Fennel and Leek Soup or About the aforementioned.

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So I was looking for medieval recipes (if I am going to cook with a cook book anyway…) for vegetables to use up some greens I had going off. I found this cute recipe below and since it called for cheap ingredients I already had in the fridge I decided to experiment with it.

I love that it calls for the fennel bulb not the leaves, since it is much easier to get the bulb here.

Anyone who cooks a fast soup knows about softening veggies before adding a broth. I wondered what adding water instead of broth would be like. I also wondered what frying fennel in lard would be like.

My daughter declares it “good” and that “it tastes like pho” which is her highest compliment. I think the flavours worked together and it would be even better as a campfire dish–which I will try at my next opportunity.

I think this was a dish meant for an invalid or for maybe winter. I am just tired and the air conditioner is set too high.

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 Take white fennel minced finely, and then fry it with a little of the white part of a leek minced finely, with egg or lard, and put in a bit of water and saffron and salt, and boil it, and put in beaten eggs, if you want. Anonimo Toscano, Libro della Cocina (late 14th or early 15th c.)  Ariane Helou’s translation

Ingredients:
* 1 heaping tbsp lard **
* 1/3 cup leek, a few inches of the white end, minced
* 1 cup fennel, white from the bulb end, minced
* 2 cups water
* 1 pinch saffron
* 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Heat frying pan on medium-high, add lard to melt.
  2. Add fennel and leek, reduce heat to medium low, and stir to soften veggies.
  3. Pour fennel mixture into a sauce pan, add water and salt. Heat sauce pan on medium-high until mixture comes to boil.
  4. Add beaten egg into fennel mixture while stirring. Bring to boil a second time, then remove from heat.
  5. Serve hot***.

** Use vegetable lard or olive oil if making for a vegetarian. 

*** and with rice noodles if you want to take the pho thing a little too far. 

Creamy Bastard! or Creme Bastarde!

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I feel like I should put this blog through a pirate talk translator every time I read “Bastarde!” (arrr)

I’m looking for recipes for a SCA feast idea, an irreverent one, and the name (Bastarde! Arrr!) fits the bill but I have to try it.  It might be a bit labour intensive for a feast, but could be made in advance.

151. Cream Bastarde. Take the whites of eggs a great heap, and put it in a pan full of milk, and let it boil; then season it so with salt and honey a little, then let it cool, and draw it through a strainer, and take fair cow milk and draw it  withal, and season it with sugar, and look that it be poignant and sweet;  and serve it forth for a pottage, or for a good baked meat, whether  that thou will.

There are many different versions of the recipe online. From a whipped topping creaminess to a chunky tapioca texture. I think you get tapioca if you don’t draw it through a strainer twice or bring it to a boil too quickly.

I’m imagining a custard, with the sugar added at the end plus baking it, would thicken it enough.

Cindy translates heaps as “4” which could be a thing. You need one whole egg and 1 tablespoon of sugar to thicken 1 cup of milk. Extra egg white should make sure it thickens without the yolk.

If we don’t over bake it, it shouldn’t be rubbery, which egg yolks like to do.

Search for “diet custard” recipes if you want to explore other egg white custard ingredient ratios. The few I looked at put in heaps of whites.

Ingredients:
* 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
* 1 cup of whole milk + 2 tbsp
* 2 tbsp honey
* dash of salt
* 2 tbsp raw cane sugar

Directions:

  1. Put egg whites and milk into small, wide-bottomed, saucepan on medium-low and bring up to scald (bubbles forming on the outside of the pan, skin forming over the milk–I’m not using raw milk and I don’t want to burn it)  and then add honey. Stir until honey is melted and then remove saucepan from heat. Let cool until room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven until 350
  3. Pour cooled mixture through a wire strainer into a bowl. Add in 2 tbsp of milk and 2 tbsp of sugar and mix. Pour through a strainer back into sauce pan, or other oven proof dish.
  4. Bake until mixture firms up, approximately 30 minutes. Serve cool if you want it to thicken fully–serve warm if you cannot help yourself.  Its very sweet.**

** Serves 6 if people know how to share, realistically 2 (because the third is asleep).

Steak or Alaunder of Beef.

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Alaunder of beef. Take leches ( slices ) of the lengthe of a spoune, and take parcel and hewe fmal, and pouder of pepur, and maree, and tempur hit togedur, and take leeches of beef, and rolle hom therin, and laye hom on a gridirne, and on the coles tyl they ben rolled ; and if ye have no maree, take of the self talgh’ and hewe hit with the parcelle, tand tempur hit as ye dyd before. Antiquitates culinariae(1791) Ancient Cookery 1425

Maree, or sometimes spelled marie or mary, is marrow. Talgh’ is tallow and an amazing way to spell it. You could probably use butter, but marrow doesn’t really taste the same.

Rare steak is done cooking at 130-135°F; where as well done is 165°F.

Ingredients

  • 2 steaks (500 grams ish) room temperature
  • 2 tbsp of beef marrow (or tallow) fresh from bone melty or room temperature
  • 2 tbsp of parsley, minced or flakes
  • fresh black pepper to taste, ground (enough so you can smell it)

Directions

  1. Preheat grill on high temperature.
  2. Mix marrow, parsley, and pepper together on a plate.
  3. Roll the steak around in the marrow mixture, using a knife to help spread it evenly on both steaks.
  4. Grill steak ~2 minute per side. (1 minute was still bleeding, but grill to your taste).
  5. Serve hot*.

*with bread, its super greasy but amazing.

Edit: It has been pointed out to me that this recipe should be stuffed and rolled-up beef rolls that look like tiny birds. Beef should be very very thin to make this work and secured with a toothpick or skewer. 

Cheese and Onion Tart or Tart On Ember-day

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Tart on Ember-day. Parboyle onions, and sauge, and parsel, and hew hom small, then take gode .fatte chese, and bray hit, and do therto egges, and tempur hit up therwith; and do therto butter and sugur, and raisynges of corance, and pouder of ginger, and of canell; medel all this well togedur, and do hit in a coffyn, and bake hit uncovered and serve hit forthe. Richard Warner, Antiquitates culinariae(1791) Ancient Cookery 1425

Ember-day is a fast day the observant Christian medieval person would follow. It wasn’t fast that meant no-food, but fast meaning no meat. If you are looking for vegetarian recipes “ember” or “in lent” are useful terms to know.

Often you see this recipe with the typo “fauge” instead of “sauge” throwing all sorts of confusion into the mix. There is no herb ‘fauge’ (probably) but there are calligraphy ‘s’ that looks like ‘f’.

Onions being dry and hot of course respond well to being parboiled. It also takes away some of the cooking time and bitterness of the onions. When chopping the cooked onions be careful, they are very slippery*. If you chop them before parboiling you will add a lot more moisture to the pie unless you drain them really well.

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Ingredients
* 4 onions, peeled
* 1 tsp sage
* 1 tsp parsley
* 300 ml soft goat cheese
* 4 eggs
* 1/4 cup butter
* 2 tbsp raw cane sugar
*  2 tbsp currants
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 deep dish pie crust

Directions:
1) Place peeled onions into a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring onions to rolling boil. Remove from heat and drain. Let cool before chopping each onion into small pieces (makes about 3 cups of chopped onion)

2) Preheat oven to 350.

3) Mix chopped onions, herbs, cheese, eggs, butter, sugar, currants and spices together. Use the herbs and currants to gauge when it is evenly mixed.

4) Pour onion mixture into pie crust and bake for 1 hour, until pie is golden brown, and middle is cooked. Serve hot or cold.

* yes I cut myself chopping the onions. 

Fancy Pear Tart for the Holiday Party or A Baked Mete

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I was flipping through the bible “Take a Thousand Eggs or More” by the goddess, Cindy Renfrow, and needed to find a recipe worthy of the precious beef marrow I’d saved from making something else. Her recipe on page 191 called “A Baked Meat” seemed like a great place to start.

Pears set in a yellow custard. You also make use of the strainer technique to smooth out the custard.

My recipe deviates from the one by Renfrow but it does so with respect.

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A bake Mete. Take an make fayre lytel cofyns; than take Perys, and 3if they ben lytelle, put .iij. in a cofynne, and pare clene, and be-twyn euery pere, ley a gobet of Marow; and yf thou haue no lytel Perys, take grete, and gobet ham, and so put hem in the ovyn a whyle; than take thin commade lyke as thou takyst to Dowcetys, and pore ther-on; but lat the Marow and the Pecy3 ben sene; and whan it is y-now, serue forth…

Doucete3. Take Creme a gode cupfulle, and put it on a straynoure; thanne take 3olkys of Eyroun and put ther-to, and a lytel mylke; then strayne it thorw a straynoure in-to a bolle; then take Sugre y-now, and put ther-to, or ellys hony forde faute of Sugre, than coloure it with Safroun; than take thin cofyns, and put in the ovynne lere, and lat hem ben hardyd; than take a dysshe y-fastenyd on the pelys ende; and pore thin comade in-to the dyssche, and fro the dyssche in-to the cofyns; and when they don a-ryse wel, take hem out, and serue hem forth. (England, 1430)

Ingredients:
* 2 9″ pie shells
* 5-6 small bosc pears, washed, halved, cored
* 4 tbsp beef marrow
* 1.5 cups whipping cream
* 4 egg yolks
* 3 tbsp honey
* 2 pinches of saffron

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Place pear halves cut-face down, stem side in the middle with the round bottoms around the edge like a flower in both tart shells. Distribute the marrow around the pears in each pie. Bake for 25 minutes, until tart is browning, and marrow is sizzling.
3) Stir together cream, yolks, honey and saffron then, while stirring, pour through a pasta strainer into a larger bowl. Divide into two parts.
4) Pour cream mixture slowly into each pear tart, careful not to fully submerge the pear bottoms completely. Bake on 350 for 30 minutes, until custard sets and pears are cooked through.
5) Serve cold.

Lozenges In Lent Or Outside Lent

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Lozenges is a rhombus or diamond shape. It is a very common shape in medieval heraldry.

This deep-fried cookie recipe can be adapted for ‘in lent’ or outside of fast days. Lent recipes are a good way of narrowing research when looking for vegetarian recipes. Sometimes eggs and milk products are allowed for a particular fast day, but most often they are not. It depends on the context that the original recipe was created in.

If you choose to substitute the lard in the recipe below I think a nut or seed oil, or even coconut oil, would taste the best. Strongly flavoured olive oil would be used as a last resort.

This recipe makes around 25 cookies, barely enough to share.

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Lozenges in Lent or outside. Take flour, honey and milk. Mix it and roll it out flat like a sheet for a tart. Then cut it any way you want. Cook it in oil when in Lent, and outside of Lent cook it in fat. Let them cool. Then have wine and honey and boil them in a pan with sugar and with some wine. Eat them hot. Wel ende edelike spijse, 15th century

Ingredients:
Cookie:
* 1 cup of flour (plus some to dust rolling pin and counter)
* 2 tsp honey
* 1/3 cup of milk (plus a little more if required)
* 1 445g block of lard

Glaze:
* 1/2 cup wine
* 2 tsp honey
* 2 tsp sugar

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, 2 tsp honey, and 1/3 cup of milk and make a cohesive dough. If dough is crumble add more milk, 1 tsp at a time, until it all sticks together. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Dust counter top with more flour (or put down parchment paper) and roll out your dough flat, approximately 1/2 cm, so dough is easier to handle. Using a knife cut lozengy or other shapes from the dough.
  3. Mix wine, 2 tsp of honey, and 2tsp of sugar in a saucepan. Place pan onto a medium-low heat and simmer to thicken and dissolve the sugar.
  4. Heat your lard in a pot suitable for deep frying on medium. Drop one tiny piece of dough into oil to test heat level. Once test piece is brown and floating remove it.
  5. Slowly and carefully drop pieces of dough into the hot lard, knock the pieces apart with a slotted spoon if they look like they are sticking together. Take cookies out of lard once they turn brown and float. Put the cookies on a cooking rack. Repeat until dough is gone.
  6. Remove glaze from heat. Brush the wine mixture on the warm cookies using a pastry brush.
  7. Serve as soon as they are cool enough to touch.

Cabbage with Beef Marrow now for less than $66!

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So I heard on cbc radio that Neiman Marcus was selling frozen collard greens for $66. Well if brassica is the new trendy food I could totally blog about that! Send me the royalty cheques!

It turns out I already have blogged about wortes before so I can’t nerd about about those collard green recipes again, bringing down the Neiman Marcus coolness factor like only a history nerd can.

However I have a head of cabbage so I move forward. The following recipe is a lovely, calorically dense, winter cabbage stew.

It is flavoured with marrow which is cooked to release it from the bones in the broth. Beef marrow is very creamy and has a deep, earthy flavour rather than the sharp, salty notes of bacon fat, or butter. You can get beef bones from your local artisanal butcher or in the frozen meat section of a low end grocery store and lots of places in between.

This recipe calls for parboiling the cabbage and draining it really well before cooking it in the broth. This would mean that the strong cabbage flavour won’t overwhelm the dish. It also shrinks the leaves before trying to fit other things into a full pot.

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Caboges. Take fayre caboges, an cutte hem, an pike hem clene and clene washe hem, an parboyle hem in fayre water, an thanne presse hem on a fayre bord; an than choppe hem, and caste hem in a faire pot with goode freysshe broth, an wyth mery-bonys, and let it boyle: thanne grate fayre brede and caste ther-to, an caste ther-to Safron an salt; or ellys take gode grwel y-mad of freys flesshe, y-draw thorw a straynour, and caste ther-to. An whan thou seruyst yt inne, knocke owt the marw of the bonys, an ley the marwe .ij. gobettys or .iij. in a dysshe, as the semyth best, and serue forth. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (1430)

Ingredients

  • Head of cabbage, cored and sliced into large pieces
  • 8 cups of broth (any kind)
  • 4 beef bones with marrow intact
  • 2 cups dry bread crumbs, or leftover oatmeal made with beef broth
  • pinch of saffron
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Place cabbage pieces into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil on a high heat. Remove pot from heat and strain cabbage. Rinse with cold water and then press the water out of the leaves by hand. Chop cabbage into bite sized pieces and return to pot.
  2. Cover cabbage pieces with broth, then add bones. Cover pot and bring to boil on a high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until marrow is soft, and almost falling out of the bone, approximately 1 hour.
  3. Remove bones from pot and slide out the marrow using a butter knife. Set marrow aside.
  4. Add saffron, salt and breadcrumbs to cabbage mixture. While stirring gently, let mixture simmer for 5 to 10 minutes on medium-low heat, until thickened.
  5. Serve cabbage stew hot, with a garnish of marrow, dividing the marrow among the servings.