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Easter Special: Part 2 – Eggs in Green Sauce: Cooking and the Recipe

The recipes I found for green sauce seemed to vary wildly between sources, but the one I went for was from the ever reliable Hannah Woolley in The Accomplish’d Lady’s Delight (1675). I’d hoped to use a a recipe from the Elizabethan period to match the source for the Easter banquet (see part 1), I found a few but they all involved ingredients I couldn’t get hold of. Sorrel is usually the herb involved in the sauce, this proved a little tricky to find in itself – thankfully a very kind person donated some from her garden – thank you Maggie! Now, without further ado, here is my Easter recipe – eggs in green sauce:

To make Green Sauce.

Take a good handful of Sorrel, beat it in a Mortar with Pippins pared, and quar|tered, with a little Vinegar and Sugar; put it into Saucers.

First, I hard-boiled the eggs.

Then I washed the sorrel, and put it with a pealed and quartered apple with 1 teaspoon each sugar and vinegar.

I then began to squash and pound it in a pestle and mortar.

I pounded it for about 10 minutes, until it began to turn into a green pulp.

I hard boiled the eggs, then pealed and sliced them and put the green sauce on top.

I quite enjoyed this dish, the green sauce is sharp and sweet and quite tasty. My mum tried them too and said they were rather nice. It would make a nice addition to an Easter buffet. It’s also very easy to make if you don’t mind a bit of work with the pestle and mortar. It is worth seeking out sorrel for this – it’s an underrated herb/vegetable in my opinion.

Eggs in Green Sauce

3 Eggs (hardboiled)

1tsp sugar

1tsp white wine vinegar

1 handful sorrel (you could use spinach or watercress if you don’t have sorrel, but try to seek it out if possible)

1 apple, pealed and cored

Put the sugar, vinegar, sorrel and apple in a pestle and mortar and pound until the mixture turns into a pulp. Put the eggs on a dish and dollop the sauce on top.

So there you have it – festive eggs! Happy Easter everyone!

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Easter Special: Part 1 – Eggs in Green Sauce: History and Background

362 by Jaypeg used under a Creative Commons License – Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This week I’m looking at eggs, or more specifically, Easter eggs. I have previously written a little bit about eggs in general, you can read the post here.

Of course, eggs are associated with Easter today, and it seems that they were in the Early Modern period too. Eggs, amongst other things, were forbidden during lent. Once Easter arrived, they were back on the menu. Easter eggs appear in a proverb, recorded by John Ray in A collection of English proverbs (1678), “I’ll warrant you for an Egg at Easter” – the sense of the proverb (as far as I can tell) is something like “as sure as eggs at Easter”. James Shirley appears to have been particularly fond of a related egg-based saying – he uses the phrase “not worth an egg at Easter” in at least two plays, The Example (1637) and Love’s Cruelty (1640). Incidentally, both of those plays, and several others by Shirley, as in the Petworth collection. . One of these will likely be making an appearance soon on my other blog. Clearly, eggs were considered a common food at Easter time.

Thomas Dawson’s The second part of the good hus-wiues iewell (1597) offers some advice on the foods to be eaten at Easter-time. Here is what he has to say:

Fyrst on that day yee shall serue a calfe sodden and blessed, and sodden egs with greene sauce, and set them before the most principall estate, and that Lorde because of his high estate, shal depart them al about him, then serue potage as worts, roots or browes, wt béefe, mutton, or veale, & capons that be coloured with saffron, and baked meats: and the second course, Jussel with mamony, & rosted endoured, & pigions with bake meates, as tarts chewets, and flaunes, and other, after the disposition of the cookes: and at supper time diuers sauces of mutton or veale in broth, after the ordinance of the steward and than chickins with bakon, veale, rost pigions or lamb, & kid rost, with the heade and the purtenance of Lambe and pigges féet, with vineger and parcely theron, and a tansie fryed, and other bake meates

Quite a feast! Sadly I will only be cooking one of these foods this year, however. For my Easter dish I will be cooking “sodden egs with greene sauce”. “Sodden” means boiled, rather than “wet” or “soaking” as it does today. According to the OED it is the strong past participle of “seethe”, suddenly the phrase “seething with anger” makes sense now I know it means “boiling”.

There seem to be as many different ways of making green sauce as there are cookbooks – it is a herb based sauce, usually made with sorrel, along the lines of pesto, mint sauce, or salsa verde. Henry Butts’ 1599 regimen Dyets Dry Dinner  describes some of the properties of green sauce – “Eaten with flesh (as mustard) exciteth appetite: commendeth meates to the Palate: helpes concoction: breaketh fleame in the stomack”. Butts also gives a “Story for Table-talke” (table talk being a kind of anecdote or other interesting information told at dinner) relating to green sauce:

This kinde of Sauce, I neuer tasted my selfe: yet am bold to communicate and commend it to my friends, as I find it described by the Italian Freitagio. The Italian (as all the world knowes) is most exquisite in the composition of all sorts of Condiments, they being indeede the better part of his Diet. All kind of Greene-sauce, is questionlesse best in season, while herbs retain their full strength and perfect vigour.

I’ll be cooking the eggs in green sauce later today and will post the recipe shortly after.

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