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. 

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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.


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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.

Similar Recipes

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.


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.