Lentils are good when washed and carefully boiled in fresh water. Make sure that the first lot of water is poured away, and a second lot of hot water is added as required, but not too much, and then boil the lentils slowly on the stove.
When they are cooked, add for seasoning a little vinegar, with the addition of that spice which is called Syrian Sumac. Sprinkle a spoonful of this spice over the lentils while they ae still on the fire and stir in well.
You can add for flavoring a good spoonful of oil from unripe olives to the second lot of water while the lentils are still cooking, as well as one or two spoonfuls of coriander including the roots, not ground but whole, and a pinch of salt for seasoning. (Anthimus)

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)

8 oz brown lentils, picked over
24 oz water
24 oz water (not a typo), cool
1 fl oz olive oil
1 fl oz vinegar
1 tsp sumac powder
2-3 sprig coriander
10g salt.

Pick over lentils, rinse.
Simmer lentils in unsalted water. When water changes color, drain and add cool fresh water.
When water boils, lower temperature.
Add olive oil, put in unchopped coriander. When coriander changes color, remove and discard.
Add salt, finish cooking. Do not add salt earlier, as texture will be affected.
Add sumac and vinegar just before service, as the sumac loses flavor quickly.
Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves two as an entree, four as a side dish.

You might prefer to serve this dryer or with more of the cooking liquid. I prefer it as a salad, but it is also a good soup.

Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 138. Print.

Aliter caroetas: elixatas concisas in cuminato oleo modico quoques et inferes; cuminatum coliculorum facies

Boil the carrots and chop them in a cumin sauce with a little oil, finish cooking, and serve. Make the cumin sauce as for cabbage. (3.9.3)

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)

This is one of the simplest, quickest, and most delightful side dishes I know. It’s inexpensive and can be on the table from ingredients to completion in under 15 minutes, when making a half recipe for two people.

If you need a recipe to demonstrate the contemporary viability of historical food, please consider this one. It’s nice.


1 lb carrots
½ gallon poaching water
1 Tbs salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tsp cumin

Trim and peel the carrots, leave them whole, watching for woody cores.
Poach in salted water until done.
Drain water, chop coarsely.
Return the carrots to the pan. Add oil, dust with cumin.
Watch the temperature, allow to get evenly coated and begin to blister.
The pan should be slightly brown and orange with toasted, not burnt, bits of cumin and carrot.
Taste for salt, plate.

Serves 4

Grocock, Christopher, and Sally Grainger. Apicius, a Critical Edition with an introduction and English translation by. Devon: Prospect Books, 2006. pp 172-173. Print.



Nym kedys [1] and chekenys and hew hem in morsellys and seth hem in almand mylk or in kyne mylke grynd gyngyner galingale and cast therto and boyle it and serve it forthe.

Cut kid meat and chickens, and hew them into morsels, and seethe them in almond milk or in cattle milk.

Grind ginger and galangale, and cast thereto, and boil it and serve it forthwith.
We had an interesting gift recently. Someone very generously gave us some old laying chickens.. These birds were somewhere over three years old. I have fed them and collected their eggs. They were well cared for, and they earned their keep.


I also had a lovely goat neck from a local farm.  This sounded like a perfect assemblage.


Old chickens are not what we are accustomed to in the way of texture.. They have incredible chicken flavor, but there is nothing approaching tenderness about them.

Goat necks, no matter the age, are also challenging. They are hard to bone, have little meat, and are also quite the opposite of tender.

The only way I could reasonably deal with these items was to cook them whole, then bone them, then make the dish.


I poached the chicken and the neck together, in almond milk with galangale and ginger, for about an hour on a low temperature, with the lid on.


After poaching, I allowed the pot to cool and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight. I wanted to carve the meat with care, and to waste none of it.

The chicken meat was very easy to remove from the bones, it lifted off cleanly, almost like a toy model.

The goat neck required some technique to carve neatly, but offered no fuss. The main thing to keep in mind that there are four sections of meat. If the knife follows the bone closely, there are two main tendons which must be seen to. If the meat is home butchered, make certain that things are visually tidy, as not all hunters are comfortable packaging neck roasts.

Once the meat was off of the bone, I cubed it into approximately 1″ cubes,

I placed all of the meat in a sautee pan with about two cups of almond milk. I added no salt, because of my concerns over the meat toughening further. I was parsimonious with ginger, as it is not good to one of my regular diners. About a half a teaspoon of galangale was used,

It took approximately 10 minutes for the almond milk to cook completely down, and the meat to heat fully through. I thought to add more almond milk, but tasting proved that there was no real need to do so.

We were both surprised by how tender the chicken was, The intense chicken flavor combined with the earthiness of the goat blended with the almond milk, and the galangale seemed to counteract any gamy flavors beautifully while allowing the richness to shine through.

It is a simple dish, in fact it reminded me a lot of the Tender Chickpeas recipe from a couple of years ago, which can be found at http://carbonadoes.com/2012/11/10/sent-sovi-chickpeas/


1 old hen or stewing chicken

1 neck of kid, lamb, or venison, about 3 lbs, bone on, whole or cut up.

1/2 gallon almond milk (if poaching and cooling), 2 c reserved for second cooking

1 tsp galangale

1/2 tsp ginger

A whole chicken will need 45 minutes to seethe, while a cut up chicken the same size could potentially cook in as little as 20 minutes.

place the chicken and the neck in a pot they fit somewhat snugly. Dust with spices, pour almond milk over.

Place pot on burner, seethe on low flame with a lid on. Take care to turn the meat a couple of times so it cooks evenly and does not stick.

Take care not to allow the meat to take color.

When the almond milk separates and the fat rises, check for doneness.

When done, turn off the heat and allow the meat to cool until it is comfortable to handle with your hands.

Remove the meat from the bones, cube somewhat coarsely. Be careful of shards, if you bought a cut up neck. They are tricky.

You can serve it now, warmed and in its broth, if it is sufficiently tender and to your liking.

If you feel the meat needs more time to become tender, place the cubed meat with the fresh almond milk and a fresh scattering of spices.

(Reserve the prior almond milk for a bukkenade or a blancmange. I used it for another bruet.)

Simmer the pot until the almond milk is mostly evaporated, but the meat is not completely dry. I chose to serve with a coarse bread, and a nice earthy root vegetable.



Mushroom Sauce

If you want to make a sauce of mushrooms that are boiled, pressed, and fried with oil, make the sauce like this; take onion, parsley, vinegar, and spices, and mix it with vinegar and a little water. Make pieces of the mushrooms, to fry, or serve with a fried mixture, and then put them in their sauce, or serve them grilled with salt and oil.

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)

12 oz mushrooms, cleaned
2 cups water
2 oz olive oil, divided
½ oz (1 Tbs) salt
3 oz onion, minced
3 oz parsley, fresh
4 oz red wine vinegar

(thyme, savory, black pepper, or garlic would all go well with this dish)

Place clean mushrooms in pot with water. Add half of the olive oil and the salt. Simmer until mushrooms are cooked through. If water boils off, add more.

While mushrooms simmer, mince the onions, chop or scissor rinsed parsley. Prepare and measure all spices and seasonings.

Don’t add the seasonings yet

When mushrooms are cooked completely, drain water through strainer into one bowl.

Chop mushrooms very coarsely.
Add remaining oil to pan, return mushrooms, without liquid, to the pan. If needed, add small amounts of oil, but be cautious. They are spongy and can get too oily rather easily.

When mushrooms are fried, remove them to the second bowl.
Place the onions, parsley, ginger, pepper, and vinegar into the pot, and cook them through.
The onions will become transparent.
Add the mushroom broth, to the spices and oil, bit by bit. The goal is to reduce it slightly, but not to deplete it completely, while cooking the seasonings gently through.

When the sauce is reduced, return the mushrooms to the pot. Give them a quick toss, taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

This is an excellent accompaniment to a red meat dish, filling for a turnover, salad topping, and accompaniment to a plate of cheese.

The type of mushrooms chosen affects the dish. Reducing the cooking liquid affects the density of flavor, so it is better to be parsimonious with the spices.

Serves 4

Santanach, Joan, trans. Robin Vozelgang. The Book of Sent Sovi Medieval Recipes from Catalonia. First Edition. Barcelona, Spain: Barcino-Tamesis, 2008. 76-77. Print.

I use a lot of cloves. I prefer to purchase them whole, as they do lose their flavor and pungency quickly once ground.

Cloves are little fragile dried flowers on stems. Commercial spice milling plants can grind the whole things to a fine powder. A cook can spend a good while and crush them to a gritty dust, but not much further than that without real dedication. Being so pungent, this can cause coarser particles of material to create unbalanced flavors in a dish.

I have found two solutions for this issue, which are conditional on the requirements and type of dish being made.

I remove the delicate flower heads, crush them, and use them alone. The flavor is herbal, floral, and light, rather than medicinal. This works remarkably well for refined and delicate dishes.

For bolder flavors in simmered dishes, I frequently stick the clove stems, without the flower heads, into an onion, chunk of ginger, garlic clove, tea ball, (empty) tea bag, or other holder. I can then easily remove them from the pot after they have done their job, without risking someone getting hurt on one.


to prepare an ox tongue en croute (1)

The first two recipes in Book V of the Opera are for the preparation of tongue as a pie. It’s not the dish most of us would expect to start a book on pies with, but it makes a lot of sense in context.

Cattle provide many pounds of meat, but the tongue, which is rich, tender, and profoundly beefy in flavor, is only two to four pounds of service quality food. It is considered a luxury meat in many cuisines, though it does present challenges to the preparation,

Tongue must be skinned before service. It also must be trimmed carefully, If you do not know how to do this, look for a video to guide you, or ask for assistance the first time.

It also has a reputation for being “creepy meat”, for looking too much like what it is. This alone makes pie a thoughtful presentation; even if the diners know what they are getting, they do not have to confront it visually in a way they might otherwise find challenging.

These two recipes specify ox, working cattle, but also permit cow or buffalo cow using the same instructions. The recipes are somewhat mix and match, or perhaps more, choose your own adventure. Direction is given for whole or sliced, cooked or raw (scalded), pickled (raw) or plain, and salted/pressed or not.

I opted to scald, slice, pickle, not press, then place in pastry and bake.

The tongue I had in the freezer came improperly trimmed, so I spend about two hours cleaning it. I was displeased. Skinning also took rather longer than intended. I should have allowed it to sit in the poaching water longer, but did not want to negatively affect the pickling process.

I then sliced the meat into slices which I now feel to have been too thick for the most pleasing pie, though at the end it worked out.

The pickling vinegar was very pleasing, and added a lovely layer of flavor. The instructions specified 8 hours, but it was in the brine for 12 hours. Due to the thickness of my slices, it was not problematic.

After the meat was removed from the brine, I built a crust. The book gives a lot of suggestions about what kinds of crusts to use, how to prepare them, what seasons and conditions are appropriate for what crusts, but it doesn’t give the kind of directions that I, a non-baker, can easily extrapolate into the required product.

The directions specifically state “make up a dough with unsalted cold water” which to me implies that there is such a thing in this repertoire as warm water dough, as I am accustomed to using for coffyns. The instructions go on to explain how to knead it, when to apply fat, and that the dough will work best if it remains cold.

Instructions called for sifting the flour well to remove bran. I did use a locally milled soft wheat flour, and did sift it. For every cup of sieved flour, I had a cup of bran left behind.

The book specified a free-form pie rather than one fitted to a pie pan, but frankly I was unwilling to risk the floor of my oven. I had little trust in my crust, and expected odd behaviour from the meat. I used a pie pan. My crust was too small, so I was forced to create a false wall with aluminum foil. Unfortunately, my crust was a miserable failure. Though tasty, it was by no means a good case to contain the dish. I will try a completely different approach to the crust next time.

I removed the meat from the pickling seasonings and drained it, but did not blot.

After laying the meat into the base of the crust, placing on a lovely layer of salt fat, seasoning and closing the crust, I baked it in a 400* oven, as the book said to bake it at a temperature suitable for bread. I used my nose to tell me when it was done, and was pretty on the ball with that. Unfortunately, the temperature was too high for the melting point of the fat in the meat, and did some damage.

After being quite sad to see how poorly the dish turned out, we took everthing apart after it had cooled completely, chopped it into small pieces, and sauteed it. It was absolutely delicious. My guest was concerned by the concept of eating tongue, but expressed delight in the dish. Gingerbrede made an excellent dessert.

Recipe and sub recipes;

1 whole beef tongue, prepared

Pickle brine (below)

Spice blend (below)

1 oz prosciutto trim (ask your deli for an end, if possible)

1 sturdy pasty (not pastry) crust

Spice blend:

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp nutmeg

(double the salt and pepper, quadruple the rest, if you prefer not to pickle)


Pickle brine

1/2 cup red wine vinegar (thin a little with water if it is very sharp)

1/2 cup white wine (I used a moscato)

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 TBS salt

1/4 TBS pepper

2 cloves garlic, crushed well. (use the salt as an abrasive to help break the cloves well)

2 TBS mustum ( I did not use this, as I am running out)


poach or parcook meat ( I should have poached longer)

skin and trim meat

slice into service escalopes (I should have sliced much thinner)

pickle if desired

prepare crust

season meat

dress with fat or prosciutto (proscuitto tasted better)

seal crust, make vent

bake at 350*

oil crust on removal from oven, or wash with saffron water, but do not egg wash.

Do a better job than I did, please. When I get it right I will post this recipe again.


(NOTE: There are no photographs or beauty shots of this dish because it is not attractive to look at. I did photograph the entire process, so if you need reference images please do not hesitate to contact me.)



p 435




I took without using any sauce a tuna fish, an exceedingly fine specimen, poured plenty of olive oil over it, wrapped it like a baby in fig leaves, sprinkled it with marjoram and buried it like a firebrand in hot ashes”
Attributed to Athenaeus, the Partying Professors

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)

Though this instruction asked for a whole, beautiful Mediterranean tuna cooked whole, I was not in a position to do so. I was not serving the fish as a centerpiece to an intimate dinner party which reveres fish, but a tasting menu to a group as a side to other activities. In light of budget and anticipation of a small group of people who would appreciate the dish, I wanted to use a delicate morsel which would carry the flavors well. I opted for boquerones, a small white herring already skinned and boned, and packed in olive oil. They were very easy to work with and held flavors well.

16 oz fresh or frozen (not thawed)
tuna, mackerel, herring, or other available rich fish cut into one ounce or four ounce portions, depending on your needs.
Vine leaves, jarred.
4 oz olive oil
¼ tsp marjoram, dried

Remove some vine leaves from the jar, place in a bowl of water while trimming fish. Discard rinsing water after use.
Cut fish into desired portions, skinless and boneless.
Toss in bowl with olive oil, marjoram, and salt.
Wrap completely in vine leaves, much like an envelope.
Place on parchment lined baking sheets
Store in cold space until ready to go..
Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes for raw fish, checking often as ovens are fickle.

If you are using a prepared fish such as bouquerones, you might blister them, with a torch instead, as they need only to have some char for flavor.
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as an appetiser.







Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 130. Print.

scappi beef (19)

Beef is our luxury meat. We have it infrequently, we lament it’s scarcity, and we plan carefully for meals which include it. We were discussing what to do with a bit of beef, and settled on pot roast.

It was amusing to go to my copy of Scappi’s Opera, and find a place marker hidden on the page for the very dish we were considering, as I had no other markers in the book, and no memory of having placed this one.


Recipe 11, To Stew a Loin of Beef in an Oven or to Braise it

(not putting the copyrighted translation here, as the book is readily available)

The recipe specifies that the meat should be from grown cattle, rather than veal, but not an old, tough one. It also specifies hanging the beef til tender, that it not be so fresh it is tough. Then, it gets very specific that the cook use what we now know as Filet Mignon. I am not one to braise a Filet Mignon, quite honestly. I have a blade steak, which is a lean chuck cut. It’s not tender, it’s not marbled, but it’s what we have, and the dish is braised, so off we go.

I am very much at a disadvantage here for a few reasons. The original Italian is not included, which is unusual for this translator. I do not understand Italian, and some of the translation does not seem to make total sense to me. For instance, the translator posits malmsey as the wine to use for the marinade, but modernly, Malmsey is a Madeira type rather than the Malvasia varietal the term comes from. Knowing that what is sold as Malmsey is not what was historically used, I chose a simple Muscat.

The instruction to choose either coriander or fennel flour is also given. I do not know whether it specifies the coriander plant or seed, and I do not know whether it means for “flour” or “flower;” Fennel Flower is Nigella Sativa, which is often used as a coriander seed analog. Fennel Flour is the name used in modern Italian for  Fior di finnochio, fennel pollen, which has a spicy peppery taste. I have fennel pollen in stock, and chose it for those reasons.

An adaptation I must make is to blend rosewater with a simple vinegar, as I do not have and cannot get rose vinegar.

4 lbs beef suitable for braising. I used chuck, the recipe specifies filet.

Place meat in a vessel appropriate for overnight marination, such as an oven bag.

1 tsp ground Black Pepper

2 TBS Salt

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Ginger

1 tsp Cloves

1 tsp Coriander *or*  1/2 tsp fennel flour. I used 1/2 tsp fennel pollen.

Blend the dry spices together, and sprinkle the surface of the meat evenly.


1/4 c “malmsey” (not madeira type) or Greek wine (x2)

1 Tbs must syrup (x2)

1 tsp rose water (x2)

1 Tbs simple wine vinegar (x2)

Blend wet ingredients, and then measure out another set and blend them in a separate vessel for service.

Add wet ingredients together, sniff carefully and add rosewater very judiciously. Some brands are far more intense than others. You want a change in the scent, but not a detectable rose scent. Modern palates tend to perceive the scent of roses as a soap ingredient.

Marinate for several house or overnight in the fridge.

Braise the meat. I use a pressure cooker when I can, with minimal added water. The instructions instruct to add fresh or dried prunes and visciola sour cherries about halfway through cooking. As I am using a pressure cooker, I cannot open it partway through cooking. Since I allow the meat to rest overnight in the fridge before service, I add the fruit during the reheating phase.

For larger cuts of beef, I use a crockpot and check liquid levels hourly.

I slice the meat while cold,

Place the cold sliced meat in a pot with a tight fitting lid and drizzle the reserved second set of wet ingredients overall. Add some of the braising liquid, place the lid on, and reheat the meat.  I served it with a rutabaga dish, though it would go very well with an apple dish or something with horseradish as a main flavoring easily. It’s very versatile.

When preparing for service do try to slice across the grain as best you can. This allows the meat to absorb sauces or braising liquid most easily, and lends to the enjoyment of the dish.


This recipe is within a series of several similar beef recipes, some roasted, some braised. Some call for wrapping in prosciutto, others in rosemary. I use sage rather than rosemary due to an allergy in the house.

I do not spend enough time with Scappi’s Opera. To be frank, it is quite daunting. Not only is it physically very large, it is also organised in a manner I find uncomfortable to navigate.

It has a huge number of recipes and variants, however, as well as notes and instructions, guidance and systems for cooks and kitchen managers. It’s both deep and broad.

There are some concerns with the translation available in print in English, as researched and presented by Terence Scully.  Please see http://www.medievalcookery.com/helewyse/Lost_in_Translation.html  which discusses these concerns at length should you decide to delve into this book.

Herbed Feta Cheese
Pickled Cheese
Tyros eis Halmen

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)
“Cheese keeps after being washed in fresh water and dried in the sun, then
put in an earthenware jar together with savory or thyme, each cheese
separated from the other according to it strength, with the addition of sweet
wine vinegar or a mixture of vinegar and honey, until the liquid rises above
the cheese and herbs. Some people preserve the cheese by putting it in sea
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 oz dried thyme or savory
2 fluid oz red wine vinegar
1/2 ounce honey
Cube cheese into morsels.
Lay in narrow, deep container, dusting each layer with herbs.
Pour in vinegar, being certain to avoid air pockets.
Add honey, drizzling over the surface.
Be certain to cover completely with vinegar.
dilute with water, if needed, to cover and/or to blend flavor.
Place plastic wrap over top, touching the surface to avoid air contact.
Marinate in fridge overnight or longer, according to tastes.
Serves four as part of a cheese platter.
Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 77. Print.

a sunset at sea in middling weather



NOTE! There are two recipes on this page.

It’s BUSTER Season! The lobsters are busting out of their old shells and developing new ones, which is both a fascinating process and the time of year when they are least expensive where I live.
Some people prefer to purchase hardshell lobster, the ones still in their old shells. The firmer meat makes this a wise choice, but I chose softshells, those already moulted, for their more tender meat and low price. Softshells are only found near the fisheries, and only for a couple of weeks of the year.
I will not go into details of processing here, as I know some find it upsetting. I will only say that I respect my dinner, and am merciful.


This is an excerpt from Ouverture de Cuisine
(France, 1604 – Daniel Myers, trans.)

Stuffed Lobster or Crab.

Take lobster or crab, & make them boil like little lobsters, then take all the meat out, without breaking at all the shells thereon, then chop all the meat, & put therein chopped marjoram, nutmeg & pepper, three or four egg yolks, & fry all in butter, & put them back into the shell thereon, & all the little legs fried in butter, & put together.

a lobster on a cutting board, with assembled ingredients. Several egg yolks

For the first recipe, I first poached the lobster in wine with black pepper and considerable salt, then cautiously picked all of the meat that I could.
I blended this with the seasonings, sauteed the mixture together, and then stuffed the body.

all ingredients in a skillet, with a quarter pound of butter.
There was nowhere near enough meat to stuff the body properly, so I know I am missing some greater understanding of the dish.
I could have
stuffed the tails alone, but this would not have made a beautiful illusion food.
used the claw meat, but this would have spoiled the visual appearance of the service.
Stuffed the body and left the tail empty, but again, the service would have suffered
Used more stuffing ingredients and left the tail in place, stuffing only the body. This was the least appealing, as there is so little meat that is not in the tail or claws. ( I did pick carefully, but there still is’t enough to make a cup or so of filling)
My clue was the instruction to fry the legs in butter and use them as well. This implied that not only am I to use the accessible meat, but also to reassemble the dish as an illusion in some way.
I do trust my instinct to use Atlantic lobster rather than Mediterranean, but my choice to use softshells with less meat appears to have been a tactical error.
I served the stuffing as a delicate pate. It made a very rich and unctuous dish, with lobster meat, the rich ingredients from the body, butter, and egg yolks, seasoned with fresh marjoram, pepper, and nutmeg.
I would not attempt this for more than four people, even if I had all of the free lobsters in the world. It is so delicate that more than a moment from stove to table would ruin it.
The same Lobster or Crab in pottage.

Take all of the raw meat out, & cut into little pieces, & put to stew with white wine, fresh butter, ground nutmeg, a little pepper, chopped mint, or fresh citron cut into slices, & make it stew well, that it will be fat with butter, & put it when well cooked into little reumers, & serve so five or six to a plate.

I made the other dish at the same time. This one was both a great challenge and a wonderful reward.
I have not often picked meat from a raw lobster. It’s rather difficult, as the flesh is so delicate.
Again, choosing softshells worked against me.
After assembling the simmering ingredients and putting them together in the pot, I added the finely chopped flesh. I chose to use lemon rather than mint, as mint made no sense to my palate and I was not going to risk failure with such a delicate dish.
I served it in a ramekin with the broth and sippets. We both agreed that it was very like some of the better preparations of Shrimp Scampi we have had, but for the lack of garlic. It was both very familiar and slightly alien.
This dish would work very well with shrimp, monkfish, or even chicken breast as a rich delicacy.

a small ceramic ramekin filled to the top with broth and meat, sitting on a counter