Thursday, December 24, 2015

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Soupes Dorroy- Onion Soup II

Soupes Dorroy 
Onions are one of the oldest cultivated plants, along with leeks and garlic.  Evidence of cultivation is almost 5000 years old.  They are a member of the Lily family, genus Allium,  and it includes garlic, leek, chives, onions and shallot, as well as many wild species.  Like the brassica's, alliums are very diverse with over 500 species.

It is believed that onions originated in central Asia.  Evidence exists of onions being cultivated in Chinese gardens 5000 years ago.  They were known in Egypt, where they were an object of worship.  Onions symbolized eternity, and paintings of onions can be found in tombs and the inner walls of the pyramids. What is known is that onions are easy to store, can grow in almost any kind of soil, are easily stored and transported.

It was the Romans that introduced onions to Europe. Onions were used as medicine as well as for food.  Pliny the Elder wrote that onions could cure vision, induce sleep, dog bites, lumbago, and dysentery, heal mouth sores and cure toothaches. The belief that onions had curative powers continued into the Middle ages where it was believed that they could cure hair loss, snakebites and alleviate headaches! Columbus may be responsible for introducing onions to the new world during his expedition to North America in 1492.

Onions do produce sulfur-containing compounds and scientific studies show evidence that onions have both microbial and antifungal properties. The compound responsible for producing tears, allyl sulphate, may also help in balancing blood sugar levels.  Anyone who has cut a warm onion knows...they bring tears!

Two recipes caught my eye when researching pottages, Soupes Dorroy, and Oyle Soppys.  Both recipes start with onions, but each produces a very different dish.  The recipes for both of these items can be found at "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin

.xxx. Soupes dorroy.—Shere Oynonys, an frye hem in oyle; þanne take Wyne, an boyle with Oynonys, toste whyte Brede an do on a dysshe, an caste þer-on gode Almaunde Mylke, & temper it wyth wyne: þanne do þe dorry a-bowte, an messe it forth.

30. Soups Dorroy - Slice onions, and fry them in oil; thnn take Wine, an boil with onions, toast white bread an do on a dish, an cast there-on good almond milk and temper it with wine: than do the onions about, an mess it forth. 

Interpreted Recipe

1 C. sliced onions
1 Tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)
1 C. white wine
1C. almond milk
Pinch of sugar &saffron
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 slice bread, cut into a round and toasted

Heat oil and add the onions. Fry over medium heat until the onions have become golden and tender.  Once the onions have become golden, add the wine. Let the onions simmer in the wine until the wine has reduced by half. Place the toasted bread into a bowl.  Warm the almond milk and pour it over the bread.  Cover with the onions and serve.

Of the two recipes that I created, this was my favorite and one that I would not hesitate to serve at home again. I do caution that it must be served almost as soon as it is put together because when the acidic wine mixes with the almond milk, it will curdle. 

My taste testers did not find the curdled almond milk off-putting.  The onions when cooked with the wine take on a very fruity flavor, and the almond milk adds creaminess in the background that tempers the sweet fruity taste of the onions. One of my taste testers said that this dish reminded him of a pie...and it did.  

I would serve this dish again at a feast, or for an everyday meal. It's quick to put together, economical and very tasty.

Harleian MS 279 Oyle Soppys - Oil Sops - Onion Soup

Oil Sops



Two recipes caught my eye when researching pottages, Soupes Dorroy, and Oyle Soppys.  Both recipes start with onions, but each produces a very different dish.  The recipes for both of these items can be found at "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin

One of the differences between Soupes Dorroy and Oyle Soppys is the broth.  Soupes dorroy uses wine and almond milk to create the broth. However, Oyle soppys uses a broth made from beer, specifically "stale ale" or, in my assumption, ale that has lost its fizz, not necessarily ale that has gone bad...ewww!

Beer is one of the oldest beverages, and it is believed that with the invention of beer and bread, came the building blocks of civilization.  Yay yeast! One of the oldest beer recipes is "The Hymn to Ninkasi", a Sumerian recipe for how to make beer from the 19th century BC--that's 3900 years old. There is some speculation that the recipe advises that soaked grains are mixed with bread and water, allowed to ferment and that this is what creates the beer. Also note--there are no hops used to brew this beer!

Yeast is important to the process of making beer and leavened breads.   Earliest breads were very simply dishes made from ground cereal grains and water.  The earliest evidence of flour dates to approximately 30,000 years ago, where cereal grains and animal proteins and fats constituted a majority of the diet. The earliest domesticated grans were wheat and barley.  Leavened breads may have existed in prehistoric times, as wild yeast would have been present on cereal grains, and any dough that would have been left would have risen naturally.  However, the earliest confirmed evidence of yeast, being used as both a leavening agent and in brewing ale dates to Egypt about 4000 B. C. Beer was introduced into Europe approximately 55 B.C. by the Roman legions.

Bread and beer were two staples of the Middle ages and were considered important enough to be regulated.  "The Assize of Bread and Ale  (Assisa panis et cervissuae)" was the first law to regulate the production and sale of food.  It dates back to approximately 1266-1267. Regulations included the grades of flour, purity of flour (bran content and grain mix), weight of loaves by measurement of silver currency (pound, shilling, pence, half and quarter-pence loaves), adulteration of bread with inedible substances (sawdust or hemp) and the punishments for lawbreakers. Similarly, Ale was regulated by price of the gallon, price of the wheat, barley and oats.
"Assisa Panis (Assize of Bread): When a Quarter of Wheat is sold for 12d., then Wastel Bread of a farthing shall weigh £6 and 16s. But Bread Cocket of a farthing of the same grain and bultel, shall weigh more than Wastel by 2s. And Cocket Bread made of grain of lower price, shall weigh more than Wastel by 5s. Bread made into a Simnel shall weigh 2s. less than Wastel. Bread made of the whole Wheat shall weigh a Cocket and a half, so that a Cocket shall weigh more than a Wastel by 5s. Bread of Treet shall weigh 2 wastels. And bread of common wheat shall weigh two great cockets."
I have to admit, I was confused by reading this.  However, a little more research and my concerns were addressed. The weight of each loaf of bread is estimated not in "pounds and ounces" but in the number of shillings and pence it would take to balance the scales. The weight of the bread varied with the cost of the wheat. The bread referred to above, should weigh approximately 17 ounces (not 6 pounds). However, in May of 1555, when the cost of the wheat per quarter was 18d, the weight of the bread was 10 ounces.

.xxxiij. Oyle Soppys. — Take a gode quantyte of Oynonys, an mynse hem not to smale, an sethe in fayre Water : J'an take hem vp, an take a gode quantite of Stale Ale, as .iij. galouns, an J'er-to take a pynte of Oyle fryid, an caste J^e Oynonys J'er-to, an let boyle alle to-gederys a gode whyle ; then caste J'er-to Safroune, powder Pepyr, Sugre, an Salt, an serue forth alle bote as tostips, 'as in J'e same maner for a Mawlard & of a capon, & hoc qiicsre^

33 Oil Sops - Take a good quantity of onions, an mince them not to small, an boil in fair water: Than take them up and take a good quantity of Stale Ale, as 3 gallons, and there-to take a pint of oil **cold, an cast the onions there-to, an let boil all together a good while: then caste there-to saffron, powder pepper, sugar, an salt, an serve forth all about as toast tips, as in the same manner for a mallard & a capon, and see this.

**Note: I have chose to use the interpretation of cold for the word fryid, which is similar in spelling to fride in the recipe Harleian MS 279 xij - Fride Creme of Almaundys.  The word is similar to Froid, in French, which means cold.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                 

1 C. sliced onions
1 C. beer
2 tsp. oil (I used olive oil)
Pinch of sugar and saffron
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Slices of bread cut into rounds

Boil the onions in the water until tender.  While the onions or boiling heat the beer, saffron, salt, pepper and onion.  Drain the onions and add them to the beer. Let these cook together approximately ten minutes or so.  Meanwhile, toast the bread, put one full slice of bread into your bowl. Pour your soup over the bread, and garnish with the second round, cut into triangles.

I *liked* this soup, although I found it a bit bland.  My teenage non-SCA taste testers also enjoyed it, and as I am typing this up they are finishing it. The one thing I would do differently is to cook the onions in the beer directly and skip the boiling in the water first, but I like the taste of onions, and I missed that.

This would be a very economical dish to serve at an event.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Harleian MS 279 Whyte wortes (~1430) White Wortes- Greens Creamed with Almond Milk

Whyte Wortes
Whyte Wortes is the last in the series of vegetable pottages that do not include additional meat. I did not use the plethora of herbs for iij. Joutes which the recipe refers to, but instead chose to use the common greens referred to in .j. Lange Wortys de chare. Once again, we are instructed to boil the greens before adding them to the broth component, in this case, almond milk thickened with rice. Boiling the greens before adding them to the broth removes the bitter properties and makes it very easy for the pottage to come together after they have been drained.

My teen age non SCA taste testers were unsure if they wanted to try this dish. Many of them expressed a dislike of cabbage and kale.  However, after coaxing them into taste testing a spoonful I received comments such as "This is GOOD!" and "I wish my mom would cook cabbage like this". When asked if they would eat it again, there was a resounding "yes". This definitely goes to my list of "things to make at a future feast" for the SCA.

Recipe retreived from "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin

.v. Whyte wortes.—Take of þe erbys lyke as þou dede for jouutes, and sethe hem in [supplied by ed.] water tyl þey ben neyshe; þanne take hem vp, an bryse hem fayre on a bord, as drye as þow may; þan choppe hem smale, an caste hem on a potte, an ley hem with flowre of Rys; take mylke of almaundys, an cast þer-to, & hony, nowt to moche, þat it be nowt to swete, an safron & salt; an serue it forth ynne, ryȝth for a good potage.

5. White wortes --Take of the herbs like as thou did for Joutes, and boil them in water till they be soft; then take them up, an bruise them fair on a board, as dry as you may; than chop them small, an cast them on a pot, an lay them with flour of Rice; take milk of almonds, an caste there-to, and honey, not too much, that it be not too sweet, an saffron & salt; an serve it forth in, right for a good pottage.


Interpreted Recipe                                                             Serves One as a Main, 2-3 as a Side

Handful of herbs and greens per iij. Joutes or .j. Lange Wortys de chare (I used cabbage and kale)
Rice flour, Almond milk, Cabbage, Kale.
Not Pictured: Salt, Saffron, Honey  

1 cup Almond Milk
2-3 Tbsp. Rice flour (I like my pottages a bit thicker)                

1/2 tsp. Honey
Pinch of Saffron
Salt to taste

Wash, pick, dry and chop your greens into bite sized pieces. Boil them in water until tender (approximately ten minutes), then drain and press them in a dry towel until dry.  Greens tend to act like little sponges, so do not be surprised at the amount of water that will be released.  

While the greens are cooking in the plain water, heat the almond milk on medium heat, add saffron, salt, honey and rice flour.  Thicken to taste.  Add drained greens to almond milk, cook for a few more minutes and serve. 






Whyte Wortes





Sunday, December 13, 2015

Harleian MS 279 Lange Wortes de pesoun (~1430) Braised Greens with Peas

Lange Wortes de Pesoun
The first recipe found in Harleian MS 279 is for a simple dish of greens cooked in broth called Lange Wortys de chare. The second recipe includes the addition of green peas that have been cooked till they turn to mush and onions. This recipe was the most favored of the green recipes that have been cooked by my non-SCA teen guinea pigs. I have to admit, the broth is a very odd shade of muddy olive green, which is a little bit off-putting, let's be honest...mud colored anything is scary when you are putting it in your mouth (anybody else remember being force fed mud pies as a youth?).

Peas are among the oldest cultivated crops that we have.  Apicius published no less than nine recipes for dried peas in his cookbook. It is estimated that peas were known in France around 800 and that Charlemagne had them planted throughout his domain.  By the 1200's this member of the legume family was such a popular item vendors would call out in the streets "I have fresh peas in the pod!" Before the end of the 16th century, there were many different varieties of peas; short, tall, white, yellow, green, smooth, wrinkled and pitted. 

I find this recipe another example of medieval ingenuity--take a little bit of this, a little bit of that, till it is "enough".  "Enough" has such a delicious connotation, doesn't it? It means ample to satisfy the desire, adequate to fulfill the need.  We don't need to measure in cups, or tablespoons, pinches or ounces when interpreting medieval recipes, do we? They encourage us to be "enough".  I think I am going to make that my new motto. Out with simplify--in with enough...but I digress

Legumes and pulses are two terms that you will see when referring to the family of plants that includes any of its fruits enclosed in a pod. This includes lupins, peas, lentils and beans. When fresh they are legumes, and when dried, called pulses. I was surprised to discover that Legumes are the third largest flowering plant group! The word "legume" is derived from the Latin "legere"  meaning "to gather". 

For reference, when referring to "green" peas, it is most likely freshly shelled peas that are being referred to, and not the color of the pea being used. With that thought in mind, this dish would most likely have been served in spring. However I would not let that stop me from serving it in fall or winter, using dried peas instead of fresh.  The cooking directions would need to be adjusted for the additional time needed to cook the dried product to mush.



.ij. Lange Wortes de pesoun.—Take grene pesyn, an washe hem clene an caste hem on a potte, an boyle hem tyl þey breste, an þanne take hem vppe of þe potte, an put hem with brothe yn a-noþer potte, and lete hem kele; þan draw hem þorw a straynowre in-to a fayre potte, an þan take oynonys, and screde hem in to or þre, an take hole wortys and boyle hem in fayre water: and take hem vppe, an ley hem on a fayre bord, an cytte on .iij. or iiij., an ley hem to þe oynonys in þe potte, to þe drawyd pesyn; an let hem boyle tyl þey ben tendyr; an þanne tak fayre oyle and frye hem, or ellys sum fresche broþe of sum maner fresche fysshe, an caste þer-to, an Safron, an salt a quantyte, and serue it forth.

2. Long Wortes (Greens) of Peas-Take green peas an wash them clean an caste them on a pot, an boil them till they burst, an than take them up of the pot, an put themwith broth in another pot, an let them cool; then draw them through a strainer into a a fair pot, an than take onions, and shred them in two or three, an take whole wortys (members of the brassica family, example kale, collards, or cabbage) and boil them in fair water, and take them up, an lay them on a fair board, an cut in three or four, an lay them to the onions in the pot, to the drawn peas; an let them boil till they be tender, an than take fair oil and fry them, or else, some fresh broth of sum manner fresh fish, an caste there-to, an saffron an salt a quantity, and serve it forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                               Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side

1 cup frozen peas
1 handful of mixed greens (kale, chard, collards, mustard, spinach), cleaned and chopped
1/8th of an onion cut in long shreds
Pinch of saffron
Salt to taste

You could follow the package directions for your frozen peas and then follow the directions above to continue to boil them until they burst--or you can cheat and bless modern technology.  I cheated.

I heated my peas for approximately five minutes and then threw those bad boys into a blender and blended them to a pulp. I did strain them through a strainer to remove any large bits that might have been left. 

I boiled my greens in the water until they were tender and then pressed them dry in a towel. By the way, I noted *at this point* that the liquid is very green, and could possibly be used as a food coloring! Next adventure please.....

I then brought the broth, saffron and the onion to a boil and added the greens back in, cooking till the onion was tender.  It was at this point I stirred the pea puree back into the broth.  I let cook about five minutes longer and then served. 

The peas add a sweetness to what would otherwise be a savory dish and do balance the flavors very well. This is definitely on my list of things to possibly serve at a luncheon or a feast. It is another very economical and budget friendly dish.

Harleian MS 279 Lange Wortys de chare (~1430) Braised Greens in Beef Broth


Much like the Caboges recipe, this dish of mixed greens braised in beef stock, fortified with marrow, thickened with bread and scented with saffron is much better than you would think upon first reading the recipe.

A simple dish of greens? No. Once again you are instructed to cook your greens twice.  Members of the brassica family are treasures because of the inherent bitterness that they have. There are some individuals who would prefer not to eat bitter food and don't care for them.

Medieval cooks cooked the greens twice. Once to remove the bitterness, and secondly to bring them flavor. This is another humble dish and one that is still eaten today.  I used a mixed of kale and collards to make the green dishes. These green leafy vegetables were both known to the Greeks and the Romans and at the time, no distinction between the two plants was made.  Can you imagine?

Recipes may refer to "coles" or "coleworts". Once again, I refer you to the Greeks and the Romans who referred to the entire family of cabbage related plants as "Koles" or "Caulis".  Another interesting tidbit of information I came across while researching--the first mention of coleworts in use in America, referred to Kale in approximately 1669.

The weed-like herb pictured below can be found growing on the limestone cliffs of the Mediterrenean region. It is the parent of one of the widest varieties of domesticated plants today.  Weeds are our friends! Through the process of artificial, not natural selection, farmers have been able to breed for specific traits, changing the weedy looking parent plant into the variety of plants that we know today.

Image taken from The magical Brassica oleracea plant  SEP 11

 The recipe below is  retreived from "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin


.j. Lange Wortys de chare.—Take beeff and merybonys, and boyle yt in fayre water; þan take fayre wortys and wassche hem clene in water, and parboyle hem in clene water; þan take hem vp of þe water after þe fyrst boylyng, an cut þe leuys a-to or a-þre, and caste hem in-to þe beff, and boyle to gederys: þan take a lof of whyte brede and grate yt, an caste it on þe pot, an safron & salt, & let it boyle y-now, and serue forth.

1. Long Wortys of Flesh--Take beef and marrowbones, and boil it in fair water, than take fayre wortys and wash them clean in water, and parboil them in clean water; then take them up of the water after the first boiling, an cut the leaves in two or three, and caste them into the beef and boil together; then take a loaf of white bread and grate it, an caste it on the pot, an saffron & salt, and let it boil enough, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                     Serves 1 as a main dish, 2 as a side

1-2 handfuls of greens (I used collards and kales), cleaned and chopped
1 cup homemade beef stock
2-3 tbsp. breadcrumbs
Pinch of Saffron
salt to taste
Marrow (opt.)

Following the directions above boil your greens in water until they become tender. This took approximately ten minutes.  Strain your greens  and dry them in a towel.  You will notice that the large handful of greens that you have cooked have wilted into a little bit of nothing.  That's what greens do. You will also be surprised how much water they hold!

Meanwhile slowly heat your broth with the saffron.  When the broth has heated and colored to your desire, return your greens to it, and let it cook until desired tenderness.  This time will vary because it depends on how you like your greens. I like a bit of a bite, so I only boiled it for about five more minutes.

Once the greens have reached your desired tenderness preference, slowly add the breadcrumbs a tablespoon at a time.  Allow the crumbs to dissolve into the broth before adding the next bit. Otherwise the crumbs clump together and instead of smooth gravy it will be chunky--ewww!

The broth will thicken as the bread crumbs dissolve into gravy.  Once it has thickened you can remove it and place it into a bowl.  If you are using the marrow, you can add it at this time, the broth is boiling hot, so the marrow will heat through.  You want to see it on the top of the dish.

What I like most about this recipe is that it can be as broth-y or as stew-y as the person cooking it will like. It can also be light or heavy on the greens as well.  Greens are very inexpensive, along with homemade stock.  This would be an excellent dish to add to any SCA feast.  I paid $4.00 for the marrowbones, $2.00 for the beef (it was marked down), used garden grown onions, carrots and celery to flavor the stock.  The stock made approximately 2 liters.  I then paid $.89 for the collards and the Kale, and if I *had* to buy bread crumbs (I made my own Rastons, which cost about $.25 per loaf to make), that might cost $2.00 for 15 ounces. This is a very budget friendly dish.

Remember, that there are a lot of wild greens growing that can be foraged to supplement any of the greens that you would buy.  Keep in mind the rules for foraging wild food-know what you are picking, make sure it is in an area that has not been sprayed by herbicides or other poisons, and forage responsibly. Please click this link for more information: Foraging Wild Edible Guidelines.

Related Recipe: .ij Lange Wortes de Pesoun  —Take grene pesyn, an washe hem clene an caste hem on a potte, an boyle hem tyl þey breste, an þanne take hem vppe of þe potte, an put hem with brothe yn a-noþer potte, and lete hem kele; þan draw hem þorw a straynowre in-to a fayre potte, an þan take oynonys, and screde hem in to or þre, an take hole wortys and boyle hem in fayre water: and take hem vppe, an ley hem on a fayre bord, an cytte on .iij. or iiij., an ley hem to þe oynonys in þe potte, to þe drawyd pesyn; an let hem boyle tyl þey ben tendyr; an þanne tak fayre oyle and frye hem, or ellys sum fresche broþe of sum maner fresche fysshe, an caste þer-to, an Safron, an salt a quantyte, and serue it forth.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Harleian MS 279 Caboges (~1430) Braised Cabbage


Braised Cabbage and Rastons

A humble dish of cabbage.  I was surprised by this recipe for "caboges"--who could have expected tender bits of cabbage, braised in flavorful gravy thickened with breadcrumbs and scented with saffron to be noble. The method of first boiling the cabbage to remove it's bitter properties, and then cooking it again in the broth made with marrowbones may seem to a bit redundant, but I urge you to try it.  Sworn cabbage haters tried it, and wanted more.  Success!

This is one of the first several recipes from Harleian MS 279, all of which feature "wortys" I tried this recipe first.  It is inexpensive to make.  I did take the extra step of making my own stock using roasted marrow bones. The well written and easy to follow instructions can be found at "The Cooking Geek" blog. I have to confess, I had my doubts when I smelled the bones cooking. It is not the most pleasant scent to me.  I almost wimped out when it came to eating a bit of the boiled marrow once the stock was completed.  I'm so glad I did.  Imagine, a succulent steak set before you, with crispy fat around the edge that has been chargrilled.  That is what the marrow tasted like...it's the food worlds best kept secret. Shhhhhhh! 


.iiij. Caboges.—Take fayre caboges, an cutte hem, an pike hem clene and clene washe hem, an parboyle hem in fayre water, an þanne presse hem on a fayre bord; an þan choppe hem, and caste hem in a faire pot with goode freysshe broth, an wyth mery-bonys, and let it boyle: þanne grate fayre brede and caste þer-to, an caste þer-to Safron an salt; or ellys take gode grwel y-mad of freys flesshe, y-draw þorw a straynour, and caste þer-to. An whan þou seruyst yt inne, knocke owt þe marw of þe bonys, an ley þe marwe .ij. gobettys or .iij. in a dysshe, as þe semyth best, & serue forth.

3. Cabbages - Take fair cabbages, an cut them, an pick them clean, and clean wash them, an parboil them in fair water, an than press them on a fair board, an than chop them, and cast them in a fair pot with good fresh broth, an with marrowbones, and let it boil; then take grated fair bread and caste there-to, an caste there-to saffron and salt; or else take good gruel made of fresh flesh, draw through a strainer, and caste there-to. An when you serve it in, knock out the marrow of the bones, and lay the marrow, two pieces, or three, in a dish as it seem best, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe

Humble ingredients = Noble soup
Serves 1 as a main dish, 2 if you are using it as a side              

1/8th green cabbage cut into chunks
1 cup beef broth
Marrow saved from making stock (to say this is an option is a crime...if you made the stock...use the marrow...trust me on this!)
3 tbs. grated bread (I grated Rastons that I made and divided into quarter, which made a roll the size of a hamburger bun) 
Salt to taste
Pinch of Saffron (opt.)

Following the directions above boil your cabbage in water until it starts to become tender.  This allows the cabbage to release any bitterness it might have.  This took approximately ten minutes.  Strain the cabbage, and dry it with a towel (you don't want to water down your stock do you?).  You will be surprised how much water it holds!

Meanwhile slowly heat your broth with the saffron.  When the broth has heated and colored to your desire,  return your cabbage to it, and let it cook until desired tenderness.  This time will vary because it depends on how you like your cabbage. I like a bit of a bite, so I only boiled it for about five more minutes.  

Broth thickened with bread crumbs
Once the cabbage has reached your preference, slowly add the breadcrumbs a tablespoon at a time.  Allow the crumbs to dissolve into the broth before adding the next bit. Otherwise the crumbs clump together and instead of smooth gravy it will be chunky and no amount of boiling will remove the chunks.  Trust me. 

The broth will thicken into gravy.  Once it has thickened you can remove it and place it into a bowl.  If you are using the marrow, you can add it at this time, the broth is boiling hot, so the marrow will heat through.  You want to see it on the top of the dish. 

If you are wondering, I did take the extra step to render the fat that I skimmed off the stock into tallow, another treasure shared on "The Cooking Geek" blog. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Harleian MS 279 Joutes (~1430) Braised Spring Greens with Bacon

Lady picking cabbages early 15th century.


The recipe for Joutes takes into account the many, many different kinds of greens that were known to be eaten in period. I have labeled this recipe as "Braised Spring Greens with Bacon" because the greens that are called for all bloom very early in spring. I imagine that while we may wrinkle our nose at similar dishes, this dish was very welcome after a long winter. I have included this recipe and its interpretation here, but I will not be cooking it until early spring. I will add an updated picture when I do. I will be including as part of my greens, my favorite weed "Dent-de-lion" aka Dandelion..

Recipe retreived from "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin

.iij. Joutes.—Take Borage, Vyolet, Malwys, Percely, Yong Wortys, Bete, Auence, Longebeff, wyth Orage an oþer, pyke hem clene, and caste hem on a vessel, and boyle hem a goode whyle; þan take hem and presse hem on a fayre bord, an hew hem ryght smal, an put whyte brede þer-to, an grynd wyth-al; an þan caste hem in-to a fayre potte, an gode freshe brothe y-now þer-to þorw a straynowr, & caste [supplied by ed.] þer-to .ij. or .iij. Marybonys, or ellys fayre fresche brothe of beff, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle:an þan caste þer-to Safron, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle, an þan caste þer-to safron and salt; and serue it forth in a dysshe, an bakon y-boylyd in a-noþer dysshe, as men seruyth furmenty wyth venyson

For more information on this recipe, or similar recipes, please visit "Medieval Cookery" hosted by Dan Myers by clicking the link below.

iij - Joutes. Take Borage, Vyolet, Malwys, Percely, Yong Wortys, Bete, Auence, Longebeff, wyth Orage an other, pyke hem clene, and caste hem on a vessel, and boyle hem a goode whyle; than take hem and presse hem on a fayre bord, an hew hem ryght smal, an put whyte brede ther-to, an grynd wyth-al; an than caste hem in-to a fayre potte, an gode freshe brothe y-now ther-to thorw a straynowr, and caste ther-to .ij. or .iij. Marybonys, or ellys fayre fresche brothe of beff, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle: an than caste ther-to Safron, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle, an than caste ther-to safron and salt; and serue it forth in a dysshe, anbakon y-boylyd in a-nother dysshe, as men seruyth furmenty wyth venyson.

3. Joutes -- Take Borage, Violet, Mallow, Parsley, Young Wortys, Beets, Avens, Hawkweed, with Orach and other, pick them clean, and cast them on a vessel, and boil them a good while; then take them and press them on a fair board, and hew them right small, an put white bread there-to, an grind with-all; an than caste them into a fair pot, an good fresh broth of beef, and let them seethe together a while; an than caste there-to saffron, and let them seethe together a while, an than caste there-to saffron and salt; and serve it forth in a dish, an bacon boiled in another dish, as men serve furmenty with venison.

Interpreted Recipe                            Serves 6-8 people as a side dish

At least 1 cup each of whatever green I can find to include violets, dandelion, parsley, beet greens -OR- if making this dish outside of springtime at least 1 to 2 pounds of mixed greens, including spinach, chard, kale, collards and or mustard greens and a handful of herbs such as parsley, thyme, leeks or marjoram (see below for the reason why I would add greens not mentioned in the recipe)

Water to boil the herbs in
1/3 cup grated breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups fresh beef broth
Pinch of Saffron
1 tsp. salt
1/4 pound slab bacon boiled in half cup water until cooked through (approximately 10 minutes)

Optional: flowers from the greens you have used as garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, add your greens and cook until they have wilted and become tender. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Drain your greens and set aside.

Note: The recipe says to press your greens onto a fair board and hew them small. You will want to wrap your greens in a towel and press down upon them to remove as much of the liquid as possible. You will be surprised at how much liquid these will hold. The dryer your greens are before the next step, the better.

Bring your broth to a boil and add saffron. Meanwhile, roughly chop the herbs (if you haven't already). Add the greens to your broth. Boil until very tender, approximately 15 minutes. Once the greens have reached the desired doneness add the breadcrumbs. The bread will thicken the broth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Once the broth has thickened, place your greens in a dish, along with some of the broth, garnish with the bacon and flowers.

Note: As an alternative, you could fry and dice regular bacon with the leeks and add to the greens.

I find this recipe to be a surprising example of the ingenuity that was used in cooking. Essentially, find, forage, or grow whatever tasty green you can, and braise it in beef broth--enough. Add bread to thicken, saffron for color, salt for flavor, and serve with boiled bacon. This recipe makes use of "pot herbs", or, any leafy green grown for the purpose of usage in cooking. One item of note, eventually, the word "joute" would come to refer to Chard sometime around the 12th century. The "Fromond List" published approximately 1525, and originally titled "Herbys necessary for a gardyn' contains a list of Herbs for pottages. This list includes the following:

  • Agrimony 
  • Alexanders 
  • Avens 
  • Basil 
  • Beet 
  • Betony 
  • Borage 
  • Cabbage 
  • Caraway 
  • Chervil 
  • Chives 
  • Clary 
  • Colewort 
  • Columbine 
  • Coriander 
  • Daisy 
  • Dandelion 
  • Dill 
  • Dittander 
  • Fennel 
  • Good King Henry 
  • Hartstongue 
  • Langdebeef 
  • Leek 
  • Lettuce 
  • Lupin 
  • Mallow 
  • Pot Marigold 
  • Marjoram 
  • Mint 
  • Nepp 
  • Red Nettle 
  • Christi Oculus 
  • Orach 
  • Parsley 
  • Patience 
  • Pepperwort 
  • Radish 
  • Rape 
  • Safflower 
  • Sage 
  • Spinach 
  • Milk Thistle 
  • Thyme 
  • Valerian 
  • Violet 
  • Wood Sorrel 
  • Onions 
  • Sowthistle 
If you wish to know more about the many kinds of vegetables that were enjoyed by folks in the middle ages, please see this article written by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa/Jennifer Heise: Medieval Sallets and Green Pottages

Similar recipes can be found in the following cookbooks located at the various links included in the recipe name.

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Eowtes Of Flessh. VI. Take Borage, cool. langdebef. persel. betes. orage. auance. violet. saueray. and fenkel. and whane þey buth sode; presse hem wel smale. cast hem in gode broth an seeþ hem. and serue hem forth.

Liber cure cocorum [Sloane MS 1986] (England, 1430)

For Ioutes. Take most of cole, borage, persyl, Of plumtre leves, þou take þer tyl, Redde nettel crop and malues grene, Rede brere croppes, and avans goode, A lytel nept violet by þo rode, And lest of prymrol levus þou take, Sethe hom in water for goddes sake. Þenne take hom up, presse oute þou shalle Þe water, and hakke þese erbs alle And grynd hom in a morter schene With grotene. and sethe hom thyk by dene In fresshe brothe, as I þe kenne. Take sklyset, enbawdet þenne Besyde on platere þou shalt hit lay To be cut and eten with ioutes in fay.
A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak smale joutes tak dyners and sethe them in clene water and hewe them smalle and bet them in a mortair but put out the water and tak of the stalkes then put them in a pot to swete brothe and alay the pot withe bred and sett the pot on the fyer and let it boille and salt it and serue it.
#SCAfeast #historicfood #SCAcook #HarleianMS279

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Medieval Wortys

Harleian MS 279 has a varied selection of recipes which include vegetable based pottages. I will be working with these recipes over the next few weeks as part of my ongoing research into this manuscript. To understand these recipes better it is important to understand the meaning of the word “Wortys” In general, “Wortys” refers to any member of the Brassica family. This family consists of annual and biennial herbs including kale, cabbage, and mustards. Brassica Oleracea, seems to be the “parent” plant and is a wild cultivar native to Europe. It is a perennial plant, and it is believed that from this original plant all forms of cabbage, cauliflower, collards, brussel sprouts, turnips and kale derive.

Kale and cabbage are descended from the same common ancestor, but kale was the more common of the two vegetables during the middle ages. It was known as cole, or colewort and was one of the most widely eaten vegetables in our period. In fact, kale most likely resembles some of the very earliest cabbages. The round headed cabbage that we are familiar with was developed during the 14th century and was referred to as cawel, cabaches or caboches. Cabbage itself has a long culinary history. Little is known about how the plant was cultivated. It is natural to assume that the plants that developed with the largest and the most leaves, were those selected to be propagated.

“Theoprastus described cabbage in 350 BC and the Greeks cultivated it as early as 600 BC and they believed that cabbage was a gift from the gods. Pliny reported a soft-headed form in ancient Rome and the Saxons and Romans probably cultivated it and introduced it to the British Isles. The hardheaded types were only mentioned in the 9th century. The early Egyptians are said to have worshipped it. The plant was used for medicinal purposes to treat gout, stomach problems, deafness, headache and hangovers in the early days. Cabbage is now grown throughout the world.”  Cabbage
It is safe to assume, therefore that using a variety of greens from the brassica family that would have been known in period would fulfill the recipes below. This includes mustards, kale, collards (known to the Greeks and Romans), kohlrabi (first described in Europe in 1554), broccoli (known to Greeks and Romans), cauliflower (sixth century), rapini (aka broccoli rabe, known to the Romans), turnips, and rutabaga (also known as swede or neep, first reference 1620 so use your best judgment). The recipes listed below can be found here: Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 Thomas Austin

.j. Lange Wortys de chare.—Take beeff and merybonys, and boyle yt in fayre water; þan take fayre wortys and wassche hem clene in water, and parboyle hem in clene water; þan take hem vp of þe water after þe fyrst boylyng, an cut þe leuys a-to or a-þre, and caste hem in-to þe beff, and boyle to gederys: þan take a lof of whyte brede and grate yt, an caste it on þe pot, an safron & salt, & let it boyle y-now, and serue forth.

.ij. Lange Wortes de pesoun.—Take grene pesyn, an washe hem clene an caste hem on a potte, an boyle hem tyl þey breste, an þanne take hem vppe of þe potte, an put hem with brothe yn a-noþer potte, and lete hem kele; þan draw hem þorw a straynowre in-to a fayre potte, an þan take oynonys, and screde hem in to or þre, an take hole wortys and boyle hem in fayre water: and take hem vppe, an ley hem on a fayre bord, an cytte on .iij. or iiij., an ley hem to þe oynonys in þe potte, to þe drawyd pesyn; an let hem boyle tyl þey ben tendyr; an þanne tak fayre oyle and frye hem, or ellys sum fresche broþe of sum maner fresche fysshe, an caste þer-to, an Safron, an salt a quantyte, and serue it forth.


.iij. Joutes.—Take Borage, Vyolet, Malwys, Percely, Yong Wortys, Bete, Auence, Longebeff, wyth Orage an oþer, pyke hem clene, and caste hem on a vessel, and boyle hem a goode whyle; þan take hem and presse hem on a fayre bord, an hew hem ryght smal, an put whyte brede þer-to, an grynd wyth-al; an þan caste hem in-to a fayre potte, an gode freshe brothe y-now þer-to þorw a straynowr, & caste [supplied by ed.] þer-to .ij. or .iij. Marybonys, or ellys fayre fresche brothe of beff, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle:an þan caste þer-to Safron, and let hem sethe to-gederys a whyle, an þan caste þer-to safron and salt; and serue it forth in a dysshe, an bakon y-boylyd in a-noþer dysshe, as men seruyth furmenty wyth venyson.

.iiij. Caboges.—Take fayre caboges, an cutte hem, an pike hem clene and clene washe hem, an parboyle hem in fayre water, an þanne presse hem on a fayre bord; an þan choppe hem, and caste hem in a faire pot with goode freysshe broth, an wyth mery-bonys, and let it boyle: þanne grate fayre brede and caste þer-to, an caste þer-to Safron an salt; or ellys take gode grwel y-mad of freys flesshe, y-draw þorw a straynour, and caste þer-to. An whan þou seruyst yt inne, knocke owt þe marw of þe bonys, an ley þe marwe .ij. gobettys or .iij. in a dysshe, as þe semyth best, & serue forth.

.v. Whyte wortes.—Take of þe erbys lyke as þou dede for jouutes, and sethe hem in [supplied by ed.] water tyl þey ben neyshe; þanne take hem vp, an bryse hem fayre on a bord, as drye as þow may; þan choppe hem smale, an caste hem on a potte, an ley hem with flowre of Rys; take mylke of almaundys, an cast þer-to, & hony, nowt to moche, þat it be nowt to swete, an safron & salt; an serue it forth ynne, ryȝth for a good potage.

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