Saturday, February 2, 2008

Creme Bastard and Malmens Bastard - ROTW 5

Parts of this were originally posted to the Dragon's Mist Cooks List on September 3, 2007.

My student showed interest in foods that had names offensive to modern sensitivities. I, of course, immediately though of creme bastard. The word bastard seems to have evolved into the modern custard when used in a culinary sense, but where's the fun in that? And while prowling around for electronically-locatable recipes, I came up with a bonus: Malmens bastard.

Creme Bastarde
From Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books (I used the Google Books version)
Also found on the Medieval Cookery site (wish I'd known that before I cold-typed it in)
Take þe whyte of Eyroun a grete hepe, & putte it on a panne ful of Mylke, & let yt boyle; þen sesyn it so with Salt an hony a lytel, þen lat hit kele, & draw it þorw a straynoure, an take fayre Cowe mylke an draw yt with-all, & seson it with Sugre, & loke þat it be poynant & doucet: & serue it forth for a potage, or for a gode Bakyn mete, wheder þat þou wolt.
For those who do not read Middle English well:
Take the white of eggs a great heap, and put it on a pan full of milk, and let it boil; then season it with salt and honey a little, then let it cool, and draw it through a strainer, and take fair cow milk and draw it withall, and season it with sugar, and look that it be poignant and sweet; and serve it forth for a pottage, or for a good baken mete, whether that thou would.

Relying on the Middle English Dictionary, as always, I find that a 'baken mete' is a baked food. Custard...err, bastard tarts, anyone?

This recipe can be found in Pleyn Delit as well, but their version comes out sort of odd. An SCA feast cook experimented and found that you have to beat the eggs more than the PD version says, and that using a mixture of milk and cream was better. I thank Mistress Constance de la Rose, OL, Barony of Loch Salann, Kingdom of Artemisia, for her insight which I used in creating my version of this fine dish. Unwilling to make 'a grete hepe' I went with four 6-oz. servings (this recipe makes just about 26 ounces, actually). This is one of the dreaded 'stirring continuously' recipes, the sort that make me shudder to read, but I'm actually a bit lazy in the kitchen and find out that you can wander off for 20 seconds or so and nothing terrible happens, but only before and after it's boiled. When it's close to boiling, stay on it or you'll definitely regret it because it'll boil over in that three seconds of inattention for sure.

4 egg whites, well beaten
2 cups half and half (American oddity of half whole milk and half heavy cream)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup whole milk or half and half
pinch salt
2 tsp sugar

Beat the egg whites until just frothy. Mix into half and half and bring to a boil slowly, stirring continuously. Cut the heat to low and simmer for about five more minutes, still stirring continuously. Add the honey and, yes, stir it in, then add the salt (for me this meant making one pass with the shaker). Remove from heat and let it cool a bit then pour through a strainer. My wire strainer worked fine, you're just getting little bits of milk scum and albumin out. Add the rest of the milk and the sugar and then beat it for a couple of minutes by hand or a minute on your mixer's lowest setting. Remember, it's cooked so if you want to test for sweetness (all the other recipes I've seen call for even more sugar than I used), it's safe.
Now, you can pour it into a serving dish or dishes and chill or into a glass dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Now, modern custards are put into a pan of hot water in the oven. I'm sure you can do that, but I forgot to. The result was browned edges and a skin, but the flavor and overall consistency didn't suffer at all (probably moreso from my frantic opening the oven and checking if it was done every three minutes than a lack of humidity).

Malmens Bastard
From A Fifteenth Century Cookery Book compiled by John L. Anderson
Also found on the Medieval Cookery site
Take a potell of clarefied hony, and a pounde of pynes, and I. pounde of Reysons of coraunce, Saundres, pouder canell, And .ij. galons of wyne or ale, and pouder peper, and cast al in a potte, And skeme hit clene; And þen take iij. li. pounde Almondes, and stepe to-gidre, And drawe hem þorgh a streynour; And whan the potte boyleth, cast þe licour to, & aley hit vp al stonding; And þen take pouder ginger, salt, saffron, and ceson hit vppe, and serue hit forth in a dissh al hote, and salt; And cast pouder ginger thereon in þe dissh, and serue it forth.
Modern English:
Take a potell of clarified honey, and a pound of pine nuts, and 1 pound of raisins of Corinth, saunders, powder canell, and 2 gallons of wine or ale, and powder pepper, and cast all in a pot, and skim it clean; And then take 3 pounds almonds, and steep together, and draw it through a strainer; And when the pot boils, cast the liquor in, and allay it up all standing; And then take powder ginger, salt, saffron, and season it up, and serve it forth in a dish all hot, and salt; And cast powder ginger thereon in the dish, and serve it forth.
The Medieval English Dictionary says a potell is a vessel of half the capacity of the associated gallon, so that's half a gallon of honey. Raisins of Corinth are currants. Saunders is sandalwood, a fragrant red wood used as a coloring and seasoning agent (you can buy it somewhere, but I don't know where - I got mine from Mestra Rafaella d'Allemtejo who is my 'connection' for spices and such things. Canell is cinnamon, and in fact the stuff we usually buy in the grocery stores is canell rather than true cinnamon, which is sweeter and more expensive. It makes sense that the almonds used would be crushed, as they're strained out and so should be there to give their flavor without texture. To 'allay it all up standing' means to cook, stirring, until thickened.

I haven't done this, for some pretty obvious reasons, the number one being quantity. There are two of us, me and my husband. This recipe would feed a crowd. Half a gallon of honey's also kind of expensive. I'll make this for friends sometime. We're very lucky in that most of the quantities are given. I can't actually see much more trouble reconstructing this than figuring out quantities of spices and how long to cook it, and the latter isn't too difficult if you've had enough time in the kitchen to figure out when stuff's thickened enough.

I do plan on figuring out how to make perhaps a quart or two of this stuff. It looks....yummy. Sweet and spiced and piquant with ginger and pepper (I think I'll use white just for the color value). I might need to substitute red food coloring for the saunders in tests, but have a bit I might use in the finished produce if there's enough. And if not, I'm sure Rafaella can hook me up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ROTW 4 - Pastez, baked onions and Vyolette

Originally posted August 24, 2006.

Mushroom Pastez
From Le Menagier de Paris - late 14th century
In French from an unabridged transcription from one of the many online locations.

CHAMPIGNONS d'une nuit sont les meilleurs, et sont petits et vermeils dedans, clos essus: et les convient peler, puis laver en eaue chaude et pourboulir; qui en veult mettre en pasté, si y mette de l'uille, du frommage et de la pouldre.

Item, mettez-les entre deux plats sur charbons, et mettez un petit de sel, du frommage et de la pouldre. L'en les treuve en la fin de May et en Juin.
In English from Janet Hinson's translation.
MUSHROOMS of one night are the best, and are small and red inside, closed above: and they should be peeled, then wash in hot water and parboil; if you wish to put them in pastry, add oil, cheese and powdered spices.

Item, put them between two dishes over the coals, and add a little salt, cheese and powdered spices. You can find them at the end of May and in June.
We're lucky to have mushrooms year-round (though living downwind from the growing and packaging plants can be unpleasant). I use white button mushrooms, since I'm not a real big fungus eater.

I've played with this recipe a lot and done everything from a full-sized pie to small hand-held tarts. I highly suggest the latter, as they beg for self-contained shells. Remembering that I'm abysmal with pastry, please feel free to adapt your own skills to the making of same instead of the egg roll wrappers.

a pound of firm, white mushrooms (anything from 12-18 ounces works)
salt to taste
1/4 cup grated cheese (something melty and white or fresh Parmesan)
spices to taste - Rafaella's Salsa Fina is best,
Rafaella's Duke's Powder II is almost as good
OR (if you haven't access to a medieval spice mixer):
a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, long pepper, grains of Paradise,
nutmeg, mace, galangale (pick three or more)
1 package pre-made egg roll wrappers (the large squares)

I've tried measuring the spices but they don't seem to respond well to a fixed amount. You'll need 1-2 teaspoons total, use your nose to discern if it be enough.

Wash mushrooms and cut in half, or quarters is very large. Apportion onto the pastry squares in amounts that'll allow you to fold and seal the pastry over them. Sprinkle salt over the mushrooms, then spices, then a bit of grated cheese. Fold and seal pasties.

Bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased baking tin for 12-15 minutes. I like turning them after 10 minutes and then cooking until the top is brown.

Single pie variant:
Toss mushrooms with salt and spices, put into a 9" pie shell and sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Will definitely fall apart when sliced.

Boiled Onions
From The Good huswifes Jewell - 1585 & 1596/7
Recipe from: 'All the King's Cooks' by Peter Brears

Unfortunately, the online copy of The Good huswifes Jewell is currently unavailable. Luckily, even without the original text, the person presenting the recipe is a food historian and in charge of the project which has brought the Hampton Court Palace kitchens back into working order and can be trusted to be as authentic as possible. Therefore it is his, not my, recipe I present here. It's excellent. The only alterations I've done is Americanizing the measurements.

1 lb. English onions (I used the smaller boiling onions)
3 oz. (6 Tbsp) raisins
1 tsp ground pepper
8 oz (6-8 slices) bread cut into 1" cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar

Peel and quarter the onions then simmer with the raisins, salt and pepper in the water for 15 minutes. Put the bread into a deep dish.

Beat the egg yolk and vinegar together and stir into the onion mixture just before pouring it over the bread. Sprinkle with sugar.

From A Fifteenth Century Cookery Boke compiled by John L. Anderson
(Yes, that's right, A... I own a single volume all kitted out like a kid's book)
Take Flourys of Vyolet, boyle hem, presse hem, bray hem smal, temper hem vppe with Almaunde mylke, or gode Cowe Mylke, a-lye it with Amyndoun or Flowre of Rys; take Sugre y-now, an putte þer-to, or hony in defaute; coloure it with þe same þat þe flowrys be on y-peyntid a-boue.
'the same' is apparently saffron, mentioned in the recipe above this one.

I get my amidon at Oriental Food Value on SE Insley just off SE 82nd in Portland. It's called 'wheat starch' and sold in the noodle aisle. Rice flour works better.

Pinch the stems off just behind the flower heads. Boil for about three minutes, drain and blot with paper towels to dry, and crush in a mortar. For every tablespoon of crushed flower you need a like amount of almond milk. Mix the flowers into the almond milk is a saucepan and heat over low temperature. Add rice flour by the spoonful, stirring and simmering like gravy, until you get a nice, thick consistency (cooked pudding). That's usually two tablespoons of flour to every cup of flower-almond milk mixture. Sweeten to taste (sugar is preferred) then remove from heat and pour into dishes.

I let it cool in a bowl in the fridge and it took on the consistency of instant pudding, so it'd be real nice in individual dishes. It was starchy with amydon and less so with rice flour and was quite like modern American puddings. And a terrific color and delightful flavor, tasting much like the violets smelled. It's labor-intensive, as all cooked puddings are, but the novelty was worth it. I made about a cupful each time, so it works well in small batches.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Recipes of the Week 7 - an eclectic collection

Originally posted to the DM cooks list on September 18th, 2007. I cross-posted this to some very novice cooks and so there are many beginners' pointers in the recipes and at the end.

Sorry about the eclectic collection, but these will be for the Beaverton Farmer's Market demo this weekend and I figured if I'm typing them in, I ought to be sharing.

Each are again experimentations from original sources which ended up being my own versions. As always, I have to back-engineer proportions, so don't been completely bound by the numbers. And they're all very easy, too.

As always, I used the online Middle English Dictionary to translate terms, even if the source from which I got the recipe included their own translations. Too many sources have said 'alows' was 'olives'... Turns out it's 'rolled around a filling', which translates pretty clearly to remoulade.

Also as always the appearance of thorn is relative to whether I had to do my own typing or got it from a cut and pasteable source because I still haven't learned how to generate thorn in this editor.

Alows de Beef or de Mouton (Remoulade of Beef or Mutton)
From A Fifteenth Century Cookry Boke by John L. Anderson
Take fayre bef of þe quyschons, or motoun of þe bottes, & kytte in þe maner of stekys: þan take raw Percely, & Oynonys smal y-scredde, & yolkys of eyroun soþe hard, & Marow or swette, & hew alle þes to-gedder smal; þan caste þer-on poudere of gyngere & saffroun, & tolle þem to-gederys with þin hond, & lay þem on the stekys al a-brode, & caste salt þer-to; þen rolle to-gederys, & putte hem on a round spete, & roste hem til þey ben y-now: þan lay hem in a dysshe, & pore þer-on vynegre & a lityl verious, & pouder pepir þer-on y-now, & gyngere, & canelle, & a fewe yolkys of hard eyroun y-kremyd þer-on; & serue forth.

Take good beef of the rump, or mutton of the butts, and cut in the manner of steaks: Then take raw parsley, and onions small chopped, and yolks of eggs boiled hard, and marrow or sweet, and chop all this together small; then sprinkle thereon powdered ginger and saffron, and work (knead) them together with thine hands, and lay them on the steaks all abroad (spread across), and sprinkle with salt; then roll them up, and put them on a round spit, and roast them til they are done: then lat them in a dish, and pour thereon vinager and a little verjuice, and powder pepper thereon enough, and ginger, and cinnamon, and a few yolks of hard eggs creamed; and serve forth.

beef or mutton rump roast
butter (marrow, if you can get it - they were used interchangeably in
period so butter's authentic and might be the 'sweet' mentioned in the
yolks of hard-boiled eggs
white wine vinegar

For every pound of roast I find the following proportions to be y-now:
1/4 pound butter
4 egg yolks
2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 small onion
1 tsp ginger, divided
1/8 tsp powdered saffron or 2 threads ground
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp verjuice
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
I don't measure the salt, I just sprinkle from the shaker

Soak a bunch of bamboo skewers or toothpicks in water for about an hour.

Cut the beef into 1/4 inch thick, palm-sized steaks. Combine parsley, onion, butter, half the ginger and half the egg yolks and mix together thoroughly with a fork or your hand. Lay a small walnut-sized piece of the mixture on each steak, sprinkle very lightly with salt, and roll the beef up around the filling, securing with a toothpick or threading onto bamboo skewers. Grill or broil a few minutes, turning once, until the meat is cooked. Place on serving platter and keep warm. Mix together vinegar, verjuice, pepper, cinnamon and other half of the ginger and egg yolks and mash together until well blended. Pour over beef rolls and serve.

Black Pepper Sauce
From The Viander de Taillevant Edited by Terence Skully, recipe 227
Crush ginger and charred bread and pepper, moisten with vinegar and verjuice, and boil.
Dark-toast 2 slices of whole wheat bread, crumble finely (food processor crumbs are great) and mix with 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. Stir into 1/4 vinegar and 2 Tbsp verjuice and then bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Serves 4

Cameline Sauce
From The Viander de Taillevant Edited by Terence Skully, recipe 155
To Make Cameline Sauce. Grind ginger, a great deal of cinnamon, cloves, grains of paradise, mace, and if you wish, long pepper; strain bread that has been moistened in vinegar, strain everything together and salt as necessary.
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground grains of paradise
1/4 tsp mace
1/8 tsp long pepper (optional)
2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed
1-1/2 cups white wine vinegar

Soak bread in vinegar and then work with a fork until the bread falls apart completely. Mix in spices then press through a coarse strainer or food mill, or mix in food processor until smooth. Salt to taste.

Roast Onions
From Libro della cucina del secolo XIV
Take onions, cook them under the coals and then peel them, and slice them crosswise very long and very thin: add a fair amount of vinegar, salt, oil and spices, and serve.
Probably strong spices. I'd suggest a blend of three or more of pepper, long pepper, grains of paradise, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. I first saw this as a kind of warm salad, so the spices and liquid should augment but not drown the onions. Red wine vinegar should make it superb.

Apple Fritters English - 1381
From Seven Centuries of English Cooking Compiled and updated by Maxime de la Falaise, Grove Press, London, 1992.
For to make fritters: Nym flour and eyerin and grind pepper and saffron and make thereto a batter & pare apples and cut them to broad pieces and cast them therein and fry them in the batter with fresh grease and serve it forth.
Nym = take
eyerin = Eyeren = eggs

Apple fritters for lent

From Translation of Libro di cucina/ Libro per cuoco (14th/15th c.)
by Anonimo Veneziano, translated 2002 CE by Helewyse de Birkestad
Take the apples and peel them, then cut in the way of the host (thin slices) and make a batter of flour with saffron and add strained eggs, and put these apples in this batter; then fry with oil enough for it, powder sugar when they are cooked, etc.
For each apple you need 1/2 cup of flour, 1 egg, 1/4 tsp pepper (for English version), 1/4 tsp saffron (or 3 threads), and perhaps a bit of water to thin the batter. Beat eggs then mix in spices and flour. Let sit while you prep the apples so the saffron steeps into the mix. Pare, core and slice apples 1/4" thick. Dip each slice into batter and fry in 350 degree oil at least 1/2" deep. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for Italian version.

Magnificent fritters of the Emperor
From Translation of Libro di cucina/ Libro per cuoco (14th/15th c.)
by Anonimo Veneziano, translated 2002 CE by Helewyse de Birkestad
If you want to make fritters of the emperor, take the white of the egg and slices of fresh cheese, and beat with the white of the egg, and put a little flour and peeled pine nuts. Take the frying pan with enough grease, make it boil and make the fritter. When they are cooked, powder well with sugar and hold (serve) them hot, etc..
Options for the cheese include raveggiolo or tomino, in a pinch ricotta.

3 egg whites
1 cup soft cheese (9 ounces in weight before grating if solid)
1-1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons flour, sifted
oil for frying
sugar for dusting (superfine or powdered)

Beat the egg whites until stiff and foamy then fold in cheese, flour and pine nuts. Heat oil to about 350 degrees, drop batter in by tablespoonsful. When finished they'll float. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with sugar.

A few general notes:

350 degrees of hot oil is good enough to brown a drop of batter before you count to six, but after you count to three using heartbeat speed. If you'd fry an egg in it, it's hot enough. Always watch frying things closely. The difference between done and charcoal is minuscule. Beware of spatters, slide heavy things in instead of dropping them, use a pot lid as a shield if you must drop, keep cold water or ice (nothing else!) at hand for burns.

Forks are best for mixing as you can control how the batter moves.

Pine nuts are available in the baking section with other nuts and in bulk in most stores with a bulk section.

Use wine vinegar, it's authentic.

Grains of paradise are available in some specialty shops as well as online. So is long pepper. In Portland, Oregon, Limbo on SE 39th Ave. carries grains of paradise and might carry long pepper as well.

Saffron comes ground or in threads. To use threads let soak in a bit of water of vinegar for a few minutes to release the color and flavor then beat into liquid and add to recipe. Powder can be added straight in but works well if also steeped before mixing into other ingredients. Threads are best; when I need ground I get out the mortar.

Verjuice is available in middle eastern groceries. In Beaverton, Oregon, Rose Market at the corner of SW Hall and Murray carries it. In a pinch substitute the tartest lemon juice you can get your hands on.