Almond Pudding (with cream)

49 Ain gút mandelmúsß machen
So stosß den mandel fast woll, thú jn jn ain schissel vnnd geúß ain gúten ram daran, nit zúvill, ertreib den mandel fast woll/ das er glat werdt, thú zúcker daran vnnd lasß nit lang sieden, so dú es anrichtst, see zúcker daraúff, so jsts ain herrenmúsß/ 3 vierdúng aúff ain disch.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin’

49 To make a good almond pudding
Then pound the almonds well, put them in a bowl and pour good cream therein, not too much. Whip the almond paste very well, so that it becomes smooth, put sugar therein and allow it to cook for a short while. When you serve it sprinkle sugar on top, then it is a lordly pudding. Take three fourths of a pound for a dish.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

The translation is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

This is an incredibly simple dish – just three ingredients. However, two of those ingredients are expensive imported ingredients, and must be heavily processed before being used in this dish. This would indeed make it a “lordly” dish.

This is one of several similar almond dishes in Sabina Welser’s book, where almond meal is combined with a liquid binding agent, sometimes gently cooked, other times not. All these dishes use delicate flavours.

Ingredients

300g almond meal
100g icing sugar
80mL cream
Extra icing sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Combine the almond meal and icing sugar and mix well.
  2. Add the cream and mix well, so the mixture adheres. You may find the mix is a little stiff – it’s supposed to be.
  3. Spoon the mix into mini muffin trays, and bake in a 120℃ oven for around 20 minutes.
  4. When the puddings are cool, turn onto serving platters and dust with extra icing sugar.
  5. Makes around 12 individual puddings.

Notes

  • I confess I’m not too keen on “pudding” as a translated name for this dish. It fits with the modern interpretation of pudding being a sweet dish; however, in the sixteenth century “pudding” was a term exclusively associated with English cooking. A pudding at this time was a combination of starch and fat, sometimes accompanied with sugar and spices, other times by offal, that was cooked by steaming in a casing (usually intestines). However in the absence of anything else, “almond pudding” is a reasonable name to describe this dish to a modern audience.
  • “Icing Sugar” is the Australian name for “powdered” or “confectioner’s” sugar.  However, these sugars often come with a starch, such as cornstarch, added, to ensure the sugar doesn’t clump in the bag.  In the interests of authenticity, you should try to find pure sugar for medieval cooking where it is specified.  In Australia, we are fortunate in that the sugar with added starch is labelled “Icing Mixture.”

Almond Pudding (Sabina 49)

Lossyns (Cheese Lasagne)


LOSYNS.
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.

Losyns.
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.

Ingredients

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

Method

  1. 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.
  2. Lay the lasagne noodles on a damp cloth, and cover with another damp cloth, while you are assembling the lossyns.
  3. Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar (if using) and set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Lay a lasagne noodle on top of the cheese and spices, and put more cheese and spices on top.
  6. Repeat with the rest of your lasagne noodles, ensuring you finish with cheese and spices.
  7. Gently pour some of the stock over the top of the lossyns, to melt the cheese. Leave to cool slightly.
  8. 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.

Notes

  • “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).

Lossyns

Further Reading

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.

Cheese Balls

Wiltú kesßkiechlen bachen
So reib ain gar gúten kesß barmisan, thú ain geriben semelbrot darein, bis er gar tick wirt, darnach schlag air darain, bis es ain feins taiglin wirt, darnach mach rúnde kigellen wie die briete kiechlen jn derselben gressin vnd lasß langsam bachen, so send sý gemacht.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin’

96 If you would make cheese buns
Then grate an especially good Parmesan cheese and put grated white bread thereon, until it becomes very thick. Afterwards beat eggs into it, until it becomes a good dough. After that make good round balls, the same size as scalded buns, and let them fry very slowly, then they are ready.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

The translation is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

Little balls of cheesey goodness! These are quite rich. Parmesan cheese was an imported luxury, so these cheese balls would have been reserved for special occasions (Bach, 2016, 163).

Ingredients

125g grated Parmesan cheese 2 eggs
100g bread crumbs Salt

Method

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. This is easiest done with the hands.
  2. Form the mix into small balls about the size of walnuts, and flatten slightly.
  3. Heat some oil in a frypan, then fry the balls until the outsides are golden.
  4. They can be served hot or cold.

Notes

  • A large, cylindrical cheese similar to a modern Parmigiano Reggianois depicted in C14 illuminations, and financial ledgers and literature indicates it was in demand throughout Europe from this time. This is not surprising, given that the relative dryness and higher salt content of a good parmesan cheese makes it easy to transport long distances without spoiling (Kindstedt, 2012, 155-157).
  • It is far better to make your own breadcrumbs rather than use bought ones – the texture of freshly made crumbs is superior. You can either use a fine grater or a food processor to produce breadcrumbs.
  • The original recipe referred “scalded buns” (kiechlen) to size the cheese balls. This is recipe 142 in Sabina Welserin’s cook book, and they appear similar to small pancakes. You could probably make the cheese balls thinner than shown below.

Cheese balls

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Kindstedt, Paul (2012). Cheese and Culture.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.

Tarte owt of Lente

Take neshe chese and pare hit and grynd hit yn A morter and breke
egges and do ther to and then put yn buttur and creme and mell
all well to gethur put not to moche butter ther yn if the chese be fatte
make A coffyn of dowe and close hit a bove with dowe and collor hit
a bove with the yolkes of eggs and bake hit well and serue hit furth.
Gentyll manly Cokere (MS Pepys 1047, c.1500)

Take fresh cheese and cut it and grind it in a mortar and break eggs and thereto and then put in butter and cream and mix all together well. Do not put too much butter in if the cheese be fat. Make a coffin of dough and close it above with dough and colour it above with egg yolk. Bake it well and serve it forth.

Lent is still very significant to many Christians, but during the medieval period it was probably the most important religious observance of the year. It was a 46 day period, starting on Ash Wednesday and ending just before Easter. It signified the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, and people were meant to spend the time abstaining from luxuries, in penance, prayer, and fasting. There were strict rules regarding the food that could be eaten – no meat of land animals, no milk, and no eggs.

That this tart is called “The Tart out of Lent” is an indication that this tart was a particular favourite to be eaten once Lent was over. It is a very rich, indulgent tart.

Ingredients

For the pastry:

250g white flour 125g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks Pinch saffron
15mL boiling water approx. 40mL cold water

For the filling:

150g Cheshire cheese 100mL cream
2 eggs Salt, to taste

Method

    For the filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Beat the eggs together and set aside.
  3. Cut the cheese into chunks and bash it in a mortar and pestle.
  4. Add the cream, beaten eggs and salt to the cheese and combine.
  5. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry to make the pie base. Reserve the other 1/3 to make the lid.
  6. Grease a pie tin with butter, and line the tin with the rolled out pastry.
  7. Put the cheese mix in the pastry, taking care not to overfill the case, otherwise the pie will leak.
  8. Roll out the reserved pastry to make a lid, and add to the top of the pie. Ensure the edges are well sealed.
  9. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg yolk, and make an incision in the middle to allow steam to escape.
  10. Bake the pie for 30 – 45 minutes, until the pie is golden on top.
  11. Serve hot or cold. It won’t last long.

Notes

  • Cheshire cows tend to graze on salty marsh fodder, so their milk is somewhat salty. This produces a distinctive flavoured and textured cheese which mashes really easily. Cheshire was also one of the first regions in England to produce cheese on an industrial scale. (Kindstedt, 2012, 165-172)

Tarte_Owte_of_Lent

Further Reading

Kindstedt, Paul. Cheese and Culture. White River Junction, 2012.

Shiraz Laban bi-Buqul (yoghurt/cheese dip with herbs)

Take mint, celery leaves and vegetable leeks and strip them all from their stalks and cut them up finely with the knife.  Throw them in the mortar, and when they release liquid after pounding, dry them off.  Then mix them well with shiraz.  Throw a little salt on it, as much as it will bear, and mustard pounded fine, and moderate its flavour with the mustard.  Put it in a vessel and strew its surface with a little nigella.  If you like, put pounded walnuts on it.Source: Kitab Wasf al-At’ima al-Mu’tada (The Description of Familiar Foods) trans. Charles Perry (C14 Egypt)

This is a very tasty, simple dip and would be served as part of the appetisers at a Middle Eastern banquet.

Ingredients

2 cups cottage cheese OR 2 cups Greek yoghurt 2 tsp mustard powder
4 tbs fresh mint leaves Pinch salt
4 tbs celery leaves 2 tsp nigella seeds
6 large spring onions 4 tbs walnuts, pounded in a mortar and pestle

Method

Put the cheese or yoghurt into a square of cheesecloth and a strainer, suspended over a deep bowl, to drain excess moisture.  This is best done overnight to drain the maximum water.  Give the cheesecloth a final squeeze at the end.

Mince the herbs and spring onions, then add to the drained cheese/yoghurt, along with the salt and mustard powder.  Mix well.

Serve sprinkled with nigella seeds and ground walnuts.  A good accompaniment to crudite vegetables, or lavash bread.

Equipment required: cheesecloth, strainer and tall bowl to strain yoghurt; bowl to mix dip; mortar and pestle

Total Time: approx. 10 minutes to make dip + overnight

Difficulty Rating: X

Prep ahead of time?  Yes.

Serves: Would probably do 2 serves for a feast

Leftover Potential: Poor (saving food with dairy that’s been sitting uncovered for a while is a Bad Idea, and there’s rarely any left).

Notes

  • Shiraz is either a yoghurt or cheese drained of whey, which is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.
  • Make sure you don’t accidentally use cheesecloth you’ve previously used to squeeze onions and zucchini for zucchini fritters.  It adds a very weird taste to the dip.
  • Herb measurements are vague – add more or less as you please.
  • This recipe also works well with coriander leaves or parsley leaves.

Allergy Notes

  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Gluten Free
  • Egg-allergy friendly

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