Hais (Date and Nut Treats)

Hais: Take excellent dried bread or biscuit (ka’k) and pound it well. Let there be a pound (ratl) or it and three quarters of a pound (ratl) of fresh or preserved dates – let their seeds have been removed – and three ounces (uqiya) of pounded almond and pistachio meats. Macerate everything well and strongly by hand. Then refine two ounces (uqiya) of sesame oil (by frying spices in them) and pour it on it. Knead it continuously until it is mixed. Make it into balls and dust them in finely pounded sugar. If you want, replace the sesame oil with clarified butter. This is good for travelers. Kitab al Tabikh Chapter X (The Book of Dishes, trans. Charles Perry and published as A Baghdad Cookery Book).

In Middle Eastern cultures, sweet dishes are not served at the end of the meal – instead fresh fruit is eaten. Dishes such as these tend to be reserved for celebrations or social occasions, and are an important part of guest hospitality. However sweet dishes are not exclusively served only at special times – they can be eaten whenever desired (Salloum et all, 2013, 1).

Hais developed from a Bedouin dish (Salloum et all, 2013, 211), as suggested by the direction that it is good for travelers. No doubt the Bedouin version was much simpler than the Baghdad version.

Equivalents of weights and measures
Ratl 400g
Uqiya 33g
(Perry, 2005, 22).

Ingredients

For explanations of the ingredients, see the Notes below.

400g bread crumbs 65mL virgin sesame oil
300g pitted dates ½ tsp ground cinnamon
50g almonds ½ tsp ground ginger
50g pistachios 20g caster sugar

Method

  1. Put the pistachios in a bowl of boiling water for about 10 minutes, then rub off the skins. Allow to dry.
  2. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, roughly grind the nuts. They don’t have to be finely or consistently ground.
  3. Add the dates and bread crumbs to the mortar and pestle or food processor, and process until the mix has come together. If using the mortar and pestle, use the pestle until the dates are mashed, then use your hands.
  4. Put the sesame oil and spices in a frypan, and fry over a medium heat until you can smell the spices.
  5. Pour the spiced oil over the date, bread crumb and nut mix, and continue to process until the mixture binds well.
  6. Roll the mix into balls, then roll these balls into the caster sugar until they are well coated.
  7. The Hais will keep very well in an airtight container in a cool place. However they are unlikely to remain uneaten for long.

Notes

  • 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.
  • If you are used to Asian cooking you’ll assume sesame oil should only be used sparingly, as the type of sesame oil used in Asian cooking can be overpowering if used heavily. However, this type of sesame oil is produced from toasted sesame seeds, which heavily concentrates the sesame flavour and aroma. If you are familiar with modern Indian or Middle Eastern cooking, you might have come across virgin or cold-pressed sesame oil, which is much paler and more subtly flavoured. This is the sort you need to use for baking.If are going to be cooking for anyone with a sesame allergy, almond oil, rice bran oil or canola oil make good substitutes (the last two don’t have any flavour).
  • Refining oil means to gently fry spices in it. As with medieval European recipes, specific spices are often not specified. The spices I have chosen are popular additions to Middle Eastern sweets.
  • Clarified butter is also known as ghee – butter with the milk solids removed. You can buy it in supermarkets or Indian or Middle Eastern grocers, or make your own. Heat butter over a gentle heat until it is completely melted and bubbling. You will see a white scum on the surface. These are the milk solids. Strain the melted butter through a strainer lined with a double layer of muslin and you will be left with lovely clear clarified butter. Because the solids are the bit that makes butter go rancid, clarified butter does not need to be stored in the fridge. Some lactose intolerant people are fine with clarified butter, as most of the lactose is
    removed with the solids. This is also great for people with sesame allergies.

Hais

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Perry, Charles (2005). A Baghdad Cookery Book.
Salloum, Habeeb; Salloum, Muna and Salloum Elias, Leila (2013). Sweet Delights from a Thousand and One Nights.

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Lentils with Raisins

Boil lentils quite slowly, put a fried onion to it, sour it, spice it, add raisins, and serve it over toasted bread as an evening meal. Balthasar Staindl, Ain künstlichs und nützlichs Kochbuch, 257.

The text of this recipe is taken from The Kitchen, Food, and Cooking in Reformation Germany (2016) by Volker Bach (p 123).

Lentils are among the oldest domesticated crops known to man, and are a useful crop, as lentils themselves are high in protein and the plants can be fed to animals. However, in the medieval period, there are very few recipes featuring them. This may be because they don’t grow well in northern Europe, or it could be that they have been associated with the poorest people for almost as long as there have been written records. However, this is also true of beans and peas, and there are multiple recipes for these. (Albala, 2007, )

This recipe, featuring expensive spices and dried fruit, could never have featured at a peasant’s table. There are a number of dishes from the medieval period that take lowly ingredients and pair them with the costliest ingredients, perhaps as a medieval joke.

Ingredients

200g lentils 50g raisins 1/4 tsp pepper
1 white onion 600mL vegetable stock 1/4 tsp cinnamon
20mL olive oil 40mL vinegar 1/2 tsp ginger

Method

  1. Peel and finely dice the onion, then fry it until it softens and changes colour.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a pot, using enough liquid so ingredients are well covered.
  3. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cook until the lentils have softened, adding more liquid if necessary.
  5. You can either serve the lentils as a side dish – in which case the lentils need to be drained, or as a soup, in which case the soup should be served with toasted bread.

Notes

  • There are many different sorts of lentils, and many have been staple foods since prehistoric times. However it’s often to decide which type of lentils to use, especially when looking at regional cooking. In the dish illustrated below, I have used French green lentils (sometimes called Puy Lentils), as I like the taste, and they stay whole when cooked so are great to use when lentils are to be a side dish. If making this as a soup, I would probably use brown or red lentils, as these start to go mushy when cooked, and make an excellent basis for a soup.
  • The recipe is vague as to what spices should be used, giving the cook licence to use any spice mix, or whatever was to hand. I have used spices that to me complement the sweet and sour flavours of the dish.
  • If using ginger, try to 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.
  • For examples of other dishes that create a “noble” dish from “peasant” food, check out these recipes for Bohemian Peas and Turnip with Pudding Inside.

German Lentils

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Albala, Ken (2007). Beans: a History.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.

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)

Apple Sauce for Poultry

8 Ain brielin mitt epffel zú machen jber wilbret vnnd klaine vegellen
Nempt gút epffel vnnd schelts vnnd stosts an ainem riebeissen vnnd thiet ain wenig schmaltz jn ainer pfannen jber vnnd lasts haiß werden vnnd thiet die epffel darein vnnd lasts darin resten, thiet darnach gúten wein daran, zúcker, rerlach, saffera, ain wenig jmber vnnd lands ain weil anainander sieden, so jst es gemacht, man soll die klaine vegellen vor sieden vnnd darnach jn ainem schmaltz resten.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin

To make a sauce with apples for game and small birds
Take good apples and peel them and grate them with a grater and put a little fat in a pan over [the fire] and let it become hot and put the apples in it and let them roast therein. After that put good wine thereon, sugar, cinnamon, saffron and some ginger and let it cook together for a while, then it is ready. One should boil the small birds first and then roast them in fat.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

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

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. They were a particular mark of social distinction, and Germany was particularly well known for fruit sauces such as this one (Bach, 2016, 150). The quantity of sauce below makes a generous accompaniment for around 500g of meat.

Ingredients

400g cooking apples (approx. 2) 40g caster sugar
50g butter ½ tsp cinnamon
125mL white wine ½ tsp ginger
Pinch saffron

Method

  1. Grind the saffron and soak in boiling water, which will turn bright orange.
  2. Peel, core and grate the apples.
  3. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan, and add the apple. Fry it until it softens.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the saffron water, and cook until the desired consistency has reached. Stir occasionally.
  5. Serve warm, with chicken wings (as displayed below) or any other poultry.
  6. The sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated.

Notes

Sauce for small birds

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

Pikkyll Pour le Mallard (Spiced Onion Relish)

Pikkyll pour le Mallard. Take oynons, and hewe hem small, and fry hem in fress grece, and caste hem into a potte, And fress brot of beef, Wyne, & powder of peper, canel, and dropping of the mallard And lete hem boile togidur awhile; And take hit fro the fyre, and caste thereto mustard a litul, And pouder of ginger, And lete hit boile no more, and salt hit, And serue it forthe with the Mallard. MS. Harleian 4016, f7.

Pickle for the Mallard. Take onions, and cut them small, and fry them in fresh grease, and cast them into a pot, And fresh broth of beef, wine, & powder of pepper, cinnamon, and the dripping from the mallard. And let them boil together a while; And take it from the fire, and cast thereto mustard a little, And powder of ginger, And let it boil no more, and salt it, And serve it forth with the Mallard.

Ingredients

3 medium onions 3 tbs duck fat 1 tsp dry mustard
250mL beef stock  ½ tsp pepper  ½ tsp ginger
125mL red wine  ½ tsp cinnamon  salt

Method

  1. Finely dice the onions, and in a steep sided pan, fry in oil or duck fat until they are translucent.
  2. Add the beef stock, wine, pepper, cinnamon and duck fat.
  3. Boil the onion mix until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from the heat, and add the mustard powder, ginger and salt, and stir to mix through.
  5. Serve by itself as an onion relish, or with your favourite duck recipe.

Notes

  • This recipe can easily be made vegetarian/vegan friendly by omitting the duck fat and replacing the beef stock with vegetable stock.
  • It’s often difficult to determine whether a recipe specifying mustard means ground mustard seed or mustard condiment.  This recipe works well with either.

Pikkyl Pour le Mallard

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Austin, Thomas (ed.). Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks

Apple Tart (with raisins)

79 Ain dorten von epfflen
Schelt die epffel saúber vnnd thiet die bútzen heraús, hackts klain vnd rests jm schmaltz, thiet weinberlach, zúcker vnnd rerlach daran vnnd lasts bachen.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin’

79 An apple tart
Peel the apples cleanly and take out the cores, chop them small and fry them in fat, put raisins, sugar and cinnamon therein and let it bake.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

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

This is one of a number of recipes in Sabina Welserin’s cookbook for an apple tart; presumably they were a staple fruit of the area. This particular recipe is remarkably similar to some modern apple pie or tart recipes. Do a Google search for “Apple Pie raisin” and you’ll find recipes that differ from Sabina’s only in the detail. And there is a reason why this recipe has been around for at least 500 years, because it is delicious. This would be a good recipe to serve to people who are unfamiliar with medieval food, due to its comforting familiarity.

Although Sabina doesn’t specify including a lid to the tart (making it a pie) there are other tart recipes, such as 186 (a herb tart) and 188 (a prune tart) where the maker is instructed to make a cover for the tart. We did make the tart into a pie, as this are more familiar to our eaters (and I happened to have some thawed puff pastry available).

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 100g sugar
250g cooking apples 50g raisins
50g butter 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  2. Peel, core and grate the apples.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the grated apple. Fry the apple until it is warmed through.
  4. Add the sugar, raisins and cinnamon to the apple, and stir through.
  5. Pour the apple mixture into the tart shell, and smooth off.
  6. If you want to make a pie, roll out a pastry lid and place on top of the pie. Trim the edges and press the lid into the tart rim. Cut a small incision into the lid of the pie.
  7. Bake the tart or pie in a 180°C oven for around 30 minutes for a tart, or 45 minutes for a pie, until the pastry is golden.
  8. Serve hot or cold.
  9. Apple and raisin pie

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