The Cook-A-Long is a virtual kitchen for Medieval and Renaissance Cooking enthusiasts in the SCA. Each month a period recipe will be posted in the original language (when available) and a translation. All cooks are encouraged to try their hand at redacting and preparing the monthly dish and post his/ her results to the blog. If you are interested in becoming a participant in this cook a long, or would like to submit a dish for the month please send an e-mail to valkyr8 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

To seeth fresh salmon

Good morrow, gentle friends: ye omble scribe Merouda Pendray greets you.

I do a lot of cooking on my own, just because I like to experiment with medieval cooking and I often find event offerings are not able to adequately meet either my curiosity, my desire for authenticity, or my dietary issues.

This fine fall afternoon I'm trying a salmon recipe cited in Lorna Sass's "To the Queen's Taste" and on Godecookery at In truth, I am essentially following the Godecokery redaction, except I have substituted bay leaves for parsley (as I have no parsley) and am using fresh herbs--bay, rosemary, thyme--from my garden. I have also cooked the fish on the stovetop, low fire, as it will make the house too hot to use the oven, and there's nothing in the original that states "put it in dish and cover it wH coles until it be done enow" or some such thing.

The sauce doesn't seem to affect the taste much. Essentially, there is not much difference in the taste from a decent brand of canned salmon. The flesh is a bit nicer in texture. But it's ready for a meal, and we'll see how it goes.

Also on the stove: turnip greens. I briefly glanced at Goodcokery for a turnip green receipt, and only found a mention that "women know how to cook that so I'm not putting it in my cookbook." So I grazed through my Platina and noted a couple of recipes for unspecified "herbs". The greens are on the stove now with a bit of sugar and olive oil, and I'm thinking a bit of mustard with the salmon, another dose of oil on the greens, and some rice might make a nice little late period supper for us. I'll edit this later to record how it all came out.

Edt, 3:17 PM

There's the meal. The salmon was fine with a subtle touch of mustard. The turnip greens were really, really bitter, and I spent some time digging through my period cookbooks looking for evidence of greens (spinach, potherbs, whatever, something other than cabbage [i.e., marry cabboges]) cooked with a milk/yogurt sauce in order to ease the bitterness, but most of my reputable sources only offered a butter sauce.

So, I cooked two pounds of turnip greens in a change of water, with the second change of water containing some sugar and some olive oil, based on two receipts in Platina, titled simply, "Brew."


Plunge herbs into boiling water and take them out again immediately and cut them up finely. When they have been cut up, then grind them in a mortar. When they are well pounded, let them boil until they are cooked, after adding sugar in the right amount.


Herbs are cut up and cooked as was said before, and simmered in rich juice either from meat or oil and butter.

Once the greens were boiled, I drained them and added butter. However, the bitterness was still so great that I ended up mixing the greens with the rice on the plate. The combination of the bitter, buttered herbs and bland rice was enough to make a reasonably tasty side dish, if not precisely what the receipt called for.

The beets are commercially prepared, added to the meal because I totally love beets and beets are period. ;-)

Suggestions for modifying this meal completely welcome. One of the things that will be apparent in my posts is that I have need to follow a modified fat, low-egg, low-soy regime, so many of my choices in redacting will be about cooking foods that are both recognizable to medieval person and tasty to a person who can't use egg yolks, should use olive oils or fat-free yogurts rather than butter, et cetera. This would be why I was looking for a herbs in a dairy sauce receipt, but the only thing I had to hand with lots of vegetables (cabbage, onions, spinach) in dairy sauce would be
SALLETS, HUMBLES, & SHREWSBURY CAKES, hardly the best respected cookbook out there.


1 comment:

Liz said...

That looks like such a lovely dish. In boiling turnips it is recommended to add salt to the water to help aleviate the bitter taste. I wonder how well this approach would do for the greens?

I thought the addition of butter would help more too, pity, but worth more experimentation.