Saturday, June 10, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xliiij. Mortrewys de Fleyssh and xliij. Mortrewes of Fysshe - Mortrews of Flesh and Motrews of Fish

.xliiij. Mortrewys de Fleyssh and xliij. Mortrewes of Fysshe


Today's blog post will feature both the Mortrews of Flesh and the Mortrews of Fish. Mortrews is best described as a meat paste which has been fortified with eggs, breadcrumbs and spices and then cooked to the consistency of thick custard. The word "Mortrews" comes from Latin "mortarium" referring to a mortar or bowl where things were pounded or ground.  This is one of the more unusual dishes that can be found 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 was one of the more popular dishes.  In an era where dentistry was primitive at best and bad teeth was common, this soft mixture of foods would have been a perfect dish.  Nowadays we may want to use it similar to a pate, spreading it on bread and serving it with a sharp accompaniment of something pickled.  However, our ancestors most likely ate this with their fingers or spoon, or even off of their knives.

Mortrews, also known as mortis, mortrose, mortress or mortruys is most likely the ancestor of modern day Pâté, Terrines, and or Potted Meats. One of the earliest recipes can be found in "The Forme of Cury" (~1390).  The Romans had similar dishes which they called "patina's".  One such recipe taken from De Re Coquinaria is below:

aliter patina de asparagis -frigida:accipies asparagos purgatos, in mortario fricabis; aqua suffundes, perfricabis; per colum colabis, et mittes fecitulas curatas; teres in mortario piperis scrupulos sex, adicies liquamen; fricabis; uini ciatum I, passi ciatum I; mittes in caccabum olei uncias tres; illic ferueant. perungues patinam; in ea oua VI cum enogaro misces; cum suco asparagi inpones cineri calido. [mittes inpensam super scriptam]* tunc ficetulas conpones, coques; piper asparges et inferes.
Another cold asparagus patina.-Take cleaned asparagus, pound in the mortar, add water, beat thoroughly and pass through a sieve. Next put in a saucepan fig-peckers which you have prepared for cooking. Pound in the portar 6 scruples of pepper, moisten with liquamen, grind well, add one cyathus of wine and one cyathus passum. Put in a saucepan 3 oz. oil. Bring the mixture to the boil. Grease a patina pan, and mix in it 6 eggs with oenogarum, put it with the sparagus purée in the hot ashes, pour on the mixture described above, and arrange the birds on top. Cook it, [let it cool], sprinkle with pepper, and serve.
.xliiij. Mortrewys de Fleyssh.—Take Porke, an seþe it wyl; þanne take it vppe and pulle a-way þe Swerde,*. [Rind, skin. ] an pyke owt þe bonys, an hakke it and grynd it smal; þenne take þe sylf brothe, & temper it with ale; þen take fayre gratyd brede, & do þer-to, an seþe it, an coloure it with Saffroun, & lye it with ȝolkys of eyroun, & make it euen Salt, & caste pouder Gyngere, a-bouyn on þe dysshe.

The "Medieval Cookery" website offers this excellent interpretation of the recipe. 

xliiij - Mortrewys de Fleyssh. Take Porke, an sethe it wyl; thanne take it vppe and pulle a-way the Swerde, (Note: Rind, skin) an pyke owt the bonys, an hakke it and grynd it smal; thenne take the sylf brothe, and temper it with ale; then take fayre gratyd brede, and do ther-to, an sethe it, an coloure it with Saffroun, and lye it with 3olkys of eyroun, and make it euen Salt, and caste pouder Gyngere, a-bouyn on the dysshe.

44. Mortrews of Flesh - Take pork, and cook it well; then take it up and pull away the skin, and pick out the bones and hack it and grind it small; then take the self broth (the same broth you cooked it in, and temper it with ale; then take fair grated bread, and do thereto, and cook it, and color it with saffron, and mix it with yolks of eggs, and make it even salt, and caste powder ginger, above on the dish.

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

1/4 pound pork (I used two fresh pork hocks and a bit of country spare ribs)
1 cup water
1/4 cup ale
pinch of saffron
2 egg yolks or one whole egg
1-2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
Ginger to garnish

If I make this in the future I might add some bacon to it, which is a pork product and everything is better with bacon! I digress--place the pork, saffron and salt in a pot and cover with the water, cook until the pork begins to fall apart.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool till you can easily handle it.  Remove all fat, gristle, bones from the meat and place it in a blender with the ale and the water. Pulse for a few seconds until the meat becomes a puree (but not to baby food!) and return it to the pot.  Add your eggs and your breadcrumbs and cook stirring constantly.  Remember, you want your mortrews to have the consistency of a very thick custard or flan capable of standing on its own, but not so thick that you cannot spread it onto a piece of toasty bread.  Taste for seasoning, garnish with ginger, and then serve.

I have a confession to make--I grabbed the wrong bottle and didn't pay any attention to the fact that I had added garlic salt to the dish.  This was a happy mistake though and one worth repeating in the future ;-P The taste testers have tried this dish piping hot, room temperature and cold, it was delicious all three ways, but my preference was room temperature.

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Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Mortrews. XX.II. V. Take hennes and Pork and seeþ hem togyder. take the lyre of Hennes and of the Pork, and hewe it small and grinde it all to doust. take brede ygrated and do þerto, and temper it with the self broth and alye it with zolkes of ayrenn, and cast þeron powdour fort, boile it and do þerin powdour of gyngur sugur. safroun and salt. and loke þer it be stondyng, and flour it with powdour gynger.

Mortrews Blank. XX.II. VI. Take Pork and Hennes and seeþ hem as to fore. bray almandes blaunched, and temper hem up with the self broth. and alye the fleissh with the mylke and white flour of Rys. and boile it. & do þerin powdour of gyngur sugar and look þat it be stondyng.


Blaunche mortrewes. Take gode cowe mylke, and rawe egges the zolkes wel beten togedur, and sothen (boiled) porke, braye it, and do hit in a panne withouten herbes, and let hit boyle, and stere (stir) hit wel tyl hit crudde; then take hit up ande presse hit well, and then take almondemylke or gode creme of cowe mylke, and do hit in a panne, and do therto sugur or honey, and let hit boyle; and do the crudde therto, and colour hit depe with saffron, and then dresse hit forthe, iii. leches (stices) in a dysshe or v. and poure the sothen creme above, and cast theron sugur and saunders, and maces medelet togedur, and serve hit forthe.

Mortrewes of flesh. Take fylettes of porke, and seth hom wel, and qwhen they ben fothen brayc hom in a morter, and take bred steped in broth, and bray hit up with al in the morter, and then seth hit up with sasfrone : and if thow wol make hit more stondyng, qwhen hit is boylet take yolkes of eyren, and bete hom, and putte hom therto, and cast theron pouder of gynger.


Mortrews de chare. Take hennes and fresshe porke, y þe kenne, Sethe hom togedur alwayes þenne. Take hem up, pyke out þe bonys, Enbande þe porke, Syr, for þo nonys. Hew hit smalle and grynde hit wele, Cast it agayne, so have þou cele, In to þe brothe, and charge hit þenne With myed wastelle, as I þe kenne. Colour hit with safron, at þat tyde. Boyle hit and set hit doune be syde. Lye hit with 3olkes of eren ry3t, And florysshe þy dysshe with pouder þou my3t.


Maretrel de le Char. Tak hennes flesch & pork & sethz to gidre tak it up & pyk outh the bonys hewe it smale grynd wel kast it ageyn in to the brothz charge it with myed wastel bred colour it with saffron boylle it & gwan it is boylled set it of the fyr lye it with yelkys eyren florysch the dysch with poudre.


.xliij. Mortrewes of Fysshe.—Take Gornard or Congere, a-fore þe navel wyth þe grece (for be-hynde þe navel he is hery*. [Hairy. ] of bonys), or Codlyng, þe lyuer an þe Spaune, an sethe it y-now in fayre Water, and pyke owt þe bonys, and grynde þe fysshe in a Morter, an temper it vp wyth Almaunde Mylke, an caste þer-to gratyd brede; þan take yt vp, an put it on a fayre potte, an let boyle; þan caste þer-to Sugre and Salt, an serue it forth as other Mortrewys. And loke þat þow caste Gyngere y-now a-boue.

xliij - Mortrewes of Fysshe. Take Gornard or Congere, a-fore the navel wyth the grece (for be-hynde the navel he is hery (Note: Hairy) of bonys), or Codlyng, the lyuer an the Spaune, an sethe it y-now in fayre Water, and pyke owt the bonys, and grynde the fysshe in a Morter, an temper it vp wyth Almaunde Mylke, an caste ther-to gratyd brede; than take yt vp, an put it on a fayre potte, an let boyle; than caste ther-to Sugre and Salt, an serue it forth as other Mortrewys. And loke that thow caste Gyngere y-now a-boue.

43 - Mortrews of Fish - Take gurnard, or conger (eel), before the navel with the grease (for behind the navel he is hairy of bones), or codling (an inferior for of cod), the liver and the eggs, and cook it enough in fair water, and pick out the bones, and grind the fish in a mortar, and temper it up with almond milk, and cast there-to grated bread; then take it up and put it on a fair pot, and let boil; then cast thereto sugar and salt, and serve it fort as other motrews.  And look that you caste ginger enough above.

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

1/4 pound fish (I used cod loin but any lean flaky fish could be used, pollock, halibut, sole, flounder, orange roughy, haddock, whiting, hake, ocean perch and tilapia)
1 cup water
1/4 cup almond meal
1-2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
Ginger to garnish

I used frozen cod for this dish so did not have to worry about cleaning out the bones after the fish was cooked.  I placed the fish into a pot with the water and salt and cooked till the fish was cooked through.  I then put the fish, water and almond meal into the food processor, gave thanks to the Kitchen Gods for the creation of such a marvelous machine, and pulsed the mixture for about 20 seconds. I then returned the mixture to the pot, added the breadcrumbs and the sugar and cooked until it had thickened to a thick paste.  Before serving I garnished with ginger. 

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Mortrews of fysshe. Take þo kelkes of fysshe anon, And þo lyver of þo fysshe, sethe hom alon. Þen take brede and peper and ale, And temper þo brothe fulle welle þou schalle, And welle hit togeder and serve hit þenne, And set in sale before good mene.


To mak mortins of fyshe tak codlinge haddok whiting or thornbak and sethe it and pik out the bones and pull of the skyne then bet the fishe in a mortair with the lever of the same fysche and temper it up with almond mylk or cow creme and put it in a clene pot and let it boile and put ther to sugur and hony and alay thy potage with fleur of rise draw with milk through a strein and stirr it well and mak it stondinge then drese v or vi lesks in a dyshe and cast on pouder guingyur mellid with sugur and serue it.

Gentyll manly Cokere (MS Pepys 1047) (England, ca. 1500)

To make mortrose of Fyshe. Take hownde fyshe haddock or codlyng seth hit and pyke hit clene fro the bonys take a way the skyn and grynde the lyver ther with blanched almounds And temper thy mylke with the broth of the fresh Fyshe and make a gode mylke of do ther to myad of white brede and sugure set hit to the fyre when hit boylys loke hit be stondyng mese serue hit furth strow on Blawnche powdyr.


Mortrows on Fysh Dayes. Recipe codlyng & hadoc with þe lyver, & seth þam wele in water, & pike oute þe bones & grind þe fysh small. Draw a lyre of almondes & brede with þe fysh broth, & do þerto þe gronden fysh, strewing powdyr, saferon & salt, & make it standyng & serof.

The taste testers and I enjoyed both of these dishes.  They are unusual but very tasty.  As you can see we served it with lemon wedges, capers, olives, pickles and crusty homemade bread. The fish is very mild in flavor, and creamy in texture, unlike the pork, which is a bit more hearty and flavorful. Either of these dishes would be a flavorful alternative to butter either on the table or served with bread in a first course.  Since we believe that this kind of a dish was the precursor to modern day "potted meats" the discussion turned to whether or not this would be appropriate to take to a camping event.  My suggestion would be seal it with clarified butter, grease, and eat it early on should you do so.  I would have no hesitation serving this at a royalty or tavern luncheon or a feast.





Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxxviij. Storion in brothe - Sturgeon in Broth

Add captionHarleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxxviij. Storion in brothe - Sturgeon in Broth

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 feature quite a number of recipes that include various kinds of fish. This comes as no surprise though with the number of days meat was forbidden. Prior to the 15th century, the church had declared Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as 'fysshe" days. During Lent and Advent all animal products such as eggs, butter, cheese and meat were forbidden. With fish days, fasting, advent and lent, fully one third or 140-160 days of the year, fish was the only meat you were allowed to eat.

Because of the prohibition on eating meat or meat products, it was necessary for our ancestors to find alternative foods to eat.  Vegetables and fish were often substituted, and on days that butter, cheese and eggs were allowed those were also eaten.  Fish eventually became symbolic of a "monastic" diet, and of purification and renunciation. It was considered a food of the nobles and the rich, even though it was a common food found in any river or the sea.  Part of the paradox surrounding fish is that it is not easily transportable and needed to be preserved in some way.  Sturgeon was one of the favored fishes and in England was reserved for the King.

.xxxviij. Storion in brothe. —Take fayre Freysshe Storgeoun, an choppe it in fayre water; þanne take it fro þe fyre, an strayne þe brothe þorw a straynoure in-to a potte, an pyke clene þe Fysshe, an caste þer to powder Pepir, Clowes, Maces, Canel; & þanne take fayre Brede, and stepe it in þe same lycowre, & caste þer-to, an let boyle to-gederys, & caste þen Safroun þer-to, Gyngere, an Salt, & Vynegre, & þanne serue it forth ynne.*. [i.e. into the dining-room. ]

xxxviij - Storion in brothe. Take fayre Freysshe Storgeoun, an choppe it in fayre water; thanne take it fro the fyre, an strayne the brothe thorw a straynoure in-to a potte, an pyke clene the Fysshe, an caste ther to powder Pepir, Clowes, Maces, Canel; and thanne take fayre Brede, and stepe it in the same lycowre, and caste ther-to, an let boyle to-gederys, and caste then Safroun ther-to, Gyngere, an Salt, and Vynegre, and thanne serue it forth ynne. (Note: i.e. into the dining-room)

38 Sturgeon in Broth - Take fair fresh sturgeon, and chop it in fair water; then take it from the fire, and strain the broth through a strainer into a pot, and pick clean the fish and caste there to powder pepper, cloves, mace, cinnamon; and then take fair bread, and steep it in the same liquor, and cast there-to, and let boil together, and cast then saffron there-to, ginger, and salt, and vinegar, and then serve it forth in.

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

1/4 pound fish per person -Sturgeon is a fatty, firm textured fish; if you cannot find it you can easily substitute salmon, swordfish, halibut, tuna, whitefish, or any combination of these fish
1 cup water
1/8 tsp. each pepper, mace, cinnamon
1 tbsp. (or to taste) bread crumbs
pinch of saffron
1/8 tsp. ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tsp. vinegar

This is perhaps one of the easiest recipes I have come across.  With the exception of cleaning the fish the most difficult part of it was waiting for it to finish cooking.  Most fish comes already cleaned and prepared, however, if you choose to use whole fish, please clean properly before adding to your water then make sure you strain the broth as you clean your fish once it has been cooked.  I used a combination of Tuna and Swordfish for this recipe as sturgeon is a darker colored fish. I was unable to locate sturgeon when I had decided to interpret this dish.   I added the (frozen) fish to the water along with the pepper, mace and cinnamon and allowed to simmer gently until the fish was cooked thoroughly through.  At this point I used a fork to break up the fish into chunks, added the remaining ingredients and cooked until I was satisfied with the color of the broth. 

The taste testers really enjoyed this dish.  I believe this would be a very suitable dish for any feast as it is a fix and forget it dish, the longer it cooks the more flavorful it becomes--I would just caution against overcooking. This was a very meaty dish and I imagine if you were serving at an event you could easily stretch this out with the addition of fish stock to the soup. Do not be put off by the cloves, mace, cinnamon or ginger that is added to the dish. I realize they are unusual ingredients to be paired with fish, but the flavors were well balanced and complimented each other.  If I had one complaint, it was that I was not as assertive with the vinegar.  That was a personal choice on my part, so I have added an additional teaspoon to the interpretation.

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Recipes from the Wagstaff Miscellany (England, 1460)

Storgeon. Take a storgeon cut the vyn from the tayle to the hedde & cleve hym as a samon & cut the sydys yn fayre pecys & make the same of watyr & salt when it boyleth scome hit clene & cast the pecys ther yn & let hem boyle y nowghe then take hem up & serve hem forth with levys of percelley wete hem yn venygger cast hem in disches & the sauce ther to ys venygger.

Gentyll manly Cokere (MS Pepys 1047) (England, ca. 1500)

Sturgeon. Take and lay hym in Water over nyght seth hym and let hym kele and lay hym in vyneAger or yn Aysell that sauce is kyndely ther to serue hit furth.

Thomas Awkbarow's Recipes (MS Harley 5401) (England, 15th century)

Storgeon in Broth. Recipe fresh storgeon; perboyle it in fayr water & chop it small, & strene þe broth with a streneзour in to a pot, & pyke clene þat fysh, & cast þerto small mynced onзons, peper & clows, macis & canell; & take fayr brede & stepe it in þe same licoure, & draw it with a streneзour, & let it boyle to gydere, & cast þerto powdyr of gynger, vinagre, & saferon & salt, & serof.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Roseye - Chicken or Fish in Rose Sauce

 Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Roseye - Chicken or Fish in Rose Sauce


Roseye is one of the more unusal dishes that I have made from 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. On the surface this looks like a very simple dish, however, it contains a surprisingly "modern" set of instructions - " than take Loches, an toyle (Note: Rub, cover) hem with Flowre, an frye hem". Roughly interpreted "then take loaches and cover them with flour, and fry them." This was the first time since I have started cooking from these books that I had seen instructions to flour and then fry an ingredient. This is a pretty significant finding. At the very least, it gives us a time table for pan frying--in this case fish, but chicken can be easily substituted. Secondly, we are instructed to use roses, not as a flavoring, but as a coloring agent for the sauce of almond milk that accompanies the fish.  The sauce that came from my red roses became a very soft pink color that I wish the picture could have caught.

You are probably more familiar with the loach as one of the fishes you would find in your local pet store. Loaches have been described as being mild tasting and similar to catfish in flavor. If I were to serve this dish at an event I would use catfish as my substitute, or another similarly textured or flavored fish such as bass, cod, troug, salmon, perch, whiting or whitefish.

.C. Roseye.—Take Almaunde Mylke an flowre of Rys, & Sugre, an Safroun, an boyle hem y-fere; þan take Red Rosys, an grynd fayre in a morter with Almaunde mylke; þan take Loches, an toyle*. [Rub, cover. ] hem with [supplied by ed.] Flowre, an frye hem, & ley hem in dysshys; þan take gode pouder, and do in þe Sewe, & caste þe Sewe a-bouyn þe lochys, & serue forth.

Dan Myers offers this interpretation at his site Medieval Cookery.

C - Roseye. Take Almaunde Mylke an flowre of Rys, and Sugre, an Safroun, an boyle hem y-fere; than take Red Rosys, an grynd fayre in a morter with Almaunde mylke; than take Loches, an toyle (Note: Rub, cover) hem with Flowre, an frye hem, and ley hem in dysshys; than take gode pouder, and do in the Sewe, and caste the Sewe a-bouyn the lochys, and serue forth.

100 - Roseye - Take almond milk and flour of rice, and sugar and saffron, and boil them together; then take red roses, and grind fair in a mortar with almond milk; then take loaches, and cover them with flour, and fry them, and lay them in dishes; then take good powder and do in the sauce, and caste the sauce above the loaches, and serve forth. 

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

1/4 pound firm textured, mild flavored fish cut into finger width strips
flour to dredge the fish in
oil to fry the fish

For the sauce: 

1 cup almond milk (I used the quick almond milk recipe)
1 tbsp. rice flour
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of saffron
1/4 tsp. good powder or to taste (I used the Le Menagier's recipe for fine spice powder )
Salt and pepper to taste

Place almond milk, rice flour, sugar and saffron into a pot and simmer until it thickens to the desired consistency.  Meanwhile, cut the fish into finger width strips, lightly dredge in flour and pan fry in the oil until done.  To serve, place the fish on a plate and cover with the sauce, add good powder to taste.

I am saddened to report though, that while this is very pretty to look at, the dish itself was a bit bland and was not favored by the taste testers or myself. One of them described (and I agreed) that it resembled fish cooked in porridge.  

It hurt for something acidic--wine, lemon, ale or beer. I do strongly recommend that you create the sauce with almond milk that has been created with something acidic (like wine) or that you serve something acidic on the side (maybe even lemon slices).  Several other recipes from the manuscript prescribe making the almond milk with ale or wine, and I believe that would have gone a very long way towards creating a more favorable experience.

Similar Recipes are listed below. 

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

XLI - For to make Rosee. Tak the flowris of Rosys and wasch hem wel in water and after bray hem wel in a morter and than tak Almondys and temper hem and seth hem and after tak flesch of capons or of hennys and hac yt smale and than bray hem wel in a morter and than do yt in the Rose so that the flesch acorde wyth themylk and so that the mete be charchaunt and after do yt to the fyre to boyle and do thereto sugur and safroun that yt be wel ycolowrd and rosy of levys and of the forseyde flowrys and serve yt forth.

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

Rose. Take flour of ryse, as whyte as sylke, And hit welle, with almond mylke. Boyle hit tyl hit be chargyd, þenne Take braune of capone or elle of henne. Loke þou grynd hit wondur smalle, And sithen þou charge hit with alle. Coloure with alkenet, sawnder, or ellys with blode, Fors hit with clowes or macys gode. Seson hit withsugur grete plenté, Þis is a rose, as kokes telle me.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak rose, tak flour of ryse and temper it with almond mylk and mak it chaungynge then tak the braun of capon or of henne sodyn and grind it and charge it ther with and colour it with sanders and blod and fors it with clowes and maces and sesson it with sugur and serue it.





Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Queen-like Closet (1675) - LXXXVI. To make the best Orange Marmalade. - Orange Marmalade

The Queen-like Closet (1675) - LXXXVI. To make the best Orange Marmalade. - Orange Marmalade
In a few months I will be cooking a luncheon for a very special group of people. I'm honored to have been asked to do this. No pressures :-) but I have challenged myself to serve a mostly period set of dishes and among the dishes I am preparing to serve is orange marmalade. I have been eager to try this dish since I first saw the instructions in Hannah Woolley's (1622-1675) The Queen-like Closet OR RICH CABINET Scored with all manner of RARE RECEIPTS FOR Preserving, Candying and Cookery. and now I have the perfect excuse! Granted the book was published a little later then the period we use in the SCA, I believe it is a representation of dishes that were used very late in period.

I was fortunate to run across some blood oranges marked down because they were not perfect. I love blood oranges and used them to make this dish. It is sweeter then I would have expected but I am going to have a hard time keeping it until September! EVERYONE who has tried it has liked it, and it uses the part of the fruit that most people would throw away. I like to save my orange and lemon peels to make candied peels. It only takes a few hours of time and it makes a lovely presentation at the end of a feast or to put out for lunch, or even a quick snack when you are on the run. I had no difficulty having enough peel to make this marmalade.

LXXXVI. To make the best Orange Marmalade.

Take the Rinds of the deepest coloured Oranges, boil them in several Waters till they are very tender, then mince them small, and to one pound of Oranges, take-a Pound of Pippins cut small, one Pound of the fi∣nest Sugar, and one Pint of Spring-water, me't your Sugar in the Water over the fire, and scum it, then put in your Pippins, and boil them till they are very clear, then put in the Orange Rind, and boil them together, til you find by cooling a little of it, that it wil jelly very well, then put in the Iuice of two Oranges, and one Limon, and boil it a lit∣tle longer; and then put it up in Gally-pots.

86. To make the best Orange Marmalade

Take the rinds of the deepest colored oranges, boil them in several waters till they are very tender, then mince them small, and to one pound of oranges, take a pound of pippins (apples) cut small, one pound of the finest sugar, and one pint of spring-water, melt your sugar in the water of the fire, and scum it, then put in your pippins, and boil them till they are very clear, then put in the orange rind, and boil them together, til you find by cooling a little of it, that it will jelly very well, then put in the juice of two oranges and one lemon, and boil it a little longer; and then put it up in gally-pots.

Interpreted Recipe

1 pound of orange peel
1 pound -or- 2 cups apple sauce (unsweetened natural)
1 pound of sugar
2 cups water 
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 1 lemon

This recipe made 4 8-ounce jelly jars of marmalade.  I first cut the peels into like sized pieces and boiled in water several times.  I usually bring the first water to boil and boil for five minutes to remove as quickly as possible any dye and bitterness. Then I drain the peels and on the second boiling boil again for five minutes before draining.  When I do the final boiling I boil till tender.  I wish I could give you a magic number for how long you should boil "until tender" but I think it depends on the age of the fruit, and the thickness.  When you can easily pierce with a fork or toothpick it's done.  The average time is
about 15 to 20 minutes.

I then drained the peels a final time and let cool enough I could easily handle them and minced them small.  When they were minced I had about 2 cups of peels.  I started using apple sauce when I started making fruit paste for the pectin to thicken my fruit pastes, which is why I knew I could use natural, unsweetened applesauce in lieu of the pippins called for in this recipe.  What I have discovered using applesauce for it's pectin instead of pectin is that sometimes your pastes, candies or jellies will set up long before the reach the standard height for sugar cookery.  It is also possible that my digital thermometer is no longer dependable. My modern recipes for orange marmalade advised that I cook the marmalade till it reached 222-223 degree's. But what happened was that it was ready to be put in the jars before it reached that height.  
The instructions indicated that you wanted the same amount of apples as oranges, so I added the water, applesauce and sugar to a pot and heated until the sugar had melted, then added the orange peels. At this point I baby sat the mixture, stirring constantly until I noticed that the marmalade had thickened and that my spoon was leaving a noticeable trail behind it.  My digital thermometer was reading 214 degrees and I agonized over letting it cook further or not.  I did add the orange and lemon juice to the mixture and cooked another five minutes before pulling the pot off the stove and canning the jelly.  At this point, the jelly that spattered was setting on impact on the counter, the stove and me! It was done.  

This is truly one of the best orange marmalades I have ever tasted, much better then commercially made.  The sample 8 ounce jar I kept back was inhaled by the taste testers and their friends.  I strongly recommend that you consider making your own to serve at a future event, to give away as largesse, etc. When properly canned, your items can be put up and used as frequently as you wish.  

Enjoy!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxiij. Nomblys of þe venyson.- Numbles of the Venyson

 Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxiij. Nomblys of þe venyson.- Numbles of the Venyson


Numbles (umbles, numlys, ombles, owmlys, humble) is an archaic cooking term that once refered to the back and loins of a deer (from lumbulus meaning the loin).  Approximately 1616 it was reffered to as "the ordinairie fee and parts of the deer given unto a keeper by a custome, who hath the skin, head, umbles, chine and shoulder". Today, numbles refers to the soft organs of an animal, specifically a deer. Numbles includes the organs generally referred to as offal--heart, liver, kidneys, sweetbread, spleen and lungs (aka as lights or pluck).

Depending on which definition you choose to use to define "numbles", 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 could produce two completely different dishes; one based on the loin, another one based on offal.   I personally chose the more conventional meaning of numbles and made this dish using liver.  Just a fair warning, very few of the taste testers enjoy organ meats, so they tried the dish with trepidation.  I am happy to report that I just *might* have changed a few minds (and stomachs) with this interpretation.

There were no requests to make it again. However, when asked if they would eat it if served at a future event there were nods and a few caution "yes's". I have not yet received any requests to make this dish again. That being said--there were no leftovers. Personally, if I were to serve this dish again, I would do so as a side dish within a course of dishes and not as a main component of the meal.  I enjoy adventuresome eating, but that does not mean everyone else does, nor should they be forced to. 

.xxiij. Nomblys of þe venyson.—Take þe Nombles of Venysoun, an cutte hem smal whyle þey ben raw; þan take Freysshe broþe, Watere, an Wyne, of eche a quantyte, an powder Pepir an Canel, and let hem [leaf 9 bk.] boyle to-gederys tyl it be almost y-now; An þenne caste powder Gyngere, an a lytil venegre an Salt, an sesyn it vp, an þanne serue it forth in þe maner of a gode potage.

xxiij - Nomblys of the venyson. Take the Nombles of Venysoun, an cutte hem smal whyle they ben raw; than take Freysshe brothe, Watere, an Wyne, of eche a quantyte, an powder Pepir an Canel, and let hem boyle to-gederys tyl it be almost y-now; An thenne caste powder Gyngere, an a lytil venegre an Salt, an sesyn it vp, an thanne serue it forth in the maner of a gode potage.

23. Numbles of the Venison - Take the numbles of Venison, and cut them small while they be raw; then take fresh broth, water, and wine, of each a quantity, and powder pepper, and cinnamon and let them boil together till it be almost enough; And then caste powder ginger, and a little vinegar, and salt, and season it up, and then serve it forth in the manner of a good pottage. 

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                         Serves 1 as a main, 2-3 as a side

1/4 pound offal of choice (kidney, liver, heart, lungs or lights) *as an alternative* 1/4 pound of loin
1/3 cup beef broth, water and wine each
1/8 tsp. each pepper, cinnamon and ginger
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar (I used red wine)
salt and pepper to taste

Clean your offal or your loin and cut into 1" by 1" pieces (or smaller).  Bring broth, water, wine, pepper and cinnamon to a boil in your pot and add your meat.  Cook till meat is tender, taste for salt and pepper.  Approximately five minutes before serving add ginger and vinegar.  

The vinegar did a lot to cut down on the earthy taste of the liver that I used.  So do not be afraid to add a little more if you wish. This was a very unusual dish, but it was tested and enjoyed by all those who tried it.  It was very easy to put together and I would recommend it for an event of your choice.  As stated previously, not everyone is an adventuresome eater so I would serve this in a course accompanied by several other dishes. I hope you enjoy. 

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

Newe Noumbles Of Deer. XX.II. XIIII. Take noumbles and waisshe hem clene with water and salt and perboile hem in water. take hem up an dyce hem. do with hem as with ooþer noumbles.

Fourme of Curye [Rylands MS 7] (England, 1390)

.liij. Newe nounbles of dere. Tak noumbles & waische hem clene with water & salt & perboyle hem in water, take hem up & dresse dyce hem do with hem as with other noumbles.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cl. Cawdel out of lente. - Caudel out of Lent

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cl. Cawdel out of lente. - Caudel out of Lent


When I came across 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 Thomas Austin I knew I had to try it.  I'm glad I did. The end product is a delicious soft stirred custard that can be drunk or thickened as you desire.  Because it is made with wine, I would almost like to say that this is a very early version of eggnog.  However, food anthropologists/historians will tell you that eggnog's are descended from possets--beverages that are made from milk (in this case almond) that has been curdled through the infusion of an alcoholic beverage (in this case wine).  Caudles, on the other hand are a thick drink made from ale or wine, bread crumbs, eggs, sugar and spices and were usually given to invalids and the elderly. This recipe is unusual in that it contains elements of both possets and caudles, but the name refers to it as a caudle, perhaps, this is a common ancestor of both and my theory that this may be a very early version of eggnog is correct? I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide :-) 

Although we are advised to "euer kepe it as whyte as  þou may" we are also given several options for coloring this dish.  We are advised before serving to "droppe Alkenade þer-on".  Alkenade is one of several agents used for coloring food in period.  We know that our medieval ancestors were not afraid of coloring their food.  Colors ranged from black, to gold, pink, roses, oranges, greens and blues.  I cannot imagine the modern diner would approve of sitting down to a dish of blue (or purple) chicken or fish.  An example of a well known blue/purple dish is below.  
Sapor celeste de estate. 
Piglia de li moroni salvatiche che nascono in le fratte, et un poche
de amandole ben piste, con un pocho di zenzevero. Et queste
cose distemperarai con agresto et passarale per la stamegnia. - Maestro Martino: Libro de arte coquinaria (~1450-1467)
 Sky Blue Sauce (or Heavenly Sauce) for Summer
Take some of the wild blackberries that grow in hedgerows and some thoroughly pounded almonds, with a little ginger. And moisten these things with verjuice and strain through a sieve. -  The Medieval KitchenRecipes from France and Italy
by Odile Redon, Françoise Sabban, & Silvano Serventi
I cannot imagine anyone would be upset being served roasted chicken that had been coated with that sauce, which is actually a lovely purple but could be rendered sky blue with a little bit of kitchen chemistry and magic! The magical blue/purple color is not limited to berries. Turnsole is also another source for blue not only in cooking but in illuminated manuscripts as well. Flowers such as columbine and cornflower can also be used.  Even semi precious stones, such as azure, also known as lapis lazuli were used.

Alkanet, also known as Dyer's Alkanet, Dyer's Bugloss, Spanish Bugloss or Wilde Bugloss. Officially it is known as "Alkanna Tinctoria" the roots of which are used to produce a ruby red dye. Other sources of red include roses, sandalwood, galingale, barberries (red corrants) and pomegranate juice. 


Green was a very popular color for food and multiple sources were used to produce it.  Green was produced by obtaining the juice of herbs such as parsley or sage, or it could be produced by using vegetables such as spinach.  Toxic substances, such as verdigris, a copper salt were used to create inks. 


An Emeralde Greene.

Take Verdigrece, Litarge, Quicksilver brayed to powder, and ground with the pisse of a young childe.  --The Widdowes Treasure - Dyes and Ipocras

The most popular color to ting your food was yellow. Saffron is used in many of the dishes in the the Harleian MS 279, along with sandalwood.  In additon to saffron, egg yolks were also used to add a soft golden color to food.  Even precious gold found it's way to the medieval table.  

Browns and Blacks were not forgotten.  Cooks were instructed to burn toast, or add blood to create rich browns and blacks to color food. Spices such as cinnamon or ginger were also used. Cloves could also be soaked or burnt, but I imagine that would add quite a strong taste to a dish.  

.Cl. Cawdel out of lente.—Take & make a gode mylke of Almaundys y-draw vppe with wyne of Red, whyte is beterre; ȝif it schal be whyte, þan strayne ȝolkys of Eyroun þer-to a fewe. Put þer-to Sugre & Salt, but Sugre y-now; þen when it begynnyth to boyle, sette it out, & almost flatte; serue it then forth, & euer kepe it as whyte as þou may, & at þe dressoure droppe Alkenade þer-on, & serue forth; & ȝif þou wylt haue hym chargeaunt, bynd hym vppe with fflour of [supplied by ed.] Rys, oþer with whetyn floure, it is no fors. And ȝif þou wolt, coloure hym with Safroun, & straw on pouder y-now, & Sugre y-now, & serue forth.

Cl - Cawdel out of lente. Take and make a gode mylke of Almaundys y-draw vppe with wyne of Red, whyte is beterre; 3if it schal be whyte, than strayne 3olkys of Eyroun ther-to a fewe. Put [correction; sic = MS. but.] ther-to Sugre and Salt, but Sugre y-now; then when it begynnyth to boyle, sette it out, and almost flatte; serue it then forth, and euer kepe it as whyte as thou may, and at the dressoure droppe Alkenade ther-on, and serue forth; and 3if thou wylt haue hym chargeaunt, bynd hym vppe with fflour of Rys, other with whetyn floure, it is no fors. And 3if thou wolt, coloure hym with Safroun, and straw on pouder y-now, and Sugre y-now, and serue forth [correction; sic = f].


150 - Cawdel out of Lent - Take and make a good milk of almonds, drawn up with wine of red, white is better; if it shall be white, then strain yolks of eggs thereto a few.  Put there-to sugar and salt, but sugar enough; then when it begins to boil set it out and almost flat; serve it then forth and ever keep it as white as you may, and at the serving drop alkanet (a ruby red dye made from the root of the alkanet plant)  there-on, and serve forth; and if thou wilt have him thick, bind him up with flour of rice, other with wheat flour, it is no effort (fors - Middle English Dictionary - fō̆rce (n.) Also fors9.
(a) An effort, endeavor, exertion). And if you will, color him with saffron and strew on pouder enough, and sugar enough, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                          Serves 1 as Main, 2 if you are feeling friendly!

1 cup almond milk (I made mine using 1/4th cup almond flour, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup white wine)
2 egg yolks
1-2 tbsp. sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp. salt
Blaunche Powder to decorate (3 parts sugar to 1 part ginger)

You could use commercial almond milk for this recipe, but I usually make the quick almond milk. Bring to a simmer and add egg yolks, sugar and salt, or, heat over a double broiler as if you were making a custard.  Stir constantly until the mixture thickens.  Before serving you could add a bit of red food coloring, and marble it, or, sprinkle with blaunche powder.

The taste testers and I really enjoyed this dish and I must confess...I have made it several times since as a bedtime snack.  There is something very comforting about it. I prefer mine slightly hot, but suspect that it would be equally delicious room temperature or ~gasps~ cold.  I am curious to see if it would separate like a posset.

Like any custard this dish requires a bit of babysitting, which might make it impractical for a large feast or event, unless perhaps prepared in batches ahead of time.  However, It would be delicious as a camp side treat, or even a royalty luncheon.  I could imagine it served alongside some stewed or fresh fruit as well.





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cxlviij. Whyte Pesyn in grauey.- White Peas in Gravy

.Cxlviij. Whyte Pesyn in grauey.- White Peas in Gravy


This is the second recipe that I intperpreted 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 Thomas Austin which features dried peas.  It was very hard to choose between the two dishes that were cooked which was the better as each of them were unique in their flavors.  While the Cxlv. Blaunche Perreye. - White Pea Soup was the more savory of the two dishes, the combination of almond milk and sugar made this dish delightfully sweet and much more delicate in flavor. We believe that it is not as capable of standing up to richer or heartier dishes such as ham, cured meats or beef.  The taste testers and I felt that this dish would do better with chicken or fish which had been lightly sauced or seasoned and salads. Where you would fit this into your menu is entirely up to you.

.Cxlviij. Whyte Pesyn in grauey.—Take Whyte Pesyn, & hoole hem in þe maner as men don Caboges, or blaunche perry; þan sethe hem with Almaunde mylke vppe, putte þer-to Sugre y-now, & fryid Oynonys & Oyle, & serue forth.

Cxlviij - Whyte Pesyn in grauey. Take Whyte Pesyn, and hoole hem in the maner as men don Caboges, or blaunche perry; than sethe hem with Almaunde mylke vppe, putte ther-to Sugre y-now, and fryid Oynonys and Oyle, and serue forth [correction; sic = f].

168 - White Peas in Gravy - Take white peas and hull them in the manner as men do cabboges, or blaunche perry; then cook them with almond milk up, put there-to sugar enough, and fried onions and oil, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                      Serves 1 as Main, two as Side

1/2 cup pre-cooked peas
1 cup almond milk
1-2 Tsp. sugar or to taste (I used 2)
2 Tbsp. thin sliced onion
1 Tbsp. oil (I used olive)
Salt and Pepper to taste

This is a very quick recipe to put together and simple. It falls under the category of "heat and eat" dishes, and--I suspect this would freeze well and could be used at a later date. That being said, I used the quick cook method for the peas.  To quick cook you take 1 to 2 cups of dried peas and add them to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. I usually boil about five minutes or so and then turn the heat off and allow the peas to soak in the water until it has cooled.  I then drain the water and continue to cook the peas as needed.

For this recipe, I lightly fried the onions in the oil, added the almond milk, sugar and pre cooked peas and cooked until the peas softened.  Although the recipe does not call for it, I did at salt and pepper to taste. Our modern day palates are very happy with us when we do this!

This is another dish that is quite versatile, it could easily be made at a camp, served at lunch--I would not hesitate to serve it as a breakfast as it does have a similar consistency to oatmeal.  It would make a delicious lunch for royalty dish, as well as easily served in the lunch taverns, or as a dish at a feast.  I urge you to try it and would very much like to hear back from you on your experiences.


Similar Recipes

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

Of other small pottages. Small pottages such as greens of chard; cabbages; turnips; leeks; veal with Yellow [Sauce]; pottages of scallions without anything else; peas; milled, pounded or sieved beans with or without the pod; pork intestine; soup with pork pluck (women are mistresses of it, and each knows how to make it); and tripes – these I have not put in my viandier, for one knows well how they should be eaten.


Recipes from the Wagstaff Miscellany (England, 1460)
Pome perre. Boyle white pesyn hool hem take hem fro the fyre when they have restyd a whyle then take the cleryst in to a nothir pott then have mylke of almond drawyn up with wyen figes of amely sigure and salte and yf thou wylte reysons fryed w lytyll & do to gedyr boyle hit kepe hit and serve hit forth.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak pessen de almonds tak whit pessen and wesshe them and sethe them till they hulle and when they be done cast they in to a pot and couer it and boile it and cast ther to almond mylk flour of ryse and salt it colour it with saffronand serve it.

The Second part of the good Hus-wiues Iewell (England, 1597)

For White pease pottage.. TAke a quart of white Pease or more & seeth them in faire water close, vntill they doe cast their huskes, the which cast away, as long as any wil come vp to the topp, and when they be gon, then put into the peaze two dishes of butter, and a little vergious, with pepper and salt, and a little fine powder of March, and so let it stand till you will occupy it, and the[n] serue it vpon sops. You may sée the Porpose and Seale in your Pease, seruing it forth two péeces in a dish.

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cxlv. Blaunche Perreye. - White Pea Soup

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cxlv. Blaunche Perreye. - White Pea Soup

It has been quite some time since I posted anything.  I've had some pretty major changes in the household; starting a new job, working out the old one etc.  It's not an excuse for not posting anything, although I have been busily researching and interpreting 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 Thomas Austin.  This is the first of two recipes I interpreted which feature yellow peas.  Both of the interpretations were delicious and the taste testers and I were unable to decide which of the two we liked best. 

The first recipe is for "Blaunche Perreye", roughly interpreted "white pottage".  Perreye appears to be another form of the word Porrey, and is defined in The Century dictionary: an encyclopedic lexicon of the English Language, Volume 7 By William Dwight Whitney, Benjamin Eli Smith (1889) as "A pottage of leeks, also, a pottage made of beets or of other herbs, a soup of peas, beans etc.".   


Peas are among one of the oldest cultivated plants known to man. Their origins are shrouded in mystery, but, the most likely origin is in the area of Southwest Asia, India and Pakistan. There is evidence of pea consumption as early as 9750 BC in Thailand.  We also know that the Greeks and Romans were actively cultivating peas as early as 500 BC, and Apicius features nine recipes for dried peas in his cookbook written approximately 25 BC.

Peas were first cultivated in France by Charlemagne approximately 800. Because peas were plentiful, easily dried, could be stored for very long periods of time and were cheap, they made a perfect food for the lower classes.  By the 13th Century peas were such a popular food item in France that street vendors were selling them.  During the 15th Century, botanists were describing many varieties of peas of all colors--green, yellow and white, smooth, wrinkled, pitted, tall or short.

White peas proved impossible to find in my area, and yellow ones are seasonal. I finally resorted to ordering my peas from Amazon.  They did have white ones listed, but I purchased yellow instead.  I imagine this recipe would have been ok with green peas as well.  I think it is quite versatile, and fresh peas could be substituted for dried, however, the most fascinating part of the recipe for me were the instructions on how to remove the hull from the dried pea.

.Cxlv. Blaunche Perreye.—Take Pesyn, & waysshe hem clene, & þen take a gode quantyte of fyne leye, & putte it on a potte, & a lytil water þer-to; & whan þe ley is seþin hot, caste þe Pesyn þer-to, & þer late hem soke a gode whyle; þen take a quantyte of wollen cloþe, & rubbe hem, & þe holys*. [Hulls, shucks. ] wyl a-way; þenne take a seve or a wheterydoun, & ley þin pesyn þer-on, & go to þe water, & waysshe hem clene a-way þe holys, þen putte hem in a potte, & þey wyl alle to-falle with a lytil boylynge, to pereye, saue þe whyte Pepyn is þer-in, & þat is a gode syȝth; þen Salt hem, & serue hem forth.

Cxlv - Blaunche Perreye. Take Pesyn, and waysshe hem clene, and then take a gode quantyte of fyne leye, and putte it on a potte, and a lytil water ther-to; and whan the ley is sethin hot, caste the Pesyn ther-to, and ther late hem soke a gode whyle; then take a quantyte of wollen clothe, and rubbe hem, and the holys (Note: Hulls, shucks) wyl a-way; thenne take a seve or a wheterydoun, and ley thin pesyn ther-on, and go to the water, and waysshe hem clene a-way the holys, then putte hem in a potte, and they wyl alle to-falle with a lytil boylynge, to pereye, saue the whyte Pepyn is ther-in, and that is a gode sy3th; then Salt hem, and serue hem forth.

145.  Blaunche Perreye - Take peas, and wash them clean, and then take a good quantity of fine leye (dregs of wine), and put it on a pot, and a little water there-to; and when the ley is seething hot, cast the peas there-to, and there let them soak a good while: then take a quantity of woolen cloth, and rub them and the hulls well away; then take a sieve or a wheterydoun (whete rydoun-rydounisan-an obsolete term for ridder, a course sieve used to winnow grain), and lay your peas there-on, and go to the water, and wash them clean away the hulls, then put them in a pot, and they will all to-fall (disintegrate) with a little boiling, to pereye (pottage), save the white pepyn (the sprouting part of  apea) is there-in, and that is a good deal; then salt them and serve them forth.


Interpreted Recipe                                              Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

1/2 cup yellow peas
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup water
Salt and black pepper to taste

As I had said previously, I had to purchase yellow split peas for another recipe and those are the ones that I used for this one.  Yellow split peas come very clean in the bag so I ignored the first set of instructions on how to clean the peas.  However, I did use a mixture of wine and water to cook the peas.

I must confess, I precooked the peas for both recipes at the same time, using 1 cup of dried peas to four cups of salted water, bringing it to a boil for five minutes, and then letting the peas sit in the pot until the water had cooled.  This is the best method of quick cooking any bean, pea or legume I have found. Your other course of action is to let them sit overnight and soak in water.  This makes a LOT of peas, the remainder of the peas I put into vegetable soup....shhhh!

Once the peas were precooked I heated the water and the wine and added a half cup of the *pre-cooked* peas to it.  If you are going to cook a large amount of dried peas remember this ratio 2:4 - every two cups of peas, four cups of water and or wine.  If you are using green peas, make sure that approximately 1/3rd of your peas are also yellow.  It makes a very pleasing spring green color.  But I did find that I needed to add additional water to my peas before they were soft enough to mash, so keep an eye on your liquid when cooking this dish.

Once the peas were cooked I mashed them slightly with a potato masher and added salt and black pepper to taste.  I would definitely serve this up at a camp supper, or a luncheon or even at a feast.  We brainstormed ideas while we fought over taking bites of soup and the group consensus is that you would want to serve this with ham, or another salty meat, and good hearty thick grainy bread, early in a feast.  The soup itself might overwhelm a more delicately flavored item.  This will find its way into a lunch tavern menu as a vegetarian option in the near future.  I have been asked to make it again, this from the person who swore up and down they were positive they wouldn't like it.  Very simple and humble make great flavors--ingenious.

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Fourme of Curye [Rylands MS 7] (England, 1390)

.lxix. Perry of pesoun. Tak pesoun and seeth hem fast and cover hem tyl they berst, take hem up & cole hem thurgh a cloth, tak oynouns and mynce hem & seeth hem in the same sewe & oyle therwith, cast therto suger, salt and safroun, and seeth hem wel theraftur, & serve hit forth.

Ancient Cookery [Arundel 334] (England, 1425)

Grene pesen unstreynet with herbs. Take grene pesen and let hom sethe wyth gode brothe of beefs, and take parsell, sage, saveray, and ysope, and cut hom smal, ancfdo hom in the pot, and let hom boyle tyl hit aly (mix) hitself, and colour hit with saffron ande serve hit forthe.

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

For Gray pese. Fyrst stepe þy pese over þe ny3t, And trendel hom clene, and fayre hom dy3t. Sethe hom in water. and brothe þou take Of bacun, and fresshe bre þou no3t forsake. Summe men hom lofe alyed wyle With floure and summe with never a dele. Þese pese with bacun eten may be As þo why3t pese were, so mot I þe. But þo white with powder of peper þo Moun be forsyd with ale þer to.

Recipes from the Wagstaff Miscellany (England, 1460)

Pome perre. Boyle white pesyn hool hem take hem fro the fyre when they have restyd a whyle then take the cleryst in to a nothir pott then have mylke of almond drawyn up with wyen figes of amely sigure and salte and yf thou wylte reysons fryed w lytyll & do to gedyr boyle hit kepe hit and serve hit forth.

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.


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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.