Greetings to the Rialto from Siobhan! And a hearty hey there to rec.food.historic from Leigh Ann.
I'm posting this article here, because it may not be deemed acceptable for TOURNAMENTS ILLUMINATED (to which I'm also sending it), and I'd really like people to see it; also, people on r.f.h may not get TI, even if the article does end up therein. I worked pretty hard on this feast, and would like others to reap the benefits of my experience (and errors!). I haven't yet submitted it to TI, so if you have any editorial comments, I'll receive them gratefully. Without further ado:
In the Fall of 1991 I was approached by the Seneschale of Mountain's Gate (Placerville) with a proposal: since she liked my cooking so much, would I be willing to cook the feast for the Investiture of the Prince of Cynagua at the end of January. Without hesitation (hah!) I warmly agreed. After all, I didn't have to raise the money, I didn't have to do the shopping (well, not much anyway), all I had to do was dream up a menu, cook it, and feed it to people! Easy, yes? Well...
For the rest of the feast, I wanted to stay as early as possible -- 1400 or better, and was mostly successful. Some of the recipes are from manuscripts dated to around 1450, which I considered a reasonable margin.
I decided to be brash, bold and egotistical, and not rely on anybody else's recipe interpretations. In the end, I did have to use a couple, but the bulk of the recipes are my own developments. I raided Butler and Heiatt's Cury On Inglyshe for most of the original recipes, and vol. 2 of Take A Thousand Eggs... for the rest. I thought about what would be available in England, in the winter, in Alden's "time", and produced the menu that follows.
I include, where I had them, the period redactions (I've substituted "th" for "thorn" -- my apologies to the purists), and my translations. The recipes themselves, and the expanded ingredients to feed about 100 are at the very end of the article. One note for the adventurous folk who might want to derive their own recipes from the period texts (and why shouldn't you? I wanted to...): I discovered that much of my "armchair cooking" -- brainstorming recipes on paper -- worked out exactly right in the kitchen, with the exception of some minimal changes to spicery. I commented on this to a friend of mine who's done a great deal of this sort of thing, and she said, "Well, that's not surprising. When you're doing these things, it's more important to be fluent in cooking than it is to be fluent in Middle English."
[Cabbages in soup. Take cabbages and quarter them, and seethe them in good broth with minced onions and the white of leeks slit and cut small. Add saffron and salt, and enforce it with sweet powder.]
Divers cheses, fruytes & noteys, ayren pickle
[Chickens in mousse. Take blanched almonds and grind them small and mix them with clean water, and put them in a pot with rice flour and sugar and salt and saffron and boil them together. And lay the yolks of hardboiled egs in dishes, and take roasted chicken legs and wings and breasts (cut lengthwise), and lay it in the dishes with the yolks, and take the sauce and pour it into the dishes, and sprinkle cloves over, and serve it forth.]
Elys in counfy. Tak eles & fle hem & cut hem on thynne gobetes, & frye hem in oyle dolif, & pynes therewith; & tak bothe togedere & couche hem in blaunche poudere, & in ceucre, & couche aboue poudere of gygere as the quantite of thy seruise nedeth, & than take blaunched almaundes & grynde hem smal & tempre hem with whit wyne; & streyne hem, & cast hem in to a pot alle togeder. & tak poudere of clowes & of maces & of quybibs & of peper, & cast therto & boyle hem in alle in fere, & salt it, & when it is dressed florshe it aboue with myced gyngere that is fayre pared & tryed. (Utilis Coquinario)
[Eels in confit. Take eels and flay them, and cut them in thin pieces and fry them in olive oil with pine nuts. Take both (eels and nuts) and roll them in white powder and sugar, and sprinkle over it powdered ginger according to the amount of eels, and then take blanched almonds ground small and mixed with white wine -- strain them and throw all into a pot together. Add powdered cloves, mace, cubeb, and pepper, and bring to a boil, add salt, and then sprinkle over it minced (fresh) ginger peeled and chopped.]
Gos farced. Take Percely, & Swynys grece, or Sewet of a schepe, & parboyle hem to-gederys til they ben tendyr; than take harde yolkys of Eyroun, & choppe for-with; caste ther-to Pouder Pepir, Gyngere, Canel, Safroun, & Salt, & grapis in tyme of yere, & clowys y-nowe; & for defawte of grapis, Oynons, fyrst wil y-boylid, & afterward alle to-choppyd, & so stuffe hym & roste hym, & serue hym forth. (Leche Vyaundez)
[Stuffed goose. Take parsley, and bacon grease or sheep suet, and parboil them together until they are tender; then take chopped hardboiled egg yolks and add powdered pepper, ginger, cinnamon, saffron and salt, and grapes in season, and enough cloves (and for default of grapes, chopped parboiled onions), and so stuff him and roast him and serve him forth.]
Samoun fresch endored & rostyd.
[Stuffed pig. Take raw eggs and run them through a strainer, and then grate nice bread, and take saffron, salt, powdered ginger, and sheep suet, and mix all together in a bowl, and put it in the pig's cavity when he is on the spit, and then sew the hole together, or take a spike and spike him together, and let him roast.]
Benes yfryed. Tak benes and seeth hem almost til they bursten. Take and wryng out the water clene. Do therto oynouns ysode and ymynced, and garlec therwith; frye hem in oile other in grece, & do therto powdour douce, & serue it forth. (Forme of Cury)
[Fried beans. Take beans and boil them almost until they burst, then drain. Add minced parboiled onions, and garlic; fry them in oil or grease and add sweet powder, and serve it forth.]
To make gingerbrede. Take goode honye & clarefie it on the fere, & take fayre paynemayn or wastel brede & grate it, & caste it into the boylenge hony, & stere it well togyder faste with a sklyse that it bren not to the vessell. & thanne take it doun and put therin ginger, longe pepere & saundres, & tempere it vp with thin handes; & than put hem to a flatt boyste & strawe theron suger, & pick therin clowes round about by the egge and in the mydes, yf it plece you, &c. (Sloan ms. 121)
[To make gingerbread. Take good honey and clarify it on the fire, and take good everyday bread or leftover bread and grate it, and cast it into the boiling honey and stir it well together quickly with a spatula (?) so it doesn't scorch. Then take it off the heat and add ginger, long pepper and sandlewood, and knead it; and then put it in a flat box and sprinkle sugar on it, and stick cloves around the edge and in the middle, if it pleases you, etc.]
[Apple tarts. Take good apples and good spices and figs and raisins and pears, and when they are well arrayed, color well with saffron and put it in a pie shell, and set it to bake well.]
Rysshews of fruyt. Take fyges and raisouns; pyke hem and waisshe hem in wyne. Grynde hem with apples and peers ypared and ypiked clene. Do therto gode powdours and hole spices; make balles therof, frye in oile, and serue hem forth. (Forme of Cury)
[Rissoles of fruit. Take figs and raisins, pick them over and wash them in wine. Grind them with apples and pears pared and picked clean. Add good powders and whole spices, make balls of the mixture, fry in oil, and serve them forth.]
Daryols. Take creme of cowe mylke, other of almaundes; do therto ayren with sugur, safroun and salt. Medle it yfere. Do it in a coffyn of ii ynche depe; bake it wel and serue it forth. (Forme of Cury)
[Darioles. Take cream of cow milk or of almonds; add to it eggs with sugar, safron and salt, and mix it. Put it in a pie shell two inches deep, bake it well and serve it forth.]
After three hours at 350 F, the meat thermometer rose with gratifying speed when Ernie slid it into the haunch, and we knew we'd won. Now we only had to figure out how to present what the people had expected to be a whole roast pig.
Heat a little oil in the soup pot and cook the onions until they're translucent, then add the broth, bring to a boil, add the cabbage, leeks and spices, and cook until the cabbage is as done as desired.
Expansion: 14 heads cabbage, 28 onions, 7 gallons broth, 28 leeks, 5 T salt, 3.5 t each of other spices.
1 doz hardboiled eggs, shelled
1/2 lb whole pearl onions, peeled
2.5c cider vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4t each: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, mace, dill, tarragon, grains of paradise; a shake of turmeric
Put eggs in hot, sterilized canning jars. Boil all the other ingredients in a saucepan, simmer 5 min. Pour the hot liquid over the eggs in jars, covering eggs completely. Seal jars, cool, and store in a cool place.
Expansion: 9 doz eggs, 4.5 lb onions, 11 pints + .5 c vinegar, 1 head garlic, 3 T salt, 2.25 c honey, 2.25 t spices
1 whole salmon
stuffing: 2 c ground hazelnuts in 1/4 c honey melted with 1/4 c butter
glaze: 4 egg yolks, beaten with 1T flour, 1t ginger, 1/2 t pepper, pinch saffron, 1t salt
Stuff the salmon, then glaze and roast at 350deg F for 15 min per inch of width (1/2 hour for a 2" thick salmon); baste occasionally with leftover glaze.
For the feast we made three such salmon, so the proportions should be easy to figure out...
For the feast, we only roasted one goose, for the high table.
Roast chicken parts at 425deg F for 15-20 min, or till the skins are golden brown. Remove egg yolks (discard whites), and chop coarsely, then put them in the serving dish. When the chicken is done, lay it on top of the egg yolks.
Chop up the almonds in a blender/food processor until they're pretty small, but not yet powdery. Add 1c of the water, and process again. Then add saffron, sugar, salt, and flour and process, adding the remaining water gradually. Pour the mixture into a pot, bring to a low boil, stirring frequently. Don't let burn! Let sit for at least 10 min, for the saffron to come to full flavor -- it will continue to strengthen (up to a point). If need be, the sauce can be reheated. Just before serving, pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle clove over the top, and "serve it forth"!
Expansion: 100 pieces of chicken, 7 doz hardboiled eggs, 7 c blanched almonds, 4qts + 1.5 c water, 6.5 c rice flour, 1/2 c sugar, 1 T salt, saffron and cloves to taste.
2 eels, skinned and sliced crosswise 1 T ginger mixed with 1 T sugar 1/2 c pine nuts 1 c blanched almonds 1 T olive oil 1 c white wine 1/2 t each: cloves, mace, pepper a little fresh grated gingerHeat olive oil in a pot and fry the eel slices with the pine nuts. Grind the almonds together with the wine. Put the ginger/sugar mixture in the pot and stir around 'til each eel slice is coated. Add the almond milk and other spices, cook just until hot through, sprinkle with salt to taste and just before serving top with grated fresh ginger.
If folks don't find this appetizing (no comments about Lord Randall, thanks), feed them roast eels with the following white garlic sauce from Le Viandier de Taillevent: 3 cloves crushed garlic mixed with 3 slices worth of bread crumbs, moistened to whatever seems like the right consistency (about that of Mexican salsa) with a mixture of 1/2 white grape juice and 1/2 vinegar.
For the feast, we went light on the eels, for fear of there being not much enthusiasm for them, but to our astonishment, they were eaten all up. Expansion: 6 eels, 1.5 c pine nuts, 3 T oil, 1.5 t cloves/mace/pepper, 3 T sugar/ginger, 1 c almonds, 3 c wine...
1 lb chopped parsnips
1t cinnamon, 1/2t nutmeg
1 lb chopped carrots
Boil the vegetables until soft, drain off the water. Mash them together with the spices and butter, serve hot.
Expansion: 7 lb parsnips, 7 lb carrots, 2 T + 1 t cinnamon, 3.5 t nutmeg, 1 and 2/3 cubes butter.
3c fava beans (if dried, soak overnight first; if canned, rinse the salt away)
1 chopped onion, 2 chopped cloves garlic
1/2t each sugar, and powders of: cinnamon, cardamom, galangal
Boil favas until the skins curl up when blown upon (if they were dried); drain them well.
Heat 2T oil in a pan, throw in onions and spices first, then the beans, stir the mess around 'til hot through.
Expansion: 5 lb favas, 3 onions, 1.5 t spices, 6 T oil.
Wash the pig and dry it -- prop open the jaws with a block of wood or a rock. Brush the sauce all over the skin, stuff with the stuffing and sew or skewer the cavity closed. Cook @ preheated (!) 350deg F for ~15 min/pound -- about 30 hours should do it, so start the night before. To be sure, stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the haunch, and accept it as cooked if the thermometer reads 160deg F.
1 lb butter
1 c water
2 lb flour
2 T salt
Boil water & butter together; mix flour & salt; let the water cool a bit, then pour and work it into the flour, until the dough is soft but not sticky. Chill at least 30 min. Shape the dough into boxes (or whatever shape), and let sit before filling.
Expansion: 30 lb flour, 15 lb butter, 2 qts water, 2 c less 2 T salt
2 apples, chopped 2 pears, chopped 1/2 c figs, chopped spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves 1 c raisins pinch of saffronChop and mix together the fruits and spices, and put them in small tart shells. Bake @ preheated 350deg F for 30 min.
Expansion: 25 lb apples (we used 2 no.10 cans' worth), 25 lb pears, 5 lb figs, 10 lb raisins.
1 c figs 1 pear, pared & chopped 2 c raisins white wine 2 apples, pared & chopped 1/2c flourSoak the figs & raisins in wine to cover for about 1/2 hour, then drain and chop all the fruits fine -- mash the raisins first, they'll make a paste to hold the stuff together. Add allspice, nutmeg, sugar, cardamom and galangal to taste, drop by spoonfuls into hot oil and fry they'll be crunchy and caramelized on the outside, still soft on the inside.
Expansion: 5 lb figs, 20 lb raisins, 25 lb apples, 12.5 lb pears, 2 gal wine, 12.5 c flour.
1.5c cream 1/2c sugar 3 eggs + 1 yolk 1/8t saffron powder 1/2 c blanched almonds, blended fine with 1/2c water 1/4t saltBake in little coffyns 2" deep bake the shells first at 425deg F until they just begin to brown, then reduce the heat to 325deg F, fill the shells with the custard and bake again for 30-35 min until the custard is set and the shells are golden brown.
Expansion: 1 gal cream, 5 c sugar, 5 c almonds, 33 eggs (24 + 9 yolks), 4 c water, 1 t saffron, 2 t salt
4 c honey 1 t white pepper 1 lb breadcrumbs (a loaf's worth - use cheap bread) sugar to sprinkle on top 1 T ginger whole cloves 2 t cinnamonIf you plan to draw with the sugar, mix it up with powdered spices/herbs: Gules - cinnamon or sandalwood; Vert - dried parsley or mint; Or - turmeric; etc.
Boil the honey, skimming any foam that forms. Throw in the breadcrumbs and stir constantly, until the bread has soaked up all the honey. Stir in the ginger, cinnamon and pepper. Turn it out and knead it until it is smooth, adding a little flour if necessary if the dough is too sticky. Then put it in a square pan. Set whole cloves in the top in a pattern (in this case, we used them to outline the armorial charges), then sprinkle the colored sugars where desired -- think of sandpainting...
2 sticks butter 1 t ground cloves 1 c dark brown sugar 1 t nutmeg 1 c white sugar 2 t ginger 4 eggs 2 t cardamom 1/4 t salt 4-5 c all-purpose flour 2 t cinnamonCream butter and sugars together; beat in eggs and seasonings and beat for 2 minutes more. Gradually beat in as much flour as possible, until the mixer clogs (or your spoon threatens to break...). Turn out onto a floured board, vigorously knead in more flour until dough is VERY stiff, then wrap airtight and refrigerate at least 12 hours. To shape, roll chilled dough to 1/4 in. and cut shapes as desired keep the dough cold. Preheat oven to 350deg F, bake the pieces 12-18 min or until they feel dry and firm to the touch and the edges are just browning. Cool on a rack, and assemble.
3 egg whites 1/2 t cream of tartar 1 lb confectioner's sugar, siftedBeat egg whites and cream of tartar in a small bowl until foamy; slowly beat in sugar until frosting stands in firm peaks and is stiff enough to hold a sharp line when cut through with a knife. Keep bowl of icing covered with damp paper towelling while working, to keep it from drying out and getting too stiff. Store leftover frosting in a tightly covered jar in the fridge.
2 c almonds (not blanched), ground 1-2/3 c sifted powdered sugar 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 t lemon juice or orange flower waterMix together & knead into a smooth dough. Wrap and keep in a cool place until ready to shape. (You may need, as we did for the swan's neck, to use a dowel or two to keep some of the shapes in place)
Bibliographical Notes: my source for the recipe texts is mainly Heiatt and Butler's redaction Curye On Inglysch. The stuffings for the goose and pig come from Cindy Renfrow's Take A Thousand Eggs Or More. The original manuscripts date as follows:
Diuersa Servicia: c. 1381
Utilis Coquinario: c. 1425
The Forme of Cury: c. 1400
Leche Vyaundez: c. 1420
Harleian 4016: c. 1450
Sloan 121: c. 1450
Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye On Inglysch. Oxford University Press (English Text Society), 1985.
Katz, Pat. The Craft Of The Country Cook. Point Roberts, WA: Hartley & Marks, 1988.
Prescott, James, trans. Le Viandier de Taillevent. Eugene, OR: Alfarhaugr Publishing Society, 1989.
Renfrow, Cindy. Take A Thousand Eggs Or More. (both volumes) Published by the author, 1990. Now available from the SCA Stock Clerk.
Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (firstname.lastname@example.org)