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Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cl. Cawdel out of lente. - Caudel out of Lent

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cl. Cawdel out of lente. - Caudel out of Lent

When I came across this recipe from Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 Thomas Austin I knew I had to try it.  I'm glad I did. The end product is a delicious soft stirred custard that can be drunk or thickened as you desire.  Because it is made with wine, I would almost like to say that this is a very early version of eggnog.  However, food anthropologists/historians will tell you that eggnog's are descended from possets--beverages that are made from milk (in this case almond) that has been curdled through the infusion of an alcoholic beverage (in this case wine).  Caudles, on the other hand are a thick drink made from ale or wine, bread crumbs, eggs, sugar and spices and were usually given to invalids and the elderly. This recipe is unusual in that it contains elements of both possets and caudles, but the name refers to it as a caudle, perhaps, this is a common ancestor of both and my theory that this may be a very early version of eggnog is correct? I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide :-) 

Although we are advised to "euer kepe it as whyte as  þou may" we are also given several options for coloring this dish.  We are advised before serving to "droppe Alkenade þer-on".  Alkenade is one of several agents used for coloring food in period.  We know that our medieval ancestors were not afraid of coloring their food.  Colors ranged from black, to gold, pink, roses, oranges, greens and blues.  I cannot imagine the modern diner would approve of sitting down to a dish of blue (or purple) chicken or fish.  An example of a well known blue/purple dish is below.  
Sapor celeste de estate. 
Piglia de li moroni salvatiche che nascono in le fratte, et un poche
de amandole ben piste, con un pocho di zenzevero. Et queste
cose distemperarai con agresto et passarale per la stamegnia. - Maestro Martino: Libro de arte coquinaria (~1450-1467)
 Sky Blue Sauce (or Heavenly Sauce) for Summer
Take some of the wild blackberries that grow in hedgerows and some thoroughly pounded almonds, with a little ginger. And moisten these things with verjuice and strain through a sieve. -  The Medieval KitchenRecipes from France and Italy
by Odile Redon, Françoise Sabban, & Silvano Serventi
I cannot imagine anyone would be upset being served roasted chicken that had been coated with that sauce, which is actually a lovely purple but could be rendered sky blue with a little bit of kitchen chemistry and magic! The magical blue/purple color is not limited to berries. Turnsole is also another source for blue not only in cooking but in illuminated manuscripts as well. Flowers such as columbine and cornflower can also be used.  Even semi precious stones, such as azure, also known as lapis lazuli were used.

Alkanet, also known as Dyer's Alkanet, Dyer's Bugloss, Spanish Bugloss or Wilde Bugloss. Officially it is known as "Alkanna Tinctoria" the roots of which are used to produce a ruby red dye. Other sources of red include roses, sandalwood, galingale, barberries (red corrants) and pomegranate juice. 

Green was a very popular color for food and multiple sources were used to produce it.  Green was produced by obtaining the juice of herbs such as parsley or sage, or it could be produced by using vegetables such as spinach.  Toxic substances, such as verdigris, a copper salt were used to create inks. 

An Emeralde Greene.

Take Verdigrece, Litarge, Quicksilver brayed to powder, and ground with the pisse of a young childe.  --The Widdowes Treasure - Dyes and Ipocras

The most popular color to ting your food was yellow. Saffron is used in many of the dishes in the the Harleian MS 279, along with sandalwood.  In additon to saffron, egg yolks were also used to add a soft golden color to food.  Even precious gold found it's way to the medieval table.  

Browns and Blacks were not forgotten.  Cooks were instructed to burn toast, or add blood to create rich browns and blacks to color food. Spices such as cinnamon or ginger were also used. Cloves could also be soaked or burnt, but I imagine that would add quite a strong taste to a dish.  

.Cl. Cawdel out of lente.—Take & make a gode mylke of Almaundys y-draw vppe with wyne of Red, whyte is beterre; ȝif it schal be whyte, þan strayne ȝolkys of Eyroun þer-to a fewe. Put þer-to Sugre & Salt, but Sugre y-now; þen when it begynnyth to boyle, sette it out, & almost flatte; serue it then forth, & euer kepe it as whyte as þou may, & at þe dressoure droppe Alkenade þer-on, & serue forth; & ȝif þou wylt haue hym chargeaunt, bynd hym vppe with fflour of [supplied by ed.] Rys, oþer with whetyn floure, it is no fors. And ȝif þou wolt, coloure hym with Safroun, & straw on pouder y-now, & Sugre y-now, & serue forth.

Cl - Cawdel out of lente. Take and make a gode mylke of Almaundys y-draw vppe with wyne of Red, whyte is beterre; 3if it schal be whyte, than strayne 3olkys of Eyroun ther-to a fewe. Put [correction; sic = MS. but.] ther-to Sugre and Salt, but Sugre y-now; then when it begynnyth to boyle, sette it out, and almost flatte; serue it then forth, and euer kepe it as whyte as thou may, and at the dressoure droppe Alkenade ther-on, and serue forth; and 3if thou wylt haue hym chargeaunt, bynd hym vppe with fflour of Rys, other with whetyn floure, it is no fors. And 3if thou wolt, coloure hym with Safroun, and straw on pouder y-now, and Sugre y-now, and serue forth [correction; sic = f].

150 - Cawdel out of Lent - Take and make a good milk of almonds, drawn up with wine of red, white is better; if it shall be white, then strain yolks of eggs thereto a few.  Put there-to sugar and salt, but sugar enough; then when it begins to boil set it out and almost flat; serve it then forth and ever keep it as white as you may, and at the serving drop alkanet (a ruby red dye made from the root of the alkanet plant)  there-on, and serve forth; and if thou wilt have him thick, bind him up with flour of rice, other with wheat flour, it is no effort (fors - Middle English Dictionary - fō̆rce (n.) Also fors9.
(a) An effort, endeavor, exertion). And if you will, color him with saffron and strew on pouder enough, and sugar enough, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                          Serves 1 as Main, 2 if you are feeling friendly!

1 cup almond milk (I made mine using 1/4th cup almond flour, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup white wine)
2 egg yolks
1-2 tbsp. sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp. salt
Blaunche Powder to decorate (3 parts sugar to 1 part ginger)

You could use commercial almond milk for this recipe, but I usually make the quick almond milk. Bring to a simmer and add egg yolks, sugar and salt, or, heat over a double broiler as if you were making a custard.  Stir constantly until the mixture thickens.  Before serving you could add a bit of red food coloring, and marble it, or, sprinkle with blaunche powder.

The taste testers and I really enjoyed this dish and I must confess...I have made it several times since as a bedtime snack.  There is something very comforting about it. I prefer mine slightly hot, but suspect that it would be equally delicious room temperature or ~gasps~ cold.  I am curious to see if it would separate like a posset.

Like any custard this dish requires a bit of babysitting, which might make it impractical for a large feast or event, unless perhaps prepared in batches ahead of time.  However, It would be delicious as a camp side treat, or even a royalty luncheon.  I could imagine it served alongside some stewed or fresh fruit as well.


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