Category Archives: 15th Century

Orange Omelette for Harlots and Ruffians

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Below is an excerpt from The Medieval Kitchen Recipes from France and Italy by Odile Redon, Françoise Sabban, & Silvano Serventi Translated by Edward Schneider :

How to make an orange omelette (From “Le ‘Registre de Cuisine’ de Jean de Bockenheim, cuisinier du pape Martin V” edited by Bruno Laurioux)

Take eggs and break them, with oranges, as many as you like; squeeze their juice and add to it the eggs with sugar; then take olive oil or fat, and heat it in the pan and add the eggs. This was for ruffians and brazen harlots.

Redaction:

6 eggs
2 oranges
1 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt

Juice the oranges and the lemon. Beat the eggs, add the juice, the sugar, and salt to taste, and cook the omelette in olive oil. Serve warm.

Johannes Bockenheim (or Buckehen) was cook to Pope Martin V and in the 1430s wrote a brief but highly original cookbook recently edited by Bruno Laurioux. This German, who lived at Rome, wrote as a professional, with telegraphic terseness and little detail; yet he was careful to specify the destined consumer of each recipe, pigeon-holed by social class—from prostitutes to princes—or by nationality: Italian, French, German from any of various provinces, and so forth.

Since medieval oranges were bitter, we suggest a blend of oranges and lemons. The sugar and the acidity of the juice prevent the eggs from completely setting, so this is more of a custardy cream that makes an unusual and very pleasant dessert.

All this information is available here.

Cooking Over a Fire

One of the classes that I was able to watch a bit of at the West Coast Culinary Symposium last weekend was Baroness Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn “Cooking over a Fire.” As a potter, I’ve been making stoneware cooking pots for over 12 years now, selling pipkins, pans and a variety of cookware over the years, but I’ve never seen anyone actually use them. I knew in theory how to use them and have had clients of mine test the pots to make sure they work, but this experience was very different for me.

Alton Brown has used Earthenware pots in a number of his episodes. The ones I’ve seen have been mostly baking, but to let my readers know that ceramics were the first “dutch oven” pretty much. Ceramics were used in ancient Rome and Greece, as well as in other ancient cultures around the world. They were used for the usual things one would cook in a stainless steel pot (i.e. stews, soups, sauces, vegetables, meats, rice, etc). You can even bake bread in clay (there is a roman/greek clay cloche I found the documentation for), serve wine, prepare your items (mortars and kitchen items)… well, I think you get the picture. The thing with Alton was he usually uses flower pots to cook in. It’s nice to see the pots I’ve made being used for what I intended them for, and them being enjoyed.

Anywho, the way to use clay cookware is actually fairly simple. To avoid thermal shock, you need to make sure you evenly warm the clay vessel and slowly heat them. No open flames at all.

Usually they start with coals. If a pot doesn’t have feet (it’s a sauce pan instead of a pipkin…) then a trivet is put down on a sturdy fire proof area. Someplace dry and away from a lot of wind is an ideal spot. If your pot as feet, don’t worry about the trivet.

This woman is heating up the coals and trying to get some air into them. Bellows would be fairly helpful at this point, but not needed when skirts and lungs are had. Just be careful not to set yourself on fire.

I’ve always told to slowly warm the pots by keeping the pot next to the coals as you are building the fire (a few feet) and as the coals settle into gray, hot useable goals, slowly move the pot closer and closer to the pile. Even heat to the pot. You don’t want to drop a cold pot into a hot fire because the pot may crack due to thermal shock (think of a glass of ice and pouring boiling water into it and the usual ramifications of that).

Pans of french toast added. Cooking commences. More coals are added as cooking is done.

Here are more examples of pots and cooking with fire.

Differences in handles… the hallow handles you would use a long stick in order to help pull it out of the fire. Some of the ladies would also use a mitt in order to help steady the pot and the stick to remove the cookware from the coals.

Items that were being cooked: french toast, custard, apple fritters and a game hen of some sort in wine sauce. There were also pancakes/prizelles I believe being made. From what I ate, it was all very yummy.

Heston’s Christmas Feasts

Heston Blumenthal is a chef in the UK and owner of a the Michelin-starred restaurant called The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire. He did a number of TV shows, showing how inspired he is by history and how he has created menus and “feasts” based on tastes of the past.

With Christmas only days away, I thought I would post his Christmas Feast show for those of you to enjoy. You can see how he takes from the past and gives it his own twist.

Heston's Christmas Feast part 1

Heston's Christmas Feast part 2

Heston's Christmas Feast part 3

Heston's Christmas Feast part 4

Lamb Samosas

Lamb Samosas

From the Sultan's Book of Delights (late fifteenth century).

Another kind of Ghiyath Shahi's samosas: take finely minced deer meat and flavour ghee with fenugreek and, having mixed the mince with saffron, put it in the ghee.  Roast salt and cumin together.  Having added cumin, cloves, coriander and a quarter of a ratti of musk to the mince, cook it well.  Put half of the minced onion and a quarter of the minced dry ginger into the meat.  When it has become well-cooked, put in rosewater.  Take it off and stuff the samosas.  Make a hole in the samosa with a stick and fry it in sweet-smelling ghee and serve it (when) tender.  By the same method of any kind of meat that is desired, can be made.

Ingredients:

Filling:

1 lbs ground lamb
1 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1/4 tsp saffron
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp coriander
1 large sweet onion, minced [1 cup approx.]
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp rose water

Put ghee in a large frying pan and add fenugreek and saffron, stirring for a few minutes.  Add lamb and start to brown. Add salt, cumin, cloves, coriander onion and ginger, stirring until the meat is brown and fragrant.  Add rose water and remove from heat.

Pastry:

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Sift flour and salt together. Make a well in the center of the mixture and quickly pour in ghee and water. Stir briskly until combined, gradually adding more water if necessary. You should aim for a slightly moist dough that sticks together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, cover with damp towel.

Assembly:

To assemble samosa, break off pieces of dough (leaving what's left under the towel) and shape into balls. Roll each ball into a circle about 1/10 of an inch thick and 5 inches across. Cut the circle in half. In one side put filling, fold half of the half circle over to make a triangle. Seal by brushing a bit of water along the edges and pinching it together with your finger.  Heat 2 inches ghee in a skillet or pan to 375 degrees. Put in samosas and let it fry to a golden brown on each side. Then drain on cloth or paper towel and eat.

Note:  I didn't experiment with the roasting cumin and salt together.  But I added both to the filling.  I didn't have any musk to add and couldn't think of an adequate substitute, so I left it out.  I followed a modern Indian recipe for the pastry since the original was so vague