Get a chicken and cut it up very small and put it in a carafe with a little rosewater and a little whole cinnamon; put this carafe in a cauldron full of water and boil it; when the cauldron boils, make sure the carafe is fastened and sealed: put something on it that holds it down steady in the water; in order to know how the meat in the carafe is, put a chicken foot to cook in the cauldron: when this is cooked, so will the rest be; then take out the carafe and pour out the juice in it, and serve it to be drunk or else eaten together with the cooked meat, with sugar on top. This is no food for your mouth, my dear cook!

Broth with a side of condescending! The end comment about “no food for your mouth” seems to refer to the very meager result of the process. There isn’t enough for the cook to taste.
I used a chicken wing instead of a foot as my timer, this was an error. The foot usually cooks in about three hours, this dish took about three hours. The wing was done in 40 minutes.
The water in the pipkin my carafe sat in boiled down a few times, I had to top it up.
I used dough as the sealant. A hot-water pie crust would have worked better than the yeasted dough I did have excess of. This was to keep the steam inside, as the main intent of the dish is juices, and the only source of those is the meat. If the steam escaped, the entire dish would have been a failure.
We used silicone rubber bands to hold the carafe tight to the pipkin, but it turned out not to be required, the carafe was heavy enough.
After all of those hours, the result was a very simple, very bland, not overly intense chicken broth, perfectly suitable for someone frail.
While it was an interesting exercise, it was also not at this juncture overly valuable. The best part of it was enjoying using my lovely pipkin.

Scully, Terence. Cuoco Napoletano: The Neapolitan Recipe Collection (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS Bühler, 19) : A Critical Edition and English Translation. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan, 2000. 192. Print.

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I have been busy making dishes and vessels, working in the garden, and using up winter stores.

This kiln is soda fired, which is the legal modern analog to period salt firing (by no means the only method of firing pottery, but a significant one.)

Salt is frowned upon because it releases chloride, in the form of chlorine gas. This is a negative situation for lungs.

We used a baking soda borax blend similar to the flux I use in blacksmithing for forge welding.

This was a group project sponsored by a local master potter, and which I look forward to being involved with again in the future.

My contribution to the pot luck was a Bolognese Torte, made with ricotta cheese. It went over quite well.

Next week, I will know if any of my wares have survived.

Bolognese Torte. Get a pound of new cheese and of old cheese, and grate it; get well cleaned chard, parsley and marjoram, and beat them as much as you can with a knife and fry them in a little good butter, then take them out; get four eggs, saffron and a good lot of pepper, and lard or good butter, and mix everything together; make a thin pastry crust on the bottom of the pan and put this mixture in it; have another crust on top, or else get buffalo cheese, cut it into strips and cover the mixture with it instead of a crust. Note that it should have a good smell of pepper, and cook it slowly; when the upper crust puffs up – I mean, rises – then it is done.

  Note: This is an incomplete process. Normally I would only post something I have hammered into submission, but life has intervened.

 I did this two different ways, for curiosity and as planning for an upcoming dinner. I made a traditionally understood pie as well as a yeast dough “torta” more closely resembling what we understand as a white pizza.

I was unable to locate marjoram, and mine is not grown enough to use, so I substituted oregano, which is somewhat similar in profile.

Traditional deep pie; I prepared a cold crust, blended the “old”, or parmesan cheese with the “new” farmers cheese, and added the herbs and egg. I thought about frying the herbs and spinach, but it is 80* out, and I thought there might be a limit to my tolerance for richness. I used a smaller, but proportional quantity; a half pound of the cheeses, 2 eggs, and so on. I have minimal access to worthy Buffalo mozzarella, so the regular varietal of fresh had to do.  I used frozen spinach, and should have dried it out more thoroughly. Sauteeing in the butter as the instructions guided would have solved this issue. Silly me.

For the second iteration, I used a yeasted dough, and went for a more minimalist approach. I layered the cheeses, first  the farmers, then the parmesan. I then seasoned the cheeses, layered on the greens, seasoned again, and layered on the mozzarella. It was a lovely white pie, but suffered from the cheeses and herbs being separate.

 

IMG_5291The classic iteration is perfect for a small dinner, but I believe it to be too rich to be a regular thing. It is pretty difficult to eat at room temp. A little goes a very long way.

1 pie crust

1 bag chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed hard, or 2 lbs fresh spinach, minced

1 large bunch parsley, minced

1 bunch or marjoram (sub oregano if marjoram is a challenge)

1/4 stick of butter

6 oz farmers’ cheese

6 oz Parmeggiano Reggiano, grated

8 oz  fresh mozzarrella

2 eggs

1 TBS black pepper

Please note that while I love saffron, I did not use it. I am not fully satisfied with the results, and don’t want to use saffron til I am certain of the dish.

Blend the Parmeggiano and the farmers’ cheese. Season. Set aside.

Blend the greens, sautee in the butter. Allow to cool.

Blend the cheeses and the herbs,

Press the herbed cheese blend into the pie shell. Lay the mozzarella on top. Bake til the cheeses are fully melted, and the mozzarella and crust are golden brown. Serve.

The cheeses I used were rather lemony and bright. Saffron would mellow and darken this flavor nicely, I will use it after I get the moisture levels where I want them.

 

IMG_5290The simplified version was actually more problematic, due to very moist spinach.. I did not get the crisp crust I had hoped for. I deleted the eggs, butter, and saffron in this iteration.

1 half sheet

1 ball of pizza dough, stretched to shape

1/2 lb farmers cheese, dotted evenly on the crust

1/2 lb parmeggiano reggiano, sprinkled about

1 TBS black pepper,

 

1/2 lb frozen spinach, well wrung.

2 oz minced parsley,

1 bunch stripped marjoram (I used oregano, supply issues)

Mozzarella, sliced and layered nicely on top.

Bake until done at about 400*.

 

I will be making some adjustments.

a whole roasted chicken in a pot, about to be carved

When I was a kid, Mom would splash out on a capon once or twice a year. They are almost impossible to get now, because modern farm practices are not lending to that kind of breeding, but I have had them, and can keep in mind the qualities I seek in a bird

This recipe is so simple and minimal, with so little else going on, that the quality of the meat almost entirely dictates the result of the dish. This being the beginning of farmers’ market season in my area, I have access to meat fine enough to stand up to this recipe.

Choose a bird that fits your soup pot. Always keep in mind the vessels you must use to prepare your food in. Get the nicest possible bird. Any will be good, but having had exceptional, I would like you to enjoy it as much as we did.

Blanching the chicken causes the skin to become terribly fragile. It rips at the merest glance.

I lifted my chicken out of the poach by inserting a long spatula in each end. It is very important to drain as you lift, it can be dangerous and messy if the water inside the bird spills.

Having used many types of fat for larding over the years, our best results were from thinly sliced unsalted leaf fat. Chicken fat has too low a melt point, salted fat alters the flavor and texture of the skin and meat.Neapolitan Roast Chicken (2)

  To make a Fine Roast of capons, cockerels, goat kid, and any other meat. First, if it is a large joint of meat, put it to boil unless it is young veal; if it is capon or any other meat that is worth setting to roast, make it clean, then plunge it into boiling water and take it out immediately and put it into cold water -that is done to make it better; then lard it with good lardo and mount it on the spit, cooking it slowly; then, when it is almost done, get a grated piece of bread and mix it with salt and coat the meat. In this way you will have it cooked fine.

1 large roasting chicken, well cleaned.

1 pot of water, simmering (with head room for the mass of the chicken)

3-4 oz thinly sliced leaf fat or sliced chilled chicken fat

3 oz breadcrumbs (home made)

salt

other seasonings you might like.

Blanch the chicken. It really does matter. If you have never done it before, please take the effort to try it once. It was done for humoural reasons (making a “hot dry” bird “cool moist” before roasting  “hot dry”)

Place the chicken in the roasting vessel, reserve the poaching water.

Lay the fat overtop of the skin. Maybe tuck a couple of pieces under the skin. I did, and I am glad, but be careful.

Place the unsalted chicken in the oven and roast til it is very nearly done.

Season the breadcrumbs while the chicken roasts. Use at least salt,

When you can smell it, pull the chicken out and sprinkle it liberally with the breadcrumbs.

Pop it back into the oven for the last 10-15 minutes, then when you pull it for the last time, allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Carve and serve, placing the carcass in the poaching pot to make a lovely broth for future use.

I hope your dinner is as lovely as mine.

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66 A game pie
Take beef fat, and chop it small, and rosemary, which can be fresh or dried. If you have none, take marjoram or anise or sage, as much as you would like. Chop them finely together, put cloves, pepper, ginger and salt into it, as much as you would like, pour one pint of wine on it. The game must be cooked beforehand. And make a shaped pastry the same way as for the veal pie, and let it bake, serve it warm. In this manner one can also prepare a loin roast.

Yes, another leftover pie!

I adapted this ever so slightly; larger cubes of beef, and an onion stood in for the beef fat. It’s an herb, right?

Definitely use leftover beef from a roast, or brown some cubes as I did, without dredging in flour first.

IMG_5271

2 lbs beef

1/4 lb beef fat or 1 small onion

1/2 T sage

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp ginger (I don’t use this often)

1-2 c wine

2 pie crusts, or a hot water coffyn crust, or what you will. Blind bake if you wish, it is a wet dish

Season the beef with the dry spices.

Prepare the pie crust.

Layer fat (or onion) beef, then fat, then beef

Lay the Sprinkle the wine overtop of the pie contents

Close up the top and bake.

 

 

Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html>.

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Sometimes a recipe fails for completely modern reasons.

Hemp seed “mustard”, a porridge, is about the same consistency as a grainy mustard, but has a very different composition. IMG_5262 IMG_5263 IMG_5267

We take the seeds, cook them, separate the hulls from the nutmeats, cook in broth, then in almond milk, thicken with sugar and breadcrumbs, then season with ginger, safffron, and rosewater.

However, I have a modern problem. I worked hard to get hemp seeds. I had the choice of hulled, salted, roasted, or plain roasted. I could not, for perfectly viable reasons, source raw seeds.

No matter what I did, how hard I pounded with the mortar and pestle, how much time I spent, I could not separate the hulls. I tried. I spent the day wiith food processors, burr grinders, a wheat mill, mortar and pestle, and the rest of the stuff currently in the sink and dish machine.

I continued with the dish as written, keeping in mind the 12 oz pound, and simmered, crushed, simmered, folded, simmered, and seasoned away.

Nothing could save this dish except moving to Colorado.

 

I tasted it again a while later. There is almost no analogue to hemp seeds easily available in the US. Flax isn’t the same, chia won’t work, and so on, but I may try this with decidedly non-European teff or amaranth to see what I think, some time in the future after I have forgotten the trauma of this experience.

 

Scully, Terence. The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS Bühler, 19) : A Critical Edition and English Translation. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan, 2000. 180. Print.

 

Recipe XXVI. One should roast a hen and cut it into pieces. Add to some broth lard, a little garlic, salt, and egg yolks, and cook the hen in this.

For a rare change, this recipe calls for the bird to be roasted before being simmered. Often, the meat is seethed first, for humoural reasons.

This was an old laying hen. They are difficult to acquire, but a guinea fowl will have a similar flavor and behave similarly.

Roast the chicken. I don’t have a spit available, because the weather is awful, so I spatchcocked the bird and roasted it with salt and pepper. Not that they are called for, but this bird is special and I wanted salt and pepper.

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After roasting, while it cooled, I broke the bird as best I could, This is not a tender bird.

Prepare the broth. If you wish to add fat, as called for, do not use modern bacon. it’s candied and smoked, rather than just salted.

Temper the yolks.IMG_5258

That’s a most-likely modern step, as the result of yolks that don’t curdle is not mentioned, but it’s worth a shot.

To temper yolks, allow the eggs to come to room temperature, and separate the yolks from the whites.

 Warm the broth, and while beating the yolks, add half-ounce portions of hot broth to the not-cold yolks. Keep beating.

Eventually, the yolks will be about the same temperature as the broth, and can be poured into the main pot.

Decide how much you like garlic, and simmer everything together for about a half hour on a reasonably low flame.

IMG_5259

1 hen, roasted and cooled.

1 quart broth, not skimmed. Lard or salt fat if you have it, but not modern bacon fat, which is candied and smoked.

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed (we like garlic!)

1 tsp salt, less if you are using salted fat, more if you like more.

3 yolks, beaten

Break the bird into serving portions which best suit your needs.

Place in pot with broth, garlic, fat, salt, and tempered yolks.

Simmer on low flame for approximately a half hour. If you have a tender, more modern bird, just simmer til warmed through.

The broth makes an excellent soup base, if you prefer not to re-use it for the same dish. Freeze between uses, and strain well, if you do choose to re-use it.

Excellent use of leftovers.

 

 

 

Grewe, Rudolf. Libellus De Arte Coquinaria: An Early Northern Cookery Book. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001. Print.

Finally, it is spring. It’s been quite the winter, as we are all a little too aware.

Now, at long last, it’s time to plant the garden.

This weekend will include hoeing out the remnants of last year’s beds, where the plants did not overwinter, then folding in

aged compost, which I made about three years ago. Too fresh and it can burn the roots of tender plants.

Not having a greenhouse, or a staff, I will be planting in the garden beds where things will grow.

We have lovage, borage, hyssop, rue, sage, a few kinds of thyme, pinks,  lettuces, turnips, radishes,

purple carrots, white carrots, and this year, I plan to try peas again. It’s been too tempting to the bunnies in the past.

We ought to know if any of the baby trees survived the year soon.

I am so thrilled!

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Figge (4)

If you enjoy the occasional cheese platter with trimmings, you are likely familiar with Pan des Higos, the fig wedge stuffed with Marcona almonds.

This is similar, but with raisins instead of almonds. It benefits from access to some equipment, and from patience,

Simmering the figs in wine takes some care. You want them to plump, then begin to burst, but be cautious not to allow any to burn.

Figge (5)

A figge

To mak a figge tak figges and boile them in wyne
then bray them in a mortair put ther to bred and
boile it with wyne cast ther to clowes maces guinger
pynes and hole, raissins and florisshe it withe pongar-
nettes and serue it.
4 lbs figs
1 lbs raisins
1 bottle wine (I used a riesling type, semisec. Pick one that goes well with figs.)

1 tsp cloves
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp salt

Fig jam for the cheeses

Bowl, spreader.

Simmer figs in wine til they are soft and bursting.
Run through a meat grinder.

Fold in raisins and spices.

Place in a mold or form.

Put in a warm oven or cool area overnight to set, then unmold, wrap in paper, and store for as long as it needs to dry some.

Cut into wedges, wrap and store, serve as an accompaniment to cheeses.

 

We both tasted as we seasoned, in hopes of enhancing the flavors rather than spicing the food. It’s meant to complement other foods rather than to be a centerpiece.

I was dreading braying it in a mortar. This would be outdoor work, with a fair amount of loss, as cooked figs are so juicy. Instead, it went through the meat grinder. That took about 10 minutes and was far less scary than a mortar would have been.

Figge (7)

After adding the raisins and spicing it, the dish is to be served. However, we need a dry consistency, and a dish which will hold, so I put it into pans and dehydrated it.

It is currently wrapped in paper, on a rack, awaiting the day it will be served. I can’t wait.