Syllabub, sillybubba


Our friends at Salem Tavern where the light on the old pewter is the very definition of lambent.
Our friends at Salem Tavern where the light on the old pewter is the very definition of lambent.

I sipped syllabub on Saturday in Salem, at the wonderful old tavern in Winston-Salem to be precise. Here on Redneck Ranch, we’ll probably call it Sillybubba whenwe make it.

My ancient, tattered Charleston Receipts (The Junior League of Charleston, 1950) has 3 recipes, two of them even older than the book and one requiring a cow in your yard.

From “The Carolina Housewife” by a Lady of Charleston (Miss Sara Rutledge, daughter of Edward Rutledge, signer of theDeclaration of Independence).

To 1 quart of cream put 1/2 pint of sweet wine and 1/2 pint of Madeira, the juice of 2 lemons, a little finely powdered spice, and sugar to taste. The peel of the lemon must be steeped in the wine until the flavor is extracted. Whisk all these inredients together, and as the froth rises,take it off with a spoon,  lay it upon a fine sieve. What drains from it put into your pan and whisk again. Put the forth into glasses. Seves 12.

From “Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches” by Miss Leslie, Seventh Edition 1839.

Mix half a pound of white sugar with a pint of fine cider, or of white wine, and grate in a nutmeg. Prepare them in a large bowl, just before milking time. Then let it be taken to the cow, and have about three pints milked into it, stirring it occasionally with a spoon. Let it be eaten before the froth subsides. If you use cider, a little brandy will improve it.

Tomato and goat cheese pie with arugula salad at the Salem Tavern.
Tomato and goat cheese pie with arugula salad at the Salem Tavern.

The name itself dates back to early 16th-century England, but no one seem to know the origin. At the Salem Tavern they use a mixture of Chardonnay and sweet sherry for the alcohol. They top their concoction with fresh berries. It’s more a light dessert for hot weather and less a drink.  Obviously this is something we’re going to have to continue to experiment with over the summer!

Syllabub  dessert and drink 

1 cup heavy whipping creamed, chilled

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup white wine, chilled

1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Lemon slices or a mixture of summer berries for garnish 

Whip the cream and sugar in a chilled bowl, until the cream begins to thicken. Gradually whip in the white wine, lemon juice and lemon zest. Continue to whip until light and fluffy, but not grainy. Cover the mixture and chill until serving time.

Serve in chilled parfait glasses, garnished with a dash of nutmeg, a sprig of mint, and a slice of lemon. Syllabub should be eaten with a small spoon, and savored.

For Syllabub punch, keep adding white wine until mixture reaches drinking consisitency. Serves 6 as dessert.

Salem Tavern syllabub with fresh fruit.
Salem Tavern syllabub with fresh fruit. You can see how whipped cream rises to top.

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