Thursday, March 30, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - For to make Blawnche Perrye - Creamed Leeks with Rice

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - For to make Blawnche Perrye - Creamed Leeks with Rice


Just like venyson is served with furmenty we are instructed in  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  to serve eels (or in this case any fatty firm textured fish) with blawnche perrye.  Eels are very difficult and prohibitively expensive to find in my area so I substituted another fatty firm textured fish, perch for the eel. According to the Cook's Thesaurus, a better substitute for the eel that was called for in this recipe would have been monkfish or mullet.

What we do know is that the variety of fish and shellfish that were eaten in the middle ages was wide ranging.  Many of the fishes that our ancestors ate are still enjoyed today. A very brief list of the kinds of fishes that were eaten includes; herring, salmon, eel, whiting, cod, pike, turbot, skate, perch, tench, carp, shad, roach, trout, porpoise and whale.  Oysters, cockles, shrimps, crabs, mussels and welks were also enjoyed.

This recipe specifically called for powdered, or salted, eel.  There are two specific methods which were used for preserving food in salt. One method is dry-salting, where meat or fish are buried in salt.  The salt preserves the fish by extracting water and creating an environment where bacteria cannot grow.  The other methods of using salt as a preservative are through a process of brining and pickling. Brining and pickling use the anti-bacterial properties of salt to prevent the growth of bacteria that would spoil food. Brining is defined as soaking food in a mixture salted water in order to preserve or season. Fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and cheese can all be brined. Pickling combines a salt with an acid to create an environment that is too acidic for bacteria to grow in. Foods that have been dry salted, brined, or pickled have an extended shelf life. Salting was the main method of food preservation up till about the 1700's.

Gelatin, jelling, or aspic, is another method that was used to preserve food. It is one that we do not often think about because of our easy access to refrigeration. However, very early it was discovered that stock made from animal bones, created a broth that gelled at a low room temperature.  For example, pigs feet or eels.  This gelatin acts as a preservative by preventing oxygen from reaching the food, thus preventing the growth of bacteria that would otherwise spoil the food. Food protected in this fashion can be stored for months at a time.  Le Viandier de Taillevent (~1375) gives a very detailed set of instructions on how to cook fish in jelly.  Another name for these kinds of dishes is aspic. This method of food preservation fell out of favor during the 1950's.

Other methods of food preservation that were used in period include smoking, sugaring and drying.  Drying is the oldest food preservation method.  Vegetables, meat and fruit were left to dry in the sun or through a low fire.  The use of a sugar as a preservative works similarly to the use of salt.  Sugar draws moisture from the cells, killing bacteria that would cause spoilage.  Food can be preserved in syrup, dried or jellied.  There are two types of smoking which can be done to preserve food.  Smoking in and of itself does not penetrate food, essentially acting only on the surface so it is often combined with another method to preserve, for example drying or salt curing.  Chemicals found in the smoke act as a preservative while heat kills bacteria found on the skin.

.xlv.--For to make Blawnche Perrye.—Take þe Whyte of the lekys, an seþe hem in a potte, an presse hem vp, & hacke hem smal on a bord. An nym gode Almaunde Mylke, an a lytil of Rys, an do alle þes to-gederys, an seþe an stere it wyl, an do þer-to Sugre or hony, an dresse it yn; þanne take powderd Elys, an seþe hem in fayre Water, and broyle hem, an kytte hem in long pecys. And ley .ij. or .iij. in a dysshe, and putte þin*. [Thine.] perrey in a-noþer dysshe, [leaf 12 bk.] an serue þe to dysshys to-gederys as Venysoun with Furmenty.

Daniel Meyers offers this interpretation on his excellent website Medieval Cookery: 

xlv - For to make Blawnche Perrye. Take the Whyte of the lekys, an sethe hem in a potte, an presse hem vp, and hacke hem smal on a bord. An nym gode Almaunde Mylke, an a lytil of Rys, an do alle thes to-gederys, an sethe an stere it wyl, an do ther-to Sugre or hony, an dresse it yn; thanne take powderd Elys, an sethe hem in fayre Water, and broyle hem, an kytte hem in long pecys. And ley .ij. or .iij. in a dysshe, and putte thin (Note: Thine.) perrey in a-nother dysshe, an serue the to dysshys to-gederys as Venysoun with Furmenty.

45 For to Make Blawnche Perrye - take the white of the leeks, and cook them in a pot, and press them up, and hack them small on a board.  And take good almond milk, and a little of rice, and do all these together, and cook and stir it well, and do there-to sugar or honey, and dress it in; then take salted eels, and cook them in fair water, and broil them, and cut them in long pieces. And lay two or three in a dish, and put your perrey in another dish, and serve the two dishes together as venison with furmenty.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                               Serves 2 as Main, 3-4 as a side

2 Leeks cleaned and cut into slices
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 tbsp. honey
2-3 pieces of fish

Leeks are a very dirty vegetable so make sure that you clean them well.  Nothing ruins a good dish like sandy food :-( Once the leeks have been cleaned and cut into slices cover them with water and bring them to a boil.  Boil for five minutes and then drain.  Add the cooked leeks to the almond milk along with the rice and honey and cook until it thickens.  Meanwhile cook your fish.  I simply roasted the perch in the oven with just a little bit of salt, a sprinkle of coriander and vinegar.  The recipe that I used, Aliter ius in pisce elixo, can be found in a previous post, SCA Feast - Ceilidh XVI March 29th 2003.  It is a recipe from Apicius, and while not strictly Anglo-Saxon, after quite a bit of research fell into the category of "peri-oid".  I urge you to try it, it was well received at the event it was cooked at.

The taste testers and I decided I hadn't cooked enough of this dish--it was that good, and I will be making blawnche perrye much more often in the future.  It would also make a very good soup if allowed to remain saucier.  This was very easy to make.  I very much enjoyed the mild flavor of the leeks after they had been boiled and I highly recommend that you do not skip this step.  This is another recipe that has fallen into the "must be served at feast" category.  It would also make a very nice lunch recipe as well.  I imagine that you would be able to cook this in a slow cooker after boiling and draining the leeks.


Similar Recipes

Ein Buch von guter spise (Germany, ca. 1345 - Alia Atlas, trans.)

64. Ein mus mit lauche (A puree with leeks). Ain mus mit lauche. Take wizzen lauch und hacke in cleine und mengez wol mit guter mandel milich und mit rise mele und daz siude wol und versaltz niht.

A puree with leeks. Take white leek and cut small and mix well with good almond milk and with rice meal and boil that well and do not oversalt.


Blaunche porre. Take the clene white of lekes wel wasshed, and sethe hom; and when thai byn sothen, draw oute the grene pith, that is within, and then preffe oute the water, and hak hom smal, and bray hom; and in the brayinge alay hit with thik almonde mylk; and then sethe hit, and cast therto sugre, and make hit sumqwat rennynge (rather thin) ; and when hit is sothen and dressed up in dilfches, then cast suger above, and serve hit forthe.


Blaunche pore. Take thyke melke of almondys do yt in a potte perboyle the whyte of lekys tendour presse out the watyre hew hem smalle grynd hem temper hem with the same mylke do to gedyr with sygure and salt boyle hit up yf thu wilte thu mayste alay with payndemayn othir with cromys of white brede draw hem with the same mylke and serve hit forth with salte ele yf thu have hit.

Libre del Coch (Spain, 1520 - Robin Carroll-Mann, trans.)

105. LEEK POTTAGE. You must take leeks, well-peeled, and washed and cleaned the night before, set them to soak in an earthen bowl filled with water, in the night air; and let them be this way all night until the morning; and then give them a boil, moderately, because they are very difficult to cook; and when they are well-boiled, press them a great deal between two chopping blocks, and gently fry them with the fat of good bacon; and do not cast salt upon them; and when they are well gently fried, set them to cook in a little good broth which is fatty; and then take almond milk and cast it in the pot and cook it until it is quite thick; and when it is thick, taste it for salt, and if it lacks salt cast it in; and then prepare dishes, and [cast] upon them sugar and cinnamon.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liiij. Rapeye. - Date and Apple Pudding

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) -  .Liiij. Rapeye. - Date and Apple Pudding


This is the third of the "rapeye" recipes located in 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 and it is my favorite.  The first recipe I interpreted, Rapeye of Fleysshe, created a kind of sauce or pork, broth, eggs and honey.  It was not pleasant to look at, but the taste more than made up for that.  The second recipe for rapeye, I interpreted made a sauce or candy of figs and raisins, studded with pine nuts and currants.  This is the third (and the favorite) recipe, the end results of which is a pudding of dates, apples and almond milk.  Even my taste testers who insisted they did not like dates enjoyed this.

The word "Rapeye" means sauce and it has been theorized that the origins of the word is old French word "rapé" which could mean to grate, or rasp according to Randle Cotgrave's "A French and English Dictionary" published in 1673. The sauce was traditionally served with roasted meats or fish, than later encased in dough.

.Liiij. Rapeye.—Take almaundys, an draw a gode mylke þer-of, and take Datys an mynce hem smal, an put þer-on y-now; take Raw Appelys, an pare hem and stampe hem, an drawe hem vppe with wyne, or with draf of Almaundys, or boþe; þan caste pouder of Gyngere, Canel, Maces, Clowes, & caste þer-on Sugre y-now; þan take a quantyte of flowre of Rys, an þrowe þer-on, & make it chargeaunt, an coloure it wyth Safroun, an with Saunderys, an serue forth; an strawe Canel a-boue.

Daniel Myers offers this interpreteation on his website Medieval Cookery:

Liiij - Rapeye. Take almaundys, an draw a gode mylke ther-of, and take Datys an mynce hem smal, an put ther-on y-now; take Raw Appelys, an pare hem and stampe hem, an drawe hem vppe with wyne, or with draf of Almaundys, or bothe; than caste pouder of Gyngere, Canel, Maces, Clowes, and caste ther-on Sugre y-now; than take a quantyte of flowre of Rys, an throwe ther-on, and make it chargeaunt, an coloure it wyth Safroun, an with Saunderys, an serue forth; an strawe Canel a-boue.

54. Rapeye - Take almonds, and draw a good milk there-of, and take dates and mince them small, and put there-on enough; take raw apples, and pare them and grind them, and draw them up with wine, or with draft of almonds, or both; than caste powder of ginger, cinnamon, maces, cloves and caste there-on sugar enough; then take a quantity of flour of rice; and throw there-on, and make it thick, and color it with saffron, and with sandalwood, and serve forth; and strew cinnamon above.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                               Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

1 cup almond milk
8 dates minced
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. each cinnamon, mace and cloves
1-2 tbsp. or to taste sugar
2-3 tbsp. rice flour
Pinch of saffron and sandalwood
Garnish with cinnamon

I simmered the dates and apples in the almond milk until the apples started to break apart.  I used a potato masher to further mash the apples because I wanted a little more texture in the final product.  Return the sauce to the pot and add the spices and sugar.  When the mixture begins to boil, add your rice flour and turn down the heat.  You can add the saffron and sandalwood if you wish to at this time. When the rice flour has cooked, garnish with cinnamon and serve.

I allowed this to cool to room temperature and it was delicious! I hope to make it again and cool it overnight and see if it improves with age. I imagine it could also be made in a slow cooker.  This would make a good breakfast dish at a camping event, and I would not hesitate to serve it at a lunch tavern or even at a feast.

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Rape. XX.IIII. III. Take half fyges and half raisouns pike hem and waisshe hem in water skalde hem in wyne. bray hem in a morter, and drawe hem thurgh a straynour. cast hem in a pot and þerwiþ powdour of peper and ooþer good powdours. alay it up with flour of Rys. and colour it with saundres. salt it. & messe it forth.


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

For to make a rape. Take raysyns of corauns þerto, And wyte wynne þou take also. Sethe þenne oþer raysyns grete In rede wyne, and boyle a lytul with hete. Do opon a broche, rost hom bydene A lytel, and take hom fayre and clene And bray hom in a morter smalle, A crust of brede þou bray with alle. Put alle in þe pot with grythe, Þo raysyns of corauns, þo swete wyne with, A lytul vengur, and pouder take þo Of clowes, maces and quibibis to. Boyle alle to geder, and serve hit þenne, And sett hit forthe before goode men.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak rape, tak raissins of corans and other raissins and sethe them with wyne and boile them a litille then rost them on a spit and tak it of and bray it in a mortair with crustes of bred and put them in a possuet put ther to raissins swet wyne venygar poudur of peppur clowes maces pynesquibibes and boile them and serue them.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxvj. Rys - Rice

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxvj. Rys - Rice


Because of its difficulty to grow and the cost to import, rice was considered a luxury product throughout the Middle Ages. Today rice is one of the most common cereal grains in use.  This recipe found in n the 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 for medieval rice creates a sweet, creamy and delicious dish that reflects the simplicity of medieval cooking and its ability to create complex flavors with a few ingredients.

Where rice originated is hotly debated. One theory states that rice is a descendent of a wild grass which was cultivated in the Himalayas.  Another theory suggests that rice originated in India and spread to Thailand and China.  Rice spread from this region into the Middle East, where some of the oldest grains have been found in a grave dated to the first century A.D.

Alexander the Great introduced rice to Mesopotamia in the late 4th Century.  It was Alexander who is credited with introducing the Greeks to rice sometime around 320BC.  It was considered an exotic species and was used for medicine but not as a source of food.  The Romans became acquainted with this grain through the Greeks, but chose to import their rice from Syria and Egypt.  Apicius mentions that rice flour (fecula) could be used to thicken sauces.

Rice reached England in the late 13th, early 14th Century.  Records indicate that Portuguese and Spanish ships included rice as one of its imports along with figs, raisins, almonds, pepper, sugar, saffron, wax, leather and Pomegranates. There is some debate on how and when this grain was introduced to Spain.  One theory suggests that Moors invading from Africa brought rice with them in the eleventh century. Another theory suggests that rice was known in the Valencia region as early as the first century.  It is known that Portugal had established and thriving fields of rice in the twelfth century. It is believed that both France and Italy were growing rice in the thirteenth centuries.

.lxxxvj. Rys.—Take a porcyoun of Rys, & pyke hem clene, & sethe hem welle, & late hem kele; þen take gode Mylke of Almaundys & do þer-to, & seþe & stere hem wyl; & do þer-to Sugre an hony, & serue forth.

Daniel Myers offers this interpretation on his website.

lxxxvj - Rys. Take a porcyoun of Rys, and pyke hem clene, and sethe hem welle, and late hem kele; then take gode Mylke of Almaundys and do ther-to, and sethe and stere hem wyl; and do ther-to Sugre an hony, and serue forth [correction; sic = f].

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                    Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

1/2 cup rice
1 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp each (or to taste) sugar and honey

What kind of rice should one use for this dish? I used a long grained white rice because it is what I had, but, if I were to cook this dish for an event I would choose a short  or medium grained rice  (Arborio or Valencia). I believe that the shorter grained rice was the one that was imported from Portugal and Spain into Europe.  Bomba Rice which is used for paella might also be a good choice. 

Follow the package directions to precook your rice.  Once the rice is cooked, allow it to cool and then add your almond milk, sugar and honey and cook until the almond milk is absorbed.  Serve--it could not be simpler.

I have in the past cheated at events by using the bagged, frozen rice, putting it into a pan, adding almond milk and popping it into the oven to thaw and heat. You can stir it occasionally while it is heating.  The almond milk absorbs and the dish tastes similar. Using long grain rice that is frozen and adding the flavors nets a similar taste but, you miss the creamy consistency. However if you are cooking for a larger crowd, purchasing the frozen rice, means not having to fret cooking in quantity for a large crowd and possibly serving undercooked rice.  

The taste testers and I "argued" over who got to eat the rest of the dish. This is definitely one of the times I wished I had made more instead of a "tasting sample. 

Similar Recipes

Le Viandier de Taillevent (France, ca. 1380 - James Prescott, trans.)

Decorated rice for a meat day. Pick over the rice, wash it very well in hot water, dry it near the fire, and cook it in simmering cow's milk. Crush some saffron (for reddening it), steep it in your milk, and add stock from the pot.

Le Menagier de Paris (France, 1393 - Janet Hinson, trans.)

RICE, Another Way. Pick it over and wash in two or three changes of hot water until the water is clear, then do as above until half cooked, then puree it and put on trenchers in dishes to drain and dry in front of the fire: then cook it thick with the fatty liquid from beef and with saffron, if this is a meat day: and if it is a fish day, do not add meat juice, but in its place add almonds well-ground and not sieved; then sweeten and do not use saffron.
 A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak ryse pik them clene and then wesshe them in two or thre waters and let the water be warm and sethe them in clene water till they begyn to boile and at the first boile put out the water and sethe them with brothe of fleshe or with the brothe of freche flesshe or of freche fisshe and put ther to sugur saffron and salt and serue it.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liij. Rapeye. Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liij. Rapeye Fig and Raisin Paste with Pine Nuts and Currants

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Liij. Rapeye - fig and raisin paste with pine nuts and currants


Last year I published my interpretation of Cvj. Rapeye of Fleysshe which was a very interesting dish that created a kind of meat "sauce" made from pork, egg yolks, honey and spices. It was good to eat but not pleasant to look at. At the time I had made note of two futher recipes for "rapeye" made with fruit.  Here is my interpretation from 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 by Thomas Austin of one of the two fruit sauces.

This is the first recipe that I have come across in my meanderings across this manuscript which specifically calls for "flour of Amidons" to be used as a means of thickening agent. What is Amidon?  Amidon (amydone, amidum, amylum, amydon, amidon, amelunck, amydon, amidum) is starch extracted from wheat which has been soaked for several days in water.  During the soaking process the water is changed out several times. After the soaking period is up, the wheat is pounded into a meal and then allowed to dry in the sun.  The instructions for this method of making wheat starch can also be found in the Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430) as part of the section for Laud MS. 553 (BODLEIAN LIBRARY).

For to make amydon. Nym whete at midsomer / and salt, and do it in a faire vessel / do water therto, that thy whete be yheled / let it stonde ix days and ix ny3t, and eueryeday whess wel thy whete / and at ye ix days ende bray hit wel in a morter / and drie hit to3enst ye sonne / do it in a faire vessel / and kouere hit fort, thou wil it note.
Interpretation: For to make amydon. Take wheat at midsummer/ and salt, and do it in a fair vessel / do water thereto, that the wheat be well covered / let it stand 9 days and 9 nights, and everyday, wash well the wheat / and at the nine days end grind it well in a mortar / and dry it  against the sun / do it in a fair vessel / and cover it forth, you will it not.


.Liij. Rapeye.—Take half Fygys & halfe Roysonys, and boyle hem in Wyne; þan bray hem in a morter, an draw wyth the same lycoure þorw a straynoure so þikke þat it be stondynge; þanne take Roysons of Corauns, Pynys, Clowys, Maces, Sugre of Siprys, an caste þer-to: þan putte it on a potte; þan take Saunderys a fewe, Pepir, Canel, an a litel Safroun; an ȝif it be noȝt stondyng, take a [supplied by ed.] lytil flowre of Amidons, an draw it þorw a straynwoure, an caste þer-to Salt, & serue forth stondyng.

Daniel Myers offers this interpreteation on his website Medieval Cookery:

Liij - Rapeye. Take half Fygys and halfe Roysonys, and boyle hem in Wyne; than bray hem in a morter, an draw wyth the same lycoure thorw a straynoure so thikke that it be stondynge; thanne take Roysons of Corauns, Pynys, Clowys, Maces, Sugre of Siprys, an caste ther-to: than putte it on a potte; than take Saunderys a fewe, Pepir, Canel, an a litel Safroun; an 3if it be no3t stondyng, take a lytil flowre of Amidons, an draw it thorw a straynwoure, an caste ther-to Salt, and serue forth stondyng.

53. Rapeye - Take figs and raisins and boil them in wine; then pound them in a mortar, and draw with the same liquor through a strainer so thick that it be standing; then take currants, pine nuts, cloves, mace, sugar, and caste there-to: then put it on a pot; then take sandalwood a few, pepper, cinnamon, and a little saffron; and if it be not standing, take a starch (flowre of Amidons - most likely wheat), and draw it through a strainer, and caste there-to salt, and serve forth standing.

Interpreted Recipe

1/2 cup dried figs, diced small
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup wine
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp. each ground clove and mace
1/2 cup sugar
pinch each of saffron and sandalwood
1/4 tsp. or more pepper and cinnamon (to taste)

This was very simple to make.  I cleaned and cut the figs into small dice, and placed them and the raisins into a sauce pan. As the figs and the raisins cooked the wine thickened into syrup.  Once the raisins had plumped up and the figs began to fall apart I put them into the blender and pureed them (thank you kitchen Gods!).  I attempted to strain through a strainer, I really, did, and all I did was end up with a mess....so this will be one of the very few times I will say...don't do it.  My guess is that our modern blender has the ability to make a much smoother paste then its medieval counterpart.  Save yourself extra dishes and just pour the sauce into the pan.  Add the spices, sugar, currants and pine nuts to the sauce and cook until it becomes thick.  I may have taken this a step too far, because I cooked it like I would any fruit paste-until the fruit remained parted in the pan.  At this point I poured it onto a sheet pan and let it sit until cool.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that I did mention to the house mates that there was an item sitting in the stove, one of them preheated the oven to 400 degree's with the rapeye in it.  This resulted in the thick sauce drying out a bit more then intended. Instead of having a spoonable treat, I have something that I can cut into squares and serve like fudge.  This is delicious!! The taste testers and I have been pecking away at it.  I highly recommend that it find its way into your bag of tricks.  I imagine it would make a terrific sauce if kept thin to go with a roast.  I know it was very good hot, and when allowed to cool to room temperature was equally delicious. If you dry it to a paste, it would make a very welcome candy.

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Rape. XX.IIII. III. Take half fyges and half raisouns pike hem and waisshe hem in water skalde hem in wyne. bray hem in a morter, and drawe hem thurgh a straynour. cast hem in a pot and þerwiþ powdour of peper and ooþer good powdours. alay it up with flour of Rys. and colour it with saundres. salt it. & messe it forth.


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

For to make a rape. Take raysyns of corauns þerto, And wyte wynne þou take also. Sethe þenne oþer raysyns grete In rede wyne, and boyle a lytul with hete. Do opon a broche, rost hom bydene A lytel, and take hom fayre and clene And bray hom in a morter smalle, A crust of brede þou bray with alle. Put alle in þe pot with grythe, Þo raysyns of corauns, þo swete wyne with, A lytul vengur, and pouder take þo Of clowes, maces and quibibis to. Boyle alle to geder, and serve hit þenne, And sett hit forthe before goode men.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak rape, tak raissins of corans and other raissins and sethe them with wyne and boile them a litille then rost them on a spit and tak it of and bray it in a mortair with crustes of bred and put them in a possuet put ther to raissins swet wyne venygar poudur of peppur clowes maces pynesquibibes and boile them and serue them.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xviij. Pertrich stewyde. - Partridge Stewed

 Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xviij. Pertrich stewyde. - Partridge Stewed


This is the second of two recipes I interpreted 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 . My mistake was making them on the same day. Of the two, this was the least preferred and I had to agree with my taste testers. It was good, and if I had prepared it on another day would have been well received but compared to the Hen in Cyuey it was "just another dish of stewed fowl of some kind in a broth." On the plus side, made with boneless skinless chicken thighs (because boiled chicken skin is not pretty to look at), it was a very pretty dish, and not that fussy to put together.  On looks and ease of preparation alone, you should try this dish.  

I would suggest that you thicken the broth a little bit with either rice flour or bread crumbs to make it into more a thicker gravy and claim cooks prerogative. A thicker broth might have made the difference between "just another dish of stewed fowl in some kind of broth" and a knock it out of the park dish.  

The people of the medieval period enjoyed a greater variety of food then we do today.   As discussed in my previous blog post, smale byrdys y-stwyde, a wide range of domestic and wild fowl made its way into medieval dishes. 

Partridges are medium sized (10-12 ounces) game birds that were widely distributed throughout Europe, Africa and Asia.  Medieval Physicians recommended partridges as one of the healthiest of games birds, being of moderate heat and moisture and generating good blood. Consumption of partridges is at least as old as Apicius who has several recipes in his book "De Re Coquinaria". The two most common partridge species is the red-legged partridge and the gray-legged partridge.  

An interesting tidbit, the "red-legged" partridge originates in Spain, and nests in tree's. This may be the bird referenced in the popular Christmas Carol "The Twelve Day's of Christmas".  The song that we know dates back to 1909 and there is some evidence to suggest that it was of a much older origin.  The partridge may be symbolic of two becoming one, based on evidence that in the winter months, partridges tend to leave their flocks to break into monogomous pairs. However, there is also a school of thought that believes that the song may be misinterpreted from the French.  The lyrics might have originally been "a partridge, une perdrix", perdrix being French for Partridge. 

According to Greek Legend, the first partridge appears when the Goddess Athena turned Daedalus' nephew Perdix into a partridge after Daedalus' throws him in a fit of jealous rage from the Acropolis. Pliny the Elder (1st century) writes in his Natural History, Book 10, 51, "Partridges protect their nests with thorns and twigs so that they are safe from animals. After the eggs are laid the partridge moves them somewhere else, so that the laying place does not become known, and covers them with soft dust. The hens hide their eggs even from their mates, because the males break the eggs so that the females remain available to them. The cocks fight duels with each other over their desire for the hens; it is said that the loser in the fight has to submit sexually to the winner. The hens can become pregnant by merely standing facing the cock, and if they open their beak and put out their tongue at that time, they are sexually excited. Even the air blown from a cock flying overhead, or the sound of a cock crowing, is enough to cause pregnancy. If a fowler approaches the nest, the hen will lure him away by running away while pretending to be injured. If the hen has no eggs to protect, she does not run but lies on her back in a furrow and holds a clod of earth in her claws to cover herself."

.xviij. Pertrich stewyde.—Take fayre mary,*. [Marrow. No. 28, in Douce MS., has myȝty brothe. ] brothe of Beef or of Motoun, an whan it is wyl sothyn, take þe brothe owt of þe potte, an strayne it thorw a straynour, an put it on an erþen potte; þan take a gode quantyte of wyne, as þow it were half, an put þer-to; þan take þe pertryche, an stuffe hym wyth hole pepir, an merw,*. [Marrow. ] an than sewe þe ventys of þe pertriche, an take clowys an maces, & hole pepir, an caste it in-to þe potte, an let it boyle to-gederys; an whan þe pertryche is boylid y-now, take þe potte of þe fyre, an whan thou schalt serue hym forth, caste in-to þe potte powder gyngere, salt, safron, an serue forth.

xviij - Pertrich stewyde. Take fayre mary, (Note: Marrow. No. 28, in Douce MS., has my3ty brothe) brothe of Beef or of Motoun, an whan it is wyl sothyn, take the brothe owt of the potte, an strayne it thorw a straynour, an put it on an erthen potte; than take a gode quantyte of wyne, as thow it were half, an put ther-to; than take the pertryche, an stuffe hym wyth hole pepir, an merw, (Note: Marrow) an than sewe the ventys of the pertriche, an take clowys an maces, and hole pepir, an caste it in-to the potte, an let it boyle to-gederys; an whan the pertryche is boylid y-now, take the potte of the fyre, an whan thou schalt serue hym forth, caste in-to the potte powder gyngere, salt, safron, an serue forth.

18. Partridge Stewed - Take fair marrow, broth of beef or of mutton, and when it is well cooked, take the broth out of the pot, and strain it through a strainer, and put it on an earthen pot; then take a good quantity of wine, as though it were half, and put there-to; then take the partridge, and stuff him with whole pepper, and marrow, and then sew the vents of the partridge, and take cloves and maces, and whole pepper, and caste it into the pot, and let it boil together; and when the partridge is boiled enough, take the pot off the fire, and when you shall serve him forth, caste into the pot, powder ginger, salt, saffron, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                             Serves 1 as main, 2 as Side

1 skin on, bone in chicken thigh
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup wine
1/4 tsp. crushed pepper (because whole peppers are not pleasant to bite into)
Skewers or Twine
3-4 whole cloves
1/8 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp. whole pepper
1/4 tsp. ginger
Pinch of saffron
Salt to taste

Please note, that partridge is a very lean game bird while chicken is not.  If you are lucky enough to get partridge (which is prohibitively expensive in my area) you will want to include marrow in your recipe. I removed the skin, the excess fat and the bone from the chicken thigh, cracked the bone and placed it in the beef broth and wine and simmered it to create a fattier broth.  While the broth, wine, skin, fat and bones were cooking, I peppered the inside of the thigh. I used a mix of peppers including black pepper, cubebs and long pepper, and liberally sprinkled it on.  I then rolled the thigh up, and skewered it (you can see the "heart like" shape in the photo above).  At this point I strained the broth, and then added the thigh and broth back into the pot, added cloves and whole pepper, and cooked until the thigh was cooked through. If the broth does not cover the thigh, you will want to flip it over at some point to cook the other side.

Before serving add a pinch of saffron and ginger to the broth, cook a few more minutes to extract the color and flavor of the saffron, taste for salt (modern diners will thank you).

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 A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To stewe a pertuche or a wod cok and draw them and wesshe them clene and chope them with hole clowes and peper and couche them in an erthen pot put ther to dates mynced gret raisins of corans wyne and swet brothe salt it and cover the pot and set it on the fyer when it is enoughe sesson it with pouder of guinger and venygar and colour it with saffron and serue it.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xlij. Conyng, Mawlard, in gely or in cyuey - Hen in Onion Sauce

xlij. Conyng, Mawlard, in gely or in cyuey - Hen in Onion Sauce

Many moons ago, when I was first active in the SCA, I came across an excellent recipe in "The Ordinance of Pottage" for a dish called "Hare in Cyve" which I highly recommend.  It was very well received and became one of my "go to" feast dishes.  Hey, we all have them, right?  So when I found this recipe in 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 it was very exciting for me.  Conyng is a reference to a young rabbit, while Mawlard most likely refers to Mallard, a duck.  Cyuey refers to a sauce that has been thickened by finely chopped onions or has been flavored with onions.  This is delicious and I am so glad to find that it can extend to duck and hen (chicken) as well as rabbit.  I urge you to try it!

The taste testers enjoyed this dish.  One comment was "I would lick the bowl but I'm trying to be polite!" ~laughs~.  Of the two dishes I cooked today, this was the preferred dish.  Threats were made (in jest) to get the last bite and it has been agreed that this is a dish I should make more often...just because it's that good.

.xlij. Conyng, Mawlard, in gely or in cyuey.—Take Conynge, Hen, or Mawlard, and roste hem alle-most y-now, or ellys choppe hem, an frye hem in fayre Freysshe grece; an frye myncyd Oynenons, and caste alle in-to þe potte, & caste þer-to fayre Freysshe brothe, an half Wyne, Maces, Clowes, Powder pepir, Canelle; þan take fayre Brede, an wyth þe same brothe stepe, an draw it þorw a straynoure wyth vynegre; an whan it is wyl y-boylid, caste þe lycoure þer to, & powder Gyngere, & Salt, & sesyn it vp an serue forth.

xlij - Conyng, Mawlard, in gely or in cyuey. Take Conynge, Hen, or Mawlard, and roste hem alle-most y-now, or ellys choppe hem, an frye hem in fayre Freysshe grece; an frye myncyd Oynenons, and caste alle in-to the potte, and caste ther-to fayre Freysshe brothe, an half Wyne, Maces, Clowes, Powder pepir, Canelle; than take fayre Brede, an wyth the same brothe stepe, an draw it thorw a straynoure wyth vynegre; an whan it is wyl y-boylid, caste the lycoure ther to, and powderGyngere, and Salt, and sesyn it vp an serue forth [correction; sic = f].

42.  Rabbit, Duck, in Jelly or in Civey - Take rabbit, hen, or duck, and roast them all most enough, or else chop them, and fry them in fair fresh grease; and fry minced onions, and cast all into the pot, and cast there-to fair fresh broth, and half wine, maces, cloves, powder pepper, cinnamon; then take fair bread, and with the same broth soak, and draw it through a strainer with vinegar; and when it is well boiled, cast the liquor there to, and powder ginger, and salt, and season it up and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                         Serves 1 as main, 2 or more as side

1/4 pound chicken, rabbit, or duck cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces (I used chicken thighs)
1 tbsp. oil, butter, lard
1/4 small onion minced
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup broth (I used chicken)
2-3 whole cloves
1/8 tsp. each pepper, cinnamon and mace
2-3 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tbsp. vinegar (I used red wine)
1/4 tsp. ginger
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pot (it's one less dish!) and add onions and meat of choice.  Lower heat and let the meat and onions cook until onions are transparent.  Do not brown the meat.  Add broth, wine, mace, clove, pepper and cinnamon to the pot and continue cooking until meat is tender.  While meat is cooking, mix together bread crumbs and vinegar until it forms a paste. Add the bread to the meat and thicken to your desired taste.  Before serving add ginger and taste for salt, add salt if needed.

This is an excellent dish that can be made ahead of time and reheated day of. It would be great for a luncheon dish as well.  When I have served Hieatt's dish in the past, I served it over noodles and over rice.  I prefer the lozenges (noodles) to the rice, but either will serve to catch the delicious gravy! If nothing else use sops! The gravy makes the dish.  You could also choose to make it less thick and serve it as more of a stew, or even soupy.  It is quite forgiving in that regard.

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Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Connynges In Cynee. XXV. Take Connynges and smyte hem on peces. and seeþ hem in gode broth, mynce Oynouns and seeþ hem in grece and in gode broth do þerto. drawe a lyre of brede. blode. vynegur and broth do þerto with powdour fort.
An Anonymous Tuscan Cookery Book (Italy, ~1400 - Ariane Helou, trans.)

Civero of hare and other meats. Cut apart a whole hare, and, when it has been washed a little, cook it in water; then take the cooked liver and lungs, grind them well in a mortar, and when said hare is cooked, take spices, pepper and onions, and fry them in lard with said lungs and toasted bread: and when all these things have boiled together, serve it to the table. Note that you must mince and grind the cooked liver and lungs in a mortar with spices and toasted bread, and dilute it with good wine and a bit of vinegar. And then it has been cooked and the hare fried with onion, pour said sauce over the hare, and let it cool to room temperature, and serve. And you can do the same with pernici, that is partridges.
Ancient Cookery [Arundel 334] (England, 1425)

Conynges in cyne. Take conynges and parboyle hom, and sinyte hom on gobettes and sethe hom; and take onyons and mynce hom, and frye hom in grees, and do therto; and take bred steped in brothe and blode, and drawe up a lyoure (mixture) wyth brothe and vynegur, and do therin; and pouder of pepur and of clowes, and serve hit forthe.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxxvij. Autre Vele en bokenade.-Another Veal in Bokenade (stewed)

xxxvij. Autre Vele en bokenade.-Another Veal in Bokenade (stewed)


It's a gray day today, cloudy with a promise of rain. The kind of day that makes you want to curl up with a good book and some comfort food and stay indoors. So I went in search of a recipe that would fall into the category of "yummy comfort food" 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 and found another recipe for another bokenade.  My previously published version for Henne in Bokenade netted rave reviews from the taste testers, so I was eager to give this version an attempt and we were not disappointed.  

The taste testers and I each enjoyed this dish. It is a bit reminiscent of .vj. Beef y-Stywyd evoking the warmed spice flavors of Cincinnati style chili, without the acidic bite of vinegar.  This is a milder version and has made it onto the ever growing list of things that must be served at an event. Although, with events few and far between, and competition growing more and more fierce (it's been about two years since my last feast and a year since my last luncheon), I believe I am going to resort to  Plan B--holding dinner parties at the house--oh! The horrors!

.xxxvij. Autre Vele en bokenade.—Take Vele, an Make it clene, and hakke it to gobettys, an sethe it; an take fat brothe, an temper vp þine Almaundys þat þou hast y-grounde, an lye it with Flowre of Rys, and do þer-to gode powder of Gyngere, & Galyngale, Canel, Maces, Quybybis, and Oynonys y-mynsyd, & Roysonys of coraunce, & coloure yt wyth Safroun, and put þer-to þin Vele, & serue forth.

xxxvij - Autre Vele en bokenade. Take Vele, an Make it clene, and hakke it to gobettys, an sethe it; an take fat brothe, an temper vp thine Almaundys that thou hast y-grounde, an lye it with Flowre of Rys, and do ther-to gode powder of Gyngere, and Galyngale, Canel, Maces, Quybybis, and Oynonys y-mynsyd, and Roysonys of coraunce, and coloure yt wyth Safroun, and put ther-to thin Vele, and serue forth [correction; sic = f].

Interpreted Recipes

1/4 pound veal-or lacking veal stew beef
1 cup beef broth or stock
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tbsp. rice four
1/4 tsp. each ginger and galingale
1/8 tsp. each cinnamon, mace and cubebs
1/4 cup onion sliced
1 tbsp. currants
pinch of saffron

Because veal is very expensive and my budget this week is tight, I purchased stew beef instead of veal, so the flavor of this dish might have been a bit richer then it would have been if I were using veal.  I made almond milk by adding the almond flour to the beef broth and pureeing in a blender.  I placed the beef, almond milk, ginger, galingale, cinnamon, mace, cubebs, onion and currents into a pan on the stove and cooked until the meat was tender and the onions had become transparent.  I did add a beef bouillon cube for salt and additional flavor during this process. At this point, add  saffron and rice flour and cook until you have reached your desired thickness.

This was a beautifully easy and quick recipe to throw together, and I suspect it could be made in a crockpot. It absolutely fit the bill of "comfort food" and I would serve this with rice as a side. I also found that the rice flour wasn't absolutely necessary. If you cannot find rice flour, don't fret--it is easily made in your blender.  This process also works for millet, wheat, oats, quinoa, nuts and legumes.   You can use a coffee grinder, but there is no need. Just remember that your homemade flours might be a bit more "gritty" then flour you can buy, so you will want to strain your broth if you use it.

To make homemade rice flour, add your rice to your blender and blend until it becomes a powder.  For harder grains you may want to pulse a few times to start the process.  Use a small amount of your rice--I do mine in quarter to half cup batches. Store in an air tight container.

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.Cxvj. Veel in buknade. Tak fayr veel & kyt in smale pecys & boyle hit tendur in fyne broth other in water, thenne tak white brede other wastel & drawe ther of a white lyour with fyne broth, & do the lyour to the veel & do safroun ther to, thanne take persel & bray hyt in a morter, & the juys ther of do therto & thanne this is half yelow & half grene, thanne take a porcioun of wyne & poudour marchaunt & do ther to and let hit boile wel, & do ther to a littul od vyneger & serve hit forth.


Veel in bucnade. Chop vele in pecys do hit in a pot do ther to onyons cut grete & herbes & good pouderez clovys macyz sygure safron & salt & boyle hit with a lytyll swete broth than put ther to good cow mylke boyle hit up with yolkes of eyron lete hit be rennyng & serve hit forth & make hit with cowe mylke in this maner a fore sayd & thu mayste make hit with almond mylke in the same maner and when hit ys boyled sesyn hit up withe poudyr of gynger & vergeys.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lj. Cawdelle de Almaunde - Almond Caudle

lj. Cawdelle de Almaunde - Almond Caudle

I cannot believe that this recipe has been kept hidden away and secret and has not been used more often at events in the past.  Cawdelle de Almaunde, from  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 by Thomas Austin, is a thick, rich beer soup, or, more recently, if you choose not to follow the instructions, a warmed drink mainly used in the Middle Ages for invalids.  Whatever you call it, you should try it--just make sure you use an ale (or beer) that you enjoy drinking.

One of the taste testers declared it "not to their taste", because it wasn't the "beer" flavor they were expecting.  That makes sense, because you are tempering the beer with almond milk, giving it a creamy taste.  After a few moments of discussion, we had decided that if you were to make this and serve it as instructed "al hotte in maner of potage", that you should accompany it by a good fatty cheese, hard cured meat, like a really good salami, mustardy pickles and a robust grainy bread. The flavor of the ale that I used was very hearty and malty with hints of cinnamon, ginger and orange peel. The sugar enhanced the spice and the malty flavors.  Perhaps lighter flavored ale would be better used for lighter accompaniments such as salad, or eggs?

.lj. Cawdelle de Almaunde.—Take Raw Almaundys, & grynde hem, an temper hem vp with gode ale, and a lytil Water, and draw it þorw a straynoure in-to a fayre potte, & late it boyle a whyle: & caste þer-to Safroun, Sugre, and Salt, & þan serue it forth al hotte in maner of potage.

lj - Cawdelle de Almaunde. Take Raw Almaundys, and grynde hem, an temper hem vp with gode ale, and a lytil Water, and draw it thorw a straynoure in-to a fayre potte, and late it boyle a whyle: and caste ther-to Safroun, Sugre, and Salt, and than serue it forth al hotte in maner of potage.

51. Caudle of Almond - Take raw almonds, and grind them, and temper them up with good ale, and a little water, and draw it through a strainer into a fair pot, and let it boil a while: and cast there-to saffron, sugar, and salt, and then serve it forth all hot in manner of potage.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                               Serves 2 as main, 3-4 as Side

1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup ale
1/4 cup water
1-2 tbsp. sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of saffron (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender (give thanks to the kitchen Gods for modern technology) and blend.  Strain through a strainer and into your pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower to simmer until reduced by 1/4.  Serve.

Honestly--couldn't be simpler, and very, very tasty.

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.lxxxvj. Caudel of almaund mylke. Tak almaundes blaunched and drawe hem up with wyne, do therto poudour ginger, & suger & colour hit with safroun, boyle hyt & serve hit forth.


Caudel dalmone. Take almondes unblanchyd and hom þou bray. Drawe hom up with wyn, I dar wele say. Þer to do pouder of good gyngere And sugur, and boyle alle þese in fere, And coloure hit with safron and salt hit wele, And serve hit forthe Sir at þo mele.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak cawdelle dalmond tak unblanched almondes and bray them and draw them with wyne put ther to pouder of guinger and sugur and boile all to gedur and colore it with saffron and salt it and serue it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lviij. Let lory - Larded Milk

.lviij. Let lory - Larded Milk

Let Lory is a fun and delicious recipe from  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 by Thomas Austin. Milk and eggs are cooked until they form curds that are then drained, and served with sweetened custard.  The first time I made this dish I didn't use a double boiler to heat my milk and burned it.  This recipe is an example of custard that has been cooked until it forms curds. The instructions to heat the milk until it boils ensure that it curds and doesn't form a smooth pudding. While these kinds of custards appear to be quite popular during the 15th Century, they seem to have fallen out of favor in the 16th Century and disappear completely by the 17th Century. 

What we know is that some of the earliest documentable recipes for custards can be found in  De Re Coquinaria. The dish is called "Tyropatinam", and consists of milk, eggs and honey cooked together over a gentle heat.

Similar dishes that I have previusly interpreted include xxix - Milke Rosty.lvj. Charlette, and  lvij - Charlet a-forcyd ryally, which have enjoyed a wide variety of opinions from the taste testers and myself.  Fortunately, the taste testers enjoyed this treat, and I have been asked to make it again. It has gone on my list of "good things to serve at a feast or for a luncheon."

.lviij. Let lory.—Take Mylke, an sette it ouer þe fyre; take Salt & Safroun, an caste þer-to; take Eyroun, þe ȝolke an þe Whyte y-strainyd a lyte,*. [lyte = little.]& caste it þer-to; whan þe Mylke his skaldyng hote, caste þe stuf þer-to, an þenne stere yt tyll it crodde; and ȝif þou wolt haue it a-forsyd with lyȝt coste, Take Mylke, & make it skaldyng hote, & caste þer-to Raw ȝolkes of Eyroun, Sugre, pouder Gyngere, Clowes, Maces, an let not fully boyle; & so hote, dresse it forth, an ley it on þe crodde; & ȝif þou wolt a-forse it in maner of charlet, do it in fastyng dayis, & serue it forth.

lviij - Let lory. Take Mylke, an sette it ouer the fyre; take Salt and Safroun, an caste ther-to; take Eyroun, the 3olke an the Whyte y-strainyd a lyte, (Note: lyte = little.)and caste it ther-to; whan the Mylke his skaldyng hote, caste the stuf ther-to, an thenne stere yt tyll it crodde; and 3if thou wolt haue it a-forsyd with ly3t coste, Take Mylke, and make it skaldyng hote, and caste ther-to Raw 3olkes of Eyroun, Sugre, pouder Gyngere, Clowes, Maces, an let not fully boyle; and so hote, dresse it forth, an ley it on the crodde; and 3if thou wolt a-forse it in maner of charlet, do it in fastyng dayis, and serue it forth.

58. Let Lory - Take milk and set it over the fire; then take salt and saffron, and caste there-to; take eggs, the yolk and the white strained a little, and caste it there-to; when the milk is scalding hot, caste the stuff there-to, and then stir it till it curd; and if you will have it reinforced for little cost, Take milk, and make it scalding hot, and caste there-to raw yolks of egg, sugar, powder ginger, cloves, mace, and let not full boil; and so hot, dress it forth, and ley it on the curd; and if you will reinforce it in manner of charlet, do it in fasting days, and serve it forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                              Serves 1 as main, 2 or more as side

3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of saffron

Bring milk, salt and saffron to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan. Add the beaten eggs and stir, curds will begin to form after a few minutes. As an alternative, you can add a half tsp. of vinegar or wine to the mix which will make it curd up faster. Remove from heat when curds have formed and allow to cool completely. Place several layers of cheesecloth in a strainer and place strainer over a large bowl. Spoon the cheese mixture into the cheesecloth and allow to drain. Lift the cheesecloth bag without spilling the contents and squeeze gently until all whey has been removed.

Egg Sauce

1/4 cup milk
2 tsp. sugar
2 beaten egg yolks
1/4 tsp ginger (or to taste)
1/8 tsp. each clove and mace

Heat milk and spices to a simmer and remove from the heat, temper the beaten eggs with a bit of the milk and then add the eggs to the milk. Return to heat and simmer gently until the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Before serving spoon over the curds, and serve warm.

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Le Viandier de Taillevent (France, ca. 1380 - James Prescott, trans.)

Larded milk. Take some [cow's] milk, boil it on the fire, lift it down from the fire, put it on a few coals, and thread in beaten egg yolks. If you wish it for a meat day, take lardons, cut them into two or three bits, and throw them into the milk to boil. If you wish it for a fish day, do not add lardons, but throw in some wine and verjuice to curdle it before you lift it down. Remove it from the fire, put it in a white cloth, let it drain, wrap it in 2 or 3 layers of the cloth, and press it until it is as firm as beef liver. Put it on a table, slice it into strips the size of a full palm or three fingers, button them with whole cloves, fry them until they are browned, set them out, and throw some sugar on top.

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)
Letelorye. XX.IIII. I. Take Ayrenn and wryng hem thurgh a styunour and do þerto cowe mylke with butter and safroun and salt and seeþ it wel. leshe it. and loke þat it be stondyng. and serue it forth.

Le Menagier de Paris (France, 1393 - Janet Hinson, trans.)

LARDY MILK. Take milk of cows or ewes and put to boil in the fire, and throw in bits of bacon and some saffron: and have eggs, that is both white and yolk, well-beaten and throw in all at once, without stirring, and make it all boil together, and then take it off the fire and leave it to turn; or without eggs, use verjuice to turn it. And when it is cool, tie it up stoutly in a piece of cloth or net and give it whatever shape you wish, flat or long, and weighted with a large rock let it cool on a side-board all night, and the next day release it and fry it alone without added grease, or with grease if you wish; and it is placed on plates or in bowls like slices of bacon and stuck with cloves and pignon nuts. And if you want to make it green, use turnsole.


Lede lardes. Take eyren and swete mylke of a cow, Swyng hom togedur, as I byd now. Take larde of fresshe porke with alle, Sethe hit and schere hit on peses smalle. Cast þer in and boyle hit, þenne Styr hit wele, as I þe kenne, Tyl hit be gedered on crud harde. Leche hit, and rost hit afterwarde Apone a gredel, þen serve þou may Hit forthe, with spit, as I þe say.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak ledlardes of one coloure tak eggs and cow mylk and swinge them to gedur then sethe it and hew it in small peces and boile it and stirre it till be ron upon a herd curde then lesshe it and rost it upon a gredirn and serue it

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Ciiij. Bolas - Poached Pears in Plum Sauce

.Ciiij. Bolas - Poached Pears in Plum Sauce

I have been quite anxious to try this recipe from 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 by Thomas Austin for Bolas. It was exactly as I imagined it would be...colorful, flavorful and with a bit of a cheat, exceptionally easy to put together. Additionally, this dish wowed the taste testers when presented. 

.Ciiij. Bolas.—Take fayre Bolasse, wasshe hem clene, & in Wyne boyle hem þat þey be but skaldyd bywese, & boyle hem alle to pomppe,*. [Pulp. ] & draw hem þorw a straynoure, & a-lye hem with flowre of Rys, & make it chargeaunt, & do it to þe fyre, & boyl it; take it of, & do þer-to whyte Sugre, gyngere, Clowys, Maces, Canelle, & stere it wyl to-gederys: þanne take gode perys, [leaf 19 bk.] & sethe hem wel with þe Stalke, & sette hem to kele, & pare hem clene, and pyke owt þe corys; þan take datis, & wasshe hem clene, & pyke owt þe Stonys, & fylle hem fulle of blaunche poudere: þan take þe Stalke of þe Perys, take þe Bolas, & ley .iij. lechys in a dysshe, & sette þin perys þer-yn.

Ciiij - Bolas. Take fayre Bolasse, wasshe hem clene, and in Wyne boyle hem that they be but skaldyd bywese, and boyle hem alle to pomppe, (Note: Pulp) and draw hem thorw a straynoure, and a-lye hem with flowre of Rys, and make it chargeaunt, and do it to the fyre, and boyl it; take it of, and do ther-to whyte Sugre, gyngere, Clowys, Maces, Canelle, and stere it wyl to-gederys: thanne take gode perys, and sethe hem wel with the Stalke, and sette hem to kele, and pare hem clene, and pyke owt the corys; than take datis, and wasshe hem clene, and pyke owt the Stonys, and fylle hem fulle of blaunche poudere: than take the Stalke of the Perys, take the Bolas, and ley .iij. lechys in a dysshe, and sette thin perys ther-yn.

54 - Bolas - Take fair bullace, wash them clean, and in wine boil them that they be but scalded and steeped, and boil them all to pulp and draw them through a strainer, and mix them with flour of rice, and make it thick, and do it to the fire, and boil it; take it off and do there-to white sugar, ginger, cloves, maces, cinnamon, and stir it well together: then take good pears, and cook them well with the stalk, and set them to cool, and pare them clean, and pick out the cores; then take dates, and wash them clean, and pick out the stones, and fill them full of white powder: than take the stalk of the pears, take the plums, and lay three slices in a dish, and set your pears there-in. 

Interpreted Recipe                                       Serves 2 as a Main, 3 as a side

3 Plums
1 cup wine
1tbsp. rice flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. each clove and mace
1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
1 pear poached in water (I used sliced canned pears)
2 dates cut in half longwise
Blanch Powder

Clean and wash your plums and cut into chunks and place in a pot, along with wine, sugar, ginger, cloves, mace and cinnamon.  Allow to cook until the fruit has softened into a pulp. I used about a teaspoon of pólvora de duque (see below) instead of the individual spices along with additional sugar. 

If you are not going to employ the cheat method of using sliced pears that have been canned, poach your pear in a second pot.  I had truly planned on using a small Bosc pear, but it was eaten by one of the family taste testers who didn't realize it was for this recipe~laughs~!!  So a quick run to the closest store yielded caned pears as a quick substitute, otherwise it would have been a further run to get a fresh pear :-/

To poach your pear, peel it, core it and cut it into six slices. Place in a pan with about 1/4 cup of sugar and water to cover.  Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer gently until a knife inserted into the widest part of one of the slices pierces it. Remove them from the pan and allow to cool.  This saves you the extra steps later of coring and slicing after the pear has been poached. 

While the pear and plums are cooking, slice your dates in half and fill with your white powder. Set aside until you are ready to plate. 

When the plums have softened, place them into a blender and blend until smooth.  Strain the pulp through a strainer into the pot you cooked them in and bring to a low heat.  Add your rice flour and cook until it has thickened, add more rice flour if you prefer a thicker sauce.  I cooked mine to the consistency of cream gravy and it was GOOOD!

To serve, put your plum sauce into the bottom of a bowl, arrange three (or four) slices of your pear in the dish, and place the spice filled dates in between the pear slices.  The final arrangement should resemble a flower. 

This was a beautiful dish! I believe I may exercise "cook's preogative" the next time I make it (it is part of a bid I did for an upcoming event so keep your finger's crossed) and add a touch of saffron to the pears when I poach them.  The yellow of the saffron poached pears against the ruby plum sauce should be very regal to look at. 

The plums and the pear perfectly complement each other and the spice filled dates, far from being overly sweet add a hint of sweetness that is needed.  The taste testers and I fought over this, each attempting to get one more bite.  This is definitely on the list of things to make again. It was surprisingly easy to put together, and with the exception of filling the dates with the blanch powder and arranging the pears and dates on the plum sauce, could be made ahead of time and put together the day of an event. 

This recipe asks for "blaunche poudere".  After my interpretation of .Cj. Eyron en poche was published the question was raised; what is blaunche poudere? It is one of the mysterious medieval spice blends that must have been known in period. I imagined that it would be heavier on the sugar than any other ingredient making it "whiter" then the other spice blends that were used in period. With the question in mind, I set out on a quest to try to discover what "blaunch poudere" is. 

I started with what was known. A set of instructions found in Le Menagier de Paris (ab 1393) for fine spice powder:

FINE POWDER of spices. Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

To understand the instructions for fine powder it is first necessary to understand the system of weights and measures that are being used. In this period of history, the pound was based on the "Apothecary Weight" which is 12 ounces and not the 16 ounces we think of today.

This weight system was not standardized and weights varied from region to region. The Apothecary system was based on the concept of the weight of grain. The grain (weighting approximately 0.065 grams or 0.002 ounces) was the earliest and most uniform unit of measure. This measurement varied by region and culture dependent upon if the weight was the measure of a single grain of barley or a single grain of wheat (1 barley grain weighed approximately 1 1/3 grains of wheat) taken from the middle of the stalk.

With the understanding that the weight of a grain varied depending on which grain was being weighed, I offer my best interpretation of what the modern day US measurement would be.



The spice powder instructions that are found in Le Menagier de Paris refer to a drachma. The drachma is the measure of the weight of the Greek drachma which weighed approximately 52 grains or 2 drams. With this information in mind, the instructions for "Fine Powder" can be interpreted thus:

Interpreted Recipe

Fine Powder of Spices

Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger = 10 drams of white ginger ~ approximately 7 1/2 tsp. or 2 1/2 tablespoons of white ginger
a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon = ~ approximately 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves = ~ approximately 3/4 tsp. each grains of paradise and cloves
and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder - ~ approximately 1 1/2 tsp. sugar

The resulting powder is pale brown. But, it is much darker then what you would expect from a powder that was described as "white".

So I moved forward and started looking for spice blends that might fit the profile of white powder, by looking at Rupert de Nola's Libre del Coch (ab 1529) which gives instructions for Common Sauce Spices. Amended.

Libre del Coch

Roughly translated from Spanish to English (thank you Google) this set of instructions can be translated to be:

Cinnamon three parts; cloves two parts; one piece ginger; pepper a part/ some dry coriander well ground/ a little saffron be all well ground and sifted.

This set of instructions yielded a mixture of spices that were a dark reddish brown and I believe too dark for "white powder".

Interpreted Recipe

Common Sauce Spices, Amended

Cinnamon three parts
Cloves two parts
Ginger one part
Pepper one part
Dry Coriander (ground) 1/2 part
Pinch of Saffron

Delving further into the Libre del Coch De Nola offered another set of instructions for a blend of spices that might be the elusive "white powder." Certainly the ingredients when fully interpreted would yield a powder that was heavy on the sugar, but would it be "white"?


Roughly translated (again thank you Google) from Spanish to English this set of instructions can be interpreted to be:

Pólvora de duque. Enmendado, translated to English "The Duke's Gunpowder. Amended."

Cinnamon half an ounce, cloves half a quarter, and for the lords do not lie down but only cinnamon and sugar a pound if you want it sharp of flavor and for passions of the stomach throw you and little ginger

 Interpreted Recipe

Cinnamon half an ounce --1 tbsp.
Cloves half a quarter (1/8th of an ounce) --3/4 tsp.
Sugar a pound -- (based on the 12 ounce pound) 1 1/2 cups
Ginger - a little --1 tbsp.

This mixture of spices, while not completely white, yields a very light tan powder. This is the mixture that I have used in my interpretation for Bolas and is pictured as the powder filling the dates.

Note: A dry ounce is equal to two tablespoons, or 1/8th of a cup.

My search for the elusive "blaunch poudere" ended when I located a set of instructions in The haven of health Chiefly gathered for the comfort of students, and consequently of all those that have a care of their health, amplified upon five words of Hippocrates, written Epid. 6. Labour, cibus, potio, somnus, Venus. Hereunto is added a preservation from the pestilence, with a short censure of the late sicknes at Oxford. By Thomas Coghan Master of Arts, and Batcheler of Physicke by Thomas Cogan. This book was published in 1636, which puts it into the grey area of period for the SCA. However, Thomas Cogan is documented as having died in 1607. Although I have been unable to locate it, the first edition of The Haven of Health was published either in 1584 or 1586.

CHAP: 126. Of Ginger.

GInger is hot in the second degree, and dry in the first. It is the root of a certaine herbe, as Galen writeth. It heateth the stomacke, and helpeth dige∣stion, and is good for the sight. For this experience I have of Ginger, that a penny weight thereof toge∣ther with three penny weight of white sugar both made very small in powder and •earsed through lawne or a fine boulter cloth, and put into the eie, hath with∣in short time worne away a flegme growne over the eie: also with two ounces of sugar, a quarter of an ounce of ginger, & half a quarter of an ounce of Cina∣mon, al beaten smal into powder, you may make a ve∣ry good blanch powder, to strow upon rosted apples, Quinces, or Wardens, or to sauce a hen. But that gin∣ger which is called greene Ginger, or ginger Condite, is better for students: for being well made, if it be ta∣ken in the morning fasting, it comforteth much the stomacke and head, and quickneth remembrance, and is very good for a cough.

Interpreted Recipe

2 ounces of sugar = 4 tbsp. sugar
1/4 ounce of ginger = approximately 1 1/2 tsp.  
1/8th ounce cinnamon = approximately 3/4 tsp. 

This powder creates a very light sandy colored spice mix which is just a touch lighter then the pólvora de duque or Duke's Powder.  I believe if I had used ground cassia cinnamon instead of the regular store bought cinnamon this powder would have been even lighter.  Because of the Cogan's reference to this being "a very good blanch powder", I believe this is the "white" powder that is referenced in Harleian MS 279.