Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Research Sources & Inspiration

Learning a new culture requires a ton of reading and research in order to try to "get it right".  Following is a list of some of the resources that I used to research and put together the banquet and a brief essay on the inspiration for the meal that will be served and some take-aways from the copious amount of research that went into the creation of this meal.

Research Sources

Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan By Eric Rath

The Tastiest Dish in Edo: Print, Performance and Culinary Entertainment in Early-Modern Japan By Eric Rath

Japanese Foodways Past and Present Edited by Eric Rath and Stephanie Asmann

Early Modern Japan- Banquets Against Boredom: Towards Understanding (Samurai) Cuisine in Early Modern Japan by Eric Rath

A Peek at the Meals of the People of the Edo; Tracing the Diet of Edo--the Establishment of Japan's Culinary Culture Part One by Nobuo Harada

Ryōri Monogatari - A partial translation of one of Japan's earliest cookbooks. Joshua L. Badgley


The meal that will be served at feast is a creative interpretation of a menu that was served to Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu when he visited the Shimazu daimyo house in Edo. Preceding the meal was the shikisankon, or, “three formal rounds of drinks, a formal ceremony that usually took place in a private room between the host and a guest drinking sake from the same shallow bowl. According to Eric Rath, "This formal exchange of drinks between lord and vassal signified their personal bond, and the same ceremony was used for weddings (Banquets against Boredom)." A total of nine cups of sake (or more) would have been drunk prior to the meal!

After the shikisankon, a banquet followed in a style that originated in the 14th century.  Service consisted of three trays with a proscribed number of dishes, 7, 5, 3, soup, pickles and on the first tray chopsticks. This style of dining is referred to as honzen ryōri or "main tray cuisine". Each tray contained at least one soup (shiru) and the side dishes (sai), pickles and rice were normally only found on the first tray, but will be interspersed through out the feast that will be served for the event in order to showcase the variety of foods that would have been found in this period.

Iemetsu's Banquet that he enjoyed in 1630 contained the following items:

Main Tray 

Grilled salt-cured fish (shiobiki)
Fish-paste cake (kamaboko)
Fish salad (aemaze)
Hot water over rice (yuzuke)
Fish flavored in sake (sakabite)
Fermented intestines of sea cucumber (konowata)
Salt for flavoring (teshio)

The yuzuke which was served is believed to have originated when Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358–1408) became drunk at a party and poured hot water over his rice in the Muromachi period.  This dish will be featured in the second course of my banquet.

Another Muromachi period dish that will be served is the aemaze, a raw fish salad, which consisted of raw fish or other seafood marinated in a sake based dressing with vegetables. Aemaze is the predecessor of namasu, or dishes of raw sliced fish and vegetables that preceded what is commonly referred to as sashimi today.

O-zoni, which was not mentioned specifically in the menu for Iemetsu, is another dish commonly found during this period and was served in the main (or first) course to welcome guests. It consisted mainly of fish paste cakes (kamaboko), and rice cakes, vegetables and dried foods.  The origin of this dish is believed to have been in field battles. It was a dish for Samurai that eventually became a dish for everyone.

The most symbolic dish that will be served in the first course is an interpretation of "Crane Soup". It was a dish served only to the elite among Samurai.  Cranes in legend were believed to live for thousands of year, except when they were killed.  It was served to Ieyasu in 1582 by warlord Oda Nobunaga.

Second Tray

Dried salted mullet roe (karasumi)
“Gathered soup” (oshiru atsume)
Servings of mollusks (kaimori)
Rolled squid
Dried codfish
Swan soup

The second tray consisted of two soups, a gathered soup and swan soup.  According to Eric Rath, the "servings of mollusks" most likely served as a decorative element. In lieu of dried salted mullet, jelly fish, rolled squid and dried cod, the diners of the feast that I will be serving will be eating a selection of shimofuri (lightly steamed fish) served with irizake and a dish of shrimps.  Clam soup takes the place of the swan soup. Here you will find yuzuke, a dish of rice, hot water and toppings consisting of umeboshi, black and white sesame seeds, bonito flakes and nori as the'gathered items'.

Oshiru atsume contained many exotic ingredients, for example  dried sea cucumber intestines (iriko), skewered abalone or wheat gluten. The instructions for this soup are found in the Ryōri Monogatari:

Atsume jiru あつめ汁 (Gathered Broth) - It is good to add  dashi to nakamiso.  Alternatively use a suimono. It is good to put in such things as daikon, gobo, tofu, bamboo shoots, skewered abalone, dried fugu, iriko, and tsumi'ire. There are various others.
Third Tray 

Fowl served with its wings (hamori)
Carp soup
Turbo (sazae)
[Spiny lobster] served in a boat shape (funamori)
“Cloud hermit”  (unzen) soup

The third tray contains two presentation or spectacle dishes--they were to be looked at and not eaten, and were designed so that the chef's skills could be admired; hamori and funamori. These dishes would have been decorated with paper when they were served.  Here I diverged significantly from the meal Iemetsu enjoyed.  Ginger pork and braised pork belly served with mushroom soup, simmered pumpkin and grilled eggplant as an homage to autumn.

Although the eating of pork was shunned during the Kamakura period, it saw a resurgence during the Sengoku period (15th-16th centuries). Pigs were considered a valuable food source, and often, herds of pigs would accompany troops in the field.  Satsuma warriors reputations were directly linked to their consumption of pork. Pork could be consumed in the Edo period "for health reasons", as it was believed to make you strong and give you stamina.

The banquet that was served to Iemetsu ended with a tray of sweets, special cakes made from mochi which had been pounded into a paste and then frozen called Ice rice-cakes (kōri mochi), tangerines, and persimmons on a branch. To emulate the the dish that he was served, I will be serving anmitsu, translucent agar-agar jelly, topped with green tea and jasmine ice cream (18th century invention), mochi, red bean paste with sugar syrup and slices of fresh fruit, tangerines and persimmons if available, strawberries and peaches if not. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Symbolism in the Feast - The Power of Five

Note: Four is an unlucky number-   it is generally avoided because the word for four is shi (四/し)  closely resembles the word for death shi (死/し)--avoid serving in groups of 4-only serve 1, 2, 3.

Note: Fourth Course* (sweets) will be referred to as what it is "Anmitsu" --traditionally sweets are not served as a separate course but eaten with tea or served as part of the meal.

The Power of Five
- The number five is considered important in Japanese culture, and this extends to its food traditions as well. They form the basis of concepts that have been in place for centuries.

Five Colors - The prevalence of the five colors – white, black, red, green and yellow – has been a tradition since Buddhism arrived from China in the 6th century.

White 白 shiro - includes rice, tofu and soy milk, mild-flavored, delicate white-fleshed fish (shiromi-zakana) and “white meat” pork. White is the traditional color of mourning. It also represents purity and truth.

Black 黒 kuro - includes very dark foods such as nori laver, eggplant skins, shiitake mushrooms, and black sesame seeds. Black is symbolic of the night, unknown, mystery or anger. It also represents masculinity, knowledge and prosperity.

Red 赤 aka - includes fruits, vegetables, meat and some dried beans. Red is symbolic of blood, self sacrifice and passion. During the Japanese civil wars (1467-1568), red was loved by the samurai and worn as a symbol of strength and power in battle.

Green 青 ao - The word for blue, 青 (ao), actually refers to both blue and green. The word for green came into usage during the Heian period (794 – 1185). This category includes leafy vegetables and herbs and oily fish (mackerel, smelt, sardines). The color green is symbolic of energy, eternity, vitality, growth and fertility.

Yellow 黄 ki - includes fruits, vegetables and eggs. It is symbolic of courage, nobility, beauty and cheerfulness.

The Five Tastes

Salt (鹹 kan)
Sweet (甘 kan)
Sour (酸 san)
Bitter (苦 ku)
Spicy (辛 shin)

Umami (うま味) --Umami comes from the Japanese word umai - meaning delicious & savory-literally translates to "delicious"

Five Ways to Prepare Food - raw (aemaze, water chestnuts) simmered (o-zoni, kabocha), fried (smelt), steamed (fish) and roasted or grilled (fish, possibly eggplant).


*Corrected--removed "remove" and replaced with "course".

For more information please see the following: Serve it Forth: A Periodical Column of Historical Cooks-"Of Course its "Course" or Remove 'Remove'" By Elise Fleming.  You will see it on the left side of the page.

If you have not visited "Serve it Forth" please do--it is a wealth of information for anyone interested in historic cooking. 

Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 Feast Symbolism - Marimo Balls


Marimo balls will be part of the table decorations at feast.  With Luck, the tables will have a zen garden, with a light feature containing a netted candle holder that will resemble a Japanese float, a flameless candle, and as a water feature, a small aquarium containing marimo balls. 

Marimo Balls - Marimo balls symbolize love, luck and prosperity. The story begins as a tale of star-crossed lovers, Senato, the daughter of the Ainu Tribal Chief and her lover Manibe, a commoner.

Senato, daughter of the chieftain of the Ainu tribe, had long wavy black hair down to her shoulders and was tall and strong. She was the jewel of the Ainu tribe. Beautiful as she was she wouldn't have her days sitting around so she went out foraging with the tribal women. She went to fish for salmon one day with a small group of women, when out of nowhere a herd of galloping deer crash into the waters scaring away all the fish and splashing the women.

The deer were frightened at the sight of the ladies and had turned around on themselves stumbling about as the men riding horses galloped in behind them. The men all with shoulder length dark colored hair, musky growly beards, and dressed in elk skins were wielding strong bows. They shot forceful arrows at the deer and with swift clanks the six deer dropped to the ground.

The princess Senato looked up from her now empty fish basket at the gloating men and her eyes meet with the soft somber eyes of Manibe the only man without glee on his face. The men jumped down to retrieve the deer as Senato and the other women look around fumbling in the river waters for the fish that remained.

As Senato was reaching over to gather a lost salmon from the waters Manibe appeared behind her and tapped her shoulder. She jerked up startled. Manibe looked down at his hands sheepishly. Senato followed his gaze to find some fish bundled up, it appeared he grabbed them from downstream as the other men tied the deer to the horses. She looked down at the fish bundle and smiled.

Months continued on and similar gift exchanges of minor accounts occurred. Princess Senato gave him gloves for his hands, embroidery patches, and leather bindings while Manibe gifted a small bone dagger, many elaborate flower arrangements, and a circular stone pebble necklace pendant. The gifts were given and cherished in secret. The two enduring souls kept their tale a secret for Manibe was but a simple commoner. With great secrecy came great grief about lying to the tribe. It slowly took a toll on Senato. So much so to the point, she asked Manibe to confront her father with her about their love.

Together the two told the chief of their love for one another. Princess Senato gushed and continued on not crossing the stern look off the chief's face the slightest. He did not give blessings for the two to be together. Senato was escorted to her room and Manibe was told not to continue on with Senato sternly by the chief and his advisors.

The two met up in secret two days later and decided if the tribe would not have them they would leave. They ran off into the desolate woods along the lake near Mount Meakan where they lived out their lives. The Ainu are animist. Animist believe everything in nature holds a kamuy, a spirit or god, on the inside. Meaning from the trees to the water and the grass walked upon everything natural held a kamuy spirit within. Decades after the crossed lovers ran off into the mystical dark woods the mysterious moss balls appeared in the lake. Rumors have spread that in time Senato and Manibes spirits metamorphosed into the Marimo Moss Balls in Lake Akan and the rest of the region.

Some believe it may have had to do with the mythical beings the two lived with amongst the dark misunderstood woods. The green balls flourished and ever since then, Marimo Moss Balls have been given as symbolic gifts to partners who wish to spend the rest of their days together. With love, luck, and prosperity Senato and Manibes enchanting tale of cross love will endure through time and tales morphed.

The star-crossed love story of Minabe and Senato has come to symbolize Japanese Marimo moss balls as a token of everlasting love. The endurance of the moss balls, that can live for hundreds of years, is a poetic representation of a love that can endure the weathers of time and tribulations.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Battle of Five Armies Feast 9/12/2015

Blast from the Past--after the event was held I attempted to get all of the recipes compiled, but was unsuccessful.

Sep 11, 2015 at 6 PM – Sep 13, 2015 at 12 PM
Indian Hills 4-H Camp

Come join the Barony of Flaming Gryphon as the forces of the Baronies of Flaming Gryphon, Middle Marches, Brendoken, and Red Spears battle to protect their lands from the forces of Duke Edmund of Lozengia. The Duke claims to possess a document granting him sovereignty over lands currently held in fief from the Crown by the Barons. This disagreement over points of law will be settled, and bragging rights awarded, during this very special Battle of Five Armies at Harvest Days. All comers can enjoy heavy and rapier combat, archery competitions, a populace choice A&S competition, classes, youth activities, and a feast cooked outdoors. And, yes, the Tavern Brawl is on!

First - Lozengia -On the table: Bread, cheese, butter.

Hors d'oeuvres: Tarts of Coneys in Sauce, Loseyns (Cheese Lasagna), fresh cherries and berries

Second- Middle Marches

Ragout of Pork, chestnuts and apples, Leek and Mushroom Tarts, Wilted greens

Third - Red Spears

Roasted leg of goat, Arroz con Caldo de Carne-rice cooked in meat broth, Apicius flower Drink - sharbat

Fourth -Bendoken

Lamb Pasties and Chicken Pasties, Honeyed Carrots

Fifth  -Barony Flaming Gryphon

Elizabethan Banqueting Course consisting of, dry suckets of candied plum, melon, pear, fig, beets, carrots, parsnips, ginger, orange and lemon peel, Comfits of anise, caraway and fennel, Fruit Paste of quince and rosewater, peach, strawberry, raspberry and honey, Shellbread, Fine Cakes, Marzipan, Gingerbread, Mint muscadines, Callishones and Manus Christi with violets and dianthus

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Cxlj. Noteye - Nutty (Incomplete)

When I first came across the instructions for creating Noteye, 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  I was intrigued.  The instructions call for using hazel leaves, most likely the eaves of the European Hazel or Filbert (Corylus avellana) in addition to nuts (notys) that have been fried in grease.  From previous research  Cxlij. Vyande Ryalle. - A Royal Dish (incomplete recipe), I had learned that hazel leaves are considered a forage food.  It appears that you are using them to not only color the dish, but also to impart a specific flavor. I do not have access to the leaves, so unfortunately am unable to adequately recreate the recipe 😞. My first thoughts on interpretation are below. I do hope that someone who does have access does try it and remarks upon it.

Image result for hazelnuts and leaves botanical illustration.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.

141. Noteye - Take a great portion of hazel leaves, and grind in a mortar as small as you may, while that they be young; take then and draw up a thrift milk of almonds blanched and temper it with fresh broth; wring out clean the juice of the leaves; take flesh of pork or of capon, and grind it small, and temper it up with the milk, and cast it into a pot, and the juice there-to, do it over the fire and let it boil; take flour of rice, and mix it; take and cast sugar enough thereto, and vinegar a quantity and powder ginger, and saffron it well, and salt.  Take small nuts and break them; take the kernels, and make them white, and fry them up in grease; plant there-with your meat, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe

Handful of young hazel leaves
1 c. almond milk made with broth of pork or chicken
1/4 pd. pork or chicken, minced
1-2 tbsp. Rice Flour
2 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Ginger
Pinch Saffron
Salt to taste
2-3 Hazel Nuts

Grind your hazel leaves in a mortar, you may want to add a bit of salt to them so that they grind well. As an alternative, place your leaves in a blender with a little bit of water and blend well.  Strain well.  Place your almond milk, saffron,  and ground pork or chicken in a pot along with the strained juice of the hazel leaves and bring to a boil.  Add rice flour and sugar and cook till it begins to thicken. Add vinegar, ginger and salt and cook for a few minutes more.  Meanwhile, lightly toast your nuts in grease after removing the skins.  Prior to serving, garnish with the nuts.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Feast Proposals

What have I been up to lately? I know the blog gets "quiet" so I thought I would share some of the newer things I have been learning.  I have put together three proposals because menu planning is something I do for fun.  The site has a few challenges, the first of which is very primitive (which is polite for non-existent) kitchen facilities.

Challenge 1: Put together a meal that can be served cool, room temperature or warm at best-no hot food.

Challenge 2: Clean up after the fact is going to be a challenge --wherever possible use disposable dishwear.

Challenge 3: Distance to site -- the facilities are about an hour away and I have a smallish car which will make transporting food to site interesting without multiple trips.

Challenge 3 was the easiest to resolve..I'm borrowing a truck..look out world. For food transport I am getting multiple coolers.  Ta-Dah.

So the menu.  Italian & Roman menus lend themselves best to this kind of cooking. Italian cooking specifies food "on the table", "from the credenza" and "from the kitchen".  So my first proposal was based on Scappi and La Singolare Dottrina di M. Domenico, where some of the terms I used in the proposal come from.

Proposal #1- Late 15th-Century Italian Menu 

Servitio di credenza posto in Tavola (on the table)

Capi di latte serviti con zuccharo sopra - Head of milk served with sugar above
Morselletti di biscotti - morselletti of biscuits
Uva bianchi i neve - black and white grapes
Comer Higos a la Francesa - To eat figs in the French Fashion
Biscottini alla savoiarda -Savoyard Biscuits
Biscottini di zuccaro - Sugar Biscuits

Primo servito di Credenza - First service from the side board

Insalata di mele crude - Salad of Apples and Onions
Insalata di arance tagliate a fette, servite con zucchero e acqua di rose - Sliced orange salad with rosewater and sugar
Preparare una crostata di funghi per un giorno in prestito - To prepare a crostata of mushrooms for a day in Lent
Per far crostate cioe pan ghiotto con barbaglia de porco, o presciutto - To prepare crostate -- that is, gourmand bread - with salted pork jowl or proscuitto

Secondo servizio di credenza

Salciccione cott'in vino - pork sausage cooked in a red wine broth, served cold and sliced
lingua di manzo salata e affumicata servita fredda- salted and smoked beef tongue served cold
Capponi Sopramentati serviti freddo con capparetto sopra - Chicken "Sopramentato"
Vaccina salpresa alessata, servito con petrosemolo Salted pressed beef, boiled served with parsley
Una torta di farro - A rice tart
Mustardo amabile - sweet mustard
Salsa viridis - Green Sauce
Sapor de prugne - dried plum sauce
Carciofi cotti serviti con sale e pepe all'aceto- cooked artichokes with vinegar, salt and pepper
Capperi e olive assortite - capers and assorted olives
Composto di rape, carote, cetriolo e finocchio - Pickled turnips, carrots, cucumber and fennel

Terzo servizio di credenza

Per fare la pizza di molti strati, comunemente freddi pasta secca a strati- To make pizza of many layers, commonly called a cold dry layered pastry.
Mandorle e noci fresche   -Fresh walnuts and almonds
Pere e mele - Pears and Apples
Cascio- cheese
Neve di latte, servita con zuccaro - Snow of milk
Cialdoni fatti a scartocci - Wafers made like paper

Levata la tovaglia-Raise the tablecloth

Finnocchio dolce verde- Sweet Green Fennel (Candied Fennel Stalks)
Stecchi in piatti con acqua rosa   Toothpicks in plates with rose water
Conditi, & confettioni a beneplacito  Confits and candies to one's taste

Proposal number two is based on one of the personas of the current prince/princess.  This is a Japanese style feast.  I will be the very first to admit there is NOT a lot out there on pre-Edo period food.  Edo period is late for us, so the first challenge was to come to an understanding of what was and what was not available in period, including cooking methods.  While the methods and foods are plausible, and some of the recipes can be traced to sources in period--not all of the dishes you find here have historic roots.  The saving grace is that Japanese cooking is very traditional.

This is at best a guess of what would have been served.

Proposal #2 - Muromachi period (1336–1573) Honzen Ryori (本膳料理) Style Meal 

Seasonings on the table include: Shoyu, Pickled Ginger, Rice Vinegar and Salt

Hon-Zen-first tray:

Namazu kabayaki (catfish kabayaki--catfish in lieu of unagi or eel--pan fried catfish, with a sweet and spicy sauce made of soy, mirin, sake and sugar)
Gohan - Rice
Mikawa ae (cucumber, wakame salad with imitation crab)
Namasu (daikon and carrot salad)
Crane broth (roasted duck or chicken, udon noodles and mushrooms in broth)
Edamame (lightly steamed and salted soybeans)

Nino-zen - Second Tray
Shimofuri (lightly steamed fish) served with Sho no Irizake (a sauce made with sake, komgu, umeboshi and bonito flakes)
Ebi No Umani (Shrimp simmered in Sake serve with a sauce of sake, mirin, dashi and soy)
Sumashi-Jiru (clear clam soup)
Kikka Kabu (pickled turnips cut into the shape of chrysanthemum flowers)
Gohan - Rice

Sanno-zen - Third Tray
Kuri Gohan (chestnut rice)
Kabocha no Nimonao (simmered squash or pumpkin
Matsutake soup (clear mushroom soup)
Shōga pōku-maki nasu (ginger pork rolls stuffed with eggplant)
Kakuni (braised pork belly)

Okashi お菓子 (Sweets)

Anmitsu-  a selection of fruits, agar agar jelly,  green tea with jasmine and lLychee ice cream, mochi, red bean paste drizzled with a sweet sugar syrup

The last proposal, French, because our lovely princess has a French persona. This is based on Le Menagier. 

Proposal #3 - French Feast based on menus from Le Menagier de Paris ~1393

Premier plateau - First Platter 

Pastez de champignons - Mushroom Pies 
Parma Tartes- Meat Pies
Viandes tranchées froides avec leurs sauces - Cold sliced chicken and pork with two sauces 
Calaminee- Calaminee
Froide sauge - Cold Sage
Saucisse avec calimafrey - Sausages with Calimafrey sauce (Mustard Jance)
Salade au vinaigre- Salad with Vinegar
Olives et câpres Olives and Capers

Deuxième plateau - Second platter

Cretonne de Pois Nouveaux - Cretonnee of  peas 
Viande salée et grossière composée de bœuf et de jambon - Salted and coarse meat that is to say beef and ham 
Boulettes de viande - Meatballs
Moutarde- Mustard
Tarte aux herbes, œufs et fromage - A tart of herbs, cheese and eggs 
Bourbelier de sanglier à la sauce épicée - Bourbelier of wild boar in spiced sauce
La maniere de faire composte - The way to make composte (honeyed vegetables)
Gelées pour un jour de viande - Jellies for a meat day

Troisième plateau - Third platter

Poires d’angoisse - Pears in Syrup 
Tailliz de karesme - Lenten Slices
Flaons de cresme de lait - Cream Flans 

Boute Hors

Epices de chambre - Chamber spices
Fruit Confit - candied fruit
Noix sucrées- Sugared nuts 

All three menus can be prepared with the challenges presented at site.  The Japanese style feast was chosen.  The food is food that was available in the Muromachi period (1336–1573).  Most of the recipes are from a  partially translated 17th-century Japanese cookbook --which is the earliest cookbook currently available.  There are a couple of additions that are out of period, namely soy sauce in favor of the more period Sho no Irizake, because of its familiar flavor, and ice cream, which is an 18th century invention...but...ICE CREAM? This is one of the times I'm happy to fall out of period...I'm an ice cream junkie.  As I work out the recipes I will be posting them on the blog.  My project is set aside for a few more months I think.


Update: 7/102019 Challenge 4--No cooking surface on site (stove, oven, etc.) Grill time baby!! :-)  This is not my first rodeo cooking without a kitchen.  My very first feast was done at a site that had forgotten we had rented the kitchen and tore it out the week of the event.  The sink was two brand new trashcans and a hose, the site generously provided a very nice outdoor grill, and guests donated camp stoves.  Feast was tasty--venison pie, grilled duck with sauce, and coney in cive, cooked in broth made from boiling the duck prior to grilling it....YUM YUM!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxxiiij. Tenche in bruette & lxxxxv. Tenche in cyueye - Tench in Civey

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxxiiij. Tenche in bruette

After some debate, I placed both interpretations 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 for tench in sauce or broth on the same blog post.  My reasoning for this is that there is more similarities than differences between the two.  The Tenche in Cyueye includes onions which the Tenche in Bruette does not.

The Glossary of Medieval & Renaissance Culinary Terms defines cyueye in the following way:

cive, civey(e), ciuey, cyuey, ceue, cyueye = Ragout or stew (possibly derived from a word meaning 'onion' (Plouvier). (Viandier)  - Among other modern usages, this is probably a derivative of civey, which was at one time named for, and characterized by, the possibility of thickening a sauce with finely chopped onion, cooked till very soft. Some medieval recipes for civeys (for example, hare in civey) also call for blood as an additional thickener; nowadays the dish, which is now sometimes called civet, is mostly characterized by thickening and enriching the broth with the reserved blood of the critter you're cooking. It will coagulate if boiled, and turn very dark, but if heated properly it will assume a velvety texture similar to a stirred custard, and acquire a deep russet shade almost like a mole-poblano-type sauce. (Troy)
I was intrigued by the instructions to scald or boil the fish before roasting it.  Scalding is a method of cleaning and killing any microorganisms that might be harmful.  It involves heating a liquid (in this case water) or milk to just below boiling.  If you have a thermometer 180 degrees is best.  If you don't you want to keep an eye on the side of the pan. When you see small bubbles forming around the side and steam starting to whisp off of the pan, then you can remove your liquid.

.lxxxxiiij. Tenche in bruette.—Take þe Tenche, an sethe hem & roste hem, an grynde Pepir an Safroun, Bred and Ale, & tempere wyth þe brothe, an boyle it; þen take þe Tenche y-rostyd, an ley hym on a chargeoure; þan ley on þe sewe a-boue

94. Tench in Broth- Take the tench, and boil him and roast him, and grind pepper and saffron, bread and ale, and temper with the broth, and boil it, then take the tench roasted, and lay him on a charger; then lay on the sauce above.

1/4  pound fatty firm textured fish such as carp, perch, tench, bluefish or bass
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch of saffron
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3/4 cup ale
3 tbsp. fish broth

In keeping with the instructions, I scalded the fish by placing it in a pot with just enough water to cover it.  I then heated the pan until I saw small bubbles forming around the edge of it and steam starting to form.  Due to modern methods of cleaning and butchering fish, I imagine you could have skipped this step without difficulty.

I removed the fish from the pan and placed it on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roasted it in the oven until it was done.  While the fish was cooking in the oven I took a few tablespoons of the broth and added the saffron to it.  Once the saffron had strongly colored the water, I added it to the ale (ok confession time--I used Sam Adams Summer Shandy made with lemon peel and grains of paradise) and then soaked the bread crumbs in it.  Once the bread was soggy I put it in the pot and brought it to a boil until it formed a thick sauce.

After the fish had finished cooking I plated it and served.

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - lxxxxv. Tenche in cyueye - Tench in Civey 

.lxxxxv. Tenche in cyueye.—Take a tenche, an skalde hym, roste hym, grynde Pepir an Safroun, Brede an Ale, & melle it to-gederys; take Oynonys, hakke hem, an frye hem in Oyle, & do hem þer-to, and messe hem forth.

95. Tench in Civey - Take a tench, and scald him, roast him, grind pepper and saffron, bread and ale, and mix it together; take onions, hack them, and fry them in oil, and do them there-to, and mess him forth.

1/4  pound fatty firm textured fish such as carp, perch, tench, bluefish or bass
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch of saffron
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3/4 cup ale
3 tbsp. fish broth
3 tbsp. onions
1 tbsp. oil

To make this dish, follow the instructions above.  The additional step is to lightly brown the finely chopped onion in oil, and after plating, garnish the plate with it.

Both of these dishes were enjoyed by the taste testers, but they were not the day's winner--the best dish of the day was lxxxxvj. Tench in Sawce - Tenche in Sauce.  However, this dish would be something I would be happy to serve at any feast, a vigil, lunch and if fresh fish were available at camp.  It was simple to make, came together with very little fuss and delicious.

I feel like I need to start placing a caveat at the bottom of each post--I am a hobbyist and I am still very much learning my craft. This is something I do for fun, and with a hope to introduce individuals to food history and entice them to do research on their own. I hope that they find my posts fun and informative and intriguing enough to strike out on their own. I am - not - an authority, nor do I masquerade as one. The sad reality is that no matter how much we learn about this kind of cooking, we will never be authorities, at best, we are guessing at the author's and the cook's intent. I welcome *constructive* criticism and I will own up to mistakes.

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - lxxxxvj. Tench in Sawce - Tenche in Sauce

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - lxxxxvj. Tench in Sawce - Tenche in Sauce

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 gives instructions for three dishes made with Tench.  Two of them, lxxxxiiij. Tenche in bruette - Tench in Broth  and lxxxxv. Tenche in cyueye - Tench in Civey  closely resemble each other.  This dish differs not only in the manner in which the fish is cooked but also in how it is served.  Unlike the other two dishes, where the fish is boiled, then roasted, this dish simply calls for boiling the fish.  This dish also advises us to " serue it forth þanne alle colde"--this is the first set of instructions in the Harleian MS 279 that actually advises to  serve the dish cold! So naturally, I had to try it.

Tench, also known as Doctor Fish, is not generally eaten anymore. It is freshwater fish that thrives in slow moving fresh and brackish waters. It is native to  Eurasia and Western Europe.  Sadly, Tench is not native to the states.  So, I had to find a suitable alternative that I could purchase.  Fortunately, a cookbook published in 1852 pointed me in a suitable direction.  The "Illustrated London Cookery Book" has a recipe entitled "How to Cook Carp, Tench, Perch, etc.
518. Carp, Tench, Perch, &C
Dry well with clean cloth, dredge with flour, fry them until they are brown. If the pure flavour of the fish is desired, they should be cooked as soon after being caught as possible, and as simply as above described; but if it is desired to make a dish, the fish may be placed after having been fried in a stewpan, with a gill of port wine, the same quantity of water, the juice of half a lemon, two dessert spoonfuls of walnut ketchup, half the quantity of mushroom ditto, or powder, sprinkle with cayenne pepper, an onion stuck with cloves, and a small horse-radish, from which the outer coat has been scraped: stew until the gravy is reduced to a rich thickness, remove the fish, strain the gravy as clear as possible, thicken it, and pour it over the fish; serve.
.lxxxxvj. Tenche in Sawce.—Take a tenche whan he is y-sothe, and ley him on a dysshe; take Percely & Oynonys, & mynce hem to-gederys; take pouder Pepir, & Canelle, & straw þer-on; take Vynegre, an caste Safroun þer-on, an coloure it, an serue it forth þanne alle colde.

46. Tench in Sauce  - Take a tench when he is boiled and lay him on a dish; take parsley & onions and mince them together; take powder pepper, and cinnamon, and strew there-on; take vinegar, and caste saffron there-on and color it, and serve it forth when all cold.

Interpreted Recipe

1/4  pound fatty firm textured fish such as carp, perch, tench, bluefish or bass
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vinegar + water to taste (I used 1/4 cup fish broth)
pinch of saffron

First I have to say this is a beautiful dish! White fish, green parsley floating in a saffron scented broth with just a hint of acidity from the vinegar presents a visually stunning dish. To make this dish even more unusual and definitely on a "must be served at a future event" list, it is to be served cold!

I placed the fish in the water and brought to a low boil, cooking it until the fish was completely cooked through.  While the fish cooked, I minced the onions and dried parsley and set them aside.  I then mixed the pepper and the cinnamon and set it aside.  To be fair, I did grind up a couple of cubeb berries to add to my black pepper and I think the flavor popped. Once the fish was cooked I drew off a1/4th of a cup of fish broth, added a good pinch of saffron and the vinegar.

While the saffron steeped in the broth, I plated the fish.  I confess I was a bit concerned about the taste of raw onion, but the instructions do not indicate it is to be cooked--it was also a needless concern.  I sprinkled the pepper and cinnamon mixture over the fish, added the onions mixture and then poured the broth on top of it and placed it in the fridge to cool. Something magical happened after pouring the broth over the fish and then allowing it to cool. The fish picked up the flavor of saffron and vinegar and the onions mellowed. This was the winning dish of the day.

I feel like I need to start placing a caveat at the bottom of each post--I am a hobbyist and I am still very much learning my craft. This is something I do for fun, and with a hope to introduce individuals to food history and entice them to do research on their own. I hope that they find my posts fun and informative and intriguing enough to strike out on their own. I am - not - an authority, nor do I masquerade as one. The sad reality is that no matter how much we learn about this kind of cooking, we will never be authorities, at best, we are guessing at the author's and the cook's intent. I welcome *constructive* criticism and I will own up to mistakes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Cxlvj - Ry3th so Caboges.- The Right Way to Cook Cabbages

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Cxlvj - Ry3th so Caboges.- The Right Way to Cook Cabbages

This set of instructions is located after Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Cxlv. Blaunche Perreye. - White Pea Soup 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.  The instructions are a bit vague, but seem to indicate that you can use the method found in the previous recipe to also cook cabbage.  There also appears to be a second set of instructions that indicate, you can cook your cabbage simply in boiling water and then salt it as you would the blaunche perreye prior to serving.  Prepared either way, this would be a dish that would be appropriate to serve for lent.

.Cxlvj. Ryȝth so Caboges*. [ i.e. Cabbages in just the same way. ] Ben seruyd, saue men sayn it is gode Also to ley hem in a bagge ouernyȝth in rennyng streme of watere, & a-morwe sette vppe watere, & when þe water is skaldyng hot, þrow hem þer on, & hoole hem in þere wyse be-forsayd, & serue fortℏ.

Cxlvj - Ry3th so Caboges. Ben seruyd, saue men sayn it is gode Also to ley hem in a bagge ouerny3th in rennyng streme of watere, and a-morwe sette vppe watere, and when the water is skaldyng hot, throw hem ther on, and hoole hem in there wyse be-forsayd, and serue forth.

146. Right so Caboges -- Being served, save men saying it is good.  Also to lay them in a bag overnight in running stream of water, and a-morrow (the next day) set up water, and when the water is scalding hot, throw  them there-on, and hull  them in there wise be aforesaid, and serve forth.

Interpretation I

1/8 cabbage, cleaned, cored and cut into ribbons
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup water
Salt and black pepper to taste

Bring water and wine to boil, add cabbage and cook until cabbage is tender.  Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Interpretation II

1/8 cabbage, cleaned, cored and cut into ribbons
1 cup water
Salt and black pepper to taste

Bring water to boil and cook cabbage until tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve

Of the two interpretations, the one with the addition of the wine was the personal favorite. The addition of wine elevated the dish to something quite spectacular. Cabbage is one of those dishes that is inexpensive to make and goes a loooooooong way at an event.  The first interpretation has gone onto my list of things to serve in the future.  I can also see this as being a very easy "camp dish" as well.

I feel like I need to start placing a caveat at the bottom of each post--I am a hobbyist and I am still very much learning my craft.  This is something I do for fun, and with a hope to introduce individuals to food history and entice them to do research on their own.  I hope that they find my posts fun and informative and intriguing enough to strike out on their own. I am - not - an authority, nor do I masquerade as one. The sad reality is that no matter how much we learn about this kind of cooking, we will never be authorities, at best, we are guessing at the author's and the cook's intent. I welcome *constructive* criticism and I will own up to mistakes.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxvj. Coleys - Chicken Cullis

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxvj. Coleys - Chicken Cullis

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 gives us an opportunity to explore techniques for cooking that were popular in the 15th century. I am always surprised by the ingenuity of the medieval cook. Here is an example of  a dish that  utilizes a cooking technique which is making a comeback.  I believe that this set of instructions gives us an opportunity to create a timeline for the use of a kind of bone broth in the medieval period. At the very least, we can trace the use of bones and the earliest forms of bone broth to broth to the Forme of Cury (1390) and documented usage to the mid 1400's.

Coleys calls for not only the broth that was made from boiling the capon, but "the liquor of the bones", which I assume means something similar to a bone broth.  This leads me to believe that Coleys may have been considered appropriate for the elderly, sick or very young.

Rhoda Boone in her article "Stock, Broth and Bone Broth—What's the Difference?" explains the differences between broth, stock and bone broth.  I urge you to read this informative article. Very briefly,  broth is water, vegetables, meat and aromatics which may or may not include bones that are cooked for a very short period of time (up to two hours) and then strained.  The goal of making a broth is to create something that can be enjoyed on its own, for example as a base for soup.  Stock on the other hand, includes the same ingredients but is cooked for a much longer period of time (approximately 4-6 hours) with the goal of extracting collagen.  Stock is used to create rich sauces or gravies and should not be used on its own.

Bone broth is a combination of broth and stock. It is usually made from bones which have been roasted and which may or may not contain some meat still attached. It is cooked for a very long period of time, sometimes up to 24 hours.  When you make a bone broth you are not only extracting the collagen and the gelatin from the bones, you are also releasing the minerals within the bones.  Like broth, bone broth can be strained, seasoned and enjoyed on its own.

.xxvj. Coleys.—Take a gode Capoun an boyle hem tendere, an pyke a-way clene þe bonys an þe Skyn, an bray hym in a morter, an tempere hym wyth þe same brothe, an strayne hym þorw a straynoure; þenne take þe brawn an þe fleysshe, an a lytil whyte brede, an bray hem alle to-gederys in a morter; þen take þe lycowr of þe bonys, an þe skyn, an þe brothe þat þe Capoun was sothyn ynne, an with al tempere it, but nowt to þicke; þen put it in a potte, an let it be al hote, but let it boyle for no þing; an caste þer-to a litil powder of Gyngere, Sugre an Salt. An ȝif it be on a fyssheday, take Haddok, Pyke, Tenche, Reȝge, Codlynd, an pyke a-way þe bonys [leaf 10.] an tempere wyth almaunde mylke; an make it hot, an caste þer-to Sugre an Salt, an serue forth.

xxvj - Coleys. Take a gode Capoun an boyle hem tendere, an pyke a-way clene the bonys an the Skyn, an bray hym in a morter, an tempere hym wyth the same brothe, an strayne hym thorw a straynoure; thenne take the brawn an the fleysshe, an a lytil whyte brede, an bray hem alle to-gederys in a morter; then take the lycowr of the bonys, an the skyn, an the brothe that the Capoun was sothyn ynne, an with al tempere it, but nowt to thicke; then put it in a potte, an let it be al hote, but let it boyle for no thing; an caste ther-to a litil powder of Gyngere, Sugre an Salt. An 3if it be on a fyssheday, take Haddok, Pyke, Tenche, Re3ge, Codlynd, an pyke a-way the bonys an tempere wyth almaunde mylke; an make it hot, an caste ther-to Sugre an Salt, an serue forth.

26. - Coleys - Take a good capon and boil him tender, and pick away clean the bones and the skin, and pound him in a mortar, and temper him with the same broth, and strain him through a strainer; then take the meat and the flesh, and a little white bread, and pound them all together in a mortar; then take the liquor of the bones, and the skin, and the broth that the capon was boiled in, and with all temper it, but not too thick; then put it in a pot, and let it be all hot, but let it boil for nothing; and caste there-to a little powder of ginger, sugar and salt. And if it be on a fish day, take haddock, pike, tench, Re3ge (skate or ray, possibly shark), codlyng (an inferior form of cod), and pick away the bones and temper with almond milk; and make it hot, and caste thereto sugar and salt, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                             Serves 1 as Main, 2 as Side

1/4 pound of bone in, skin on chicken
Water to cover
1/4 cup (or more) bread
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste

Cut your chicken into pieces, and place them into a pan. Cover with cold water until it is about an inch over the top of the chicken, bring to boil and cook till tender.  Allow to cool overnight, pick the chicken from the skin and the bones.  Crack the bones, and then place the bones and the skin back into the broth and heat. Strain the broth, and reserve a little to mix with your chicken, spices and bread until a thick paste is formed. Place the paste in the broth and allow it to heat through.

I had originally thought the meat, broth and bread mixture would form a kind of meat ball in the broth.  However, as it began to heat it fell apart for me and created a thick chicken porridge for lack of a better term.  This does not look good, but it tastes delicious!  I added salt for additional flavoring and I must confess to adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the chicken to sharpen the taste a bit.

A little bit more research indicates that Coley's may be a predecessor to "Cullis" or "Coulis" which is defined as "A strong broth made of meat or fowl with other ingredients used as a base for various sauces or as a restorative for the sick." I would serve this on sops of toasted bread at an event, or use it as a base for thickening another dish made with poultry to make a kind of gravy.  I have no idea if this is the intent of the dish, as "Du Fait de Cuisine" indicates--this is a dish for the ill.

I feel like I need to start placing a caveat at the bottom of each post--I am a hobbyist and I am still very much learning my craft.  This is something I do for fun, and with a hope to introduce individuals to food history and entice them to do research on their own.  I hope that they find my posts fun and informative and intriguing enough to strike out on their own. I am - not - an authority, nor do I masquerade as one. The sad reality is that no matter how much we learn about this kind of cooking, we will never be authorities, at best, we are guessing at the author's and the cook's intent. I welcome *constructive* criticism and I will own up to mistakes.

Be kind to each other, please.

Forme of Cury (England, 1390)

XI - FOR TO MAKE A COLYS. Nym hennys and schald hem wel. and seth hem after and nym the lyre and hak yt smal and bray it with otyn grotys in a morter and with wyte bred and temper it up wyth the broth Nym the grete bonys and grynd hem al to dust and kest hem al in the brothand mak it thorw a clothe and boyle it and serve it forthe.

Du fait de cuisine (France, 1420 - Elizabeth Cook, trans.)

71. Again, a coulleys: to give understanding to him who will make it let him arrange that he has capons or chickens or partridges, whichever is ordered from him by the doctors, and let him take the said poultry and pluck, clean, and wash it very well and cleanly and put to cook in a clear and very clean pot and a little mutton and a very little salt; and cook it well and properly on a clear fire. And while it is cooking let him arrange that he has a great quantity of very good almonds as are needed, and let him clean, blanch, and wash them very well and put them to be brayed in a mortar which does not smell at all of garlic, and bray them well and strongly and moisten them with the said broth of the aforesaid poultry or partridge; and, being sufficiently brayed, draw out the said poultry onto fair dishes and from the said poultry take all of the white meat and chop it very fine and then put it in the mortar with these said almonds and bray it all together very well and strongly, and in braying moisten it with the aforesaid broth; and, being brayed enough, take it from the said broth and strain through a fair and clean strainer and make milk of it - and put in no spices except by the command of the doctor. And then put it to boil and, this being boiled, put it in fair silver or gold bowls and let it be carried to the sick person.

For a kolys. Þe brawne take of sothun henne or chekyne, And hew hit smalle and bray þen with wyne, With ote grotis, and whyte brede eke. With þe brothe of henne þou tempur hit meke. Take oute þe bonys and grynd hit smalle, In to þe brothe þou kast hit alle, And sye hit thurgh a clothe clene. Dose hit, and serve hit forthe bydene.

A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

To mak a colles tak the braun of capon or henne and hew it small and bray it with otemele and whit bred cast ther to good pouders and saffron then tak out the bones and grind the flesshe small and cast it unto the brothe and sie it throughe a clothe and salt it boile it and serue it

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxxxix. Sardeyneȝ - Almond Pottage

 Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxxxix. Sardeyneȝ  - Almond Pottage 

Sometime ago I posted a happy mistake for a sugared and spiced nut dish based on this set of instructions called xxxxix. Sardeyneȝ. I had planned on correcting the mistake immediately and posting the more period correct version but then the sun room construction started, life got in the way and I am late in publishing --Sardeyneȝ "the right way".

Because this recipe is found in the pottages section of 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, the consistency that we should be finding from a correctly interpreted recipe is that of a soft pudding, cereal or gruel. Here then is the more appropriate interpretation of this dish, which is simply delicious and highly recommended.  It would make an excellent camp breakfast dish, and I would recommend it for a pottage at any feast or luncheon you choose to make.

.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

1/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup rice milk (or any nut milk, in a pinch I used almond milk)
Pinch of saffron and salt
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
1-2 tbsp. sugar or to taste

Bring all ingredients to a boil and then simmer until thickened.  Garnish with a sprinkling of sugar, or butter (in lieu of oil) or both, and then serve. 

This is a very comforting dish that is slightly reminiscent of cream of wheat or malt-o-meal.  If you enjoy eating these cereals you will enjoy this dish. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Feast Budget -Or- Calculating the Costs of the Feast

You have bit the bullet. You have submitted a feast bid, and have been chosen to put together the feast! Congrats!!! Even before you were given the bid, you were probably given some numbers that included the expected budgeted funds and the number of diners you were expected to feed.  Before we go into the budget and calculating the cost of the feast, let's talk about the expected number of diners.

Many times the number of diners you are given will not be easily divisible by the number of servings per table (usually 6 or 8). This can create a potential problem when it comes to serving your food at feast.  So please be sure to find out from the individual who is hosting the event how many diner's are expected to sit "per table" before you discuss budget. Most SCA feasts will expect tables of 8 diners,so the numbers of diners  you will be expecting to feed should be easily divisible by 8.
Budget $400
Expected number of diners: 60
Number of seats per table: 8
Cost per diner: $8.00 
Question: Does the number of expected diners include or exclude head table?  How many diners are you expecting at head table?

Using the example above, and assuming that number includes 8 seats for head table.  The expected number of tables that you will be cooking for is 7 1/2.  A half table? 😕

One of the tables that will be seated will only have four diners. This means it will only need half the amount of servings of food then the other 7 tables. To avoid this dilemma, you should ask the autocrat, or the person you are in contact with regarding the feast, to either increase -or- decrease the number of diners you are expected to serve.   By increasing or decreasing the number of diners to a number that is easily divisible by the number of seats per table, serving will be a breeze. There is no need to calculate for half a table, nor is there a need to worry about the half servings going out to the wrong table.

When do you calculate the cost of your feast? How do you calculate your costs, and what numbers do you need? What happens if you are over budget? Is there a way to offer the feast you want without sacrificing the menu?

Before you submit the bid it is always a good idea to do a preliminary cost analysis so that you have a rough of idea on what you will be spending. However, once you have been given the bid, you will want a much better set of numbers. Remember, at this point the menu proposed will not be the "finalized" menu.

My preference is to calculate my numbers after I have expanded the recipes and know what I need.  At this point in time my menu's are usually very fluid and are not concrete.  There are two numbers I rely on at this point to make sure I stay within budget; the cost per table and the cost per person. With these two numbers I have an easy way to check if  a specific dish will be within or out of budget.

Helpful hint:  When calculating costs, it is important to remember that approximately 25-30% of your budget will be items that are -not- food related.These items may include; serving plates, or serving ware, trash bags, first aid kits, kitchen timer's and thermometers, storage bags, aluminium foil, plastic wrap, dish washing liquid  etc.  which are not food items, but necessary to a successful feast.

At this point I have a rough idea of what I want to serve on the menu.  Menu planning is a class in and of itself so I won't be discussing it here. In order co calculate my cost per table and my cost per person, I want a detailed list of my grocery items, including non food items.  I always round up to the next available whole and I -always- calculate the cost of the items I intend to purchase at the full, not the sales, cost.

Ideally, when preparing a feast  there is at least two months lead time. Many vendors are happy to donate items to a NPO--but many require at least a six week lead time to get approval from home office.  The more lead time, the more availability of donated or discounted goods, the more you can offer on the menu.

Why do I calculate a cost per table and a cost per person? Some items, like bread, are easier to calculate on a per table basis.  I usually plan for 1 1/2 loaves of bread per table.  In our scenario above, 12 loaves of bread will be enough to feed the diners.  Other items, like meat are easier to calculate on a "per person" basis.  Roughly 4-6 ounces of meat, per course per diner is the usual allotment. To feed 64 diner's roasted pork in the second or third course, I would need roughly 16 pounds of roast pork, divided into two pound portions. 

Once I know I am within budget, I can finalize the menu, post it at least four weeks prior to the event, set clear expectations on a cut off date (usually two weeks prior to the event) for special accommodation requests, and post an allergen chart. Now the fun begins, purchasing the grocery items--take advantage of the sales, bogo's, donations and mark downs!

If you find that you are over budget and you don't want to sacrifice your menu there are ways that you can fall back into budget.  As mentioned above, sales are a good way to stay under budget, as are donations from organizations willing to donate to NPO's.  Another tip is to look within the menu for things you may have budgeted for but can make yourself.  For example, bread crumbs made from bread purchased on the mark down bin, or stocks that you make yourself. 

I often find myself planning ahead with an eye towards "the next feast".  Occasionally I have purchased items seasonally, prepared them and then served them later in the year at an event.  Examples of such items include vegetables or fruit bought in seasoned, prepared and then frozen or canned towards a future event.  A lot of dishes that are preserved get better with time. I have also purchased premium meats seasonally or on sale and kept them frozen with an eye towards the future event.

I have also donated items to an event.  I enjoy making jellies, pickles, fruit pastes, candies and comfits.  I find them relaxing past times and they make great gifts for family, friends, co-workers.  I almost always have some on hand.  I like rounding out my dessert course with a selection of sweets.

If all else fails, tweak the menu.  Remember that pork roast? There are times when pork roast can be cost prohibitive.  However, pair that pork roast (chunked or sliced) with meatballs made from ground beef, and you can use less pork per table then you expected to. Serving a high end cheese at the end of the meal, which was done in period, rather then at the beginning is also a budget saving strategy.  People will eat less of a premium item at the end of the meal then they will at the beginning. How you serve an item is as important as what you serve. Items that are pre sliced, or chunked look like there is more there then an item served uncut. Look at it--if it looks like it is enough, given it's placement in the meal, it probably is.

Cost per table: Budget/# of tables
Cost per person: Budget/# of diners 
Number of tables: Diners/Number of seats  
Number of servings: Number of Tables + Kitchen + Servers + head table 
Number of Diners should be divisible by Number of Seats per Table  

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Spice Conversions --Ounces to Tablespoons, Conversions and Substitutes

One of the most useful tables for measuring I have found.  I cannot claim this as my work. I keep misplacing it however so thought I would place it here.  Please take a moment to visit the website where this came from.  It is full of useful information, how to's and video's.  Additionally, they sell meat processing supplies including hog casings and seasonings.

Spice Conversions 

Additional information courtesy of The Cook's Thesaurus

Allspice, Whole
1 ounce = 4 Tbsp.
5 whole berries yield 1 tsp ground
equal parts cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, all ground or, equal parts cinnamon and cloves, all ground or, equal parts cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper, all ground

Allspice, Ground


lovage (This also tastes like celery, and the stems can be candied like angelica.) or tarragon
Anise, Ground
1 ounce =4 tbsp.
fennel seed (This has a milder flavor and is sweeter than anise.) , or, star anise (stronger flavor; 1 crushed star anise = 1/2 tsp crushed anise seed) or caraway seed or tarragon
Apple Pie Spice

1 tsp = 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cardamom, and 1/8 tsp ground allspice

To make your own:  4 parts cinnamon + 2 parts nutmeg + 1 part cardamom, all ground
Basil Leaves
1 ounce = 8 Tbsp.
oregano, thyme or Italian seasoning, tarragon, summer savory, or  equal parts parsley and celery leaves
Bay Leaf, Whole
1 fresh = 2 Dry
¼ tsp. dried thyme or oregano
1 Dry = ¼ tsp. crushed
1 Fresh = ½ tsp. crushd
Bay Leaf, Ground
1 ounce = 5 Tbsp


spinach, escarole or burnet
Bouquet Garni

To make your own:  Tie together with a string or wrap securely in cheesecloth: 4 sprigs fresh parsley or chervil, 1 sprig fresh thyme, and 1 bay leaf. Variations if you're using cheesecloth: Add one or more of the following: orange peel, cloves, peppercorns, marjoram, fennel leaves, celery leaves

Substitutes: equal parts parsley, thyme, and crushed bay leaf OR equal parts chervil, thyme, and crushed bay leaf OR equal parts basil, marjoram, and summer savory
British Pudding Spices

To make your own:  Grind together 1 small cinnamon stick and 1 tbsp each cloves, mace, ground nutmeg, coriander seeds, and allspice berries  

Substitutes:   pumpkin pie spice, allspice
Caraway Seed
1 ounce =3 tbsp.
Dill seed (milder),  anise seed or cumin seed  
Caraway, Ground
1 ounce = 5 tbs

1 ounce = 5 tbsp

Approximately 12 pods, dehusked = 1 tsp ground cardamom

One pod yields 1/6 tsp cardamom.
equal parts ground nutmeg and cinnamon, or equal parts ground cloves and cinnamon , or, nutmeg or cinnamon
Celery Seed

celery (One tsp = 2 tbsps minced celery tops),  dill seed or celery salt (reduce the salt elsewhere in the recipe)

parsley + tarragon, or fennel leaves + parsley, fines herbs or dill

Green onion tops
Cinnamon, Whole
(preferably Ceylon Cinnamon)
1 3” stick = ½ tsp. Ground

Most of the cinnamon that's sold in America is cassia, which is cheaper and more bitter than the choice Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp cinnamon  (creates different flavor profile)  = 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground allspice, or ¼ to ½ tsp. Nutmeg or, equal amounts pumpkin pie spice
Cinnamon, Ground
1 ounce = 4 tbsp.

Cloves, Whole
3 whole = ¼ tsp. ground
can substitute equal amounts of allspice
Cloves, Ground
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.

Coriander Seed
1 ounce. = 5 Tbs.
1 tsp coriander seeds = 1 1 /4 tsp ground coriander
equal amounts cumin, caraway,  or garam masala
Coriander Ground
1 ounce. = 5 Tbs.

Cubeb, Whole
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.
1 tsp. Whole = ~1 ½ tsp. ground
equal parts allspice and black pepper, or quatre epices or schezuan peppercorns
Cumin Ground
1 oz. = 4 tbsps ground = 4 1/2 tbsps whole seed.

1 tsp. cumin seeds = 1 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
half amount the recipe calls for of caraway, coriander, chili powder, garam masala, curry or taco seasoning
Curry Powder

To make your own:  Combine equal parts ground coriander, ground cumin, ground pepper, turmeric, and ground ginger or 4 parts ground coriander + 2 parts ground cumin + 2 parts ground tumeric + 1 part ground ginger
Dill Seed

dill leaves, caraway seed or celery seed
Dill, fresh

tarragon (especially in sauces that accompany fish or eggs), fennel leaves (as a garnish; looks very similar)
Fennel Seed Whole
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.
1 tsp fennel seeds = 1 1/4 tsp ground fennel
equal amounts of anise, cumin, caraway  or dill
Fennel Seed Ground
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.

Five Spice Powder

To make your own:  Combine equal parts Szechwan (or black) pepper, star anise (or anise), cinnamon, cloves, and fennel, all ground   
1 ½ tsp. Powder is equal to 1 tbsp. chopped fresh
equal amounts of ginger with a pinch of cinnamon added
Garam Masala

To make your own:  2 parts ground cardamom + 5 parts ground coriander + 4 parts ground cumin + 2 parts ground black pepper + 1 part ground cloves + 1 part ground cinnamon + 1 part ground nutmeg

Substitutes:  equals parts cumin, pepper, cloves, and nutmeg, all ground OR curry powder (spicier, different flavor)
A head or bulb of garlic usually contains about 10 cloves. 1 clove = 1 tsp chopped garlic = 1/2 tsp minced garlic = 1/8 tsp garlic powder = 1/2 tsp garlic flakes = 1/4 tsp granulated garlic = 1/2 tsp garlic juice
can substitute onion, shallot or garlic chives
Garlic Powder
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.

Garlic Granulated
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.

1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.

Ginger Ground
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.

1 tbsp fresh = ¼ tsp ground
crystallized ginger (Substitute 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger for every 1 tsp ground ginger called for in recipe. Rinse sugar off ginger first. This is an excellent substitution in many baked goods.),  ginger root (Substitute 2 tbsps grated ginger root for every tsp ground ginger called for in recipe. For best results, substitute only half the ground ginger in recipe with fresh ginger.), cardamom, allspice, cinnamon , mace or nutmeg
Grains of Paradise

cardamom, black peppercorns
Herbes de Provence

To make your own:  Combine four parts thyme plus four parts summer savory, two parts lavender, and one part rosemary.

Long Pepper

black pepper (milder)  or crushed red pepper

equal parts parsley and celery leaves, parsley or chervil
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.
nutmeg (sweeter and milder than mace) , allspice, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon or ginger
Marjoram Whole
1 ounce. = 8 Tbs.
1 tbsp. fresh = 1 tsp. dried
oregano (This is very similar, but not as sweet and mild as marjoram. Substitute two parts of oregano for three parts of marjoram.) or thyme or sage or basil or summer savory  
Marjoram Powdered
1 ounce. = 8 Tbs.



fresh parsley + pinch of dried mint , or basil
Mustard Seed Whole
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.
1 tsp mustard seeds = 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
wasabi powder, or horseradish
Mustard Seed Ground
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.

Nutmeg Ground
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs..
1/2 nutmeg = 1 tsp ground nutmeg
mace,  allspice, cinnamon, ginger
Onion Powder
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.

5 medium onions = 1 pound = 2 cups chopped = 3 cups sliced
1 small onion = 1/3 cup = 1 tsp onion powder = 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
white bulbs of leeks, shallots,  green onions
Onion Salt
1 ounce. = 2 Tbs.

Oregano Leaf
1 ounce. = 9 Tbs.
marjoram (This is very similar, but milder and sweeter.  Substitute two parts of oregano for three parts of marjoram.) or thyme or basil or summer savory  
Paprika Ground
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.


chervil or celery tops or cilantro
Pepper Coarse
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.

Pepper Black
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.
1 tsp. peppercorns = 1 1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Pepper White
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.

Pepper Whole
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.
coriander seeds
Pepper Red Leaf
1 ounce. = 5 Tbs.

Pepper Cayenne
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.

Pickling Spice
1 ounce. = 3 Tbs.
To make your own:   Combine 1/4 C each mustard seeds, dill seeds, and coriander seeds, 2 tbsps each crushed chili peppers and bay leaves, and 1 tbsp each celery seeds and white peppercorns.
Pumpkin Pie Spice

To make your own:  Combine 4 parts cinnamon + 2 parts ginger + 1 part allspice + 1 part nutmeg, all ground OR equal parts cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, and cloves, all ground
Quatre Epices

To make your own:  Combine 1 part ground nutmeg + 1 part ground ginger + 1 part ground cloves + 2 parts ground white pepper

Substitutes:   Chinese five-spice powder (especially in pates) OR nutmeg

Ras Al Hanout

To make your own:  Grind together 4 tsps each cumin seed and ground ginger, 5 tsps coriander seeds, 2 tbsps each black peppercorns and ground cinnamon, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 16 whole cloves, and 20 allspice berries

sage or savory or thyme   
1 tsp threads = 1/8 tsp powder
turmeric (for color, not flavor; use 4 times as much), safflower (use 8 times as much; less expensive and imparts similar color, but taste is decidedly inferior),  marigold blossoms (for color, not flavor; use twice as much), annatto seeds (Steep 1 tsp annatto seeds in 1/4 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes, discard seeds. Reduce liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup.) or red and yellow food coloring  
1 ounce. = 8 Tbs.
poultry seasoning or rosemary or thyme   
Saunders/Red Sandalwood

Seasoned Salt

To make your own:  Combine 1 C salt, 2 1/2 tsps paprika, 2 tsps dry mustard, 1 1/2 tsps dried oregano, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp onion powder
Sugar Brown
1 ounce. = 1-1/2 Tbs.

1 ounce. = 1-1/2 Tbs.


lemon zest + salt or (in salads) lemon juice or (in salads) vinegar

dill or basil or marjoram or fennel seed or anise seed or angelica
1 ounce. = 4 Tbs.
omit from recipe or herbes de Provence (This blend contains thyme.) or poultry seasoning (This blend contains thyme.) or Italian seasoning (This blend contains thyme.) or savory or marjoram or oregano     

turmeric (1 piece fresh turmeric = 1 tsp ground turmeric) or mustard powder or mustard powder + pinch of saffron