steame thereof into his fundament, bathing the place therewithall
a Quarter of an houre or soe Long as hee can endure it then
lett him take a good handfull of the herbes and bind it to his fundament
and soe keepe it there all the day and lett him use this morninge
and Eveninge



Ahhhh…. and one last bit of  information concerning historical foods that you might not have thought were available so long ago? I found these following items quite interesting as so many time travelers pine away for some variety of these foods never realizing that yes, indeed there was already some form of it available? They were just not in the right kitchen!  Or maybe some desperate time traveler did come up with these variations in their attempts to create some close version of their favorite and much missed food?


For those travelers craving some form of the Chinese takeout such as sweet and sour…

Sweet and sour rabbit is one of the more curious dishes included in Maggie Black’s The Medieval Cookbook. Found in a collection of 14th-century manuscripts called the Curye on Inglish, it includes sugar, red wine vinegar, currants, onions, ginger and cinnamon (along with plenty of “powdour of peper”) to produce a sticky sauce with more than a hint of the modern Chinese takeaway.  The recipe probably dates as far back as the Norman Conquest, when the most surprising ingredient for Saxons would have been rabbit, only recently introduced to England from continental Europe.

While tomatoes and tomato sauce was not widely available to most time travelers, pasta was! 

In the same manuscript we find instructions for pasta production, with fine flour used to “make therof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it hard and seeth it in broth”. This was known as ‘losyns’, and a typical dish involved layering the pasta with cheese sauce to make another English favourite: lasagne.

Sadly the lack of tomatoes meant there was no rich bolognese to go along with the béchamel, but it was still a much-loved dish, and was served at the end of meals to help soak up the large amount of alcohol you were expected to imbibe – much as an oily kebab might today.

In Thomas Austin’s edition of Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books, you can find several other pasta recipes, including ravioli and Lesenge Fries – a sugar and saffron doughnut, similar to the modern Italian feast day treats such as frappe or castagnole. The full edition, including hundreds of medieval recipes, can be found online through the University of Michigan database.


This last item came as a bigger surprise to me? I was not aware that it was so widely used or available throughout Europe so far back in time! 

Rice dishes

Rice was grown in Europe as early as the 8th century by Spanish Moors. By the 15th century it was produced across Spain and Italy, and exported to all corners of Europe in vast quantities. The brilliant recipe resource shows the wide variety of ways in which rice was used, including three separate medieval references to a dish called blancmager.

Rather than the pudding you might expect, blancmager was actually a soft rice dish, combining chicken or fish with sugar and spices. Due to its bland nature, it was possibly served to invalids as a restorative.

There were also sweet rice dishes, including rice drinks and a dish called prymerose, which combined honey, almonds, primroses and rice flour to make a thick rice pudding.


So, now we know that for those time travelers craving the much desired chocolate, It was available and apparently it did much to cure hangovers… Who Knew?!

You can find all of this information and much more on the official BBC History website:


You can also find out much more about historical and medieval cooking here at Medieval Cookery: