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!