Take gode broth and do in an erthen pot, take flour of payndemayn and make þerof past with water, and make þerof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it harde and seeþ it in broth. Take Chese ruayn grated and lay it in disshes with powdour douce, and lay þeron loseyns isode as hoole as þou myȝt, and above powdour and chese; and so twyse or thryse, & serue it forth.
The Forme of Cury 89.
Take good broth and put it in an earthen pot, take quality white flour and make thereof paste with water, and make thereof thin foils as paper with a roller, dry it hard and seethe it in broth. Take semi-hard cheese grated and lay it in dishes with sweet powder, and lay thereon noodles sodden (boiled) and as whole as thou must, and above powder and cheese; and so twice or thrice, and serve it forth.
The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
This is fast becoming a personal preference over the more familiar macaroni and cheese! A dish like this would most likely have been served at the end of a feast, as it was believed that cheese closed off the stomach and forced the food in the stomach to digest faster (Scully, 1995, 134-135). This was particularly true of fresh, semi hard cheeses.
The name “Losyns” probably derives from Lozenge (Renfrow, 1997, 266). This was a traditional shape for medicines, which further suggests this was as much a medicinal dish as a culinary delight.
|3 lasagne noodles||1 tsp ground cinnamon|
|2L beef or vegetable stock||1/2 tsp grated nutmeg|
|250g-500g grated cheese||Optional: 1 tsp sugar|
- In a wide pan, bring the stock to a boil and cook the lasagne noodles according to the instructions. You will probably find two spatulas useful to get the lasagne noodles out of the stock. Keep the stock boiling.
- Lay the lasagne noodles on a damp cloth, and cover with another damp cloth, while you are assembling the lossyns.
- Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar (if using) and set aside.
- Put a good layer of cheese in a bowl big enough to accommodate the noodles without cutting them, and sprinkle on some of your spice mix.
- Lay a lasagne noodle on top of the cheese and spices, and put more cheese and spices on top.
- Repeat with the rest of your lasagne noodles, ensuring you finish with cheese and spices.
- Gently pour some of the stock over the top of the lossyns, to melt the cheese. Leave to cool slightly.
- Cut the lossyns diagonally, so you end up with diamond shapes. Carefully ease the individual pieces onto a serving platter. You can serve them hot or cold.
- “Flour of paynedemayn” is the best quality white flour (Butler and Hieatt, 1985, 204). If you are going to make your own pasta, use quality flour recommended for pasta, as the cheap stuff won’t give good results.
- “Chese ruayn” is autumn cheese, made from the milk produced after cattle had fed on autumn growth. It is thought to have been a semi-firm cheese (Butler and Hieatt, 1985, 211). A Cheshire style cheese would be ideal; it is thought this style of cheese making came about in the late medieval period, and Cheshire was one of the first regions in England to produce cheese on a commercial quantity (Kindstedt, 2012, 165-172).
- “Powdour douce” is a sweet spice mix, as opposed to a “powder fort” (strong powder). It is likely each cook had their own preferred blend, though cinnamon and sugar are thought to have been common ingredients (Butler and Hieatt, 1985, 208). My preferred blend is 2 parts cinnamon to one part nutmeg, sometimes with 2 parts sugar added.
- The suggestion to pour boiling stock over the lossyns comes from Pleyn Delit. However, that recipe specifies just a half-cup of cheese… which hardly seems worth it! (Hieatt et al, 1996, 12).
Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.
Hieatt, Constance, Hosington, Brenda and Butler, Sharon (1996). Pleyn Delit.
Kindstedt, Paul (2012). Cheese and Culture.
Renfrow, Cindy (1997). Take a Thousand Eggs or More, vol. 1.