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.

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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

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


It's a gray day today, cloudy with a promise of rain. The kind of day that makes you want to curl up with a good book and some comfort food and stay indoors. So I went in search of a recipe that would fall into the category of "yummy comfort food" from Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin and found another recipe for another bokenade.  My previously published version for Henne in Bokenade netted rave reviews from the taste testers, so I was eager to give this version an attempt and we were not disappointed.  

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

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

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

Interpreted Recipes

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

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

lj. Cawdelle de Almaunde - Almond Caudle

I cannot believe that this recipe has been kept hidden away and secret and has not been used more often at events in the past.  Cawdelle de Almaunde, from  Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 by Thomas Austin, is a thick, rich beer soup, or, more recently, if you choose not to follow the instructions, a warmed drink mainly used in the Middle Ages for invalids.  Whatever you call it, you should try it--just make sure you use an ale (or beer) that you enjoy drinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Similar Recipes


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


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

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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

.lviij. Let lory - Larded Milk

Let Lory is a fun and delicious recipe from  Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 by Thomas Austin. Milk and eggs are cooked until they form curds that are then drained, and served with sweetened custard.  The first time I made this dish I didn't use a double boiler to heat my milk and burned it.  This recipe is an example of custard that has been cooked until it forms curds. The instructions to heat the milk until it boils ensure that it curds and doesn't form a smooth pudding. While these kinds of custards appear to be quite popular during the 15th Century, they seem to have fallen out of favor in the 16th Century and disappear completely by the 17th Century. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Egg Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

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

.Ciiij. Bolas - Poached Pears in Plum Sauce

I have been quite anxious to try this recipe from Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 by Thomas Austin for Bolas. It was exactly as I imagined it would be...colorful, flavorful and with a bit of a cheat, exceptionally easy to put together. Additionally, this dish wowed the taste testers when presented. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Interpreted Recipe

Fine Powder of Spices

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

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

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

Libre del Coch

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

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

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

Interpreted Recipe

Common Sauce Spices, Amended

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

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


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

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

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

 Interpreted Recipe

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

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

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

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

CHAP: 126. Of Ginger.

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

Interpreted Recipe

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

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



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cv. Lorey de Boolas - Plum Curd

.Cv. Lorey de Boolas - Plum Curd
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 was quite a surprise for me. The finished product is a beautiful rose colored, piquant fruit "curd". It might even be the precursor to modern day fruit curds. It lacks the butter that you would find in modern day curds, replacing it with bread crumbs. It also lacks sugar; the recipe specifies that you are to use skimmed honey. 

The taste testers were quite pleased with this dish, and this is something I plan on making in the future to give away as gifts. I also imagine that you could use it with other fruits; berries, apricots, lemon.

What is a fruit curd? It is a spread or a topping that in modern day is served with scones, bread, cheesecake, etc. I'm not sure it would have been a good keeping recipe, despite the wine and the honey that was added to it. If I were to serve this at an event (and it does go on the list of good things other people should eat at a medieval reenactment event), I think I would serve it as an alternative to butter, perhaps as a sauce to accompany a roasted meat, in a tart, or even with custard or cheesecake. The flavor of plum is intensified and a little bit goes a long way (I added some of this to oatmeal...yums...It made a very delicious breakfast).

Plums, like roses, apricots, peaches and cherries, are a member of the Rosaceae family and have a very long history of use. It is believed that the common European plum is approximately 2,000 years old and originates in or around the Caspian Sea. There is evidence that dried plums, also known as prunes, were a staple food of the Tartars, Mongols, Turks and Huns. Alexander the Great is believed to have introduced a variety of damson plums to Greece from either Syria or Persia. There are over 100 species of plums with 30 of them being native to North America.

The title of this recipe, leads me to believe that the specific plum that should be used is the bullace, which has a black skin. This is why I chose to use the darkest skinned plums I was able to locate.

.Cv. Lorey de Boolas.—Take Bolas, & seþe hem a lytil, & draw hem þorw a straynoure, & caste hem in a broþe; & do þer-to Brede y-gratyd, & boyle y-fere, & ȝolkys of eyroun y-swengyd, & a-lyid; take Canel, and Galyngale, Skemyd hony, & do þer-to, & sethe wyl, & serue forth.

Cv - Lorey de Boolas. Take Bolas, and sethe hem a lytil, and draw hem thorw a straynoure, and caste hem in a brothe; and do ther-to Brede y-gratyd, and boyle y-fere, and 3olkys of eyroun y-swengyd, and a-lyid; take Canel, and Galyngale, Skemyd hony, and do ther-to, and sethe wyl, and serue forth.

105 - Lorey of Bullace - Take bullace, and cook them a little, and draw them through a strainor, and caste them in a broth; and do thereto bread grated, and boil together; and yolks of eggs beaten, and mixed; take cinnamon and galingale, skimmed honey and do there-to and cook well, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                        makes approximately 1 cup              

2 plums cut in chunks
1 cup wine ( I used a sweet white)
1-2 tbspl. honey
1- 2 tbsp. bread crumbs
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and honey

Clean and wash your plums and cut into chunks.  Place in a pan with the wine, honey and spices, and allow to cook until the fruit is softened and the skin begins to shred.  Say a thank you for modern technology and put your fruit into a blender and puree it :-)

Strain the pureed fruit into your pan and bring to a low simmer.  Beat the bread crumbs into the egg yolks and temper them by adding a bit of the lovely ruby red plum sauce to the eggs and bread crumb.  Return the tempered eggs to the pot and stir, stir, stir until it thickens.  It is thick enough when it coats the back of your spoon rather than drips off. This will take between five and ten minutes.  During this process taste for sweetness--the sweetness of the final product is dependent on the ripeness of the fruit and your particular taste.  I was happy with just a tablespoon of honey.

Strain your curd through a strainer to remove any bread crumbs or bits of egg from it and allow to cool. It will thicken a bit more as it cools.

I can understand why this recipe might have been overlooked;  the instructions are a bit confusing.  It does not specify what kind of broth, and specifies the addition of two thickeners (bread and egg yolk). However, this recipe could not be simpler to put together, and I was very happy with the outcome.  Like modern day fruit curds, I believe this would be a dish a cook could make ahead of time and keep.