Source, Ancient Cookery- a 15th Century manuscript , found in “A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks” first compiled by Duke Cariodoc of the Bow and the Duchess Diana Alena, 6th Edition.
Tart on Ember Day Recipe #356-2
Parboyle onions, and fauge and parfel, and hew hom fmall, then take gode fatte chese, and bray hit,and do therto egges, and tempur hit up therwith, and do therto butter and fugur, and raifynges of corance, and pouder of ginger, and of canell, medel all this well togedur, and do hit in a coffyn, and bake hit uncovered, and ferve hit forthe.
Tart on Ember Day
Parboil onions, and sage and parsley, and chop them small, then take good fat cheese, and grate it, and add eggs, and mix them, and add butter and sugar, and currants and powdered ginger and powdered cinnamon, mix this together and put it in a pastry shell and bake it uncovered and serve it forth.
Redacted Recipe- Tarts on Ember Day
40 pre-made 2” pastry shells or 2-9” pie shells
1 medium cooking onion, peeled and quartered
10-12 fresh large sage leaves
1/2 cup fresh curly parsley
8 ounces grated Muenster cheese (or Brie)
8 large eggs
1/4 cup salted butter,chopped
2 tsp white sugar (turbinado if you can)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (canel = Cinnamon Zeylanicum*)
1/8 cup currants
Placing a steam basket in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Add onion, sage and parsley. Let boil for 3-5 minutes. Remove, drain and chop fine.
In a medium mixing bowl, shred the cheese, add onion, herbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Mix well, ensuring that the eggs are well blended.
Pour mixture into raw pastry shells, (approximately 40- 2” tarts or 2- 9” pie shells).Top with 5 currants placed in a pattern. Bake at 350 degrees 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Warduns in Syruppe Recipe #366
Take warden, and pare home clene, and fethe hom in red wyn with mulberryes or saunders, tyl that abyn tendur, and then take home up, and cut home, and do hom in a pot; and do therto wyn crete, or vernage, or other gode fwete wyne, and blaunch pouder, and fugur, and powder of gygner, and let hom boyle awhile, and then ferve hit forth.
Pears in Syrup
Take pear, and peel the skin, and boil them in red wine with mulberries or sandlewood, until tender, take them out and cut them and put them in a pot; and add greek wine, or vernage or other good sweet wine and white pouder*, and sugar and powder of ginger and let them boil awhile and then serve it forth.
White powder or Blaunch Pouder, was a shelf item of combined white spices used by medieval cooks, much like we have “poultry seasoning” or “seasoning salt” today. This period counterpart was most likely all white spices and may have included white pepper, ginger and possibly sugar (it seems that sugar was treated as a spice more than as a condiment today). There are no recipes for this to my knowledge, however, a ratio of 1:1:1 would provide an excellent balance and is a suggested recipe for use. I did not use this combination in the recipe presented at this vigil, but did incorporate cinnamon as several other period recipes of this type do.
I have chosen not to use sandlewood as many people are allergic to it and I usually try not to take too many chances when cooking for the masses. If cooking for yourself, you can use sandlewood sparingly, but when needing a darker colour, you may wish to use modern red food dye to achieve the deep ruby colour or stick to the period recipe and add a dark red berry such as mulberries. According to Waverly Root in Food, mulberries are hard to document in northern climes in period until the time of Henry the IV as he had them planted planted for ornament along the banks of the Seine. It is obvious that they were available in the 15th Century as our recipe indicates. The mulberry is similar to the blackberry and where you are unable to find mulberries, the blackberry is an acceptalble alternative.
I have found that the pears do well if soaked long enough in red wine. Other period recipes call for red wine[ (Harlenian MS 279 (1430), Harlenian MS 4016 (1450), A Proper Newe Booke of Cookery (16th C) and Sir Kenelm Digby (1669)], however I have found that this recipe is wonderful with or without it. The recipe served at this vigil does not reflect a long soak time in red wine and as such the pears are only lightly coloured.
It is interesting to note that another original recipe (found in the 16th C manuscript)calls for 20 wardons, which if the fruit has remained near to form, weighs on average 10lbs. I have utilized the recipe below and consistently, 20 pears weighs in near to 10lbs.
If you do not wish to use a modern canning method the recipe easily converts by simply boiling the fruit in the syrup for 5 minutes, jarring and storing only 1 week in a refridgerator. Never take chances with canning of any type, if the food appears to have turned scummy or releases a bad smell upon opening or the seal is broken or bubbled DO NOT EAT IT.
Adapted Recipe- Wardons in Syrop
Makes 4 quarts preserved fruit
3 cups red wine (can add sandlewood and/or mulberries or blackberries or red food dye for colour)
1cup honey 10 lbs firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced in half
1 cup sugar 8 pieces of sliced ginger
3 cups water 6-8 2 inch pieces of whole cinnamon
1 cup sweet white wine, not sparkling
Modern Canning Method
I suggest reading up on canning methods before trying this for the first time, get to know the general terminology and methods , it will save time and help prevent any accidental food poisoning. Just for your knowledge I have been canning food since I was 13 years old but I still refer to reference books before I begin.
Soak the pears in the red wine for 1 hour
Combine the honey, sugar, water and wine. Bring to a boil. Add 3-4 pieces of ginger and 3 or 4 sticks of cinnamon.. In the meanwhile have 4 quart canning jars cleaned, sterilized and ready with piece of ginger and 1-2 cinnamon pieces in each. Place 6-8 pear halves into each jar. Pour the syrup over each to within 1/4 inch from the top. Seal with proper canning lids (sterilized of course) . Place into a hot water bath and bring to a boil for 25 minutes. Remove, cool and store. When the lids seal you will hear a pop, at that point slightly tighten the jar, wash down the outside with a damp cloth.
Pommes Dorre Recipe # 440
Take felettes of pork, and rogte hom half raw, and bray hom, and in the brayinge caft therto a few zolkes of eyren, and a few clowes; and when hit is brayed, do hit into a veffel, and put therto pouder of pepur ynogh, and colour hit with faffron; and do therto fugre or honey clarified, and a few raifynges of corance, and medel al togeder; and then fet a panne over the fire with water, and let hit boyle,and make rounde pelettes of the greneffe of an ey of the fame ftuff, and caft hom into the boylynge water, and fethe hom, and then do hom on a fpit, and rofte hom; and in the rothynge, edore hom zelow with zolkes of eyren, and flour, and faffron, medeled togeder, and fome grene if thouw wyl with royft of herbes endorre hom, and ferve hit forthe.
Take fillets of pork, and roast them half raw, and grate them and in the grating put a few egg yolks and a few cloves and when it is grated put it in a vessel and add ground pepper and colour it with saffron, and add sugar or clarified honey, and a few currants and mix this together; then bring a pot of water to boil, and make balls the size of an eye, and put them in the boiling water and bring to a boil, then put them (the meat balls) on a spit and roast them, and while they are roasting, coat them with a yellow mixture of egg yolks , flour and saffron, well mixed, and some green if you want, made of herbs, coat them (and allow the coating to roast) and serve them forth.
I have thought about the multiple cooking steps in this and many other medieval recipes. At first glance these steps may seem to serve a culinary purpose, such as par-roasting to make the chopping easier, or additional cooking to ensure that the meat is well done, or even to reduce the use of fuel by using boiling water which was a standby at all times in the medieval “kitchen”. I believe however that the medieval cookbooks we are reading from are those intended for the highest of tables and the cooks had an alterior motive to the multiple cooking steps.I have cooked this recipe using both a roasted meat and a raw meat as the starting point and did not find a significant difference in taste. I will admit that ground pork resulted in a somewhat “springier” consistency than the pre-roasted then ground pork.
Let’s consider the Galenic idea of balancing humors. A major consideration of the medieval cook was to prepare food for the health of those who would consume it. If we analyze the above period recipe,it should be noted that pork is considered to be cold/moist. As the meatballs are boiled, this increases the coldness/moistness, therefore by par-roasting the meat first you are balancing this process. If the par-roasting isn’t done, the end product could be too cool/moist and result in a disruption of the bodily humours of the person feasting on it. This theory need to be expanded by analyzing other recipes as to the degrees of moist/dry, hot/cold in order to determine how effective it is. For now, it’s an interesting idea that fits this situation.
The endoring can be done over a grill or barb-b-que or using the oven at a hot temperature (450 degrees). The grill is much more efficient as you do not have to keep opening the door to the oven, and is also more true to the original recipe. However, in the winter , I admit , standing over a grill, is not my idea of a great time but I did do it for this vigil,and I felt the results were justified. You may choose to use the oven and by all means don’t feel guilty.
A Redacted Recipe- Pommes Dorre
1 lb boneless pork (butt ends seem to have enough fat, loin is too lean) or for convienence, ground pork
2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground white pepper
3-5 strands of saffron, crushed
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp currants (optional)
5 egg yolks
5 strands of saffron (gold) or 1/4 cup pureed parsley (green)
1/8 cup unbleached all purpose flour
If using ground pork, eliminate the roasting and grinding.
Roast the pork steak for 10-20 minutes at 350 degrees so that it is half cooked. Cut into chunks. In a food processor, finely grind the meat. Add the egg yolks, spices, and if using, the currants. Blend well.
Bring a pot of water to boil and form 3 inch balls of the meat mixture. Carefully drop the balls into the boiling water, allow to come to a boil again and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and thread onto either a metal or bamboo skewer.
Brush the egg paste onto the meatballs, allowing to cook between coats. Roast the meatballs well to ensure that the egg paste is cooked. Serve hot or cold. Makes 25-35 meatballs.
Daz Buch von Guter Spise (1345 to 1354) From an Original in the University Library of Munich, Translation by Alia Atlas. Found in A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks, 7th Edition
Although earlier than Lady Jervisa’s persona, this manuscript afforded me a chance to recreate something that I had yet to work with. I found many of the recipes to be refreshing in comparison with the French counterparts found in Le Viander de Tallaivent and the Menagier de Paris. I hope those who partake in this lunch enjoy it as much as I did in recreating the dishes.
Original Recipe #11
Ein gut spise von huenern (a good food of hens)
Cut a roasted hen in small pieces. Take white bread. Make a thin egg dough. Pound saffron and pepper and do that together and mix it well in a vat and take a mortar with fresh fat and pound this all (possibly refers to the hen, bread and spices) to meal and level it above with a trowel. And cover it with a dish and turn the mortar thick about towards the fire, so that it has the same heat and stays flexible. When it becomes hard, so then lower down the fat and shake jout that hen in a dish and give out.
In reviewing this recipe I spent some 5 trials working on it’s instructions. The recipe begins easy enough and leads you to believe this will be a pasty type dish, utilizing and egg dough. At first it appears that the egg dough is all but forgotten, yet when considering the overall construction I believe it is used to line the mortar and provide the meat with a form to be retained after being baked, much like turning out tarts that have been baked. With the addition of the mortar and trowel uses in the manufacture of the recipe, it further confirms that a molded meat/bread puree is the final intention as the mortar is packed with the ingredients then levelled. The final sentence adds some confusion to the mix, indicating that it is necessary to “lower down the fat” which I have interpretted to mean that lard is used to loosen the molded dish. This could also be interpretted as greasing the pan. Overall, the dish is quite pleasing, with the buttery taste of saffron and the bite of black pepper, balanced by the subtle flavours of roast chicken and bread.
A Redacted Recipe- A Dish of Hens
1 lb roasted chicken chopped (approximately 2 breasts, 2 whole legs- larded and baked at 350 degrees for 40 minutes)
1/3 loaf of 60 % whole wheat bread- cubed
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed saffron
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp lard
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup lard*
4-5 Tbsp cold water
Mix the flours and salt.With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the lard until the consistency of coarse meal. Mix the egg with the water and add slowly, stopping to mix, about 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is sticky. Chill until ready to use. Roll out thinly and cut in rounds for 2-inch tart shells, with smaller rounds for the tops. Makes enough for 3O- 2 inch tart shells with tops.
*I chose to add lard to the dough and avoid greasing the tart tins.
In a food processor combine the ingredients to a fine consistency.
After lining pastry shells, place about 2 Tblsps of the filling and cover. Seal the edges and crimp with a fork. At this point the original recipe seems to call for covering the dish with a plate, this may be the modern version of using tin foil. I chose to bake the tartlets uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm or chilled.
Original Recipe #63
Heidenische erweiz (Heathen (Saracen)Peas)
Wilt du machen behemmische erweiz. so nim mandel kern und stoz die gar cleine. und mengez mit dritteil als vil honiges. und mit guten wurtzen wol gemenget. so ers aller beste hat. die koste git man kalt oder warm.
How you want to make heathen peas. So take almond kernels and pound them very small. And mix it with a third as much honey. And with good spices well mixed. So it has the very best. One hands this out greedily, cold or warm.
The original recipe calls for a 3 to 1 ratio of almonds to honey. In my trials I have found that this results in a meal that is a little too loose to roll properly. I have reduced the ratio to 4 to 1 and am much happier with the end result. This effect could be accounted for in the original recipe as the cook using approximations which might be off slightly.
Although this recipe does not call for roasting the ground nuts at all, I have found that this extra step eliminates the sometimes harsh taste of the oil in the almonds. If you feel you would like to stick to the letter of the recipe, I would simply suggest you avoid that step.
A Redacted Recipe- Heathen Peas
4 cups whole almonds
1 cup honey
2-3 tsp ground cinnamon
In a food processor, coarse grind 3 cups of almonds.On a baking sheet, place the almonds into a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes. Finely grind 1 cup of the almonds and add to the roasted almonds. Mix in cinnamon.
Warm the honey and add to the almonds, stirring well.
Keeping a bowl of warm water near by (to rinse your hands occasionaly), take a generous pinch of the honey/nut mixture and roll into a 1 inch ball. Continue until all of the mixture is used. Keeps well in a cool place, sealed container. Makes approximately 90- 1 inch balls
Original Recipe #48
Ein condimentlin (A condiment)
Mal kumel und enis mit pfeffer und mit ezzige und mit honige. und mach ez gel mit saffran, und tu dar zu senf. in disem condimente maht du sulze persilein, bern und clein cumpost oder rueben, was du wilt.
Flavour caraway seeds and anise with pepper and with vinegar and with honey. And make it gold with saffron. And add therto mustard. In this condiment you may make sulze (pickled or marinated) parsley, and small preserved fruit and vegetables, or beets, which(ever) you want.
Modern Adaption-As I have chosen to recreate this recipe using a modern canning method it is apparent that this recipe is not an exact recreation of the dish. My concerns are often for storage and food safety. The use of water in the brine is to offset the higher acid content of the vinegar used to marinate the fruit/vegetable where it is not heated as I am doing to can the recipe. I have however utilized the spices from the original and the basic ingredients for the pickle(I have added salt to coincide with modern canning recipes, and if you note, most of the recipes contained in this manuscript instruct you not to “oversalt” ). If you wish to remain exactly true to the period recipe, simply increase the vinegar to a total of 4 1/2 cups and the honey to 2 cups. Do not boil the pickle but simply store in a non reactive container for at least 2 weeks to develop flavour.
An Adapted Recipe- Preserved Carrots
2-3 lb. of 4 in quartered carrots sticks or baby carrots
1 cup of cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 Tbsp salt
3 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of honey
1 tsp each of caraway and anise
1/2 tsp each mustard and whole pepper corn
5 threads saffron
Mix the brine and bring to a boil. Place carrots into the brine and boil for only a few minutes. Remove carrots place into sterilized jars, fill to 1/4 inch from top, seal, ready in a few weeks.
An Exerpt from Daz Buch von Guter Spise;
This book speads of good food.
It makes the ignorant cook wise.
want to teach you of the cooking arts.
He who cannot understand them
should look at this book.
How he can make great dishes
from many small things,
he who remembers this learning very carefully,
which will be given in this book!
For it can well teach
of many dishes of great and of small,
how they combine themselves
and how they see to it
that they make insignificant bits into noble foods.
He should take this book and should not be ashamed
if he asks about what he does not know.
This decision makes him quickly a wiser man,
who then wants to learn to cook.
He should mark well this book..