Happy Thanksgiving or Sage Dressing

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Making sage dressing from my Big Buttes Book for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Fresh sage mixed with olive oil, cider vinegar, pepper, salt, honey, and cinnamon (full recipe on page 191) with romaine lettuce and the cutest, medievalist looking, cabbage from Pam’s garden.

I’m thankful for friends who grow me cool stuff, my dog who will eat anything, and my family.

ps book is on sale at amazon.ca 

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Pear Shaped Meatballs or “To make Peares to be boiled in meate.”

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This is another meatball in sauce recipe that I am trying out as an idea for Feast of the Hare in November.

Again the meat is paired with a ‘lemon’ flavour, but this time it will be barberries not salted lemons. The meatballs are shaped like pears, which is cute.

I also have fresh thyme and parsley and this recipe will be excellent use for them.

This recipe is fussy especially compared to the above linked meatball recipe but it is so much amazing. John, one of my stunt eaters, called the barberries taste explosions.

To make Peares to be boiled in meate. TAke a peece of a legge of Mutton or Veale raw, being mixed with a little Sheepe sewet, and halfe a manchet grated fine, taking foure raw egges yolkes and al. Then take a little Time, & parsely chopped smal, then take a few gooseberies or barberies, or greene grapes being whole. Put all these together, being seasoned with Salte, saffron and cloues, beaten and wrought altogether; then make Rowles or Balles like to a peare, and when you haue so done, take the stalke of the sage, and put it into the ends of your peares or balles, then take the freshe broth of beefe, Mutton or veale, being put into an earthen pot, putting the peares or balles in the same broth wyth Salt, cloues, mace and Saffron, and when you be ready to serue him, put two or three yolkes of egs into the broth. Let them boile no more after that but serue it forth vpon soppes. You may make balles after the same sorte. Thomas Dawson, The Second part of the good Huswives Jewell  (1597)

Ingreidents

  • Meatballs
    • .6 kg beef, veal or mutton ground
    • 100 g suite or lard
    • 150 g bread crumbs
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 branches of thyme, leaves minced
    • 2 branches of parsley, leaves minced
    • 100 g barberries
    • 1 tsp salt
    • pinch saffron
    • 1 tsp cloves, ground
  • Broth
    • 2 liter beef broth
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 8 cloves, whole
    • 1 flake mace
    • pinch saffron
    • 3 egg yolks, beaten

Directions

  1. Mix ground meat, and the ingredients for meatballs together. It should hold its shape when formed into “pears”. Make meat mixture into pears, 2 oz each.
  2. Put beef broth, 1 tsp salt, whole cloves, meat mace flake, and pinch of saffron into a large sauce pan and bring to boil. Drop “pears” gently into pot and then reduce heat. DO NOT stir for at least 10 minutes. Remove meatballs after 10 minutes and set into warm bowl.
  3. Remove large spices from broth if possible. Add a 1/4 cup of cooking liquid to egg yolks, blend well, then add egg mixture to pot. Simmer on medium for 10 minutes to thicken sauce.
  4. Serve “pears” with bread slices and sauce.

Meatballs in Broth or “Another Sort Of Dressed veal”

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So this recipe could be a meatball soup, given the amount of broth required to cover the meatballs is more than one would use as a sauce. It is strongly flavoured though, so I would serve it with sops (bread slices) if you were doing that. Otherwise it is a wonderful lemon bite around the delicately flavoured veal (*cough* bland *cough*).

My friend Diane would love this.

Veal was on sale so tomorrow I will be making a veal pie.

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Another sort of dressed veal.
Take the meat so as to have made ham all as trimmed, & make round balls or strips like little sausages, & put them to stew in good broth, & a salted lemon cut in strips, mint, marjoram therein, a little verjuice or wine, & put them to stew well, & serve as such. (France, 1604 – Daniel Myers, trans. Ouverture de Cuisine)

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground veal
  • salt
  • 1.5 liters of bone broth
  • 1 salted lemon
  • 1 branch each mint, marjoram
  • 1/3 cup verjuice (or wine)

Directions

  1. Salt the veal to taste and then form into balls ~1 oz, you should get 15-16 balls from 1 lb of veal.
  2. Pour broth into a sauce pan and add the rest of the ingredients then bring to boil on high.
  3. Drop meatballs into boiling broth and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer balls for 7 minutes.
  4. Serve balls with broth (and sops). (My family added more salt)

Rabbit with wine sauce or Conynges in syryp

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So I was looking for a simple recipe that uses rabbit. I even had ‘cony’ vs ‘rabbit’ on my list of blog ideas ready to check off. I thought explaining that ‘conynges’ ‘connynges’ ‘cony’ and ‘rabbit’ were the same thing, and even (small) hares were called cony sometimes, would fill a blog post and I would be done with it.

I then found “Conynges in syryp” from Fourme of Curye [Rylands MS 7] and my research nerd took over.

Wikipedia says the the Fourme of Curye is “is an extensive collection of medieval English recipes from the 14th century. Originally in the form of a scroll, its authors are listed as “the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II“. I focus on 16th century usually so this was a little outside my wheelhouse. The English has evolved a little from where Fourme starts us and the spelling is a little off.

The recipe:

.lxiij. Conynges in syryp.

Tak conynges & seeth hem wel in gode broth, tak wyne creke & do therto with a porcioun of vyneger & flour of canel, hoole clowes, quybybus hole, & othere
gode spyces with raysouns corance & ginger, y pared & mynced, tak up the conynges & smyte hem on pecys & cast hem in to the syryp & seeth hem a litull in the fyre and serve hit forth.

And now we break it down

  1. Tak conynges & seeth hem wel in gode broth
    Take rabbits and boil them well in a good broth. The broth adds a layer of different fat(s) which adds flavour to the dish, also salt. Ff the meat takes longer to cook than the wine sauce will this step makes sure you aren’t serving raw meat to your guests. Older rabbits and game meats benefit from boiling, or parboiling, to soften it up and remove any ‘green’ or wild-meat flavour.
  2. tak wyne creke
    Take Greek Wine, which is probably from Italy. Other versions of this recipe call it ‘greke’ instead of ‘creke’. You want a super sweet wine. I wonder if you could get away with using grape juice concentrate? I am not sure I’d risk it given the cost of rabbit.
  3. & do therto with a porcioun of vyneger
    and mix in a quantity of vinegar. This will take away the edge of the sweet wine and add a sour to the sweet and sour.
  4. & flour of canel, hoole clowes,
    and powdered cinnamon and whole cloves. Canel is derived from the Latin word cannella, a diminutive of canna, “tube” according to wikipedia.
  5. quybybus hole, & othere gode spyces
    cubeb (aka cubebus, tailed pepper, or quibibes) whole and other good spices. I will probably use whole black pepper and a mace flake as well.
  6. with raysouns corance
    with raisins, currants. the recipe, unlike 16th century ones, doesn’t call for sugar. The sweetness comes from the sweet wine and the dried fruit.
  7. & ginger, y pared & mynced,
    and ginger, pealed and minced. Which is interesting because I was always told that 14th century meant dried not fresh ginger (shame on me for not looking it up).
  8. tak up the conynges & smyte hem on pecys & cast hem in to the syryp & seeth hem a litull in the fyre and serve hit forth.
    take up the rabbits [out of the broth] and smite then into pieces and place them into the syrup [the wine sauce] and simmer them a little in the fire and serve it forth. Smite always means to cut up with a sword, obviously. If you cook the sauce too long the vinegar can fight with the wine and makes a pot of vinegar sauce.

I am glad we cleared all that up! I saved you the hour of trying to figure out what quybybus was, you are welcome.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole rabbit, or rabbit cut into pieces
  • enough beef broth to cover meat
  • 2 cups of sweet wine [edit: if you messed up and wine isn’t sweet, add some honey]
  • 1 tbsp-1/2 cup of grape vinegar (depending upon how sweet the wine)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, powdered
  • 5 cloves, whole
  • 5 cubebs, whole
  • 1 flake mace
  • 5 peppercorns whole
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 inch of french ginger, minced

Directions:

  1. Take rabbit (pieces) and simmer them until cooked in a good broth. ~45 minutes. If using whole rabbit cut into pieces when cooked. Joints should easily pull apart.
  2. Place wine, vinegar, spices, and fruit into a large pot. Turn burner on medium low and bring to a simmer. Adjust the vinegar ratios by taste at this point.
  3. Add hot pieces of rabbit to sauce pot, turning pieces to coat. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Serve falling-apart rabbit pieces with sauce.

It looks mushy but it tastes amazing. Really amazing.

Edit: if you don’t want it to fall apart in sauce, cook it less in step 1, or cook it less in step 3. Things I wish I’d done differently: deboned the hot rabbit completely in step 1. Modernly you could brown the rabbit pieces and treat the wine sauce as a braising. 

Gone Fishing

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I love the idea of someone in medieval costume, sitting beside a bubbling brook. Beside them rest a book, and half a bottle of wine. A fishing rod made out of a stick and string held loosely in hands, while they napped under a large hat.

And accidentally catching a trout and ruining the quiet of the day.

Took cook your trout you need to scrape the scales on the outside of the fish with the side of a knife and wash them off the fish, the knife, your hands and everything you touched in the last 24 hours. You then cut the fish’s belly open from anus to neck and remove all the squishy guts from the pocket there, and wash the fish again. Pat dry.

You can grill a 1/2 lb trout on a high (500F) heat and it will cook in about 5 minutes. Pan frying is about that time, on each side.

Boiling takes a little longer, 10 minutes for every inch thick your fish is. The medieval cook would put 2 cups of wine or vinegar into the water with the fish.

In all cases cooked fish flake away from the bone easily.

The medieval cook will pair the fish with a sour sauce of your choosing:

Le Viandier de Taillevent (1380):
Salmon trout. Peeled, head and all, and then cooked in water or roasted; eaten with verjuice.

Le Menagier de Paris (1393)
Trout are cooked in water with a lot of red wine, and should be eaten with a cameline sauce and should be cooked in chunks about two fingers thick. 

Libre del Coch (1520)
And if they want to eat it roasted, it must be eaten with orange juice and water and salt and a little oil, and all the good herbs; and prepare the plate of the roast trout. And cast this juice on top of everything. And know that the best morsel of it is the snout.

Cooking with beer and wine

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Hypothetically if you are cooking something like lamb sausages in beer on a BBQ and the grease catches fire do not add more beer. It kind of explodes. Maybe. Hypothetically.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking with (gluten-free) beer and wine after discovering two duck-sauce recipes that were pretty similar at first blush except that one uses wine and the other beer.

Beer adds a smokier and bitter flavour. The flavour would radically change from redaction to redaction depending upon what kind of beer you used. You’d want something on the lighter side, and less hops.

Wine is sweeter, even a dry wine, and adds an acidic and tart flavour. I find that cheaper cooking wines, when used in cooking, don’t taste that differently, some difference but not wildly different in the way beer is.

Both of the following recipes needed the roasted duck to complete the flavours.

Beer Sauce for Roasted Mallards
Take onions and hew them well, put some in the mallard, so have you bliss, and hack more onions, as I teach you; with the grease of the mallard you fry them, then take ale, mustard and honey then, boil all together before you do more; for mallard roasted this sauce is prepared, and served in hall by good right. Liber cure Cocorum

The ratios for the sauce are more important than amounts. If you don’t have 1 cup of drippings treat the recipe as 4 part drippings, 4 parts ale, 1 part mustard, and 1 part honey.

Ingredients
* 1 onion, minced
* 1 cup of fat and drippings from your roasted duck
* 1 cup ale
* 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
*1/4 cup of honey

Directions
1)  Saute onions in the duck fat and drippings on medium heat until the onions are transparent.

2) Mix ale, mustard and honey together, then slowly pour into onion mixture. Bring the mixture to a low boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with your roasted duck.

Wine Sauce for Duck
Take onions, and hewe them small, and fry hem in fresh greece, and cast them into a pot, And fresh broth of beef, wine, & powder of pepper, canel, and dropping of the mallard. And let them boil together a while; And take hit for 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. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books.  godecookery.com

Ingredients
* 1 onion, minced
* fat for frying
* 1/2 cup of beef broth
* 1/2 cup dry wine
* 1/2 tsp pepper, ground
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 cup fat and drippings from your roasted duck
* 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* salt to taste

Directions
1)  Saute onions in fat  on medium heat in a sauce pan until the onions are transparent.

2) Add broth, wine, pepper, cinnamon, and drippings into sauce pan with onions, simmer together on medium  for 10 minutes.

3) Take sauce pan off heat add mustard, ginger, and salt and stir well. Serve with roasted duck.

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.