Saturday, January 23, 2016

Harleain MS 279 (ab. 1430) Gelyne in Dubbatte - Chicken in Wine Sauce

Gelyne in Dubbatte
As discussed in my previous post, Henne in Bokenade, chicken is one of the most universally known animal food sources worldwide.  All chickens can trace their roots back to the Red Junglefowl.  The Romans introduced the bird to England during their occupation, and were experimenting with methods to feed and quite possibly breed them to produce heavier birds. It was also discovered at this time that castrating roosters would produce birds that were larger, tenderer and better flavored.

"Sacred Chickens" were raised by priests during this time period and were used for omens prior to significant undertakings.  Priests would watch as the sacred chickens ate grain, if the chickens were stamping their feet and scattering about then the outcome would be favorable.  However, if the chickens refused to eat then the undertaken was abandoned, as the outcome was not favorable.  There is a story I came across while doing research for this article that I found of interest.

When Claudius went to sea, he brought a flock of sacred chickens with him. When he needed a sign, a chicken would be killed and its liver inspected. A healthy liver was a favorable sign; a diseased liver suggested it was not a good time to risk a battle. The chickens were refusing to eat and this worried the men with Claudius. Their continued refusal angered Claudius and he threw all the chickens overboard with the comment (so the story goes), "If they won't eat, let them drink." The battle was lost because the gods did not favor the Romans - or because the men were convinced they were not intended to win and thus did not fight with all their will...
Medieval people enjoyed a varied diet, including goose, pheasant, quail, partridge, ducks even peacocks!  Cockfighting was a favored sport, and the Old English Game Fowl became popular.  Other breeds of chickens outside of the Dorking and the Old English Game fowl that survived medieval times include the Nanking, Poverara, La Fleche and the Minorca.

On farms, chickens were kept in domed structures made of wattle and daub, or, lean-to like buildings next to grain storage areas.  Sometimes, they would share space inside of dovecotes.  They were allowed to eat small insects and rodents in addition to a diet composed of wheat, beans oats and lentils. The best chickens were those that were avid egg layers.  Chickens sometimes were used as a form of currency!

One of the major differences between modern chickens and chickens known in period would be the egg laying capacity.  Modern chickens grow quickly, and can produce up to 300 eggs a year.  Most modern birds are slaughtered when they reach 20 weeks of age.  Their counterparts would produce approximately 40-60 eggs per hen, per year. While they age of slaughter varied, the average bird would live more than a year, and some of them were allowed to live four or more years.

Caponization, the act of castrating roosters is now considered inhumane in many areas which is why it is difficult to find capon.  Pullets were caponized anywhere between 1 1/2 and 5 months.  The process involves making a cut into the bird near the ribcage and removing the testicles. Unlike other animals, it is difficult to locate the testicles because they are not external, but internal, tucked up next to the spine.  There are almost always losses during this process. In fact, one record indicates that 30 out of 82 pullets died during the process of castration in 1375.

The next recipe 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 was Gelyne in Dubatte. This dish is quite delicious featuring chicken cooked in a mixture of broth, wine and spices, thickened with bread crumbs. This dish also resulted in another "dual" amongs the taste testers.  One disappointed tester stated "I only got one bite!" while the victor literally stood in a protective stance in a corner eyeing everybody while eating.

.xlj. Gelyne in dubbatte. — Take an Henne, and rost hure almoste y-now, an choppe hyre in fayre pecys, an caste her on a potte ; an caste J^er-to Freysshe broj^e, & half Wyne, Clowes, Maces, Pepir, Canelle, an stepe it with fe Same broj'e, fayre brede & Vynegre : an whan it is y-now, serue it forth.

The interpretation below came from Dan Myers' "Medieval Cookery" site.  If you have not had the opportunity to visit this site, you should :-D

xlj - Gelyne in dubbatte. Take an Henne, and rost hure almoste y-now, an choppe hyre in fayre pecys, an caste her on a potte; an caste ther-to Freysshe brothe, and half Wyne, Clowes, Maces, Pepir, Canelle, an stepe it with the Same brothe, fayre brede and Vynegre: an whan it is y-now, serue it forth.

41 Gelyne in Dubbatte - Take a hen, and roast almost enough, and chop her in fair pieces, and caste her on a pot, and caste thereto fresh broth and half wine, cloves, maces, pepper, cinnamon, and step it with the same broth, fair bread and vinegar: and when it is enough, serve it forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                 Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side if they are friendly!

1 bone in, skin on chicken breast
1 cup chicken broth -or- as an alternative water with 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in it
1/2 cup of wine (I used white, but I suspect red would be just as good and would render this dish very similar to Coq au Vin)
2 cloves
1/8 tsp. mace & pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tsp. white or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Use your best method to roast your chicken breast, but don't cook it all the way through, make sure it is a little under done.  I cooked mine unseasoned in the oven at 375 degree's with just a little bit of olive oil for about 30-35 minutes (if you want your breast completely done, roast for at least 45 minutes).  Alternatively, you could boil your chicken in the stock or water and bouillon mix until tender, then remove from stock, strain it, and then move forward from here while the chicken is cooling.

Add your wine, cloves, mace, pepper and cinnamon to your stock and heat on low.  While the broth is heating remove the skin and bones from your chicken and cut your chicken into bite sized pieces.  Once the broth has heated for approximately 15 minutes, remove the cloves, and slowly stir in your bread crumbs 1 tablespoon at a time.  If the bread clumps your sauce will get chunky and that's not pleasant.  Trust me!  Stir in the vinegar, and keep your broth on low heat until it thickens to your desire.  Mine was the consistency of a thin white sauce.

Strain your broth to remove any chunks of bread that might still be present then add the chunked chicken.  Cook until chicken is cooked through and tender, the sauce will thicken a bit more.  Serve!

This is another dish that can be as brothy or thick as you please.  While bouncing ideas off of a friend of mine, we thought that rice flour added to this dish as a thickener in lieu of bread crumbs would also be a good thing, although it changes the recipe from the original, it would then make this recipe a gluten free alternative and still be within period as rice flour, was used as a thickening agent as well as eggs. This is another recipe for the "must serve at future events" list.  This list, I fear, is going to become as long as my bucket list!

Red Junglefowl

Friday, January 22, 2016

Harleain MS 279 (ab. 1430) Henne in Bokenade - Stewed Chicken in Sauce

Hen in Bukenade

The people of the middle ages enjoyed a much wider variety of foods then we do today.  Some of the items that they enjoyed were particularly exotic, for example, peacocks, that would be cooked and then re-dressed in their own skin.  Other food sources that they enjoyed are more familiar for example, chicken and chicken eggs.

Domestication of chickens has a very long history. Bones possibly belonging to chickens have been dated to 5400 B.C. in China and there is some speculation that the chicken may have been the very first domesticated animal.  Chickens were traded from China to the Indus Valley and around the Arab peninsula. It is also believed that their ancestors, the red jungle fowl migrated the same path.  An interesting fact of note, there are more chickens then any other domesticated bird or animal in the world today.Chickens also are the most common and wide spread too!

It was the Romans that brought the chicken to England. Chickens were bred for two purposes; meat and eggs, and cockfighting. The oldest recognized breed of chicken is the Dorking. They were bred for meat and eggs and are believed to have originated in Italy. Columella described this bird in his Rei Rusticae Libri as "square-framed, large and broad breasted with big heads and small upright cobs...the rest of the breed being five clawed".

Another breed of chicken that may have been known in period is the Old English Game.  It is believed that they were used for the purpose of cockfighting in period.  They are small birds weighing in at about four pounds and are not very good egg layers.  This breed of chicken was specifically bred for cockfighting by nobility.

Roman cooks discovered when they castrated a rooster, they would fatten on their own. Romans are responsible for  "Capons".  Farmers were also developing ways to fatten chickens; bread soaked in wine, cumin seeds, barley even lizard fat were used!

There are several pottages which include chicken, eggs or both found 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. The first of the recipes that I interpreted was "Henne in Bokenade" which produces chunks of chicken in a very flavorful broth, thickened with eggs.  I had to fight the taste testers! It was that good.  It is also a very versatile dish as the instructions include veal and goat in addition to chicken.

.xxxvj. Vele, kede, or henne in Bokenade. — Take Tele, Kyde, or Henne, an boyle hem in fayre Water, or ellys in freysshe brothe, an smyte hem in pecys, an pyke hem clene ; an )7an draw ]>e same brothe J^orwe a straynoure, an caste J'er-to Percely, Sawge, Tsope, Maces, Clowys, an let boyle tyl J-e flesshe be y-now; j^an sette it from j^e fyre, & a-lye it vp vritk raw jolkys of eyroun, & caste J^er-to ponder Gyngere, Teriows, Safroun, & Salt, & Jeanne seme it forth for a gode mete.

For more information on this, or similar recipes, please vist Dan Myers' "Medieval Cookery".

xxxvj - Vele, kede, or henne in Bokenade. Take Vele, Kyde, or Henne, an boyle hem in fayre Water, or ellys in freysshe brothe, an smyte hem in pecys, an pyke hem clene; an than draw the same brothe thorwe a straynoure, an caste ther-to Percely, Sawge, Ysope, Maces, Clowys, an let boyle tyl the flesshe be y-now; than sette it from the fyre, and a-lye it vp with raw 3olkys of eyroun, and caste ther-to pouder Gyngere, Veriows, Safroun, and Salt, and thanne serue it forth for a gode mete.
36. Veal, Kid, or Hen in Bukenade -Take Veal, Kid, or Hen, and boil them in fair water, or else in fresh broth, and smite them in pieces, and pick them clean; and then draw the same broth through a strainer, and cast there-to parsley, sage, hyssop, mace, cloves, and let boil till the flesh be enough; then set it from the fire, and allay it up with raw yolks of egg, and caste there-to powder ginger, verjuice, saffron and salt, and then send it forth for a good meat.

Interpreted Recipe                                            Serves 1 as a main dish, 2 as a side if they are friendly!

1 bone in, skin on chicken breast
1 C. water + 1 chicken bouillon cube -or-  alternatively 1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. parsley
1/8 tsp. each sage, hyssop, mace
2 cloves
1 whole egg or 2 egg yolks
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. ginger
pinch of saffron
salt to taste (note:if you use a bouillon cube, you probably won't need salt)

Cook the chicken breast in the broth, or the water with bouillon cube until completely cooked.  Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside to cool.  Strain the broth through a strainer and add parsley, sage, hyssop, mace and cloves. Heat on low heat.  Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and cut into bite sized pieces.  When the broth has cooked five minutes, remove the cloves. Temper the egg or the egg yolks with the broth.  Add the tempered eggs to the broth along with the vinegar, saffron, ginger and salt and stir constantly until the broth has thickened. If the heat is too high the eggs may curdle.  Strain the broth into a dish, and add the chicken.  Serve.

As I said, this dish caused a bit of an uproar amongst the taste tenders. After a heated game of rock, paper, scissors, the victor got to eat the spoils.  This is a very comforting and filling dish, which could be made as saucy or as brothy as the cook desires.  This dish is on my "must serve at a future feast" list. It would also be nice for a luncheon or lunch tavern.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Lyode Soppes-An Early Bread Pudding

Lyode Sops
Dan Myers, of "Medieval Cookery" made a comment regarding the Boylede Creme that he wondered how much it would taste like bread pudding if bread were added. This inspired me to do a little more research into the history and origins of bread pudding.  If you are a medieval food enthusiast, budding cook, foodie or curious about eating in the Middle Ages, I urge you to visit his site, it is full of information and his own interpretations of recipes. 

While researching the history of bread pudding, I kept finding repeatedly the phrase "probably originated in the early 11th or 12th centuries" and was created by "frugal cooks looking to use up stale bread" but little evidence to support those references.  However, I believe that this recipe 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 offers support for bread being placed into custard as early as 1430. Lyode soppes is literally a sop of bread floating in a pool of beautifully thick and sweet custard and it is the last of the milk based pottages that I worked with this week. I believe that this is one of the earliest recipes for "bread pudding."

Lyode Soppes lacks many of the characteristics we think of when we think of bread puddings; there are no raisins, no cinnamon, it is lacking the creamy texture of what most modern diners would think of when they think of bread pudding. Lastly, it is not made in the oven.

The main component of lyode sops is the custard. Like papyns and creme boylede, it is made from milk and eggs, sweetened with sugar, tempered with just a bit of salt and cooked over low heat until thickened. Custard can trace its origins back to Ancient Rome.  According to C. Ann Wilson, Romans "exploited eggs as a thickening or binding agent for other foods. They borrowed from the Greeks the idea of combining eggs with milk to form a custard mixture, which was either cooked very slowly in an earthenware pot, or fried in oil...Another kind of egg confection was made of fruit or vegetables, or fish or shredded meat, bound with eggs and lightly cooked in the open dish called a "patina." ...The "flathons" (flans), "crustards" and other open tarts of medieval cookery again recall the old "patinae," with the shallow open dish of the Romans replaced by an open pastry crust, and the filling once more mixed and bound with eggs."

.xxix. Lyode Soppes.—Take Mylke an boyle it, an þanne take ȝolkys of eyroun y-tryid fro þe whyte, an draw hem þorwe A straynoure, an caste hem in-to þe mylke, an sette it on þe fyre an hete it, but let it nowt boyle; an stere it wyl tyl it be somwhat þikke; þenne caste þer-to Salt & Sugre, an kytte fayre paynemaynnys in round soppys, an caste þe soppys þer-on, an serue it forth for a potage.

29 Lyode Sops- Take milk an boil it, an than take yolks of eggs separated from the white and draw them through a strainer, an cast them into the milk, an set it on the fire and heat it, but let it not boil, an stir it well till it be somewhat thick; then caste there-to salt & sugar, an cut fair bread in round sops, an cast the sops there-on, an serve it forth for a pottage. 

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                      Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

3/4 C. milk
1/4 C. heavy cream
1 egg, or 2 egg yolks
1-2 tbsp. sugar (to your taste)
Salt to taste (I used about 1 scant tsp.)
Rounds of bread (I used Rastons)

Mix the heavy cream with the milk and add sugar, salt and egg. Place in a pot on the stove and cook over low heat until the mixture becomes thick. It is important that you keep the heat low because you don't want your custard to curdle. Meanwhile, put your round of bread into the bowl.  I elected to not toast the bread as the recipe did not call for it.  When the custard has thickened, pour it through a strainer onto the bread.  I let mine sit for approximately five minutes before serving.  The bread did soak up some of the moisture from the custard. 

I was unsure how this dish would be received by my bevy of taste testers, and they received it much better than I expected they would. There were a few surprised looks as they tested this dish.  The general consensus amongst the tasters is "it was good but not something they would want to try again." It is unusual and might fall into the category of "too period to serve at feast". I liked it but I can say that it was not to everyone's taste. Use your best judgment.

Custards are fussy dishes that require your attention. I would serve this as a small luncheon, or for breakfast.  I would also add some additional flvaoring to this dish to evoke the "comfort food" flavors of modern bread puddings, for example- maybe a sprinkling of sweet powder before serving, or even garnish it with fruit. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Creme Boylede - Boiled Custard

Boiled Cream with Pomegranite Seeds
Continuing the journey 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, specifically pottages and a series of milk based custards, I was delighted to interpret this recipe for an unusual custard that starts by soaking bread in cream or milk. This recipe is the closest to the "unwholesome mixture of bread and milk" that was described when I was researching the history of baby for the papyns article. 

My non-SCA taste testers and I really enjoyed this recipe. I have made Constance Hieatt's version from "The Ordinance of Pottage" for several feasts in the past and it has always been well received.  The tastes are similar to each other, the texture creamy, sweet, and luxurious.  You could say it is one of my "Go To" recipes because you can make her interpretation in the microwave prior to an event and it will keep well refrigerated overnight.

This recipe includes bread as a thickening agent as well as eggs. It is a very thrifty dish for the medieval cook, because it most likely made use of bread that had gone stale and it was a way to preserve milk that would otherwise have gone bad, or may have been put to other use. Bread played such a large role in the medieval household that an assize law was created to regulate the weight, quality and price of bread. The law was effective from the Reigns of Henry II (December 1154 to July 1189) through Edward II (July 1307 to January 1327).

Assisa Panis (Assize of Bread): When a Quarter of Wheat is sold for 12d., then Wastel Bread of a farthing shall weigh £6 and 16s. But Bread Cocket of a farthing of the same grain and bultel, shall weigh more than Wastel by 2s. And Cocket Bread made of grain of lower price, shall weigh more than Wastel by 5s. Bread made into a Simnel shall weigh 2s. less than Wastel. Bread made of the whole Wheat shall weigh a Cocket and a half, so that a Cocket shall weigh more than a Wastel by 5s. Bread of Treet shall weigh 2 wastels. And bread of common wheat shall weigh two great cockets.
At the time of the Assize of Bread, the Roman pound, also known as Troy pound, would have been in use. Unlike the pound we are used to, the Troy pound was divided into 12 ounces. It is interesting to note that at one point, the weight of single or multiple grain(s) of barleycorn, also known as grains, were used as a measurement for both weight and distance. Visit English Customary Weights and Measures for more information.

The bread refered to in the recipe below is "paynemayne" another name for pandemain, from the Latin "Panis Dominicus" or "Lord's Bread". The earliest reference to pandemain can be traced to Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" approximately 1390. Pandemain was very well sifted, high quality bread reserved for nobility.

.xiij. Creme Boylede.—Take creme or mylke, & brede of paynemayn, or ellys of tendyr brede, an breke it on þe creme, or elles in þe mylke, an set it on þe fyre tyl it be warme hot; and þorw a straynour þrowe it, and put it in-to a fayre potte, an sette it on þe fyre, an stere euermore: an whan it is almost y-boylyd, take fayre ȝolkys of eyron, an draw hem þorw a straynowr, and caste hem þer-to, and let hem stonde ouer the fyre tyl it boyle almost, an till it be skylfully*. [reasonably.] þikke; þan [leaf 8.] caste a ladel-ful, or more or lasse, of boter þer-to, an a good quantite of whyte sugre, and a litel salt, an þan dresse it on a dysshe in maner of mortrewys.

13. Cream Boiled - Take cream or milk and bread of pandemain, or else of tender bread, an break it on the cream, or else in the milk, an set it on the fire till it be warm hot; and through a strainer throw it, and put into a fair pot, an set it on the fire, an stir evermore: an when it is almost boiled, take fair yolks of eggs, and draw them through a strainer, and cast them there-to, and let them stand over the fire till it boil almost, an till it be skillfully (reasonably) thick; than cast a ladle full, or more or less, of butter there-to, and a good quantity of white sugar, and a little salt, and then dress it on a dish in manner of mortrews.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                       Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

3/4 C. milk
1/4 C. heavy whipping cream
1/2 C. bread broken into small pieces (I used Rastons)
2 egg yolks, or 1 whole egg, beaten
1-2 Tbsp. sugar (to your taste)
Salt to taste

Break the bread into small pieces and soak it for approximately five minutes in a mixture of milk and
cream. Once the bread has soaked, use the back of a spoon to break it up into smaller pieces while heating it to a simmer. Do not let it come to a boil. Strain the bread from the milk --don't skip this step, otherwise your custard will be lumpy which is not very pleasant.

Return the strained milk to your pan and add in the eggs, sugar and salt. Keep your heat low, if the mixture becomes too hot the eggs will curdle and there is no saving it at that point--voice of experience speaking. Instead of a velvety, luxurious custard you get sweet scrambled eggs, not bad....but not what you were wanting. Stir constantly until the cream thickens. Strain the custard into another dish before serving.

To serve in the manner of "mortrewys" you would cut slices of bread and toast them, and set them around the bowl before serving. I personally skipped this step and opted to decorate my custard with beautifully red pomegranate seeds.

This is a very fussy dish to make, and I think if I were to serve it at a feast it would be a dish I made in small batches ahead of time. You do not want a novice trying to make this for the first time at an event site. Make sure whoever works with this recipe has experience working with custards, or opt to use Hieatt's microwaveable version which I have posted below. If you do opt to use this recipe and make it ahead of time be sure to "seal" the custard with plastic wrap that touches it so that a skin does not develop on top of it.

76. Creme Boyled

Take swete creme of melke; do hit in a pott. Do therto buttur claryfyed. Set hit on the fyre; stere hit. When hit boyles, have yolkes of eyron drawyn thorowgh a streynour into a bole, & put boylyng crem thereto with a ladyl. Styr hit well for quallyng, & put hit in the pott ayen; & yf be nede, yeve hit a lytyl more of the fyre. Loke hit have a white sygure ynowghe, & of the bature also loke hit be standyng as mortruys; & colour hit with safron. Loke hit be salt. Mess hit forth, and strew on poudur of gynger.

Boiled Cream Custard - Microwave Version
1 1/2 C. heavy whipping cream
4 ounces cream cheese
6 egg yolks or 3 whole eggs
1/4 C. sugar
Pinch of saffron
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each ginger and sugar mixed together

Start by scalding the cream in a large glass measuring cup at full power for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the cheese, eggs, etc. together with a wire whisk in a 1-quart cassrole. Stir the scalded cream gradually into this. Cover the casserole and put it in the microwave at low power for 12 minutes, rotating the dish half a turn after 7 minutes. Do not stir, during or after.

The center should be not quite set when the dish comes out of the oven; it will become firmer while standing. While it is cooling, have a paper towel between the rim of the dish and the cover to absorbe\ excess moisture.

Serve in large spoonful's from the casserole. Texture and consistency are something like soft ice cream.

Hieatt, Constance B. "An Ordinance of Pottage". Prospect Books, 1988

Similar Recipes:

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak creme buile tak cow creme and yolks of eggs drawe and well bet that it be stonding and put ther to sugur and colour it with saffron and salt it then lesk it in dyshes and plant ther in floures of borage and serue it.

Creme Bolyd. Recipe creme of kow mylk & egg зolkes, sugur & saferon, & medyl all togyder; & bole it til it be standyng, & dresse it vp in a dysh in lechys, & playnt it with flowres of borage

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Soupes dorye - Almond Milk Toast

Soupes Dorye and a glass of wine

A piece of bread soaked in milk, oftentimes described as "bland" or "uninspiring", but anyone who has grown up with this dish, might say otherwise. To me "milk toast" means toasted and buttered bread, sprinkled with a generous amount of sugar and soaked in hot milk as a treat. I was very much looking forward to this interpretation of milk toast, or milk sop 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" by Thomas Austin when I started working with it. Yes, it's missing the butter, but the butter is replaced by almond milk that has been thickened and flavored with wine *and* I'm allowed to eat it for breakfast? Oh yeah!

As I was cooking this dish one of my taste testers remarked "It smells like Christmas in here". It was a very delightful smell and this dish lived up to its promise of being comforting and nostalgic. 

Drinking nut milks, specifically almond milk is not a new thing. It is a very old "thing" and one that was born of necessity. As discussed previously with the post on "papyns", the consumption of dairy milk during the middle ages brought with it hazards that we do not necessarily experience today because of inoculation of cattle against disease, pasteurization of milk and strict food laws governing dairy production.

One other reason dairy alternatives became important during the middle ages were the regulations imposed by the Church. At its strictest, more than half the year was governed by rules regarding fasting and abstaining from food.  During this time meat and dairy products were not to be eaten.  On days of fasting, no food was to be consumed before "Vespers" (after sunset).  

There were three specific fasting periods totaling 120 days; Easter (Lent), St. Martin's day to Christmas, and Pentecost. Shorter fasts also occurred on Ember days--days specifically ordered by the Church as days of abstinence and fasting; the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after the Feast of Saint Lucy (December 13), the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), the first Sunday in Lent and Pentecost, Additionally, Fridays were fast days commemorating the death of Jesus.  

The fast for the 40 days of Pentecost fell out of favor sometime around the 11th Century. Eventually the Christmas fast was shortened to the days of the Advent.  The meal was moved to the hour of "none", or approximately 3:00 in the afternoon and was supplemented by additional food in the morning and evening.  However, the rules for Lent remained in place and some are still observed today. 

Cooks were especially challenged to provide substitutes for meat, eggs, butter and milk during these extended periods of fasting. Butter, cheese and milk could be made from almonds, and were used in place of milk, butter, cheese, eggs or bone marrow in cooking. I imagine that a sop of bread and milk would have been the kind of meal that would have been consumed prior to retiring to bed during times of abstinence. 

.xxvij. Soupes dorye.—Take gode almaunde mylke y-draw wyth wyn, an let hem boyle to-gederys, an caste þer-to Safroun an Salt; an þan take Paynemayn, an kytte it an toste it, an wete it in wyne, an ley it on a dysshe, an caste þe syrip þer-on. And þan make a dragge of powder Gyngere, Sugre, canel, Clowes, Maces, an caste þer-on When it is y-dressid, an serue þanne forth for a potage gode.

27. Soup Dorye - Take good almond milk drawn with wine, an let them boil together, an caste there-to Saffron an Salt; an than take bread, an cut it an toast it, an wet it in wine, an lay it on a dish, an caste the syrup there-on. And then make a dredge of powder ginger, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, maces, an caste there-on. When it is dressed, an serve than forth for a pottage good.

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

1 C. Almond Milk made with wine -or- 1 C. commercially prepared almond milk flavored with a tablespoon of wine (I used white wine and commercially prepared almond milk) 
1-2 Tbsp. wine (I used white)
Pinch of Saffron (opt)
Salt to taste
1 thick slice of bread (I used Rastons but you could easily substitute Manchet or French)
Sweet Spices to taste

Because I used commercially prepared almond milk, I added the wine to the milk and then heated it on medium-low heat upon the stove top. If I were going to use my own almond milk, I would use a similar ratio of wine to water.  I'm not a fan of "curdled" almond milk so I wanted to keep the curdling to a minimum.  This ratio thickens the milk without making noticeable curds--yay me! Add saffron and salt to taste. 

While the almond milk is heating, toast your bread.  Sops were cut into thin strips after being toasted unless otherwise specified (some recipes will specify to cut the sops into rounds).  After the bread has been toasted and cut, place it in a bowl and add enough wine for the bread to soak it up (mine took about 2 tablespoons) without leaving a puddle in the bottom of the dish. 

Add the heated almond milk to the bread slowly.  You want the bread to drink up the milk without becoming a soggy mess. Sprinkle with your sweet spices and serve immediately. 

Because of the instruction to "serve than forth for a pottage good", there is the assumption that the milk toast should be floating in a puddle of the almond milk when served.  

This dish may fall into the category of "one of those dishes that feasters are going to look at and go what the heck?" as one of my tasters said. It's not something one would think of when imagining sitting down to dine.  However, I would have no qualms serving this, partly because I enjoyed it enough to have made several times since and partly because most cooks have a spare loaf of bread sitting around the kitchen and almond milk to spare, why not add the extra dish? It is neither pretentious nor fussy like the papyns and I believe it to be a comforting dish.  It certainly beats the usual bread and butter sitting on the table begging to be overindulged in before any of the dishes you have cooked reaches the table. Go for it!

This could easily make a good camp breakfast that would require no refridgeration using bread, spices, almond flour and water. If anyone tries this, please let me know how you liked it.

Note: Dorye could be a misspelling of Dorée the French word for "golden" which takes the place of our English "browned" --making the name of this dish "Golden Sops"

Similar Recipes:

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

.lxxx. Sowpes doree. Take almaundes y brayed, drawe hem up with wyne, boyle hit cast theruppoun safroun & salt, tak brede y tosted in wyne lay therof a leyne & a nother of that sewe & do alle to gyder, florysch hit with suger, poudour ginger, & serve it forth.

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

Sowpus dorre. Take almondes, bray hem, wryng hom up. Boyle hom with wyn rede to sup. Þen temper hom with wyn, salt, I rede, And loke þou tost fyne wetebrede, And lay in dysshes, dubene with wyne. Do in þis dysshes mete, þat is so fyne. Messe hit forthe, and florysshe hit þenne With sugur and gynger, as I þe kenne.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak soupes dorrey tak almondes and bray them asid wring them up and boile them with wyn and temper them with wyne and salt then toost whit bred and lay it in a disshe and enbane it with wyne and pour it ouer the met and florisshe it with sugur and guingere and serue it.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Papyns - Custard

Papyns and Bread
Many of the sites I visited while researching a history of baby pap indicated that pap was "an unwholesome mixture of bread and milk", unfortunately that is not the case for the custardy dish that was 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 for "Papyns".  This dish created a very soft custard that reminded my taste testers and I of the cream of wheat or malted meal cereal that we would eat for breakfast while growing up--without any lumps.  The recipe that I worked with that most closely resembled the pap described was Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Creme Boylede - Boiled Custard which starts out by soaking bread in milk or cream and heating it until warm. 

In the absence of breast milk and prior to the invention of feeding bottles or formula for children, a wet nurse was preferred. The use of a woman to feed another woman's child has a very long history. It's origins can be traced at least to 2000 BC, but it may go back further.  Genesis 35:8 references a wet nurse "But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth." Moses was fed by a wet nurse upon discovery by the Pharaoh's daughter.

Between 300 BC and 400AD, well to do Romans would hire wet nurses (nutrix). Contracts written during this time provided details such as the service duration, supplies for clothing or lamp oil, and payment for the service. The physician Soranas of Ephesus (98 AD to 117 AD) wrote a treatise for assessing the quality of breast milk and prescribed a regimen for the wet nurse.  Galen of Pergamus  (130 AD to 200 AD) offered advice on how to soothe nursing infants, and Oribasius (325 AD to 403 AD) recommended physical activities such as weaving in order to strengthen the flow of milk.

Noble women of the middle ages would often choose not to breastfeed.  Wet nurses to wealthier families were esteemed and enjoyed rewards for their services. For example, Adelina, was rewarded with land for her services by King Riger of Sicily to his son Henry.  Children were often breast fed until they were between 18 months and two years of age, at which point they would be weaned.  However, during the later periods the time for nursing was shortened to three to four months, at which point children would be weaned to animal milk (cow, sheep or goat) and solid foods.  Consequently, the mortality rate of children at this time was quite high.

 In the middle ages, animal milk was not as wholesome as it is today. Before pasteurization and inoculation of dairy producing animals against disease, the milk of an animal could pass diseases such as tuberculosis, diptheria, typhoid fever or cow pox to the consumer.  In a raw state, milk can become contaminated through contact with the animal hide, udder, the teats or even cross contaminated with fecal matter, the equipment or the people who handle it.

Writers of the middle ages also cautioned against consuming animal milk because it was thought to cause "bestial behavior"--anyone with a toddler may think they were on to something! I know there were a few times during epic tantrums I would have. Aside from the shared belief that consuming animal milk would cause the child to exhibit animal like behavior, and the fact that the milk itself was questionable as to its wholesomeness  being dependent upon the health of the animal it came from, the other issue with milk was the lack of refrigeration.  Milk spoils rapidly when not kept cool, so fresh milk was not as available in certain locations because of the distance it needed to travel from the source to the consumer.  Just because it has spoiled doesn't mean it is not eatable

When milk or a wet nurse were not available, a mixture of broth, water, milk, grain, flour or bread, sweetened with honey or diluted wine would be fed to infants through a small horn with  a hole drilled into it, or via a rag soaked in the liquid.  This same pap was also fed to the elderly who were unable to chew any longer.  When given to older children, or in addition to breast milk, papyns provided additional nutrituion.  On its own, it may have caused more difficulties because it would have been harder to digest and did not provide the same value human milk did.

xx. Papyns.—Take fayre Mylke an Flowre, an drawe it þorw a straynoure, an set it ouer þe fyre, an let it boyle a-whyle; þan take it owt an let it kele; þan take ȝolkys of eyroun y-draw þorwe a straynour, an caste þer-to; þan take sugre a gode quantyte, and caste þer-to, an a lytil salt, an sette it on þe fyre tyl it be sum-what þikke, but let it nowt boyle fullyche, an stere it wyl, an putte it on a dysshe alle a-brode, and serue forth rennyng.

20. Papyns - Take fair milk and flour, an draw through a strainer, an set it over the fire, an let it boil awhile: than take it out an let it cool: then take yolks of eggs drawn through a strainer and caste thereto; than take sugar a good quantity, an cast there-to, an a little salt an set it on the fire till it be somewhat thick, but let it not boil fully, an stir it well, an put it on a dish all broad, and serve forth running. 

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

3/4 C. whole milk
1/4 C. cream
2 Tbsp. flour
1 egg (or 2 egg yolks)
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. sugar or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 Tsp. salt or to taste

Make slurry of the flour and milk by adding the flour to 1/2 cup of the milk and shaking it up in a small lidded jar until it becomes a smooth paste. Strain this mixture into a small pot, and then add the remainder of the milk.  It is important to strain the slurry as some of the flour may have clumped and this will affect the texture of your final product.  DO NOT skip this step.  

Heat the milk and the flour until it begins to thicken and then set aside to cool to room temperature.  Or, as an alternative you can temper your eggs before adding them to the milk mixture.  What you don't want to do is just toss the eggs into the hot liquid or vice versa--you will end up with curdled and partially cooked eggs...yuck! 

Return the mixture to the pan and add salt and sugar to taste.  I preferred mine sweeter so added 2 tbsp. of sugar; a couple of my taste testers did not like it as sweet and said they would have preferred less.  Use your best judgment. Once the papyn's has been returned to the pot you must babysit it.  Do not let it boil, and constantly stir it until it reaches the desired thickness.  I made mine the consistency of a medium cream sauce.  You may want to strain it a second time when serving it on the off chance you have curdled your dish.  

This is a very fussy dish that requires almost near constant supervision.  That being said, it is a very delicious dish when finished.  The end result is a dish that is surprisingly "cereal" like in its taste, velvety smooth and quite delicious when bread is dipped into it.  I would happily serve this to a group of individuals for a small dinner, luncheon, camping (powdered eggs, powdered milk, flour, sugar, salt and water) or myself when I'm craving a comfort food.  I do NOT recommend that you consider this for very large groups.  It took approximately 10 minutes to throw together, but it needs to be served hot, and it requires a lot of babysitting.  If you have the time and a dedicated staff member who is familiar with cooking custards or making ice cream bases, I'd say go for it. 

Similar Recipes:

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

Papyns. Recipe clene cow mylk, & take þe flour of rice or of whete & draw þe flour with sum of þe mylk, & colour it with saferon & let it boyle, & do a lityll honyþerto; þan tak water & well it in a frying panne; þan cast in brokyn egges & fry þam hard in þe water, & lay .iij. in a dysh & þe colourd mylk þeron, & serof it forth.