Tag Archives: Period Cooking

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.

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Discussion: Cookbooks and Where to Start

I’d like to welcome a new guest writer for the blog, Johnnae llyn Lewis. She is a very knowledgeable food historian and writer. I’ve asked her to reprint several of her articles in order to get her work more out to the world (and these are great so I hope you all enjoy her perspective as well as I do).

Discussion: Cookbooks and Where to Start
By THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE

gm_00278701In late March 2016, the local Cynnabar Baronial Book Club section focused “on period cooking.” The instructions read: “Please bring a short list of your favorite food related books. Discussion is Round Robin format.” This is the guide which local member and librarian Johnnae prepared for the session. She has updated for readers here.

In the spirit of Ranganathan’s laws of librarianship and the ideal of “Every reader his [or her] book,” my question as to which cookery books and works on food history might be appropriate for a reader would be: what do you the Reader want to accomplish? By this I mean what do you want to achieve in cookery or play with in terms of food and cookery? Are you looking for some, perhaps just a few easy standby recipes for suitably historical dishes? Perhaps you need suitable recipes for potlucks, luncheons, or contributed tables of dessert items. Are you interested more in the history and foodways of a certain period or place? Are you interested in the role food played in the culture of the medieval period or in the lives of famous Renaissance or Elizabethan personages? Do you want to know what dishes or foods your persona might have eaten back when? Or are you interested in cookery of a specific type? Are you interested in baking bread, cakes, spit cooking or roasting over an open fire, creating your own cheeses, or even creating sugar subtleties and confections? Do you want to throw caution to the wind and become a feast cook responsible for feeding 100 plus diners?

Despite this being a short article on books, I am going to start by advocating heresy and suggest that all a beginner or even a moderately established cook needs when starting out is to use the very marvelous website medievalcookery.com. The Midrealm’s Master Edouard Halidai (Daniel Myers) created the site. It offers over 100 carefully tested redacted recipes, a bibliography, and a database of recipes with an ingredient keyword index. Plus it provides a gateway to all the online cookery texts of period or appropriate interest which are already housed on the web. As a secondary source, take a look at Stefan’s Florilegium http://www.florilegium.org//. [Librarian’s Note: When using the Florilegium, please be aware that the editor, THL Stefan, does not edit or remove faulty information or references. Be sure to read all the sections through from the start to the end, as later posts may correct misinformation cited earlier.]

My one invaluable tip: When embarking in cookery, make it a practice to keep files and notebooks. If you want to engage in redacting recipes, note your attempts. It takes practice before a reader can easily redact, render, or work out his/her own versions of an actual historic recipe. Keeping track will give you the all-important record of attempts and successes, trials and errors. If you are saving your work on a computer, be sure it is backed up on the cloud. Far too often, recipes and sources have been irretrievably lost due to computer crashes or software malfunctions.

Also be sure and note sources carefully if you copy or Xerox a section of recipes. There’s nothing worse than an original or redacted recipe with no source attached. Likewise, if you copy something off the Internet, get the source (www.address) copied. (It’s not a bad idea to do a page grab.) Please be aware online quality varies even in terms of Society websites and recipes. Some are great; some are awful; some are just plainly inauthentic or worse! Verify, research, verify. Do not think for a minute that all you need to do is just get on Yahoo and type in medieval and that your hits will be authentic enough for any sort of A&S contest. Facebook groups these days may provide hints or links but it’s not for serious research. The hive mind may be convenient to poll off one’s phone, but it’s a matter of authority. The person who replies to a Facebook question may mean well, but their information may be just a folktale or false. Did they actually look it up? Do they have any real experience? Do they research and have a collection in the topic? Again– Verify, research, verify! Lastly, be honest. If a recipe came from a modern website or off the Food Network, say so. Lastly, never claim another’s recipe or handout as your own. Chances are, you will get caught!
As to books, suggested Works in English to buy or use. Both of these are widely available and can be downloaded into your Kindle e-readers. As with all suggested volumes, if funds are short, please consider buying used copies or look at the volumes mentioned here at your local library or request through interlibrary loan.
Brears, Peter. All the King’s Cooks. The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. London: Souvenir Press, 1999. Paperback ed. 2011. Excellent text with 82 recipes from 16th century England. Highly recommended. Excellent photos and drawings. Great Tudor source. KINDLE version available.

Hieatt, Constance and Sharon Butler. Pleyn Delit. Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. 1976. 1979. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. The second edition is credited to Hieatt, Brenda Hosington, and Butler. Good basic text with 142 documented recipes of English & French origin. KINDLE version available.

For French and Italian recipes, then I recommend starting with:
Redon, Odile, Francoise Sabban, and Silvano Serventi. The Medieval Kitchen. Recipes from France and Italy. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1998. The American edition is translated by Edward Schneider. Available in paperback. A favorite of many Society cooks with 150 14th and 15th century French and Italian recipes.

If you want to spend some money or are looking for a suitable gift, then consider:

Brears, Peter. Cooking and Dining In Medieval England. Totnes, Devon, UK: Prospect Books, 2008. 557 pp., 75 B/W line drawings. [Notes: 485-503. Notes on Illustrations: 504- 511. List of Illustrations: 512-514. Bibliography: 515- 528. Indexes: 529-557.] [Paperback ed. 2012. ISBN: 978-1-903018-55-2] This is Peter Brears’ award winning volume on English medieval cookery. 200 plus recipes. Tournaments Illuminated published my review. I highly recommend the book.

Brears, Peter. Cooking and Dining In Tudor and Early Stuart England. London: Prospect Books, 2015. 670 pp., 141 B/W line drawings/figures. [Notes: 613-632. Bibliography: 633-641. Indexes [both general and recipes]: 642-670.] Marvelous new companion volume to his earlier volume. 370 plus recipes and variations. Includes menus, calendar customs, banquets, banqueting fare, etc. Essential and highly recommended volume. Tournaments Illuminated again published my review. I again highly recommend the book.

Culinary Readers interested in a more serious way may find my bibliographies of interest. The Citadel recently carried a few of my special bibliographies as part of the “Starting Points” series. These include bibliographies for England, Spain/Italy, Scandinavia, and Poland. These original bibliographic guides list original printed works, manuscripts, historical and reference works as well as bibliographies and online sources and projects.
Contributed by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, OE ©Johnna Holloway, 2016, 2018

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.