I made these for the last shire Twelfth Night I physically attended, two years ago this week. They were well received. This would make a good feast dish; combine, cook, serve. Serves 12. More of my recipe redactions may be found on my website.
Harleian ms. 279, “Dyed Bake Metis” (“Various Baked Dishes”) (Found in “Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books”)
“Chawettys. Take Porke y-sode, & mencyd dates, and grynd hem smal to-gederys; take yolkys of Eyroun, & putte þer-to a gode hepe, & grene chese putte þer-to; & whan it ys smal y-now, take Gyngere, Canelle, & melle wyl þi commade þer-with, & put in þin cofyns; þan take yolkys of Eyroun hard y-sothe, and kerue hem in two, & ley a-boue, & bake hem; & so noyt y-closyd, serue forth.”
“Small pies. Take pork seethed & mined dates, and grind them small together; take yolks of eggs, & put thereto a good heap, & green cheese put thereto; & when it is small enough, take ginger, cinnamon, & mix well thy mixture therewith, & put in thine coffins (pie shells); then take yolks of eggs hard seethed, and carve them in two, & lay about, & bake them; & so not closed, serve forth.”
My wife and I “live country, live clean”. We have a huge chest freezer in our basement. We literally buy our beef by the half cow. I didn’t have any pork, but I have lots of ground beef. The recipe calls for small pies. I keep frozen pie shells to hand, so I made full size pies and increased the cooking time I would use for tarts. Professional food historian (now I know what I want to be when I grow up!) Cindy Renfrow speculates in “Take a Thousand Eggs or More” that green cheese was literally green cheese, what we now call blue cheese. (Wikipedia says, according to legend, blue cheese was discovered when a shepherd accidently left his cheese behind in a cave and found it again three months or so later.) If green cheese is actually blue cheese, I’m wondering if the moon being made of green cheese wasn’t simply a way to describe the color.
3 lbs. ground beef
1 cup minced dates
1/2 lb. blue cheese
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 commercial pie shells
Leave the pie shells and frozen beef in the fridge to thaw overnight. Pre-heat oven to 435*. Hard boil six eggs. In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef, minced dates, 6 egg yolks (reserve the whites for tomorrow’s breakfast), crumbled blue cheese, ginger, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Scoop the mixture into two pie shells, pushing it down to fill the crust evenly. ‘So not closed’ means it’s an open face pie, like a quiche. Shell the hard-boiled eggs, cut them in two, and ‘lay about’ six half egg yolks in a circle on the top of each pie. Save the whites for tomorrow’s breakfast. For tarts, I would put one on each tart. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool. May be eaten hot or cold.
Quince Bread, also known as Quittenbrot, Chare de Quences, or Pâte de Coing, is a confection made from quince apples or quinces. Quince trees, Cydonia oblonga, are small fruit trees in the Rosaceae family. They are closely related to apples and pears. Quinces were grown in West Asia and around the Mediterranean since antiquity. Quinces remained popular fruit trees throughout medieval times.
Image: Roman painting of a quince tree in the Casa die Livia, probably 30BC
Like other pomefruits, quinces do not do not come true from seed. Desirable genotypes need to be propagated by grafting. Grafting was well known to the Romans. At the time of Gaius Plinius Secundus, AD 23–79, better known as Pliny the Elder, many different varieties were grown, several of which Pliny mentions by name in his natural history:
Chapter. 10. (11.)—The Quince. Four Kinds of Cydonia, and Four Varieties of the Struthea: Next in size after these are the fruit called by us “cotonea,” by the Greeks “Cydonia,” and first introduced from the island of Crete. These fruits bend the branches with their weight, and so tend to impede the growth of the parent tree. The varieties are numerous. The chrysomelum is marked with indentations down it, and has a colour inclining to gold; the one that is known as the “Italian” quince, is of a paler complexion, and has a most exquisite smell: the quinces of Neapolis, too, are held in high esteem. The smaller varieties of the quince which are known as the “struthea,” have a more pungent smell, but ripen later than the others; that called the “musteum,” ripens the soonest of all. The cotoneum engrafted on the strutheum, has produced a peculiar variety, known as the “Mulvianum,” the only one of them all that is eaten raw. At the present day all these varieties are kept shut up in the antechambers of great men, where they receive the visits of their courtiers; they are hung, too, upon the statues that pass the night with us in our chambers. There is a small wild quince also, the smell of which, next to that of the strutheum, is the most powerful; it grows in the hedges. (Pliny)
In modern times, various named quince varieties propagated by grafting are available to the gardener. However, quinces also serve commonly as dwarfing rootstock for pears, resulting in the mature pear tree reaching only about 40-60% of the natural mature height. (Elkins, Bell, Einhorn, 2012, Journal of the American Pomological Society 66(3):153-163). These quince rootstocks along with occasional chance seedlings are the source of feral quinces found in the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn. In the work presented here, I compare quince bread made from fruits of a named cultivar, ‘Orange,’ with quince bread made from feral quinces and a third variety that attempts to combine the benefits of both.
Quinces are considerably more heat tolerant than apples, hence their historic popularity in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. However, many varieties are cold hardy to USDA zone 5 and thus can be grown successfully in Myrkfaelinn and neighboring Baronies. Quinces do well in sun and partial shade. Unfortunately, Quinces are plagued by two pests. Quinces are extremely vulnerable to Fireblight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. Fireblight is the main reason quinces are no longer widely grown. A local apple and pear grower (Ian Merwin of Black Diamond Farm) explained to me that he was avoiding quinces to prevent the likely fireblight infections jumping over onto his pear trees. The round headed stem borer (Saperda Candida) also causes damage to trees. Both of these diseases have caused loss of quince trees in my garden.
Quinces tend to flower later than apples, in my garden at the end of May, which usually protects them from damage by late frosts. Quinces also tend to ripen later than apples. Unlike apples and pears, quinces are self-fruitful. There is no need to grow second variety for pollination. According to the Trinity Encyclopedia compiled by an anonymous writer in the 1400s in England, the quince season starts at Michaelmas (September 29th) and lasts till Martinmas (November 11th).
§62 Chare de quences. Forto make chare de quences. Take þfayre quences in tyme of yeer, as between Mihelmasse and Martynmasse… (Clarke 2016)
In my garden, quinces ripen around Halloween. I found that quinces harvested but not quite ripe yet, can ripen a bit while being stored indoors. However, since quinces can’t be stored much longer than a month, only so much post-harvest ripening can be had. I would advise any quince grower to leave the fruit on the tree, until they have fully changed to yellow/orange color, unless a severe frost is threatening the harvest.
Image: Late medieval rendering of a quince tree, probably 1300-1400, in the Tacuinum sanitatis, by Ibn Butlân
As Pliny the Elder described, the Romans valued quinces particularly for their smell. A single quince can easily fill a small room with its fragrance. Most quince fruits are hard and sour and not delightful, when eaten raw. ‘Aayvay yemek’ or ‘to eat quince’ is a Turkish expression used to describe unpleasant situations. The Mulvanium is a rarity for being enjoyable in raw form. Even today, there are very few quince varieties available that can be enjoyed raw, the best known one is the Russian variety Aromatnaya. I found that after storing Orange quince for three weeks, the pectin in the fruit broke down enough to make the fruit edible raw. The texture was then like a radish and the level of acidity not unpleasant. Attempting to eat feral quince raw was an experience similar to biting into a very hard lemon.
In my kitchen freshly harvested quince last for about a month, before eventually they go bad. The feral quinces appear wrinkled after this time of storage, which makes them harder to peel. The Orange quinces tend not to wrinkle, but the fruit flesh softens and they turn brownish on the inside. Making quinces last longer requires some sort of preservation. Apicius lists two recipes featuring quince in his book De Re Coquinaria Liber. The first one is in the first book and is concerned with the preservation of quinces for future use:
Ut mala Cydonia diu serventur: Eligis mala sine vitio cum ramulis et foliis, et condes in vas, et suffundes mel et defritum, et diu servabis. (Apicius 21)
How quinces might be served later: Select apples without blemish with stems and leaves, and put them in a vessel, submerge them in honey and concentrated spiced white wine (=defruitum), and you will serve them in a long time later.
This recipe is solely about the preservation of quince, not a dessert in itself. Note that the quince is not heated or cored. The emphasis on the stem and leaves still intact is to ensure that no air enters the fruit that could lead to fermentation. Even with the sometimes – from modern perspective – rather strange culinary customs of the Romans, it is unlikely, they would have actually eaten the cores and leaves. It is in a section of the book that describes how to preserve various fruits for later use. (the previous recipe suggests to steep pomegranates in sea-water and hang them to dry for preservation, the following one advises to place a variety of fruits again intact with the stems in honey for preservation.) However, if the fruits were cored, relieved of stems and leaves and actually boiled in honey and spiced wine, this would make for a delicious dessert. If such a concoction were dried, it would pretty much be quince bread. Apicius’ second recipe suggests that quinces might have been boiled in honey for preservation. This recipe is a savory one:
Patina de cydoniis: Mala cydonia cum porris melle liquamine oleo defricato coques et inferes vel elixata ex melle. (Apicius 163)
A Dish of Quinces: Cook quinces with leek, honey, fish sauce, rubbed (?) oil or threw in thoroughly boiled in honey.
The recipe offers two versions to prepare the same dish, either cooking the fresh quinces together with the other ingredients or throwing in the already honey cooked quinces later. The second part of this savory recipe, ‘or throw in [quinces] thoroughly boiled in honey’ might be a reference to conserving quince by boiling them in honey. Potentially this was done to preserve quinces not quite free of blemish. From quinces boiled in honey for preservation to quince bread is only a small step.
Quinces remained popular in Europe into medieval times. Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) mentions quinces in her book ‘Physica’ both as food source and for medical use as a remedy for gout, excessive saliva and badly healing wounds.
IV. Quince Tree
The quince tree is very cold and of a subtlety which is assimilated, sometimes usefully, other times not. Its wood and leaves are not of much use for human beings. Its fruit is hot and dry and has good balance in it. When it is ripe and eaten raw, it harms neither a sick nor a healthy person. It is useful, cooked or roasted, for a sick person to eat. One who is virgichtiget (=suffering of gout) should frequently eat this fruit, either cooked or roasted, and it will check the gicht (=gout) in him, so that it does not blunt his senses, nor break his limbs nor leave the person helpless. One who produces much saliva should eat this fruit frequently, cooked or roasted. It will dry him up internally and diminish his saliva. Where there are ulcers or foulness on a person, one should cook or roast this fruit and place it, with other spices, over the wounds, and he will be cured. (Bingen)
The Trinity Encyclopedia from the second half of the 14th century lists a very detailed recipe for quince bread, called ‘chare de quences’, translated as ‘pâte de coing’ or ‘pâte de coing’.
§62 Pâte de coing
To make pâte de coing. Take nice quinces in season, that is between Michaelmas and Martinmas, and cut them equally in two in the middle, and take away the pips with a knife, and the core of them as well, and if there is any part of them that is rotten, pare it away with a knife as well. Then when you have as many as you want to work up at once, cleaned and prepared like that, then put them all in a nice clean pan and add clean water to it so that they lie all submerged and somewhat more, so that they can be seethed well in it. Then set your pan with your quinces over the fire and seethe them well until they are tender enough to be strained. Then when they are tender enough, take down the pan off the fire, and take out your seethed quinces from the water with a dish or with a platter and lay them in a sieve or else on a nice clean table and let the water run out from them; let them lie like that on that table or in a sieve all night still, without stirring. (Clarke 2018 – for the rest of this lengthy recipe, please check the reference)
Like the Roman recipes, this medieval recipe uses honey to preserve quinces. The recipe is from a time when sugar was just about to become available in Europe and therefore had not yet taken a crucial role in food preservation. In the quince breads presented here, I used sugar instead of honey, as the only honey I had available was brown honey from goldenrod and Japanese knotweed, which has a much stronger flavor, than a ‘nice white honey’ asked for in the recipe.
Images: Smooth skinned feral quinces to the left. Fuzzy skinned Orange quinces to the right. Orange quince cut open. The slight browning of the fruit flesh indicates that the pectin is breaking down, making the quince softer.
The first step is to core the quinces and remove all the seeds. Quince seeds – like most seeds in the Rosaceae family – contain some cyanide, so removing the seeds before cooking is a good idea. The cores themselves are very hard. After cooking, quinces were passed through a sieve, thereby removing the hard leftovers of the cores and the skin. When working with feral quinces, I followed the first cooking-then sieving approach, because these quinces proved very tedious to core and peel. With the much larger and softer Orange quinces I found it easier to simply peel and thoroughly core the quinces, before I cooked them and omitted the sieving step. The cooked peeled quince is very soft and can easily be mashed with a potato stomper like applesauce or potato mash, or run through a sieve.
Image: Quince puree ready to be sweetened. At this point it is still yellow.
It is surprising that in this recipe the boiling water is simply discarded. The water, in which quinces are boiled, is very aromatic and pleasantly fragrant. In many modern quince gelée recipes, the main focus is on the boiling water, which then gets sweetened (occasionally acidified) and thickened, while the use of the remaining pulp for the making of quince bread is treated more as an afterthought – some modern cooks apparently simply discard the pulp. This is quite a change in attitude from medieval times. Not wanting to waste the flavor in the boiling water I opted for a change in the recipe, boiling the quinces in much less water, similar to the amount one would use for applesauce and omitting the drip off stage. I found this approach frequently mentioned in German Internet publications, generally citing Hildegard from Bingen as source for the recipe. Unfortunately, none of these Internet publications provide a citation of a recipe written by the Abbess herself.
Image: Quince puree ready to be dried. The color is now orange.
Having omitted the drip-off step, my quince pulp was presumably much moister than the pulp the medieval confectioner, so therefore I only added 1/2 of the pulp weight in sugar. Initially, I followed the recipe evaporating water from the sweetened quince puree on the stove top. However, I found that the sweetened pulp is quick to stick to the pot bottom and burn, even while being stirred. Therefore, I opted for a different approach to dry the quince puree. Once all the sugar was dissolved in the quince puree, I spread the quince puree about 1/2inch deep on a backing sheet and dried it in the oven. The quince puree was still orange/yellowish in color, when I spread it onto the sheet.
I dried the feral quince puree at 220° F. Upon tasting it, I felt I might have heated it too much and therefore dried the other two purees at 180° F. By the time the puree had sufficiently dried out it had taken a red color and a somewhat glassy consistency. The drying process took about two days at the given temperatures.
Following the advice of the medieval recipe I made sure to use nice clean cookware at every step of the process.
The three quince breads presented:
Quince bread made exclusively from feral quinces. This bread has a fair level of acidity to it. The texture is leathery and chewy.
Quince bread made from Orange quince. The bread is very mild with strong quince flavor. The texture is soft, smooth and almost creamy.
Quince bread made from a combination of feral and Orange quince (ratio roughly 1:2). The texture and aroma resemble the quince bread from Orange quinces; however, the color is darker and there is a bit more acidity.
I did not use spices in this work to prevent them from overpowering the flavor differences caused by the quince varieties.
Image: Eadgytha enjoys sharing her yummy samples with the general populace present during the Kingdom A&S Championship.
Apicius Book I; 21. De Re Coquinaria Liber I. Epimeles (about honey, translation mine)
Apicius Book II; 163 Patinae Piscium, Holerum & Pomorum (Dishes of Fish, Vegetables and Apple-Fruit, translation mine)
Hildegard von Bingen’s Physica, The Complete English Translation of Her Classic Work on Health and Healing, (Translated from Latin by Priscilla Throop, 1998, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont.)
Mark Clarke, The Crafte of Lymmyng and the Manner of Staynyng, Early English Text Society, 2016
Mark Clarke, Tricks of the Medieval Trades, The Trinity Encyclopedia: A Collection of Fourteenth-Century English Craft Recipes. Archetype Publications Ltd., London, 2018
Pliny the Elder, The Natural History (John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A., Ed Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. 1855.
Exemplar at Villa di livia, affreschi di giardino, parete corta meridionale. From here.
Quince; from the Theatrum Sanitatis, Library Casanatense, Rome. From here.
Process photos by Eadgytha scripsit
Kingdom A&S Championship entry photos by Elska á Fjárfelli
Greetings from Dagonell the Juggler, the Known World Symposiums Advertising Deputy, working under the Society MoAS! Good gentles we have not one, but two KW Symposiums coming up on Labor Day Weekend!
Here is the first!
The Middle Kingdom and the Shire of Shattered Crystal invite the Known World Cooks, Bards, Brewers, and Vintners to the 8th Known World Bardic Congress and Cooks Collegium, to be held at Camp Dubois, Wood River, IL, (near St Louis) on Labor Day weekend 2019 (30-Aug-2019 – 02-Sep-2019).
198 North Main Street
Wood River, IL, 62095
Go to http://tilted-windmill.com/kwcb2019/ to see what classes are already planned; sign up to teach; suggest classes that you’d be interested in taking. Teachers still needed. Register Now!!!
Make checks payable to SCA – Barony of Shattered Crystal. Send reservations to:
Kenda Mc Cormack
4711 Culp Ln
Bethalto, IL, 62010 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lodging Options: We anticipate that most attendees will choose to camp. There is plenty of space available. There are no fees for camping. Bunk Space: We have a total of 32 bunks available (16 top and 16 bottom) at $5 each for the weekend. Pre-reg for bunks with paid registration fees. Hotel options listed on the website. http://tilted-windmill.com/kwcb2019/
Accessibility: This is a primitive site. The indoor bathrooms are handicapped-accessible. Beyond that, we’re working under 1800s-like conditions.
Electrical Availability: Electricity is in very short supply. The entire site runs on two breakers. There are plans to augment that slightly with a small solar farm. This should help out with recharging small electronics – cell phones, camera batteries, and the like. We do not expect to be able to charge Larger devices such as CPAPs, marine batteries, or laptops on site.
Sent to us by Mistress Illadore from her 2019 Gulf Wars meal plan for the Æthelmearc encampment.
Viva la France! Let us eat like Queens!
A historical review of French Cookbooks and French Queens
History lessons on French Queens, based on French cooking manuscripts available at the time. Let us eat like queens.
Monday – Joan I of Navarre. She was the Queen Consort to Philip IV of France, who was emotionally dependent on her. Mother of the She-Wolf of France (Isabella, Queen of England) and the last Capet King, whose death started the 100 Years War. She had her first child at 15, raised and led an army at 24, and died at 32.
Period Manuscript: Enseignements qui enseingnent a apareillier toutes manieres de viands. Early French cookery book from 1300, well used as it’s covered in food stains. Considered to be the oldest cookbook in France. Cooks comments – this cookbook is almost entirely nothing but meat. I had to use other non-French recipe books to help fill out the menu.
Here’s a recipe from Monday:
Grilled Pork Chops with Green Garlic and Onion Gravy
Original translation found here (c) 2005 Daniel Myers, MedievalCookery.com, Lines 13-18
4 pork chops
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp ground pepper (or to preference)
1/2 tsp grains of paradise (or to preference)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
corn starchGrill pork chops. While the pork chops are grilling, add the garlic, onion, together in a pot and fry in olive oil until slight brown. Add spices to the pot and then add enough water to make it a bit wet. Make a cornstarch slurry and use to thicken until it because more of a sauce. Serve with the pork chops.Discussion: The recipe calls for pork loin but pork chops are cheaper and easier to cook in the woods on a grill. Cornstarch is not period; however, we had gluten-free folks for dinner so compromises were made. The grains of paradise are not required. You could try other spices like ginger or long pepper. This sauce was very well received by the diners.
By Meadbh ni Clerigh and Elska á Fjárfelli Dominion of Myrkfaelinn
November 12 marked our first Sunday A&S practice: “Redaction Challenge,” organized by Lady Meadbh ni Clerigh for both adults and youth. She distributed the challenge recipes, at practice and online, two weeks prior. The basic idea: interpret a medieval recipe, then taste-test the result with all in attendance. We could participate at any level, from basic follow-the-instructions cook to freestyle chef.
Tart de Bry, a 14th century English cheese quiche or pie
The challenge gives the original recipe transcription, a modern translation of the recipe, and then one cook’s modern interpretation. Your challenge is to make that same recipe, which we’ll then share with all attendees. Use the modern interpretation, or go to the original and make your own version! Write down the proportions you used, and the steps, to accompany your creation. We’ll taste and compare, and share recipes.
BUT WAIT! There’s more!
Our young chefs-in-training have an option to participate as well! I have a second, simpler, concoction for the younger cooks (Rice Mould, 15th century). Encourage your mini-mes to give it a try!
With those words, we all set down to do some serious cooking!
The first Facebook post showed up Saturday evening, from Armegard: “Our interpretation of Tart de Bry is out of the oven. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow and see what everyone else comes up with!” That post was quickly followed the next day by a handful of delicious shots of sumptuous tarts, ready for the tasting. From Don Matteo Pesci: “Our Tart for the redaction challenge. Taste you soon!”
Simon and Angelika’s Tart de Bry, as posted on Facebook. (photo by Simon)
We brought six different Tarts de Bry (and two Rice Moulds) to practice in total. Big thanks to all who participated in our first redaction challenge! It was amazing to see, and taste, how one recipe turned into six very different tarts!
Each tart was delicious, in its own way. We loved having the two gluten-free options made by Angelika and Don Matteo Pesci. Elska loved the aged cheese version, which was by far the most savory interpretation. The bread cheese tart had a wonderful bouncy consistency, and the goat cheese version was the sweetest of all. Elska had assumed from the sugar ingredient that it was supposed to be more like cheesecake, and due to the freshness of the goat cheese it even had an otherwise unexpected delicate hint of lemon.
Same recipe, different cooks – six wonderful tarts, all wonderfully different!
Left to right: Angelica, Armegard, Meadbh, Algirdas, Elska. (photo by Algirdas)
Notes on the challenge format
With the thought that not everyone in the Dominion has contemplated medieval cooking, the impetus behind the challenge is to get folks baking like a 14th century boss. To that end, Meadbh used the following rough guidelines:
The recipe needs to be approachable for a medieval food newbie and average (or busy!) cook.
The first few recipes shouldn’t contain too many exotic spices at one time (but those who participate will find themselves with many fancy spices to work with for future dishes).
Since we lack kitchen facilities at the meeting hall, find recipes that don’t hinge on being served hot.
When trying a meat-based recipe, offer a vegetarian challenge as well.
Keep it economical.
Desserts (or foods) that …
Don’t have too many steps/ingredients, with …
Flavors that are kid-friendly.
The youth recipes are geared towards kids who are comfortable in the kitchen with no or little supervision, so as not to burden the parents with two work-intensive recipes to make. Medieval flavors can be challenging to a modern child’s palate, so our challenges might be dessert-heavy at first.
Myrkfaelinn’s challenge and results:
The original recipe
From Hieatt & Butlers’ 14th century Curye on Inglish:
174. Tart de Bry. Take a crust ynche depe in a trap. Take yolkes of ayren rawe & chese ruayn & medle it & þe yolkes togyder. Do þerto powdour gynger, sugur, safroun, and salt. Do it in a trap; bake it & serue it forth.
Gode Cookery translation: Tartee. Make a pie crust an inch deep in a pie pan. Take yolks of eggs raw & Autumn cheese & mix it & the yolks together. Do there-to powder ginger, sugar, saffron, and salt. Do it in a pie shell; bake it & serve it forth.
Ingredients suggested: One 9-inch pie shell, raw egg yolks, cheese (semi-soft, but not so soft that it can’t be grated), ginger (powder), sugar, saffron, and salt.
Learning opportunities: “Pie crust” and “cheese.” This recipe provided an opportunity for folks to research cheeses available to a 14th century cook, and to play with what “pie crust” meant and how to make it.
Left to right: Meadbh, Marie’s rice mould, Matteo, Elska, Angelika, Simon’s rice mould, Armegard.
Algirdas and Aldanza Wolthus:
Filling: 6 yolks, 15 oz. basket cheese (fresh cheese made the previous morning from whole cow’s milk and cream), 1 Tbsp sugar, 8-10 strands powdered saffron, and 1 tsp salt.
Crust: butter, lard, einkorn flour, wheat flour, and water.
Result: between sweet and savory, with a smooth filling.
Angelika and Simon St. Laurent:
Filling: 6 yolks, 0.64 lb. Fontina and 0.32 lb. Bucherondin cheeses, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 cup sugar, 6 saffron threads, and 1/4 tsp salt, with the sugar sprinkled on top of the tart.
Crust: 2 cups oat flour, 1-1/2 sticks butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and 5 Tbsp cold water.
Result: savory – strong cheese flavor.
The mother and daughter team of Armegard and Emily:
Filling: 4 yolks, 32 oz. ricotta cheese, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 4 Tbsp white sugar, a few threads of saffron, and a dash of salt.
Crust: a store-bought shell.
Result: sweet – close to a modern cheesecake.
Elska á Fjárfelli:
Filling: 12 yolks, chevre (fresh goat’s cheese started Saturday and strained Sunday morning), 1 cup sugar, no saffron, and a pinch of salt.
Crust: 2 cups flour (wheat and all-purpose), 2 sticks butter, 3/4 cup sugar, and some cold water.
Result: sweet – close to a cheesecake, with notes of lemon.
Don Matteo and Alden:
Filling: 12 egg yolks, 8 oz. cheese (gouda-ish, grated); 2 tsp grated ginger; 2 Tbsp honey; 1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed; and 1/4 tsp salt.
Crust: 1-1/2 cups oat flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Result: savory – smooth texture.
And last but not least: Meadbh ni Clerigh
Filling: Wisconsin Bread cheese (grated), powder fine, and some ground saffron threads.
Crust (based on Paest Royall from A Proper New Booke of Cookery, 1545): 2 cups flour, 2 egg yolks, 2/3 cup butter, and 3-4 Tbsp cold water.
Result: savory – more spongy texture, with balance of saffron and powder fine spice notes.
Myrkfaelinn youth redaction challenge #1
Rys (15th century), found in Seven Hundred Years of English Cooking:
Take a porcyoun of Rys & pyke hem clene, & seethe hem welle & late hem kele; then take gode Mylke of Almaundys & do ther-to, & seethe & stere hem wyle; & do ther-to sugne an hony, & seue forth.
Modern redaction: Pour the rice into the boiling water, stir, and then simmer until tender. Drain. Return the rice to a smaller saucepan, add the almond milk, sugar, and honey, and stir well. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently, stirring continually, for 10-12 minutes or until thick. Allow to cool. Pour into an oiled mold and chill. Turn out and serve.
Ingredients suggested: 1/2 cup rice, 2-1/2 cups water, 2-1⁄2 cups almond milk, 1⁄4 cup sugar, and 4 Tbsp honey.
Two of the youth participated in this challenge. Simon made his with red rice, sugar, honey, and almond milk; but the red rice would not set, so his mom ended up putting the stick blender in to get it to gel. It was yummy, but next time, no extra sugar: the honey is enough!
Mary of Harford made hers with basmati rice: double the rice and milk, but not the sugar and honey (which was a good call).
Both rice moulds were outstanding, but it was thought that maybe next time use a short-grain rice, like dessert rice, and see how much a difference that makes. They were, however, very nice dessert dishes. The mild rice flavor blended well with the sugar, honey, and almond milk flavors. These are strong contenders for economical dessert dishes at a feast. They are easy to prepare, can be made in advance, and are served cold.
What’s next for the Dominion cooks?
Meadbh’s second challenge is dual: powder fine and powder forte. She advised us to think of these powders like curry—everyone has their own preferred blend of spices. So despite having a recipe to follow, we were encouraged to think of these recipes more as guidelines and come up with our own flavor profile! They won’t sit in our cupboards, either – Meadbh plans to bring more challenges this winter, which include using one or the other as an ingredient.
Since the adult challenge is less time intensive, she upped the youth challenge. This time, they’re charged to make a medieval mac and cheese: Makerouns from Forme of Cury (14th century).
Inspired by Harvest Raid’s A&S Competition theme, “The Harvest,” I decided to make something to enter in the competition with a fruit harvested from our own homestead orchard. As we were blessed with many peaches this year, I chose to make a peach ginger conserve, modernly called a jam.
But what I found when researching jams was something I did not expect. While preserving fruits has always been a staple of the medieval kitchen, looking deeper into the subject I found that preserving fruit as a jam was not. The word “jam” began to creep into manuscript cookery books in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, and into the printed ones early in the eighteenth. It might have had a Middle Eastern origin, as there is an Arabic word—jam—which means “close-packed” or “all together.” From its more general usage in English for things that were jammed against one another, the word passed into the realm of confectionery to indicate those preserves where soft fruits cooked with sugar were crushed together, rather than sieved, and could thus be described as “jammed” or “in a jam.”
In period, fruits were preserved in sweet, spiced syrups of wine and sugar or honey, or in the form of solid marmalades. Syrup preserves are found in sources starting with Apicius, a collection of 4th to 5th century Roman cookery recipes, and solid marmalade recipes have been found as early as the 14th century. The spreadable, soft-fruit preserve we currently know as jams and jellies are usually sealed up in preserving jars or cans of some kind, which is necessary to avoid spoilage like mold. Recipes for soft jams and jellies are mostly found from the eighteenth century up, when canning also became a possibility. A storage technique that could have been used in period, and has been used post period, is using some kind of vessel like a ceramic jar that is topped with a brandy-soaked disk of parchment and then covered with melted tallow or beeswax.
An interesting nugget is the idea that the word “marmalade” originally came from “Marie malade,” or sick Mary, because marmalade was regularly made for Mary Queen of Scots to keep her healthy. “Marmalade” actually comes via French from the Portuguese marmelada and means quince jelly. The earliest reference to marmalade is from 1524—18 years before the birth of Queen Mary—when one box of marmalade was presented to the king (it was an expensive delicacy). The French condoignac and chardequynce are antecedents of the marmalade we know today and are themselves descendants from the cidonitum of 4th-century Palladius. The medieval malomellus was a term used both for the fruit quince and for the conserve; the modern Portuguese for the fruit is still marmelo.
My recipe was a mix of “Old Fashioned Peach Preserves” and “Ginger Jam” from The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest. Because this conserve is meant to be preserved, as advised by the FDA I used a modern conserving recipe to make sure it canned safely. All ingredients, taken separately, were available in period, including the lemon juice, but due to the lack of canning technology not necessarily used in this manner. The quinces in the period recipe are used to thicken the marmalade so it is solid, as it is very high in pectin.
Even though the conserve in this form is technically not period, it was well received in the competition and many samples were tasted. Spiced peach preserves and peach ginger conserves are favorites in our household, and I was happy to be able to share our bountiful harvest with the many gentles visiting the Harvest Raid A&S Display and Competition.
PERIOD INSPIRATION RECIPES:
This 15th century Portuguese recipe indicates peaches were used in conserves:
60 – Pessegada. Cortem ao meio duas partes de pêssego e uma de marmelo, e levem-nas a cozer, em separado. Depois que estiverem cozidas, passem tudo por uma peneira fina. A seguir, ajuntem tanto açúcar quanto for o peso da massa, e levem o tacho ao fogobrando. Deixem atingir o ponto de marmelada, e coloquem o doce em caixetas.
Peach Marmalade. Cut in half two parts of peach and one of quince, and cook them separately. After they are cooked, put everything through a fine sieve. Next, add a like amount of sugar to the weight of the paste, and take the pot to a low heat. Allow it to reach the point of marmalade, and place the confection in little boxes.
From A Treatise of Portuguese Cuisine from the 15th Century.
This 16th – 17th century recipe indicates boiling to candy height (interpreted as sheeting):
#S112 TO MAKE A PASTE OF PEACHES
Take peaches & boyle them tender, as you did your apricocks, & strayne them. then take as much sugar as they weigh & boyle it to candy height. mix ym together, & make it up into paste as you doe yr other fruit. soe dry them and use it at your pleasure. Peel and slice peaches. Bring them to a boil over medium heat in a thick pan. Cover pan, stirring occasionally. Add a little rosewater if desired.
From A Booke of Sweetmeats, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, 1550-1650.
This 1608 recipe indicates ginger was used in spicing conserves:
To make rough-red Marmelade of Quinces, commonly called lump-Marmelade, that shall looke as red as any rubie.
Pare ripe and well coloured Peare-quinces, and cut them in pieces like dice, parboile them very tender, or rather reasonably tender in faire water, then powre them into a Colender, and let the water runne from them into a cleane Bason, then straine that water through a strainer into a Posnet [skillet], for if there be any grauell in the Quinces, it will be in that water : Then take the weight of the Quinces in double refined Sugar very fine, put halfe thereof into the Posnet, into the water with a graine of Muske, a slice or two of Ginger tied in a thrid, and let it boile couered close, vntill you see your sugar come to the colour of Claret wine, then vncouer it and take out your Ginger, and so let it boile vntill your sirupe being to consume away, then take it off the fire, and pomice it with a ladle, and so stirre it and coole it, and it will looke thick like tart-stuffe, then put in your other halfe of your Sugar, and so let it boile, always stirring it vntill it come from the bottome of the Posnet, then box it, and it will looke red like a Rubie, the putting of the last Sugar brings it to an orient colour.
A Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen, 1608.
Costenbader, Carol W. The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest. Storey Publishing, 1997.
Looking for something to do at War Practice? Wishing to try your hand at a new art?
Come to the Great Hall and do just that!
In addition to classes in music and dance, and an embroidery salon run by THL Cristina inghean Ghriogair, you can try calligraphy and illumination under the helpful guidance of Mistress Yvianne de Castel d’Avignon and Mistress Liadin ní Chléirigh na Coille, play with fibers with Mistress Mahin Banu Tabrizi, or try cooking over an open fire with Mistress Katla úlfheþinn.
Scribal play time and the embroidery salon will run 3pm to 6pm on Friday; on Saturday, the various play times will be from 10am to 4pm. Stop in and try your hand at something new – embroidery, calligraphy, illumination, cooking, weaving in between attending the classes being run in the Hall. Or stop in and lend a hand to one of the areas, or just come spend the day doing something you love and sharing it with others!
Looking forward to the day.
Baroness Orianna Fridrikskona
Deputy Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the Pennsic Arts & Sciences War Point.
This Pennsic included a War Point for Arts and Sciences for only the second time in the history of the War. The first time an Arts & Sciences competition was a Pennsic War Point was 20 years ago, in the first reign of Timothy and Gabrielle as King and Queen of the East. Their Majesties and the entrants all hope we won’t have to wait so long for it to happen again after the success of this year’s competition.
Each side chose 14 champions (plus alternates) to represent them, with none being Laurels. The entrants displayed their items on Wednesday of War Week in Æthelmearc’s Royal Encampment. All items had to be anonymous as to both creator and kingdom. Gentles from all the Kingdoms of the Known World were invited to view the entries, and those with Arts and Sciences awards from their Kingdom were given three beads to bestow on the entries they liked best, either all to one entry or distributed among multiple entries. Judging took place from 9am to 3pm, and then the artisans were encouraged to return to stand by their entries and answer any questions that visitors might pose from 3 to 5 pm.
We proudly present an overview of the entries created by Æthelmearc’s Arts and Sciences Champions.
Lady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne of the Barony of Thescorre entered a calligraphed and illuminated page of music for the motet “Deus in Aujitorium” based on a folio from the Montpellier Code, a significant source of 13th and 14th century French polyphonic musical manuscripts. In her documentation, she discussed how she prepared the goatskin parchment, made quill pens, bought inks and paints made using medieval recipes, and gilded the piece with 24K loose leaf gold. You can read more about her entry here under the link “Preparing a Late Period Medieval Music Manuscript: Deus in Aujitorium.”
Scroll by Lady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Closeup of Lady Máirghréad’s scroll. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
THLady Álfrún ketta of the Shire of Sylvan Glen, who received the Fleur d’Æthelmearc at Kingdom Court the night before the competition, had an extensive collection of weaving samples based on finds from a variety of archaeological sites in Scandinavia. In a binder, she displayed numerous pages of photos of the period cloth on the left, with explanations about how each piece was made, along with a sample woven to match the original artifact on the right side. She also displayed larger samples of her weaving along with information about wool production (and the evolution of the Northern European sheep) as well as how wool was processed and used in period. You can read more about her entry on her website.
Viking weaving by THLady Álfrún ketta. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
THLady Renata la rouge of the Shire of Hartstone (formerly of Heronter) embroidered a 16th century sword hanger with a Pelican motif in metallic threads. It was originally inspired by a Swedish sword hanger from the reign of Gustavus Adolphus, 1594-1632, which is housed in the Collections of the Royal Armouries, Sweden, but the design is loosely based on a goldwork book cover from Cambridge, 1629, which includes a Pelican. The embroidery is of a raised nature, but the stitches are satin stitch and surface couching. You can read more about THL Renata’s entry here.
Metallic embroidered sword hanger by THLady Renata la rouge. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Lady Abigail Kelhoge of the Shire of Hartstone created a breeching gown, which was worn by both girls and boys during their toddler years throughout the High Middle Ages and Renaissance. It allowed them to walk and made diaper changing easier. The hand-sewn outfit included a biggin (white linen cap), a blackwork linen shirt with ruffles on the cuffs and collar, a long coat or petticoat with buttons down the front, and a long gown with hanging sleeves, fur-lined for warmth. More information about her entry is available on her website.
A child’s breeching gown by Lady Abigail Kelhoge. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Baron Artemius Andreas Magnus of the Barony of Delftwood created a stained glass panel based on a German piece at the Cloisters in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC that dates to 1260-1270. Measuring 9-1/16″ square, it’s an image of the Prophet King from a Tree of Jesse window. His Excellency spoke to a curator at the museum about the piece, in the process helping him to correct some errors in the information posted about it online. He made most of the lead cames by hand until his mold broke, then also made the stain for the details on the king’s face as well as the solder for the project, both using period recipes and techniques. You can read His Excellency’s documentation for the project here and here.
Stained glass by Baron Artemius Andreas Magnus. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Closeup of Baron Artemius’ stained glass. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Duke Christopher Rawlins of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, who was elevated to the Laurel the day after the competition, entered a 14th century arming jacket based on the one worn by Edward, the Black Prince, of England. His Grace visited the site of the Prince’s tomb in Canterbury and did extensive research into how the arming jacket was constructed. Then, through wearing multiple reproductions of it while fighting, Duke Christopher determined that it had to have been worn over the fighter’s arm harness rather than under it as is common among SCA fighters.
14th c. Arming Jacket by Duke Chrisopher Rawlins. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Lord Silvester Burchardt of the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais created a tablet woven brocaded band. According to Lord Silvester’s documentation, “Brocading is a technique that uses one or more secondary weft threads to create patterns on the surface of woven fabric. These additional weft threads are not a structural element of the fabric. Because the brocade threads bridge across the surface of the fabric, they need to be “tied down” to the fabric at various locations; these “tie down” points become an integral part of the design.” Rather than basing his design on a single exemplar, he chose to use a range of period pieces from central Europe in the 9th through 13th centuries as models, but designed the band to show his own animals (including chickens, ducks, a dog, and even a parakeet) as they actually appear in life. You can read more about his entry here.
Brocade tablet weaving by Lord Silvester Burchardt. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Lord Enzo de Pazi of the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael created an ornate bascinet for Duchess Eanor of Ealdormere, complete with ducal coronet and motto, chainmail aventail, and an elaborate faceplate. The helm is made of 4130 spring steel, commonly called “chromoly” in industrial terms. The motto was acid etched into the coronet, which was made of brass with cast bronze strawberry leaves.
Ducal Helmet by Lord Enzo de Pazi. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
THLady Jacqueline deMolieres of the Shire of Abhain Ciach Ghlais created a red velvet pouch with pearls sewn in the shape of a rose. Her Ladyship says in her documenation, “If you were a lady in the late Medieval period, a red velvet pouch embellished with pearls would… communicate to the world that this is a lady of wealth and importance. This pouch is not a replica of a particular item, but rather is made up of elements of various items; i.e., drawstring, beads, pearl appliqué, gold couched outline, tassel, etc. The time frame is 1450 to 1600. The area would be anywhere in Europe, most likely England, France or Germany.” You can read more about her entry here.
Pearled pouch by THLady Jacqueline de Molieres. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Donnchaidh.
THLord Ian O’Kennavain of the Shire of Heronter’s sugar soteltie was easily the largest entry in the competition. His Lordship noted, “I wanted to exhibit a few different ways to create sculpture from sugar, so the display is comprised of three main elements: a fountain of sugar paste, a 20 lb. turtle cast in “grained” sugar and a pear tree made from free-formed sugar paste over an armature of wire, printed sugar paste leaves and cast sugar plate pears.” The fountain’s design is based on one in Perugia, Italy called the Fontana Maggiore that was constructed between 1277 and 1278 by the sculptors Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano. “Using this for inspiration, I crafted two octagonal basins depicting the arms of the 20 SCA Kingdoms and the 4 peerages topped with a column supported bowl shaped basin.” You can learn more about his entry here.
Sugar soteltie by THLord Ian O’Kennavain. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Closeup of THLord Ian’s rosewater fountain soteltie. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
THLord Kieran MacRae of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands designed an ornate calligraphed page based on folio 67 of the 16th century Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta. The capitals are created to function as an H, N, and R. There was no illumination as the entry focused on the calligraphy of the original artist, Georg Bocskay, imperial secretary to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. The scroll was a tiny 6.5″ x 4.75″ in size. To learn more, click here.
Calligraphy by THLord Kieran MacRae. Photo by Lord Kieran.
Closeup of THL Kieran’s scroll. Photo by THL Kieran.
Baroness Betha Symonds of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands created wire wrapped hooks. These are based on items from archeological finds ranging from Viking age to Tudor English. These hooks could have been used for a variety of purposes; one set was found near the legs in a Viking burial, leading scholars to believe they might have been used to fasten wrapped leggings. You can read Her Excellency’s documentation here.
Viking wire weaving clasps by Baroness Betha Symonds. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Viscountess Rosalinde Ashworthe created a piece of tablet-woven trim based on a band found among the relics of Chelles Abbey. Chelles Abbey was founded in 658 by Queen Bathilde, wife of Clovis II, on the ruins of an old chapel belonging to Queen Clothtilde, wife of Clovis I in 511. Her Excellency says in her documentation, “I wanted something in a warp float technique (also known as Snartemo style) for its high level of complexity, and because I enjoy weaving this technique.” Viscountess Rosalinde is an Æthelmearc treaty subject who has lived in Nithgaard and Thescorre, and soon will be moving to the Debatable Lands. More information about her entry is available here.
Tablet weaving by Viscountess Rosalinde Ashworth. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Lady Sumayya al Ghaziyah of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands was an alternate champion. She crafted 16th c. Ottoman Turkish leather slippers with inlaid designs, along with wood and leather nalin, which were used by women in bathhouses to keep the wearer above the soap and water of the bathhouse floor. You can read more about her entry here.
Leather slippers and wood and leather nalins by Lady Sumayya al Ghaziyah. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Of course, these are just the Æthelmearc Champions. The East and Middle had their own champions, and they did win the War Point. But we’ll let their Kingdoms tell their stories.
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope attended the Æthelwald Proving Ground event in the Shire of Sunderoak on June 20, A.S. 50, and reports on the activities held there.
This was the Shire of Sunderoak’s second Æthelwald Proving Ground, which is focused primarily on martial activities. Despite some rain that began in the late morning and persisted for much of the afternoon, the gentles in attendance got a lot of good, fun practice in their respective areas.
Sir Alonzio of the Peacemakers ran a class on spear, and then worked the fighters through a strategy he calls “Piggly Wiggly.” Why? “I’d been working on this strategy for a few years, and people told me I had to give it a name. I thought Piggly Wiggly would be memorable, and it kind of fits since I tend to be dancing around as I demonstrate the technique,” Sir Alonzio said.
Fighters executing the “Piggly Wiggly” strategy.
The Piggly Wiggly strategy is useful in a mixed line of spears and shields, as in a bridge or gate battle. The idea is that as the spears are fencing with each other, a shieldman who spots a weak point in the opposing line can charge through it and create a hole for his team to follow.
Heavy fighters spent the morning working on this technique using a resurrection bridge battle, and then took a break for lunch, returning to work on shield techniques and practice melees using that shieldwork. Sir Steffan Ulfkellson, the Kingdom Warlord, oversaw the heavy muster.
After some individual warmup bouts, Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta, Kingdom Rapier Warlord, had the fencers focus on small unit techniques, and in particular how to fend off larger numbers. There were rounds of 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 fights, as well as a line battle in which each side’s goal was to push the other backward over a line across the center of the field in order to control that line. Lord Robert MacEwin described it as “kind of like tug of war but with stabbing instead of ropes.”
Countess Elena d’Artois, Lord Cyrus Augur, and Lord Jacob of Dunmore practicing 2-on-1 melees
After each round of fencing, Maestro Orlando had the fencers analyze and discuss what had happened and how to do better, then repeat the exercise so they could learn from the experience.
Maestro Orlando oversees the fencers practicing melee techniques
Five youth fighters, all Division 1 (ages 6-9), armored up, three of them for their first time. Lady Ceindrech verch Elidir and Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope ran the kids through the rules and showed them how to throw blows and block with shields or weapons, then held an informal bear pit with assistance from Lord Weasel, so each fighter got plenty of bouts in.
New youth fighters learning the rules from Lady Ceindrech
Their spirits undampened by the rain, the youth fighters then fought a series of open field melees with teams in various combinations, including a final melee which was, by the fighters’ request, girls vs. boys. Youth fighting ended with brownies for the combatants and marshals. After removing their armor, the youth fighters announced that they were all friends now, and spent the rest of the afternoon playing together in cheerful camaraderie.
Youth fighter melee
THLady Meadhbh inghean ui Bhaoghill, current King’s Equestrian Champion, organized the equestrian activities, designing and running the morning competition that mirrored the planned Kingdom Equestrian Champion’s course. Mistress Shoshido Tora Gozen commented, “It was a challenge course based on the Devonshire Tapestry, which depicts various hunting scenes through the woods, hunting swans, boars, etc. It included numerous obstacles as well as the traditional tests of skills like the rings and quintain. Riders were allotted a certain amount of time to complete the course, with penalties for going over and points gained for successful completion of each test.” Mistress Gozen won the competition while Lady Tommasa Isolana won the award for the most improvement between rounds one and two.
Mistress Shoshido Tora Gozen and THLady Meadhbh inghean ui Bhaoghill. Photo by Kathleen of Sunderoak.
Unfortunately, the rain caused footing to become treacherous, curtailing the planned afternoon training activities in Mounted to Ground Combat. After the equestrians broke down the course, THL Meadhbh then took Lady Tommasa as her Equerry, or equestrian student, under the Golden Lance.
Lady Maeve ni Siurtain and Mistress Gozen. Photo by Kathleen of Sunderoak.
The other big activities of the day were all food-related. The lady Jerngerd from Sunderoak provided a very tasty lunch consisting of mushroom pastries, honeyed chicken, beef stew, lemon cakes, ginger cake, bread, borscht, salt potatoes, various pickled veggies, and cucumbers. Anyone who went home hungry had only themselves to blame as the food was both delicious and plentiful.
In addition, Master Creador Twinedragon ran Creador’s Summer Cooking Challenge, a cooking competition to judge the best dish using summer ingredients based on a medieval recipe. There were two entrants, Rachel MacMichael and THLady Elss of Augsburg. THL Elss won with her Tart of Strawberye, found in Pleyn Delit, which did an excellent job of representing the summer theme. Elss won the prize of a day of service from Master Creador in the kitchen or otherwise. However, Master Creador was also impressed with the three Hungarian dishes of Chicken Paprikash, Nokedli, and Haluski that Rachel entered, so he decided to award her an unannounced prize of a consultation with him on an entry, menu, or research. “I look forward to working with both of them in the future,” said Master Creador.
Despite the rain, the autocrat, Sir Thorgrim Skullsplitter, was pleased with the event. “Everyone had fun, so I’m happy,” he said.
All photos not otherwise credited are by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Milk was an important ingredient in medieval cookery. The problem with animal milk (milk from cows, goats, and sheep) was that it had a very limited shelf life. Also, the taste and quality of milk changed with the seasons and with the feed of the animals. Add to that the fact that animal milk was prohibited on fast and lean days. To get around these issues, medieval cooks turned to other sources for milk. Almonds, as well as hazelnuts and walnuts, can be turned into a milk-like substance.
Like animal milk, almond milk can by churned into butter, can thicken sauces and carry fat soluble flavors. Since it contains no animal products, almond milk could be enjoyed on fast and lean days and during Lent. Almond milk also had a more consistent flavor than animal milk and does not spoil easily. It could be made as needed and any excess could be stored for several weeks. While it was an ingredient in many dishes, almond milk was also consumed just like animal milk; by the glass. It was recommended, by physicians, as “blessed with qualities that were very close to the healthy human temperament”  and was prescribed for those who were sick or had digestive problems.
From Du fait de cuisine: 28. And again, flans of almond milk: according to the quantity of flans which you are making take the quantity of almonds, have them well and cleanly blanched and washed and then have them very well brayed; and take very clean fair water and let him strain his almond milk into a bowl or a cornue which is fair and clean according to the quantity of flans which he should make….
From Le Viandier de Taillevent: Take peeled almonds, crush very well in a mortar, steep in water boiled and cooled to lukewarm, strain through cheesecloth, and boil your almond milk on a few coals for an instant or two.
The redaction from A Boke of Gode Cookery 1 cup ground almonds 2 cups boiling water Combine almonds and water. Steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sieve the mixture to remove coarse grains OR (preferably) blend mixture in electric blender until grains are absorbed. Yield – 2 cups almond milk.
The redaction from Medieval Cookery 2 cups blanched almonds 3 cups hot water Grind almonds until fine, almost like flour. Pour hot water into almonds, mixing well. Allow to soak for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl, discarding solids (they can be used again with more water, but the resulting almond milk will be thinner and won’t work as well in recipes)
My method is as follows: 1 cup whole, blanched almonds 2 cups boiling water Grind the almonds by hand, using a mortar and pestle: grind until you end up with a gritty paste. This will take a while, but the finer the paste is, the better the end result will be. Once you have achieved paste, set two cups of water to the heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Once you have a rolling boil, add the almond paste and take the water off of the heat. Let the mixture steep for ten minutes, stirring every few minutes. After ten minutes, Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, make sure to squeeze all of the liquid from the cloth. Be careful, the liquid will hot. Cover the almond milk and let it cool on the counter. Once cool, feel free to drink the milk or use it for cooking. In a sealed container, your almond milk will last about a week on the counter, or up to three weeks in the ‘fridge.
By following this method you will end up with something with the taste and consistency of almond-flavored skim milk, and while it can thicken a sauce like milk or cream, it doesn’t do it as well or as quickly. Also, the almond flavor doesn’t cook out. Further, almonds have no sugar, so almond milk isn’t sweet like cow or goat milk. Modern, mass-produced almond milk is not the same thing as our period product: they are vitamin fortified, with extra fat, sugar and emulsifiers added to give them the flavor, and mouth-feel, of cow milk.
A purely modern method would be to put a cup of blanched almonds in a bar blender with two cups of hot water and blend until smooth. The bar blender will whip air into the mixture and pulverize the almonds, releasing more of the drupe’s natural emulsifiers, thickening the liquid. Like modern almond milk, the bar-blender method would give you almond milk closer in mouth feel to cow milk than what you would attain with hand grinding the almonds.
You can use the same method to make milk from hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans, but I do not know of any documentation for pecan milk before the American revolution.
 Master Chiquart, Du Fait du Cuisine
 I’ve never had sheep milk before.  Almonds are drupes, not nuts.
Le Viandier De Taillevent: 14th Century Cookery, Based on the Vatican Library Manuscript. Authors Taillevent, James Prescott. Translated by James Prescott. Contributor Biblioteca apostolica vaticana. Edition 2, illustrated. Alfarhaugr Pub. Society, 1989.