This was my second stint as the Here Be Dragons Head Cook, so I felt a great deal more confident about it. Nonetheless, the event presented some challenges. The first was that it was a royal progress, being graced by the presence of Her Majesty Queen Honor of Drachenwald, plus two peers from the kingdom. One of these was Mistress Jaelle, who is, among other things, a cooking Laurel. I was somewhat intimidated. In addition, my activities as feast cook were a little complicated by the fact that the presence of Her Maj and other peers was partially in order to place me on vigil for the Pelican. I spent a certain amount of time ducking between the kitchen and Court, and had to abandon clean-up completely after the last course was out, in order to sit an unexpected vigil. I’m assuming that elves did the clean-up; whoever they were, they were very efficient. I did feel it to be somewhat appropriate that when I was called into court to be placed on vigil, I had to put down the plate of sweets I was carrying and take off my apron.
Bearing in mind the vagaries of the stoves at this site, I’d come prepared: most of the desserts and some of the starters for feast were pre-made, and I’d brought a 3-plate gas hob along, plus things like whisks for the cream and small frying pans, which the kitchen lacked. Pre-prep was a little complicated by the fact that all the visitors were staying in our house, and I spent most of the week before the event doing guide duties. However, this is fairly normal for events with overseas visitors, and I’ve learned to work around it. Other people took care of the guests on the Friday before the event, so I was able to shop and cook, and of course the visitors were very helpful!
I had a somewhat interesting freedom this event, in that, as I noted on the Shire list, I seemed to be cooking for a bunch of 30 happy allergy-free carnivores of no fixed religion. No vegetarians, no non-bacon-eaters, no serious food allergies, and those who preferred to avoid red meat in quantity were quite happy to eat small amounts of bacon in other dishes.
(Cooked by Baroness Jehanne de Huguenin and Lady Ginevra del’Acqua)
Grate Parmesan cheese and other cheese/ that is hard and not rotten/ mash it up with eggs/ and good fresh butter/ so it is a good filling in a Turten. And make no lid thereon/ that one may see/ that it is a cheese Turten. (Marx Rumpolt, Turten 19)
A basic and rather flavourful quiche: my standard recipe is 500g smooth cottage cheese, half a block of parmesan, 3 eggs, about a tablespoon of soft butter. It makes enough for a smallish tart, a shortcrust pastry case with about 150g flour.
If you would make a pastry with small birds. Take a plentiful number of birds and make a layer of birds and a layer of bacon slices, until the pastry is filled. Also put a few grapes into it. And let it bake a little and put a small drop of good wine thereon and then it is ready. If you have no fresh butter, then use beef suet. (Sabina Welserin 98)
Ginevra made these; they were very good, although the temperamental oven dried them out a little.
Peel the Cucumbers/ and cut them broad and thin/ season them with oil/ pepper and salt. But if they are salt-preserved/ they are also not bad/ are better than raw/ because one can salt it with Fennel and with caraway/ that both can be kept over one year. And near the Rhine-stream one calls it Cucummern (Rumpolt, Vegetables 20)
Take hard boiled eggs/ serve them especially beside the salad/ sprinkle them with green parsley and salt/ and pour vinegar over. (Rumpolt, Vegetables 23)
Curley salad/ that is nicely green. (Rumpolt, Vegetables 38)
Here be disaster. I pickled the cucumbers in brine a couple of days before the event. I have no idea what happened – I’m not a madly experienced pickler, but the damned things fermented or something. They smelled like very old seaweed, and tasted salty, slimy and somehow fishy. We threw them out.
Bread, Cheese, Fruit
(Cooked by Baroness Jehanne de Huguenin)
If you would make cheese buns. Then grate an especially good Parmesan cheese and put grated white bread thereon, until it becomes very thick. Afterwards beat eggs into it, until it becomes a good dough. After that make good round balls, the same size as scalded buns, and let them fry very slowly, then they are ready. (Sabina Welserin 96)
If you would make chicken buns. Then take the meat from hens and let it cook beforehand, after that chop it small and put grated a Semmel thereon and eggs thereon, until you think that it is a good thick dough. Afterwards make fine round little balls and let them fry very slowly and roast them. (Sabina Welserin 97)
Blessings on the head of Queen Honor, who spent a significant portion of Friday night painstakingly making little balls out of breadcrumbs and either cheese or chicken filling. These were good, but it was a mistake to pre-make them: I fried them on Friday night, and then heated them up in the oven for the feast on Saturday, and they went tough.
Mushroom pastiesIf you would make baked morels so take small morels and wash them clean and cut the stems from/off them and make a thin dough of white meal-flour and pour a little wine there on and color it [with saffron?]and close the morels there in and bake them. (Rheinfränkisches Kochbuch, c. 1445, 44.)
Blessings on the head of Biringeira and Jaelle, who spent Saturday afternoon discussing various issues while wrapping pastry around mushrooms. Very simple recipe, rather good flavour because the pastry keeps all the mushroom juices locked inside. They look vaguely cthulhoid, though.
Liver Pâte and bread
A pepper. Take a liver and fry it and then cut off the skin and cut the liver into strips and cut these into good pieces, the grind them in a mortar and add crumbed(?) bread and broth and wine or vinegar to it. Then (cook it?) well it to a pan. This makes a liver pepper.
A black pepper. Likewise take rye bread, crumb it and mix it through with broth and with wine and vinegar, until there is enough and spice it and add bacon there-in, as previously written and boil this wildmeat. (Ein Alemannischisches Buchlein von Guter Speise, 2 & 3, tr. Lady Leofwynn Wulfinga and Osgot)
An actual liver pate recipe! Chicken livers, bacon, rye breadcrumbs, red wine and wine vinegar, salt, pepper, spices. Quite a strong flavour. I made these on Friday and froze them – they survived the process very well.
You can also arrange a salad in a bowl/ green white and red/ nicely made like a rose/ so it is decorative/ good and welltasting. (Rumpolt, Salads 46)
Watercress salad/ created in a garden/ or grown near a running creek/ is not bad either. (Rumpolt, Salads 9)
Usual ironies: watercress was madly available in the supermarkets for weeks until the day I actually shopped, when there simply wasn’t any. We had rocket salad instead. I served this with a basic oil/vinegar dressing and seasoning.
Red beets preserved with small cut horseradish/ anise/ coriander/ and a little caraway/ special if the beets are cut/ marinated in half wine and half vinegar. (Rumpolt, Accompaniments to roast meat, 3)
I don’t like beetroot, but I liked this. I used red wine and vinegar, and I parboiled the beetroot slices before bottling them in the hot vinegar/wine/spice mixture. I used whole aniseed, coriander and caraway seeds, and layered the beets with chopped horseradish. A strong, spicy flavour.
Roast Chicken with pears and bacon
Take a goose, stuff it with onions, peeled quinces, pears and bacon, stick it on a spit and roast it. (Sabina Welserin 15)
This was a lovely recipe. Whole chickens, stuffed with chopped onions and bacon and chunks of pear. I fried the stuffing slightly to soften it, and added the leftovers to the roasting pans about half an hour before they finished cooking. Tender, moist, fruity chicken.
To make a sauce with apples for game and small birds. `Take good apples and peel them and grate them with a grater and put a little fat in a pan over [the fire] and let it become hot and put the apples in it and let them roast therein. After that put good wine thereon, sugar, cinnamon, saffron and some ginger and let it cook together for a while, then it is ready. One should boil the small birds first and then roast them in fat. (Sabina Welserin 8)
It makes a huge difference to the flavour of an applesauce if you fry the apples in butter first – they go slightly brown and caramelised, and the sauce has a more authoritative taste. I cooked the fried apples gently in wine (I used sweet white wine) and spices until the apples were soft enough to mash – no water added at all.
Earth apples. Peel and cut them small/ soak (simmer) them in water/ and press it well out through a hair (fine) cloth/ chop them small/ and fry them in bacon/ that is cut small/ take a little milk thereunder/ and let it simmer therewith/ so it is good and welltasting. (Marx Rumpolt, Vegetables 37)
This is a rich vegetable dish; the bacon complements the sweetness of the potatoes, and I used cream instead of milk. Not too much milk/cream, or the dish becomes too watery.
Cabbage. White cabbage prepared with young chickens and good beef broth/ put ginger, nutmeg blossom [mace]/ fresh butter/ and a little browned flour therein/ let it therewith simmer/ so it will be good and also welltasting.
Green cabbage with smoked chicken. (Rumpolt, Vegetables 109 & 112).
The necessary Mystery Ingredient I left behind this time was, in fact, the beef stock cubes, which is tricky, since several dishes needed them. Fortunately Garsiyya had brought vegetable stock powder for his Sunday lunch menu, so it wasn’t a total catastrophe. This cabbage dish was much better with beef broth than vegetable broth, though – I found the feast version a little bland. I used commercial smoked chicken to add more flavour. I prefer to cook baby cabbage if at all possible, but the only ones I could find were a mixture of green and purple. Note to self: Shire regards purple food with suspicion.
Game in Pepper Sauce
Boil fresh game in two parts water and one part wine, and when it is done, then cut it into pieces and lay it in a peppersauce. Let it simmer a while therein. Make [the sauce] so: Take rye bread, cut off the hard crust and cut the bread into pieces, as thick as a finger and as long as the loaf of bread is. Brown it over the fire, until it begins to blacken on both sides. Put it right away into cold water. Do not allow it to remain long therein. After that put it into a kettle, pour into it the broth in which the game was boiled, strain it through a cloth, finely chop onions and bacon, let it cook together, do not put too little in the peppersauce, season it well, let it simmer and put vinegar into it, then you have a good peppersauce. (Sabina Welserin 4)
Mmmm, game stew. I used ostrich goulash, which is usefully pre-chopped and much cheaper than the fillet, and cooked it in red wine and water, adding chopped onions and bacon partway through the process. The toasted rye bread thickens the sauce and adds flavour. This was taking liberties with the recipe, which requires the meat cooked separately and then served with a peppersauce made with the broth from the cooking, onions, bacon, vinegar and spices. The stew cooked all together was good, though, with a pleasing bite from the vinegar.
Rice in Broth
Rice cooked in a beef broth/ that is wellcooked/ and becomes a mush (porridge)/ put beef fat / that is removed from the meat/ therein/ so it becomes good. And when it is cooked/ and one wants to arrange it/ so put green parsley/ that is cut small (minced)/ thereunder/ so it becomes dainty and also good. (Rumpolt Vegetables 167)
Another dish which suffered from the lack of beef broth. I served plain boiled rice with chopped parsley and butter.
Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
You can also prepare and roast the yellow roots/ be they cut small or large/ also with a beefbroth/ take meat thereunder or not. (Rumpolt Vegetables 183).
White root [turnip? parsnip?]/ cut them in cubes/ and roast them in hot butter/ pour beef broth / that is lightly salted/ also thereover/ put it on [to cook] and let simmer/ that a short broth [till a little juice] comes out. You may do it without meat/ so it is in all ways good. Or you may let it [the meat?] simmer with the roots/ so it browns nicely/ good and welltasting. (Rumpolt Vegetables 182)
I cheated and combined these two recipes. Chopped carrots and parsnips roasted in a pan in the oven with butter, broth and seasoning. A bit bland without the beef flavour.
Peach Turten/ press them through/ or put them in whole with cinnamon and sugar. (Rumpolt, Turten 9.)
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. (Sabina Welserin 131)
I pre-made a whole bunch of mini tart shells, which were precooked in my cunning tart-blind-baking arrangement, which entails putting the pastry into tart pans with an identical pan slotted in on top of them, so they didn’t rise or brown. I also pre-made the fillings, basically a raw peach glop and a cooked pear glop. Come the feast, all I had to do was spoon filling into the cases and bake them. The filling ended up quite soft, but tasty.
Almond and raisin pastries
Take grated almonds / season them with sugar / rosewater / and with small black raisins / make a dough thereto with warm water / and a little butter / roll it out with a rolling pin / wrap the almonds therein / and cut it with a wheel / bake (fry) it in hot butter / that is not too hot / give it warm to the table / and sprinkle with sugar.
A bit ambiguous, this one. I rolled out a basic shortcrust pastry, cut it into a rectangle, spread the almond/raisin/sugar/rosewater mix on half of it, then folded over the other half and pressed down firmly. Then I cut it into squares and baked them. The filling oozed out a bit, but not too much.
If you wish such comfits to coat with sugar/ so take a clean copper vessel/ that has two handholds/ hang it in the height on a rope at both handholds/ set a glow kettle with glowing coals thereunder/ put the comfits into the vessel/ and make it fine warm/ pour nice clarified (clean) sugar thereto/ and stir it often therewith/ till the confits the sugar takes to it/ so it becomes nice white and dry. Also coats one assorted grains with sugar/ and assorted spices/ so it becomes good and also welltasting. (Marx Rumpolt, Sugar).
This recipe section includes a whole list of foods which may be "coated", presumably with sugar; I have chosen to take the hazelnuts and walnuts from the list and coat them with the sugar recipe given at the end of the list. These were made on the Thursday before the event, and went down very well: we had a big brass ewer full of them, and there were enough left after the feast to circulate among the spectators during the boffer tourney the following day. These were surprisingly easy to make: I’m used to the honey version, which you have to cook for ages. Here, I simply put the nuts into a sugar mix with spices (nutmeg, ginger, cloves) and stirred the whole lot over a reasonably hot plate until until the nuts were coated in molten sugar. It goes a bit lumpy, but the effect when eating is pleasantly crunchy.
(Cooked by Lord Thomas Tanner of Ely)
Hanoney (Scrambled Eggs)
Take and draw the White & the yolks of the Eggs through a strainer; then take Onions, & shred them smell; then take fair Butter or grease, & scarcely cover the pan therewith, and fry the onions, & then cast the Eggs in the pan, & break the Eggs & the Onions together; and then let them fry together a little while; then take them up, and serve forth all broken together on a fair dish. (Harleian MS)
Oats cooked in milk/ are not bad either. (Rumpolt, Vegetables 94)
Take apples / and chop them with small black raisins / put it in a pan / and a little butter therein / roast it well therein with cinnamon and sugar / let it cool / and wrap it in a dough / that is made with water and butter / bake it at a low temperature / sprinkle it with white sugar / and give it to the table.(Rumpolt, Baked Goods 11)
Tea & coffee
(cooked by Garsiyya ibn Ibrahim ibn Sulaiman al-Qurtubi)
Garsiyya and Sister Mairi Jean,
How one should make Zervelat: First take four pounds of pork from the tender area of the leg and two pounds of bacon. Let this be finely chopped and add to it three ounces of salt, one pound of grated cheese, one and one half ounces of pepper and one and one half ounces of ginger. When it is chopped then knead the following into it, one and one half ounces cinnamon, one fourth ounce of cloves, one fourth ounce of nutmeg and one ounce of sugar. The sausage skins must be cleaned and subsequently colored yellow, for which one needs not quite one fourth ounce of saffron. Tie it up on both ends and pour in approximately one quart of fresh water. The entire amount of salt, ginger and pepper should not be added, taste it first and season it accordingly. It should be cooked about as long as to cook eggs. The seasoning and the salt must be put into it according to one's own discretion, it must be tried first. (Sabrina Welserin 24)
If you would make good bratwurst: Take four pounds of pork and four pounds of beef and chop it finely. After that mix with it two pounds of bacon and chop it together and pour approximately one quart of water on it. Also add salt and pepper thereto, however you like to eat it, or if you would like to have some good herbs , you could take some sage and some marjoram, then you have good bratwurst. (Sabina Welserin 25)
He who wants to make a good dish chops parsley and sage, exactly as much. And fry them in butter and beats eggs soft. And mix that together. And grate cheese and bread therein. And make a leaf from eggs. And pour butter thereunder. And pour this thereon. Give it flowers on top. And let bake. This is ruzzige cake. (Guter Spise 52)
If you would make boiled dumplings. Then take chard, as much as you like, some sage, marjoram and rosemary, chop it together, also put grated cheese into it and beat eggs therein until you think that it is right. Take also cinnamon, cloves, pepper and raisins and put them into the dumpling batter. Let the dumplings cook, as one cooks a hard-boiled egg, then they are ready. (Sabina Welserin 119)
Melitta Weiss Adamson. 2000. Daz bouch von gouter spise (The Book of Good Food) A Study, Edition, and English Translation of the Oldest German Cookbook. Medium Aevum Quotidianum Herausgegaeben von Gerhard Jaritz Sonderband IX. Krems (Oesterrich).
Valoise Armstrong (tr). 1998 Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (1553) http://daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html
Alia Atlas (tr). 1993. Ein Buch von guter spise. http://cs-people.bu.edu/akatlas/Buch/buch.html
V. Bach. 2004. Giano Balestriere’s Twelfth Night German feast 2004.
M. Grasse (Gwen Catrin von Berlin), tr. 1999-2002. Marx Rumpolt, Ein New Kochbuch (1581)