sabina welserin

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

Leihen Helvetia! 2013 Feast Menu

Helvetia 2013 Feast Menu

First Remove
Breads
Flour, butter, oats, cranberries

Flavored butters
Butter, parsley, sage – Butter, honey

Soft Cheese
Milk, chives, onion, lemon juice, salt, pepper

Second Remove
Stuffed eggs
Egg, sage, salt, pepper, saffron, butter, honey, vinegar

Cabbage salad
Red cabbage, onion, apple, honey, red wine vinegar, cloves

Apple tart
Apple, brie, black walnuts, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar, brandy, flour, egg

Third Remove
Chicken with onion and bacon
Chicken, onion, bacon, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil

Pork
Pork, white wine, chicken broth, apple juice, raisins, gluten-free soy sauce,
ginger, salt, pepper, corn starch

Genovese tart
Spinach, milk, olive oil, salt, pepper, flour, egg

Applesauce
Apple, sugar, white wine, cinnamon, ginger

Fourth Remove
Blackstone Mountain cakes
Anise extract, almond, almond extract, flour, egg, milk, cream cheese, powdered sugar
Raspberries, apples, caramel, cream, honey

Gluten-free cupcakes
Aniseed, anise extract, almond, almond extract, gluten-free cake mix, egg, milk, cream cheese, powdered sugar

Strauben Recipe

As published in Æthelmearc’s unofficial companion to the Æstel, the Æstel Æxtra:

Recipe: Strauben
by Lady Astridr Vigaskegg

Strauben in the German equivalent of funnel cake. It was recorded in 1553 by a lady named Sabina Welserin in her cookbook, Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. It is served with snow (whipped cream) and fruit preserves.

86 If you would bake a good fried Strauben

Then bring water to a boil and pour it on the flour, stir it together well, beat eggs into it and salt it, take a small Strauben funnel, which should have a hole as wide as a finger, and let the batter run through and fry the Strauben. The batter should be warm.

Modern Recipe:

1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 2/3 c all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/4 c white sugar
2 c milk

Mix salt, baking powder, and half the flour, then set aside.

Cream eggs, sugar, and milk. Add dry mix and beat until smooth. Add flour until desired consistency is reached. Remember, this has to run through a funnel!

Heat the oil to about 375*F, and pour in batter through funnel. Fry until golden brown, and use tongs (and maybe a spatula) to flip the cake. Drain on paper towels, then serve.

Venison in a Sauce Recipe

As published in the Barony of Blackstone Mountain’s newsletter, The Banner, and BMDL’s newsletter, The Althing:

Venison in a Sauce
by Lady Astridr Vigaskegg

While doing my research for the feast at Leihen Helvetia, I fell in love with this particular recipe from Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. I was able to bring about ~10 gallons of venison (thanks, Dad!) to the feast, and I prepared this dish with no instructions aside from the original recipe itself. I’ve done my best to transcribe the process into approximate measurements, as “shake a handful or so of ____ over the large pan of ~4.5 gallons of venison until it looks decent” really doesn’t help anyone reading this. My two bits of advice for this are: 1.) To get as much blood out of the venison as possible, brine it once or twice in the water/vinegar solution. 2.) Play around with the spices before you add it to the venison, if you’re uncertain. As long as you keep the spices balanced, there’s no wrong way to make this, so have fun with it!

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553
7 To make a sauce in which to put a haunch of venison

Lard it well and roast it and make a good sauce for it. Take Reinfal and stir cherry syrup into it, and fry Lebkuchen in fat and chop good sweet apples, almonds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, currants, pepper and raisins and let it all cook together. When you want to serve it, then pour the sauce over it. It is also for marinating a boar’s head. Then cook it in two parts water and one third vinegar. The head of a pig is also made in this manner.

Modern Recipe:
Venison
Apple cider vinegar
Water
1 c white wine
1/3 c cherry (or berry) juice concentrate
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1 c water
2 large apples (or pears), sliced
5 whole cloves
3 small cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c almond slivers
1/2 c currants (or dried cranberries)
1/2 c raisins
2 T butter
Lebkuchen crumbs*

Brine venison in a 1 part-salt water and 1 part-apple cider vinegar mixture for about an hour. Rinse the meat, then set into your roasting pan. Combine the wine, syrup concentrate, and vinegar with your spices and apples and pour over the venison. Cover and bake at 325*F for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Fry the Lebkuchen in butter, add to the sauce and drippings to thicken it.

*Note: Lebkuchen cookies are a type of gingerbread cookie made with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and ginger.

Leihen Helvetia! 2012 Feast Menu

Preparing the menu for the inaugural Leihen Helvetia! event, set in the Swiss-German town of Helvetia, WV, was my first introduction to Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (1553). This was also my first completely period feast, and it derived mostly from that cookbook. I was beyond excited to find that funnel cake was period, and I think those who attended were pretty happy about it as well.

Helvetia 2012 Feast Menu

First Remove:
Cheese pasties
Mushroom pasties
Cheese & cranberry pasties
Beef & barley soup

Second Remove:
Roasted chicken with onions, pears, bacon
Venison in a sauce
Genovese tart
Applesauce

Third Remove:
Strauben
Snow
Fruit preserves

Venison Pie Recipe

I am a big fan of the recipes found in Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. They’re full of flavor, they’re recognizable, and they take little to no tweaking to fit the modern palate. Fitting all three of these categories makes my life easier as I’m planning my menus, so I go back to this cookbook over and over.

For my barony’s first Twelfth Night revel in many years, I wanted to use locally-sourced venison, which was made easy by the family farm. Because this was a small feast and this was one of the main courses, I added standard pot-pie vegetables. The rye crust turned out to be a problem because of how coarsely-ground the flour I chose was, so it ended up as a shell and a crumble instead of a flat pie topper; this is definitely something I’ll revisit and experiment with until I get it right.

Venison Pie
66 A game pie
Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553

“Take beef fat, and chop it small, and rosemary, which can be fresh or dried. If you have none, take marjoram or anise or sage, as much as you would like. Chop them finely together, put cloves, pepper, ginger and salt into it, as much as you would like, pour one pint of wine on it. The game must be cooked beforehand. And make a shaped pastry the same way as for the veal pie, and let it bake, serve it warm. In this manner one can also prepare a loin roast.

Makes: 1 large pie
Ingredients:
1 lb Venison
~1.5 bottles Cabernet Sauvignon (or red wine of your choice)
Herb bag (or linen or cheesecloth)
Rosemary
Sage
Parsley
1 med onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 c mushrooms, sliced
2-3 potatoes, chopped
Anise
Ground cloves
Ginger
Salt
Pepper

Thoroughly soak your venison in a water-vinegar mixture until all the blood has been leeched out. (I usually do two 1-hr long soaks, but it can take longer depending on how well the deer was processed.)

Because this particular venison was a bit tough, I boiled the venison in a 1-part water, 1-part wine mixture with the herbs secured in an herb bag until the meat was cooked through. (This saves you the grief of picking out the rosemary bit-by-bit!) Use this time to chop your vegetables.

Once the meat was cooked through, I drained the water mixture, replenished my herb bag, and added roughly 1/2-3/4 bottle of wine, some water, and 2 tubs of Knorr’s concentrated beef stock to the pot, along with the herbs, spices, and vegetables. Unfortunately, all this is to taste — I don’t use measuring spoons in my kitchen if I can avoid it. 🙂 Bring your pot to a boil, then continue simmering at a reduced temperature until your vegetables are finished.

If you don’t want to make a pie, then you could cut the recipe here and have a nice stew instead. If you want to make the pie, then onwards!

Next, pull your meat and veggies from the pot and bring that delicious stock back to a hard boil, and make sure to stir it frequently. Reduce it by about a half, then pull it from the heat. If the reduction is still to runny, thicken it with cornstarch or flour until you reach the desired thickness of your gravy. Pour it over your meat and veggies and set it aside.

The last step is the obvious — you’ll need to have prepped your pie crust, whether hand-made or store-bought, you’ll pre-bake it, load the shell, and place the crust topper, and bake until crust is finished. I’m omitting my rye crust, since I wasn’t pleased with it. Google is your friend to find a recipe that works for you!