Category Archives: 16th Century

Divers Pretty Things Made Of Roses & Sugar

We have a guest blogger here today to discuss edible Roses and what you can do with them.

Rose edited 1

Divers Pretty Things Made Of Roses & Sugar
by Mistress Renata Kestryl of Highwynds

The 1552 edition of Banckes Herbal contains a woodcut of three Tudor roses, a crown and a ribbon banner proclaiming the rose to be “The Kynge of floures” an opinion that seems to be shared by the people of 16th century England. Of course, the rose was the symbol of the royal family, but it was also a favorite embroidery motif, probably the most common floral motif in use at the time.

Herbalists and the writers of household recipe books were also fond of roses. John Gerard, whose Generall Historie of Plantes was first published in 1597, devotes no less than twelve pages to the description and virtues of roses, far more that he gives to any other herb. (The title of this article comes from his description.) Sir Hugh Plat, who published his Delightes for Ladies in 1609, has 16 recipes for preserving roses in various forms.

The recipes (or “prescriptions”, as the herbalists like to call them) are for things like rose-water, rose oil, rose honey or sugar, rose syrup and conserve of roses. All these item were used for cosmetic, medicinal and/or culinary purposes. Rose products were thought to be good for the skin, cooling and soothing to the digestive and the respiratory systems, and gentle enough that even the very old and the very young could tolerate them.

A disclaimer: While these treats were used medicinally in the 16th century (some examples follow each recipe), these recipes are not meant for anything other than culinary uses.

Harvesting Rose Petals

Warning: Most roses today are grown for ornamental purposes, and are usually treated with chemical pesticides and systemic rose food. While these help the rose plant produce more and healthier flowers, they make the flowers extremely toxic. Therefore, it is very important that no chemical pesticides or systemic rose food have been used on the rose plants for at least one year before harvesting for human consumption. You can be sure of this by a) growing the roses yourself in your own garden (but keep an eye on your gardener, if you have one — often they will feed your roses every year without mentioning it to you) or b) knowing the person who does the growing. If you are not 100% sure, do not use the roses.

Having made sure of the non-toxicity of the petals in question, they should be picked in the early morning, after the dew has dried. Cut flowers that are fully open, but the petals should not have started to wilt too much. (A few wilted petals are all right — they will be eliminated in processing) The whole flower head should be cut, as this will encourage the plant to produce more blooms.

Note: In the 16th century crimson Damask roses were grown by the acre, so cooks of that time had access to roses that a Caidan cook can only dream of. It is not necessary that all your petals be from red roses — any scented rose will do. I have made both rose petal jam and rose syrup using a mixture of petals of all colors, and as long as at least some of the petals are red, the results have still been dark red.

Once all the roses have been cut, carefully remove the petals from the rosehip, discarding any petals that are wilted or damaged. If at all possible, this should be done outdoors because there will be an incredible number of insects inside each flower (no pesticides, remember?) and you’ll want to keep them outside the house.

At the base of each petal is a small white patch, called the “nailes” by John Gerard and the “whights” by Lady Elinore Fettiplace. It should be removed using a small sharp scissors, as it will add a bitter taste to the final product.

Finally, the petals should be rinsed thoroughly with cool running water and allowed to air dry. They are now ready to be cooked.

The first rule of preserving, like that of medicine, is “Do no harm,” which means (in our case) do not let bacteria get into your preserves. Before you start, wash all pots, utensils, and kitchen surfaces with hot, soapy water and rinse well.

To Make A Conserve Of Roses

Take Red Rose budds, Cut of the whights then boyle them in water untill they bee very tender, then wey to every pound of Roses and water 3 poundes of sugar and boyle yt together till it be thicke enough stirr yt still on the fire and untill yt be colde then put yt in glasses and preserve yt to yor use.

– Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, compiled 1604

Conserve Of Red Roses

The same can be made another way, but better by many degrees: take the Roses at your pleasure, put them to boyle in faire water, having regard for the quantity; ,for if you have many roses, you may take the more water; if fewer, the less water will serve: the which you shall boyle the least three or foure houres, even as you would boyle a piece of meat, until in the eating they be very tender, at which time the roses will lose their colour, that you would think your labor lost and the thing spoiled. But proceed, for though the roses have lost their colour, the water has gotten the tincture thereof, then shall you add unto one pound of Roses, foure pound of fine sugar in pure powder, and so according to the rest of the roses. Thus shall you let them boyle gently after the Sugar is put thereto, continually stirring it with a wooden Spatula until it be cold, whereof one pound weight is worth six pound of the crude or raw conserve, as well for the vertues and goodnesse in taste, as also for the beautifull colour.

– John Gerard, The Herbal, or General History of Plants

You will need:

1/2 pound rose petals, cleaned and trimmed as above
1 cup water
3 or 4 pounds sugar
2 8-oz (or 4 4-oz) jam jars processed according to directions on the package.

Put the petals and water in an enamel or other non-reactive pot, cover and stew gently for about 30 minutes until all color has been leached out of the petals. (Don’t worry about this — they’ll turn red when the sugar is added.)

Increase heat and add the sugar, one pound at a time, letting each pound dissolve completely before adding the next. Three pounds of sugar, as Lady Fettiplace suggests, results in a somewhat runny jam, while four pounds of sugar will most likely cause the rose petals to crystallize (not necessarily a bad thing) in the jar. The amount of sugar you add will depend on the result you want.

When the last of the sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the mixture thickens and a drop placed on a cold plate forms a skin when it is pushed with a spoon. Overcooking the mixture can result in the entire batch of jam crystallizing once it is in the jar.* Remove from heat and quickly ladle the jam into the hot sterilized jam jars. Carefully wipe any spilled jam away from the outside of the jars, then apply the seals and rings.

*If this happens, the jam can be re-melted by putting the entire jar (unsealed) into a bowl and adding hot water up to about an inch below the lip of the jar. Leave the jar there (changing the water as needed to keep it hot) until the jam is sufficiently melted.

Note: because the ratio of rose petals to sugar is so high, this jam does not need to be heat-processed after the jars are sealed. The high sugar content acts as a preservative and prevents the growth of bacteria. The jam should be refrigerated after the jar is opened.

This jam has a very delicate flavor and can be used for any purpose as any other flavor of jam except one: peanut butter sandwiches. The strong flavor of peanut butter totally overwhelms rose-petal jam. Lady Fettiplace used her conserve for cheer and comfort the ill, incidentally while hiding the flavor of her more noxious medicines. Herbalists tended to prescribe it for coughs, colds and lung complaints.

A Singular manner of making the sirup of Roses

Fill a silver Basin three quarters full of rain-water or Rose-water: put therein a conveient proportion of Rose-leaves: cover the basin and set it upon a pot of hot water (as we usually bake a custard) in 3 quarters of an houre, or one whole houre at most, you shal purchase the whole strength and tincture of the rose: then take out those leaves, wringing out their liquor gently, and steepe more fresh leaves in the same water: continue this iteration seven time, then make it up in a sirup: and this sirup worketh more kindly than that which is made meerly of the juice of the Rose.

-Sir Hugh Plat, Delighes For Ladies, published 1609

To Make A Serop Of Roses

Take damask rose buds six handsfulls, & cut of the tops, and take a quart of faire running water, & put the roses therein, & put them in a basin & set them over the fire, that the water may be warm one day and night, then in the morning squise the roses hard between your hands out of the water, & put in as many fresh, & let them stand still on the fire, this doe nine times, then take out your roses, cleane out of the water, & put in as much sugar as will make it sweet, and boyle it till it come to a serop; you must put to everie pinte a pound of sugar.

– Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, compiled 1604

You will need:

Clean and trimmed rose petals
Water
Sugar

Put two handfuls of petals into the top of an enamel double boiler (or a Pyrex casserole suspended over a pot of water) with just enough water to cover them and put them over gently simmering water. Although Lady Fettiplace states that it should be on the fire for a day and a night, Sir Hugh Plat points out that 45 minutes to a hour will “purchase the whole strength and tincture of the Rose.” An hour is long enough for even the darkest petals to bleach absolutely white. Take the mixture off the fire and allow it to cool enough to be handled, then remove and discard the petals, squeezing as much liquid from them as possible. Put in two handfuls of fresh petals and repeat the procedure.

Lady Fettiplace’s recipe calls for this to be repeats nine times, although Sir Hugh recommends seven changes and other contemporary recipes call for as few as three changes. How many changes you will get depends on how many rose petals you have. No additional water is added for each successive change, so the liquid will decrease in volume as it becomes concentrated.

The end result will be a dark red, almost black, liquid. For every pint of liquid, add one pound of sugar and boiled the mixture gently until it thickens. The longer it is boiled, the thicker the resulting syrup be, but do not cook it too much or it will lose its fresh rose taste and aroma.

Pour the finished syrup into a clean bottle or jar with an air-tight closure, let it cool, and store it in the refrigerator, where it will stay good for years, if it lasts that long.

Lady Fettiplace used this syrup to flavor cool drinks in summer and to also hide or counteract the strong flavors of some of her medicinal remedies. John Gerard recommends rose syrup to cool the heat of fevers and agues, as a thirst quencher (taken with white wine) and for mild stomach problems. (Actually, he goes on to describe in medically gruesome detail the benefits to the whole digestive tract.) Nicholas Culpepper recommended it to cool the liver and comfort the heart and notes that a small dose taken every night will help with regularity. Banckes Herbal recommends syrup of roses for “feble sicke melacoly and colorike people.”

Bibliography

Culpepper, Thomas. Culpepper’s Complete Herbal. London: W. Foulsham & Co., Ltd.

Digbie, Sir Kenelme. The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened. London: H. Brome, 1669

Gerard, John. The Herbal, or General History of Plants. Revised 1633 by Thomas Johnson. New York: Dover Publications, 1975

Hillman, Howard; Loring, Lisa; MacDonald, Kyle. Kitchen Science. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 1981, 1989

Plat, Hugh. Delights for Ladies. London: Humfrey Lownes, 1609

Rohde, Eleanour Sinclair; The Old English Herbals. New York: Dover Publications 1971

Rohde, Eleanour Sinclair; Rose Recipes from Olden Times. New York: Dover Publications 1973

Spurling, Hilary. Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking. Compiled 1604. New York: Elizabeth Sifton Books/Viking Penguin, Inc. ,1986

Copyright 1998 by Sharon Cohen, P.O. Box 7487, Northridge, CA 91327-7487.

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Recipes Associated with an English Summer

Another post from our guest blogger THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE

Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe,
Chaucer. The Parliament of Fowls. c. 1381

Among the oft-repeated instructions for carving and serving of various dishes and meats, Wynkyn de Worde’s The Boke of Keruynge (Book of Carving) of 1508 contains suggested menus, which divide the season of Summer into two parts. The first part is from the Feast of Pentecost until Midsummer with the second being from Midsummer to Michaelmas. For those us living in the 21st century who commonly think of Summer as the season between Memorial Day to Labor Day or more formally the days between the Summer Solstice to the Autumnal Equinox (or quite frankly those days between the end of the school year to the start of the school year), it might seem odd to think of Midsummer as being a specific date, but it is and was. Midsummer is also known as St. John’s Day, celebrating the nativity and feast day of St. John the Baptist. The solstice may vary between June 20th and
2 book of hours 141, seasonal activitiesJune 22nd. St John’s Day is June 24th with St. John’s Eve being June 23rd. So yes, Midsummer occurs just a few days after the Summer solstice! By tradition Midsummer was a time of revelry and bonfires. Shakespeare even has Olivia in the play Twelfth Night say, “Why, this is very midsummer madness,” knowing his audience would be well aware of the merriment of a Midsummer eve and day.

Among the foods for late Spring until early Summer mentioned in the 1513 edition of The Boke of Keruynge, we find “befe, motton, capons” (which might be sodden or rosted), “Iussell charlet or mortrus with yonge geese, vele, porke, pygyons or chekyns rosted with payne puffe. …Here endeth the feest from Pentecost to mydsomer.” The suggested foods for “the feest of saynt Iohn̄ the baptyst vnto Myghelmasse” include

“ potage, wortes, gruell, & fourmenty with venyson and mortrus and pestelles of porke with grene sauce.” Then follows: “Rosted capon, swanne with chawdron.” There follows “ potage,” “rosted motton, vele, porke,” and a selection of fowl, including “chekyns or endoured pygyons, heron.” Then come the “fruyters or other bake metes.”

The Boke of Keruynge. [London: Wynkyn de Worde, 1508, 1513.]

This advice regarding serving and carving of various foods along with the menus given in The Boke of Keruynge would be repeated in later cookery English books well into the late 17th century. Thomas Dawson in the late 16th century would repeat the same advice in The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell. Dawson also includes this “goodlye” recipe which mentions summer.

A goodlye secret for to condite or confite Orenges, citrons, and all other fruites in sirrop.

 Take Cytrons and cut them in peeces, taking out of them the iuice or substance, then boyle them in freshe water halfe an hower vntill they be tender, and when you take them out, cast thē in colde water, leaue them there a good while, thē set them on the fire againe in other freshe water, doo but heat it a little with a smal fire, for it must not seeth, but let it simper a litle, continue thus eight daies together heating thē euery day in hot water: some heat ye water but one day, to the end that the citrons be not too tender, but change

the freshe water at night to take out the bitternesse of the pilles, the which being taken away, you must take suger or Hony clarified, wherein you must the citrons put, hauing first wel dried them from the water, & in wīter you must kéep thē from the frost, & in Sommer you shal leaue thē there all night, and a daye and a night in Honie, then boile the Honie or Sugar by it selfe without the orenges or Citrons by the space of halfe an hower or lesse with a little fire, and beeing colde set it again to the fire with the Citrons, continuing so two morninges: if you wil put Honnie in water and not suger, you must clarifie it two times, and straine it through a strayner: hauing thus warmed and clarified it you shall straine and sette it againe to the fire, with Citrons onely, making them to boyle with a soft fire the space of a quarter of an houre, thē take it from the fire & let it rest at euery time you do it, a day & a night: the next morning you shall boyle it again together the space of half an how¦er, and doo so two morninges, to the end that the Honie or suger may be well incorporated with the Citrons. All the cunning consisteth in the boyling of this sirrope together with the Citrons, and also the Sirrope by it selfe, and heerein heede must be taken that it take not ye smoke, so that it sauour not of the fire: In this maner may be drest the Peaches, or Lemmons Orrenges, Apples, greene Walnuts, and other liste being boiled more or lesse, according to the nature of the fruits.

Dawson, Thomas. The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell. London: 1597.

Also printed in the 1590s was The Good Huswiues Handmaid, for Cookerie in her Kitchin in dressing all maner of meat, with other wholsom diet, for her & her houshold. &c. This work offers a recipe for summer chicken pies.

To bake chickins in Summer.

CVt off their feete, trusse them in the coffins. Then take for euerie Chicken a good handfull of Gooseberries, and put into the pie with the Chickens. Then take a good quantity of butter, and put about euerie chicken in the pie. Then take a good quantitie of Sinamon, and ginger, and put it in the pie with salt and let them bake an houre, when they be baked, take for euerie pie the yolke of an eg, and halfe a goblet full of vergious and a good quantie of sugar, and put them altogether into the pie to the chickens, and so serue them. Page 20

Contrast with

To bake chickens in winter.

CVt of their feete, and trusse them, and put them in the pies, take to euerie pie a certaine of Corrans or Prunes, and put them in the pie with the Chickens. Then take a good quantity of Butter to euerie chicken, and put in the pie: then take a good quantity of ginger, and salt and season them together, & put them in the pie, let it bake the space of an houre & a half, whē they be baken, take sauce as is afore said, and so serue them in. Page 20

The Good Huswiues Handmaid also includes this recipe for a manchet, which notes differences between summer and winter baking.

The making of manchets after my Ladie Graies way.

Take two pecks of fine flower, which must be twise boulted, if you will haue your manchet very faire: Then lay it in a place where ye doe vse to lay your dowe for your bread, and make a litle hole in it, and take a quart of fair water blood warme, and put in that water as much leauen as a crab, or a pretie big apple, and as much white salt as will into an Egshell, and all to breake your leuen in the water, and put into your flower halfe a pinte of good ale yest, and so stir this liquor among a litle of your flower, so that ye must make it but thin at the first meeting, and then couer it with flower, and if it be in the winter, ye must keep it very warm and in summer it shall not need so much heate, for in the Winter it will not rise without warmeth. Thus let it lie two howers and a halfe: then at the second opening take more liquor as ye thinke will serue to wet al the flower. Then put in a pinte and a halfe of good yest and so all to breake it in short peeces, after yee haue well laboured it, and wrought it fiue or sixe tymes, so that yee bee sure it is throughlie mingled together, so continue labouring it, til it come to a smooth paste, and be well ware at the second opening that ye put not in too much liquor sodenlie, for then it wil run & if yee take a litle it wil be stiffe, and after the second working it must lie a good quarter of an houre, and kéep it warme: then take it vp to the moulding board, and with as much spéede as is possible to be made, mould it vp, and set it into the ouen, of one pecke of flower ye may make ten cast of Manchets faire and good. Page 51-52.

The good Huswiues Handmaid. [Sometimes cited as: A Booke of Cookerie, otherwise called the good huswiues handmaid.] [London] : [E. Allde, 1597]

The 1598 Epulario, or The Italian Banquet also includes a few recipes which mention Summer. Here we find a recipe for a sweetmeate and a recipe for the color blue.

To make a kind of Leach.

Take the yolkes of foure egges, halfe an ounce of Sinamon, foure ounces of Sugar, two ounces of Rosewater, and foure ounces of the iuice of Orenges, beate all these thinges together, and boile them and make it somewhat yellow, this is common in summer time.

 To make a skie colour sauce in summer.

Take wild mulberies which grow in the Hedges, and a few stamped Almonds with a little Ginger, temper all this with Veriuice and straine it.

 Epulario, or The Italian banquet. London: 1598.

Likewise, John Partridge offers up a seasonal recipe for a rose vinegar.

To make Uineger of Roses. Chapter. viii.

IN Sommer time when Roses blowe, gather them ere they be full spred or blowne out, and in dry wether: plucke the leaues, let them lye halfe a day vpon a fayre borde, then haue a vessel with Uineger of one or two gallons (if you wyll make so much roset,) put therein a great quantity of the sayd leaues, stop the vessell close after that you haue styrred them wel together, let it stand a day and a night, then deuide your Uineger & Rose leaues together in two parts put the in two great Glasses & put in Rose leaues ynoughe, stop the Glasses close, set them vpon a Shelfe vnder a wall syde, on the Southside wtout your house where the Sonne may come to them the most parte of the daye, let them stande there all the whole Somer longe: and then strayne the vineger from the Roses, and keepe the vinegre. If you shall once in .x. dayes, take and strain out Rose leaues, and put in newe leaues of halfe a dayes gatheryng, the vyneger wyll haue the more flauor and odour of the Rose.

You may vse in steede of Uinegre, wyne: that it may wexe eygre, and receiue ye vertue of the Roses, both at once. Moreouer, you may make your vineger of wine white, red, or claret, but the red doth most binde the bellie, & white doth most lose. Also the Damaske Rose is not so great a binder as the red Rose, and the white Rose loose th most of all: wereof you may make vinegre roset.

Thus also, you may make Uinegre of Uiolets, or of Elder flowers: but you must first gather & vse your flowers of Eldern, as shalbe shewed hereafter, when we speake of makyng Conserue of Elderne flowers.

Partridge, John. The Treasurie of commodious Conceits.1573**

 Although his works are published in the early 1600s, the author John Murrell is worth mentioning because this work distinctly mentions “Summer” on the work’s actual title page. It reads:

  “A NEVV BOOK OF COOKERIE.

Wherein is set forth a most perfect direction to furnish an extraordinary, or ordinary-feast, either in Summer or Winter.”

 Then on page one, we are told:

 “BY reason of the generall ignorance of most men in this practise of Catering. I haue set downe here a perfect direction how to set forth an extraordinary Dyet for the Summerseason, when these things mentioned may easily be had.”

Page 2 promises:

“Also, another Direction for another seruice for the Winter season, of twenty Dishes to the first Messe, and as many to the second Course to the same messe: so that in al there be forty Dishes to the messe although it be contrary to the other seruice of the  Summer season.”

 He then provides this bill of fare, which would indeed provide an extraordinary meal:

 “A Bill of service for an extraordinary Feast for Summer season, 50. dishes to a Messe.

  • A Grand Sallet. 2 A boyld Capon. 3 A boyld Pike. 4 A dish of boyld Pea-chickens, or Partriges, or young Turky chicks. 5 A boyld Breame. 6 A dish of young Wild-ducks. 7 A dish of boyld Quailes. 8 A Florentine of Pufpaste. 9 A forc’d boild meat. 10 A hansh of Venison roasted. 11 A Lombar Pye. 12 A Swan. 13 A Fawne or Kid, with a Pudding in his belly, or for want of a Fawne you may take a Pigge and fley it. 14 A Pasty of Venison. 15 A Bustard. 16 A Chicken Pye. 17 A Pheasant or Powtes. 18 A Potato Pye. 19 A Couple of Caponets. 20 A set Custard.

The second Course.

  • A Quarter of a Kid. 2 A boyld Carpe. 3 A Heron or Bitter. 4 A Congers head broyled, or Trouts. 5 A Hartichoake pie. 6 A dish of Ruffs or Godwits. 7 A cold bak’d meate. 8 A sowst pigge. 9 A Gull. 10 A cold bak’d meat. 11 A sowst pike, Breame, or Carp. 12 A dish of partriges. 13 An Orengado pye. 14 A dish of Quailes. 15 A cold bak’d meate. 16 A fresh Salmon, pearch or Mullet. 17 A Quodling Tart, Cherry, or Goosebery Tart. 18 A dryed Neates-tongue. 19 A Iole of Sturgeon. 20 A sucket Tart of pufpaste.

The third Course for the same Messe.

1 A Dish of Pewets. 2 A Dish of Pearches. 3 A dish of gréen Pease, if they be dainty. 4 Dish of Dotrels. 5 A dish of Hartichoakes. 6 A dish of buttered Crabs. 7 A dish of Prawnes. 8 A dish of Lobstars. 9 A dish of Anchoues. 10 A dish of pickled Oysters.

Murrell, John. Murrels tvvo books of cookerie and carving. (This combined late edition is dated 1641.)

Lastly, a search through the early English cookery books printed prior to 1700 finds that the work with the most recipes mentioning the season of Summer appears to be Robert May’s 1660 classic cookery book The Accomplisht Cook, or The Art and Mystery of Cookery. May, who was born in 1588, includes recipes for alternative summer versions of recipes for pigeons, fillet of beef, mutton, veal, sturgeon, lobsters, bisk or Battalia pie, and “Paste for made dishes in summer.” I will end by mentioning the 1608 The Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen***. The work may not directly mention the season of Summer, but the work is worth examining for its numerous recipes for confections, pastes, and waters made of flowers and herbs, all suitable for summer feasts and banquets. Happy Summer, Everyone.

Sources are as indicated.

For more on Robert May, see:

Holloway, Johnna. “An Appreciation of Robert May.” Tournaments Illuminated. #188. 4th quarter. 2013. pp 25-27, 32.

** Partridge, John. The Treasurie of commodious Conceits of 1573 may be found online in a transcription © 2010 by Johnna Holloway. Web. Medieval Cookery.com. http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/treasurie.pdf

***The Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen of 1608 may be found online in an edited and annotated edition © 2011 by Johnna Holloway. Web. Medieval Cookery.com. http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/1608closet.pdf

©Holloway 2015, 2018.

Bread, Eggs and Milk

8410390-bread-milk-and-eggsWas looking up some ways that cooks in the Lowlands (12th Century Western Europe) would of used up old bread from the days before. Nothing went to waste in that society and with no real refrigeration and limited resources for ingredients, it made sense to use up as much as possible.

As I skimmed around this book (Libellus de arte coquinaria: An Early Northern Cookery Book ed. by Rudolf Grewe, Constance B. Hieatt), I came across two recipes with the same more or less basic ingredients — bread, milk, and eggs — but handled differently.

Recipe XVI [D13] (Page 63)
How to prepare a dish called “White Mush”

One should take fresh milk, an well crushed wheat bread, and a beaten egg and well ground saffron, and let it cook until it becomes thick. Then, place on a dish and add butter, and sprinkle on powdered cinnamon. It is called “white mush.”

The second dish, I originally thought was a cooked dish, but as I really looked at it, I can’t assume it was and think more that this is a drink. With all the health concerns of raw eggs nowadays, I can’t imagine recreating this at all (or it being like the title “sweet”). However, I wanted to include this since it seemed really interesting to see the “take break, milk and eggs” combination.

Recipe XVII [D14] (Page 63)
About a dish call Kalus: Sweet Milk

One should take fresh milk, and cut into it the crust of wheat bread, cut into a small dice. Afterwards place this in a pan and well beaten egg yokes. This is called “Kalus.”

Differences off the bat, one is cooked, the other is raw. The first crushes the bread and the other is a dice. One seems to be a sort of pain perdu riff, cooked and more soft.

My mind started wandering and I thought perhaps “white mush” is a precursor to the “Pudding in a Frying-panne” that is mentioned in John Murrell: A new booke of Cookerie; London Cookerie. London 1615. Or maybe it was some sort of influence? Probably not, but it makes sense to create recipes from basic food stuffs that were mostly found in homesteads and farms, created from common livestock like cows and chickens.

To make a Pudding in a Frying-panne.
Take foure Egges, two spoonefuls of Rosewater, Nutmeg grated, Sugar, grated Bread, the quantitie of a penny Loafe, halfe a pound of Beefe Suit minst fine: worke them as stiffe as a Pudding with your hand, and put it in a Frying-pan with sweet Butter, frye it browne, cut it in quarters, and serue it hot, eyther at Dinner or Supper. Jf it be on a fasting day leaue out the Suit, and the Currens, and put in two or three Pomewaters minst small, or any other soft Apple
that hath a good relish. [Recipe taken from http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/1615murr.htm]

The Kalus, seems to be more of a drink,and less of a dish (side or main) really. Though the handling of the bread into cubes, also reminds me of another recipe from A New Booke of Cookerie, however, this one again is more of a dish that is cooked and less liquid (plus sugar, fruits and other sweet goodness).

To make an Italian Pudding.
Take a Penny white Loafe, pare off the crust, and cut it in square pieces like vnto great Dyes, mince a pound of Beefe Suit small: take halfe a pound of Razins of the Sunne, stone them and mingle them together, and season them with Sugar, Rosewater, and Nutmegge, wet these things in foure Egges, and stirre them very
tenderly for breaking the Bread: then put it into a Dish, and pricke three or foure pieces of Marrow, and some sliced Dates: put it into an Ouen hot enough for a Chewet: if your Ouen be too hot, it will burne: if too colde, it will be heauy: when it is bakte scrape on Sugar, and serue it hot at dinner, but not at Supper.

Many other plays on the three staples out there. How many can you find?

Cookery in Spring

Spring is in bloom.  Our guest blogger, THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, is on here to tell us more about it.

Grimani Breviary April 1490-1510This is a year of a late Spring. Here in Michigan, we had scant snow in February, but it snowed off and on in April.  One must move along and think seasonally, so one might as well look for recipes which specify spring. Here are a few English recipes mentioning the season.

Spring flowers feature in our nursery rhymes and sayings today; they also can be found scattered in our culinary references. John Partridge in his 1573 The Treasurie of Commodious Conceits, includes a chapter titled “To know what time in the yeare Herbes and Flowres, should be gathered in their full strength. cap.lxi.” Therein he explains when herbs and flowers should be gathered. He writes:

“Camimamill shalbe gathered in Apryll… Addertung should be gathered in Apryll.

Uiolet should be gathered in the Month of March, & in this month should Uiolets be put into Sugre and to Syrop.

Roses should be gathered in April and in May: and of them shoulde be made Suger ro set in Syropes of Roses and in this same Month should Oyle be made of Camamyll.

Rosemary flowres should be gathered in May. Centory whe he begieth to flowre.

Origanum in ye Month of Iune.

And as to what might be done with those roses gathered in May and June, he writes:

“Here foloweth, the sundrie Uertues of Roses, for dyuers Medicines. Ca.lxii.

Roses, be colde and moyste, in two degrees: it hath these Uertues. Stampe it, & lay it to a sore that brenneth & aketh: and it shall cease both the brennyng & akyng.

Also, it is good for the feuer in the stomacke, & against all euyelles that are gendred in hot humours.

Also, lette any woman drynke it with Wyne, and it shal foorthwith restrayne bleedyngs, and helpe the Marowes of the wombe.

Also, make Oyle of Roses, & that is a principall Receipt for pricking in Sinewes & the water threof is good for sore eien, and for hot euils, and the Oyle is good for head ache to anoynte therwith the timples, and ye roote of him is good, & drawynge for Iron: or other thing in a man’s foote, & the red Rose is much better then the white.”

Partridge, John. The Treasurie of Commodious Conceits, and Hidden Secretes. 1573.**

 Here is another recipe for a dish to be made of all those gathered herbs. From 1598 comes this recipe:

To make a Herboletta of hearbes in the month of May.

Take as much new chéefe as aforesaid and stampe it, then take fiftéene or sixtéene Egges and some milke, good store of Bettonie, Margerum, Sage, Mint, and a little Parsely, stampe these hearbes very well and wring out the iuice and straining it, you must put it into the Chéefe and other things aforesaid, with halfe a pound of Butter, halfe a pound of Ginger, and ten ounces of Sugar, and mixe all these together and set them on the fire in a pipkin not ouerwhote, and stirre it with a spoone vntill it begin to thicken like pottage: that done, hauing made paste you shall put the composition into it, and set it to bake in a pan with a soft fire, both vnder and ouer it. And when it is well baked, take it out and straw fine Sugar and Rosewater vpon it. This kinde of Tarte is best when it is gréenest.

[Rosselli, Giovanne de.]Epulario, or The Italian banquet. 1598.

 In the 1597 The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell,

 Thomas Dawson advocated that one confite orange peels “cheefly in May.”

To confite Orenge peeles which may be doone at all times in the yeere, and cheefly in May, because then the saide peeles be greatest and thickest.

Take thicke Orenge péeles, and them cut in foure or fiue péeces, and steepe them in water the space of ten or twelue daies. You may know when they be stéeped enough, if you holde them vp in the sunne and sée through them, then they be steeped enough, & you cannot sée through them, then let them stéepe vntil you may. Then lay them to drye vpon a table, and put them to dry betwéen two linnen clothes, then put them in a Kettell or vessell leaded, and adde to it as much Honny as will halfe couer the saide peeles, more or lesse as you think good, boyle them a little and stirre them alwaies, then take them from the fire, least the Honny should séeth ouermuch. For if it should boyle a little more then it ought to boyle, it would be thick. Let it them stand and rest foure daies in the said Honny, stirring and mingling the Orrenge and Honny euery day together. Because there is not honny enough to couer all the saide Orrenge péeles, you must stir them well and oftentimes, thus doo thrée times, giuing them one bobling at ech time, then let them stand thrée dayes then strain them from the honny, and after you haue let them boile a small space, take them from the fier, and bestow them in vessels, putting to them Ginger, cloues and Sinamon, mixe all together, and the rest of the Sirrope will serue to dresse others withall.

Dawson, Thomas. The Second Part of the Good Hus-wiues Iewell. 1597.

          From Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook, from 1660 comes this menu for April:

A Bill of Fare for April.

Oysters.

1 A Bisk.
2 Cold Lamb.
3 A Hanch of Venison roste.
4 Goslings four.
5 A Turky Chicken.
6 Custard of Almonds.

A second Course.

1 Lamb, a side in joynts.
2 Turtle Doves eight.
3 Cold Neats Tongue Pie.
4 8 Pidgeons four larded.
5 Lobsters.
6 A Coller of Beef.

Tanseys.

Lastly, the agrarian writer Thomas Tusser offers this advice for April regarding the keeping of the dairy by the good housewife. He regarded the milking and making of cheeses and butter to be the sole province of the women of the house and chided them in a number of verses should they prove negligent or fail in these tasks.

From Aprill beginning, til Andrew be past,
so long with good huswife, her dayry doth last.
Good beast & good pasture, good husbands prouide
ye resdue, good huswiues, know best how to guide

Tusser, Thomas. Fiue hundreth points of good husbandry vnited to as many of good huswiferie. 1573.

Happy Springtime.

Sources are as indicated.

** The Partridge, John. The Treasurie of commodious Conceits of 1573 may be found online in a transcription © 2010 by Johnna Holloway. Web. Medieval Cookery.com. http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/treasurie.pdf

The article originally appeared in The Citadel, Spring 2015.

©Holloway 2015, 2018.

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.

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!

Rumpolt Salads for Summer

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Ein new Kochbuch (lit. “A New Cookbook”), written in 1581 by Marx Rumpolt, was the first textbook for professional chefs in training. He was head cook to Elector of Mainz, Daniel Brendel of Homburg. Currently this is being translated by Sharon Ann Palmer on her lovely blog over here.

I found a few easy salads that are perfect for the Summer.

Salat 20. Schel die Murcken/ vnd schneidt sie breit vnnd dünn/ mach sie an mit Oel/ Pfeffer vnd Saltz. Seind sie aber eyngesaltzen/ so seind sie auch nit böß/ seind besser als roh/ denn man kans eynsaltzen mit Fenchel vnd mit Kümel/ daß man sie vber ein Jar kan behalten. Vnnd am Rheinstrom nennet man es Cucummern.

20. Peel the Cucumbers/ and cut them wide and thin/ mix them with oil/ pepper and salt. If they are salted/ then they are also not bad/ they are better than raw/ for one can salt them down with fennel and with caraway/ that one can keep over a year. And on the Rhine river (in the Rhine valley) one calls it Cucummern.

Cucumber Salad

3 Medium Cucumbers, English or whatever you prefer
1 Small Bulb of Fennel
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper (adjust to taste)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/8 Tsp Caraway Seeds

Take skin off and then thinly slice cucumbers. Clean and slice fennel as well. Place in bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Combine everything evenly. Serve.

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Salat 33. Nimm ein rot Häuptkraut/ schneidts fein klein/ vnd quells ein wenig in warmen Wasser/ küls darnach geschwindt auß/ machs mit Essig vnd Oel ab/ vnd wenn es ein weil im Essig ligt/ so wirt es schön rot.

33. Take a red cabbage/ cut it very small/ parboil it a little in warm water/ cool it rapidly/ mix with vinegar and oil/ and when it lays awhile in the vinegar/ then it will be beautiful red.

Red Cabbage Salad

1 large Red Cabbage
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt

In a large pot fill with water, leaving at least 3″ from the rim. Boil water.

Get another large bowl and fill with an ice bath.

Shred cabbage.

Once water is boiling, take off heat and strain off liquid.

Drop hot cabbage carefully into ice bath. Let stand for a few minutes until cabbage is cool to touch.

Drain water. Squeeze cabbage loosely to get as much water off as you can.

Place in clean, dry bowl cabbage and add the rest of the ingredients. Toss cabbage to make sure everything is well mixed.

Libre del Coch — Amored Hen

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Libre del Coch was published in 1520 in Barcelona. It was written in Catalan – a language related to, but distinct from, Spanish, written by Ruperto de Nola.
Armored Hen [GALLINA ARMADA]

Roast a good hen. And when it is nearly half-roasted, baste it with bacon. Then take well-beaten egg yolks, then with a spoon or with the tip of a large wooden spoon rub the hen with these yolks, little by little. And then sprinkle wheat flour well-sifted with ground salt over the eggs, turning the hen constantly and swiftly; and the crust is worth more than the hen.

My Thought process:

I’m doing these redactions/recipes for a large cooking event, however, I have no space to actually cook full chickens. There is absolutely nothing wrong with switching this up if you have the equipment and space for full hens. I created this so it was easy and faster to cook, as well as prepare.

I also added a few more spices than the original for better flavor. If you want to stick with just salt and the yoke, then by all means, do that. * means optional.

Recipe:

8 Chicken Legs (about a pound)
8 strips of bacon
¼ cup flour
1 tbs Thyme*
1 tbs Sage*
1 tbs Onion Powder*
1 tbs Garlic Powder*
½ tbs Salt
½ tbs Pepper*
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven for 450 degrees. Take tin foil strips and crunch them up into long tin foil ropes, lining your cook pan with them. This method lifts the chicken on crunched up tin foil to allow it to not cook in fat and crisp skin (if you have another way to lift the legs, feel free to do that).

Put all dry ingrediants together either in a plastic resealable bag or in a bowl. Dredge chicken legs in egg yoke and then coat with the flour mixture. Place chicken on top of coiled tin foil pan and cover each piece of chicken with a strip of bacon.

Roast. Cook at 450 degrees until fully cooked and skin gets crispy.

Sausages in Pottage

Sausages in Pottage

Recipes within our period (pre-1650) in the use of sausage in dishes are sprinkled across the various cultures and time periods. The original German recipe for the sausage itself was hinting that the sausage would be made for a salad. I decided to look deeper to try to find another recipe that would be cooked. Apples and Sausages are still very much eaten in Europe and finding this version on that dish which is period, is a great find. The mix of salty and sweet is a classic temptation of the palate.

Here is some background on the original two cook book authors. My sausage recipe was written by Sabina Welserin, otherwise unknown, was the author of a German cookbook, Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, which she dated 1553 in her brief epigraph. The manuscript was edited by Hugo Stopp and published as Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. (Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag) 1980. It is one of a very few primary sources for the history of German cuisine. The main recipe for the Sausage and Pottage dish was resourced from Lancelot de Casteau or de Chasteau or de Chestea, also known as Anseau de Chestea (1500s – 1613) was the master chef for three prince-bishops of Liège in the 16th century: Robert de Berghes, Gérard de Groesbeek, and Ernest of Bavaria and the author of a cookbook, the Ouverture de cuisine, often considered the first cookbook to go beyond medieval recipes and to codify haute cuisine.

ORIGINAL RECIPES AND REDACTIONS

Original:
Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553

23 If you would make a good sausage for a salad 

Then take ten pounds of pork and five pounds of beef, always two parts pork to one part of beef. That would be fifteen pounds. To that one should take eight ounces of salt and two and one half ounces of pepper, which should be coarsely ground, and when the meat is chopped, put into it at first two pounds of bacon, diced. According to how fat the pork is, one can use less or more, take the bacon from the back and not from the belly. And the sausages should be firmly stuffed. The sooner they are dried the better. Hang them in the parlor or in the kitchen, but not in the smoke and not near the oven, so that the bacon does not melt. This should be done during the crescent moon, and fill with the minced meat well and firmly, then the sausages will remain good for a long while. Each sausage should be tied above and below and also fasten a ribbon on both ends with which they should be hung up, and every two days they should be turned, upside down, and when they are fully dried out, wrap them in a cloth and lay them in a box. 




If you would make a good sausage for a salad – Redaction:
As I was wishing to do a test batch, I decided to cut the directions in half. I still had a ton of meat to stuff. For ease (and to spare my hands) I purchased the meat ground up. In period they would have chopped/ground it up themselves. The texture changes when you do that. In the future I may try that and see if there is much difference.

5lbs Ground Pork
2.5lbs Ground Beef
1lb Bacon
4oz of Salt
1.2oz Ground Pepper
1/3 pound of Pork Fat
25 standard sausage casings

I took all the meat, salt and pepper, and mixed it together by hand in a huge bowl. Testing the flavor by frying up a small 1 inch patty and tasted it. I left the seasonings as is, but this is a great way to make sure the flavorings are good before stuffing. Using a Kitchen aid with a sausage stuffer attachment, I threaded the casing on the tip of the food extruder (knotting the one end once the casing is fully on) and began to feed the stuffer with the mixture. The attachment filled the casings and when I felt the sausage was big enough and stuffed tightly (about five inches long roughly), I would twist the casing to close off that sausage, trying to keep them roughly the same shape. They were placed in the refrigerator for storage before use.

Next part of the sausage dish cooking project is the main recipe for the Tourney Dish. The recipe is called Sausages with apples, cinnamon and nutmeg from Saulcisses en potage, Lancelot de Casteau, Ouverture de cuisine, 1585 (France, 1604 – Daniel Myers, trans.).

Original:

Saulcisses en potage.

Prennez les saulsisses, & les fricassez en beurre, puis prennez quartre ou cinq pommes pellées & couppées par petits quartiers, & quartre ou cinq oignons couppez par rondes tranches, & les fricassez en beurre, & les mettez tout dedans vn pot auec les saulsisses, & mettez dedans noix muscade, canelle, auec vin blanc ou rouge, du succre, & le faictes ainsi esteuuer.

Translation:

Sausages in pottage.

Sausages in Pottage. Take sausages, & fry them in butter, then take four or five peeled apples & cut into small quarters, & four or five onions cut into rings, & fry them in butter, & put all of them into a pot with the sausages, & put therein nutmeg, cinnamon, with red or white wine, sugar, & let them then all stew.

Sausages in Pottage – Redaction:

2lbs of sausages
four medium apples
4-5 medium onions
butter for frying
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups semi-dry white wine
sugar to taste

Brown the sausages in a little butter. They need not be fully cooked through because you will be stewing them. Remove them to a heavy, high-sided stewing pot. Peel and core the apples, cut them into small chunks and brown them in the same pan you just browned the sausages in. When they have browned, remove them to the stew pot. Cut the onions into wide rounds about ¼” thick. Brown them in the apple/sausage pan until they are well browned, remove to the stew pot. Let the browning pan cool a little and take about ½ cup of the wine and reconstitute the pan drippings. Try to get off as much as you can because it will add flavor to the pottage, then add it to the stew pot. Add the remainder of the wine, spices and sugar. Let the pottage cook covered over a low heat for an hour. Check it at that time for doneness(allow to stew a little longer if it is not done). If so make sure that it has enough liquid. You don’t want all the liquid to cook away.

Libre del Coch — Chopped Spinach

Libre del Coch was published in 1520 in Barcelona. It was written in Catalan – a language related to, but distinct from, Spanish, written by Ruperto de Nola.

Chopped Spinach [ESPINACAS PICADAS]
You must take spinach and clean it, and wash it very well, and give it a brief boil with water and salt; then press it very well between two chopping-blocks, then chop it very small. And then gently fry it in bacon fat; and when it is gently fried, put it in a pot on the fire, and cook it; and cast in the pot: good broth of mutton, and of bacon which is very fatty and good, only the flower (63) of the pot; and if by chance you wish it, in place of the broth, cast upon it milk of goats or sheep, and if not, of almonds; and take the bacon, and cut it into pieces the size of fingers, and cast them in the pot with the spinach; and depending on what the season it is, if you wish, cast in fresh cheese; you may do it likewise, like the abovementioned slices of bacon; and if you put in a great deal, do not put it in until the spinach is entirely cooked, and cast this in a little before dishing it out; and if you wish also to cast in tender raisins which are cooked, you can do it all around the spinach; and if you do not wish to put in these things, neither bacon nor grated cheese of Aragon, cast parsley and mint with it likewise; and the spinach will be better.
Recipe:
6 oz of Spinach, cleaned
4 tsp bacon fat
4 strips of Bacon, rendered and chopped
1/4 Cup Almond Milk
6 oz Queso Blanco cheese
Salt

Blanch spinach in boiling, salted water. Drain spinach as much as possible then chop finely. Add spinach to a hot pan with bacon fat and bacon to sauté. Cook until everything is warmed through. Place in casserole. Mix in almond milk and cheese. Make sure you sprinkle cheese on the top. Bake in oven, 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

[Comments: Originally I used ½ Almond milk, but the mixture was fairly watery. Cutting down liquid in next try. Maybe grind up spinach before sauté?]