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.

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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

Genovese Tart

30 Ain jenaweser torta zú machenn
Nempt 36 lott mangoldt oder spinetkraút, 6 lott geriben kesß, 5 lott bamel, 12 lott gerente milich, das keslin darúon, vnnd das kraút brien, aúch klainhacken vnnd als vnnderainanderrieren vnnd ain torta daraús machen mit ainer deckin.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin

30 To make Genovese tart
Take eighteen ounces of chard or spinach, three ounces of grated cheese, two and one half ounces of olive oil and the fresh cheese from six ounces of curdled milk. And blanch the herbs and chop them small and stir it all together and make a good covered tart with it.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

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

Often in medieval cooking manuscripts there are recipes like this one – a dish named for a foreign region, in this case the city of Genoa in Italy. Sometimes it’s effectively impossible to work out why the dish acquired its name; I suspect in some cases it was to give an otherwise pedestrian dish a little pizzazz.

However, when I looked in Italian recipe collections I found recipes that were very similar to this one – a pie where the principal ingredient was spinach, combined with other ingredients. For instance, Maestro Martino’s Libro de Arte Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking) features a recipe for spinach torte in the Genoese style; a rather luxurious dish where the spinach is combined with almonds, walnuts, spices and caviar (Martino, 2005, 123). Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera has a recipe (V.97) very similar to Sabina Welserin’s, where the spinach or chard is combined with fresh cheese, mint and pepper (Scappi, 2008, 481). Most Italian regions had special names for pies and tarts. The Genovese version was called a gattafurra, and appears to have been quite shallow compared to those from other regions, and was always covered.

The first time I made this recipe, I had run out of wheat flour so I used spelt flour. However, I forgot to adjust the recipe for the different flour. When I got the pie out of the oven, the pastry collapsed and tore a little more every time I looked at it or breathed in its direction. And to make matters worse, I didn’t pay attention to Sabina Welserin’s recipe, which is quite specific about the ratio of ingredients to use. Essentially my filling had half as much spinach, twice as much parmesan cheese and four times as much fresh cheese. It really wasn’t pleasant to eat.

Failed Genovese Tart

Once I adjusted the quantities to Sabina’s specifications, the pie was delicious, and would make a good addition to any feast, whether for vegetarians or everybody.

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 80g grated parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp salt
500g chopped spinach or silverbeet 100g ricotta
30 mL olive oil 1/4 tsp ground pepper

Method

  1. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  2. Blanch the spinach or silverbeet until the spinach has softened and lost most of its moisture.
  3. Add the cheeses, oil, salt and pepper, and mix well.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pie shell, and smooth off.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Serve hot or cold.

Notes

  • Parmesan cheese was a coveted, imported luxury in Germany, (Bach, 2016, 163), and is used extensively in Sabina Welser’s book. Parmesan was probably first exported from Italy in C14, and was prized throughout Europe. 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). If you are uncertain about using Parmesan in this recipe, you could substitute a milder cheese, such as Gouda or Edam.
  • In Australia, what is often sold as spinach is actually silverbeet (Beta vulgaris). This is an ancient vegetable known throughout Europe, and is also known as chard. True spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is called English Spinach in Australia, however as Sabina specifies either leafy vegetable can be used, you don’t need to be pedantic.

Genovese Tart

Note: I originally published this recipe with a note stating true spinach would have been recently introduced to Germany in the mid sixteenth century when this recipe was compiled. I had a few people contact me to rightly question this. Foolishly, I applied the probable date of true spinach’s introduction in England to the rest of Europe. Sixteenth and seventeenth century herbals that describe spinach describe it as a recent introduction, whereas spinach and chard are mentioned separately in European cooking manuscripts as early as the fourteenth century. I’ve removed this note from the recipe, and if I ever make the same mistake, please feel free to point me back to my own words to show I’m wrong.

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.
Kindstedt, Paul (2012). Cheese and Culture.
Martino, Maestro of Como (2005). The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book, trans. Jeremy Parzen.
Scappi, Bartolomeo (2008). The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570), trans. Terence Scully.

Apple Tart (with cheese)

177 Ain tortta von epffel zú machen
Nempt epffel, schelts vnnd stosts ain ribeissen, darnach rests jm schmaltz/ dan thiet daran soúil geriben kesß als epfel, ain wenig gestossen negelen, ain wenig jmber vnnd zimerrerlach, zway air, riert es woll dúrchainander, dan mach den taig wie zú ainem fladen, thút ain knepflin schmaltz darein, damit es sý nit anlaff, vnnd vnnden vnnd oben ain wenig glút, lasß gemach bachen.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin

177 To make an apple tart
Take apples, peel them and grate them with a grater, afterwards fry them in fat. Then put in it as much grated cheese as apples, some ground cloves, a little ginger and cinnamon, two eggs. Stir it together well. Then prepare the dough as for a flat cake, put a small piece of fat into it so that it does not rise, and from above and below, weak heat. Let it bake slowly.

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. But unlike the Apple Pie with Raisins, this recipe stops you in your tracks. It’s not just the unusual description of the pastry, it’s the filling – apples, with cheese?!

However, it isn’t as strange as it seems – apple is often found on cheese boards. The filling itself is a pleasant, subtle mix of sweet and savoury, and is a great way to introduce feast attendees to the practice of serving sweet dishes with meat.

Sabina’s instructions for the casing for the dish are unclear. I have chosen to interpret this dish as a typical pie, however it’s entirely possible this is meant to be a strudel, where the filling is put into the centre of the dough, and the dough is folded over to encase the filling. If anyone has any other interpretations, I’d be happy to hear from you!

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 50g butter 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
250g cooking apples 2 eggs 1 tsp ground ginger
250g parmesan cheese 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Method

  1. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  2. Grate the cheese.
  3. Peel, core and grate the apples.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the grated apple. Fry the apple until it is warmed through.
  5. Add the spices, eggs and cheese to the apple, and mix well.
  6. Pour the apple mixture into the tart shell, and smooth off.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Serve hot or cold.

Notes

  • In the recipe, I have specified Parmesan cheese. This was a coveted, imported luxury in Germany, (Bach, 2016, 163), and is used extensively in Sabina Welser’s book. Parmesan was probably first exported from Italy in C14, and was prized throughout Europe. 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).

    If you are uncertain about using Parmesan in this recipe, you could substitute a milder cheese, such as Gouda or Edam.

Apple pie with cheese

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.

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

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.