[Sca-cooks] Measurement Definition

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Fri Sep 3 12:55:44 PDT 2010

More on butter and that dish

  When constructing the recipe for today, You could of course go back  
and compare the recipe from A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye of 1545

To bake chekins in lyke paest.

Take youre chekins and ceason them with a lytle Ginger and salte, and  
so putte them into your coffin and so put in them barberies, grapes or  
goose beryes, and half a dyshe of butter, so cloose them up, and sette  
them in the ouen and when they are baken, take the yolkes of syxe  
egges and a dyshfull of vergis and drawe them through a streyner and  
sette it upon a chafingdyshe, than drawe youre baken chekins and put  
ther to this foresayde egges and vergys and thus serve them hoate.

with that from a slightly later text

his is an excerpt from The Treasurie of commodious Conceits
(England, 1573 - J. Holloway, transcr.)

To bake Chickins. Chapter. iii.

TAke and trusse your Chickins, the feete cut off, put them in the  
Coffin: the for euery chickin put in euery Pye a handfull of  
Gooseberies, & a quantity of butter about euery Chickin: then take a  
good quantitie of Suger and Sinimon with sufficet salt, put them into  
the Pye, let it bake one howre and a halfe, when it is baken take the  
yolke of an egge & half a Goblet of veriuce wt sufficient suger sodden  
together, put in the pye & serue it.

  And here of course we just have "& a quantity of butter about euery  


The phrase "a dish of butter" turns up  all the time in The good  
husvvifes ievvell and The second part of the good hus-wiues iewell

The good hous-wiues treasurie. 1588 uses the phrase “and put it among  
the meate with a peny dishe of Butter” in the recipe “An other how to  
make a Florentine.”

If we are having trouble with just a dish of butter --- So how much  
would a peny dish be?

Or how about a quarter penny dishe?

The recipe “For a Fellon” instructs “then take a quarter of a penny  
dishe of Butter” in the 1588 The widowes treasure

“Halfe a Two-Peny-dish of sweete Butter” is called for in two recipes   
in the 1596 volume A rich store-house or treasury for the diseased

Here the recipe states another quanity:
TO roaste a dyshe of Butter.

  Take fyne grated whyte breade, and myxe the same well with Sugar,  
then put a lumpe of Butter vppon a spytte, and turne the spytte at the  
fyre, and styll cast the grated breade and the Sugar vppon the Butter,  
and it wyll be a fyne and trymme dyshe of meate. Proued. Page 171

  Lupton, Thomas. A thousand notable things, of sundry sortes Wherof  
some are wonderfull, some straunge, some pleasant, diuers necessary, a  
great sort profitable and many very precious. ... 1579

---- It may of course depend upon the size of the chicken being  
prepared, the wealth of the household in preparation of the butter,  
time of year, was butter in abundance because it was an item given in  


OED states by the way

As a term of quantity more or less indefinite.    a. As much or as  
many as will fill or make a dish when cooked.    b. A dishful, a  
bowlful or cupful.
1596 SHAKES. Merch. V. II. ii. 144, I haue here a dish of Doues that I  
would bestow vpon your worship.

1597 2 Hen. IV, II. iv. 5 The Prince once set a Dish of Apple-Iohns  
before him.

b. 1596 SHAKES. 1 Hen. IV, II. iii. 35 Such a dish of skim'd Milk.

1662 J. DAVIES tr. Olearius' Voy. Ambass. 171 He had taken off two or  
three Dishes of Aquavitæ.

1679 Trials of Green, Berry, etc. 65, I will go to the Coffee-house,  
and drink a Dish of Coffee.

1711 ADDISON Spect. No. 57 4 She scalded her Fingers, and spilt a Dish  
of Tea upon her Petticoat.

1795 Jemima II. 10 Having finished his dish of chocolate.

No cups of coffee tea or chocolate but a dish of those beverages!

Oh and we can think upon this wise thought

Henry, Prince of Wales:

  Didst thou never see Titan kiss a dish of butter, pitiful-hearted  
Titan, that melted at the sweet
tale of the sun's? If thou didst, then behold that  compound.

The First Part of Henry the Fourth, II, sc iv by Shakespeare


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