Catherine Brisbane Fairlie Recipe Book

View Online
[Library Title: [Recipe book]. 1718-1719]

Holding Library Call No.
Osborn c589
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
Scotland ➔ Ayrshire ➔ Fairlie
Date of Composition
The title page of this recipe book contains two inscriptions: "Mrs. Cathrine Brisbane her paistrie Book. Fairlie Jully 7th, 1719"; and "My Lady Fairlie Her Paistry Book Fairlie Iwly 7th 1719." The last page of the book is inscribed: "William Fairlie of that Ilk, 1719." Catherine Brisbane Fairlie was the wife of William Fairlie of that Ilk. The historic seat of the the Fairlies of that Ilk was in Fairlie, Scotland, in the historic county of Ayrshire. The family had sold Fairlie Castle in the mid-seventeenth century, but the descendants of the family apparently still lived somewhere in Fairlie. The tower of Fairlie Castle still stands.

The book is two principal parts. Following the heading "Ane Paistry Book 1718," there are seventy-six consecutively numbered culinary recipes for diverse dishes and conceits, including pies and pastry crusts, as promised, but also soups, meat dishes, pickled vegetables, shortbread, caraway cake, a number of dessert creams and curds, cheesecakes, sack posset, and a variety of fruit preserves and sweet wines. The culinary recipes are followed by a complete index. The second principal section of the book is headed "Some Receipts for dying Colours of all Sorts, Dundonald, August 4, 1719." This section contains 24 pages of dyeing instructions for various colors and fabrics. This section concludes "ffinis," followed by the statement, "My Lady Fairlie Is the Owner of this Recipe Book 1719." The book ends with a few pages of medical recipes in a different hand.

Most of the culinary recipes in the book can be found in some form or fashion in English recipe books of the same period. An exception is the sixth recipe, which provides unusually explicit instructions for "How to make Short Bread." The recipe calls for mixing four pounds of melted butter and one half ounce of caraway seed with a peck of flour (probably an understood weight of fourteen pounds) and then adding enough barm (beer yeast) to make a "light paste." This paste is rolled out and divided into two "cakes" that are "twisted" (perhaps notched) around the edges and thoroughly pricked with a fork. The recipe concludes, "Take care they be not too much baked, they should never be wanting when a wife in lying in the Holl."

"How to make Hard Curds," digital page 15, outlines well-drained fresh cheese curds, spiced, sweetened, and shaped as fishes, with a decoration of plumped currants. The fish are served with cream poured over them, on a plate garnished with sugar and flowers. The recipe concludes, "Serve it up, and eat till you burst." The "Claret Wine Gingerbread," digital page 26, outlines the historic English "colored gingerbread,' which, here, is printed (stamped decoratively) with a butter mold. The book also contains a recipe for the then-new treacle gingerbread.