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Showing posts from January, 2016

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

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 …

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

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, …

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

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…

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

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 …

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

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 comforti…

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

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 wo…