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

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

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.


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. <>.

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.

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.

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  which discusses these concerns at length should you decide to delve into this book.

The Good Housewife’s Jewel page 24

Dawson, Thomas. The Good Houswife’s Jewel. 2002. Lewes, East Sussex: Southover, 1996. Print. 1870962125

take a pint of white wine and a small quantity of water and small raisins and whole mace. Boil them together in a lttle verjuice, yolks of eggs mingled with them, and a peice of sweet butter. So serve them upon bread, sliced.


two thick slices of bakery bread on a plate, with a layer of chopped stewed meat, and liberally sauced with a yellow egg based sauce showing specks of raisin

definitely not finger food

While there are no instructions for the actual cooking of the feet in question, I have my preferred methods (slow braise, a lid, no salt or acid until the meat is tender, as it can be toughened by either).  Then again, I have no feet right now. I do have an oxtail, which is something of a scarce item in our freezer.   Though the tail cannot be sliced for an elegant service as the meat of a foot could, it has similar enough textural qualities as to be a fine substitution.

a plate with a packet of ox tail, surrounded by the spices, bottles, and butter needed for the dish. Not shown are the eggs.

Eggs are off camera

I set the tail to simmering on the lowest heat, and in a smaller pot, made the sauce separately.

While the meat was somewhat unappealing to look upon, the longer it cooked, the more unctuous it got. It smells lovely.

When the meat was completely cooked and soft, I removed it from the bone and minced it, knowing I could not get elegant slices.

I then placed it on the toasts to wait for the sauce and held it in a warming oven.

The only quantity given for this recipe is that pint of white wine. This leads to all of the other decisions for balance.


Recipe: To Boil Calve’s Feet


  • 1 calf’s foot or oxtail, simmered in water til tender, and sliced or otherwise prepared for service
  • slices of bread on which to serve the meat and sauce
  • 1 pint white wine
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 oz raisins
  • 1 teaspoon whole blade mace, intact (to be removed later)
  • up to ½ cup of verjus (taste as you go, it can go too sharp quickly)
  • allow to cool, then in a pan, blend
  • 3 egg yolks and 3 oz warmed butter
  • salt to taste


  1. when the butter and egg yolks are gently warmed, stir in the wine mixture, off the heat. Be gentle, or the eggs will curdle.
  2. Folding the butter and eggs into the liquid creates an oily mass, and cooling the liquid then slowly beating the yolk in then adding the butter does similarly.
  3. Use your best judgement.


– a less well regarded food

– the sauce is unlikely to work in bulk, and is challenging even in small quantities

– the acid balance can be difficult, wine depending

+ sumptuous without being greasy

+ deep flavor

+ gives a side product of a lovely beef broth

+ Sophisticated enough for a nice appetiser.


Remember this is not a hollandaise… but all of the requirements for a hollandaise are there. The techniques required to make the creamy velvety sauce were not delineated until much later. There’s a fair amount of history available online and in books for emulsified sauces should you wish to find more information.

Because I did not wish to have a grease slick, I did stir the wine blend in to the butter, rather than pouring the butter overtop of the wine. I then folded in the egg yolks and warmed the sauce while stirring, It sure looks like a hollandaise.

a sautee pan filled with egg-yellow sauce with specks of raisin showing, and a little froth on top.

Runnier than a custard, the sauce uses wine and verjus where modern cooks would think to use lemon.

This also permitted me to taste the sauce as I built it to prevent adding too much acid and damaging the balance of flavors.

Now I had to decide whether I was going to follow the implication in the instructions and simmer the meat in the blended sauce, or read it the other way as an overlaid sauce.

Being that the meat I chose is quite unctuous and tender, and that the bread is rather stiff, I opted to pour the completed sauce overtop and serve the dish as sops.

It cannot be stressed enough that the success of this dish relies on a lower acid white wine, as too much acid will unbalance the dish. A highly gelatinous meat is also helpful to the quality and enjoyment of it, as fatty meat would lend a greasiness which cannot balance the egg-yolk sauce.

If you don’t wish to fuss about with wine specifics, go easy on the verjus and taste critically as you add the eggs and butter to the sauce, in order to bring the flavors into a bright, creamy balance.



The Opera of Bartholomeo Scappi

Recipe 11, book II

a small serving bowl with two pieces of meat, each about 4" long and 1" thick and 1" wide, along with two slices of bread

Bowl made by Brunissende Dragonette de Brocéliande

It took a few tries to get this one right. It didn’t so much fight me as surprise me, as it’s supposed to be simple braised meat. However, there are a number of small details which can lead to or detract from success.

First off, it calls for a lean loin of beef, as well as some fat and backbones. I did not find a short cut for this. Chuck did not work, cubes did not work. A lean bit of loin, some diced beef fat, and a couple of bits on the bone worked well enough, but even wrapped in fat, it did dry out. It did not get gristly, and was a bit chewy. For our own use, we intend to stick with short ribs or a similar braising cut. Select your cut of meat carefully.

ingredients for a previous making of the dish, with all ingredients displayed. Purpose of image is to highlight grass-fed-beef, which was not optimal for this type of cooking.

Grass fed beef cubes were not optimal.

The second concern was proportion of liquids and spices.  Trying to balance them as a group did not work well, and being cautious was frankly a bad idea.  Referring to my experiences making sauerbraten, I went bold.  Once I went with liquid measures of 1 lbs meat, 1c liquid, 1T salt, it all got better.

Then on to the spices and liquids themselves. I had to consider the type of white vinegar to use, suss out whether historical Malmsey happened to be similar to what we have in the cabinet, and how to get rose vinegar.

I went with a white wine vinegar, and to make an ersatz rose vinegar, I added a small amount of rose water to more of the same white wine vinegar. It’s past the season in which I could make some, though next year when the roses bloom I will make a point to do so (be aware of your rose sources! Mine are not sprayed, and are a strain known to have been grown historically. You may be able to get cooking roses at an Indian market).

For the malmsey, I used what I have, which is a rather sweet dessert madiera.

In order to balance the proportions of sweet wines to sharp vinegars, I used equal parts and blended the liquids separately, until I was satisfied that I had a flavorful proportion.

The next hurdle was named “fennel flour” in my English translation. I was curious. Fennel pollen? Fennel seed? Powdered fronds? What part of fennel contributes the flour? It was exciting to consider that such a trendy, modern ingredient as fennel pollen could be represented in this book, but my research led me in a completely other direction.

According to the herbals I consulted, it seems that fennel flour may be another nomen ascribed to nigella sativa, which I have in my spice rack as kalonji seed. It’s the oniony peppery seeds on top of rye bread when seeded rye does not have caraway, and appears in some grocery brands of naan.

Now that I had everything in place, it was time to cook!

Unfortunately, there was another ingredient I did not account for. The cookpot itself had a lot to do with the success or failure of this dish

First, I made it in a dutch oven. There was too much space, not enough liquid, and the meat dried out.

In a crockpot, the bits on top also dried out, for the same reason; the pot was not self-basting. Next time, I will put some parchment paper directly on the surface to prevent this.

Finally, I switched to a tagine; a self-basting braiser. At long last, we had a dish worth sharing with you.


Please enjoy Braised Beef, Scappi Style!

2 lbs of beef loin, excess fat removed and reserved ( get something marbled, or it will be tough and dry)

2 ounces (plus or minus) of minced beef fat (trimmed from above)

1 lb beef neck or backbones, cubed, not trimmed of fat.

(or three pounds of short ribs or shanks)


½ c red wine

½ c white wine vinegar


1 TBS salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp coriander (seed) OR “fennel flour”, nigella sativa seed.


a small metal bowl with a greyish powder; the spices have all been powdered together

the spice blend is not visually inspiring.

½ c “Greek Wine” or malmsey (dessert wine )

¼ c mustum (raisin flavored grape syrup used as a sweetener, sold at Italian and gourmet markets as Vin Cotto)

¼ c rose vinegar (2 tsp rose water to ¼ c white wine vinegar. Adjust by your own nose)


4 oz minced fresh pork fat

6 slice prosciutto (use a butchers’ end if you can get one, it’s for flavor not décor)


3 oz dried sour cherries

2 oz dried prunes, quartered.

spices and salt, a bowl of pork fat and prosciutto, and a bowl of cut beef, with a row of bottles for the liquid ingredients. Missing are prunes and dried cherries

Another time with the same recipe


Blend the whole spices, whizzing them in a spice grinder and set aside.

Blend the liquid ingredients using the measures above, and put them aside in a container. It will smell earthy, darkly sweet, and a little sharp.

Trim the beef of excess fat, cut meat into single portions of about 5-6 ounces.

Cut the beef fat.

Cut the pork and fat, reserve.


Place the beef, beef bones, and beef fat into the pot, then spice the meat with about 2/3 of the ground spices. Toss so it is reasonably well distributed.

Put a weighted bowl on top, and allow the meat to sit at cool room temperature for several hours to marinate. (Modern solution: zip bag and a good squeeze)


a bowl with another bowl set inside it, a gallon jug of water inside the inner bowl, for purposes of pressing the meat in the bottom of the larger bowl not visible) in a marinade for several hours.

Pressing meat

After the marination, put the meat neatly in the pot if it is not yet there, then add the pork fat, and lay the prosciutto carefully over the serving portions of beef to help baste them.

If the meat seems to call for it, add more of the spice blend.

Check liquid levels, be certain the pot will neither boil over nor dry out. You can either add proportionally more of the liquids, or keep an eye on the pot and add water if the levels deplete enough to concern.

Place the pot in a 300* oven, and let it cook for an hour.

Put the dried fruit in, make sure it is all submerged. Baste while you have the lid off.

Lower the temperature to 225.

Two hours later, remove the vessel from the oven, and permit it to cool to serving temperature.


The flavor is assertive, lively, and exciting. It’s not a boring quiet little dish in any way; it’s peppery, bright, and deep. Not too sweet from the mustum and the malmsey, not too sharp from the double dose of vinegar, and not too tannic from the wine, we both had to fight to stop going back for more broth.

There was not a whole lot of floating fat, which was a concern. It was just enough to protect the meat.

We loved it. It’s been requested as a regular.

I had some left over spice mix. which I braised some brussels sprouts in. They were also delightful.

cooked portions of meat in a bowl, ready to be served

“Neapolitan Recipe Collection”

as translated by Terence Scully;

Recipe 50

Florentine-Style Meat in a Baking Dish: Get veal or another meat with the bone, cut it into the pieces as small as a fist, and put them into a baking dish with a little water, a beaker of wine and another of good verjuice; if you master likes, add in a few slices of onion or, should he not like onions, use parsley, the root that is along with raisins, dried prunes, and salt; cover the meat by no more than a finger of water, and set it in the oven; when it looks half done, add a few cloves, a good lot of cinnamon, pepper and a good lot of saffron let it taste of pepper; when it is half cooked, turn it over; then take it out onto a plate with the spices and sugar on top, or else leave it in the baking dish. You can do the same with fish that is, grey mullet or eels cut into pieces four fingers in width, washed well and put into a baking dish with a little oil. Note that you can make these things sweet or tart according to our master’s taste..

It’s winter. It’s cold, I want to make hearty food. There are beef short ribs in the fridge. It looks like a plan.

cut the meat into approximately 4 ounce chunks, and poured an equal proportion of wine, verjus, and water over them. I shaved an onion into the pot, put in a good handful of black raisins, and seasoned the pot with about a half-teaspoon of salt.


meat, sliced onions, and raisins in a wine-based cooking liquid, in a large pot.

all of the ingredients ready to go

After 45 minutes I put in the called for spices, and let it go for another 15 or 20 minutes.

It’s a bit of a pot roast with overtones of sauerbraten. We are not complaining.

cooked portions of meat in a bowl, ready to be served

The final product, waiting for sauce and vegetables.

This is a regular dish on our table, it only needs about 5 minutes of attention at the beginning, and two in the middle of cooking. It needs no fancy slicing for service, as it is already in portion controlled pieces.

I appreciate the ease with which I can adapt this balance from sharp to sweet by using more or fewer raisins and /or prunes. It’s good comforting food which succeeds best when a cheap rough cut of beef is used, though the original suggests many alternative proteins.

I used;

1c Commercial verjus

1c California red Zinfandel

1c water

2 lbs short ribs

1/4c black raisins

A cinnamon stick, crushed (canela)

a healthy pinch of pepper

4 whole cloves,

a pinch of Kosher salt


+ Cheap cuts of meat work well.

+ Simple seasonings.

+ One burner, no complex methods.

+ reminiscent of Sauerbraten, so not a challenge to the timid palate.

+/- Calls for verjus (but there are reasonable substitutions available).

+ Pairs nicely with a variety of sauces and vegetable options

All in all, there is nothing about this presentation I do not enjoy, and nothing I cannot recommend.

It’s a clear winner.