When the theme for this year’s Scarlet Apron Cooking Challenge at War Practice was announced, I was struck with inspiration: “Modern family dinners presented in a medieval fashion.” All entries on the table had to be from roughly the same time period and within reasonable cultural distance. Somehow, modern-traditional Polish dinners (without tomatoes and potatoes, of course) came to mind: stuffed cabbage rolls, rice or noodles, and mushrooms of some sort. I began researching and found what I wanted (mostly) within two books: Ouverture de Cuisine (1604 France) and The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570 Italy). Not the closest, per se, but close enough — especially as I didn’t end up entering the competition anyway due to logistics. But I couldn’t get this menu out of my mind, so I planned a test kitchen night and had some of my favorite
guinea pigs friends over.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
White Roman Tart
While on my quest for a rice dish to accompany my stuffed cabbages, I couldn’t find many recipes that weren’t sweetened, and I had really been wanting savory rice for this menu. The recipe I settled on (and ultimately omitted the sugar from) was from Gent KANTL 15, a late 15th century/early 16th century Dutch cookbook, as translated by Christianne Muusers.
2.145 Om rijst te maken
Men moet rijst nemen en week het goed en droog het bij het vuur. Dan moet men een grote aardewerken pot nemen die schoon is. Dan moet men die in het vuur zetten met vleesnat dat niet te zout is en dat de pot niet al te veel vult (?). Schuim dan als het dik is af, en dan moet men de kruiderij erin doen. Dat is suiker, gember, kaneel, saffraan [en] langepeper. Dit is rijst op een vleesdag. Is het een gerecht op de visdag, dan moet men amandelmelk nemen in plaats van vleesnat. Vertrouw op uw smaak. Voor elke gelt [vocht] een half pond rijst en een half pond suiker.
2.145 To make rice
Take rice and steep it well and dry it near the fire. Then take a large, clean earthenware pot. Then put it in the fire with meat stock that is not too salty and does not fill the pot too much (?). Remove the froth ehan it is thick, and then add the spices. That is sugar, ginger, cinnamon, saffron and long pepper. This is rice on a meat day. Is it a dish on a fish day, then one must use almond milk instead of meat stock. Trust your own taste. For every gelt [liquid] a half pound rice and a half pound sugar.
I boiled 1 part white rice in 2 parts beef stock with drippings from the meat mixture I’d prepared for the stuffed cabbages, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. I omitted saffron and long pepper due to cost, opting for black pepper as a substitution for long pepper, though I know the taste is much different, due to it being on hand.
While browsing through Ouverture de Cuisine, I found another recipe for stuffed eggs and decided to add it to the menu with the stuffed cabbages. I substituted the raw egg yolks for mayonnaise for a smoother, creamier consistency, and skipped the sweet and sour sauce.
As an aside, as I look at this transcription, I realize that there’s not much more I can add to or otherwise modernize here; stuffed/deviled eggs don’t get much easier than this. I always make egg-filling to taste, so the best I can advise is to have fun!
To make stuffed eggs.
Make to boil eggs hard, & cut them in two pieces: then take the yolks out of both sides, & chop very finely with parsley, marjoram, a little salt, & put therein the yolks of raw eggs, chop it well together: then refill the whites with this: afterwards frying them in butter, then make a little batter thereon, that is sweet & sour, & serve so.