Olives with Herbs

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)
Epityrum Varium
Epityrum album nigrum variumque sic facito. Ex oleis albis nigris variisque
nuculeos eicito. Sic condito. Concidito ipsas, addito oleum, acetum,
coriandrum, cuminum, feniculum, rutam, mentam. In orculam condito, oleum
supra siet. Ita utito.
Olives with Herbs
You should make an epityrum of varied green, black, and speckled olives like
this;
Press out the stones from green, black, and speckled olives. Season as follows.
Chop the olives, add olive oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel, rue, mint. Put
in an earthenware vessel. There should be olive oil on top. Serve like this.

4 oz of mixed olives, stoned and coarsely chopped.
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 sprig fresh coriander, chiffonade
1/8 tsp cumin (about 5 seeds) crushed or powdered
1 Tbs shaved fennel root, or 4 fennel seeds, crushed or powdered
6 leaves rue or 1 sprig parsley
3 leaves mint
1/4 cup excellent olive oil
Blend the seasonings together, cover with olive oil. Allow to stand for several
hours at cool room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.
Serves four
*if you choose to use rue for personal use, 6 small fresh leaves is a good
amount. Otherwise, a sprig of parsley would be suitable.

Attributed to Cato’s “On Agriculture”.

Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif
Cookery, 1999. 75. Print.

Curye on Inglisch 38

I don’t like rice.

I’ll eat it, but I won’t go out of my way for it. It just isn’t my thing.

One of the recipes that seems to find its way into more cookbooks than any other is blancmange. Rice. This does not  inspire excitement.

However, it’s as  economical as it is pervasive, using broth, almonds, rice, and leftover chicken picked off of the bones, or when made especially for a particular diner, only a little of the breast of a capon.

As much as I don’t love rice, it would be disingenious to avoid making this dish.

I had lots of reference sources available. Some call for verjus, others for pikefish, and a large variety of spices.

I used this iteration from Curye on Inglisch.

38 Blank maunger. Take capouns and seeth them, thenne take hem vp; take almaundes blaunched, grynd hem &alay hem vp with the same broth. Cast the mylk in a pot. Waisshe rys and do thereto, and lat it seeth; thane take the brawn of the capouns, teese it small and do therto. Take white grece, sugur and salt, and cast therinne. Lat it seeth; thenne messe it forth and florissh ot with aneys in confyt, red other whyt, and with almaundes fryed in oyle, and serue it forth. (p106)

 

  • Take capons and seethe them-poach a chicken and make some broth.
  • Make almond milk using that broth.
  • Simmer rice in the chicken-almond milk
  • Add shredded chicken. Specifically “teased”, not diced.
  • Add “white grece”
  • sugar and salt, and let it seethe.
  • Serve with a garnish of anise comfits and toasted almonds.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 ounces raw almonds, soaked overnight, peeled.
  • 1 quart of chicken broth, warmed
  • ¼ c chicken fat from the broth
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup rice, soaked
  • ½ TBS salt
  • 1 TBS sugar

the assembled ingredients for the dish; chicken broth, peeled almonds, rice, chicken, sugar, salt

GEAR

basin to soak almonds

processor for almond milk

strainer for almond milk

pot to cook in (or rice cooker)

spatula

HOW TO

Set aside a dozen almonds for garnish.

Place the rest of the almonds in a processor or blender. Whiz til they are meal.

Add chicken broth, whiz to commingle well.

Strain and press solids,  set them aside for a future dish.

 

a food processor with almond milk being made with chicken stock.

There is not enough sp`the almond milk is no longer liquid, and risks burningace in this processor for the almond milk to be properly made, it must be transferred to a larger vessel to be completed.

  • Start by putting a couple of teaspoons of chicken fat into the cooking pot, and toast the almonds. Set them aside. Don’t wipe out the pot.
  • Place rice in the same pot, add almond milk. Watch the pot closely, as almond milk does not behave quite like water, and will cook out at a different rate. If your almond milk is depleted before your rice is done, supplement with broth, or if you are out of that as well, use water.
  • When the rice is done (or if you are clever, when the rice cooker dings) fold in the chicken and spices, and add chicken fat a tablespoon at a time until you are pleased with the mouthfeel and texture. Don’t skip the chicken fat step.
  • Place in a bowl or on a plate, garnish with toasted almonds, and serve. If you wish to use anise comfits, decorate with them as well.

NOTES

Every time I make a chicken, I save the bones to make broth.  I put the prior broth in a pot, warm it up, and add the bones. It gets richer, denser, and more flavorful every time. This dish would have been pretty insipid without the intensity of the broth, as it was the primary source of flavor.

I have read a lot of conflicting opinions on what rice was most likely used historically. I chose to use Arborio which I had on hand.

Skinning a pound of almonds took two hours. It’s fussy.

I put the almond and chicken mixture into a pot to warm together, because the processor could not hold enough liquid to make the almond milk. It worked out pretty well, as straining the almond milk is potentially messy.

I added my salt and sugar directly to the chicken meat in order to ensure the seasonings being evenly distributed. There’s more of a risk of over or under seasoning using this method.

The pot I used is not the best one for a dish like this. The squared off bottom corners invited sticking and burning, so I wound up stirring constantly. This worked out in my favor, as it wound up being accidental risotto.

Honestly, it was a good dish. I did not enjoy it, but only because I am still not partial to rice.
I was asked to serve it again, and I will. If haste is an issue, I may use both commercial almond milk and strong broth to create the depth of flavor, which would make this a 30 minute dish. It was a success.

If you wish to explore the very wide world of Medieval blancmanges, check out this link to the Medieval Cookery site; it’s a list of several. You are certain to find a type there that will work for you.

http://www.medievalcookery.com/search/display.html?fourm:36

 

Hieatt, C. B. (1985). Curye on Inglysch: English culinary manuscripts of the fourteenth century, including the “Forme of cury. London ; New York ; Toronto: Oxford university press

 

Pyramid Cakes (Semolina and honey cake)

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)
Athenaeus, “The Partying Professors”
In his book “on cakes”, Iatrokles makes mention of khoirinai and what are
called Pyramous, which he says are no different from what people call
Pyramis. For these are made from toasted wheat soaked in honey. They are
served to those who have stayed up all night for religious festivals

 

This isn’t much of a recipe, to be honest, so I had to do some work to make a dish of it.

I claim no authenticity or historical relevence beyond the fact of influence by the instruction found.

My version is based on Persian semolina halvas I have had. I have no documentation whatsoever

that implies what the characters in the play quoted might have implied by “toasting.”

All that said, this has been a runaway hit wherever it has been served, so I thought it would be rude to keep

to myself.
1 cup water
1 cup honey
2 cups semolina flour (sold as Sooji in Indian markets)
1 1/2 cups butter or neutral flavored oil
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil
Mix honey and water in a pan and heat over low flame. Bring it to boil and set
aside.
In a separate pan, toast the semolina, until it begins to changes color.
Add the butter or oil, sauté flour and butter for several minutes until the flour
is golden brown.
Add syrup slowly and beat hard until well incorporated.
Use a processor, if needed. Simmer over medium heat until it sets up and
becomes a unified pâté .
Press into molds or pan. Chill.
Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 43. Print.
Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 154. Print

IMG_4855

Chicken is one of my all time favorite foods. It’s quite versatile, and it’s always a delight to find a new way of presenting it or a new technique that gives a different result.
This recipe is unusual for me in that it comes off of a website rather than from a printed book. It was wonderful to have access to so much reference when my own books were packed.
This time, due to a confluence of events and a freshly restocked spice rack, I decided to use a recipe from the Medieval Cookery site(1), the same recipe also appears on Godecookery. (2)
Farsure if Chekyn is a window into the cook’s daily life. It requires an already cooked piece of pork as a stuffing for a chicken, and leaves the cook with a nice quantity of rich broth for the next day’s cooking. This planned economy, with building and consuming resources as they come available and preparing for the needs of the next day is quite a pleasure. Recipes almost demand to be made when the components are the natural leftovers from the preparations of the day before.

That said, it is also a rather pot-intensive dish. While a manor hall would have had a pot for simmering and a spit for roasting ready much of the time, in a modern home that means dirty pots.

Serve with blancmange and asparagus, or green beans amandine, or whatever suits you

 

The Recipe
1 small chicken
1 pound of chopped pork (or turkey, which is faboo also)
¼ c Currants (the raisin kind, not blackcurrants)
2-3 hard boiled egg yolks.
1 TBS salt, divided
saffron
mace
cloves
cubebs
canela cinnamon
1 raw egg yolk

1 pint and 1 quart of water.

The Tools
1 cutting board
1 small boning knife
1 bowl
1 or 2 simmering pots. (if one, you will need to wash it out between processes)
1 roasting pan
parchment or foil for pan, if you wishh
1 sturdy pot-spoon (for turning the chicken in the simmer pot)

The Action

 

Duck eggs for gilding, chicken eggs for stuffing, so I don't lose track

Duck eggs for gilding, chicken eggs for stuffing, so I don’t lose track

Put the saffron into a tablespoon of tepid-to-warm water. Allow it to sit for at least a little while.
Crush or grind any whole spices, run them through a small strainer to make sure there are no chunks.
Reserve a teaspoon or so of salt for the chicken.

Bone the insides of the chicken if you wish, as much or as little as you feel comfortable doing. This allows more stuffing and easier carving later, as well as the use of the bones in broth.
If the currants are dried out, put them into the simmering pan with the pint of water, on low heat. Allow them to become gently hydrated.
Crush the yolks and spices together while the currants simmer and the saffron mellows.
Put the ground meat into the simmering pot, with the pint of water and the currants and drop all of the spices in. Fold together until the meat loses it’s pinkness but does not begin to crumble.

IMG_4837

( Put the meat into a bowl to reserve it, if needed, and wash the pot.)

IMG_4838

Stuff the chicken with the blended, parcooked meat mixture, and truss it well to keep the stuffing where we want it.
Bring the quart of water into the second pot, and allow it to simmer (bubbles breaking surface, but rising gently)
Turn the oven on to *400. Prepare the baking tray, I like to use parchment paper.

Lower the bird into the simmering water, wait til the skin changes color and the chicken meat begins to look as though it is beginning to think about cooking. It took me about 15 minutes of careful cooking, from beginning to end.
Turn the bird in the simmering pot as cautiously as possible, trying not to break the skin.
When the bird is evenly poached, but nowhere close to cooked through, remove it to the baking tray.

IMG_4847

Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt on the breast, and pop it into the oven.
(At this point, I put the bones I removed from the chicken into the simmering water, and allow it to cook to make a light broth)

Roast for 30 minutes, then remove the chicken and endore with the egg yolk. Place back in the oven to finish roasting.

IMG_4853

When your meat thermometer tells you it is time, pull the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Check the stuffing temp as well, it needs to be the same 165 as the chicken for safety.

Serve with blancmange and asparagus, or green beans amandine, or whatever suits you, but do make the effort to try this one. It’s too fussy for most event halls, but it deserves to be appreciated.

IMG_4858

 

 

http://www.medievalcookery.com/search/display.html?ancie:59:XKN

http://www.godecookery.com/nboke/nboke20.htm

Comer Higos a la Francesa:, To Eat Figs in the French manner

Rupert de Nola, Libre del Coch; Lady Brighid ni Chiarain, trans.

After a year and a half of stuff you probably don’t want to hear about, I am back. We are mostly unpacked, and have found a lot of the things needed for cooking.

My books are finding their ways back to the shelves, and I am making spice blends and big batches of stock and fat broth again.

We have fresh stores of almonds and cubebs, the garden is alive with dill, rue, and lovage.  The apple trees were taken in the storm, the pear will be harvested one last time before that tree too must make way. It has not been stable without the apples to support it.

Last November, I was honored to prepare the food for a performance of The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail. It was a delightful day, with songs and laughter, heartfelt performances, and the most marvelous kitchen staff. It was a magical day. If you were there, thank you.

We served a variety of dishes, from a relatively broad selection of books. The event setting was intended as being the Court of Alphonse X, which gave me quite a bit of excitement in selecting a balanced menu. I used a number of influences, and had a tremendous amount of help in the year leading up to it.

These recipes have been printed in a small booklet which was present at the event. I do not anticipate editing them further, nor adding photographs until I cook them as part of our regular menu.

If you have used the booklet, I welcome your comments as each respective recipe is posted, unless you prefer to email me.

This dish, a fig compote, is a pleasant condiment for a pork or ham dish, an accompaniment to cheese, a salad adornment, even a dip for apples. It is easily made from dried figs, and can be pressure canned for picnics. I love the stability and versatility of this dish. It can be prepared, put into a feast basket to supplement a meal, and be forgotten until needed, or wrapped prettily as a guest gift.

The Recipe

 Take dried figs, the sweetest that you can get, black and white, and remove the

stems and wash them with good white wine which is sweet; and when they are

very well-cleaned, take an earthenware casserole which is big enough, which

has a flat bottom, and cast them inside, stirring them a little; and then put this

casserole upon the coals, and well-covered in a manner that it is stewed there.

And when they are stewed, and they will have absorbed all of the moisture of

the wine, stir them a little, and cast fine spice on top of them; and turn them,

stirring in a manner that incorporates that spice in them; and then eat this

food; and it is an elegant thing; and it should be eaten at the beginning of the

meal.

My adaptation

8 oz dried figs

8 oz water or dessert wine (sauternes)

4 oz ordinary white sugar

1/4 tsp canela cinnamon ( or simmer with a cinnamon stick )

1 pinch of salt

Soak figs in water for one day

Reserve water.

Place figs in the pot on stove in the same water, boil.

Add sugar, simmer until dissolved and figs are fork-tender.

Add a little more water if not covered.

Taste, refrigerate overnight.

Remove stems from figs,

Place figs in processor, beat up well.

Add a bit more of the cooking water if too stiff.

Add cinnamon if you opted not to simmer with a stick.

Place in jars, refrigerate.

Makes a pint.

Note: Lemon peel, nutmeg, or black pepper would be pleasant in this dish.

 

 

Gear: Measuring spoons

Saucepan

Spatulas

food processor (really vital, it would be a bear without the help of good staff)

pint canning jar and sealing lid

 

 

Libro de Guisados. Carroll-Mann, Robin. N.p.. Web. 14 Oct 2013.

<http://www.florilegium.org/?http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOODMANUSCRIPTS/

Guisados1-art.html>

It’s been a while since I could do much about the blog, but I have been cooking and eating from the books.

In a couple of weeks, this corner of the web ought to go live again.

Thanks for sticking around, it’s been a long run, and I am glad to be able to prepare my return!

In my garden, I have

a morello cherry and a medlar tree (we lost all of the other fruit trees) in the storm)

4 of skirrets, 2 of lovage, 2 of rue, a bunch of turmeric (a gift) and garlic

and not much else, because I simply havent the time this year.

Today, Wystan and I picked about 8 pounds of cherries from the morello tree, and froze them.

We discussed picking more, but the birds deserve their percentage. Crows really can be the mobsters of the avian world.

 

I sometimes riff on a recipe rather than following them. I grew up cooking by theme rather than by specifics, but with historical cooking, it is somewhat more of a challenge to get into the mindset of the palate.

Lately I have been doing a lot from Apicius, and the other night I decided to just go with it.

We had a couple of turkey thighs to cook. They went into a pan with some chicken broth, some chopped up celery, a handful of coriander, a handful of oregano, and a little asafoetida. I popped  a lid on it for the first 20 minutes, then removed the lid, added salt and pepper and raised the temperature to roasting.

Another ten minutes in, I added some moscato (it’s what I am using as grape syrup right now, not perfect but it balances things well enough) and finished it with red wine vinegar.

It was pretty darned good.

In studying and trying to parse food as it was made, stored, and eaten by a culture we cannot communicate with, we come up against assumptions, presumptions, and confusions all the time. Do we whisk a sauce? Do we coddle the eggs? There’s a lot of guesswork.

A few weeks ago, I was reminded of a modern illustration of the kinds of misapprehensions we can trip over so easily.

Living in the US, I grew up with pancakes. We knew them as pancakes, but also that they could be called flapjacks, johnnycakes, and myriad other names.

Visiting the UK, we needed snacks, and found granola bars, called “flapjacks.”  I do not know how the good cooks of the UK began making granola bars and calling them flapjacks, but for some reason, they do.

Both items are “grains and liquid, placed in a pan, then cooked til done.” Very basic instructions might seem similar, but if you know you need a pancake you can make it happen, or if you don’t have a solid perception of the intended result, it might be all to easy to make a granola bar.

We are in the hobby of making good food to try to get to know our history better, but we must keep in mind that we have no corroboration on our best guesses.

 

2.4    Lucanicae
 Lucanicus similiter ut supra scriptum est

Teritur piper cuminum satureia ruta petroselinu condimentum bacae lauri, liquamen,
 et admiscetur pulpa bene tunsa ita ut denuo bene cum ipso subtrito fricetur.
 Cum liquamine admixto, pipere integro et abundanti pinguedine et nucleis inicies 
in intestinum perquam tenuatim productum, et sic ad fumum suspenditur. 

Lucanicae are made in a similar way to that written above (refers to 2.3.1, same page)
 Pound pepper with cumin, savory, rue, parsley, bay berries, (spice) and liquamen.  
Add meat which has been thoroughly pounded so that it can then be blended well with the spice mix. 
Stir in the liquameen, whole peppercorns, plenty of fat and pine nuts. Put the meat in the skins, 
draw them quite thinly, and hang them in smoke.

 Smoked sausage? What's not to love?
This is for a fresh-style sausage for immediate use.  

 Well, there are some challenges here.

 What is "condimentum"?
 I read a lot of the book, and the three seasonings that keep coming up are black pepper,
 liquamen, salt, and honey. Pepper and liquamen are explicitly mentioned here,
 but there could not be enough liquamen to season the quantity of meat. In order to properly salt the meat, 
there would have to be enough liquamen to make soup. I opted to use the “condimenti” note to add salt.
 The one I thought about, considered, and rejected, was honey. If the sausage had tasted unbalanced, 
I would have added it.

  Another challenge was the bay laurel berries. I consulted with the herbalist, trying to figure out 
how to approach the problem.
 She did some research, informing me that the flavor of the berries is listed as similar to that of the leaves, 
and that I could make an infused oil in order to extract and disperse the flavor neatly. 
I could also purchase an essential oil, but the flavor value would be uncontrollable in the proportions called for.

 I did some shopping at various ethnic markets, and found ground bay leaves to be used as a spice at a Polish market.
This is what I opted to use, taking the hint and grinding my own in order to have an organic mass rather than adding
 an oil to the product. Since then, we have also sourced the actual berries, and will be able to confirm the 
flavor comparison soon.

 Not having Rue in stock, I skipped it. I also passed on the whole peppercorns and pine nuts;
 although I have them, we discussed and opted to pass for our home usage. 
The whole peppercorns can be an unwelcome dental surprise, and we both find the flavor of pine nuts unappealing.

 I purchased custom-ground meat, laid out the seasonings, and assembled the sausage. 
 After allowing the seasoned meat to sit in the fridge overnight, I fried up a small amount, 
adjusted the salt, remixed, and began stuffing sausages.

 (a note; you don't need the fancy sausage thingy, a funnel works, a carefully cut beer bottle neck works,
 a sense of humor works)

 After stuffing, I used a stovetop smoker. It can work well, but in this case it just made the sausage steam itself. 
This was an issue I could have solved, but opted not to, as I did not wish to smoke us out of the house.
 If I had opened the lid to release steam, I would have also released smoke, effectively stopping my ability to cook.
 I opted for a short-term smoking. The goal, based on my experience with similar sausage types, was a half hour.

 A question to consider is the type of smoke. What woods would have been used in a Roman smokehouse? 
Oak (European, not the same) is available, fruitwoods are as well, chestnut is a part of the local ecosystem, 
 perhaps grape could be an option as well. I did some digging to try to find out what woods are used in similar
 sausage smoking in Lucania now, but no solid answers yet. Mesquite, hickory, and some modernly common others
 are not European, and some woods just taste less good than others.

 I opted to use cherry, as I had it to hand and it is not as assertive as the others which were available.
 I will use apple or grape next time if possible.

  Now I had the spices and the flavors in place, and it was time to go.
With a stove top smoker, a sausage stuffer, and a dishwasher, I had the equivalent of eight kitchen servants.

11.5 lbs ground pork, ground, heavy on the fat.
11 tsp ground bay leaves, sieved
11 tsp winter savory
¼1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
½1/2 tsp cumin seed, ground
11 tbs fresh parsley, minced
11 tbs salt
11 fl oz fish sauce

 an ounce of whole peppercorns soaked in wine or liquamen overnight and three ounces of toasted Italian pine 
nuts would have been added had we a taste for them.

One 5' length of thin sausage casing, soaked, inspected, and with water run through the length.

A half cup or so of smoking wood, in water, in the fridge. I put it in a zip bag and keep it in the fridge,
 if longer than a day, I toss it in the freezer.

Method

 Toss the seasonings together, pour the garum over them. Fold the meat together with the seasonings, blend completely.
 Place in a container, chill for about 20-30 minutes.
Fry a sample to taste, in order to be certain of seasonings. Adjust if needed.
 Allow to sit overnight in the fridge.

 Prepare your sausage stuffing method (pastry bag, appliance, funnel, whatever it takes)
 Fold in the peppercorns and pine nuts if you are using them.
 Stuff the sausages.
  The instructions call for them to be “stretched thin.” I used a thin casing, and considered flattening them, 
but the size of my equipment suggested I keep them as they naturally appeared.

 Prep your smoking method (weber-type grill, offset smoker, dedicated outbuilding?)
and smoke the sausages for about 30 minutes. Much longer can make them acrid unless you are skilled with the task. 
Full kielbasa-grade smoking takes a bit different effort, and salumi-style drying smoke still more finesse.
  Though the purpose of the original is for portability, the difference is in the detail of the smoking.

 When they are done with smoking, they are usually not completely cooked. 
Grill or fry them to completion. 

 I like to make them in a coil, though smaller sausages, hot-dog sized links, or what-you-will would all be perfectly nice.