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.

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.

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>.

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!

20150403_191725

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.

If you are familiar with Mostardo or Chutney, this dish is pretty approachable.

It’s a mixed pickle of several vegetables, simmered then marinated. It can be canned, and it lasts a fair time.

First, if you don’t have lombard mustard, you might wish to make some.

I like equal proportions of mustard seed, honey, and wine vinegar by weight, and to allow it to age for at least a week in the fridge.

COMPOST. C. Take rote of parsel. pasternak of rasenns. scrape hem waisthe hem clene. take rapes & caboches ypared and icorne. take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire. cast all þise þerinne. whan þey buth boiled cast þerto peeres & parboile hem wel. take þise thynges up & lat it kele on a fair cloth, do þerto salt whan it is colde in a vessel take vineger & powdour & safroun & do þerto. & lat alle þise thinges lye þerin al nyzt oþer al day, take wyne greke and hony clarified togider lumbarde mustard & raisouns corance al hool. & grynde powdour of canel powdour douce. & aneys hole. & fenell seed. take alle þise thynges & cast togyder in a pot of erthe. and take þerof whan þou wilt & serue forth.

Take Parsley root, Carrot (or parsnip), scrape and wash.
Take turnips and cabbages, trimmed appropriately
Put them in a pot, and cook them through.
When they are done, blanch pears.
Blend the items together, and cool overnight.
The next day, when chilled, add salt
then vinegar, “powder” (pepper), and saffron.
The day after that, add “Greek” wine and honey which have been blended together,
and lumbard mustard, as well as currants.
Add cinnamon, poudre douce, and whole anise.
Put it all in a crock, and serve at need.

I keep lumbard mustard and poudre douce in stock, and kept pretty decent records of my garden’s productivity, so I had a good sense of what would have been available.

I am using a moscato as my wine.

I made this a few times. Once, I tried cutting all of the vegetables into different shapes. It wasn’t nice. I ran them through a shredder, a processor, and so on. Eventually I got to cutting them all as close to matchstick as I could, and it worked out nicely.

Also, I don’t recommend those giant storage carrots, they have a watery sweetness that works well in other dishes but not so well in this one.
3 medium carrots, matchstick or rounds

And / Or

2  large parsnips, matchstick

2 larger white turnips, matchstick

1 bunch radishes, about 8-10, matchstick

1/2 medium green cabbage, shredded

4-6 hard pears, chopped

2 TBS -1/2 cup salt

1.5 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 Tbs pepper, ground or 1 TBS whole

a pinch of vinegar

2 c moscato.

1 cup honey

1/4 c lombard mustard

1 cup currants

2 tsp cinnamon (canela)

 

If you like anise, use a teaspoon each. I didn’t because I don’t like it.

Assemble your vegetables, not the pears. Poach them til they are bendy.

Remove them to a colander to cool, use the same water and poach the pears.

Add to the colander.

When fully cooled, add salt.

Once the salt is fully mixed in, add the vinegar, pepper, and saffron.

Then, finally, the next day, add the rest of the ingredients.

Allow it to sit for a week, and taste. If you like it, you can can it now,

or adjust seasonings and flavors first.

If you are low in the canning jars, add more vinegar to top up rather than

wine, in order to boost acidity slightly.

This is 6 canning jars worth. Two didn’t pop their lids, so I am storing them in the fridge and will use them first.

Compost (11)

http://www.medievalcookery.com/search/display.html?forme:99:PSTRNK

Espinacs; Spinach

Si vols fer espinacs sens agua, pren los espinacs e deneja’ls be, e puis llava’ls e fe’n dos o tres trossos. E hages una olla, e mit-hi una llossada d’oli, o’ segons que seran aquells a qui n’huaras a dar. E puis prem-los be e mit-los en l’olla, e mit-hui un poc de sal en guisa que no n’hi haja massa , entro que sien fusos; e estrijolats-los.

If you want to make spinach without water, take the spinach (leaves) and clean them well, and then wash them and make two or three pieces of them. Take a pot, and put in a large spoon of oil, or according to the number of those you will serve it to. Then squeeze them well and put them in the pot, and put in a little salt, but in a way so it is not too much, until they have melted, and cut them up.

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

Simple fried spinach. This recipe reminds us that not everything served in finer homes was elaborate or fanciful.
1 lb fresh spinach or chard
3 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt

Rinse spinach, drain or spin well.
Tear larger leaves into small pieces.
Heat pot, place oil in pot.
Add the spinach and salt, be certain to stir to keep the bottom from burning.
Santanach, Joan, trans. Robin Vozelgang. The Book of Sent Sovi Medieval Recipes from Catalonia. First Edition. Barcelona, Spain: Barcino-Tamesis, 2008. 178-179. Print.

finished dish in a terra cotta vessel

Stewet beef to potage. Take faire ribbes of beefs, or elles take other gode beef, and smyte hit on peces, and wash hit clene and do hit in a pot, and put therto a lytel watur, and a gode dele wyne; and take onyons ynogh, and mynce hom, and do therto, and gode herbes, cut hom smal and put therto; and take bred stepet in brothe, and draw hit thurgh a streynour, and do hit therto, and cover hit wel, and let hit wel sethe; and do therto pouder of cloves and maces, and colour hit with saunders ; and in the scttynge down do therto a lytel vynegur medelet wyth pouder of canel, and serve hit forthe, and do therto raisynges of corance.

Take fair ribs of beef, or else take other good beef, and smite it in pieces.
Wash it clean and put it in a pot.
Put in a little water, a good deal wine, and onions enough, and mince them,
and good herbs, cut small.

IMG_5169
And take bread steeped in broth, and draw it through a stainer, and add it, and cover it well and let it seethe.

pressing soaked bread cubed through a strainer to create a thickener
Add powder of cloves and maces, color it with sanders.
When serving, add a little vinegar blended with canela cinnamon and some currants.

2 lbs beef
1/2 c water
1/2 bottle wine
2 c onions, chopped
1 TBS marjoram (winter supply of herbs is limited, use what you have)
2 C coarse bread cubes, dried
1 C broth (I used chicken)
1/4 tsp whole cloves, crushed well
1/4 tsp blade mace, crushed well
1 tsp salt (to taste)

2 TBS red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp canela cinnamon, blended together
1 tsp currants per bowl

Rinse the beef, cube it if it is not already cubes, and place it in the pot.
Add the water, apply heat.
As it begins to simmer, add the wine, onions, and marjoram.
Put the lid on.

Place the bread cubes in the broth, allow them to soak it up.

After about an hour of gentle simmering, remove the lid.
Put the bread cubes into a strainer, put the strainer in the pot, and push the
bread through.
Add the spices and salt.
Replace the lid, allow the dish to continue to simmer on low until tender.
Be careful that the thickened sauce does not stick and burn.
Depending on the cut of beef, this could be brief or it could be a while.

At service, fold the vinegar and cinnamon through the dish, then dress each serving with the currants.

Being that the pot is to have a snug lid, the wine broth will not boil off. This means that in order to thicken, a rather larger quantity of bread was required to thicken
than might seem usual. Then again, the bread I had was pretty airy.
You can use less liquid than I did.
I used a barolo, because it is what we had.

We loved this dish.. until we added the vinegar. The fundamental issue is that we used an excellent wine, but the vinegar we used was not made from the same wine. There was a flavor clash. It is likely that most pantries of the time would often have wine and vinegar from the same source materials.

It calls for Sanders. I don’t use sanders.

There was another issue, which is the ropy nature of cinnamon and vinegar blended. I am not terribly fond of that texture.
http://www.medievalcookery.com/search/display.html?ancie:39:BF

Beef is stunningly expensive, so it needs to go a long way when we get it. It is winter right now, a time when we long for slow braises which fill the air with the aromas of warmth and comfort.

There are only two of us, though, and while it is possible to make Stew For Two, it’s not so much fun. I also find it frustrating to have a mass quantity of something with a very strong flavor profile, as meals can get repetitive after a while.

This dish is quite simple. It’s easy to ignore for hours, it’s easy to use in many different ways.

It’s very mild, so it will match quite nicely with many options of sides, and the beef flavor will shine.

The wine you choose will be important here, as the goal is a brightness from the verjus. A new wine is appropriate, something with a bit of acid such as a “two buck” or taverna wine.

 

beef in a cryopac, and the ingredients for the dish measured and arrayed in dishes.

A rather large bounty of beef

25. Verjuice soup of chicken or whatever meat you wish.

BROUET DE VERJUS DE POULLAILLE OU DE TEL GRAIN COMME
VOUS VOULDREZ. Cuisiez en vin, en eaue et en verjuz tellement
que le goust du verjus passe tout l’autre, puis broyez
gingenbre et des moyeulx d’oeufz tous cruz grant foison,
et passez tout parmy l’estamine ensemble, et mettez boullir;
puis gectez sur vostre grain, quant il sera friolé, et mettez
du lart, au cuire, pour luy donner goust.

 

Cook in wine, water, and enough verjus that it tastes mostly of verjus. Add some pork fat to give flavor.

Crush ginger and bread, and moisten with egg yolk, and strain this through a cheesecloth.

Boil it and throw it onto your meat, when it is browned.

4 LBS of beef (or a whole lot less, it’s OK)

2 cups wine

1 cup water

1 cup verjus

4 oz pork fat, prosciutto rind, or other barding,

1 teaspoon dried ginger powder

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 raw egg yolks

Wash the beef and place it in a vessel of the size that seems best; close but with room for wine and some simmering space. Be sure the lid fits well.

beef tenderloin in a pot, curled up to fit.

Layer the fat over the meat, if you wish to use it.This fat is partly to protect the meat, partly to allow the richness to melt in. Higher collagen cuts will rely less on this, though they would still benefit. A layer of cheesecloth with olive oil would work for a very lean cut in which you prefer not to add pork.

Add the liquids and permit to simmer until the meat is fully cooked. I choose to simmer it til the meat falls apart, much like for Ropa Viejo

about to disintegrate, the meat has shrunk.

Remove the meat, allow the broth to cool slightly,

Blend the ginger with the breadcrumbs, and fold some broth into the bowl of breadcrumbs,

Allow them to soak up the broth for a time, then add them to the pot.

Separate your eggs, and either fold them cautiously into the pot of cooled broth, or temper the broth into the eggs, then

add them to the pot.

Simmer the broth with the egg yolks and bread crumbs til thick.

Meanwhile, in a pan, sautee your meat and allow it to brown. The instructions are pretty clear that the meat and broth should be separated before the broth is thickened.

Another choice is to allow the meat to settle in the pot and brown within the broth, but I find this lends a somewhat burnt taste. I believe this might have been a not-unknown  method, as there are several notes explaining how to remove the burnt taste from a brewet as required.

Serve the meat well sauteed, with the thick, seasoned sauce.

 

Please note; There are many translations of this dish which are written differently. There are other varietions of instruction in related books, some calling for more specific seasonings.

I disagree firmly with the instruction placed in one translation of this recipe to brown the meat before braising, as the entire mindset of Medieval cookery is counter to that method, for humoral reasons.

I will go more into depth on humours some other time.

 

Scully, T. (1995). The art of cookery in the Middle Ages (p. 223). Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press.

http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/vi-vat.htm

http://www.telusplanet.net/public/prescotj/data/viandier/viandier415.html#viandier18

Peres in composte

To mak peres in composte tak a good quantite of
canelle and sugur and set it on the fyer to boile and
draw yt throughe a stren then lesk dates thyn and put
them ther to in a pot and boille wardens and pair
them and put them in the ceripe put ther to sanders
and boile them and alay them up with chardwins and
salt it and mak yt doucet and chargaunt and put it out
of the vesselle in to a treene vesselle and let it boille
then pare smalle raisins and tried guinger and temper
it ij dais or ij nyghtes with wyne then lay it in clarified
hony cold a day and nyght then tak the raisins out
of the hony and cast ther to peres in composte and
serue it furthe with a cold ceripe.

To make pears in compote, take a good quantity of canele cinnamon
and sugar, and set it on the fire to boil.
And draw it through a strainer, then lest (slice) dates thin and put
them thereto in a pot and boil wardens and pare them and put them
in the syrup put thereto sanders and boil them and lay them up with chardwins (cardoons? Noooo) and salt it and make it sweet and thick and put it out of the vessel into a green-wood
vessel and let it boil,(how, without lighting the wood vessel on fire? Hot rock?) then pare small raisins and prepared ginger and temper it for two days or
two nights with wine, then lay it in clarified honey cold a day and night then take the raisins out of the honey and add thereto the pears in compost and serve it forth with a cold syrup.

Ahh for convoluted instructions with embedded subrecipes!
This is for spiced, preserved pears in a heavy syrup. It can be canned months in
advance of need. It reminds me most of those red spiced apple rings that used to sometimes come with diner food, except good.

First, if you do not keep your ginger peeled in wine in the fridge or freezer, go peel some ginger, put it in wine, and toss it in the fridge. (I store ginger in the fridge very long term peeled in a small jar of vodka. This doesn’t have the same flavor, so I minced my preserved ginger and put it in the wine for a few hours.)

this picture includes dates. Please ignore the dates.

this picture includes dates. They were not included in the container pictured

Then shop for still-hard pears. Many pears, when ripe, will almost disintegrate, we are looking for some structure.

When the ginger has sat in wine for a couple of days, it is time to go.

The first time I made this dish, I poached my pears whole, then chopped them. This worked out pretty poorly, as not everything cooked evenly, and it wasn’t so pretty as it could be.

IMG_5122

Now I slice my pears into rounds, and use a small cutter to remove the core of each slice.

IMG_5127

The heavy syrup is made from equal amounts of sugar and water, with a quarter teaspoon of salt per quart of water.

I took three whole sticks of cinnamon, which I consider to be quite a good quantity, and crushed them coarsely. They went in the pot with the sugar, water, and salt, and stayed til the syrup took some color and the pot smelled festive.

Pears in Compost 2

Then I poached my pear rings in the sugar syrup. Having already prepared my ginger, I threw it in with the raisins, and when all was cooked through, I canned the dish in a half gallon glass jar.

This is a pretty good side dish, and can also go very nicely with cream desserts. Different types of pears have different results. I used Anjous, a rather modern pear. Forelles, if you can get them, stand a stronger chance of being appropriate to the dish.

Note that I do not use Saunders, which is Sandalwood powder. It’s endangered, bad for humans, and not food. If you need the dish red, I would use other dyes. Though color is called for, I think it’s not strictly required.

6 pears, hard.
2 c water
2 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 sticks cinnamon, crumbled or crushed

 

2 Tbs raisins, tempered in honey

6 dates, sliced thin (I don’t always use them, they can be too sweet)

2 Tbs ginger, tempered in red wine

Slice pears into discs of about 1/4” thick. Pop out cores using small punch.

Simmer water, sugar, salt together with cinnamon. Do not allow to boil.

Place pears in syrup, do not raise temperature.
Add ginger to the pot.

Simmer until they are flexible but not longer.

Place in sterile canning jars, pouring raisins in as you go.

Process and preserve. Serve with boiled meats (or vanilla ice cream!)