For Vegetarian or Fast Days

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Between famines, fasting, food intolerances, feeling ill and penance there are a number of reasons why a noble or peasant alike would refrain from eating certain dishes at different times.

To find vegetarian recipes look through cook books with an eye out for the following phrases: “in Lent,” “in Ember Day,” “for fast days,” “for fish days,” “in Quadragesima,” “in jejunio,” “incipit servicium de piscibus.” During Lent (from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday) and during some fast days animal products and dairy are forbidden.

Although you can use modern substitutions in period recipes with great success (for example tofu instead of chicken) Rupert de Nola has other advice for substitutions: “Although the victuals that you can make for meat days are infinite, many of them can be made in Lent, because in the chapters on those victuals where I say to dissolve them with meat broth, those sauces or pottages can be dissolved with salt and oil and water, but first you have to give it a boil. And in this manner it is as good as meat broth if it is well tempered with salt and if the oil is very fine, and in this manner, many victuals which are put forth for meat days can be made in Lent.” 

The following meatless recipes are different than just using salted water instead of beef broth. The Mock-Omelette is a crazy substitution idea I never would have thought of. The Walnut Lasagna tastes like baklava. The pie is like minced meat pie we eat modernly.

Mock Omelette
Herb omelet in lent.
If you want to make a herb omelet for lent with oil. Take the herbs, that is spinach, beet (leaves, or swiss chard), parsley, mint and marjoram, a little peeled (stems removed) and well washed and put them to boil. When they are almost cooked strain out the water and then squeeze it out with your hands, then chop them with a knife, and beat them with a mallet. Then put them in a pottery pan (pignata) and fry them with oil and with as much salt as is enough. Then put a little of the boiling water above, and close the vessel and see that it is well closed, and pull the pan to the back (of the fire) and let it rest. When it is ready to go to the table dish it up and powder with spices above. Libro di cucina

Ingredients
* 4 cups of baby spinach, washed, stems removed
* 4 cups beet greens or swiss chard or kale, washed stems removed
* 1/4 cup parsley, (large handful) washed stems removed
* 2 branches mint, washed, stems removed
* 1 branch marjoram, washed stems removed
* salt to taste
* oil for cooking
*pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Submerge all the herbs and leafy greens into the pot. Reduce heat and simmer until greens are fully wilted, approximately 4 minutes. Strain greens, squeezing extra moisture out, reserving 1/4 cup of the ‘broth’.
  2. Chopped the wilted greens with a knife until small and then pound it with your cooking hammer until you can make veggie-patties when it is all mixed together. Add salt and then shape into 4-6 patties.
  3. Heat a frying pan on medium, and add oil. Gently lay fragile patties onto oil and fry them 5 minutes on one side and then just to brown on other. Serve hot–if not serving right away pour the reserved liquid into pain, cover and remove from heat until ready to serve.

Walnut Lasagne
If you want to make lasagne in lent, take the lasagne (wide pasta noodles) and put them to cook (in water and salt). Take peeled walnuts and beat and grind them well. Put them between the lasagna (in layers), and guard from smoke (while reheating). And when they go to the table dress them with a dusting of spices and with sugarLibro di cucina

Ingredients
* 1 package of fresh lasagna noodles, or 1 package of dried cooked to soften
* 3 cups of walnuts, ground
* 1 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper in a lasagna pain or grease pan.
  3. Put a layer of noodles on pan, cover noodles with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover the walnut layer with another pasta layer, and then repeat with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover last layer with noodles. Brush top crust with oil or almond milk.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, until  top is golden. Remove from oven and evenly cover top of pie with sugar and spices. Serve hot or cold.
  5. Optional, but not strict to original recipe, mix sugar or honey and spices in with walnuts to bake. 

Fruit Pie (lesche Fried in Lent)
Draw a thick almond milk with water. Take dates and pick them clean with apples and pears and mince them with prunes damsons. Take out the stones out of the prunes and carve the prunes in two. Add raisins, sugar, ground cinnamon, whole mace and cloves, good powders and salt. Colour them up with saunders. Mix these with oil, make a coffin as thou did before and do this therin. And bake it well and serve it forth. Forme of Cury

Ingredients
* 3/4 cup almond milk
* 1.5 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
* 1 cup pears, peeled, cored and chopped small
* 3/4 cup of dates, stones removed, chopped small
* 1/2 cup of prunes, stones removed, chopped small
* 1/4 cup raisins
* 3/4 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 mace flake, ground
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* pinch of salt
* 2 tbsp almond oil or pine nut oil
* Pastry for top and bottom of a pie

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Mix all ingredients, except pastry, together, and pour into pie crust. Cover pie with second crust and brush pastry with and leftover almond milk or oil in your mixing bowl, poke a few slits into crust with knife. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until pie is golden and bubbling. Serve once it has cooled.
  3. Optional: make pie without top crust, or two less dense pies. Cook for less time. 
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Marie Bones

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You shall eat no marrow, whether it is of birds or other animals, as it causes dizziness in the head and a bad memory, so that you forget things which you heard or read earlier. Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard

There you have it. I am reminding you of this 15th Century wisdom because I worry about your health, obviously, not because beef soup bones have gone from $2 for a large bag to $4 for four small bones since the cooking with marrow fad began.

Marrow bones, also called Mary or Marie bones, is a fantastic source of calorie dense nutrition.

If you boil the soup bones instead of roasting you can carve combs, dice, needles and other things out of the bones. If you put vinegar in the water the bones become really white too.

To extract the marrow from bones, you cover the bones with water and simmer them until the insides of the bones turn to jelly, or slide out, from solid white. The broth left behind is great for soups or pottage or where ever broth is required, just add salt and dilute with water.

If a recipe calls for marrow it isn’t quite right to replace with butter. Lard is a closer substitute but lacks the depth of marrow.

Marrow Tarts
Make fine paste, and put in the white of one egg and sugar, and when they are made in little coffins set them into the Ouen vpon a paper a little while then take then out and put in marie, and then close them vp and pricke them, and set them in again, and when they are broken serve them with blanch powder strewed upon them. The Good Housewife’s Jewell (1596)

Ingredients
* Pastry for 12 small tarts, top and bottom
* 3/4 cup of beef marrow
* 4 tbsp raw cane sugar
* 1 tbsp ginger, ground

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Place tart bottoms in oven for 15 minutes. Remove then let cool.

2) Once tarts are cool place 1 tbsp of marrow in each. Cover each tart with more pastry and slice a hole in the middle, or use a pastry lattice, and place tarts in oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until pastry is golden.

3) Combine sugar and ginger together. Liberally sprinkle sugar mixture on the hot tarts. Serve hot.

Sorrel?

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So I started researching verjuice and found many of the recipes call for sorrel. Which sorrel did they call for ‘wood sorrel’ (Oxalis) or ‘garden sorrel’ (Rumex acetosa)?

My digging didn’t clarify so I asked Pamela Bottrill; who I go to whenever I have a gardening question. She recommend that I dig into The herball or Generall historie of plantes by John Gerarde.

His section of sorrel lists:
1 Sorrel. Oxalis, siue Acetosa.
2 Knobbed Sorrel. Oxalis tuberosa,or Tuberosa acetosa, or Tuberosum lapathum.
3 Sheeps Sorrel. Oxalis tenuifolia. […The second by waters sides, but not in this kingdome that I know of.]
4 Round leaved, or French Sorrel Oxalis Franca seu Romana.
5 Curled Sorrel. […This kind of curled Sorrell is a stranger in England…]
6 Small Sorrel. Oxalis minor.
7 Barren Sorrel, or Dwarf Sheeps Sorrell.
Great broad leaved Sorrel. Oxalis, or Acetosa maxima latifolia.
9 Garden Sorrel Acidum la∣pathum, or Acidus rumex.

The good news is that he describes them all kind of the same, with the same uses as a bitter herb, just slightly different shapes.

I would lean towards Rumex acetosa for cooking and Oxalis for salads for the small reason that Oxalis looks like heart shaped three-leaf clovers and I don’t find it as strong a flavour as Rumex Acetosa. 

Like verjuice the ‘acetosa‘ is acidic, sometimes called the ‘lemon herb’. During my search I learned that modernly sorrel is used to add a different kind of ‘sour’ to cooking that is different than wine, for ease of pairing the dish with a bottle.

I find wood sorrel to cook with in my lawn and in every one of my planters. It’s a weed. I find common sorrel in my friend’s garden or at really interesting farmers markets.

Please comment below with other ideas for differentiating sorrel in recipes.

Sorrel Sauce (1439)
Surelle. Take Surel, wasche hit, grynde it, put a litil salt, ther-to, and strayne hit, and serue forth. Two fifteenth-century cookery-books

Ingredients
* 2 cups sorrel leaves, washed
* salt to taste

Directions
1) Take sorrel and grind in a mortar with a pestle a little at a time until a paste, add small drops of water if required.

2) Add salt to sorrel mush and mix well to dissolve.

3) Strain sorrel mixture through a metal sieve, use a wooden spoon or fingers to push as much pulp as you can through the strainer. Serve immediately, with fish or other meats.

Chicken with Sorrel (1591)
To dress chickens upon sorrell sops. Take sorell and beat it in a mortar, and put in verjuice and strain it through a strainer, then cut fine sops of white bread and lay them in a dish, and put the sorrel sauce to the bread, put cinnamon, ginger, and sugar, with butter to your sauce, then roast your chickens and serve them forth. A book of Cookery

Ingredients
* 1 5lb chicken (or chicken sections)
* salt to taste
* 1 cup of sorrel leaves, washed
* 1/4 cup verjuice
* 6 slices of white bread
* 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, ground
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* 1 tbsp raw sugar cane
*1/4 cup butter

Directions
1) Pre-heat oven to 350F. Salt chicken and roast it for about 1 3/4 – 2 hours, until chicken has reached 180F, and the legs and wings twist off easily. Carve generous portions of the roasted bird.

2) While chicken is roasting, take sorrel and grind in a mortar with a pestle a little at a time with verjuice until a paste forms. Strain sorrel mixture through a metal sieve, use a wooden spoon or fingers to push as much pulp as you can through the strainer. Mix spices together and add them to the sorrel juice.

3) Butter each slice of bread. Place bread in bottom of bowl.  Sprinkle a generous spoonful or two onto each slice of bread. Place slices of chickens on top of bread slices. Serve them with the leftover sorrel sauce.

Beef and Onion Sauce

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Sometimes you find an amazing recipe while looking at books printed after 1700. It can happen. An onion sauce called “La genovese” is amazing but I couldn’t help but thinking a recipe that is primarily beef and onions, flavoured with wine has to have a medieval recipe equivalent.

I love it when traditional foods are really traditional!

I didn’t find an Italian recipe (yet!) but I did find this English one from A Book of Cookrye
(1591):

“To stue a hinflank of Beefe without fruit. Boyle your flank of Beef very tender, till the broth be almost consumed, then put the broth into a pipkin, and put to it Onions, Caret roots shred small, being tender sodden before, and pepper groce beaten, vergious, and halfe a dish of sweet butter, and so lay it upon.”

Ingredients:
* 3 lb beef roast
* 1 tbsp salt
* 3 lb onions, peeled and roughly chopped
* 2 cups of carrots, grated
* Pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup verjuice (or dry wine)
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Place roast in a large pot, and cover with water and the salt. Bring pot to a boil on high, cover pot with lid, and then reduce heat to medium and simmer roast until it starts to split apart when you poke it (approximately 3 hours).
  2. After cooking beef for 2 hours, put onions, carrots, and pepper into a different large pot and cover them with water. Place onion-pot on medium-low heat and simmer until beef is starting to fall apart. Add water if onion-pot is  drying out.
  3.  After beef has cooked for 3 hours (and is starting to split when poked) add onion mixture, verjuice and butter to bigger beef pot. Simmer together to reduce liquid and until beef is able to be shredded with a fork (approximately 45 minutes-1 hour).
  4. Once beef is falling apart on its own,  shred all the beef with a fork and mix it into the rest of the sauce. Serve hot.

Beef & Sauces

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I’m teaching humour theory and cooking at SCA 50 Year Celebration so I’ve been digging out some references on the topic.

This is a notable example:

    Large cuts of boiled meat. Large cuts of boiled meat (beef, pork or mutton) are cooked in water and salt. The beef is eaten with Green Garlic  in summer and White Garlic  in winter. The pork and mutton are eaten (if fresh) with good Green Sauce made without wine, and (if salted) with Mustard.
… White Garlic. Crush garlic and bread, and steep in verjuice.
… Green Garlic. Crush garlic, bread and greens, and steep together.
… Mustard. Soak the mustard seed overnight in good vinegar, grind it in a mill, and then moisten it little by little with vinegar. If you have any spices left over from Hippocras or sauces, grind them with it. Le Viandier de Taillevent (1380)

Aside from appearance, age, type of meat, and other factors affecting humours the seasons were a strong influencer.

Even today modernly we are influenced by the seasons for our diet: ice cream in summer, hot chocolate in winter, but its not because we are aiming for a higher level of health.

Beef ‘sodden’ or simmered in water offends some meat lovers but since beef has dry and cold humours it is the most logical way to approach it.

Salt your roast and cover with water. Cover with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until roast hits 160 degrees, or simmer for 3 to 5 hours until beef is falling apart tender. Or rebel completely and roast it in an oven. Serve with appropriate sauce.

“… White Garlic. Crush garlic and bread, and steep in verjuice.”

Ingredients
* 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
* 1/2 cup of dry bread crumbs
* 1/4 cup grape verjuice

Directions
Take each clove of garlic, and a tablespoon of bread crumbs and crush in a mortar with a pestle. Once all cloves and all the bread is crushed together mix the verjuice in slowly.

… Green Garlic. Crush garlic, bread and greens, and steep together.

Ingredients
* 1 bulb of garlic
* 1/4 cup of dry bread crumbs
* 1 cup of mixed green herbs like mint, sage, parsley, thyme (chopped, no stems)
* 1/4 cup white wine

Directions
Combine first 3 ingredients a little at a time to combine in a mortar and pestle, adding a little wine to help when required. Once fully pulverized add rest of wine and stir well.


… Mustard. Soak the mustard seed overnight in good vinegar, grind it in a mill, and then moisten it little by little with vinegar. If you have any spices left over from Hippocras or sauces, grind them with it.

Ingredients
* 1 cup mustard seeds, freshly ground
* 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Optional: 1 tbsp mix of cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, cloves, soaked over night in wine and then strained. Drink wine once sweetened.

Directions
Slowly stir vinegar into muster seed and spices until mustard is fully moistened and saucy.

Optional: Grind hippocras spices in mortar then add spices to mustard sauce. Add more vinegar if required.

Rose Hip Tarts

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Sometimes when you are researching ye olden timey recipes you find recipes that don’t make sense on the first read.

For example:
To make a tart of hips. Take hips and cut them, and take the seeds out, and wash them very clean, and put them into your tart, and season them with sugar, cinnamon and ginger. So you must preserve them with sugar, cinnamon and ginger, and put them into a jelly pot close.
 The Good Housewife’s Jewell (1596)

First sentence seems straight forward, take rose hips, sugar and seasoning and make a tart. Except even freshly picked hips would be hard and crunchy and not very appealing. The second half of the recipe about making jelly, might mean that you make a jelly first, which would be more appetising than but since it isn’t clear  its best to pick a few similar recipes, from around he same time period, to compare it with.

How to make a tart of brier hips. Take hips and wash them, and boil them in claret wine, and strain them through a strainer, season them with cinnamon, ginger and sugar, and make your paste, and fill it with the same stuff. A Book of Cookrye (1591)

To make a tart of Hips. Take Hips, slit them, and pick out the kernels: then seethe them in white wine, or in faire water, when they bee soft sodden, strain them as thick as you can, and season them with cinnamon, ginger and sugar, and lay it in paste. The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1594)

Ingredients
* 2 cups rose hips, fresh or dried
* 1 cup wine
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, grated
* 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
* Pastry for 20 small tarts

Directions
1) Put rose hips, wine, and water until hips are fully covered. Simmer hips on medium-low for 1 hour, until hips are soft and squishy.

2) Pour liquid through wire strainer, then carefully press hip meat through, a little at a time. The seeds and skins should stay in the strainer with the pulp and cooking liquid separated out. There will not be a lot of pulp through the strainer, but a lot of mess in the strainer.

3) Preheat oven to 350F.

3) Mix the pulp mixture, spices, and sugar together. Slowly pour 1 tbsp of liquid into tart shells. Bake for 45 minutes, until liquid sets and crust is golden.

 

 

Service Berries

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So Saskatoon berries, also called service berries, are a small, purplish, bush berry that tastes like raspberries, blueberries and magic all mixed together raw and even better stewed or in a pie. This berry is of the Rosaceae family, subfamily Amygdaloideae,  genus Amelanchier. This berries are found mostly in North America, with one species in Europe.

Rowan berries, also called service berries, are the bright orange berry on the mountain ash. They are extremely astringent, mostly inedible until simmered with a lot of sugar or honey. This berry is of the Rosaceae family, subfamily Amygdaloideae, genus Sorbus. They are found all over the northern hemisphere. They are less bitter and more bidable if picked after the first frost, or dried, before using.

If a pre-16th century recipe calls for service berries it most likely means the berries that are hard, difficult to de-seed, and very bitter, instead of the easy to use berry that tastes like happiness.

 

To make Marmalade of Damsons of Prunes. (c.1584)
Take Damsons which are ripe, boyle them on the fire with a little fair water until they be soft, then draw them through a course boulter as ye make a tart set it on the fire agayne seethe it on height with sufficient sugar, as you do your quinces, dash it with sweetwater. and box it.

If you will make it of prunes, even likewise do put some apples also to it, as you did to your quinces.

This wise you may make marmalade of wardens, pears, apple and medlars, services, checkers, or strawberries, every one by himself, or mix it together, as you think good. John Partidge, “The Treasures of Commodious Conceits and Hidden Secrets

Ingredients
* 4 cups of rowan berries, stems removed
* 1 apple, cored and sliced (optional)
* 3 cups of sugar
* 1 tsp rosewater

Directions

  1. Wash rowan berries and then place them in a sauce pan (with apple pieces if you like). Add enough water to cover. Bring pan to boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, until berries are soft and falling apart.
  2. Strain berries through a sieve or a cheesecloth, to get all the juice. Pour juice back into sauce pan and add sugar. Bring to boil for 10 minutes then remove from heat. Add rosewater and stir.
  3. Let mixture cool and store covered in a cool dark place.