A 16th C. Spanish Feast of Catalan and Andalusian Influences
This feast has a number of challenges; some I am familiar with, some entirely new.
- We are cooking for 367 people. Up until this point the largest feast I have ever been responsible served 250 people. This is a massive amount of food.
- 12th Night feasts are meant to be elegant, refined affairs with moderately complicated dishes, served in attractive ways.
- We do not really have a kitchen on site. There is a large prep area, a walk in refrigerator, food warmers, carts and insulated bags for transporting food. We will be setting up our cooking equipment on a loading dock at the back of the building. We will have many burners, but only a couple of grills.
- We are preparing this food outdoors in January, so serving food hot becomes a bit of a challenge.
We have some things in our favor.
- My household, Chez Robear, has amazing resources, both physically and intellectually. We have access to a large amount of equipment of all kinds and a network of people who really know what they are doing. It would be impossible to do this without them. For anyone thinking of doing a feast of this size and complexity, I can’t say this enough. Surround yourself with good people. Delegate your tasks to a competent, professional group of friends and family. No one does this kind of thing successfully alone.
- 16th c. Spain is a rich source of inspiration for a feast of this nature. Some feasts involve skimpy historical resources that require a lot of tweaking to make them suitable for the modern palate. Not so with this feast. Late period Spain had a wealth of cookbooks available. Because of Spain’s diverse culture I was able to pull from both Western and Eastern influences to make dishes that were varied and delicious. If anything, the true challenge was narrowing down the choices.
- Because of the site restrictions it seemed best to limit the number of dishes so that we could be sure of getting each one the proper attention it deserved. This makes everything easier to manage. It also means that one of the common failures of SCA feast is avoided- I simply can’t make so many dishes that our feast-goers become overwhelmed and full before the feast reaches it’s end. So in this way a challenge becomes a benefit.
Food in 16th c. Spain: A Brief Overview
This is a very complex subject, very hard to distill into a few paragraphs. The area that we now call Spain is made up of very distinct regions that even today vary widely in culture and culinary influences. Spain was ruled by the Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, and Christians. For much of this time it had a large and influential Jewish population. It’s food history reflects all of these cultures and further, the conflicts between them. For instance, as I will discuss more later, pork wasn’t just a foodstuff, it was a source of great national pride, secret curing techniques, religious abhorrence, and finally a sign of obedience to Christian rulers.
To add to the complexity , 16th c. Europe itself was a time of great change culinarily speaking. Voyages to the New World created access to new ingredients. Most of Europe began to set aside the medieval ingredients like galangal, long pepper and nut milks, for plantation crops like sugar and actual dairy products like butter and cream. Spain was somewhat different than the rest of Europe in it’s dairy production. The terrain was more rocky. Muslims and Jews also ate a lot of goats and sheep, so Spain developed cheeses made most often from sheep’s milk rather than cows.
To represent this confluence of cultures I used three cookbooks to design this feast. One was a Muslim source. Two more were Christian. Together they spanned 3 centuries and 2 distinct regions.
The Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook c. 13th century-
The original title is “Kitab al tabij fi-l-Maghrib wa-l-Andalus fi `asr al-Muwahhidin, li-mu’allif mayhul “ It means: The Book of Cooking in Maghreb and Andalus in the era of Almohads, by an unknown author. The book was transcribed in the 1400s It contains recipes copied from a number of older works from the 3rd to 12th c., some surviving today. The major part of the English translation is by Charles Perry, a scholar, food historian, and writer of a food column for the L.A. Times.
I do not read Arabic so for this feast I will rely on his translation.
The Book of Sent Sovi c. 14th century-
The oldest surviving cookbook written in Catalan (the region of Catalonia). It’s Christian. It is similar to french and italian cookbooks of the century in ingredients and structure. As with other cookbooks of the time it probably borrowed heavily (or plagiarized depending on how you look at it) from Master Martino’s Libro di arte coquinaria and Taillevent’s Viandier pour appareiller toutes manieres de viandes. For this feast I used a copy of “The book of Sent Sovi: Medieval Recipes from Catalonia” Edited by Joan Santanach Translated by Robin Vogelzang
The Libre del Coch c. 16th century-
The author was Robert de Nola, also known as Mestra Robert. He was the cook for King Ferdinand of Naples. It was the 1st published Catalan cookbook. It was published several times in Catalan and then translated to Spanish and published more. It takes some recipes from the Sent Sovi, some from french and italian sources and contains some recipes that claim to be international styles. This was an interesting trend in Renaissance cookbooks. For instance, I have used a mustard recipe from here, which I discuss later, that is done in the “french” style. I used several online sources.
1st. A photocopy of an extant copy which can be found here- http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/obra-visor/libre-de-doctrina-pera-ben-seruir-de-tallar-y-del-art-de-coch-co-es-de-qualseuol-manera-de-potages-y-salses–0/visor/
2nd A transcription is here- http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/obra-visor/libre-de-doctrina-per-a-ben-servir-de-tallar-y-del-art-de-coch-transcripcio–0/html/ff1e2444-82b1-11df-acc7-002185ce6064_2.html#I_61_
3rd. In addition to some of my own translations I used an English translation of Ruperto de Nola’s “Libre del Coch” by Lady Brighid ni Chiarain found here. –http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-MANUSCRIPTS/Guisados1-art.html
I found Lady Brighid’s work invaluable when my own poor translation skills failed me or when I could not locate the original.
I have translated the one recipe from the Sent Sovi and three from the Libre del Coch using a combination of Catalan dictionary, my poor understanding of Spanish and my wife’s (Yenega de Saturci) much better one. I include them here in plain typeface.
Serrano Ham, Bread in Three Styles , Manchego Cheese, Fresh Butter
Almond Soup with Grapes and Pomegranate Seeds
Pork Belly with Mustard and Apples
Beef with A Good French Sauce, Chopped Spinach with Fresh Cheese
Sausage and Egg Pie and Leeks in Bacon Drippings
Quince with Cream
Figs in Rose Syrup
Serrano Ham, 3 breads, Manchego Cheese
A Brief History of Ham in Spain- One of the principle dishes of classic Spanish cooking is pork, in particular cured hams- the jamon serrano and the jamon iberico, in particular.
Jamon serrano means ham from the Sierra mountains. Serrano ham is made from a landrace ( meaning created through natural isolation) breed of white pig that can trace it’s ancestry to the Roman Empire. Spain’s relationship to pork is more than 2 millennia old, established by Roman and Visigoth occupation. Later cultures- the Muslim and Jewish periods- obviously forbade the use of pork because of biblical dietary laws. . So a societal line was drawn in the sand, so to speak, that marked Christians as the eaters of pork. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, followed by waves of Muslim expulsion in the next centuries, some were allowed to remain if they were converted to Christianity and called “Conversoes” . The Inquisition, in it’s never-ending search for hidden heretics among the Converso looked to food as a marker of bad intent. Former Sabbath dishes that required only heat from the previous day’s fire were banned, and Conversos were expected to eat pork. Meat dishes replaced lamb and goat with pork, but otherwise kept the islamic flavor.
Because this is a feast which brings the Christian and Islamic influences of Spain together, it seemed appropriate to begin the 1st course with cured ham. I purchased my ham from Spain. I have, never had any practice at curing meats so it seemed more sensible to leave a process developed over 200O years to the experts.
To make a Jamon Serrano-
Fresh hams are trimmed and cleaned, then stacked and covered with salt for about two weeks in order to draw off excess moisture and preserve the meat from spoiling. The salt is then washed off and the hams are hung to dry for about six months. Finally, the hams are hung in a cool, dry place for six to eighteen months, depending on the climate, as well as the size and type of ham being cured.
From An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook “The kings of the East have a custom and beautiful idiom: they command the bakers to prepare a number of kinds of bread and present them on a large, broad tray, which the bakers call the exposition tray, in the center of which they present the bread they have made for the master of the house; when the king has seen these breads, he eats of that which pleases and attracts him. As for the method fitting in medicine, it is the method of cooking the different kinds and the balance of the various flavors, because each kind is good for heat, or for cold, or for moderation, according to its heaviness or lightness and the speed and temper of digesting it. “
This passage inspired me to cook 3 kinds of bread for the 1st course. The Libre del Coch had no bread recipes, but many MANY references to bread in other recipes. The Andalusian cookbook has an entire chapter on bread. I was delighted because this is rare in period cookbooks.
I chose a flat bread, a traditional, semolina wheat, leavened loaf, and and egg bread, very similar to challah.
From the Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook-
Rafis -[flat bread, loaf, also raghif] It is desirable that the general conditions of the rafîs be known. Its dough should be of pure semolina with moderate yeast. And the salt should be very little, so that no flavor of salt is tasted, and the butter should be boiled and strained, and the honey skimmed, and if it is made with oil, this should be hot, so none of the flavor of the raw oil should remain. It is baked in a tannur [clay oven] so the bread will be detached, porous and spongy inside. If you make the rafîs with fat, it will be tastier and sweeter and easier to digest. And if it is not leavened, the bread will be doughy and the rafîs firm and compact, like the rafîs of the Berbers and that of the marketplace, and it will not do except for weary laborers or for feeding chickens.
Per 8 loaves:
2 tablespoons yeast
½ tsp honey
2 c warm water
¼ c. olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
6 c flour
Proof yeast, mix ingredients, knead thoroughly, let rise until double, split into 8 pieces. Roll into balls and flatten, put into the oven at 450 for 10 min. I disagree with the author on the use of salt. The modern palate is annoyed when bread doesn’t have enough salt.
Leavened White or Semolina Bread -Take what you will of white flour or of semolina. Moisten it with hot water after sifting, and knead well, after adding leavening, and salt. Moisten it again and again [with warm water] until it has middling consistency. [Form into round loafs and let rise on oiled pans. Bake in a bread oven.
2 tablespoons yeast proofed in a little water and honey
2 Tablespoons honey
½ c melted butter
1 Tablespoon salt
6 c. white flour
Once yeast is proofed, mix ingredients and turn out onto a board to knead. Split dough and allow to rise in separate bowls. Let rise until doubled. Turn out and knead again, forming each into a free form loaf. Allow to rise for an hour. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 40 min.
Making Isfunj [leavened semolina egg bread]- Take semolina and sift it, and take the flour and put it in a dish. Take water and sprinkle it lightly on the semolina. Then knead it into a dough and gather it all up and cover it with a second dish, leaving it until it sweats [this stimulates the gluten]. Then uncover it and knead it until it becomes soft. Throw oil in it, and knead it, and put in leavening and eggs, throw in about five eggs and then knead the dough with the eggs. Then put it in a new pot, after greasing it with oil, and leave it until it rises. [Form into loafs and let rise once more, then bake in a bread oven. Egg bread is often braided and sprinkled with sesame seeds or sugar.]
2 braided loaves
3 Tablespoons yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons melted butter
5 ½ c. all-purpose flour
Proof the yeast, mix all the ingredients except the sesame seeds together. Turn it onto a board and knead until smooth, let rise for 2 hours, punch dough down and divide into 6 equal parts. Roll into ropes and braid. Let rise again. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 min
Manchego Cheese- As mentioned previously, Spanish cheeses tend to be sheep milk cheeses. In the 16th century sheep’s milk was more plentiful than cow’s milk. Today, cooking in America the opposite is true. My cheese maker, Lady Hrosvitha von Celle, is preparing for me authentic Manchego cheese for high table, and a similar cow’s milk cheese for the populace. The cost of sheep’s milk was just too much to use for 350 people. So from a 16th century perspective the populace will be receiving the luxury cheese and High table the common cheese. From our modern budget the reverse is true. Lady Hrosvitha von Celle’s documentation will be included in the final draft of this documentation.
Almond Soup with Grapes and pomegranate seeds
I like to serve soups that are unexpected. It adds a nice surprise in the middle of a meal. While I was doing research into the history of Spanish food, I came across a modern recipe for a cold almond gazpacho. To the modern palate that sounds bizarre, but for those of us who read period cookbooks it rang a giant bell. So I immediately went back to the The Libre del Coch and found no less than four recipes for almond soup. Sometimes you find what you want through reverse engineering.
(note- I was never able to locate the original example of this in the Libre del Coch, so for this one I had to rely solely on Lady Brighid ni Chiarain’s translation)
–POTAJE DE CA—ONADA (Pottage of Almonds)
Take almonds which should be toasted, and grind them well in a mortar; and take a crustless piece of toasted bread, and soak it in white vinegar, and squeeze it well with your hand, and grind it with the almonds all together; and after it is all ground, blend it with sweet white vinegar; and before you blend it, put into the mortar two or three bunches of white grapes and another two of black ones at the same time, and then strain it all through a woolen cloth; and put it in the pot, and put sugar and ground cinnamon in it. And this sauce must taste a little of vinegar; and cook it; and when it is cooked, prepare dishes, and put sugar on each.
Per 6 servings
2 ¼ c. ground almonds (buying almond flour is a great shortcut, provided the only ingredient is almonds)
3 slices of crustless bread
½ olive oil
2 drops almond extract if the almond flour is too bland
3 c. water
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
The modern recipes have garlic, a flavoring that did not always find favor at 16th c. banquets. It was, understandably considered common and bad for the breath. Nevertheless it added such an amazing flavor with the almonds I couldn’t leave it out. So add to this 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Heat all of this until it thickens. Which is about 10 min. I serve this with grapes and pomegranate seeds as a garnish, for color and a surprisingly delicious accent.
Pork Belly w French Mustard and Apples
From the Catalan:
Si vols metre cabrit en ast ab la pell, escalda lo carit e, quan será escaldat, sublime-lo; e trau-ne co qui és en lo ventre, e mit-lo en ast. E puis farceix-lo e posa’l al foc. E quan deurà enregear, hages un poc d’aigua e de sal, e nta’l-ne tot per la pell per tal que no pusca cremar. E ab un bastonet frega ‘l així com hom fa porcell. E una peca lleixa’l coure. E quan serà mig cuit, hages vermells d’ous e debat-los, e mit espècies mòltes e bones, e mescal-ho tot. E puis, ab plomes de gallines, unta’l-ne tot; e puis, quan serà eixut tot, unta’l-ne altra vegada ab oli. Així ho pots fer entrò que sia cuit
If you want to spit a kid and roast; scald it, sear it, take out what’s in the belly, then put it on the spit. And fills it and put it on fire. And when it is rigid, take a little water and salt, and rub in all over the skin so that it may not burn. Baste it well as you would a young pig. Let it cook a while. And when it is half cooked take egg yolks and beat them, and ground spices that are good, mix them all. Then, with chicken feathers, rub it all over, let it dry then rub with oil. Continue until cooked.
Roasted Kid -If you want to put a kid with its skin onto a spit, scald the kid and,when it is scalded, sear it. Take out what is in the belly, and put it on the spit. Then stuff itand put it onto the fire. When it has become rigid, take a little water and salt, and rub some all over the skin so that it will not burn. With a stick, mop it as one does with a piglet. Leave it to cook for awhile. When it is half cooked, take egg yolks and beat them, add good ground spices, and mix them together. Then, with chicken feathers rub some all over, then when it has all dried, rub it again with oil. You can continue to do so until it is cooked.
Piglet is made the same way.
Of course you don’t see that this is also a recipe for roasted pig until you get to the end of the recipe-but there it is. It’s refreshing to see meat actually roasted. So many period meat recipes only describe boiling and/or chopping up for sausage and meatballs. I chose pork belly for this dish, 1) because I LOVE it. 2) because it’s a sturdy cut that is very hard to overcook. These are stressful conditions. We don’t need to complicate it with an unforgiving fatless pork loin. Rather than egg yolks and spices I chose homemade mustard to baste it with.
I decided to make a mustard to use as a coating on the pork belly served in the 3rd course. I chose the following from the Libre del Coch-
OTRA MOSTAZA FRANCESA MUY BUENA Y DURA TODO EL A—O
(ANOTHER VERY GOOD FRENCH MUSTARD WHICH LASTS ALL YEAR)
Take a caldron which will hold two cantaros, and fill it with red grapes and set it to cook upon the fire until it is reduced by half and there remains half a caldron which is one cantaro; and when the grapes are cooked, remove the scum with a wooden spoon; and stir it now and then with a stick; and strain this must through a clean cloth and cast it into a cantaro; and then cast in the mustard, which should be up to a dishful well-ground, little by little, stirring it with the stick. And each day you should stir with it, four or five times a day; and if you wish, you can grind with the mustard three parts cinnamon, two parts cloves, and one part ginger. This French mustard is very good and lasts all year and is mulberry-colored.
(Magdalena here- There is a trend in 16th C. European recipes to attribute dishes to other countries. “Partridges in the Neapolitan style”, for instance. I can’t tell you why Master Ruberto thought this mustard was particularly french. It resembles most other mustard recipes of the period, including English and German examples. Modern french mustard involves wine. So did this one, though as you can see in the original Master Roberto’s used “pre-wine” )
And also this from An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook-
it is fitting to avoid old mustard seed, because if it is old, it acquires a bitterness, and for this reason it should be washed first with hot water and then made. Fresh mustard need not be washed, because it adds sharpness without bitterness. How It Is Made Take fresh mustard seeds and pound them a little in a mortar of stone or wood until they are crushed; wash it with hot water so the bitterness departs, and drain out this water. Then return it to the mortar and crush it hard, sprinkling with sharp vinegar little by little. Then squeeze it in a piece of thick cloth or a rough wool apron; then continue to pound it until it is disintegrated, and squeeze it until it comes out like fine talbîna [dissolved starch]. Then pound sweet, peeled almonds very hard, until they become like dough, and macerate until dissolved so that it moderates its bitterness, makes it white and lets it gain dregs and sweetness, because of the coolness and sweetness of the almonds; this is the benefit of the almonds, and their use to the mustard. When this recipe is complete, use it in kebabs and other heavy, fatty foods, God willing.
Adventures in Mustard-
Mustard maybe the the World’s 1st recorded condiment. Mustard seeds were cultivated in the Indus Valley in 1800 b.c.e. Apicius, a 4th c. Roman collection of recipes, has a mustard recipe. For the last 2000 years these recipes have been remarkably consistent.
Most recipes available before 1700 consist of ground mustard seed and some sort of liquid, frequently must (grape juice extracted and cooked down ), vinegar, or wine. Some add more flavorings, spices, honey, or ground pine nuts or almonds or grape must. As the project continued, I added to the recipe, using ingredients that were mentioned in other examples, until I got the flavor I was looking for. More explanation further down:
I began with a trip to my local Indian market. You can buy black, brown, and yellow mustard seed in 14 oz. packages. I chose yellow seeds with the idea that I wanted to a milder mustard that had less of a horseradish taste. Thank the gods i did, because even yellow mustard seed in this quantity has a real kick.
I also bought 8 lbs of red grapes. I did some research on heirloom grapes of 16th c. Spain. I knew I wasn’t going to find exactly what I was looking for. Nevertheless, it was helpful to learn that wine grapes are very sweet, thick skinned and riddled with seeds. I found the sweetest red grapes available.
I borrowed my laurel’s spice grinder and sauerkraut pot for the project.
I began by cooking down my grapes. I sped up the process a bit by first putting the grapes through my food processor and then putting them in a pot on the stove on low heat. I cooked them until the liquid was reduced by half. Scum did appear just as the recipe said it would. I removed it.
After the juice was reduced I strained the mess into a bowl. This made 4 c of juice. The result was not at all like commercial grape juice, more like non-alcoholic wine, though thicker and cloudy. I left that to cool.
Next I ground my mustard seed. I purchased 5 14 oz. bags. Ground up, this made 12 c. of mustard powder.
I combined all this in the crock with 3 Tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, ½ tablespoon of ginger, and ¼ tablespoons of ground cloves. I covered the mustard itself with plastic, then another layer covering the top of the jar, and then I put the lid on top and carried the whole thing to a corner of my storage area that stays between 40 and 60 degrees.
The next day I pulled it out to check on it.
So far the results were full of heat but otherwise very little flavor. Also the liquid amounts weren’t nearly enough. Back to the drawing board.
I added 4 c. burgundy wine and 1 c. red wine vinegar. It was beginning to take on that mulberry color the original recipe mentioned. I put the pot back in storage.
On day 3 the bitterness and heat had diminished and the more subtle flavors began to emerge. I added another tablespoon of salt.
From the Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook
A Dish Made With Apples
Take meat as mentioned in the recipe for safarjaliyya and prepare the same way; then add tart apples, peeled and cleaned, as many as needed… [Huici Miranda estimates 4 words missing] and when you take it to the hearthstone, put in a little sugar, and cut with musk and camphor dissolved in good rose water. The acidity is most efficacious in lightening and strengthening the heart and it can be made with the flesh of birds, such as fat hens or young squabs of the domestic dove or stock-dove and then it will be finer and better.
I kept this fairly straight forward.
3 apples per 5 lbs of pork. Peeled and sliced. Ideally this is baked along with the pork but my kitchen situation will not make that work. So instead I cored and peeled the apples, and fried them in a pan with pork fat, salt and sugar. It’s then served surrounding the sliced pork belly
Beef with a Good French Sauce
Beef Preparation- Cooking beef for this many people is never easy. I considered dishes that called for boiling it, but in the end nothing is more mouthwatering than a nice piece of roasted beef. Hopefully we will be as successful as we were at Deitrich and Thora’s Coronation. To enhance the beef’s natural awesomeness I also prepared a sauce.
Pomegranate and Pine Nut Sauce-
From the Libre del Coch-
Bona salsa francesa (A Good French Sauce)
Aquesta salsa francesa es bona a tota volateria que sia en ast cuyta: pren ametles que sien netes e blanques e pinyons e picau be ab gingebre e pebre e met y molta canyella: e destemprau ab vi de magranes agres e assaborir ho has que sia agra dolç. E aximateix pots fer salsa ab such de magranes agres e ab canyella sola mesclada e lançada damunt e es fet.
My translation: This French sauce is good on all poultry however it is cooked. Take almonds that are clean and blanched and pine nuts and a bit of ginger and pepper and add lots of cinnamon: and mix with sour pomegranate wine and the taste you have is between sour and sweet. Or you can mix sour pomegranate sauce with only cinnamon mixed and <placed on> and it is done.
BUENA SALSA FRANCESA
You must take almonds that are peeled and very clean and blanched, and pine nuts, and grind them very well with ginger and pepper; and put in a lot of cinnamon; and blend it with sour pomegranate wine so that the flavor remains between sour and sweet; and similarly you can make the sauce with the juice of sour pomegranates and with only cinnamon mixed in and cast on top.
For the pomegranate sauce I took the middle eastern concentrated sauce and combined it with fresh squeezed pomegranate juice to thin it a bit. Then I gave it a sprinkle of cinnamon and brushed it on the beef just before serving. I gently roasted the pine nuts. You have to be careful. They burn quickly. I sprinkled some of them on the beef and then served them on the side. I had previously ground them into the pomegranate mixture, and while the taste was fine, the consistency and color was….unfortunate. Keeping them separate maintained the interesting flavor enhancements and the beautiful color the sauce gave the beef.
Pren espinachs e fes los bells e apres fes los perbullir en aygua e sal: e quant sien ben perbullits prem los entre dos talladors: e apres capolar losas molt be: e apres çoffregiras los ab oli de carn salada: e com seran ben çoffregits met los enla olla e vagen acoure e metras hi aximateix enla olla bon brou de carn salada e molto que sia bo e molt gras sols la flor que sia dela olla: e si peruentura volies metre en loch del brou let de cabres o de ouelles o sino de ametles pendras la carn salada e tallar las a troços axicom vn dau e metras la enla olla ensemps ab los espinachs: segons enlo temps en que seras si hi vols metre formatges frechs jau pots fer aximateix com les tallades damundites dela carn salada: empero si ni mets molts nols hi metes fins que los espinachs sien cuyts de tot met hi aço abans un poch de fer escudelles e si hi vols metre aximateix panses tendres que sien cuytes be ni pots metre ab los espinachs: e si noy vols metre queastes coses ni carn salada: ni formatge de arago rallat: met hi joliuert e menta aximateix car ja valran mos los espinachs
Take spinach and make them very clean and then parboil in salt water: and press well between two chopping blocks: and then chop very well: And then fry them in oil of salted meat: and when it is well fried cast it in the pot and boil and mix in the pot good meat broth and fatty salt meat (bacon) and much and only the flower of the pot: and if you want instead of milk of goat or sheep or else of almonds: Take the salted meat (bacon) and cut into pieces throw into the pot with the spinach: according if you wish, according to the season, add fresh cheese cut the same as the salted meat(bacon); if you put a lot (of cheese) don’t put it in until the spinach is cooked toss in before serving and if you want to add cooked raisins all around the: and if you don’t want to add cheese or salt meat (bacon), mix mint and parsley with the spinach
You must take spinach and clean it, and wash it very well, and give it a brief boil with water and salt; then press it very well between two chopping-blocks, then chop it very small. And then gently fry it in bacon fat; and when it is gently fried, put it in a pot on the fire, and cook it; and cast in the pot: good broth of mutton, and of bacon which is very fatty and good, only the flower (63) of the pot; and if by chance you wish it, in place of the broth, cast upon it milk of goats or sheep, and if not, of almonds; and take the bacon, and cut it into pieces the size of fingers, and cast them in the pot with the spinach; and depending on what the season it is, if you wish, cast in fresh cheese; you may do it likewise, like the abovementioned slices of bacon; and if you put in a great deal, do not put it in until the spinach is entirely cooked, and cast this in a little before dishing it out; and if you wish also
to cast in tender raisins which are cooked, you can do it all around the spinach; and if you do not wish to put in these things, neither bacon nor grated cheese of Aragon, cast parsley and mint with it likewise; and the spinach will be better.
Per 6 people
2 lbs of fresh spinach
½ goat cheese
¼ lb bacon chopped
I steamed the spinach in a very little bit of water, removed it from the heat and pressed it through a sieve until almost all of the water was gone. Back in the pot i cooked the bacon until most of the fat was rendered. I removed it and dropped the spinach back in the pot. Then I added the cheese and allowed it to melt most of the way. Added a little salt and pepper and it’s done.
Sausage and Egg pie and leeks in bacon drippings
From the Libre del Coch
EMPANADA DE CARNE O DE PESCADO
Meat or fish pastry from the Catalan:
A carn o lo peix pendras e donar li has vn bull empero si es carn bulla mes que lo peix: e quant sia ben bullit leuau del foch e met ho en aygua freda: e apres fes la panada e met hi la carn o lo peix s troços menuts axicom los dits y encara menors e vagen en la panada: e apres vaja al forn empero fes vn forat damunt en la cuberta de manera que puga espirar sino sclataria en lo forn enla panada met hi esemps la salsa fina si es de peix carrega la ma en pebre: e si es de carn carrega la ma en salsa e vn poch abans que sie ora de traure la del forn met hi per lo forat ous debatuts en vna escudella ab agresta: o verament such de toronges o vinagre blanch e bo: e apres torna la al forn per espay de vn Pater noster e vna auemaria: e apres aporta la dauant ton senyor bona y calda.
Take a meat or a fish and give; it a boil. however if it is meat boil more than the fish: and when well cooked remove from the fire and put it in cold water: And then make the panada. and put the meat or the fish pieces small finger size or smaller and put in the panada: and then go in the oven but make a hole on the top (of the panada) so that it can breathe or it with burst in the oven. If you put meat in the panada also put fine spice/sauce or if fish put lots of pepper: and if meat use lots of spice/sauce. A little before it is time to draw from the oven put in the hole eggs beaten in a bowl with verjuice or orange juice or white vinegar <…>: and then returned to the oven for the time of a Pater Noster and an avemaria: and then take it out and serve good and hot?
You must take meat or fish, and give it a boil. But if it is meat, boil it more than the fish. And when it is well-boiled, take it from the fire and put it in cold water. And then make the empanada. And put in the meat or fish which is cut into small pieces, as big as two fingers, or even smaller. And put them in the empanada, and then go to the oven and make a vent hole on top of the lid of the empanada so that it can breathe, or else it will burst in the oven. And when you put the meat in the empanada, also put fine spice with it. And if it is fish, use a good deal of pepper. And if it is meat, use a good deal of spice; and a little before it is time to remove the empanada from the oven, put into the vent hole some eggs beaten in a dish with verjuice or orange juice or rose-scented white vinegar. And then return it to the oven for the space of a Paternoster and an Ave Maria. And take it out and put it on the table.
An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook
A Pie [Mukhabbazah] of Lamb Make meatballs of lamb with all the spices and flavorings, beat them with egg white, and put into the pot a spoonful of oil, cilantro juice, a spoonful of onion juice and half a spoonful of murri [use soy sauce], and pepper, cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon [cassia], a handful of pinenuts, coriander, a little caraway and a spoonful of water. Cook until the meatballs stiffen, and cook the sauce and boil two eggs in it, then cover [the contents of the pot with eggs and breadcrumbs] and take it out to the hearthstone [a lower heat] until [the egg layer] wrinkles. Knead a dough with white flour, water and oil. Prepare a crust dough of this [line a pan], and put in the meatballs and the boiled eggs, after splitting, and put all the filling inside this. Then cover it with a sheet of dough made in the same manner. Fasten it closed and send it to the oven until it is done Then present it, God willing
I have 2 recipes to work from. I appreciate Master Rupert’s contribution, but the Anonymous Andalusian cook made a pie with flair so I couldn’t help but gain inspiration from it.
For 3 pies
6 lbs hamburger (half ground lamb, half beef)
2 c. bread crumbs (not in the original but it kept them from being too chewy)
Basil, rosemary, mint, ginger cumin, oregano to taste.
I combined all this and then but them in a 350 degree oven for ½ hour.
½ c bread crumbs
Late period piecrust recipes tend to use egg in their mix. It makes for a sturdy crust. I used this standard translation from A Proper New Book of Cookery borrowed from medievalcookery.com . I love those guys. They are a gift.
1 1/2 cups flour
4 Tbsp. butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
about 3/8 cup water
Mix flour, salt, and saffron together in a large bowl. Cut or rub the butter and eggs into the flour mixture until it forms fine crumbs. Add water a little at a time until it just sticks together – too much water will make the dough too soft and sticky. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Roll out on a well floured surface.
Source [A Proper New Booke of Cookery, A. Veale]: To make short paest for tarte. Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.
POTAJE DE PORRADA
You must take leeks, well-peeled, and washed and cleaned the night before, set them to soak in an earthen bowl filled with water, in the night air; and let them be this way all night until the morning; and then give them a boil, moderately, because they are very difficult to cook; and when they are well-boiled, press them a great deal between two chopping blocks, and gently fry them with the fat of good bacon; and do not cast salt upon them; and when they are well gently fried, set them to cook in a little good broth which is fatty; and then take almond milk and cast it in the pot and cook it until it is quite thick; and when it is thick, taste it for salt, and if it lacks salt cast it in; and then prepare dishes, and [cast] upon them sugar and cinnamon.
For 6 servings
Bacon pieces from the chopped spinach recipe
Chop the leeks in rings from the white parts up to about half of the green parts. Let them soak overnight in water. Swish them around periodically to help remove sand. Drain and set on towels to dry. I found boiling to be unnecessary. Cook them on medium heat with the bacon, stirring gently the whole time. Add just a pinch of sugar and cinnamon while they are heating. Add salt to taste.
Quince paste with Cream
Basin of Figs
From the Libre del Coch
QUINCES COOKED IN THE POT
Quinces cooked in the pot from the Catalan:
Codonys bullits en olla
Pendras vna Cassola:o pinyeta cuberta:e que enla cubertora hi haja molts forats petits empero que la dita cassola:o pinyata sia noua perque no prenga altra sabor la vianda e met hi los codonys dintre la pinyata empero que sten nets e bels e apres vmpliras la de ametles e vin cuyt per que torne a manera de vnguent aquest potatge:e ab aquests codonys metras ferts canons de canyella:e girofle:e mostada:e flor de macis:e grana paradisi: e ab tot aço metras la en les brases viues ab petit foch fins al coll e bulla a plaer:empero que sia cuberta:e quant sia cuyt tallaras los honestament e leuaras ne lo cor e bons e tallats met los damunt vn plat e desobre sucre e canyella e girofle.
MEMBRILLOS COCIDOS EN OLLA
Take a casserole or pot, and the cover which should have many small holes; and the pot should be new so that the food does not absorb any other flavor. And cast the quinces in, well-cleaned, and then fill [the pot] with almonds and boiled wine, so that it becomes in the manner of thick honey, like ointment; and with these quinces put certain little splinters of cinnamon, and cloves of gilofre, and nutmeg, and the best mace, and grains of paradise; and with all this put it over the coals with little fire up to the neck, and cook it at your pleasure; and it should be covered; and when it is cooked, cut them cleanly and remove the core, and then put them on a plate, and [cast] upon them sugar, and cinnamon, and cloves of gilofre.
Per 6 servings
½ c red wine
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp nutmeg
1.4 tsp grains of paradise
Quince are amazing. They taste like the best apples and pears with just a hint of flower essence to make them magical fairy fruit. Baking them does all the right things. I placed the quince in a shallow baking dish, poured in sweet red wine, sprinkled them with spices , cover them, and let them cook at 350 degrees for 45 min. They come out wrinkly, and slip right out of their skins once they are cool. I then macerate them in a bowl with the wine and spices they cooked in. Then I add the sugar. I serve this with fresh whipped cream.
From the Libre del Coch-
Take almonds which are select, and wholesome, and well-peeled in boiling water. And grind them very well, moistening the pestle of the mortar in rosewater so that they don’t become oily. And when they are well-ground, cast in as much syrupy sugar as there will be almonds; and let it be well-ground, and strained through a silk sieve; and make good paste incorporating the sugar little by little, and not with large amounts, so that you don’t make the paste viscous, and spread them out very well.
The way to cook and glaze them:
Take fine sugar which is very well-ground, and strain it through a sieve of silk; and for a syrup put it in this way, and blend it with rosewater which is reasonably thick.
It is necessary that the oven is not very intense, but temperate; and take the sheet on which you will cook the marzipans, and heat it in the oven; and when it is hot, cast flour on it, under the marzipans, so that they don’t stick; and put them in the oven until you see that you cannot bear to touch them with the back of your hand; and if the outside is not cooked, be sure to return it to the edge of the sheet with the outside on the inside. And then take them out and with a little spoon cast glaze upon them, and with some feathers spread it out all over. And then return them gently to the oven until the glaze hardens, as you think [right] according to the practice you have seen.
There was a recent discussion online about the usefulness of buying marzipan in big cans from Restaurant Depot. I can’t quite bring myself to do that. But I do use already blanched and ground almonds. That’s all almond flour is.
Marzipan for 24 cookies-
1 lb almond flour
3 ¼ c fine ground sugar
4 egg whites
2 drops almond extract
1 tsp rosewater
Whip egg whites until stiff. Combine all ingredients until it looks like a cookie dough. Refrigerate overnight.
Form cookie shapes approx 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. I like to use a cookie press. Bake at 325 for 10 min. Cookie should only darken slightly but form a crisp crust.
Basin of Figs
From the Libre del Coch
BURNIA (101) DE HIGOS
From the Catalan:
Pendras figues quesien seques e ben melades: a vna a vna aplanales be: quant seran be aplanades hages vna burnia noua: e neta e met hi vn sostre de roses vermelles e quen sia leuat lo blanc ab vnes tisores: e apres damunt vn poc de sucre ab vn sostre de figues y en aquesta manera faras tota la burnia: çoes vn sostre de roses altra de sucre altre de figues: fet aço taparas la burnia per que estiga axi quinze o vint jorns: e apres menja de les dites figues e veuras vn gentil menjar e bella cosa.
You will take very good dried figs, very sweet, and flatten them well, one by one, and remove from them the hard part of the stems, and take a basin or a deep plate which is new and very clean. And put at the bottom of the basin a layer of red roses, removing the white part of them with scissors. And upon the roses a little sugar, and then a layer of the figs, and in this manner, making a layer of the roses and sugar and another of the figs, fill up the basin or plate. And having done this, cover the basin well, so that it is there for fifteen or twenty days. And then eat those figs, and this is a very exquisite food.
3 gal dried rose petals
3 gal spring water
For this I acquired a medium size plastic storage bin. I lined it with the food safe plastic bags used to baste turkeys. I hydrated the petals overnight with springwater and rosewater. The next day I layered the petals, figs and sugar in that order over and over until I ran out of figs. I sealed the container with duct tape and left it in a corner of my house that is roughly between 45 and 50 degrees.
Albala, K. (2007). The banquet: Dining in the great courts of late Renaissance Europe. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Beard, J. (1973). Beard on bread. Tokyo: Bunka Pub. Bureau.
Roden, C. (2012). The food of Spain: A celebration. London: Michael Joseph.
Rodinson, M., & Arberry, A. J. (2001). Medieval Arab cookery. Devon, England: Prospect Books.
Suñol, J. S., & Vogelzang, R. M. (2008). The book of Sent Soví: Medieval recipes from Catalonia. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Tamesis.
Stefan’s Florilegium Archive. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2016, from http://www.florilegium.org/?http:/www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-MANUSCRIPTS/Guisados1-art.html