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

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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

Aquapatys (Braised Garlic)

AQUAPATYS.
Pill garlec and cast it in a pot with water and oile. and seeþ it, do þerto safroun, salt, and powdour fort and dresse it forth hool.
The Forme of Cury 77.

AQUAPATYS.
Peel garlic and cast it in a pot with water and oil and seethe it, do thereto saffron, salt, and powder forte and dress it forth whole.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

Garlic as a side dish! Foods such as garlic were regarded primarily as peasant food, however the presence of oil (presumably olive oil), saffron and the spice mixture powder fort makes this super luxurious garlic. You might be concerned about eating whole garlic, however boiling the garlic removes the enzymes that give it the sharp taste and cause the garlic breath. It becomes very soft and quite sweet.

Ingredients

2 whole garlic bulbs 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup water 1/4 tsp ground cloves
15 mL olive oil 1/4 tsp ground saffron
1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Break apart the garlic bulbs into individual cloves, and peel them.
  2. Put the garlic, oil and water into a pot, and bring to the boil. Cook the garlic until it is soft, around 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the garlic, arrange on a platter and sprinkle over the spices and salt.
  4. Serve warm.

Notes

  • “Powder fort” is a spice mix that translates to “strong powder.” Hieatt and Butler suggest pepper and cloves (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 208-209).
  • To make this more luxurious, you could use chicken stock to cook the garlic. I suspect the original recipe specifies water to make this recipe suitable for fish days.

Aquapatys - C14 recipe of garlic as a vegetable

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.

Iowtes of Almaund Mylke (Green Soup)

IOWTES OF ALMAUND MYLKE.
Take erbes, boile hem, hewe hem and grynde hem smale. Take almaundus iblaunchede; grynde hem and drawe hem vp with water. Set hem on the fire and seeþ the iowtes with the mylke. and cast þeron sugur & salt, & serue it forth.
The Forme of Cury 89.

Jowtes with Almond Milk.
Take herbs, boil them, hew them and grind them small. Take blanched almonds, grinde them and drawe them up with water. Set them on the fire and seethe the jowtes with the almond milk, and cast thereon sugar and salt, and serve it forth.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

A soup like this would have been served on less formal occasions, however the almond milk gives it a touch of luxury and expense that would have put it beyond the reach of most people.

Ingredients

approx. 1kg mixed green leaves and herbs(see notes) 2 tbs sugar
300g blanched almonds 1 tsp salt
1L water

Method

  1. To make the almond milk, soak the almonds in the water for several hours.
  2. Put the almonds and water in a blender, and blend on high speed until the almonds have been reduced to meal and the water is cloudy.
  3. Strain the almond milk. You can use the left over almond meal in a pottage, or as a filling in a tart. However it will not have much flavour. Set the almond milk aside.
  4. Remove any thick or tough stalks from the leaves. Put the leaves into a pan with a small amount of water. Steam the leaves until they have wilted.
  5. Chop the leaves roughly, then add to a blender with the almond milk. Blend until the leaves and herbs are completely incorporated into the almond milk
  6. Add the blended soup to a pan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and salt, and stir well to mix.
  7. Can be served hot, or at room temperature.

Notes

  • “Jowtes” is another word for pot herb, or herb that gets added to the pot to be eaten cooked. (Hieatt and Butler, 1985, 196).
  • Because I have a garden with many medieval plants that aren’t commonly available, I was able to use a large variety of different leaves in my green soup. I was able to use chard, sorrel, wood avens, horseradish leaf, borage, wild celery, winter savoury and wild thyme, as well as more common herbs parsley, chervil and sage. If you don’t have access to a wide range of interesting medieval leaves, I would suggest using silverbeet, beetroot leaves or turnip leaves. Or possibly even kale, but I really don’t know why you’d bother.
    Chard Sorrel Avens
    Chard (Beta vulgaris) Sorrel (Rumex acetose) Wood Avens (Geum urbanum)
    Horseradish leaf Borage Wild celery
    Horseradish leaf (Armoracia rusticana) Borage(Borago officinalis) Wild celery(Apium graveolens)
    Winter savoury Wild Thyme  
    Winter savoury(Satureja montana) Wild Thyme(Thymus serpyllum)  
  • You may think it odd to use cold water rather than hot to make the almond milk. The resulting milk has a far stronger flavour, as the flavour is not evaporated out as steam, which is what happens when you use hot water. It is far better to make your own almond milk rather than bought almond milk, as the flavour is far better. However use the blanched almonds rather than almond meal, as almond meal loses much of the essential oil when it is ground and stored, and that’s where the flavour comes from.
  • In period a mortar and pestle would have been used to reduce the jowtes to a paste so they mix with the almond milk better; this is probably why they were boiled first.

Jowtes
The soup here has a slight red tinge from the chard. Using different leaves produces different coloured soup.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
(add to end of Book Depository link – )
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.

Tarte of Ryce (Rice Tart)

To make a Tarte of Ryce.
Boyle your Rice, and put in the yolkes of two or three Egges into the Rice, and when it is boyled, put it into a dish, and season it with Suger, Sinamon, and Ginger, and butter, and the iuyce of two or three Orenges, and set it on the fire againe.
Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswife’s Jewell, 1596.

To make a Tart of Rice.
Boil your Rice, and add in the yolks of two or three eggs into the rice, and when it is boiled, put it into a dish, and season it with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, butter, and the juice of two or three oranges, and set it on the fire again.

 

Except for the eggs, all the ingredients in this dish were imported, so it would have been quite a status dish. Fortunately for us, these ingredients are cheap today, so this is an excellent feast dish, particularly as it is quite easy to make. Although the recipe is called a Tart of Rice, there is no mention of pastry aside from putting the flavoured rice into a dish; the recipe below puts it into a pastry case, and the rice mixture sets well as a tart filling. However, I have served the rice by itself as a side dish, and it was extremely well received (and quick to make!).

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 1 tsp ginger
200g rice ½ tsp cinnamon
3 egg yolks 2 tbs sugar
250mL orange juice 50g butter

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° oven. Remove the paper and weights when finished.
  3. Return the tart shell to the oven and bake for a further 6 minutes, to firm the base. If necessary, line the rim of the pie with foil to stop it browning too much.
  4. Rinse the rice in cold, running water until the water draining from the rice is clear.
  5. Cook the rice in lightly salted water until it is still slightly firm in the centre.
  6. Drain the rice, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine.
  7. Spoon the rice mix into the tart shell and press down lightly.
  8. Bake the tart in a 180° oven for about 20 minutes, or until the rice filling feels dry and firm.
  9. Serve hot or cold.

Notes

  • Although this is a sweet dish, it would have been served alongside savoury dishes, most likely in the second course.
  • Rinsing the rice before cooking it removes excess starch from the rice, which means it doesn’t go gluggy when cooked. If you are worried about wasting water, hold the strainer over a bucket to catch the rinsing water – gardens love it.

 

Tarte of Ryce

Further Reading

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

Sauce for Soft-Boiled Eggs (Apicius 7.17.3)

In ouis apalis: piper ligusticum nucleos infuses; suffundes mel acetum, liquamine temperabis.

Sauce for soft-boiled eggs: pepper, lovage, soaked pine nuts; pour on honey, vinegar, flavour with liquamen.

This text and translation are taken from Sally Grainger and Christopher Grocock’s Apicius (2006).

This is one of the earliest historic recipes I ever cooked, over 20 years ago (eek); I used the version from Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa’s A Taste of Ancient Rome, which is one book I would highly recommend as a beginner’s guide to ancient Roman food and cooking. This is a great recipe to serve in the first course of a feast – both the eggs and the sauce can be prepared well ahead of time.

Eggs were an important food in the ancient world – even city dwellers with a small yard could keep chickens, and hen eggs could be produced in large quantity. They were regarded as aphrodisiacs (Dalby, 2003, 126).

Ingredients

4 large eggs 2 tbs honey 1/2 tsp lovage seed
50g pine nuts 1 tsp fish sauce 1/2 tsp pepper
100mL wine vinegar

Method

  1. Dry fry the pine nuts over a medium heat until they start to turn golden. Keep stirring constantly. When they are golden, remove from the heat and soak in half the vinegar for at least 6 hours.
  2. Put the eggs into a pan of cold water, then put over a high heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the water comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and leave it stand for 4 minutes.
  3. After 4 minutes, remove the eggs from the hot water and immediately plunge them into ice cold water. Leave them to cool completely.
  4. In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine the soaked pine nuts, pepper and lovage seed, and process until the pine nuts have been crushed to the desired consistency (I like them still a bit chunky).
  5. Add the honey, the rest of the vinegar and the fish sauce to the pine nuts, and stir well to combine.
  6. Remove the eggs from the cold water and peel them, then slice each egg in half.
  7. Arrange the halved eggs on a plate, then pour over the pine nut sauce.

Notes

  • Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a plant that appears frequently in Roman cooking. It has an extremely strong celery scent. Sally Grainger (2006, 24) and Patrick Faas (1994, 151) believe the seeds were used more frequently, as it is usually listed amongst the spices in Apicius. I feel either the leaves or the seed can be used, as they both have a similar taste, however the seed is probably more appropriate in this recipe. If lovage leaf or seed is unavailable, celery leaf or seed is a good substitute. I grew the lovage in my garden.
  • Liquamen is a fish sauce, probably thinner in texture than the better known garum. (Grainger, 2005).
  • This method of boiling eggs comes from Heston Blumenthal’s Heston at Home (p107). I find it avoids the problem of the eggs cracking in the water as can happen if they are put in hot water to begin with, or left in boiling water, and also ensures the egg does not overcook. If you prefer a less set yolk, leave them in the boiled water for less time.
  • Putting the eggs into cold water to cool does three things. First, it completely stops the cooking process so the yolk does not overcook and become powdery, and the white stays tender rather than becoming like rubber. Second, it allows the eggs to cool without that unattractive grey ring forming about the yolk. Finally, it makes the eggs easier to peel cleanly as the membrane surrounding the egg separates from the shell.
  • If you want to read more about the science behind the gentle cooking of eggs in their shell, check out Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, p 87-88.
  • It is much easier to peel an egg that is slightly older. As eggs age more air is absorbed into the shell, and pushes the egg slightly away from the shell. However, avoid really old eggs, as they don’t taste good, and have more chance of having the unattractive grey ring form about the yolk, even if you cook it gently.
  • To test the freshness of an egg, put the egg in a bowl full of water. If the egg lies on the bottom, it is very fresh. If the egg stands on its narrow point with the broader end sticking up in the water, it is less fresh but still fine to use, especially in a recipe such as this. If the egg floats, throw it away, as it is stale.
  • Both Sally Grainger (2006, 57) and Ilaria Giacosa (1994, 47) both suggest processing the pine nut sauce to a completely smooth paste. However, I prefer the sauce to still have a little texture – I think it looks more appealing to have diiferent textures in the sauce.

Eggs in Pine Nut Sauce

Further Reading

Click on the links below to order directly from The Book Depository.

Dalby, Andrew (2003). Food in the Ancient World.
Faas, Patrick (1994). Around the Roman Table.
Giacosa, Ilaria Gozzini (1994). A Taste of Ancient Rome.
Grainger, Sally (2005). “Towards an Authentic Roman Sauce.” 2005 Oxford Food Symposium
Grainger, Sally (2006). Cooking Apicius.
Grocock, Christopher and Grainger, Sally (2006). Apicius.
McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking.

(Elinor Fettiplace’s) A Tart of Spinage (Spinach Tart)

To make a tarte of spinage.
Take the spinage & boile it in water till it bee soft, then straine it, & put to it the yelks of vi eggs, & some rosewater and corrance, & sugar, & some sinamon, & ginger & some butter. boile it on the fier, a good while, before you put it in the paste.
Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, ed. Hillary Spurling.

To make a tart of spinach.
Take the spinach & boil it in water until it be soft, then strain it, and put to it the yolks of 6 eggs, & some rosewater and currants, and sugar, and some cinnamon, and ginger and some butter. Cook it gently on the stove for a good while, before you put it in the pastry.

Spinach was introduced to England some time in the reign of Henry VIII – a 1654 herbal noted it was not long introduced to England (Dalby, 2012, 101). It was probably one of the many foodstuffs introduced through increased contact with Spain, where it was introduced by the Arabs. The earliest Spinach Tart recipe I am aware of is from 1545 (see ((A Propere Newe) Tarte of Spinage). There are many recipes for spinach tart – they were clearly a novelty so I feel they should be part of any Tudor era feast.

This recipe is slightly sweet, but not overly so, and is quite pleasant.

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 60g currants 1 tsp powdered ginger
2 bunches spinach (approx. 500g) 50g sugar 1 tsp powdered cinnamon
6 egg yolks 30mL rosewater 50g butter

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° oven. Remove the paper and weights when finished.
  3. Remove the stalk and the central vein from the spinach leaves and chop into strips.
  4. Put the spinach in the pan with a little water, and over a medium heat, steam the spinach. It will rapidly lose volume. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t stick.
  5. Remove the spinach from the pan and squeeze out some of the water between tea towels or kitchen paper.
  6. Return the spinach to the pan with the egg yolks, rosewater, currants, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Over a low heat, stir well to break down the spinach and mix the ingredients.
  7. When the spinach, eggs, currants, rosewater, butter and spices are well mixed, remove the pan from the heat and spoon the spinach mixture into the tart case.
  8. Bake the tart in a 180° oven until the filling has firmed, approx. 30 minutes.

Notes

  • Ideally this recipe should be made with true spinach (Spinacia oleracea) rather than silverbeet (Beta vulgaris) which is often sold as spinach. Silverbeet was well known throughout medieval England and wasn’t the novelty true spinach was.
  • Elinor Fettiplace’s instruction “to boile” can be quite confusing. Often she actually means “simmer,” and you generally have to work out the meaning from the context. In this case, because of the egg yolks, I feel the spinach mixture has to be simmered, as boiling would cause the egg yolks to curdle.
  • If possible, use whole dried ginger that you grate directly into the mix – the flavour is so much better!

Elinor Fettiplace's Spinach Tart

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Ahmed, Anne (ed) (2002) A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye
Dalby, Andrew and Dalby, Maureen (2012) The Shakespeare Cookbook
Spurling, Hilary (2011). Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book.