14th century

Candied Egg Yolks – Yemas de Santa Teresa

I often find myself clicking through recipes I find online, and I find myself wandering down so many rabbit holes of information that I forget where it was I started. Such is how I found myself reading articles about modern egg yolk preservation, which lead me eventually to a Spanish candy called Yemas de Santa Teresa. It’s a simple, cute little soft candy made simply of egg yolks cooked in simple syrup, then formed into balls and rolled in sugar, sometimes dusted with cinnamon or lemon zest. Wikipedia (and what seems like a thousand blurbs that have simply regurgitated the information there) was the first stop on the trail: Spanish claims. Philippine derivations. Medieval origins.

Medieval? Great! But where?! When?! The commercialization of this treat in 1860 Ávila is great and all, but how far back does this actually go?

Unfortunately for me, my modern Spanish is limited and my Old Spanish is nonexistent, so for my online research, I had to rely on translations and/or a lot of Ctrl + F “yemas.” Walls were hit. Frustration abounded. Then I remembered something: Sweetened eggs are everywhere in medieval cuisine after the introduction of sugar:

Menagier de Paris 1393:

“OMELETTE FRIED WITH SUGAR. Take out all the whites and beat the yolks, then put some sugar in a frying-pan and let it melt, and then fry your yolks in it, then put on a plate, with sugar on them.”

And hadn’t I just seen something like this somewhere else recently?

Master Chef Bartolomeo Scappi served something like them in his 1570 Opera:

Book VI – 152. To poach eggs in sugar.
When some sugar has been clarified, put it into a silver or well-tinned copper saucepan, or into silver dishes, and heat it up. When the sugar is hot, put egg yolks into it along with a little rosewater. Give it heat from above with either a hot shovel or tourte pan lid. Serve those eggs in the same pan with sugar and cinnamon over them. You can also cook the whites with them.

Master Chef Lancelot de Casteau served them in the 1604 Ouverture de Cuisine:

To make English eggs.
Take a dozen egg yolks well beaten, a little sugar therein: then take melted sugar in a little pot: when it begins to boil take the beaten egg yolks, put them through a strainer, & let run into the boiling syrup: that the syrup will be covered therein, when well cooked on one side turn to the other: when well cooked take them out, & make three or four pieces so, & put on a plate three or four.

..English? Well, let’s hop over channel to see what we can find there…

1575 A Proper New Booke of Cookery calls them ‘Eggs in moonshine’:

“To make egges in mone shine. Take a dishe of rose water, and a dishe full of suger, and set them upon a chafingdish, and let them boile, then take the yolkes of 8. or 9. egges newlaid, and put them therto, every one from other, and so let them harden a little, and so after this maner serve them forth, and cast a little Cinnamon and suger.”

Finding that these candies were definitely made by top chefs in the Renaissance was great and all, but.. I still didn’t have anything that could point back to Spain, which I really felt was half of my goal. Giving up on my Google-fu, I called upon The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, which not only gave me a Spanish reference for this… but also a Portuguese reference to egg yolk sweets and their ovos moles.

“Ovos Moles
Considered one of the best-loved and most distinctive of Portuguese desserts, ovos moles (soft eggs) was created by the nuns of Aveiro, in the northern Beira Litoral province. Originally consisting of only egg yolks, sugar, and water,a modern variation substitutes rice flour for some of the yolks. …”

So, back to the internet I went, and I found another version of this

A Treatise of Portuguese Cuisine from the 15th Century; This Translation by Fernanda Gomes is based on a translation of ” Um tratado da cozinha portuguesa do século XV” at the Biblioteca Virtual – Miguel D Cervantes.

Canudos de ovos mexidos

Misturem as gemasde ovos e deitem-nas a cozer em calda rala, sem mexer, para que não se quebrem.Façam uma massa, bem sovada, de farinha de trigo, manteiga, água-de-flor e umapitada de açafrão. Em seguida abram-nocom um rolo, comopara pastel, façam os canudos e fritem-nos. Recheiem então os canudos com o doce de ovos já pronto, e passem-nospela calda de açúcar. Polvilhem comaçúcar e canela.

Beaten egg tubes

Beat egg yolks and scant syrup (I’m not sure if this refers to the overall amount or to the proportion of sugar to water),without stirring, so they won’t break. Make a dough, well kneaded, with wheat flour, butter, flower water and a pinch of salt. Next open it with a rolling pin as for pastries, make the tubes and fry them. Then fill the tubes with the already prepared egg sweet and dip them in the sugar syrup. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

At this point, I really couldn’t believe that I’d found my way through the rabbit hole in English and had managed to reach my destination without a crash course in Spanish and Portuguese vocabulary. Though not as in-depth as I’d have liked, I was able to trace the spread of this specific kind of sweet, and it is completely plausible that it was introduced earlier and just not documented, or else it lies in a book somewhere that hasn’t been translated or digitized.

So, armed with this knowledge, and a few Spanish YouTube videos for practicality’s sake, I set about the hands-on part of this project.

Recipe

Ingredients

12 egg yolks
1 c granulated sugar
3/4 c water
Powdered sugar

Directions

Combine the sugar and water, and cook over high heat until the syrup reaches soft ball stage, at about 235F. (You can test this without a thermometer by dropping a little syrup into cold water.)

Let the syrup cool slightly while you mix the yolks, then put the syrup back over low heat. Slowly pour the yolks into the syrup, whisking constantly. As the yolks cook, the mixture will pull away from the sides and become a thick paste. Let it cool on a plate.

With powdered sugar on your fingers to keep the paste from sticking, form small balls and roll them in powdered sugar, then serve.

Unfortunately, I only got one good photo of them on display at Kingdom A&S Faire, shortly before they disappeared…

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Pipefarces

Let’s talk pipefarces.

Earlier this year, I had been lazily researching for an idea I’d had for a class, which essentially was how to pad your medieval menu with food that’s easily relatable to the modern palate. Several years ago, I’d discovered that whipped cream was a medieval treat, but discovering pipefarces blew that out of the water.

Take egg yolks and flour and salt, and a little wine, and beat together strongly, and cheese chopped in thin slices, and then roll the slices of cheese in the batter, and then fry in an iron skillet with oil in it. This can also be made using beef marrow.

Mozzarella sticks? In a medieval cookbook? Yes. Yes, mozzarella sticks, as we know and love them today, in Le Menagier de Paris, 1393.

The recipe is easy enough — roll cheese slices in a simple batter and fry them. For this feast, I had my kitchen staff dip the cheese in egg, then breadcrumbs, repeat that, and then place them in the hot oil. Though not the precise same method, this one is tried and true, and resulted in perfect mozzarella sticks. (I also pre-made some gluten-free mozz sticks using gluten-free breadcrumbs!) I’ll take the steps to combine the flour and egg mixture the next time I make these for an event.

Lord Ulrich Eisenhand and Rohesia Whytemere, my fry cooks! Photo by Lord Sasson della Sancta Victoria.

 

The White Heart – Poetry by Darian

I forgot that there was one last post about Ice Dragon to make! Better late than never, right?

My fiance, THL Darian, entered his first ever A&S competition at The Tournament of the White Hart in early March, then took his entry, a poem, to the Ice Dragon Pent a month later. This was the second poem he’d written for me for a White Hart Tournament, and here are two of the three versions he submitted for judging — the modern English and the Chaucerian English version.

Foreword:

This piece is an alliterative poem, following the style of The Pearl Poets Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight, dated in the late 14th century. The two copies of the same poem are in modern English, and translated to Middle English, following the dialect of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a contemporary piece to the Pearl Poet, written in the late 14th century as well.

The Pearl is an example of the alliterative verse revival known as the Alliterative Revival. The movement emerged in England in the mid-14th century, continuing through the 15th century. The typical characteristics of Alliterative style syllabic count, coupled with alliterative stresses. Each line would contain a separative pause, known as a caesurea, in essence splitting the line in two. The Pearl poet differentiated from some of these norms in that he allowed variable lengths to lines and groups, as well as including an end point on each stanza, known as a bob and wheel. This tradition would start with a short line, followed by a rhymed section.

Included with these works is an extra example highlighting the stresses and caesuras to better allow reading, for as many who have studied Middle English poetry will agree, it often seems meant to be read aloud.

 

The White Heart – Modern English
by THL Darian ValskiOh host please hear of humbleness true

Before thee Brought my brilliant joy

A Lord willed low by lovely might

To show thee shine I should employ

Like Paris saw Pale his paired soul

In Helens grip held the great heart fast

Come forth in form as forged in Troy

Astrid

May thee look to me,

For sadness be rid

Our hearts too, free

Look to here, I bid.

If would such words but Worthy plan

To grace the gift for my tongues relief

I should tell long tales of truest beauty

When should eyes be shift but by shy glory

I draw of her dreams as driven before

Her passion has paced the purest of chase

To home made her heart of my holy soul

The White Hart

Which Gawans hounds bayed

His travails would thwart

My hand though stayed

Wise by her Heart

As Pellinore would prove of aids plea true

Her voice made vital in verity sound

I learn fair lore from love to know

My flaw made fierce by mind fault free

To honor we hold as holy should be

Family by fortune did freely make she

For all good I gain her givith to me

I am here

And weak as a fool

Would cry voiced sheer

Upon the fates spool

Show her Glory clear

The White Heart – Middle English
by THL Darian ValskiOh host plees here of humblesse true

Bifore thee brought my Brighte joye

A Lord willed lowe by lovely might

To showe the shyne I should imploye

As Paris sawe pale his paired soule

In Helenes grip held the grate hart faste

Come forth in forme as forged in Troye

Astrid

May thee look to me

For sadnesse be rid

Our hart to free

Look here, I bid

If wold such words but worthy plan

To grace the gifte for my tonges relief

I sholde telle longe tales of truest beautee

When sholde tell eye shifte but by shy glory

I drawe of hir dreems as driven before

Hir passion has paced the purest of chase

To home made hir hart of my holy soule

The White Hart

Which Gawain houndes bayed

His travails wold thwart

My hand though stayed

Wyse by hir hart

As Pellinore wold prov of aids plee true

Hir vois made vital in verity sounde

I lern fair lore from love to know

My flaw made fiers by mind falt free

To honour we hold as holy shoulde be

Family by fortune dide freely make she

For alle good I gain she gaveth to me

I am here

And weke as a fool

Wold cry voised shere

Upon fates spool

She her glorie clere

14th Century Cross-Stitch Badges

Close-up of the stitching on the original bag.

Close-up of the stitching on the original bag.

One of my not-so-secret works-in-progress is a long-arm cross-stitch heraldic bag for my Pelican, which will be finished in approximately a million years. I’ve learned a lot just from this one project, but I’m going to save my big post on bags and cross-stitch for a later date (and perhaps a class!). For now, I want to share with you the charts I’ve created.

The original bag (seen above) displays French and English arms and is dated to the first half of the 14th century. Examining the bag and counting stitches has lead me to the conclusion that each of these badges is in a 29×34 stitch rectangle. Each shield is surrounded by a 2 stitch wide border (making each shield 27 stitches wide and 32 stitches long at their greatest points). Using the 29×34 framework, I have spent weeks creating badges (mostly specific to AEthelmearc) for anyone who would want to create their own. These were made in MS Paint, with each pixel representing 1 stitch. MS Paint in Windows 7 allows the “View -> Gridlines” feature, which makes counting stitches/pixels much easier.

I’ve blown these up to 800%, but I can create bigger charts and share the originals upon request. There are a couple shown below, but for the rest, click on the link to the album I’ve created on imgur.

Happy stitching!

aethelmearc

pelican