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, October 18, 2009

Rouda's ROUS pie Cook-A-Long challenge. :-)

Here's the cooking challenge for anyone out there. What Medieval Like Food can you cook with the letters ROUS? A duplicate post from my focused cookery blog:

Okay. So, for the duration of the reign of Siegfried III and Elizabeth in Northshield.... (snippage} ... the Royal whim has been proclaimed, and for the duration of the reign, The Princess Bride is considered documentation for any A&S project. On the Northshield mail list, Gabriella asked for suggestions for altering her feast dishes in ways that might work with this theme. This was my reply:
For instance, you have rabbit, which you are thinking of as the last dish in your first service. And you want this to be your ROUS. Well, then, if you are swapping out the earlier stew for a sandwich--a decidedly post medieval dish--you can balance that by making a ROUS with ROUS. ;-) The soteltie is traditionally the last place in the service order, and so that would work nicely. :-)

ROUS-- a presentation version of the dish, a standing pie that has been decorated and disguised as a Rodent Of Unusual Size. This takes a trip around the feast hall for the Ooohs and Ahhs and then is served to the head table.

A dish of ROUS (Rabbit, Onions, Unguent [the sauce or gravy], Spices) served as simplified standing pies to the remaining tables.

There would be a lot of different dishes you could make with ROUS as the initials--you could be even more clever with a pie made with Rarebit, Oysters, Unagi (Eel!), Squid or shrimp--essentially, a seafood pie in a savory cheese sauce. ;-) An illusion food that completes the illusion by not having any rodent in it. ;-)

Since I have spent much time working on cheese-like sauces, and I love seafood, I think that Aunty 'Rouda's ROUS pie is going to be a dish in development Real Soon. Mixed seafood pies are pretty findable in medieval cookery, so it's a really do-able project. And I'll likely do the other version, too, but it's probably going to have to be red beans or roasted veggies or rice for the r, rather than rabbit. That'll be the totally vegan version.

Rarebit as a sauce isn't provably period, but the Welsh are supposed to have eaten cooked cheese according to this citation from the Wikipedia article on Welsh Rarebit: It is also possible that the dish was attributed to Wales because the Welsh were considered particularly fond of cheese, as evidenced by Andrew Boorde in his Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge (1542), when he wrote "I am a Welshman, I do love cause boby, good roasted cheese."[12] In Boorde's account, "cause boby" is the Welsh caws pobi, meaning "baked cheese". It is the earliest known reference to cheese being eaten cooked in the British Isles but whether it implies a recipe like Welsh rabbit is a matter of speculation. Since I'm putting it all into a pie, the idea of the period nature of cooked cheese isn't worrisome, but I thought it was a fun little bit of speculation about rarebit. ;-)

I would love to see what other people do!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An SCA compatible dish.

I continue to work on period cookery. I have about 8 redactions ready to go, but no time to write them all up. I do want to share one recent write up with you, though, because it worked pretty well and would be a way for you to offer more range should you suddenly find a vegan on the throne.

Rather than write it up here, though, I'm going to direct you to the entry on my tempoary cooking blog. I'm trying to just set up a new blog on my site specifically for cookery, but I'm more concerned with getting the On Illuminated Manuscripts website moved off of GeoCities right now, so the cookery is currently located here on blogger. That said, I thought I would refrain from posting the whoile thing here as it is strictly SCA compatible; I have no evidence whatsoever that anyone in period ever cooked a veggie burger.

All that verbal meandering aside, please look over here for the first of what will be several SCA compatible veggie burger recipes that you might like to try.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Cambridge Pudding

A Cambridge Pudding.
(for photos please see my original post here. I seemed to have removed my images from my computer.)

(John Murrell: A new booke of Cookerie; London Cookerie. London 1615)

Searce grated Bread through a Cullinder, mince it with Flower, minst Dates, Currins, Nutmeg, Sinamon, and Pepper, minst Suit, new Milke warme, fine Sugar, and Egges: take away some of their whites, worke all together. Take halfe the Pudding on
the one side, and the other on the other side, and make it round like a loafe.
Then take Butter, and put it in the middest of the Pudding, and the other halfe aloft. Let your liquour boyle, and throw your Pudding in, being tyed in a faire cloth: when it is boyled enough cut it in the middest, and so serue it in.


My initial review of this recipe sounded like a boiled pudding. I have never had or seen one but I had heard of them so I did some online perusal. And found this:
While not identical it gave me some good ratios to start with. I opted to leave the suet out as I had some difficulty finding it and what I did find was in larger quantities then I needed. I wanted to try the recipe first and see how it tasted before investing in ingredients that might go to waste. I also found another pudding recipe from the same Murrell reference that gave the option “If it be a fasting day leaue out the Suit…”

1 ½ cups butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs
½ cup warm milk
4 cups (280g) stale breadcrumbs (not dry)
1 cup (150g) wheat/white flour mix
1 cup (150g) currants
1 cup (170g) pitted dried dates, chopped
4 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pepper

Combine dry ingredients and incorporate the wet ingredients until the dough holds its shape. Form into a round loaf. Tie up into cheese cloth. (I prepped the cloth by soaking it first and then sprinkling the center with flour to form a barrier to hold the moist pudding in and help form the skin needed for the pudding to hold its shape).

I slowly immersed the pouch into boiling water and tied the ends to the handles of the pot and put a lid over. This then boiled for six hours. I had to replenish the water periodically. After 6 hours I removed the pudding and unwrapped it and allowed it to cool. The pudding became more firm and darker in color as it cooled.

The flavor was good and I seemed to have found a good balance with the spices. I don’t think that anything is missing by not adding the Suet and since Coronation takes place during Lent in our modern year I decided to leave it out. It had a good flavor but needed a sauce. I couldn’t find anything else with in the same text but I decided I will serve with an almond cream which uses almonds, cream, mace, sugar and flour. The pudding tasted really great with ice cream which wasn't a period option so I thought the almond cream might be a good choice.

For the actual entry, I reduced the quantity of currants and dates because I personally can't seem to find dates palatable no matter how many different ways I cook them. And, the more I think about it I wish I would have soaked them a bit ahead of time. I wasn't sure how the extra liquid would have impacted the finished product so I opted not to but some of the fruit didn't really soften during it's six hour bath.

From my reading these puddings are amazingly resilient. They keep for long periods of time. To reheat it on site, I boiled it for another 2 hours. It got a little soggier so I don't think I prepped my cloth appropriately. All in all it was a really good experiment.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Almond Cheese, very basic

Okay, just to show that it works:

Strictly almond cheese from a period recipe.

Creme Of Almaundes. XX.IIII. V. Take Almaundes blaunched, grynde hem and drawe hem up thykke, set hem ouer the fyre & boile hem. set hem adoun and spryng hem wicii Vyneger, cast hem abrode uppon a cloth and cast uppon hem sugur. whan it is colde gadre it togydre and leshe it in dysshes. (Form of Cury)

There are actually similar recipes as almond creme, almond butter, and almond cheese. However, when you start getting past things that call themselves "creme" you start seeing other ways in which this very basic receipt is modified to include and expand its use.

This was produced from commercially made almond milk, but the ingredient list is pretty simple--almonds, water, sugar. And it was very simple to make:

About 1 qt sweetened almond milk
About 2-2.5 teaspoons of white wine vinegar.

Heat the almond milk to a simmer. Add vinegar. Watch it curdle. Strain curds from leftover liquid and hang in a bag to drain. Once the curds are dry, add sugar or any other spices you might like, and press into a mold.

The primary problem with this? The yield from this is very small. That little disc up there is in a finger bowl, and the cheesefood is about the size of a ping pong ball. Even without any additional spices or additives, it's a smooth, creamy tasting thing, but it feels like putty when you touch it and the quantity of almond milk needed to produce enough to make, say, a cheesecake, is going to be pretty significant. Still, I'm happy to have done it and to find it was so simple. I can again have a little bit of sweet creaminess with my breakfast.

I do have two other solutions in mind in the quest for a creamy umami sauce that will stand in for aged dairy cheese--one is a cheeze that uses the nutmeats leftover from making almond milk, and the other is in my tummy now but is still a little too salty and fatty for me to call it solved. But I have to say, that was bestest, most creamiest non-egg, non-dairy sauce I have had. I can't even call it uncheeze, as it's not vegan. But it's all period ingredients, so I'll keep working on it. :-) And if I get it right, I may not share it unless you come to my house and eat it with me. ;-)

Friday, March 6, 2009

To make fysche pyes in lent

There it is: A fish pie in Lent. MMmmMMMMmmm.

I am working on faking dairy cheese and making fish pies, as I have maybe mentioned here. I'm sure I mentioned it somewhere. Anyway, while working on the mushroom pie redaction (which I have been working on for more than a year, I just can't get it right quite yet), I scouted the fridge for contents and then browsed cookbooks and websites for fish pies that might work with what I had around.

Eventually, I found this in Form of Cury:

XXV - For To Make Tartys Of Fysch Owt Of Lente. Mak the Cowche of fat chese and gyngener and Canel and pur' crym of mylk of a Kow and of Helys ysodyn and grynd hem wel wyth Safroun and mak the chowche of Canel and of Clowys and of Rys and of gode Spycys as other Tartys fallyth to be.

This was too tempting---to make workable for Lenten restictions a fish pie intended to be eaten outside of Lent. And, as it happens, it would do a beautiful job of using up the leftovers I had in the fridge. Sweet!

In modern English, the above roughly says:

25. To make fish tarts when not in Lent. Layer fat cheese, ginger, and cinamon. Next, add a layer of boiled, minced eels, cream, and saffron. Next, add a layer of of cinamon, cloves, and rice; add other seasonings according to what you know excellent pies are made with.

I don't have eels in the freezer, so I substituted whiting. I am accustomed to eel with skin on and with a strong flavor--the whiting fillets I have certainly fit that bill.

The pie was made with:

  1. Oil-based pastry, enough to enclose contents of pie.

  2. 4 whiting fillets, aproximately 4-5 ounces of fish all together.

  3. 3/4 cup of leftover rice

  4. 1/2 cup of leftover cheeze sauce from Makrows. Substitute any cheese sauce of your choice--you are not living with lenten restrictions! :-)

  5. 1/8 t of cloves

  6. 1/4 t cinamon

  7. 1 teaspoon of ginger

  8. two grinds of pepper--probably about 1/2 teaspoon

I boiled the whiting fillets with a bit of lemon juice to cut down on the scent, then minced them up, skin and all, and mixed all but the crust into one cheezy ricey fishy taste melding filling. Yes, I know the recipe says layer this stuff, but since I was making it as an empenada/pastie, that wasn't going to work with this set of ingredients. The other nice thing about this choice was that I could taste the filling to be sure that the spice mixture was sufficient.

Place the filling on to a section of pastry, adjusting according to the size of the pastry circle, dampen the edges of the pastry, fold over, and roll press the edges to close. Preheat oven to 400--if using a cast iron pan to bake, as I am here, have it in the oven heating as the oven heats up. This helps crisp up the bottom of the pie. In any event, lightly grease the baking pan with oil. If desired, brush a light coating of oil on top coat of pie. I used olive. Cook until crust is cooked through--it will be browned, and tapping the empanada/pastie will result in a hollow sound, about 30 minutes, depending on your oven.

I let it cool enough to eat comfortably. The interesting thing about this mixture is that it formed up into a sort of sticky rice kind of quality, which sounds weird when described but which was quite good and had the added advantage of keeping the filling from spilling out of the pastie as I was walking around eating it. Michael tried it, and, while it wasn't what he hoped for (he's a big brightie fan, essentially, the Scots version of a Cornish Pasty), he liked it enough to be willing to eat it again.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

To make macrows

Lent seems to be an especially good time for me to experiment with remaking the comfort foods I love in a way that fits with my dietary restrictions.

One of my biggest issues, since deciding to stick to the modern version of the medieval Lenten dietary style, is a life without cheese--hardly a simple thing here in Wisconsin. For the longest time, I tried everyone else's fake cheeze sauce & never once had anything that tasted remotely like cheese of any sort. So, of course, I went without cheesy things, since I can't do soy. A few days ago, I broke down and bought some vegan rice cheese, in the hope that it would please the palate, having already learned that vegetable burgers don't really taste like hamburgers, but they are a tasty experience on their own, and they fill that burger void in a reasonable way.

The vegan rice cheese? Mighty Frakin' Awful. Not even close to acceptable tasting. I tried feeding some to baby Ry today, and he spit it right out. When even the Ry Guy won't eat it, then you know it's appalling beyond all human ability to explain.

I knew period recipes for almond cheese existed, and I knew, the moment after I spit that rice cheeze abomination out of my mouth, I was going to have to try to make almond cheese. Unfortunately, most of the period receipts I've turned up are not lent
variations. I haven't looked at them all, but I am prepared to mess with stuff until I get what I want.

The above dish is a step on the way to that. It's a vegan version of the ever-popular Macrows/Makerouns. Whole wheat pasta is covered with a sauce that has the same sort of bite to it that sharp, hard cheeses (like romano, parmesan) have, with nary a dairy drop and is almost completely comprised of period ingredients. Alas, I did use nutritional yeast to help the sharp cheese flavor (I've yet to eat a nutritional yeast food product that has anything even close to a cheese flavor; this was the first time it ever delivered a remotely cheese-like flavor; usually it just produces a bland white-sauce flavor. I digress.), but other than that, it's all golden.

It's also far more nutritionally valuable than Kraft dinner, which is a bonus, *and* Miguel-san liked it. I was worried about that, because he does make a mean mac-n-cheese, real mac-n-cheese. MMMmm.

Recipe for you? I'm afraid not. I failed to write down quantities, and I rather suspect that I'm the only one here who is trying to live Lenten. I'll keep working on this medieval fake cheeze for modern dairy and soy free living thing, though, and if I get it consistently good, mostly period, and precisely quantified, I'll let you know. Right now, I'm just so happy that I have something that works, and that I got it by going back to period cookery, that I wanted to share.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

From another blog

Not something I did, but I thought this was a cool experiment in recreating, so I thought I would share: