Cherry Sauce for Roasted Meats

Zum ein salsenn von weichselnn zu machen.
Item wiltu machen ein gutte salsenn von weichselnn, so thue die weichsell in einen hafen vnd secz die auff ein glut vnd laß sie siedenn vnd laß dann wider erkaltenn vnd streich sie durch ein tuch vnd thue sie dann wider in den hafenn vnd secz sie auff ein glut vnd laß sie wol sieden vnd rurr sie, piß sie dick wirt, vnd thue dann honig dar an vnd geribens prot vnd negellein vnd gut gestu:ep vnd thue sie in ein feßlein. Sie pleibt dir gut drew oder vier iar.
Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard, mid C15

To make a sauce of tart cherries.
If you wish to make a good sauce of tart cherries, put the cherries into a pot and place it on the embers and let them boil. Then cool down again and pass them through a cloth, put it back into the pot, place it on the embers and let it boil well until it thickens. Then add honey and grated bread and cloves and good spice powder and put it into a small cask. It will stay good three or four years.

The text and translation of the recipe can be found here. The translation was done by Master Giano Balestriere (Volker Bach).

Sauces were an essential part of medieval and early modern cooking. As well as enhancing flavour, they were an essential part of healthy cooking. The practice of medicine was dominated by the theory of the four humours – fire, earth, water and air. Every food was dominated by one of these humours, some to a level that was considered dangerous. Using the right sauce with a particular dish could reign in this danger and make the food more healthful (Scully, 1995, 13). However, too much of a particular sauce could be harmful in itself! (Klemettilä, 2012, 87).

Sauces were typical accompaniments for boiled or roasted meat. Cherry sauce was a popular condiment in early modern Germany; most recipe collections contain at least one recipe (Bach, 2016, 151). Sabina Welserin’s cook book doesn’t contain a general recipe, but specifies to serve boar’s head with sour cherry sauce (recipe 5) and roast venison with a sauce that contains cherry syrup (recipe 7). This cherry sauce is quite robust, and I feel is best with strongly flavoured meats. The recipe below makes enough to be a generous accompaniment for 1kg of roast lamb.

Ingredients

100g morello cherries, drained (see notes) ¼ tsp ground cloves
50mL honey ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tbs bread crumbs ¼ tsp nutmeg

Method

  1. Drain the cherries and reserve the liquid.
  2. Put the cherries into a pan with a small amount of water, and over a low heat, cook the cherries until they have softened. Top up the cooking water as required. You could also use the liquid you drained from the cherries.
  3. When the cherries have softened, push them through a coarse strainer, or use a food processor or blender to process to a puree.
  4. Return the cherry puree to the heat, and add the honey and spices.
  5. When the mixture is boiling again, add the breadcrumbs, and stir until it thickens.
  6. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then pour into a storage container or serving dish.
  7. The sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated. It works well served with strong flavoured meats.

Notes

  • Morello cherries have a much higher acid content than regular cherries, and thus have a much more sour taste. In fact, they are so sour they are virtually impossible to eat fresh, so they are usually preserved in syrup. If you want to use fresh Morello cherries, you will probably have to grow them yourself.
  • As with many period recipes, the spice mix is left to the cook. Cinnamon and nutmeg is a favourite combination of mine. Other spices that could work are galingale, ginger or pepper.
  • 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.

Lamb with cherry sauce

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.
Klemettilä, Hannele (2012). The Medieval Kitchen.
Scully, Terence, 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

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Stewed Mushrooms

Nimm duerre Schwammen / wasch sie sauber auß etlichen Wassern / setz sie zu mit Erbeßbrueh unnd klein geschweißten Zwibeln / mach es ab mit Essig / Pfeffer / mit Saffran und Saltz / laß miteinander ein stundt oder zwo sieden/ so wirt es gut und wolgeschmack. Marx Rumpoldt, Ein new Kuchbuch CLXIIIr (1581)

Take dried mushrooms, wash then several times until they are clean and place them on the fire with pease broth and small fried onions. Season it with vinegar, pepper, saffron and salt and boil it together an hour or two. Thus it will be good and tasty.

The text and translation of the recipe can be found in Volker Bach’s excellent collection of medieval period recipes that can be cooked in a camp setting, Plain Fare, which is available for download here.

Mushrooms had a somewhat dubious reputation in medieval times. Some medical writers regarded them as dangerous and advised never to eat them (Scully, 1995, 76), and the dangers from poisoning were quite well known (Bach, 2016, 43). However, there are recipes for mushrooms in many medieval manuscripts, and they were readily available for sale throughout Europe (Scully, 1995, 13), though the varieties sold would have depended on what was available. A German selection would probably include chantrelles and morels, which are named in some recipe collections (Bach, 2016, 43).

If you check out Plain Fare on the link above, you will see Bach has interpreted this recipe as a soup (and he might well be right in that, given he is an expert on medieval German food, and a native German speaker, and I’m definitely not either). However, because this recipe uses dried mushrooms which are cooked for around “an hour or two,” I chose to interpret this as a mushroom stew. This dish was so delicious two confirmed carnivores went for second helpings over second helpings of perfectly cooked roast lamb, and might even choose it over other meat dishes. We’d love to try it as a pie filling.

Ingredients

70g mixed dried mushrooms 50mL vinegar
1 onion 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
500mL vegetable stock pinch saffron

Method

  1. Finely dice the onion and fry in olive oil, or some other fat such as butter or lard.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, and stir well to combine.
  3. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cook for at least an hour; two or more is preferable. Stir occasionally, and top up the cooking liquid if needed.
  5. Test to see if you need salt before serving; you probably won’t need it.

Notes

  • To make this up we used a mix of roughly equal parts of button mushrooms, Swiss brown mushrooms, porcini and chantrelles. The mushrooms you use will probably depend on what you can find available for sale, but you should definitely use dried mushrooms as they turbocharge the final flavour. If you have access to a dehydrator it will certainly increase the range of mushrooms you can use. Ideally, if you know what local mushrooms are edible, forage and dry your own mushrooms, as would have been done in period.

Mushrooms

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.
Scully, Terence, 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

Chicken Dumplings

193 Wie man kaponerkrapfen machen soll
Nempt das bret von 2 hennen, wens gesoten jst, hackt es fein, nempt ain barmisankesß geriben darúnder vnnd gilbts
vnnd rierts dúrchainander/ jr solt aúch múscatblie vnnd pfeffer dareinthon, macht darnach ain taig an/ macht ain
tinnen blatz vnnd thiet die obgeschribne fille daraúff vnnd formierts zú ainem krapfen vnnd dient die 2 zipffel zúsamen/ siedts jn ainer fleschbrie wie hert gesottne air vnnd gebts warm.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin’

193 How to make chicken dumplings
Take the meat from two chickens. After it is cooked chop it finely, mix grated Parmesan cheese in with it and color it yellow and stir it together. You should also put mace and pepper into it. After that prepare a dough. Make a thin flat cake and put the above described filling on it and form it into a dumpling and join the two ends together. Cook it in broth as long as for hard- boiled eggs and serve it warm.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

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

Chicken was the most commonly consumed poultry in Germany, and there are many recipes for it in German cooking manuscripts (Bach, 2016, 139). These delicate morsels are rather like chicken and cheese ravioli. I’ve also eaten them as a soup, with the dumplings served in the cooking broth.

Ingredients

500g chicken meat, raw or cooked (see notes) 1/2 tsp pepper
250g parmesan cheese 1/4 tsp mace
1 packet of wonton wrappers (see notes) 1/4 tsp saffron threads
1.5L chicken stock 1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Shred the chicken finely with a fork or a food processor, and finely grate the parmesan.
  2. Soak the saffron threads in boiling water, which should turn deep orange.
  3. in a bowl, combine the chicken, cheese, salt, spices and saffron water and mix well. This is easiest done with the hands.
  4. Place a spoonful of the mix into the middle of a wonton wrapper. Rub the edges of the pastry with water, then fold the wrapper into a dumpling shape and press to seal. Use more water as necessary.
  5. Bring the stock to a boil, then add the dumplings to cook through. They are cooked when they rise to the surface of the stock (which will take around 5 minutes).
  6. If you are serving the dumplings as dumplings, cook and serve immediately, otherwise they will stick together before they can be eaten.
  7. Serve warm.

Notes

  • Although the recipe specifies cooked chicken meat, we found making the dumplings with cooked chicken made the end result rather dry and tough – the raw chicken which then cooked in the wrapper was much more flavoursome.
  • If you want to try and make your own dumpling wrappers, the fair paste recipe made into a thin pasta would be a good basis. I’ve just never gotten a flour and water pasta that eats as well as a commercially made wonton wrapper.
  • The dumplings can be made ahead of time and then frozen. They will cook from frozen, but will take longer to cook.

Chicken dumplings
Served as dumplings….

Chicken dumpling soup
… or served as soup!

Further Reading

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

Bohemian Peas

Bemisch erbis zú machen
Nim 3 lot erbis, seuds trucken, das sý nit zú nasß send, vnnd stoß woll jm morser, das sý fein miessig werden, thú gúten wein daran/ thú jmber, rerlen, pariskerner vnnd zucker, gib es kalt, beses mit zúcker, jst ain gút herrenessen.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin

149 To make Bohemian peas
Take one and a half ounces of peas, cook them until dry, so that they are not too wet, and pound them in a mortar, so that they become a fine mush. Put good wine on them, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and sugar. Serve it cold, sprinkle it with sugar. It is a good and lordly dish.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

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

Peas were an important crop throughout medieval Europe. They can be fed to animals as well as people, and can also be dried, so they are a food source year round. Dishes such as this, where peas are cooked with expensive ingredients like spices and sugar to create “lordly” dishes, are found throughout medieval Europe.

Ingredients

500g peas 1/2 tsp ginger
125mL white wine 1/2 tsp cinnamon
75g sugar 1/4 tsp cardamom

Method

  1. Put the peas in a pot with just enough water to cover them, then cook, uncovered, until the water has disappeared. Set them aside to cool.
  2. Pound the peas to mush in a mortar and pestle or a food processor.
  3. Grind the spices to powder, and add to the pea mush with the wine and half of the sugar, and mix well.
  4. Transfer the peas to a serving dish, and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Serve cold.

Notes

  • Cardamom pods are either black or green – you split the pod open to extract the seeds, which are the spice. It has a wonderful scent. I recommend tracking down the pods rather than ready ground cardamom, as it loses its flavour and smell very quickly.
  • If possible, track down whole dried ginger which has to be grated before use. This is the way ginger would have been purchased in the medieval period, and it has a far more powerful flavour and scent.

Bohemian peas

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, 2017, 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 (2017). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.

Tarte of Strawberries (Strawberry Tart)

To make a tarte of Strawberries.
Wash your strawberries, and put them into your Tarte, and season them with suger, cynamon and Ginger, and put in a little red wine into them.
Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswife’s Jewell, 1596.

To make a Tart of Strawberries.
Wash your strawberries, and put them into your tart, and season them with sugar, cinnamon and ginger, and put in a little red wine into them.

THE GERMAN RECIPE
89 Ain erbertorten zú machen
Mach das bedellin vnnd laß erstarcken jn der tortenpfanen/darnach nim die erber vnnd legs daraúf vmber aúfs allernechst zúsamen, darnach zúckeres woll aúfs allerbast, laß darnach ain klain weil bachen, geúß ain malúasier daraúf vmber vnnd laß ain weil bachen, so jst er gemacht.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabrina Welserin, c1553.

89 To make a strawberry tart
Make a pastry shell and let it become firm in the tart pan. Afterwards take strawberries and lay them around on top as close together as possible, after that sweeten them especially well. Next let it bake a short while, pour Malavosia over it and let it bake a while, then it is ready.

The text of the original German recipe can be found here.

The translation of the German recipe is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

I tried cooking the Dawson recipe several times. The first time, I pureed the strawberries, sugar, wine and spices (despite there being no instructions to do so). And I used far too much wine, so the puree was extremely wet. This caused the pastry shell to completely collapse because it was far too wet. The next two times I used less wine each time, but the tart still collapsed when the pastry got soggy.

And then I found Sabrina Welserin’s recipe. I found it interesting that she specified to bake the strawberries and sugar for a time, then add the wine and continue baking. And trying this, it worked. Even though the pastry still absorbed some liquid from the strawberries and sugar, adding the wine after they had baked a while ensured the strawberries absorbed the wine, not the pastry.

I would recommend eating the strawberries from the pastry shell with a spoon, then eating the pastry separately. It’s still very tasty.

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 50g sugar Optional: 1/2 tsp cinnamon
300g strawberries 30mL madeira wine (see notes) Optional: 1 tsp ginger

Method

  1. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  2. Prick the bottom of the tart shell. Line the tart shell with baking paper and fill with weights. Blind bake the tart shell for approx. 12 minutes in a 200°C oven. Remove the paper and weights when finished.
  3. Return the tart shell to the oven and bake for a further 8 minutes, to firm the base. If necessary, line the rim of the pie with foil to stop it browning too much.
  4. Wash the strawberries and remove the stalks. Cut any large strawberries into smaller pieces.
  5. Arrange the strawberries in the pastry shell, and sprinkle with sugar and spices, if using.
  6. Bake the tart in a 160°C oven for around 10 minutes, until the strawberries have softened.
  7. Drizzle the wine over the strawberries, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Leave the tart to cool, and serve cold. You will probably want to spoon the strawberries out of the tart, and eat the pastry separately.

Notes

  • Modern strawberries are typically hybrids of the indigenous European variety, Fragaria vesca. These would have been used in the medieval and early modern period. They are extremely sweet, but tiny. If you want to use them, you will probably have to grow them yourself. You will need more than one plant to provide the fruit to make a single tart. The plants and seeds are frequently sold was “wild strawberries” or “alpine strawberries.” You may also be able to forage them in Britain and Europe.
  • Malavosia is a sweet, fortified wine, originally from the Greek island of the same name. A similar wine is produced on the island of Madeira, which is why I have substituted it.

Strawberry Tart
The tart is garnished with dianthus flowers, also known in Elizabethan England as gillyflowers. They are edible (rather tasteless, but they are pretty!).

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Black, Maggie (1996). The Good Housewife’s Jewel
Brears, Peter (2011) All the King’s Cooks

Chicken Buns

97 Wiltú hennenkiechlen bachenn/
So nim das hennenflesch vnnd lasß vor sieden, darnach hacks klain vnnd thú ain geriben semel daran vnnd air daran,
bis dú mainst/ das es ain feins dicks taiglin seý, darnach mach feine rúnde kigellen/ vnnd lasß bachen gar lancksam
vnnd saltzs.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabrina Welserin’

97 If you would make chicken buns
Then take the meat from hens and let it cook beforehand, after that chop it small and put grated a Semmel thereon and eggs thereon, until you think that it is a good thick dough. Afterwards make fine round little balls and let them fry very slowly and roast them.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

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

I know very little about German cooking. However, this is one of a number of recipes in Sabrina Welserin’s cookbook for bachen, which has been translated as “buns.” They appear to be balls which can be fried or roasted, so buns is as good a translation as any; a bachen containing meat, like this one, could be called a meatball.

We decided to add parmesan cheese, as recipe 193 combines cooked chicken, Parmesan cheese and spices in a dough wrapper, to be boiled (rather like ravioli or tortellini). They are equally delicious with or without the cheese.

Ingredients

500g cooked chicken meat 2 eggs
100g bread crumbs Salt
Optional: 125g grated Parmesan cheese  

Method

  1. Shred the chicken finely with a fork or a food processor.
  2. in a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. This is easiest done with the hands.
  3. Form the mix into small balls about the size of walnuts, and flatten slightly.
  4. Heat some oil in a frypan, then fry the balls until the outsides are golden.
  5. If you have access to an open fire, thread the chicken balls onto a skewer and expose them to the flame and smoke briefly, so they take on the smoky flavour from the flames. I assume this is why they were to be roasted as well as fried.
  6. They can be served hot or cold.

Notes

  • Semmel is a bread roll baked from a fine wheat flour. You can either grate the roll on a fine grater to produce breadcrumbs, or use a food processor. It is far better to make your own breadcrumbs rather than use bought ones – the texture of freshly made crumbs is far better.

Buns of Chicken