This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Parsnip and Rosemary Biscuits

I am continuing to have fun as I explore and develop some of the recipes to be found in those really old cook books.

This particular idea sprang from Delights for Ladies, 1594, Sir Hugh Platt.   It was a recipe for 'sweete cakes without either spice or sugar', using dried parsnip as a main ingredient.   I haven't made them yet but I'll let you know how I get on.

However, I decided that I would try to make savoury biscuits from a similar base, just for fun and because I love the idea of incorporating vegetables into baking.   Parsnip and Rosemary seemed a good combination, so I developed the idea from there.

Forgive my ramblings, but this is how the biscuits came into being.   Nothing so straightforward as a clear idea, just playing as I went along.

First I had to dry my parsnips.

Luckily, the weather has been so foul, cold, wet and utterly miserable, over here on the east coast - that we have continued to use the Rayburn for heating, so the warming oven has been available to use too. Very useful for gently drying my parsnips.

I peeled two very large parsnips and then cut them into ribbons, using my vegetable peeler.  These ribbons went onto trays and into the warming oven overnight.  By morning they were crisp and light, totally dry and ready to be made into parsnip flour.  

I decided that the easiest way to do this was in my liquidiser, though I was slightly tempted to use an old fashioned pestle and mortar, but not for long.     One minute later I had quite a heap of powdered parsnip and the fun could begin.

Rosemary is such a wonderful herb, with those exquisite blue flowers.   I love it and often pop some sprigs into a jug, purely for decoration.    

Throughout history it has been widely used and highly valued for medicinal properties.

It was at this point that I suddenly decided to work some Parmesan cheese into the mix, so then I had to sit down and think about what proportions I should use.   I'm not a cook, I just enjoy playing around with and tweaking recipes, so it was all guess work.   Luckily, the finished biscuits have turned out wonderfully!

Here they are, ready to go into the oven.

And this is the finished biscuit.  Crisp, flavoursome and very well received.   No one could guess at the mystery ingredient though, which was a little disappointing in some ways.  Too much Parmesan, perhaps?

I made a second batch, this time using the herb thyme.   I loved this combination even more than the rosemary, although I would be very happy to make either one again.

Parsnip, Parmesan and Rosemary/Thyme Biscuits

Parsnips.   I used two very large ones.  Peel and then shred them, dry them slowly in your oven until they are so light and crisp that you can crush them/liquidise/process them into a fine powder.

Weigh the resulting flour and adjust your quantities if you need to, keeping to roughly the proportions I used which were, after all, pure guesswork.

80g dried parsnip flour
170g plain flour
100g butter
100g finely grated Parmesan cheese
Rosemary or Thyme - approx 1 tablespoonful
tiny pinch of salt
1 beaten egg, to bind

Mix the dried parsnip flour with plain flour, rub in the butter and stir in the Parmesan, salt and herb.  Mix in the beaten egg and make a stiff dough.  Knead lightly.  Roll out and cut into biscuits.

Bake in oven at 180C for approx 10-15 minutes.   Allow to cool for a minute or two and then gently place them on a cooling rack.

Today I am linking up with Karen at  Lavender and Lovage in the Cooking with Herbs 
category and her co-host Janie, from The Hedgecombers.

Cooking with Herbs

I hope I have complied with all the rules correctly.  Apologies if not.  Please do let me know.


  1. these look delightful! I can imagine the rosemary ones being very strong but they sound and look wonderful none the less xx

    1. Hi Dom, Welcome back, glad you had a good holiday.

      How I love these old recipe books! No photographs, minimal instructions, nothing to live up to, they free me to enjoy cooking and baking in a way which is new to me - plus, it all makes for a nice break from renovating J&MM's cottage, which has been jolly hard work. They will be back and living there in five weeks!

  2. THANKS so much for these SCRUMPTIOUS looking biscuits - what a GREAT entry into Tea Time Treats and Cooking with Herbs, thanks so much! Karen

  3. Hello Karen, Thank you for organising it all, great fun!