a brown bowl with a single portion of a cheese risotto, next to a small cup of red wine

Riso Alla Italiana

Piglia una pignata he mettice brodo grasso he magro he fa bulliare; he poi piglia lo riso bene nettato he piu volte lavato cum aqua tepida, he metello dentro he fa bulire menando cum lo cughiaro alcuna volta che non se apichi alla pignata, poi, quando serra cotto, piglia ove he caso gratato, sbatuto ogni cosa insieme, cum uno pocho di pipere; poi fa le scutelle

 Rice the Italian Way

 Put fat broth and lean in a pot, boil it

Get clean rice, rinse it well in tepid water

Put the rice in, and boil it. Stir so it does not stick.
When it is cooked, add eggs and grated cheese, beat it all together, add pepper, and serve in bowls.

(there may be spelling and transcription errors, my computer is having unrest related to the spellings included)



Medieval style cooking makes a whole lot of broth. Poaching most meats, and separately, a lot of veg, makes a lot of liquor, broth, stock, and aspic. It also consumes a lot of broth. Fat broth, lean broth, lenten broth, almond milk made in broth, it does get used.

It’s kind of an enriched risotto. I chose a medium grain rice, as I find short grain rice generally wants more tending than just a “couple of turns of the spoon” to keep it from locking up. The starches behave quite differently between the two types of rice. If you have the time and attention to give a short grain rice, please do try it. It can’t easily go wrong.

The note to rinse the rice was a happy one. Some modern rices are packaged to be starchy, others are chalky. Rinsing clears the grains of dust, and starts it plumping. It also gives me a few moments to more easily find any stones or not-food that may have found its way into the bag. I am always happier to do so.


My broth was some fat beef broth that resulted from a recent dish, and some chicken broth which was in the freezer. I left the fat on the beef broth, specifically because it called for “fat.” This dish relies on tasty broth. While I used meat broths, a quality vegetable broth would go very well here. I would strongly suggest adding some (maybe 2 Tbs) butter or oil in that case, as the rice benefits from a bit of oil for texture. I also have had excellent luck with a specific vegan bouillon cube, Rapunzel. (not saying other brands are bad, just that this one, I find to be good.)

After cooking the rice fully, I took it off the heat, as my dinner got delayed an hour. When my dinner companion arrived, I beat the egg and cheese together well, then folded them into the rice, and stirred while reheating. Then I got clever and put it in a low oven. This worked perfectly well, and the resulting dish was lush, rich without being over the top. In fact, I was glad to let the rice cool before adding the egg, as it did not clump or scramble in the dish.


If you are cooking for immunocompromised people, it may be wise to use pasteurised eggs. The eggs are cooked but cannot be checked for done-ness.

The salt in the cheese was sufficient for our preferences, we added none during cooking or at the table.
This dish is far less fiddly than risotto, and can be made from simple cooked rice into the enriched dish reasonably easily, but it is a small-batch dish, as the seasonings are unlikely to scale up well. It’s classic comfort food.


For two as a main, four as a side;

1 ½ cups medium grain rice

2 ½ cups broth, strained

2-3 TBS fat from broth, or mild fat such as chicken or unsalted butter

3 eggs

5 oz parmesan, asiago, or other hard Italian type “storing” cheese, grated or shredded (it will melt)

not from the can, just plain cheese.

¼ up to 1 tsp ground black pepper, to taste

no salt

Using a stockpot that is easy to fully scrape, warm the broth and fat.

Rinse the rice in water til it runs clear. I do this in a bowl with the rice in a strainer, and pick over the rice for purity as I go.

Cook the rice til it is perfect, to your taste. Be prepared to add more liquid, as rice is thirsty and somewhat unpredictable, about 20-25 minutes.

Beat the eggs, then add the cheese and pepper to the egg mixture. Beat well together, til almost fluffy.

Fold the egg mixture into the rice and beat thoroughly together. If you are concerned about the eggs scrambling, remove from heat and allow to cool briefly.

Heat gently til cheese is fully melted. The egg won’t be visible to see that they are cooked.

Taste for salt and pepper, adjust, and serve. It’s lovely with a dense piece of grilled fish, or alongside a seasonal salad.

two slices of beef pot roast in a brown bowl, with several cubes of cooked turnip and a pile of cooked, shredded beet greens about the size of a peach.

Of Turnips

Togli rape bullite colle foglie, e polle a cocere con carne di bue, e pepe, e cruoco. E quando sono cotte, le poni in scudelle per la comune famiglia.

Turnips (rape).
[32] Take turnips (rape) boiled with their leaves, and set them to cook with beef, and pepper, and saffron.  And when they are cooked, put them on plates for the common family.

It has been so very long.

I broke my knee quite spectacularly. It’s been well over a year and a half, and now, at last, I can cook and show again.

I have missed this tremendously. Thank you for waiting.

In autumn, today, just as through history, beef becomes affordable. Herds are thinned of their non-breeding stock, non-milkers, and excess numbers, so the feed stores put away all summer will be sufficient.

At the same time, normally, root vegetables are being prepared for storage as human feed, and are at their very best.

Not having been able to garden at all has left me in the perfectly ordinary position of having to purchase vegetables, so I was unable to get turnips with their greens attached, and in fact, was unable to get really decent ones. These are acceptable.


I got beets for another dish, and am using their greens here, supplemented with a little chive for some sharp bite.

I selected a shallow ceramic vessel with a good lid to cook this in, to allow the items to fit closely.

The order in which the instructions are written suggest boiling the turnips, then adding them to a vessel with the beef, rather than cooking them together.

In not instructing to add the beef to the boiling pot, it’s not instructing me to boil. In telling me to cook the turnip with the beef, I cannot roast, as I cannot skewer turnips, I could fry, but that is not specified, and likely would be. Other dishes in the book call for what appears to be adding beef to moist, cooked items and “set to cook” which usually means near coals.

There is no guidance to add liquid, so I did not add liquid.

Adding seasonings to the vegetables after placing them with the meat brings me back to thinking about the cookery of vegetables in large pots, and keeping them separate. I often consider whether it is more likely to cook many items in one pot, separated by perhaps a sack or by binding, or whether each item in a larger kitchen would have its own pot, own place by the fire, even if just boiling.

I cook tonight’s greens separately, then add more water to cook the roots. While I believe the greens are intended to cook while still attached to the roots, therefore for a decent while, these are beet greens which are more delicate, and I prefer them this way. They were chiffonade cut.


I cut the roots small (fork size) to cook, also for personal preference. I pulled out (most of) the greens, and missed a little. They will be in the oven for some time cooking with the beef, so whole turnips would work just fine if that is your preference.


The beef has no instruction or modifiers. Not what part, not rich or lean, nor large or hewn to pieces. I went large. It was on sale. It’s a nice chuck roast. My proportions of meat to vegetables in the pot are entirely inverse to those of pretty much any propriety, but we want leftover meat for other meals.

This is to be served with a crusty loaf, sliced thinly. The broth will reappear soon, in another dish.

The results; The vessel, vegetables, and meat combined together to cause enough liquid in the dish to comfortably braise it in the pot. Upon chilling, this became a dense aspic.


The meat became a lovely pot roast. The turnips picked up the flavors of the meat nicely, the beef adopted a little of the horseradishy bite of the turnip.

I did not use enough pepper, though the salt balance worked out well for hot service. I think it will need more for cold use. The saffron was utterly lost.

Original text is held at


The translation work by Ariane Helou at https://renaissancefood.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/an-anonymous-tuscan-cookery-book/

is solidly reliable (so far) and I am happy to suggest others may find great value at her site.

Savory Apple Onion Pie


4 medium Apples
1 large or 2 medium onions (about 1 cup sliced)
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp each ginger, anise, saffron
½ tsp cinnamon
about 10 Mission Figs or 5 larger ones, chopped
about 2 tbsp raisins or currants (or a mixture)
1 to 2 tsp fresh chopped parsley or fresh (not frozen) chopped spinach
¼ cup dry red wine or good port

Make a pie crust.

Peel and core two apples. Place in a plastic bag and crush or pound them with a rolling pin. Add a few drops of wine to prevent browning. Set aside.

Cut onion into thick slices. Saute in the butter until they are soft and translucent, but not brown. Add the spices. Note: to use saffron, mix it with a little salt and grind in a mortar.

Cut two remaining apples into thick slices or chunks. Mix with all of the remaining ingredients including the cooked onions and the pounded apples.

Roll out pie dough. You can cook in a pie pan, or you can make two large squares or rectangles or you can make it into 6 or 8 pasty shells in whatever shape you like (free forms need to be baked on a cookie sheet or flat pan).

Place filling on bottom crust. Be careful not to overfill the pie. Wet the edge with water or egg white. Add the top crust, seal carefully. Make a decorative edge if you want. Paint the pastry with egg white or with saffron mixed with water to make it pretty.

Bake for 25-35 minutes until pastry is done. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes before serving, or eat it cold.

This recipe was found in the AS XXIX Arts and Sciences Issue of Pikestaff. It is based on a recipe in Taillevent recipe and was originally written up by Lady Dante de Felice.

Hello.  My name is John Marshall ate Forde.

cheese bag

I am a cook both in and outside of the SCA, and the apprentice brother of Maestra Asa, who has invited me to share some of my thoughts on food with her readers.  You can find more of my writing at Flour Yeast Salt (just add water) and more about me in the SCA at John Marshall.

As part of a dish I’m working on for River Wars that we’re calling Medieval Risotto , I’m going to need Chicken Stock, lots of Chicken Stock.

On Friday, Weis Markets had a meat sale and was offering whole chickens for $0.77 a pound.  So I stocked up.

I cut four chickens in half, loaded them into my two biggest stock pots and cooked them with carrots, onions (unpeeled), celery, bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns and covered it all with water.  I brought both pots up to a simmer and let them go for about two hours.

After the two hours were up, I strained the stock, then reduced it down to under two gallons of liquid.  Once the stock was nicely reduced, I loaded it into quart mason jars and put them into a pressure canner.

After loading up the pot, two inches of hot (around 180 degrees) water was added and the lid was clamped on.

I put the flame up to high and per the instructions in the Ball Blue Book, brought the pot up to a boil, let steam vent for 10 minutes and then put on the weight and brought the pressure up to 10 pounds.

Once the pressure had settled down, I processed the jars for 25 minutes.

As a side note, it’s very important when canning to follow the recipes exactly, in order to insure food safety.

When the time was  up, I turned off the heat and let the pressure drop to zero.  5 minutes later, I carefully removed the weight, unclamped the lid and let the opened pot sit for another 10 minutes.  After that, I removed the very hot jars and let them cool overnight.

Shelf stable and awaiting the next step…

I injured myself, and have been working on rehab. No parts missing, but still, it’s meant a lot of bed-rest for the past many weeks.

Thanks for your patience.


In the meantime, I would like to introduce John Marshall, of  flouryeastsalt . He will be posting some thoughts here while I finish up healing.

John is a talented cook, and a very fine bread baker. I like cooking with him a lot, he’s got an easy way in a kitchen that makes him a pleasure to work with.

Please keep the comments coming!

In the morning take a chicken that was killed the night before and skin it without hot water so the skin does not tear, then eviscerate it and from that spot begin the skinning, pulling it back up to the neck; then cook the meat without the skin; when it is cooked, take the breast and grind it up thoroughly with a little cheese, parsley, marjoram and other fragrant herbs, and mix this into the chicken breast and grind it all again with a little cloves, pepper, cinnamon, saffron and a little veal fat; and mix everything together, adding in two eggs; make this mixture a little on the soft side. Then get a carafe big enough to hold a chicken or capon, and see that the mouth of the carafe is rather wide; then stuff the chicken skin and sew it where you cut it; stick its feet into the carafe and have its neck stick out of the neck of the carafe -for, before inserting the skin, you should make sure that the carafe will be big enough to hold [the whole of the stuffed skin]; if it is big enough, stuff the chicken through its neck which will be sticking out of the neck of the carafe, but do not overstuff it; then tie up the neck and let the chicken swell to take up the space in the carafe; then settle the chicken properly in the carafe by means of a stick; fill the carafe with slightly salted water, and set the carafe to boil inside a cauldron or else gently by the fire-but it would really be better to fill a cauldron with water and boil it, and then, or before it boils, to set the carafe in it; it will be cooked in an hour’s time; send it off to be served, leaving to those whose job it is the weighty problem of carving it up.

Last week, I putjust the leg into a carafe, this week, I put a whole chicken, boneless, and farced (minced) into one.

The dish is functionally a galantine, or meatloaf in a chicken skin. I used to do something similar when I was a kid, but it is a lot of work, so I got out of the habit.

First, find a chicken worth working with. A supermarket bird will be challenging, the fresher the bird the easier it will be to skin without tearing. If you can manage a farm market bird, it will be least difficult.

To skin a chicken, start from the larger end. Oil your hands if you must. Keep it all chilled, and move slowly.

Modern methods usually include skinning the legs, but cutting off the wings joints and leaving them attached to the skin, which is what I did.

When the chicken has been skinned, poach the meat, then mince it and blend with the other ingredients. I kept the skin in a zip bag in the fridge, had I needed to store it for more than an hour, I would have put it in saltwater.

I blended the herbs, spices and cheese, fat, and eggs together while poaching in order to get a sense of my proportions as I minced the meat.

After filling the skin, I stitched it shut with linen thread, and placed it in my carafe. I made certain the neck tube stuck out of the carafe in order to allow the filling to steam and not draw in the salt water it was about to cook in.

I placed the carafe in a larger pot of water, and set it to simmer. The water steamed down and needed to be replenished fairly often, which was a hassle.

While I began the dish with saltwater in my carafe, I did not replenish with saltwater, as I did not wish to add more salt to the dish. A quarter cup total, all in the brine, was quite sufficient for my (lower salt preference) tastes.

While the recipe expected the product to be cooked in an hour, and the filling was set enough for eggs to be safe, the skin of the chicken did not set enough to be food safe, so I had to leave it on the stove longer, and contemplated using a torch to finish, though that would have ruined the appearance and texture. I will sacrifice a lot for food safety.

Having the saltwater up over the whole chicken did not help with this problem, nor did raising the temperature.

In the end, only letting it continue to seethe for several hours, til the contents reached a solid 160, was the only solution. Though the meat was cooked prior to stuffing, the skin had been raw.

On completion, I allowed the meat to cool in the vessel. It had shrunk considerably, making it no trouble at all to remove from my vessel, though it is not radically shaped.

The dish could have used more binding cheese, but it would have lost some of the poultry intensity.

It’s particularly nice if your diners are on a soft diet.

A couple of years ago, I did Recipe 18, a “lasagna” using chicken skin as the noodles. It seems that may have been a usage of the skin if the cook tore it past stitching up well. That dish, I do not recommend.


1 whole chicken, preferably with the neck tube intact, preferably extremely fresh

2 yards undyed, food safe linen

1/4 c fresh cheese; farmers, ricotta, etc, or, in a pinch, extra chicken fat

1/8 c veal fat or chicken fat, or, in a pinch, extra cheese. Not salt pork.

2 eggs

Up to a half cup of fresh herbs, mostly parsley and marjoram, or a teaspoon of each. Tarragon works nicely, as do minced garlic scapes.

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp saffron

1 tsp pepper

Do not salt.

Skin Chicken. Set skin aside carefully, break carcass, poach meat and bones.

Separately, make a brine of a quart of water and a quarter cup of salt.

While poaching, blend the herbs, seasonings, cheese, fat and eggs.

Strip meat, cool and mince.

Fold in egg mixture. Look for a texture a bit like thick pancake batter.

Place the chicken mixture in the chicken, sew up the chicken.

Place the galantine in a vessel not much bigger than it, with the neck tube facing up.

Place the vessel in a larger vessel, pour water as high as you can.

Put the saltwater in the smaller vessel.

Place a snug lid overtop.

Simmer til thermometer reads 160.
Allow to cool for a reasonable period of time, extricate from the vessel,

Slice carefully, serve.  Serve the poaching broth separately, it is quite salty.



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. It struck me as a lovingly crafted dish designed to nourish a very ill person. There was less than a half cup.
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.


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.