Category Archives: Recipe

Passover Pre-17th Century

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This is one of those cuisines that is a real challenge to research before the 18th century: Jewish food.  It’s been a bit of a struggle for me to find what little I have over the years.  As I network with other people that are interested in the same historical roots, I’ve been able to find more and more details to my files.

Within the SCA, there was a very resourceful and dedicated researcher (Mistress Judith bas Rabbi Mendel) that put together this document on various types of Passovers throughout the SCA period.  It is hosted currently on  Stefan’s Florilegium over here.  Since it is that time of the season, I thought it would be a good idea to post this to help anyone out there looking for details like these for pesach.
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Hannah Glasse and her 310th birthday via Google Doodle

Google Doodle today features a prominent culinary figure in the 18th century, attributed to writing the first modern cookbook in English.

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Hannah Glasse was the author of “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” which was published in 1747. In comparison to the other cookbooks previously published over the years, this version was written in easily understood English, far closer to modern English. This made this book highly used and sought after within Great Britain and further.

There are 972 recipes that cover all sorts of standard home cooking fare. Baking, roasting, frying, boiling and everything in between is discussed using locally sourced ingredients (and nothing truly shocking or wild like in much earlier cookbooks for Royalty for Tudor kitchens, and the like). It was made for the home, for servants to use (or to those so inclined that weren’t servants). On top of the recipes for meals, recipes for medicines and housekeeping tips were also included. It seems like a precursor to a Mrs. Beeton that came a century later.

This book was so popular, that it had been reprinted several more times after its first publication. 20 editions in the 18th century were printed and continued to be published until 1843. Many classic English comfort foods are discussed and much of what we understand as traditional English cuisine are in this book.

This cookbook is used fairly extensively for early American cuisine and 18th century food history. It is still available in print currently, but free copies of the book are available throughout the web. Here is one showing the original text that you can download here. You can also pick up her book on Amazon.

Soda Bread

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Soda bread. What is it?

It’s a type of quick bread that us

es a base of 4 ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk (or a soured milk). The lactic acid from the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide, this giving the bread it’s rise. Baking soda was used as it was easier to find during the 19th century rather than raising yeasts. Also, the types of wheat that were used in Ireland worked better with baking soda (soft wheat) and over all, it was a better overall quality bread that was very inexpensive to make. The cost appealed to many for obvious reasons.

Soda Bread is synonymous with the Irish, however the Irish didn’t invent this bread. There are references to American Indian

s making a leaven bread similar, only more of a flat bread than a loaf (using Pearl Ash as well). Whether they invented it or not, they certainly eat and and present it as their own, and especially encouraged to bake this during St. Patrick’s Day.

One of the earliest recipes published was in “The Southern Planter” published in 1843. The recipe was: “how to make bread using 7 pounds of wheaten flour mixed with 350 to 500 grains of carbonate of soda with about 2 3/4 pints of pure water.

Mix separately 3/4 pint of water with pure muriatic acid (420 to 560 grains). Divide the flour into two parts. To one add the soda solution gradually, well stirring and beating the mixture. Then add the other portion of flour and while mixing pour in the diluted acid. Lightly kneed on a board for a short time. Loaves should be 1/2 lb to 1 1/2 lb each. Best baked under tins. Common salt can be added for taste.”

Whatever the recipe you use, Soda Bread is a lovely addition to your kitchen table (and not just for Saint Patrick’s Day, but all yeairish-soda-bread-vertical-a-1800r around), whether it is as is, or you add dried fruits, nuts or other add ins. There are many modern recipes available online by googling Soda Bread.

Here are a few modern recipes:

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread
Ina Garden Irish Soda Bread recipe
Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Thanks to the Society for the Preservation of Soda Breadfor much of my details as well as some tips from Wikipedia.

Mrs Beeton for the Fall: Soup is on again!

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Finding inexpensive items to cook for large amounts of people can be a bit challenging. Seasonality is key to making truly delicious dishes for your family and friends. This recipe hails from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton and published 1861.

Cabbage is a fantastically healthy vegetable which is good both raw and cooked. This recipe can be adjusted for vegetarian preferences if you remove the bacon and replace with a dab of butter. You can also add mushrooms to this to add in a more “meat like” and umami flavor.

CABBAGE SOUP.
118. INGREDIENTS.—1 large cabbage, 3 carrots, 2 onions, 4 or 5 slices of lean bacon, salt and pepper to taste, 2 quarts of medium stock No. 105.

Mode.—Scald the cabbage, exit it up and drain it. Line the stewpan with the bacon, put in the cabbage, carrots, and onions; moisten with skimmings from the stock, and simmer very gently, till the cabbage is tender; add the stock, stew softly for half an hour, and carefully skim off every particle of fat. Season and serve.
Time.—1-1/2 hour. Average cost, 1s. per quart.

Seasonable in winter.
Sufficient for 8 persons.

Mrs Beeton for the Fall: Soup is on!

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Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton and published 1861.  She had all manner of advise on how to run a household, but I am focusing on some of her recipes that sound particularly interesting for modern palates.

Fall is apple season, though most supermarkets will sell apples year round in many major cities.  Here is a recipe for Apple Soup:

APPLE SOUP.
111. INGREDIENTS.—2 lbs. of good boiling apples, 3/4 teaspoonful of white
pepper, 6 cloves, cayenne or ginger to taste, 3 quarts of medium stock.

Mode.—Peel and quarter the apples, taking out their cores; put them into the stock, stew them gently till tender. Rub the whole through a strainer, add the seasoning, give it one boil up, and serve.

Time.—1 hour. Average cost per quart, 1s.

Seasonable from September to December.

Sufficient for 10 persons.

DO drink the Water: Water Consumption in Medieval Europe

Food Fallacies: Medieval people drinking Ale or Wine only because the water available was not safe.

When dealing with Medieval food and food history, there are numerous fallacies out there on a variety of topics. One of the more annoying ones is the quality of safe water that was available to drink in Medieval times. I believe this idea, the thought that all water was terrible to consume, goes back further that just Medieval Europe, but this is something I am not sure about. But what is a fact is that while, I’m sure there were unsafe and stagnant waters within pre-17th century culture, that not “ALL” water was poisonous, and as such, people did, in fact, drink out of fresh streams, fresh water rivers and natural springs.

There are a number of online sources for this myth buster, but the best one I found was this link which is a book search result from Water: A Spiritual History by Ian Bradley. While the chapter mostly discusses holy wells, several pieces of his commentary go over the consumption of water in medieval times. Page 73 states: “In fact, the majority of water sources were probably seen in purely utilitarian terms, as providers of water for drinking and washing and not regarded as especially sacred.”

There are earlier examples of water being drunk as well. This goes to an article about Greek and Roman ideas about water.

There are some very good blog posts from Beer brewers and other food historians on the subject of water purity and the Ale and Wine myth. This one from Jim Chevallier has a lot of great examples of drink water references.

Myth spreading is bad. Don’t be part of the water myth! Drink up!

Pickling with Mrs Beeton

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Have a lot of cucumbers that you don’t have any idea what to do with? There is a fermentation revolution washing over the culinary world, with its kimchis, sauerkrauts, and the like.  Fermentation, or the act of preserving foods, has been around thousands of years.  If you’ve ever wanted to try to pickle something, how about trying out a few of Mrs. Beeton’s recipes for cucumbers.

PICKLED CUCUMBERS.
399. INGREDIENTS.—1 oz. of whole pepper, 1 oz. of bruised ginger; sufficient
vinegar to cover the cucumbers.

Mode.—Cut the cucumbers in thick slices, sprinkle salt over them, and let them
remain for 24 hours. The next day, drain them well for 6 hours, put them into a jar, pour boiling vinegar over them, and keep them in a warm place. In a short time, boil up the vinegar again, add pepper and ginger in the above proportion, and instantly cover them up. Tie them down with bladder, and in a few days they will be fit for use.

GERMAN METHOD OF KEEPING CUCUMBERS FOR WINTER USE.
402. INGREDIENTS.—Cucumbers, salt.

Mode.—Pare and slice the cucumbers (as for the table), sprinkle well with salt, and let them remain for 24 hours; strain off the liquor, pack in jars, a thick layer of cucumbers and salt alternately; tie down closely, and, when wanted for use, take out the quantity required. Now wash them well in fresh water, and dress as usual with pepper, vinegar, and oil.

Or how about making a vinegar with them?

CUCUMBER VINEGAR (a very nice Addition to Salads).
401. INGREDIENTS.—10 large cucumbers, or 12 smaller ones, 1 quart of vinegar, 2 onions, 2 shalots, 1 tablespoonful of salt, 2 tablespoonfuls of pepper, 1/4 teaspoonful of cayenne.

Mode.—Pare and slice the cucumbers, put them in a stone jar or wide-mouthed bottle, with the vinegar; slice the onions and shalots, and add them, with all the other ingredients, to the cucumbers. Let it stand 4 or 5 days, boil it all up, and when cold, strain the liquor through a piece of muslin, and store it away in small bottles well sealed. This vinegar is a very nice addition to gravies, hashes, &e., as well as a great improvement to salads, or to eat with cold meat.

Carrots and Leeks with Sesame Paste

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This is a nice veggie side dish for the summer months that has a cole slaw type flavor. The tahini gives it a nice nutty flavor, and the carrots have a real natural sweetness that makes this a great dish to eat on a warm day. This uses a unique spice mixture called Atraf-tib, which I created using this website as a basis of what the mix should be: http://dream-designs.net/roxalana/?cat=155

The idea of the spice mixture is use what you have. I used bay leaves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, cloves, ginger and long pepper. What I ended up doing was mixing 4 parts of ginger powder to 1 part of all the other dry ingredients. This gave me a sweeter spice. I blended all dry ingredients into a food mill and really ground down this mixture. You can play with the different ingredients that are listed on the site, adding lavender, rose, and other items. I was fairly light handed on using this in the dish as well. It’s a unique flavoring that gives the dish a very floral freshness. If you don’t want to add this, you do not have to either. The dish stands on its own.

This is on page 66: “Get some carrots, the white part of leeks, sesame butter [tahini], wine vinegar and atraf-tib. Slice the carrots and boil them. Take the [green] tops of the leeks and boil them separately, then drain them and soften them in sesame oil. Put the tahina in a dish, sprinkle it with boiling water, and mix it by hand so that the sesame oil can express itself; then add little vinegar, honey, and some atraf-tib. Put the drained carrots and leeks in a serving dish and add the tahini. You must do [this] in such a way that the quantity of carrots and leeks suits that of the condiments.

Carrots and Leeks with Sesame Paste

½ lbs. Leeks, cleaned, washed, thinly sliced
½ lbs. Carrots, skinned and sliced thinly
1/8 tsp Atraf-tib
1 tbsp. tahina
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt for the boiling water

Clean and slice vegetables, cutting them so the slices are uniform, both vegetables should have the same sized pieces. Put together two cook pans, adding water and some salt (around a tbsp.) to both, and bring to boil. In one boiling pot, add the cut carrots and blanch them. In the other pot, add the leeks to blanch. You want to try to keep a bit of a bite on the vegetables. Make sure when you pull the vegetables out of the water that they go immediately into an ice bath to stop them overcooking. Drain vegetables and add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine. Serves 6.

Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali (ISBN: 978-0-520-26174-7) was used for this redaction. Recipes from the book with the donation of K, for Kanz (the original Kanz al-Fawaid fi tanwi al-mawaid which was “The Treasure of Useful Advice for the Composition of a Varied Table”) were used.

Kanz: The Period Eggplant Dip

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Another from Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali (ISBN: 978-0-520-26174-7). Recipes from the book with the donation of K, for Kanz (the original Kanz al-Fawaid fi tanwi al-mawaid which was “The Treasure of Useful Advice for the Composition of a Varied Table”) were used.

Middle Eastern/Egyptian recipes have numerous examples of vegetable focused dishes. This is a good thing, especially when cooking for vegetarians and those people that wish to eat healthier over all. I’ve noticed over the years that many feasts and luncheons served within the Society for Creative Anachronism are very meat heavy. Perhaps there is pressure to create beef and chicken type dishes that are more accessible to the membership that isn’t too “scary” (i.e. different than what most people are used to). I do admit to having at least two somewhat familiar dishes when I am cooking for the non-adventurous eaters within my Barony and Kingdom, but I always try to throw some sort of culinary curve ball, and I’ve found vegetable dishes to be a great item to have people at least try with normally fairly good results.

Here is a great vegetable side dish that works well as a sauce or a dip. It is fairly similar to the modern baba ghannouj (which has tahini). This was on page 66: “Cut the eggplant into small pieces; put them in a jar for cooking [dast] together with whole cleaned onion. Add some sesame oil and oil of good quality and a little water. Reduce over a slow fire. When the ingredients are cooked, put them through a sieve and combine with a very small clove of garlic, yogurt, and chopped parsley.

Puree of Eggplant with Yogurt

1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
½ brown onion, chopped
¼ cup water
1 small clove of garlic, minced into a paste
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup plain yogurt (I used Greek style0
½ cup chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté diced eggplant and onions into a large cook pot using both oils and water. Reduce over a low fire until it is fully cooked and softened. Place in blender mixture until smooth and pureed.   Use cheese cloth and drain the eggplant onion mixture on it, removing as much of the water as possible. Place in bowl and mix thoroughly garlic, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6.

Kanz: Fava Bean in Sour Sauce with Hazelnuts

Here is another recipe in my series of Egyptian recipes that I found in Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali (ISBN: 978-0-520-26174-7). The recipes were tagged K, for Kanz (the original Kanz al-Fawaid fi tanwi al-mawaid which was “The Treasure of Useful Advice for the Composition of a Varied Table”).

This recipe in particular is great for warm weather since this is very much a cold vegetable dish. It’s also a great vegan dish. It was found on page 66 under cold appetizers. Some of the comments on this: you can use all fava beans and not bother with broad beans, or all broad beans. I did this mostly for color and texture difference. Also, the atraf-tib is a mixture of fairly “flowery” herbs and spices which is made up of lavender, betel, bay leaves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, cloves, rosebuds, beech-nuts, ginger and long pepper. It is also safe to say that you should use what you have available. Not all of these are easily available. What I ended up using was bay leaves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, cloves, giner and long pepper. I used 4 parts of ginger, to one part of all the other ingredients, but you may want to change these up. You also don’t need to make it if you’d prefer.

Fava Bean in Sour Sauce with Hazelnuts

1 can Fava Beans
1 can Broad Beans
¼ tsp saffron threads
¼ tsp dry ground coriander
¼ atraf-tib (spice mixture)
½ cup roasted hazelnuts
2 tbs fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
4 tbs fresh mint leaves
2 tbs tahini
1 tbs salt

Drain beans and place in large mixing bowl. In Cuisinart, place the rest of the ingredients (not the beans) in and grind that all into a smooth consistency (can be left chunky depending on your preferences). Pour mixture over beans and combine everything so that the beans are well covered. Feeds about 6.

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