Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxxxix. Sardeyneȝ - Sugared and Spiced Nuts

xxxxix. Sardeyneȝ - Sugared and Spiced Nuts

Occasionally you run across a set of instructions that are so vague they  are difficult to interpret.  This is one such recipe.  I must admit I did attempt to locate similar recipes from peers and fellow cooking scholars, but to no avail.  I finally jumped in feet first and created my own interpretation.  If my interpretation is correct it creates something similar to a praline, a spiced and sugared caramalized nut  candy that is D E L I C I O U S!  I am unashamed to admit that I am thoroughly addicted to this interpretation.

This strikes me as unusual because this recipe is found in the "pottage" section of 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 by Thomas Austin, so I would expect a pudding, cereal, broth like consistency.  Something magical happens when you add a large amount of sugar to rice milk (make a gode Mylke of Flowre of Rys + a fayre parte of sugre, & boyle hem wyl) --it becomes a caramel. Since we aren't really told what to do with our almonds--I lightly crushed them and  added them to this mixture and voila! A candy I served at Collegium Feast and hid from the taste testers after initial tasting. 

.xxxxix. Sardeyneȝ.—Take Almaundys, & make a gode Mylke of Flowre of Rys, Safroun, Gyngere; Canelle, Maces, Quybibeȝ; grynd hem smal on a morter, & temper hem vppe with þe Mylke; þan take a fayre vesselle, & a fayre parte of Sugre, & boyle hem wyl, & rynsche þin dysshe alle a-bowte with-ynne with Sugre or oyle, an þan serue forth.

49. Sardeyney - Take almonds, and make a good Milk of Flour of Rice, Saffron, Ginger, Cinnamon, Mace, Cubeb; grind them small on a mortar, and temper them up with the milk; than take a fair vessel, and fair part of sugar, and boil them well, and rinse your dish all about within with sugar or oil, and then serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe

1 c. raw almonds
1 c. rice milk (or any nut milk, in a pinch I used almond milk)
Pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp. pouder douce-sugar, ginger, cinnamon, mace (I have a powder given to me as a gift I used)
1/4 tsp. cubebs finely ground
3/4 c.  sugar

A couple of points before we move forward into the actual interpretation of the recipe. Rice milk is something you can easily make at home.  To make your rice flour simply take a quantity of rice and grind it to flour in your blender.  Add liquid of your choice (just like you would for almond milk), grind some more, strain, and you have rice milk.

There are no specific instructions on how to create pouder douce.  The pouder I am currently using was a gift given to me after I cooked the Curia Brunch.  The instructions I use to make my sweet spice pouder (pouder douce) though, can be found in Le Menagier de Paris (ab 1393):

FINE POWDER of spices. Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

Interpreted into terms we can all understand becomes the following mix:

2 1/2 tbsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. each grains of paradise and cloves
1 1/2 tsp. sugar

Moving forward--we are told to take almonds, then given a set of instructions to make rice milk.  Unusual in that the more common milk used is almond milk in this particular manuscript.  We are told to season the milk with the spice mixture and then given another set of instructions which I believe allude to what we are supposed to do with the almonds, specifically "grynd hem smal on a morter, & temper hem vppe with þe Mylke", then the remainder of the recipe gives us instructions to boil them with sugar and then serve them in a bowl which has had additional sugar or oil added to it.

Here is my interpretation based on my understanding of the instructions.

Take rice milk and season it with your spices, add your sugar and crushed almonds and bring to a boil.  Cook approximately ten minutes and then turn your nut mixture onto a cookie sheet which has been coated with additional sugar.  It will harden almost immediately, break apart as you can and serve.

I made two deviations when I served these at Collegium.  The first is that I used a mix of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, the second is that I kept them as whole as possible when I added them to the spiced rice milk mixture. They were extremely well received and have gone on my list of sweet goodies to make at the end of a meal.

The picture above is of the almonds a bit more ground. I was without rice or rice milk so I used almond milk--equally delicious.