Saturday, December 30, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cxv. Quynade. - Almond Milk Cream Cheese with Quince Puree

 Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cxv. Quynade. - Almond milk cream cheese with quince puree

When I first came across this recipe in  Full text of "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", I knew that I *had* to make it, the difficulty was in waiting until quinces were in season.  Last year I missed the season and I nearly missed it again this year--the ability to purchase quince is only a few weeks where I live. It is a shame, because I could see this becoming a regular spread in addition to butter, marmalade's or preserves at any event.  This is a delicious spread that would go well on bread or to be used as a substitute for butter.  The picture cannot do justice to how pretty the slight yellow of the almond "cream cheese" studded with bright golden quince is. I wish I had silver or gold leaf to jazz it up. 

The taste testers raved about it. It also keeps very well, and is an alternative for those who are lactose intolerant and vegan. Do not get stressed about the ambiguity of the directions "to taste".  I wanted to taste more of the fruit and the almond and so was light with the seasonings.  Just be sure that you use equal amounts of sugar to the other seasonings you use.  For example, 1 1/2 tsp. of mixed spices +1 1/2 tsp. of sugar.  Also, note that I used a spice powder that contained cinnamon that was not called for in the original instructions.

The almond cheese is very easy to make despite the complex directions.  It is very similar to making fresh cheese from milk on your stove top.  I caution you though to be careful of getting the milk too hot.  You only want it to come to a simmer, not boil, however, if you do get the almond milk too hot (boiling), just turn off the heat and let it cool, before adding your acid--you want the enzymes to work, not destroy them.

.Cxv. Quynade.—Take Quynces, & pare hem clene, caste hem on a potte, & caste þer-to water of Rosys; do it ouer þe fyre, & hele*. [Cover. ] it faste, & let it boyle a gode whyle tyl þey ben neysshe; & ȝif þey wol not ben neysshe, bray hem in a Morter smal, draw hem þorw a straynoure; take gode Mylke of Almandys, & caste in a potte & boyle it; take whyte Wyne & Vynegre, an caste þer-to þe Mylke, & let it stonde a whyle; take þan a clene canvas, & caste þe mylke vppe-on̛, & with a platere [leaf 21 bk.] stryke it of þe cloþe, & caste it on þe potte; gedyr vppe þe quynces, & caste to þe creme, & do it ouer þe fyre, & lat boyle; take a porcyon of pouder of Clowys, of Gyngere, of Graynys of Perys, of Euery a porcyon; take Sugre y-now, with Salt, & a party of Safroun, & alle menge to-gederys; & when þou dressyst forth, plante it with foyle of Syluer.

115. Quynade/Quinade- Take quinces and pare them clean, cast them on a pot and caste there-to water of roses; do it over the fire and cover it fast, and let it boil a good while till they be soft; and if they will not be soft, bray them in a mortar small, draw them through a strainer; take good milk of almonds and caste in a pot and boil it; take white wine and vinegar, and caste there-to the milk, and let it stand a while; take than a clean canvas, & caste the milk upon, and with a platter strike it of the cloth, & cast it on the pot; gather up the quinces & caste to the cream, and do it over the fire, and let boil; take a portion of powder of cloves, of ginger, of grains of paradise, of every portion, take sugar enough, with salt & a party of saffron, and all mingle together; and when you dress it forth, plant it with foil of silver.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                    Serves 4-8 

To make Almond Cream Cheese: 

1 cup almond flour
2 cups water (Hot)
Pinch of saffron
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
1 tbsp. or more of sugar to taste
1 1/2 tsp. each (or equivalent of 1 tbsp) white wine and/or white wine vinegar --can substitute lemon juice

To make quince:

4 quinces pared and chopped small
Rosewater to taste (I used 1 tsp. rose water and 1 tsp. lemon juice)
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. mixed spice powder (I used Le Menagier's fine powder of spices and added 1/8 tsp. cloves to it--yes I know, this adds cinnamon that is not used in the recipe) or to taste

To make the almond milk: Put first five ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  Place almond milk in a pot and bring to a simmer.  Add the acid and turn off the heat.  It will start to curdle immediately--GENTLY stir with a spoon and allow to sit a minimum of ten minutes.  Until cool is better.

Gently turn the curds into a cloth lined colander (I use white cotton pillowcases cut in half) and allow the whey to drain.  For this I wanted a fairly loose texture so I only allowed it to drain for as long as it took me to make the quince.  For a thicker creamier cheese, allow several hours over night with a weight on top to press the whey out.  This is similar to the method I used to make Harleian MS. 279 xij. Fride Creme of Almaundys- Cream cheese made from Almond Milk.

Note: The cheese can get a bit "gritty" so several internet sites with similar instructions suggest immersion blender to make a creamier cheese. I find with a "wetter" cream, that the grit is not as notable.

To cook the quince: Put all ingredients in a pot and cook until quince is tender and water is nearly gone.  I took half of the quince and pureed it in a blender. Note that you can use as much or as little rose water as you wish.  I believe modern day preparations are much stronger then that found in the late medieval period, so I tend to be lighter in my usage of it.  I want the taste to enhance but not to overpower.

Place almond cheese and quince in a pot and cook until mixture has heated thoroughly, being sure to stir constantly so that it does not burn.  Mixture will thicken as it cools so it is better to be a bit looser at this stage for a creamier spread after it cools.  Place spread in a bowl and cool.

To serve, garnish with silver leaf.

Knowing that fruit  puree was added to the almond cream cheese in the late medieval period means that I will be experimenting with other kinds of preserves in the future and calling it "Cook's Prerogative"--can you imagine cherry preserves? Nummsss!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxxiij. Walkys*. [Whelks. ] in bruette.

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) -  .lxxxxiij. Walkys*. [Whelks. ] in bruette.

The last of the seafood shellfish recipes that I found in Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 Thomas Austin was for whelks, which is a kind of snail that was plentiful in the late Medieval period and still enjoyed in Europe today.
Whelks are difficult to get where I live, so the Cook's Thesaurus suggested periwinkles or conch, again, difficult ingredients to obtain fresh where I live.  I finally settled upon clams, which are locatable but are a bit firmer and stronger in flavor then whelk, conch or periwinkles.  The taste testers and I really enjoyed this dish, made all the better through the use of a strong home brewed beer (a lager) courtesy of my son, and dried parsley from my garden.  This is a dish that I will make again. 

.lxxxxiij. Walkys*. [Whelks. ] in bruette.—Take Walkys [supplied by ed.] an sethe in Ale, þen pyke hem clene; þan wasshem in Water an Salt be hem-self, & fyrst wyth Ale & Salt, an do so whele þey ben slepyr*. [Slippery; slimy. ]; þen putte hem in [leaf 18 bk.] Vynegre, an ley Perceli a-boue, an serue ynne.

93 - Whelks in Bruette - take whelks and boil in ale, then pick them clean; than wash them in water and salt by themselves & first with ale & salt, and do so while they be slimy; then put them in vinegar and lay parsley above and serve in.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                          Serves 2 as main, 3 or more as side

1 cup beer of choice (lager)
1 can of clams (or 1/2 pound fresh clams cleaned well)
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. vinegar or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
Parsley for garnish

Before using fresh seafood, which I would have preferred but the poor dears sitting in the ice looked half dead and there was a fishy smell in the air the day I went to purchase at the grocery so I used canned clams instead (trusting they would be safe!), make sure that you clean your seafood very well.  There are multiple sites available on the internet with instructions to clean the shellfish of your choice.  In my case, I simply opened a can and drained off the juice, which I used in the oyster recipes.

Bring your beer to a boil, and cook your shellfish, either until the shells open (which would be a lovely sight to see), or until they are heated through.  Here you have a choice.

A) I added the vinegar and salt to the broth and topped with dried parsley and it was divine!

B) Remove your shellfish from the broth, place on the serving dish, liberally add salt, dip your parsley in vinegar and then serve.  I would probably serve with more vinegar on the side.

I went with option A because this is supposed to be a pottage, a dish cooked in a pot, and to toss the broth seemed like a waste, it was very flavorful.  The instructions are quite clear, that the whelks are to be boiled in ale long enough to loosen the muscle and allow you to remove them from their shells. If my understanding of cooking whelks is correct, they would need another boiling in salted water to remove any slime that may exist.

Another method of cleaning whelks is to place them is to soak them in water for several hours and change the water a few times. The fear is that twice boiling them would make them rubbery and difficult to eat.

We really liked this dish and I look forward to making it again when I can use fresh clams, which I can readily get.  I would definitely serve this at a feast, luncheon or, if using tinned shellfish, as a quick and easy camp supper along with some crusty bread to soak up all the yummy broth.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxxij. Oystrys in bruette.

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxxij. Oystrys in bruette.

The last pottage recipe 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  for oysters is Oysters in Bruet.  It is very similar to  the previously published xl. Oystrys in grauy bastard.  The difference is in the spicing (adds cinnamon), and in the specific set of instructions "Take an schene Oystrys", indicating that for this dish the oysters should be removed from their shells.  

.lxxxxij. Oystrys in bruette.—Take an schene*. [for schele. ] Oystrys, an kepe þe water þat cometh of hem, an strayne it, an put it in a potte, & Ale þer-to, an a lytil brede þer-to; put Gyngere, Canel, Pouder of Pepir þer-to, Safroun an Salt; an whan it is y-now al-moste, putte on þin Oystrys: loke þat þey ben wyl y-wasshe for*. [on account of. ] þe schullys: & þan serue forth.

92. Oysters in Bruet - Take and shell oysters, and keep the water that come of them, and strain it, and put it in a pot, and ale there-to, and a little bread thereto; put ginger, cinnamon, powder pepper there-to, saffron and salt; and when it is enough almost, put on your oysters; look that they be well washed for the shells: and then serve forth

Interpreted Recips                                                             Serves 2 as main, 1 as side

1/2 cup Ale (dark to compliment the oysters)
1/2 to 1 can oysters 
1/2 cup oyster liquor, fish stock or clam juice
1-2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. pepper
2-3 threads of saffron
salt to taste

For instructions on how to properly clean fresh oysters, please refer to xl. Oystres en grauey .

Bring ale and oyster liquor (fish stock or clam juice) to a boil in the pan, slowly add bread crumbs and spices.  When the mixture starts to thicken add your oysters. Cook until heated through and serve.

This was another example of using the wrong ale ruining the dish :-/ Having had such dim luck with the ginger flavored ale, I used a darker lager, which unfortunately made the dish taste muddy and slightly bitter.  The taste testers were not impressed.  BUT--they did agree that the addition of the cinnamon and not including sugar, this dish was a bit more elevated then  xl. Oystrys in grauy bastard.

My taste tester did agree that they would try this dish if it were served to them at an event, but strongly suggested that less ale, or a different ale be used (Might I suggest Guinness, porter or a stout?) If you should try any of these recipes--please leave feedback.

Oysters...strike 2!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xl. Oystrys in grauy bastard

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xl. Oystrys in grauy bastard

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 allows an interesting look at our culinary past. Oysters were a very cheap and plentiful source of protein in the Middle Ages.  Although the oysters that were most likely eaten (ostrea edulis) were much smaller then the oysters many of us enjoy today.  So it is surprising that the manuscript only contains three specific preparations for oysters in the pottage section.

Oysters, whelks, cockles, muscles and limpets are shellfish that were plentiful. The Romans brought with them their love of shellfish when they arrive in Britain in 43AD.  After they left, the oyster fell out of favor, however, by the 8th century that was no longer case.  Oysters were once more a very popular food.

Fish and shellfish were eaten on days that meat and animal products were prohibited--Lent, all Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (in some cases), Ember Days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after Saint Lucia's (December 13th), Ash Wednesday after Whitsunday (8th Sunday after Easter) and Exaltation of the Cross (September 14th). In total, more then half the year meat and animal products were forbidden.

Additionally, Medieval physicians believed that serving fish and meat together in the same meal would make an individual sick.  This belief was prominent until the 17th century, where they were enjoyed as an hors d'oeuvre or main meal.

The title of this particular recipe is a bit baffling.  "Bastard" usually refers to a Spanish sweet wine (similar to a muscatel)  that became popular in the 14th Century.  However, there is no wine in the recipe below.  Perhaps if wine had been substituted for the ale this recipe would have been better enjoyed by the taste testers.  The problem wasn't the oysters but in the ale that was used.  I used a ginger flavored ale, believing that it would compliment the ginger already included in the recipe.  However, the flavor of the oysters and the ale did not marry well.  I believe this dish would have been much more successful had I used a darker beer, a stout, porter or black lager, all of which are rumored to pair well with the briny creatures.

.xl. Oystrys in grauy bastard.—Take grete Oystrys, an schale hem; an take þe water of þe Oystrys, & ale, an brede y-straynid, an þe water also, an put it on a potte, an Gyngere, Sugre, Saffron, powder pepir, and Salt, an let it boyle wyl; þen put yn þe Oystrys þer-to, and dresse it forth.

xl - Oystrys in grauy bastard. Take grete Oystrys, an schale hem; an take the water of the Oystrys, and ale, an bredey-straynid, an the water also, an put it on a potte, an Gyngere, Sugre, Saffron, powder pepir, and Salt, an let it boyle wyl; then put yn the Oystrys ther-to, and dresse it forth.

40 - Oysters in Gravy Bastard - Take great oysters, and shell them; and take the water of the oysters and ale, and bread strained, and the water also, and put it on a pot, and ginger, sugar, saffron, powder pepper and salt, and let it boil well; then put in the oysters there-to, and dress it forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                      Serves 2 as Main, 3 or more as side

1/2 cup ale (see note above)
1/2 cup oyster liquor or other fish/clam stock
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. sugar
2-3 threads of saffron
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 can of oysters (don't judge!)

If you have oysters you will want to clean them.  If you are like me and you purchased a can, drain the liquor from it and mix it with the ale, spices and bread crumbs.  Bring to a boil and wait till the broth begins to thicken.  Add the oysters, and cook till heated through and thickness of sauce is to your liking.  Serve them.

As stated previously, I used the wrong ale to make this dish and the taste testers were unhappy with me.  However, we all agreed that a more complimentary ale would have created a much better dish.  Would they eat this if served at an event? The answer was no.  I will leave it to you to decide.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - ixl. Oystres en grauey

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - ixl. Oystres en grauey 

It is rumored that King Henry IV enjoyed oysters so much that he consumed 400 in a single sitting! Bear in mind that he was probably eating the much smaller, and more delicate European (commonly known as belon) oyster (ostrea edulis).  The Romans prized oysters.  They were (and still are) considered an aphrodisiac, but they also believed that consuming oysters would improve your prowess on the battlefield.  So it should come as no surprise that guards were posted to protect oysters beds and that the cost of an oyster could be valued at a denarius--the value of a days labor.

Oysters in Gravy was the first of several recipe's I prepared featuring oysters 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 most likely one of the earliest versions of a well known classic--oyster stew, and it received the best reviews. I also prepared .xl. Oystrys in grauy bastard (oysters cooked in ale, thickened with bread and seasoned with ginger, sugar, saffron, pepper and salt) and .lxxxxij. Oystrys in bruette (oysters stewed with oyster liquor, ale, bread, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, saffron and salt). 

.ixl.*. [i.e. i from xl. ] Oystres en grauey.—Take gode Mylke of Almaundys, an drawe it wyth Wyne an gode Fysshe broþe, an sette it on þe fyre, & let boyle; & caste þer-to Clowes, Maces, Sugre an powder Gyngere, an a fewe parboylid Oynonys y-mynsyd; þan take fayre Oystrys, & parboyle hem in fayre Water, & caste hem þer-to, an lete hem boyle to-gederys; & þanne serue hem forth.

ixl - Oystres en grauey. Take gode Mylke of Almaundys, an drawe it wyth Wyne an gode Fysshe brothe, an sette it on the fyre, and let boyle; and caste ther-to Clowes, Maces, Sugre an powder Gyngere, an a fewe parboylid Oynonys y-mynsyd; than take fayre Oystrys, and parboyle hem in fayre Water, and caste hem ther-to, an lete hem boyle to-gederys; and thanne serue hem forth.

39. Oysters in gravey - Take good milk of almonds, and draw it with wine and good fish broth, and set it on the fire, and let boil; and cast there-to cloves, mace, sugar and powder ginger, and a few parboiled onions minced; then take fair oysters, and parboil them in fair water, and caste them there-to, and let them boil together; and then serve them forth.

Interpreted Recipe: 

1 c. almond milk (made by adding 1/4 c. almond flour to 1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup oyster/clam broth)
1 clove
1/8 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 c. parboiled onions
1 can oysters
salt and pepper to taste

Purists may cringe that I used canned oysters, unfortunately getting good seafood where I live is tricky.  It has usually been frozen and then thawed and put out on display, or, it has arrived fresh off the boat still living but costs an arm and a leg. Part of the goal in creating these posts is to make sure that they are cost friendly if you are cooking in very large quantities.  Buying fresh *might* be preferred, but purchasing canned ones (for me) is cost effective and eliminated the need to "þan take fayre Oystrys, & parboyle hem in fayre Water, & caste hem þer-to".

Should you be lucky enough to be able to use fresh oysters you will first want to clean them. Oysters are a filter for the ocean (they can filter 30-50 gallons of water a day), and their shells collect a lot of debris.   You will want to make sure they are fresh, and that they are still living.  To test for life, try to open up the shell, if the shell is cracked, damaged or open, or if it does not snap back when trying to open it, discard it.  It could make you sick.

To clean,  you will need to place oysters in a colander and rinse them under cold running water.  Scrub the shells with a brush (toothbrushes work), making sure that you clean out all the dirt and the debris that has collected not only in the shell but in the creases. Once clean it is necessary to shuck the oyster to remove it from it's shell.  There is a ton of information available on how to do this on the internet.  Be sure not to spill the oyster liquor (the liquid inside of the oyster). Also, make sure to use them within two hours of opening to avoid them spoiling. 

Parboil your onions if you have not done so, otherwise, add all ingredients accept for the oysters to the almond milk and bring to a boil.  If you are using fresh oysters, you will want to parboil them while the broth is cooking. Once the almond milk has come to the boil, add your remaining oysters and cook until oysters have been thoroughly heated through, and then serve.

God bless the taste testers! Of the four recipes that were interpreted this was by far the favorite and the one that  they stated they would eat again if served at a feast. It was likened to a "high end oyster stew".  Oysters are -not- for everyone I would use caution if serving this at an event. Also, due to the likelihood of quick spoilage, you may want to consider serving them at a smaller event or luncheon. I would even caution against bringing them to a camping event, unless you are absolutely certain that they will be eaten immediately and that any leftovers will not be stored. 

Similar Recipes

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

OYSTERS IN GRAVEY. XX.VI. I. Schyl Oysters and seeþ hem in wyne and in hare own broth. cole the broth thurgh a cloth. take almandes blaunched, grynde hem and drawe hem up with the self broth. & alye it wiþ flour of Rys. and do the oysters þerinne, cast in powdour of gyngur, sugur, macys. seeþ it not to stondyng and serue forth.

Enseignements qui enseingnent a apareillier toutes manieres de viande (France, ca. 1300 - D. Myers, trans.)

Oysters in gravy, first cooked in water and onions, with pepper and saffron and with an aillie of almonds. Oysters again with salt and bread well leavened.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Fryed Meate (Pancakes) in Haste for the Second Course (The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, 1682)

A Fryed Meate in Haste for the Second Course

A Fryed Meate (Pancakes) in Haste for the Second Course (The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, 1682) Take a pint of curds made tender of morning milk, pressed clean from the Whey, put to them one handful of flour, six eggs, casting away three whites, a little rosewater, sack, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, salt, and two pippins minced small, beat this all together into a thick batter, so that it may not run abroad; if you want wherewith to temper it add cream; when they are fried fryed, scrape on sugar and send them up; if this curd be made with sack, as it may as well as with rennet, you may make a pudding with the whey thereof.

1 cup creamed cottage cheese drained and slightly pressed
1 large, tart cooking apple
3 egg yolks
1 egg white
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. white wine
1 tsp. rosewater
1/8 tsp. each salt, nutmeg, cinnamon
¼ cup flour
Butter to fry in
Additional sugar to sprinkle on

Drain the liquid from the cheese and press it through a sieve, quarter, core, and peel the apple, then mince or grate it through the large holes of a grater. Beat together all the ingredients except the butter into a thick batter.

Heat a large skillet or griddle until a drop of water sizzles when dropped on it, and then melt the butter on it. Drop spoonful's of the batter onto the griddle, forming oval shaped pancakes about four inches long. Cook over medium heat until brown on the underside, then turn the pancakes carefully – they break easily—and brown the other side.

As they are baked, transfer the pancakes to a warmed serving dish to keep warm. Sprinkle brown sugar over them and then serve immediately.

Chawatteys (Harlieian MS 279, c. 1430)

Chawatteys (Harlieian MS 279, c. 1430)

Chawatteys (Harlieian MS 279, c. 1430) Take buttys of Vele, and mynce hem smal, or Porke, and put on a potte; take Wyne, and caste + er-to pouder of Gyngere, Pepir, and Safroun, and Salt, and a lytel verjus, and do hem in a cofyn with yolks of Eyroun, and kutte Datys and Roysonys of Coraunce, Clowys, Maces, and + en ceuere + in cofyn, and lat it bake tyl it be y-now.

3 cups chopped pork or veal (about 18 oz)
3/4 c red wine
5 threads saffron
3/4 t ginger
3/4 t pepper
3/4 t salt
1 t wine vinegar
9 egg yolks
3/8 c dates
3/8 c currants
1/4 t cloves
1/2 t mace
double 9" pie crust

Cut the meat up fine (1/2" cubes or so). Simmer it in a cup and a half of water for about 20 minutes. Make pie crust, fill with meat, chopped dates and currents. Mix spices, wine, vinegar and egg yolks and pour over. Put on a top crust. Bake in a 350deg. oven for 50 minutes, then 400deg. for 20 minutes or until the crust looks done.

Funges (The Forme of Cury, c. 1390)


(The Forme of Cury, c. 1390) - Take Funges and pare hem clere and dyce hem. take leke and shred him smal and do him to seeþ in gode broth color yt wȝt safron and do þer inne pouder fort and serve hit forth.

1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 leek, finely sliced
1 tsp. Powder Fort
1 pinch saffron

Combine vegetable broth and saffron in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add mushrooms and leeks to broth, cook until tender. Stir in powder fort before serving.

Recipe by Felice Debbage

To Stew Shrimps being taken out of their shells (The Accomplisht Cook, c. 1660)

To Stew Shrimps being taken out of their shells
To Stew Shrimps being taken out of their shells (The Accomplisht Cook, c. 1660) (To stew Cockles being taken out of the shells.)

Wash them well with vinegar, broil or broth them before you take them out of the shells, then put them in a dish with a little claret, vinegar, a handful of capers, mace, pepper, a little grated bread, minced tyme, salt, and the yolks of two or three hard eggs minced, stew all together till you think them enough; then put in a good piece of butter, shake them well together, heat the dish, rub it with a clove of garlick, and put two or three toasts of white bread in the bottom, laying the meat on them. Craw-fish, prawns, or shrimps, are excellent good the same way being taken out of their shells, and make variety of garnish with the shells.

2 pounds of shrimp
¼ cup white wine
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tbsp. bread crumbs
2-3 egg yolks
¼ cup butter
1 tbsp. capers
¼ tsp. mace
1-2 cloves garlic minced

Place all ingredients into a pot and stew until shrimps are cooked.

This is a very simple recipe that is absolutely delicious and very pretty to look at. Pictured here the shrimp is sitting on a toasted round. It reminds me a little bit of shrimp scampi. I used raw peel and eat shrimp to make this dish.  You might if you are planning on cooking for a crowd use shrimp that has already been removed from it's shell.  It was very well received at Curia as well as with the taste testers. I would definately serve this again.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gammon of Bacon (A Book of Cookrye, 1591)

Gammon of Bacon (A Book of Cookrye, 1591) – Ham and Bacon -To bake a gammon of Bacon. Take your Bacon and boyle it, and stuffe it with Parcely and Sage, and yolks of hard Egges, and when it is boyled, stuffe it and let it boyle againe, season it with Pepper, cloves and mace, whole cloves stick fast in, so then lay it in your paste with salt butter.

-Recipe Courtesy of Dan Meyers

2 lbs. bacon, unsliced <--I used Ham
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
6 egg yolks, hard boiled
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. mace
1 pie crust

Remove skin from bacon and discard. Place the bacon in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Cover, bring to a boil, and cook for 30 minutes. Put parsley, sage, egg yolks, and spices into a bowl and mix well. Remove bacon from pot, cut open, and stuff with mixture. Wrap in pastry and bake at 350°F until done - about 1 hour.

This is a delicious savory tidbit that would make a lovely hand pie to serve at events. It tastes like a holiday in a pie crust. Please note that I used thin slices of ham that I stuffed with the stuffing and rolled into "olives" cutting them so that they fit into the pie.  

Savoury Tostyde (The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt, Opened (1669)

Savoury Tostyde With Toast and slices of Ham
Savoury Tostyde (The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt, Opened (1669) 
– Recipe Courtesy of David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook

Cut pieces of quick, fat, rich, well tasted cheese, (as the best of Brye, Cheshire, &c. or sharp thick Cream-Cheese) into a dish of thick beaten melted Butter, that hath served for Sparages or the like, or pease, or other boiled Sallet, or ragout of meat, or gravy of Mutton: and, if you will, Chop some of the Asparages among it, or slices of Gambon of Bacon, or fresh-collops, or Onions, or Sibboulets, or Anchovis, and set all this to melt upon a Chafing-dish of Coals, and stir all well together, to Incorporate them; and when all is of an equal consistence, strew some gross White-Pepper on it, and eat it with tosts or crusts of White-bread. You may scorch it at the top with a hot Fire-Shovel.

1/2 lb butter
1/2 lb cream cheese
1/8 lb Brie or other strongly flavored cheese
1/4 t white pepper

Melt the butter. Cut up the cheese and stir it into the butter over low heat. You will probably want to use a whisk to blend the two together and keep the sauce from separating (which it is very much inclined to do). When you have a uniform, creamy sauce you are done. You may serve it over asparagus or other vegetables, or over toast; if you want to brown the top, put it under the broiling unit in your stove for a minute or so. Experiment with some of the variations suggested in the original.

This dish has affectionately been labeled "crack cheese"--yes it is good and addicting.  As you can see from the picture, as the cheese cools it starts to harden. This does not affect the flavor, so much as the texture.  I have to confess I would eat this off of a old boot even if it was cold...ok...maybe not a boot but when I taste tested this, the bowl was licked clean ~glances at the child~ but I am not naming names. It is absolutely delicious, easy to make and easily made ahead of time and then reheated.  Note all of the variations you can use to serve it--plain, asparagus, bacon, chunks of meat, onions, anchovies or bread. I personally would serve this in a bread bowl, and then fill the remainder of the platter with goodies to dip into it.  This is the starter dish for the next "white flag feast" I do.  

Compost (The Forme of Cury, c. 1390)

A beautiful dish of Compost--a variety of pickled vegetables

(The Forme of Cury, c. 1390) Take rote of parsel. pasternak of rasenns. scrape hem waisthe hem clene. take rapes & caboches ypared and icorne. take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire. cast all þise þerinne. whan þey buth boiled cast þerto peeres & parboile hem wel. take þise thynges up & lat it kele on a fair cloth, do þerto salt whan it is colde in a vessel take vineger & powdour & safroun & do þerto. & lat alle þise thinges lye þerin al nyzt oþer al day, take wyne greke and hony clarified togider lumbarde mustard & raisouns corance al hool. & grynde powdour of canel powdour douce. & aneys hole. & fenell seed. take alle þise thynges & cast togyder in a pot of erthe. and take þerof whan þou wilt & serue forth.

-Recipe Courtesy of Daniel Myers

3 parsley roots
3 parsnips
3 carrots
10 radishes
2 turnips
1 small cabbage
1 pear
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pinch saffron, ground
1 cup greek wine (sweet Marsala) <--I used white wine
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp. mustard <--I used a sweet and spicy mustard purchased at the local farmers market
1/2 cup currants (zante raisins)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Powder Douce
1 tsp. anise seed
1 tsp. fennel seed

Peel vegetables and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Parboil them until just tender, adding pears about halfway through cooking time. Remove from water, place on towel, sprinkle with salt, and allow to cool. Then put vegetables in large bowl and add pepper, saffron, and vinegar. Refrigerate for several hours. Then put wine and honey into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then simmer for several minutes, removing any scum that forms on the surface. Let cool and add currants and remaining spices. Mix well and pour over vegetables. Serve cold.

Egges yn Brewte - Poached eggs with Cheese- Gentyll Manly Cokere, MS Pepys 1047, C. 1490

Egges yn Brewte 

This is another recipe from Curia Regis brunch. It is a beautifully simple, perfectly period recipe for poached eggs served with a surprisingly simple pan sauce of milk, flavored with saffron, pepper and ginger and then topped with cheese.

Egges yn Brewte (Gentyll Manly Cokere, MS Pepys 1047, c. 1490) Take water and seethe it. In the same water break your eggs and cast therein ginger, pepper and saffron, then temper it up with sweet milk and boil it. And then carve cheese and caste thereto small cut. And when it is enough serve it forth.

Eggs in broth
- Take water and boil it. In the same water break your eggs and caste therein ginger, pepper and saffron, then temper it up with sweet milk and boil it. And then carve cheese and caste thereto small cut. And when it is enough serve forth.


1/4 cup of milk per egg
1/8 tsp. ginger and pepper
1-2 threads of saffron or to taste

I used Butterkäse cheese for this recipe.  If you have not tried this cheese, please take time to do so.  It is delicious, creamy, buttery, sweet, slightly salty and mild in flavor with just a touch of acidity.  It  was a perfect accompaniment to the eggs.

Poaching eggs can be tricky.  The method I use is explained in a previous post .Cj. Eyron en poche. I do diverge from Pepy's instructions. Using this method I discovered made it impossible for me to achieve the "pan gravy" I wanted for the eggs, so I simmered the milk with the spices in a separate pan, cooked the eggs till they had set and then gently placed them in the warm milk, cutting a few slices of the cheese on top.  When the cheese had melted I served it to the taste testers on toast.

Why isn't there toast in the picture? Soggy toast is a very sad thing to see and I was unable to take a picture with the eggs sitting prettily on the toast.  Eventually I gave up and just placed the eggs on the dish by themselves.

This dish received rave reviews from taste testers and brunch participants alike.  It would be a lovely dish to serve to a small crowd or on a special occasion if you wish to follow the directions as given by Pepys.  For large crowd I would recommend oven baking the dish.  

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rose Conserve - The Queen-like Closet (1675)

Old Fashioned Rose Petal Jam

Conserve? Jam? Jelly? Marmalade? Cake? Paste? Compote? Butters? Curds? What are they? Before electricity and the advent of modern day refridgeration and freezing food preservation was an art. It still is, don't get me wrong, but think about it. Living seasonally has made me much more aware of how necessary it was to carefully preserve summer and fall bounties to make it through the leaner winters and springs. I can't go into my garden and pick a quart of fresh strawberries in winter, but I might be able to go into my cellar and bring up cabbages, turnips, apples or a winter squash. Our ancestors were geniuses! They had to be. Many of us would be lost if we had to survive without electricity or refridgeration for more then a few days. they lived their lifetimes without it.
Sugaring is a method of food preservation, along with smoking, salting, drying and pickling. I have become fascinated with the way sugar was employed in the diet of our ancestors. It was thought to be a medicine so I can't help but thing that the copious amounts that were used in cooking was medicinal as well as functional for flavor. It's a fascinating part of food history with a wide variety of methods employed to create the final product. The Food History Timeline offers this quote to support the long history of preserving food with honey or sugar: 

"The earliest kind of jam making...dates back to pre-Roman times, when fruit pulp was mixed with honey and spices and dried in the sun. In the first century AD, Greeks made a preserve, using their abundant crops of quinces, by stuffing pieces of peeled and pipped raw fruit tightly into jars filled with honey. After a year the fruit became soft as wine-honey'. This Greek quince preserve was called melomeli' (apple: melo, in honey: meli). The Romans later reversed the words into melimela' and improved the preserve by cooking the fruit in the honey with pepper and spices and sealing the jars to make them airtight. Quinces had a high pectin content so that when cooked, preserves made with them would have had a very solid texture. Pectin is a vital ingredient for successful jelly and jam making... By the 17th century...cane sugar was more readily available, and preserving fruit with sugar became an affordable option. Recipes that previously used honey were easily adapted...The English had their own particular version that included pieces of warden pear, but seemed to prefer the Portuguese quince preserve. Using their sugar from India and their abundance of quinces, the Portuguese had developed their own specialty, which they called marmelada' (like the Roman melimela')...As early as the sixteenth century, little chests of marmelada were included in the cargoes of Portuguese merchant ships arriving in English ports. Gradually the same process was applied to other fruits, which then came to be known as a marmalade' of pears, damsons, or plums..." ---Pickled, Potted and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World, Sue Shepard, chapter on sugar (p. 163-174)
The main differences when discussing the different ways to preserve with sugar are the methods used to incorporate the sugar, the kind of fruit used, the size of the fruit, the addition of additional ingredients (booze, spices, nuts, additional fruit) and the proportion of sugar to fruit. Some of the methods we will discuss today were used in period, others (such as fruit curds) would not have been available. 

Preserve is a "catch all" word but when referring to sugaring as a method of preservation, fruit preserves are whole or pieces of fruit suspended in a jelly or a syrup.  Preserves may or may not include additional spices, alcohol, acids or pectin. A great example of a period fruit preserve is .x. Wardonys in syryp which creates pears that have preserved in a syrup flavored with red wine, sugar, vinegar, ginger and saffron. 

What is a conserve? Conserves are a jam which is made up of fruit, or in this case flower petals, mixed with sugar and sometimes other things such as nuts or spices. They can be referred to as "posh jams" and have a consistency that is softer then jam and very spreadable.

If a conserve is a jam, what is a jam? Great question! Jam's consist of a fruit (or flower petal) that has been chopped, crushed, mashed into small pieces and cooked with sugar until it gels. Sometimes additional pectin or an acid of some kind is added to the jam.

Jellies are a mixture of fruit (or petals) and sugar which has been cooked then strained so that the juice becomes the primary ingredient. By definition jellies should be clear without added fruit or spices.

Marmalades are specifically any citrus fruit that has been chopped and then preserved with sugar. The fruit is peeled and the peeled is cooked for a long, slow period of time to soften it before the sugar is added. Ideally a marmalade will be between the consistency of jam and jelly and consist of peices of the peel suspended in a clear jelly. The word marmalade dates back to the Greek melimēlon, which refers to quince stored in honey. My interpretation of Hannah Wooley's orange marmalade can be found here: The Queen-like Closet (1675) - LXXXVI. To make the best Orange Marmalade. - Orange Marmalade. Another more time consuming example of a marmalade is Sir Hugh Platt's To preserve Oranges, after the Portugal fashion which creates an orange marmalade inside of a whole preserved orange peel. 

A "cake" consists of fruit and sugar that has been cooked, pureed and then dried and I believe is the grandfather of our modern day gummy candies or fruit rollups dependant upon how thick you make your sheets and how long you allow them to dry. A good example of this kind of recipe is my interpretation of  Hannah Wooley's dried peaches.

Fruit pastes consists of fruit and sugar, sometimes spices that have been cooked over low heat for a very long period of time until they become concentrated in their flavors. They are then spread onto a tray or a sheet similar to the method you would use for the "cakes" and then dried in an oven. I recently published my interpretation of Sir Hugh Platt's To Make Quidinia of Quinces (Delights for Ladies, Sir Hugh Platt, 1600) which makes a beautiful fruit paste of quince.

Compotes may contain fresh or dried fruit, whole or in pieces and other ingredients that have been cooked in a sugar syrup that may be fortified with liquor or spices and cooked slowly to allow the fruit to keep it's shape. While conserves or jams may be saved for later, compotes are most normally used right away. If that were not confusing enough a coulis is basically a compote that has been pureed to a smooth consistency.

Fruit butters are cooked fruit which has been pureed until smooth and then added to sugar and heated gently until the fruit darkens. They are not cooked until they jelly, but rely on the high pectin content of the fruit to create thickness. They have a much lower sugar content then jams, conserves or jellies. According to the FDA, fruit butter can only be made and labeled such from eight fruits; apples, apricots, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, and quince.

Curds are a mixture of fruit, sugar, butter and eggs that have been cooked together to form a smooth creamy spread that *must be refridgerated* in order to keep. 

The queen-like closet; or, Rich cabinet stored with all manner of rare receipts for preserving, candying & cookery. Very pleasant and beneficial to all ingenious persons of the female sex. By Hannah Wolley offers this fascinating recipe for a conserve of roses that I had to try. I find it delicious but it is one of those things that you will either like or not like. I like to serve mine over ice cream or on bread. The most common rose used was the apothocary rose, or Rosa gallica officinalis, prized for its scent. This rose is believed to have originated in Persia and legend has it that the rose received it's color from a nightingale who so loved the white rose that it grasped it tightly, the thorn piercing the nightingale and that it was the nightingales blood that turned the white rose red. Thus the rose also became known as the Dasmask rose. Whatever it's origins, it is known that the rose was brought to England with the return of the crusade knights sometime in the 12th or 13th century. 

LXXXVIII. To make Conserve of red Roses. 

Take their Buds and clip off the Whites, then take three times their weight in sugar double refin'd; beat the Roses well in a Mor∣tar, then put in the sugar by little & little, and when you find it well incorporated, put it into Gally Pots, and cover it with sugar, and so it will keep seven years.


1 part very fragrant rose petals
3 parts sugar

Fortunately for us we do not need to use a mortar. Do be sure to clean your roses very well. I usually pick mine in the morning, wash them very quickly with water and remove the petals and then store them in the refridgerator overnight. I do this to humanely kill any pests that chose to cling to the petals. Sorry guys :-( The next day I gently rinse them again and dry them on a towel, clip off the bitter white end of the petal and then place it and the sugar into my blender and blend until well blended. At this point I put it into jelly jars and store in my fridge.

While I would have LOVED to have shown you a picture of this, I only had enough conserve to make 2 pint jars both of which have been consumed. So you get a *bonus* recipe--Rose petal jam. For those who you didn't know, my rose bushes were very hard hit a few years ago in winter and many of them died. I am slowly replacing them, but my rose yields are still somewhat small. Early in the year I had enough roses to make the conserve. However, in the second blooming I had enough petals to make rose petal jam, something I intend to give away as a gift this year along with violet syrup.

Old Fashioned Rose Petal Jam                                                                      Makes about 3 pints

1 1/2 cups water (I used bottled)
Approximately 2 cups (more is better) lightly packed fragrant rose petals (alternatively you could use dried petals keeping in mind that 1/3 cup dried is equal to 1 cup fresh just be sure what you use is *food grade*)
2 cups sugar
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pectin (as an alternative you could cook 1 green apple with your rose petals skin, pips and all. The apple should contain enough pectin to make thicken to jelly. I chose the pectin)

Bring roses and water to a simmer in a sauce pan and simmer for about ten minutes. Add 1 3/4 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Do not be disappointed that the color is not what you would want, the brilliant red color will come when you do the next step--it's magic! Add lemon juice and watch the magic happen. Simme for another ten minutes or so. While it is simmering add pectin to remaining sugar and stir to prevent clumping when you add the remaining sugar and pectin to your jam. Do so a spoonful at a time making sure that it is well incorporated before adding the next spoonful. Cook for another 20 minutes or so and then remove it from the stone and put into your jars. It will seem very loose--but do not worry as it cools it will set. This is best used in two months or, go ahead and process through canning for longer term storage.

I hope you enjoy this unusual and tasty treat as much as I do.

Gallipot ~1650

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) -.Cxlij. Vyande Ryalle. - A Royal Dish (incomplete recipe)

My thinking cap! Detail from the Luttrell Psalter British Library add MS 42130
Sometimes in cooking we are presented with a mystery, some portion of the manuscript is missing or has been damaged, and we are given just enough information to begin to interpret a recipe but not enough to complete it.  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 contains several incomplete recipes, Vyande Ryalle, a Royal Dish is one of them.  Some of the text is missing and it makes it difficult to guess what the missing ingredient is in order to complete the dish. This post reveals my attempts at trying to discover what is missing in hopes of being able to  recreate this interesting sounding dish.  I do have an interpretation at the end of this post, but it is there with the caveat that what I have recreated may have no actual resemblance to the dish as originally intended. 

The   Fourme of Curye has a similarly named dish but it bears no resemblance to this dish that I am attempting to recreate.  The closest that I have come to discovering what the missing ingredient is --and I caution this is a guess on my part--is the Brawn Ryal from Wagstoff Miscellaney. It contains most of the instructions for the dish below, and gives further instructions on the various ways to color it. Here is what I uncovered in my researching of this recipe.

Vyande is another spelling of the word viand, viaunde (French) and viandas (Spanish) which originally meant food (animal or vegetable) or dish in the 11th Century, but eventually became specifically associated with meat.  I find an interesting correlation between Vyande Ryalle, meaning a royal meat or a dish and Brawne Ryal.  In the 13th Century, the word Brawne specifically referred to wild boar but by the early 14th Century "brawne" meant any muscular part of the body.

.Cxlij. Vyande Ryalle.—Nyme gode Mylke of Almaundys, & do it in a potte, & sette it ouer þe fyre, & styre it tyl it boyle almost; þen take flour of Rys & of þe selue Mylke, an draw it þorwe a straynoure, & so þer-with a-lye it tylle it be Chargeaunte, & stere it faste þat it crouste noȝt; þen take [gap: ] owte of grece, & caste it þorw a Skymoure, & colour þat Sewe þer-with; þan take Sugre in confyte, & caste in y-now; sesyn it with Salt & ley þre lechys in a dysshe, & caste Aneys in comfyte þer-on, & þanne serue forth.

Cxlij - Vyande Ryalle. Nyme gode Mylke of Almaundys, and do it in a potte, and sette it ouer the fyre, and styre it tyl it boyle almost; then take flour of Rys and of the selue Mylke, an draw it thorwe a straynoure, and so ther-with a-lye it tylle it be Chargeaunte, and stere it faste that it crouste no3t; then take [Gap) owte of grece, and caste it thorw a Skymoure, and colour that Sewe ther-with; than take Sugre in confyte, and caste in y-now; sesyn it with Salt and ley thre lechys in a dysshe, and caste Aneys in comfyte ther-on, and thanne serue forth.

142 - Royal Dish - Take good milk of almonds, and do it in a pot and stir it over the fire, and stir it till it boil almost (simmers); then take flour of rice and of the same (self) milk, and draw it through a strainer, and so there-with mix it till it be thick, and stir it fast that it crusts not; then take (gap) out of grease, and caste it through a skimmer, and color that sauce there-with; then take sugar in comfit, and caste in enough; season it with salt, and lay three slices in a dish, and caste anise in comfit there-on, and then serve forth.

The Middle English Dictionary  was a good location to start to try to discover the missing ingredient in the attempt to recreate this dish. It defines a "Viande (Vyande)" as "Prepared food; a dish, esp. an elaborate dish" also as "specific dishes consisting of ground poultry or fish or fruit boiled in almond milk or wine, thickened and colored yellow". This is interesting because the recipe prior to this in the manuscript is .Cxlj. Noteye, uses hazel leaves (haselle leuys) as a coloring agent for an almond milk and broth based dish which contains ground pork or capon. The instructions clearly indicate that the almond milk and broth are to be thickened with rice flour and seasoned with vinegar, ginger, saffron and salt. Colored with the juice of the hazel leaves, and prior to being served hazel nuts are fried in grease and  placed upon the dish. The instructions also state that the leaves chosen should be young "whyl þat þey ben ȝonge".  I was unsure if hazel leaves were edible but after some time researching discovered that the young leaves are considered a forage food and are edible. 
.Cxlj. Noteye.—Take a gret porcyoun of Haselle leuys, & grynd in a morter as smal as þou may, whyl þat þey ben ȝonge; take þan, & draw vppe a þrift Mylke of Almaundys y-blaunchyd, & temper it with Freysshe broþe; wryng out clene þe Ius of þe leuys; take Fleysshe of Porke or of Capoun, & grynd it smal, & temper it vppe with þe mylke, & caste it in a potte, & þe Ius þer-to,do it ouer þe fyre & late it boyle; take flour of Rys, & a-lye it; take & caste Sugre y-now þer-to, & Vynegre a quantyte, & pouder Gyngere, & Safroun it wel, & Salt; take smal notys, & breke hem; take þe kyrnellys, & make hem whyte, & frye hem vppe in grece; plante þer-with þin mete & serue forth.
The recipe after this is .Cxliii Lampreys in galentyn, another incomplete recipe, but one I was able to successfully locate the missing ingredient for and will be recreating at a later date.  For this dish, lampreys, an eel-like fish, are scalded in hot water and another ingredient, boiled and then served in a sauce made from wine, vinegar, pepper, onions and cinnamon.  It is a good guess that the missing ingredient is either the blood of the lamprey which was thought to provide the fat of the dish, or wine which is missing from the ingredient list, but was a very common to use in cooking fish.

The Wagstaff Miscellany (Beinecke MS 163) ~ 1460 offers a similarly named dish, which may give us a clue as to the missing ingredient for Vyande Ryalle. The first recipe appears to be compilation of several different ways to prepare similar dishes with there different names; Brawn Ryal, Brawn Sypres and Brawn Bruse. It is the first set of instructions that bears the closest resemblance to Vyande Ryalle and it is this set of instructions that leads me to believe that the missing ingredient may be Brawn (pork) or fish offal. It is also my belief that those things which are different in the instructions are additions made over time, but the most basic set of instructions for this dish, with the exception of adding rice flour to thicken it, are there. However, this instructions do indicate that the dish is supposed to be able to be sliced when cold ( ley a cloth on a bord & turne the vessell upsodowne ther on & schake the vessell that hit falle oute cut ther in the lech & serve hit forthe iij or iiij in a dysch). I have colored the matching instructions red and made them bold where they match so that you can see the resemblance.

The second recipe from Wagstaff features a lenten version of Brawn Ryal and gives further instructions to make a spectacle dish. You are instructed to empty out eggshells and then to layer in the brawn ryall, first a layer of white, then yellow, and then white again. The eggshells are to be set into a layer of salt to keep them upright (And yf thu wilt seson hit with the white of eyron breke hem at the grete ende & do out al that ys in the eye wesch the shell drye hem & sett hem on the salt upryght & put ther yn som of the white braune take som of the same braun colourd with safron & medlyd with poudres put ther yn pepenys of the gretnys of a neye yolke & fil hit with [f.66v] the braun that hit stond full when hit ys cold peyl of the shyll set hit in salt as eggez ).

Wagstaff Miscellany (Beinecke MS 163) ~ 1460 [89.] Brawn ryal brawn sypres brawn bruse Take fresh brawn boyle hit in fayre watyr till hit be tendour blanche almondys grynd hem draw hem up with the same broth & a perty of wyn as hote as thu may than make thu milke hote & do thy brawn in a streynour hot & draw hit with the mylke hott do ther to sygure a grete dele venyger set hit on the fyre boyle hit salt hit do hit in a vessel when hit ys cold yf thu nowte have hit out of the vessel with out hote watyr or a ghenst the fyre ley a cloth on a bord & turne the vessell upsodowne ther on & schake the vessell that hit falle oute cut ther in the lech & serve hit forthe iij or iiij in a dysch & strew on poudyr of gynger or paryd gynger [f.66r] mynsyd with anneyce clovys macys & annys in confite yf thu wilt thu may draw som ther of with the same broth & with a perty of wyne with out mylke colourd as bryght as lambur with any colour safr saffron hem when hit ys cold & floresch that othir ther with or els thu mayst cut that othir hit in leches as thu doste that othir & serve hit forth in same maner or thy may turne hit in othir colour yf thu wilt have a grene draw hit with mylke of almonds in to a morter & safron ther with or els put safron when hit ys growndyn muche or lytyll aftur thu wylt make thi colour & colour hit ther with when thu takysthit from the fyre & do ther with as thu dedyst with the todyr and yf thy wile thu may do ther yn poudres or thu may put ther yn a grete quantyte of canell & of gynger & of sawndres to make hit brown & serve hit forthe in the same maner or yf thu wilt thu may take tursele & wesch hit & grynd hit well in wyn that thu sesonyste hit up withe and when hit ys boylyd coloure hit up with bloure sangueyn whethir thu wilt & do ther with as thu dedist with the tothyr or thu may yf thu wilt when thu takyst hit fro the fyre & have al seson hit have brawn sodyn tendyr & when hit ys cold cut hit in leches or dyse hit & cast hit in the pott & stere hit to gedyr & put hit in to that othyr pott vessell when hit ys cold lech hit & do ther with as thu dodyst with that othir & serve hit forth.

Wagstaff Miscellany (Beinecke MS 163) ~ 1460 [90.] Brawn ryall Take the soundes of stokfisch dry & lay hem in watyr iij days & every day change the watyr than take hem up & lay hem on a bord & scharpe hem clene withe the egge of a knyf wesch hem & sethe hem in fayre watyr then take hem up & sethe hem in broth of fresch fysch as of conger til they be tendyr or als in the same watyr and put ther to elys to amend the broth then take blaunch almondys grynd hem with the same broth hote & make up the soundes & grynd hem wyth the same broth & yf thu wilt thu may take som of the elys ther to & temper hem up with the broth hote draw hit as hote as thu may suffyr thy hond ther yn thu mau make hit in al maner as thu makyste brawn of flesch. And yf thu wilt seson hit with the white of eyron breke hem at the grete ende & do out al that ys in the eye wesch the shell drye hem & sett hem on the salt upryght & put ther yn som of the white braune take som of the same braun colourd with safron & medlyd with poudres put ther yn pepenys of the gretnys of a neye yolke & fil hit with [f.66v] the braun that hit stond full when hit ys cold peyl of the shyll set hit in salt as eggez or in crispis and pych hem with clovys a bovyn iiij or v & fill up with blaunch poudyr & serve hem forthe in the stede of egges in he same maner thu may do with brawn in flesch tyme or thu may yf hit somdell of poudyr of gynger & chaunge the colour as thu dedyst braun in flesch tyme.

Unfortunately, I can only take my best guess as to what the missing ingredient is, and will need to conduct further research to try to uncover what is missing.  At the end of this article you will find my best guess interpretation based on the information that I have available.

Two menus in the manuscript feature vyande ryalle in the second course. One is a fast day menu and the other is a meat day menu. Which leads me to believe that the missing ingredient may be saffron as a colorant and or the meat mentioned in Brawn ryal (pork, capon or fish). I find it unlikely that you would fry saffron, without actually seeing the manuscript I have no direction on how big of a gap exists in the text.  The suggestion of saffron is given based on the information from the Middle English Dictionary and the recipe previous to this one which uses the juice of hazel leaves to color a similar sauce.  There is also the suggestion that one component of the dish is thick enough to be sliced (ley thre lechys in a dysshe) because we are instructed to lay three slices in a dish, again, similar to Brawn ryal from Wagstaff.

Conuiuium Flemmynge, Lincolniensis Episcopi.Le .j. cours.

Le .j. cours.
Perrey fyn.} potage.
Rapeye. } potage.
Grete taylys of Milwelle, An lenge.*. [i.e. "Great tails of Milwell and Ling:" see next page, near foot.]
Samoun pollys.
Salt Elys with galentyne.
Gode Pyke an fat.
Grosse tarteȝ.

Le .ij. cours.
Lampreys in galentyne.
Vyand Ryal.
Elys an Lampronys Rostyd.

.iij. cours.
Creme de .ij. colourys.
Samon freysshe.
Breme de Mere.
Purpeys Rostyd.
Goions fryid.

Conuiuium Johannis Stafforde, Episcopi Wellensis in inductu Episcopatus sui, videlicet .xvj.o die Septembris, Anno domini millessimo CCCCmo vicessimo quinto1425 [supplied by ed.] .

Le .j. cours.

Furmenty with venysoun.
Kede Roste.
Capoun de haut Grece.
A leche.[leaf 48.]
Crustade Ryal.
Frutoure Samata.
A soltelte, a docter of lawe.Le .

ij. cours.
Blaunche Mortrewys.
Vyand Ryal.
Chykonys doryd.
Veysoun Rostyd.
A leche.
Pystelade chaud.
Pystelade fryid.
Frytoure damaske.
A sotelte, Egle.Le 

.iij. cours.
Creme Moundy.
Pety Curlewe.
Venysoun Roste.
Oxyn kyn̄.
Herte de Alouse.
Smale byrdys.
Dowcet Ryal.
Petelade Fryid.
Eggys Ryal.
Brawn fryid.
A sotelte, Sent Andrewe.
Vyn dowce.

Similar Recipes

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

.lxlvij. Vyaund ryal. Take wyne qeke other rynysch wyne & hony claryfyed ther with, tak flour of rys, pynes, poudoure ginger, other peper & canel, other flour of canel, poudour of clowes, safroun, safroun, suger cypre, mulleberyes other saundres, & medle alle these to gyder, boyle it and salt hit & loke hit be stondyng & ni. f.

Interpreted Recipe (Caveat --this is a *best guess*)                             Serves 1 as Main, 2 as Side

142 - Royal Dish - Take good milk of almonds, and do it in a pot and stir it over the fire, and stir it till it boil almost (simmers); then take flour of rice and of the same (self) milk, and draw it through a strainer, and so there-with mix it till it be thick, and stir it fast that it crusts not; then take (gap) out of grease, and caste it through a skimmer, and color that sauce there-with; then take sugar in comfit, and cast in enough; season it with salt, and lay three slices in a dish, and cast anise in comfit there-on, and then serve forth.

1 cup almond milk (made from water or broth)
**pinch of saffron (based on information from Wagstaff and the Middle English Dictionary)**
1-2 Tbsp. Rice Flour
**1/4 pound pork(chicken or fish) which has been roasted or fried in grease then sliced**
Red Anise Seed Comfits

Make your almond milk using water, wine or stock as you desire (again this is based on Wagstaff's variations of Brawn Ryall) and bring  to a simmer.  Add rice flour and stir until it reaches your desired thickness.  Meanwhile cook your meat (either roasting it or frying it in grease).  To color your sauce use any of the methods mentioned in Wagstaff (saffron, ginger & cinnamon, sandalwood, turnsole, juice of herbs, etc.). Season with sugar and salt.  If serving cool as suggested by Wagstaff the rice mixture will thicken and if it becomes solid enough, slice it and place it in a dish and then add your meat to it decorating with red anise seed comfits before serving.  If serving warm, place two to three slices of meat in a dish and cover with the rice milk "gravy" decorating with comfits before serving.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

To Make Quidinia of Quinces (Delights for Ladies, Sir Hugh Platt, 1600)

Dry Peaches and Red Quince Paste Served at Curia Regis 9/10/2017
My adventures in making fruit pastes began in late 2014 when I started experimenting with Quince. At the time I was just beginning to find a passion for Medieval confectionary and that has grown as I have branched out to make additional fruit pastes, comfits, and candied fruit and preserve flowers and other assorted "Elizabethan Banqueting" dishes.

I have experimented with making golden quince paste and red quince paste.  I have a confession to make; I don't particularly care for the flavor of quince.  So this particular paste was made with mostly quince, but I did at two apples and two pears to it to up the flavor a little bit.  When I make my fruit pastes I do make them in very large batches and store them in my fridge to give away as gifts or use in feasts throughout the year.  When I was asked to cook for the Curia Regis brunch I knew that one of the items I was going to feature was quince paste.  I had several large sheets that I had previously made. One I cut into a dragon and gilded, letting the kids and their friends enjoy the cut outs from the sheet of paste and it was gone very quickly! The other I cut into squares and served either sugared or plain.  The picture above shows plain paste without additional sugar. 

I was astonished while shopping for this brunch to discover that in my area a quarter pound of any fruit paste is sold by a large grocery chain for $6.00!!  Folks, you don't need to pay that much for it - make your own! But this discovery has prompted me to examine a little bit more closely the probability of setting up a booth at a local farmers market next year for some extra income...shhhh!

Delights for Ladies (Sir Hugh Platt, 1600) 28. To Make Quidinia of Quinces - Take the kernells out of eight great Quinces, and boile them in a quart of spring water, till it come to a pinte, then put into it a quarter of a pinte of Rosewater, and one pound of fine Sugar, and so let it boile till you see it come to bee of a deepe colour: then take a drop, and drop it on the bottome of a sawcer, then let it run through a gelly bagge into a bason, then set it in your bason upon a chafing dish of coles to keep it warm, then take a spoone, and fill your boxes as full as you please, and when they be colde cover them: and if you please to printe it in moldes, you must have moldes made to the bigness of your boxe, and wet your moldes with Rosewater, and so let it run into your mold, and when it is colde turne it off into your boxes. If you wette your moldes with water, your gelly will fall out of them.


2 to 2 1/2 pounds of quinces (I also used apples and pears)
Water to cover the fruit
2-3 cups (or more) of sugar

Wash, peel and core your fruit, wrap the peels and the cores of the fruit into cheesecloth.  You will be adding this to the pan of your fruit because that is where some of the color and pectin will be coming from.  Coarsely chop the fruit and place it and the cheesecloth wrapped discards into the pan and bring to a boil.  Allow the fruit to cook until it is very soft.  Remove the discards and place the fruit into a food processor and puree.  Alternatively you could push it through a fine grained sieve or use a ricer or food mill.  

You do want to make sure that your pulp is strained through a sieve back into the pot to remove any large lumps that might not have been caught.  The finer the pulp the smoother the fruit paste. Add your sugar to your pulp and bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer constantly stirring until the paste becomes very thick. You should be able to make a furrow with your spoon and see the bottom of your pan.  The longer the fruit cooks the redder it gets. 

Pour your paste onto a lightly oiled bit of parchment paper that has been placed into a 9x13" baking dish or a cookie sheet.  You will want something with a bit of a raised side. The thicker your paste the longer it will take to dry.  I usually try to make my paste at 3/4 to an Inch in height.  Traditionally your paste was put in a cupboard to dry but we have ovens that we can use.  Heat your oven to its lowest setting (mine is 175 degree's) and put your paste into it.  Depending on humidity and thickness of your paste and the amount of moisture left in it, drying can take as little as a few hours up to four or five days.  The paste should be dry but sticky to the touch.  You will need to turn it at least once partway through the drying process. 

Store your fruit paste in an air tight container in a cool dry place.  I use my refrigerator and have a drawer dedicated to it.  The longer the paste sits the darker and richer the color becomes.  I have stored the paste for as long as a year and I suspect it could last longer if stored properly.  The Quince Paste pictured above was made in December 2016.  Isn't it beautiful? 

To Dry Peaches - The Queen-like Closet (1675)

Dry Peaches and Red Quince Paste Served at Curia Regis 9/10/2017

Several of the recipes that I have experimented with recently can be found in  The queen-like closet; or, Rich cabinet stored with all manner of rare receipts for preserving, candying & cookery. Very pleasant and beneficial to all ingenious persons of the female sex. By Hannah WolleyThis book was first published in 1670, which is late for the period I most normally cook in. However, I believe that while the publishing date is late for the SCA, the recipes are reflective of cooking of the latter half of our SCA time line and therefore are not outside of the boundaries of SCA cooking.

The author, Hannah Wolley was born in 1623 and was the "Martha Stewart" of her day. By the age of 17 (1640) she was working in a nobles household who recognized that the culinary skills she had learned from her mother (general cooking, confectionary and medicinal remedies) was extraordinary and helped her to develop those skills.  Hannah had many firsts in her long career; the first woman to attempt to make a living from writing, the first to have her name attributed to a cooking book and the first to direct her writings to servants in an attempt to bring to the lower social classes the ability to enjoy the grand style of food enjoyed by the upper classes.  It appears that her writing career began at the age of 38 with the publication of her first book "The Ladies Directory" in 1661 and then her next book "The Cook's Guide" in 1664.  All in all, the Queen-Like closet had five publication dates (1670, 1672, 1681 and 1684) and also enjoyed two editions published in German.

The inspiration for this dish began with the idea of wanting to present two different fruit pastes of contrasting color to those who were present at the Curia Regis brunch.  Before we go further, I have to admit that I used the cook's prerogative to make this dish--instead of leaving the fruit whole, I pureed it and created a fruit paste. I wanted to make a bright yellow candy that would be a counterpoint to the red quince paste that I had made.  I also wanted it to be a different shape. I knew I wanted to make use of summer fruit, either peaches or apricots and to create a bright gold candy. Having already interpreted the recipes for the orange marmalade and the rose conserve from "The Queen-Like Closet ", I took inspiration from the following recipes to create the clear peach jelly pictured above.

CCXV. To dry Apricocks. - Take your fairest Apricocks and stone them, then weigh them, and as you pare them, throw them into cold water, have in readiness their weight in fine sugar, wet it with some of the water they lie in, and boil it to a Candy height, then put in your A∣pricocks, and boil them till they are clear, when they have lain three or four days in the Syrup, lay them out upon Glasses to dry in a stove, and turn them twice a day.

CCI. To dry Apricocks or Pippins to look as clear as Amber. - Take Apricocks and take out the stones, and take Pippins and cut them in halves and core them, let your Apricocks be pared also; lay these Fruits in an earthen dish, and strew them over with fine Sugar, set them into a warm Oven, and as the Liquor comes from them put it away, when all the Liquor is come away turn them and strew them thick with Sugar on every side, set them into the Oven again, and when the Sugar is melted lay them on a dry dish, and set them in again, and every day turn them till they be quite dry. Thus you may dry any sort of Plumbs or Pears as well as the other, and they will look very clear.


1 pound fresh peaches (alternatively you could use 18 ounces dried apricots that you have reconstituted in apple juice or you can use 1 bag of frozen peach slices (this is what I used)) - peeled and sliced 
2 apples peeled, cored and sliced 
1/4 cup sugar

Place your fruit in a pan and add just enough water to cover it and boil it until it is very soft.  Drain the fruit and place it in a blender--give thanks to the Kitchen God's for modern technology and puree.  At this point your fruit should look like baby food.  If you have doubts about how well pureed your fruit is, strain it into a sieve into a pot and then return it to your stove.  Add your sugar, bring to a boil and cook until the puree starts to "stick" to the pan leaving a furrow behind it as you scrape your spoon through it.  

I put a spoonful of the mixture into well-oiled mini muffin tins, but you could just as easily pour the mixture onto a baking sheet and smooth it out.  Place your puree into an oven that has been heated to its lowest setting (mine is 175 degree's) for five or six hours (or more depending on humidity and the amount of moisture left in the fruit) and let it dry.  It should feel dry and slightly sticky to your touch. As an alternative, you could use a food dehydrator but be sure to keep an eye on the paste as it dries.

I plan on bringing fruit pastes and dry "jelly's" with me to camping events.  I am looking forward to creating something similar with plums and pears as well as with apples.  They are a sweet treat, easy to make and store well when made correctly. They are also fabulous edible decorations (I made a dragon out of the red quince paste and gilded it) and the extra "something" that will take your feasts over the top.  They are very inexpensive to make and store extremely well.