16th century

To make Dutch rice

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.

Stuffed Eggs, in a French Style

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.

Stuffed Cabbages

Next up is stuffed cabbages from Ouverture de Cuisine!

I initially went searching for this recipe when this year’s Scarlet Apron Cooking Challenge theme was announced — modern family dinners presented in a medieval fashion. The first thing that came to mind was a traditional Polish dinner: stuffed cabbage rolls, noodles or rice, and mushrooms of some sort. My research lead me to Ouverture de Cuisine and The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, but I was struck with inspiration while reading. While Scappi’s cookbook did indeed have cabbage rolls, why in the world should I stop there when both cookbooks had recipes for whole stuffed cabbages?

To make a stuffed cabbage.

Take a red cabbage that is not too large, & put it to boil whole sweetly, & leave it so a long time that you can open the leaves the one behind the other, while the leaves of the cabbage are large like a fist, cut that out, & put chopped meat therein that it will be arrayed like the other meats with eggs & spices, & then layer the cabbage with the leaves all around, that it will be well bound, & put it to cook, sausages with, or that which you want.

Though Scappi is specific about boiling his stuffed cabbages in meat broth or water, de Casteau is more vague. I took the opportunity to boil it as I prefer: in beef broth, red wine, apple cider vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. For the first boil, I let it go for about 20-30min at a full boil while I prepared a meat mixture of ground beef, garlic, and onions with sage, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, bound after cooling with egg. This meat mixture is the base of my meatballs, and I figured would be suitable for a trial run of this cabbage.

And then the fun began..

Peeling the outer layers was tricky at first, but the closer I got to the core, the cooler the cabbage became, and I was very surprised that it was still cold at the center. I carefully cut the heart of the cabbage out, then replaced it with a large handful of ground beef mixture.

After folding the first layer of leaves back over it, I put in another layer of meat, folded the next layer on, and put in the last layer of beef before folding the rest of the leaves back. I wrapped the whole cabbage in twine, then set it back to boiling for another 20-30 min in the wine and vinegar that I’d refreshed with a bit more of all ingredients.

The result was beautiful and tasty. It was a bit of a pain to cut and serve, so perhaps decorative pennants on skewers may be part of the serving plan next time.

White Roman Tart ala Ouverture de Cuisine

 

I found the rough translation of Ouverture de Cuisine (1604) over at Medieval Cookery as I was researching some late-medieval/Renaissance fare, and I kindof fell in love with this cookbook. One of the top reasons being this tart.

The transcription by Thomas Gloning et. al reads:

Pour faire tourte blanche a la Romaine.

Prennez vne liure de blanc fromage de creme, puis prennez le blanc de six oeufs, & le battez longuement qu’il le face escumer dessus comme vne neige, & laissez vn peu reposer sans battre, puis prennez l’escume de dessus, & le iettés dedans le fromage, puis rebattés encor le blanc de rechef qu’ilface [>qu’il_face] encor escumer comme le premier, & iettés sur le fromage, & faictes encor deux ou trois fois ainsi, puis prennés deux onces de beurre fondu, vn peu de gingembre, vn peu de basilicque hasché, & faictes tourte, & cuire comme les autres.

The translation at Medieval Cookery falls in line with what I would expect from the transcription, with what I remember of French:

To make a white Roman tart.

Take a pound of white cheese of cream, then take the whites of six eggs, & beat then well until a foam forms on the surface like snow, & let a little stay in without beating, then take the foam from thereon, & cast it into the cheese, then beat the whites at the top until again foam forms on the surface like the first time, & cast onto the cheese, & make again two or three times as such, then take two ounces of melted butter, a little ginger, a little chopped basil, & make the tart, & cook like the others.

This reads to me like beautiful, light, and fluffy cheesecake. So, I made it. The first time I made it was at home, with a gluten-free pie crust to serve to friends, and the second time was at the July Althing in Port Oasis, with the assistance of three awesome folks!

The recipe is fairly straight-forward, but I did make a few changes to accommodate what I wanted this to be (– adding sugar, omitting butter, using Philadelphia cream cheese). I also didn’t have a controlled test oven — the first time, our power went out after this had been in for about 10 minutes, but sustained plenty of heat to finish baking at 40 minutes. The second time was with a convection oven, which I’m not so familiar with using, and I had to actively monitor and adjust temperature.


White Roman Tart

16oz cream cheese (2 bricks)
6 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
Grated ginger
Fresh basil, finely chopped
Prepared deep dish pie crush

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Cream the cream cheese and sugar in a food processor, until smooth.
  3. Separate the eggs — yolks into the food processor and whites into a separate bowl. Pulse the cream cheese mixture until the yolks are fully incorporated, then pour into a bowl. Fold in about 3 or 4 large pinches each of ginger and basil, then set aside.
  4. Use electric mixer or whisk to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold this into the cream cheese mixture, then pour into the prepared pie crust.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until firm in the middle.
  6. For a more dense consistency like modern cheesecake, serve chilled. For a more custard-like consistency, serve hot.

Early 16th Century German Outfit

Warning: This is a bit of a quick-and-dirty post to get the beginnings of this project out!

Several months ago, I finally put scissors to fabric and began putting together an early 16th century German dress. I’d been researching for some time, but it took a lot of mental preparation to work myself up to the idea of constructing a late-period garment on my own. For this dress, I drew inspiration primarily from two Hans Holbein sketches of a Basel woman from 1523.

I began with my own measurements and looking at patterns from both Katafalk and Reconstructing History, but found that neither really worked for my body. So I ended up fitting myself and making my own, which was a long and infuriating process — next time I’m having a friend help me fit a new pattern.

When I finished my bodice pattern (which was slightly modified after these photos), I cut an interlining of heavy linen and the wool shell, then attached them mostly following Katafalk’s tutorial. I cut the guards out of black wool and attached them after the bodice was all put together, then moved onto the skirt.

Using Mistress Genoveva’s Rolled Pleat Calculator, I came up with the length needed for my skirt, which I think was about 6 yards. I had a whole bolt of red wool from JoAnn Fabrics, and I only used a half-width of the fabric for the top portion of the skirt. I spent several hours with a ruler and chalk, and by the end of it I had my skirt pleated.

I ended up piecing the bottom stripes together in three panels of stripes, then sewed them together and attached them. Next time, I’ll likely attach the stripes before I pleat the skirt, but it didn’t create any major inconveniences doing it the other way.

It was after I completed the skirt that I started running out of time leading up to Fall Coronation of Marcus and Margerite, so I decided to put my plans for the sleeves on the back burner — it would be easy enough to take the middle-class route and simply sew the exaggerated stitching at the joints over the chemise. The proper chemise also wasn’t going to happen in time, so I pulled a cheater shirt out for the event.

The last piece of the outfit that I could accomplish in time was the hemd and steuchlein, which I made following Katafalk’s tutorials. The hemd was even more difficult to fit by myself than the bodice pattern was, and I was extremely glad to cover it and all the mistakes I made on it with the steuchlein.

There weren’t a great deal of photos of the good-enough dress I took to the event, but I was pretty pleased with it. I’m currently working on the more-correct sleeves, a pleated chemise, and fixing some general mistakes on the dress. Ideally, there will also be a structured linen kirtle to go under this dress and over the chemise.

German Pear Tarts

Sir Ian Kennovan was elevated to the Order of the Laurel this weekend, and I had the honor of contributing to his reception food. Instead of my go-to meatballs, I decided to play around with something I’ll be making for my 16th century German feast at Helvetia — poached pears.

Sabina Welserin has eight recipes for pear tarts in her 1553 cookbook: one “exotic” tart, one Italian tart, and six decidedly German tarts (one is specifically for quinces but mentions that pears can be cooked the same way). The last six all have two of the same ingredients in common: sugar and cinnamon. Three of those six use raisins, three use cloves, three use wine, and one uses ginger. These are all common ingredients found used together throughout the entire cookbook, so I decided to combine them all into one tart. I also chose to poach the pears per recipe 113 instead of letting them fully bake in the oven given the smaller serving size and shorter oven-time.

To start, I peeled and poached seven anjou pears in about a bottle of cabernet sauvignon with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, and I tossed in regular and golden raisins to rehydrate with them. After straining the fruit out of it, I let the wine reduce further and set it aside.

While the fruit cooled, I pre-heated the oven and made short paest loosely following the recipe found at Medieval Cookery. Saffron was omitted due to cost, but the rest of the recipe follows the same. Rub butter into all-purpose flour until it makes crumbs, then bind it with a bit of water and egg yolks. Don’t overwork it, and let it rest in the fridge. At this point I remembered that I don’t have a rolling pin, so I took the empty cabernet bottle and put it in the fridge to chill as well.

I then chopped the pears and tossed them (and the raisins) in more sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. I then floured my surface and my wine bottle/rolling pin, rolled out the crust, and pressed circles out for my tartlet pan. I then buttered the tartlet pan, pressed the crusts in, and sprinkled sugar over the bottoms of the crusts. I then spooned the fruit into the crusts, poured about a teaspoon of the mulled wine reduction over the fruit, and sprinkled with more sugar.

I baked these at 375* for about 15 minutes using 12-cavity non-stick tartlet pan. In between batches, I let the dough and the bottle chill in the fridge to keep the dough from getting too sticky. I also only made three dozen and had about 2 or 3 whole pears left over. I’ll probably make a large tart with the leftover fruit this week.

 

And here are Sabina Welserin’s (relevant) six pear tart recipes that I drew from:

73 A pear tart

Take pears and peel them and cut them into thin strips, take beef marrow, cinnamon, sugar and raisins and let it bake. If you do not have any marrow then use butter or another fat.

80 A pear tart

Cut out of each pear eight or twelve slices, according to how large the pear is, fry them in fat, take them after that and lay them nicely around the tart and sprinkle them under and over with sugar, cinnamon, cloves and raisins and let it bake.

87 To make a pear tart

Then take the pears and peel them and remove the cores and divide the pears into two parts and cut them into slices as wide as the pear is and turn them over in a little good flour. Then heat up some fat and roast them therein, until they are a little browned, afterwards prepare the pastry shell and lay them on top of it, close together. Take cinnamon, sugar and raisins mixed and sprinkle them on the crust and over the top of it, let it bake a while. After wards take Malavosia, put sugar into it and cinnamon, let it boil together, pour it over the tart and let it cook a short while.

107 To make a quince tart

Take quinces and cook them well and strain it and put sugar, cinnamon and strong wine thereon. Apple and pear tarts are made in the same way.

113 To make a good pear pudding

Cook the pears in good wine and strain them and put cinnamon, cloves and sugar therein and a toasted Semmel, then it is ready.

131 To make a pear tart

Take the pears and peel them, then fry them in fat, put them into a mortar and pound them well, put rose sugar and rose water in it, put ginger, cloves, cinnamon and sugar therein. Taste it, make a pastry shell as for other tarts, make no cover for the top and bake until crisp.

Leihen Helvetia! 2016 Feast Menu

For this year’s Helvetia, we’ve decided to tone down the menu, and which is a perfect excuse to get cheeky with a pub food-themed menu! I’ll be working with THL Cas this year, and I’m pretty excited about it! There will likely be some small additions, and I haven’t nailed down which sauces I want to serve yet, so those will come in time. But for now, here’s our offerings for this year’s Leihen Helvetia! Offerings are marked GF for gluten-free and V for ovo-lacto vegetarian.

Saturday breakfast:
Scrambled eggs – GF, V
Sausage
Toast (French & regular) – V
Waffles – V

Saturday lunch:
Ale & onion soup – V
Pork shoulder – GF
Bread – V

Saturday dinner/feast:
Chicken with sauces – GF
Red cabbage – GF, V
Fladen (flatbread pizza)
Pipefarces (breaded fried cheese sticks) – V
Veggie sticks – GF, V
Italian bread pudding – V
Pears stewed in wine – GF, V