Catholic Recipe: Tansy Pudding
Caution Note: Catholic Culture decided to include this original recipe from Cooking for Christ because of the Catholic cultural connections. Tansy, also known as "Our Lady’s Plant" was a native plant often included in Mary Gardens. This herb was used a spring tonic during Lent, because it was believed fish carried worms, or included in the meal on Holy Thursday to remind of the "bitter herbs" of the Jews at Passover. The herb tansy was also included as a strewing herb, to deter fleas, flies and other insects.
But there needs to be caution when using this herb internally. The herb, when used properly, has good properties. Internally must be taken in very small doses, and not prolonged use. It is a strong emmenagogue and should not be used in pregnancy, and can be fatal in large doses.
Another old recipe appeared in a cookbook called The Good Housewife's Jewell. This book was printed in England in 1585 when the Catholic tradition of fasting was still strong. The recipe is entitled Sallet for Fish Daies. We tried it on the family one fish daie in Lent, but it was penance to eat it and penance to live with each other afterward. We of modern days have very sensitive noses. We forget that onions and tansy were once the vegetables of kings. The good housewife of 1585 knew her onions and liked them. This is the salad as Eleanor Rhode gives it. Perhaps your husband is a stronger man than mine.
Onions in flakes laid 'round about the dishe
with minced carrots laid in the middle of the dish,
with boyled hips in five parts like a oken leafe made
and garnished with tansey long cut with oyle and vinegar.
Now that we have brought up the subject of tansy, it may be well to finish it. Tansy is that bitter plant with yellow button flowers which grew in your grandmother's garden. And, if your grandmother were an ardent herbalist, she probably cooked tansy tea for you to drink as a spring tonic. It is horrible — so horrible you wonder who was brave enough to drink it first. Grandmother was following tradition, a very poor one as far as her victim was concerned, but she did not go far enough. Tansy tea was a cure for colds, and tansy puddings and cakes were commonly eaten during spring. She remembered the plant, the season and forgot the purpose.
Tansy was often used in vinegar sauce to accompany roast lamb. A tansy pudding was always part of Easter dinner. The young leaves were mixed with eggs, and this favorite dish was known as a tansy. It was eaten at Eastertime to celebrate the end of Lent and the return of eggs to the diet. It also was supposed to purify the body of bad odors after 40 days of salt fish. The strange thing is that a tansy pudding is not half bad. With new spring vitamins it may have something to offer. Be very sparing as you should be with most new herbs.
Mix eggs with cream, spinach juice and tansy juice. Shred herbs and add to the tansy. Stir in bread crumbs, sugar and nutmeg. Mix well. Fry light brown or bake in a buttered dish until firm.Recipe Source: Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 4625 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310, 1949, 1999