John Nott, the chef for the Duke of Bolton, who resided in St. Jamess’s Street, wrote this charming introduction to his cookbook, which was published in 1723 and is now in the public domain. A learned man, Nott’s French inspired recipes show that vegetables, such as carrots and new varieties of asparagus and spinach, which were brought from overseas, were becoming more plentiful on tables. He also makes frequent mention of marmalades, blanc-manges, creams, biscuits, and sweet cakes.* The cookbook includes two peacock recipes and a collection of 13 red currant recipes.
He seems to have been a fairly-read and intelligent man, and cites, in the course of his work, many celebrated names and receipts. Thus we have:—To brew ale Sir Jonas Moore’s way; to make Dr. Butler’s purging ale; ale of health and strength, by the Viscount St. Albans; almond butter the Cambridge way; to dress a leg of mutton à la Dauphine; to dress mutton the Turkish way; to stew a pike the City way. Dr. Twin’s, Dr. Blacksmith’s, and Dr. Atkin’s almond butter; an amber pudding, according to the Lord Conway’s receipt; the Countess of Rutland’s Banbury cake; to make Oxford cake; to make Portugal cakes; and so on.- Old Cookery Books, W. Carew Hazlitt, 1902
In regard to the cookbook’s title, it is interesting to note that an extravagant use of sugar in recipes was a sign of the wealth and status, as sugar remained a luxury item for most people until well into the 19th century.** Nott told hostesses who served desserts (there should be as many dishes of dessert as courses offered) to make the table arrangement perfectly symmetrical in design and color, and provided an illustration of the ideal dessert “pyramid”.
Nott included bills of fare for every month of the year. Below is the one he created for January. Note the absence of vegetables.
Nott’s 18th Century Recipe for Hot Milk Chocolate (said to be rich and delicious):
1 quart milk
4 ounces chocolate without sugar
1/8 ounce fine sugar
1/8 ounce flour or starch
Salt to taste
Mix, dissolve and bring to a boil before serving hot.
Nott’s recipe for a posset, the 18th century version of a nightcap:
“To make a posset: set a quart of milk on the fire; as soon as it boils, take it off, and set it to cool a little; then, having put four spoonfuls of sack [sherry] and eight of ale into a basin with a sufficient quantity of sugar, pour your milk to it; then set it before the fire and let it stand till you eat it.”
- Find a recipe at this Historic Foods link for Nott’s lamb pasty and pasty crust. In this 1720’s recipe, the design for the crust was created by Edward Kidder.
- This article about 18th Century Cookery books will lead you to two more digitized cookery books from the 18th Century.
*Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine By William Carew Hazlitt, p 49
**Savoring the Past, Shax Riegler