Category Archives: 17th Century

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?

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Visions of Sugarplums

This article was originally published in the July 97 issue of Ars Caidis and has been archived on Stefan’s Florilegium here. I asked Renata for permission to repost her articles here for my readers.  Since Plums are a summer fruit (mostly here in California) I thought it would be timely to post something to do with plums.

Plum-Cake-prep-16

Visions of Sugarplums
by Mistress Renata Kestryl of Highwynds

The dictionary defines a sugarplum as a small round or oval piece of sugary candy. English being the flexible language it is, the name could have come from the resemblance to a small plum. Or it could have come from actual plums preserved in sugar, a relatively new idea in 16th Century England. Prior to this time sugar was so expensive that it was used very sparingly, much as we would use a spice today. In the 1540’s, however, sugar started being refined in London which lowered the price considerably, although only well-off families were able to use it lavishly. Preserving with sugar allowed the sweet fruits of summer to be enjoyed all year round, especially during the holiday season.

16th Century cooks did not record their reasons for using one ingredient over another, although they seem to enjoy very much trading recipes and most of those who wrote down their recipes were scrupulous about attributing them to their original creators. Some recipes have delightful names such as “The Lord of Devonshire, His Pudding.”

Herbalists of the day, however, had a great deal to say about the produce and seasonings used. John Gerard, whose Complete Herbal was first published in 1597, says of fresh plums that they provide very little nourishment and moreover have a tendency to spoil quickly and taint any dish they are served in. Dried plums, or prunes, he says, are much more wholesome and he recommends them for problem in the digestive system. Thomas Culpepper, writing somewhat later, finds virtue in both the fresh and dried fruit.

Gerard also has a bit to say about sugar cane and the product of its juice, sugar. In addition to listing the benefits of sugar to the respiratory and digestive systems, he starts to list the culinary goodies which can be made with it. He then points out “it is not my purpose to make my book a Confectionairie, a Sugar Bakers furnace, a Gentlewoman’s preserving pan…” He also offers a thumbnail sketch of sugar refining.

Whether 16th Century cooks worried about the nutritional value — or lack thereof — of their holiday treats is, of course, open to conjecture. I invite anyone who has lived through a massive holiday baking session to ponder this question.

I first tried some 16th Century preserving techniques to make 12th Night gifts, and now understand why sugared fruit was a treat to be saved for special occasions. For one thing, sugared fruit is intensely fruit-flavored and unbelievably sweet, for another it is extremely time-consuming (but not difficult) to make. Fortunately for 12th Night gift-giving, the time to make sugarplums is during the summer, when plums are ripe.

TO DRIE APRICOCKS, PEACHES, PIPPINS OR PEARPLUMS

Take your apricocks or pearplums, & let them boile one walme in as much clarified sugar as will cover them, so let them lie infused in an earthen pan three days, then take out your fruits, & boile your syrupe againe, when you have thus used them three times then put half a pound of drie sugar into your syrupe, & so let it boile till it comes to a very thick syrup, wherein let your fruits boile leysurelie 3 or 4 walmes, then take them foorth of the syrup, then plant them on a lettice of rods or wyer, & so put them into yor stewe, & every second day turne them & when they be through dry you may box them & keep them all the year; before you set them to drying you must wash them in a litlle warme water, when they are half drie you must dust a little sugar upon them throw a fine Lawne.

(by the Lady tracy)

— Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, 1604

Sir Hugh Plat, in his Delights for Ladies (published 1609), seems to have more faith in his readers’ culinary skills, as his recipe is much simpler:

THE MOST KINDELY WAY TO PRESERVE PLUMS, CHERRIES, GOOSEBERIES, &c.

You must first purchase some reasonable quanity of their owne juyce, with a gentle heat upon embers, in pewter dishes. dividing the juice still as it commeth in the strewing: then boile each fruit in his own juyce, with a convenient proportion of the best refined sugar.

You will need:

1-2 pounds of plums (any variety) fully ripe but not too soft
lots of white granulated sugar (unfortunately I cannot be more exact)
a large, heavy saucepan, preferably enamel
a wire rack — a cookie cooling rack works very well — set up over a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.

Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the pits (this is a lot easier if you’re using a freestone variety). Lady Fettiplace, you may have noticed, does not mention this step, and may have indeed preserved her plums whole. Since the resulting candy is incredibly sweet, I found that preserving the plums cut in half makes a more reasonable serving of the final product.

Do not peel the plums — the peel helps them keep their shape while cooking and colors the sugarplums, and most of the peel will come off during processing. The idea is to preserve each half as complete as possible, so you want to avoid breaking down the cellulose structure of the plums. Since the act of cooking, adding heat and moisture, is exactly what breaks down the cellulose structure of food, you will see the words “gently” and “carefully” often in the following instructions.

Put a thin layer of sugar in the bottom of the saucepan. Lady Fettiplace’s recipe calls for clarified sugar, because she was working with a less refined sugar than we have today. She would have done the last boiling of the sugar (the last step in modern sugar refining) herself.

Lay the plums halves, cut side down, on the sugar in a single layer. Add enough sugar to completely cover the layer of plums, then lay another layer of plums on top. Continue layering until all the plums have been used and are covered.

Put the pan on the stove over the lowest heat possible. The sugar needs to dissolve in the plum juices without burning. While this is happening, stir very gently and scrape the sugar away from the sides of the pan. Try to disturb the fruit as little as possible.

When all the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat until the syrup comes to a gentle boil. (If it boils too hard, it will break up the plums.) A “walme” is 16th Century culinary for a “warm” or a boiling up, i.e., bringing liquid to a boil. Let the fruit boil for one minute, then remove the pan from the stove. If you are NOT using an enamel pan, gently remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and put it in a large shallow glass or ceramic bowl and carefully pour the syrup over it. If you are using an enamel pan, the fruit can stay in it. Carefully place a plate over the fruit to keep it submerged in the syrup. Cover with the pan lid or a clean dish towel and let soak for three days.

A note about sugar: Boiling sugar can cause severe burns. It is very, very hot and tends to stick to the skin like boiling oil. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it will also stick to your stovetop and counters with incredible tenacity. Be careful not to splash the hot syrup when transferring the fruit.

Another note: The soaking process should be at room temperature, which means that you can leave it out on the kitchen counter or on an unused stove burner. But beware of ants! If your kitchen is ant-prone, place the pan or bowl in a larger container that has a few inches of water in the bottom.

After three days, carefully remove the fruit and bring the syrup to a boil. Gently return the fruit to the syrup, bring to a gentle boil again and let boil for one minute. Remove from heat and repeat the soaking process. Repeat the boiling and soaking process one more time, for a total of nine days soaking and approximately 3 minutes boiling.

After the last soaking, remove the fruit from the syrup. Heat the syrup again and dissolve one additional cup of sugar in it. Let the syrup boil until it thickens somewhat (it may darken as well, depending on what variety of plums you’ve use), add the fruit again and allow it to boil gently for four minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the plums one at a time from the syrup and rinse the excess syrup away under cool, gently running water. Since no two plums are ever at exactly the same degree of ripeness, some of your plums will have broken up during processing. Never fear, they’ll taste just as good as those that kept their shape. If you wish, you may remove any peel that remains on the plums. (Ladies in the 16th Century would have removed the peel — I like the texture with the peel in place.) Spread the plums on a wire rack and put in a warm dry place. “Yor stewe” was a special drying stove in the 16th Century stillroom. In the 20th century kitchen, a gas oven with just the pilot light burning in it is perfect, but make sure you remove the plums before preheating the oven for dinner. I’ve lost more plums that way, and burned sugarplums are the stickiest mess you can imagine.

Turn the plums every other day. When the plums are almost dry (they should still feel a bit sticky) sprinkle each side with granulated sugar. Throw a fine Lawne, as Lady Fettiplace says, is to sift the sugar through a piece of fine linen, which is not necessary with modern sugar. The drying time may be anywhere from a few days up to about two weeks, depending on local weather. When the plums are completely dry, store in an air-tight container. Plums processed in July are still soft at 12th Night and are chewier, but still delicious, more than a year later.

I have tried this recipe with several varieties of plum. I find that the Italian plums (prunes) work well because they are free-stone. As they have a higher sugar content and less acid than other varieties, the final sugarplums are much sweeter than those made from other varieties. In addition, they tend to be smaller than other plums, which result in bite-sized sugarplums. Lady Fettiplace probably used the Damson variety, which is a tart plum with purple-black skin and green flesh, and is used today for jam and jelly. Unfortunately, I’ve never yet been able to find Damsons, but I’ve used home-grown Santa Rosa plums (which were a bit on the tart side and ended up being totally wonderful) and the ones sold in the market as Black plums and Red plums. All turned out equally well.

I’ve also processed peaches, apricots and figs this way, with good results, and I’ve seen similar recipes for candied citrus peel. Figs are not as juicy as the other fruits, so add one-half cup of water to the sugar at the beginning to allow the sugar to dissolve before it burns. Otherwise you’ll end up with caramelized figs, which are very tasty but probably were not served on 16th Century tables.

Bibliography

Culpepper, Thomas. Culpepper’s Complete Herbal. London: W. Foulsham & Co., Ltd.
Gerard, John. The Herbal, or General History of Plants. New York: Dover Publications, 1975
Hillman, Howard; Loring, Lisa; MacDonald, Kyle. Kitchen Science. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 1981, 1989
Pratt, Hugh. Delights for Ladies. London: Humfrey Lownes, 1609
Spurling, Hilary. Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking. New York: Elizabeth Sifton Books/Viking Penguin, Inc. ,1986
Western Garden Book. Menlo Park: Sunset Publishing Corporation, 1994

Copyright 1997 by Sharon Cohen, P.O. Box 7487, Northridge, CA 91327-7487.
. Permission granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided author is credited and receives a copy.

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!

More Eggs for Spring

Another recipe I did with the “finger foods” and eggs as a base, was an adaptation of this recipe.

Fricassee — Eggs and Collops (Original Redaction — Feast Menu – Tastes of the Tudor: Head Cook: THL Rachaol MakCreith)

“Fricasee” Eggs and Collops, Anonymous Venetian, XLVII

10 hard cooked eggs
2 egg yolks
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tbs parsley, fresh, minced
1 tbs thyme, fresh, minced
1 tsp pepper, fresh ground
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ginger, powdered
1/2 stick butter
3 tbs olive oil
10 bacon slices

1. Remove the shells from the hard cooked eggs, and carefully remove the yolks. Reserve the whites for stuffing. Place the hard-cooked yolks, fresh yolks, and cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer or food processor, and pulse until smooth. Add herbs and spices, and mix. Fill the egg halves, leveling the top.

2. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the eggs, top down in the pan, and fry until golden brown.

3. Fry the bacon until crisp, drain, then halve each. Serve each egg with a slice of bacon crisscrossed on top.

My Redaction:

I actually only made 4 hardboiled eggs, as I was doing a test. I omitted the bacon since it was just meet eating and I’m pretty sure the bacon would make it MUCH better. I also just used butter to fry the eggs, no oil and omitted the raw eggs. I really don’t like using raw eggs in something that I will serve to someone else and MAY not cook enough in the browning stages. Instead of full cream cheese I used whipped (that’s what I had).

4 hard cooked eggs
6 tbs whipped cream cheese
1 tsp parsley, dried (fresh better)
1 tsp ground thyme, dried (fresh better)
1/2 tsp pepper, fresh ground
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp ginger, powdered
1 tbs butter

1. Remove the shells from the hard cooked eggs, and carefully remove the yolks. Reserve the whites for stuffing. Place the hard-cooked yolks, fresh yolks, and cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer or food processor, and pulse until smooth. Add herbs and spices, and mix. Fill the egg halves, leveling the top.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the eggs, top down in the pan, and fry until golden brown. Serve.

To me, the cooking aroma reminded me of when I make French Toast (probably because of the egg and cheese/cream ingrediants cooking). I think fresh herbs would have been a better flavor (per original recipe). Absolutely alter to your taste as you may like more ginger or more cheese. The mixture was almost equal parts cheese to egg yolks for me and I liked how smooth it was.

Some eggs for Easter

 photo medieval4jpgw529_zps44e14068.jpg

With the holidays approaching (along with various pot lucks and parties connected to said winter festivities) I was on a quest to find something that was:

1. Inexpensive to make
2. Not too many Ingredients (better to serve to avoid a lot of food allergies and diets)
3. Easy to serve
4. Bite-Sized Finger foods
5. Doesn’t need to be served hot

My attention fell to the egg. It fit the bill for most of my targets and concerns. But I wanted to jazz them up a bit. Deviled eggs are fairly popular dish in general at pot lucks, but how period are they? Were there other items that might be yummy, yet easy to make with hard boiled eggs?

I came across a number of period stuffed egg recipes. Not all fit what I was looking for, but a few did. I may do a few more tests and redactions for various stuffed eggs in future postings.

The first one I just did was Eggs Farced, which is from Le Cuisinier François by La Varenne. The book was published in 1653, however, he lived 1615-1678, so this should be is a safe book to use for late period French cuisine. This particular recipe has an earlier version in an earlier source. I had actually found a redaction from someone else that I used as a guide of sorts. Their recipe is first, and then I will share what I ended up doing for Queen’s Champion Archery 2013 in Altavia (11/23).

Original Redaction from Anne-Marie Rousseau:

1. Eggs farced [la Varenne #1 p294]

Take sorrel, alone if you will, or with other herbs, wash and swing them, then mince them very small, and put between two dishes with fresh butter, or passe them in the panne; after they are passed, soak and season them; after your farce is sod, take some hard eggs, cut them into halfs, a crosse, or in length, and take out the yolks, and mince them with your farce, and after all is well mixed, stew them over the fire, and put to it a little nutmeg, and serve garnished with the whites of your eggs which you may make brown in the pan with brown butter.

Our version:

2 tbs butter
1 tbs dill, minced
6 hardboiled eggs
2 green onions, minced
1 pinch salt
1 tsp fresh savory, minced
1 tsp fresh sorrel, minced
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Pinch nutmeg

Cut eggs in half longwise, and remove yolk. Sautee savory, sorrel, green onion and dill in 1 T of the butter. Add the vinegar, salt, nutmeg and rest of the butter. Mix the egg yolks with the sautéed herb stuff, and stir over low heat till smooth and thick. Fill the egg white halves and serve. If you wish, you may fry the egg white halves in brown butter before filling, but we found that this makes them rubbery.

Makes 12 filled egg halves, with some leftover stuffing goop.

My Redaction and notes:

So, I have no access to Sorrel and Savory, I couldn’t find. But Savory wasn’t mentioned in the original translation anyway. I ended up looking up replacements for Sorrell and Savory, just to see what these tasted like. Savory was suggested to be replaced with Sage or Thyme. Sorrell supposedly had a tart flavor, with a suggestion of lemon. I did have Sage and Thyme, and they were used in period. I decided to use both. I had no lemon (totally forgot it when I went shopping for various ingredients). I did, however, have pomegranates. I had seen those used in other recipes (and there are period drawings and paintings of the fruit) and it was in season. I had one handy and I thought the tart-sweet aspect would be nice along with the crunch from the seed.

My Redaction:

3 tbs butter
1 tbs dill, minced
9 hardboiled eggs
3 green onions, minced
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried ground Sage
1 tsp dried ground Thyme
¼ cup of fresh pomegranate juice
¼ cup of fresh pomegranate seeds
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
½ tsp nutmeg

Cut eggs in half longwise, and remove yolk. Smash up egg yolks as much as you can. Sautee sage, thyme, green onion (save about one of the chopped up green onions for garnish) and dill in 1 tablespoon of the butter until soft and combined. Add the vinegar, salt, half of the nutmeg and rest of the butter. Mix in egg yolks, pomegranates (save some for garnish), and juice with the sautéed herbs, and stir over low heat till smooth and thick. Fill the egg white halves with mixture, smoothing them gently in the whites to get them to stick, dust balance of nutmeg across and sprinkle reserved green onion and pomegranates across to garnish. Serve.

I didn’t brown the whites in butter, but you can if you like. I was trying to keep this recipe somewhat healthy and it was to be served cold, so I didn’t want that butter to affect the flavor if it was sorted before serving.

I had extra dill that I used as a garnish as well.

One thing I definitely did during the cooking process was taste the filling as I added ingredients. Depending on your taste and the consistency of your mixture, you may use more or less of the pomegranates. I didn’t add enough salt, but adjusted that to this recipe.

The flavor was well liked (as far as I was told). The pomegranate seed textures were hit and miss. Some people liked that and others, didn’t. You can always omit the seed if you don’t like them. I thought it not only was a nice flavor but it made the dish look very lovely with the pops of red-purple.

La vraye methode de trencher les viande

La vraye methode de trencher les viandes (VM) was published some time in the late 17th or early 18th century. It seems to be a derivative work, using many, but not all, of the illustrations from Jacques Vontet’s L’art de trancher la viande et toute sorte de fruictz : la monde italienne et nouvelle a la françoise (AT), published in Lyon in 1647.

Here are some translated sections (found here):

Though the art of carving Meats does not seem to be useful except to Trencher carvers, or the Master of the hotel of the House of Princes, or to people of means, Seeing that many think that it is only at their table where one observes the Method of serving by fork or of cutting in the air, See that I avow nevertheless, that there is no-one even of a mediocre condition to whom the art of carving is not greatly necessary, since he cannot Invite his friends to any banquet, that he is not at the same time obliged to serve them which he could not do with honor, without knowing the art of carving, for there is nothing of such bad grace as a badly portioned part, and badly served, this is why I believed, that all those who frequent fellowships, or who voyage, either in Germany, Italy, or Spain where one observes this Method will be greatly curious to be able in a little time to know how to cut up all sorts of Meats, & in all ways, and according to the diverse Usages of the country such that I have learned in the House of the Princes of Spain, and Italy, as You may see by the diverse skewering of all sorts of.

Meats which you will notice by the listing of the figures and beside it the means to be able to slake one’s appetite without spoiling the other pieces, and to find a better morsel, and in addition, to peel a pear in diverse manners, to cut lemons, oranges, to represent all sorts of animals, Such as Eagle, Scorpion, and which I promise to teach with great ease, and all sorts of people desiring to serve with honor an honest company.

More from La vraye methode de trencher les viande

La vraye methode de trencher les viandes (VM) was published some time in the late 17th or early 18th century. I found the translation over here. With Easter season, LAMB is a traditional meal. This is how you would handle the meat and presentation using this source.

Translation:

A Shoulder of Lamb

Concerning the shoulder of Lamb the leg and other similar things You present the pieces that you would have cut from the side that will be best cooked and best roasted, However it is to be considered that in a Leg there is a little bone, called by the Germans the mother’s bone, & by the Italians the spur, and it is presented most respectably on A plate, with another piece of the same.

It must be remarked that the roasts of whatever nature that they are, they are all presented with orange, or lemon, or other similar trifling thing, after adding salt, and all that is presented in each serving that one makes.

The food in Spain in the 16th Century…

Perhaps one of the most interesting cuisines within history, Spain has many recipes that took advantage of their fresh local resources of the time. Ruperto de Nola’s “Book of Cooking” or “libro de cozina” was published in 1520 in Barcelona. It was written in Catalan – a language related to, but distinct from, Spanish. It was called “Libre del Coch.”

Full English translations of this book is here:

Part I
Part II