Posts tagged ‘food’

#44 Prince Bisket

Being the sort of person who wants to impress everyone every second of the day, when being asked to bring a plate for a colleague’s birthday party I decided to go all medieval on their feast. I said I would bring a sweet, then turned to the internet to save me.

I discovered this lovely site almost immediately and set to looking for something which a) seemed easy to make and b) didn’t require me stepping out of my house to find ingredients. Thus began my love of this recipe, Prince Bisket.

I have found two recipes for Prince Bisket. The first is the only one I have tried, as the second seems a little more involved.

The first recipe:

Hugh Platt p. 14/94 (attribution copied from originating site–I have not identified which of Platt’s works this recipe derives from)

Take one pound of very fine flower, and one pound of fine sugar, and eight egges, and two spoonfuls of Rose water, and one ounce of Carroway seeds, and beat it all to batter one whole houre: for the more you beat it, the better your bread is: then bake it in coffins, of white plate, being basted with a little butter before you put in your batter, and so keep it.

The second recipe: 

To make Prince Bisket

PERIOD: England, 17th century | SOURCE: A Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen, 1617 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: A sweet bread or biscuit baked in a pie shell, or made like wafers

 To make Prince Bisket.

Drie a pound of very fine wheat flower in an Ouen two houres, after the bread hath beene drawne, or the Ouen being warmed, but not heated for the nonce, the flower were best in an earthen Pipkin couered, least it loose the colour, put to it a pound of double refined Sugar beaten and cearsed fine, then take ten new laid Egges, take away fiue of their whites, straine these Egs into a Bason, with a spoonfull of Rose-water, and sixe spoonfuls of scalded Creame, when you haue all in the Bason, first put in your cearsed Sugar, and let it dissolve by beating it into your Egs, then put in your flower by little and little, vntil both the flower and the other things be incorporated, beat it well together an houre at least, and you shall at last see it turne white, then you must have coffins of white plate indude with butter as thinne as you can, so as it be touched in euery place, then take an ounce and a halfe of sweet Anise-seed, and one of Coriander, dried rubd and dusted, put the Anise-seed in the batter, & the batter into the coffins, and bake it an houre at least if you will, you may make Cracknels of the same batter, driue it thinne vpon the Plates, and when you take it off, rowle it thinne like a Wafer, and dry them again in the Ouen.

What I did:

I saw the redaction on the first recipe then proceeded to ignore it completely.

Not wanting a large amount of food, I cut the recipe down to two cups of white flour and one cup of white sugar and sifted them together.

I took two eggs and put them into my blender for a few seconds. Then I put a decent splash of rosewater in with the eggs and blended it again. By decent splash, I’m talking somewhere in the vicinity of 1 1/2 tablespoons of rosewater. Then I tipped the flour/sugar into the blender with the eggs along with roughly 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.

I blended all this together for a couple of minutes, using a spatula to push it down the sides a couple of times.

Once it was nice and smooth, I put small squares of greaseproof paper into a mini-muffin tray and put the mix into each section.

Then I popped the tray into a preheated oven at 180C for 20 min.

Prince Bisket

Prince Bisket: I forgot to take a photo until they’d been half eaten already.

They are delicious. The caraway and the rosewater really make this a flavour that’s unusual and morish. After trying the first one I was a little worried that the flavour might not suit the modern palate (particularly as I was feeding them to people who hadn’t experienced medieval foods before), but I’ve had multiple requests now for the recipe. I’d say that’s a winner.

Advertisements

Checking back in…

It’s been quite some time since I blogged here, and I haven’t been going to many events due (mostly) to time constraints, but that doesn’t mean that all has been silent on the A&S front. This being AS 49, I decided I need to get up and moving on my 50 things project, and to do this, I need to get up to date with my list. I previously was at Breadth challenge #27, so here’s my list continuing on:

28. My songbook has now expanded to include 55 songs, some of which are period and some not. This has been a depth challenge for me (and will continue to be ongoing… there are a lot of songs available  and a lot of pages in my songbook which are yet to be filled in.) I’ve got a YouTube channel where I’m gradually adding content. Due in part to bad speakers, another part to poor microphones, and a third part to the fallibility of my vocal cords, the sound is not always the best, but I believe it’s probably sufficient for other bards to pick up a tune from what I’ve posted. You can listen to me on this channel:   https://www.youtube.com/user/RevKristine

29. My wedding dress. You’ve already seen the fabric, here and here… the final product was entirely hand stitched to my own design. It didn’t entirely work the way I wanted, due majorly to my weight (and size) jumping all over the place while I was making the dress. However, I’m (mostly) satisfied with what I made, and apart from some minor freakouts on the day and the groom having a broken leg (that’s a story unto itself), the wedding went well. I’ve since used the dress at an event, and now that I am fatter, it fits me a lot better.

My wedding dress, from my own design.

My wedding dress, from my own design.

30. My wedding cake. This was made entirely of gingerbrede with marzipan icing. I will admit to buying the pink flowers on the cake, but am particularly proud of my own marzipan roses.

Wedding cake made on gingerbrede and marzipan

Wedding Cake

31. A painted buckler. I carried it into the wedding. For those who are curious, the text on the buckler is not period. It is, instead, made of Tengwar and written in Sindarin (one of the Elvish languages from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth stories). The text reads “loving twin souls” and “eternity”. Note: I did not make the buckler (which was rehomed to us from a heavy fighter who could no longer fight due to chronic shoulder injury), I simply painted it.

 

 

A painted buckler

A painted buckler

32. My wedding jewellery. Namely a strand of  black pearls, strung on silk, using a  toggle clasp.

A photo of me which displays my wedding jewellery

A photo of me which displays my wedding jewellery

 

 

 

33. A naalbinded phone pouch.

Naalbinded pouch

Naalbinded pouch for my love’s phone

34. Turks-head knot balls. I gifted these to Stegby a while back so the canton can build a children’s play box. I don’t currently have a photo.

35. Naalbinded bag. I make a lot of bags and pouches, it seems. This one became my token display area.

36. Bone pendant. This was a wedding gift for a couple of friends. This pendant was quite challenging due to the intricacy of the design.

Bone pendant featuring knotwork

37. Cider. My dear husband has taken to brewing his own cider, and so I have dabbled alongside him. Chief among my accomplishments is a dry pomegranate cider (yum).

38. Mead. I managed to find a period recipe for “weak mead”, which I have used, drank, then used further as a base for…

39. I am unsure what to name this drink. It may be considered a melomel, or it may be considered an ale: I used a weak mead recipe as a base and added barley. The result was dry, with a lemony flavour and a lingering but not unpleasant aftertaste in the back of the throat. I may try it again sometime.

40. Sekanjabin. This is a period Middle Eastern drink of  vinegar and sugar, heated until it becomes syrupy, and used as a cordial. I use red wine vinegar, but my father tells me it’s quite nice using apple cider vineger.

41. Embroidered handkerchiefs. Carrying tissues around at an event is (while convenient) something that detracts from authenticity. To this end, I have embroidered some handkerchiefs so that I’m not dropping tissues whenever I happen to have a runny nose at an event.

42. Illumination.  This was the product of an A&S class at this year’s Great Northern War.

Illumination

Illumination

43. Pilgrim bag for my father. Having at some stage read about Elizabethan era stitching techniques, and having a father who is about ready to entrust himself to the SCA and who accompanied me to Great Northern War, I decided he needed a pilgrim bag to put his feasting gear into. You can see the bag in the background of the below image. All fabric edges have been folded into a hem and secured with a running stitch, then seams have been whipstitched. I decided that, as the fabric I was using was unbleached calico and the stitches would be visible anyway, I would make the stitches become a feature of the bag. All stitching has been done in blue. I also followed this pattern with the strap, making the strap a long tube and placing the seam for the strap uppermost and in the middle rather than on one of the edges. I think this will probably add long term strength to the strap also.

Dad

My father. Note the bag on the table next to him.

That’s it for the moment. I’m so close to my 50! I do have a few projects on the go at the moment… one crewel work embroidery, a splitstitch embroidery, a blackwork collar, a girdlebook, and a carved spoon, which means that once they’re done, I have only two more items to manage for my list.

 

Breadth Challenge #18: On the Making of Ypocras

This is really better suited to be titled “teaching my first class”, however I’ve not taught the class yet, that’s going to happen in a couple of days time.  Really, this is about my first foray into properly documenting my methods to put together a leaflet for my class.

As I’ve said before, I do all of my research online.  That doesn’t necessarily make for the best research in the world, but if you look thoroughly enough, you can find some real gems on the internet, including primary sources.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon a couple of other people’s research on ypocras, and tracing their research back allowed me to work on information from four primary sources, and two secondary sources citing verbatim three primary sources I couldn’t find access to.

The following documentation is only designed for a hands on class, and is not designed to be an in depth expose of everything related to ypocras.  That’s research that’s going to wait for another day.  But I think this is a good, if brief, run-down of how to make it, and what its purpose was.

Enjoy.

On the Making of Ypocras

(also known as hipocras, hippocras, hippocrass, ypocrasse, ypocras, hypocras, hyppocras, ipocras, ippocras)

by Pelagia Aldinoch

Ypocras is a drink that appears over a number of existing cook books. It is wine, either white or red, which is mulled with spices and sugar or honey, then stored. It was generally served cold, as an after-dinner drink, with accompanying sweets, and was promoted as a digestive aid.

Ypocras derives its name from Hippocrates, who, at the turn of the 5th century BC, developed a theory of medicine which placed human behaviours into four groups: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. This theory was later expanded upon by Galen, who mapped them to a matrix of hot/cold and dry/wet. The four temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy, are expressions of an excess of any one particular humour. Much of the medicine conducted within medieval times was greatly concerned with keeping the humours in balance.

Unlike most recipes found within period, recipes for ypocras often have very precise measurements. This is because ypocras was considered to be medicinal. Personally, I am more concerned with taste than with how hot and wet each of the spices is. My own measurements are far less precise, as I’m still experimenting.

Additives used?

In the recipes I’ve seen, there have been numerous varieties of additives used. Ginger, white pepper, long pepper, graines (grains of paradise), canell (cassia), cinnamon, tornsole or tumsole (which I gather is a red colour agent, but I could be wrong about that one), spikenard, galangal, cloves, nutmeg, saffron, cardamom, musk mallow seed, mace, coriander, marjoram, musk, ambergris, almonds, lemon, beetroot, and milk all number amongst them. Not all of them are readily available in current times, though.

A Note on Bottling and Labelling

Bottling should always be done into sterilised bottles. There are plenty of sterilisation methods easily available, try taking a walk either down the baby aisle or in the brewing section of your supermarket to find cheap sterilisation liquids or tablets. There is no excuse for having something growing in your bottle that you didn’t plan for.

Labelling your product is important, and should be done the same day as you bottle. There are some basics which need to be on every bottle you produce, whether it’s ypocras, beer, or something as simple as lemon syrup.

  • Name of drink. A bottle without a label could be anything. It could be delicious and deserving of drinking, or it could be engine oil waiting to be discarded. So you need to state what it is.
  • Ingredients, in case you inadvertently try feeding your product to someone who has a deathly allergy to something you’ve included in your mix.
  • Bottling date, as you may have several batches on the go at one time. It tells you how much time it’s been resting, and it acts as a product recall code if you later find there’s something horrendously wrong with that batch.
  • Your name, because you never know where your bottle will travel. Wherever it goes, I know I would like them to be able to say “That Pelagia chick sure does brew a good drop! I should nominate her for an award…”

My recipe

Red wine I choose red wine over white mainly because I prefer the flavour. I’m currently using Golden Oak’s 4L casks of medium red. That’s because they’re the cheapest I have access to at the time of writing this. Don’t worry that you don’t like the taste of the wine, don’t waste a good wine on ypocras. The flavour is going to get modified heavily.
Honey Again, generic honeys are best. Flavoured honeys may taste great on toast, but do you really want your medieval drinks to taste like eucalyptus? Also, cost is very much a factor here. Honey is expensive. And the sweeter you want your ypocras to turn out, the more honey you’re going to need to use. Sugar is an acceptable substitute, as it is listed in a number of recipes, but it does affect the flavour of the end product.
Spices My current list of spices is as follows: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, caraway seeds, nutmeg, and green peppercorns. Within period sources, these are most often described as powders. I tend to try not to use powders, however, as they tend to form a lot of sediment which takes a long time to settle out.

I use fresh ginger root, carefully peeled, and cut so that there is a large amount of surface area for the aromatics to pass into the wine.

I use cinnamon sticks, broken into a few large bits.

Of the other ingredients, the only one I use in powder form is nutmeg. The rest I gather together in a mortar and break open slightly.

Add wine to pot. It’s important to make sure your pot is big enough before you do this. Seriously.
Then add your honey.

 

My current recipe uses roughly 1 cup of honey, but this is subject to individual tastes. I’ve found that more is better than less.
Heat the wine/honey mix Using 4L at a time means that I can generally put the heat on high and not have to worry about it too much, but if you’re heating smaller amounts, be careful with the heat setting you use. You don’t want to boil your wine, it will lose its alcohol content, and you may get bitter notes through the wine that weren’t there previously.
Skim the liquid You will begin to see a white froth forming on the liquid as the impurities in the honey float to the surface. This needs to be skimmed off. I’ve found the best way to skim the liquid is with a sieve. Each time you skim the liquid, the sieve must be washed out with fresh water, otherwise you end up re-introducing the impurities back into the mix.
Take the liquid off the heat, then add the spices.

 

Stir the spices in, then cover the mix and leave it to cool overnight.
Strain and bottle The source I found for my original recipe suggested straining the liquid through 3 layers of muslin, which I did for my first few batches. Unfortunately, it led to a lot of sediment and long-term cloudiness. I have now taken to using coffee filters in many instances.

Ypocras benefits from long term storage, and will gain in flavour over time.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

John Russell’s Boke of Nurture (1460)
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24790/24790-h/nurture.html

The Booke of Kervinge and Sewing (London: 1508) http://prognosticationsandpouting.blogspot.com/2010/12/at-last-most-glorious-cover.html

John French The Art of Distillation (London: 1653) http://www.levity.com/alchemy/jfren_ar.html

John Nott, The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary, (London: 1723) http://books.google.com/books/about/The_cooks_and_confectioners_dictionary_o.html?id=P38EAAAAYAAJ

The Forme Of Cury (1390)
http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/foc/

Mss. Sloane 3690, ff 26b.
Massiolot’s ‘Le Confiturier Royal’ Paris (1791)
http://www.historicfood.com/Hippocras%20Recipes.htm

Breadth Challenge #14: Subtlety

For some time now, I’ve been keeping this under wraps.  It’s actually been close to completion for a while, but, being presented at the Coronation tonight, I’ve had to keep mum so as not to spoil the surprise.

I was approached late last year about making a subtlety for the coronation, namely stuffed porpoise.  The original idea was to create a pie in the shape of a porpoise.  This may come as a surprise for some, but I have absolutely no interest in pastry.  I don’t want to work in it, I find pies a tedious process, I couldn’t care less if pies were wiped off the face of the planet.  So trying to think of a way around having to create this monstrosity in pastry and meat, I came across the idea of using gingerbread when I found this.

I had already experimented with the gingerbread recipe, and found that I quite liked the taste of it, and had considered other permutations of the recipe also.  Discussion with the autocrat proved fruitful, and it was decided.

The Draft

The medieval heraldic porpoise is a much more monstrous image than what we would consider today. This provided a rich and complex form for me to first draw, and then sculpt.

Innards

Using cutouts of the original draft drawing is a great way to keep your sculpture as close to the original vision as possible.  The foundation material is a honey/breadcrumb/mixed berry combination, derived from the original gingerbread recipe, but lacking spices.  It has been built up significantly from the surface.

Porpoise bones

This piece was designed to be as spectacular as possible, so the porpoise, when cut, will have a cross section of innards, then bones, then skin.  I’ve used marzipan for this step, it’s got that lovely off-white colour that’s perfect for bone.

Starting to add some skin

Fins and stomach

Adding the back

I’ve used three different colours for the detailed parts of the porpoise.  These are simply three different mixes of blue and yellow food dyes, added into the classic gingerbread mix.

Finishing off the detail

Adding scales was the final touch needed for our porpoise.  Now to get it onto the main board.

When I first took on this project, I thought it was just the porpoise that needed doing.  I wasn’t informed that it was only half the subtlety.  There are supposed to be swans swimming around it.  So I was given a huge board, roughly 90cm x 45cm, for my partner to rout a square into, to fit this tile.  I covered the board with alfoil, slotted in the tile, then my task was to cover everything with a sea.

I’m glad my mother had ready recipes for plastic icing.  This would have been a massively expensive undertaking otherwise.  I had already planned to make my own icing, as I intend to make my own wedding cake when the time draws around, and I wanted this to be a test run of both the recipes, and my own skills with a piping bag.  But that’s a lot of area to have to cover with icing.

Icing the board

The little wave shapes there are royal icing.  That’s basically made out of egg white and icing sugar, piped into the shape you want, and allowed to set hard.  When you’re piping, be sure to pipe onto waxed (baking) paper, wax side up.  Anything else and you’re likely to find your piped creations sticking to whatever surface you’ve piped it onto.  The rest is plastic icing.

A sea of colour

Colouring the sea was the next step.  But what colour is a sea?  Blue?  Green?  A combination?  I set to work attempting a mottled mixing of the two, and ended up with colours a peacock would be proud of.  The photograph really doesn’t do justice to the greens and blues, but it’s the best my poor little camera could manage.

Wave tops become the final touch to my masterpiece

Piped wave tops, made of royal icing, are the last thing on my to-do list.  The subtlety is now out of my hands.

I have been told that my porpoise will be surrounded by six swans, made of shou pastry, who are carrying baskets of cream and berries on their backs.  But I won’t get to see it, as I’m not at the event this subtlety is being presented at.  I’ve been promised photographs, though, and when they arrive, I’ll post them up here for you all to see.

Item 9: A Cordial & Item 10: A Kirtle

I’m going for a two-fer here.  Two disparate items, both of them actually late in the offering.

Item 9, a cordial:

This is a mandarine liquor, or cordial, or whatever you wish to call it.  It’s made on vodka.  I’ve taken the rind of two small mandarines, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/2 stick of cinnamon, and I’ve filtered a bottle of vodka through these ingredients with a coffee filter multiple times.  Then I’ve taken fresh ingredients, and I’ve let them steep in the bottom of the bottle for around 3 weeks.  Today I decanted it into smaller bottles, as I intend to take a small amount with me to Great Northern War.  It’s got a lovely flavour, it’a a very deep citrus, the cardamom notes come out strongly, there’s just the tiniest note of bitterness on the back edge.  I’m rather happy with this attempt, as it’s entirely my creation.  I’ve never ventured beyond Ypocras and Claree before this, and those were working from redactions.

Citrussy Goodness

Item 10 is a kirtle.

I picked the material up from Rowany Festival, and always knew that it would become a kirtle.  I actually finished this dress about a week ago, but I’ve only just got around to photographing it.  I’m sorry, I don’t remember where I got the instructions for making it.  I do recall that I edited it heavily though, and did things in a very different way to the initial instruction.  I would not be able to replicate it, I think.

Mmm, I like green.

This brings me to the completion of my first fifth of my challenge.  Yay!

Item #6: Creme Bastard

Okay, I have to admit, the name got me.  How do you resist with a name like that?  It’s recipe #112 in Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks (2nd ed).  I’m not adding a photo.  It’s white.  It’s a liquid.  There’s really nothing to see.

Take the whyte of eyroun a grete hepe, & putte it on a panne ful of mylke, & lt yt boyle; then sesyn it so with salt and hony a lytel; then lat hit kele, & draw it thorw a straynoure, an take fayre cowe mylke an draw yt withall, & seson it with sugre; & loke that it be poynant & doucet: serve it forth for a potage, or for a gode bakyn mete, wheder that thou wolt.*

*Please note:  there’s a symbol that looks like a cross between a b and a p in the recipe.  I don’t know how to replicate that letter here, so I’m substituting a “th” wherever it appears.

It’s a custard, basically, but instead of being made on the yolk like modern custards, it’s made on the whites.  I wasn’t too sure of the smell after I’d made it, and I’m not one for enjoying the taste of egg-whites particularly, but the edge is taken off by honey.  I had it with homemade apple pie, and it  was delicious.

I’m not prepared to post the redaction here, as it’s not mine and I imagine that it’s covered by copyright, but the original should be easy enough to follow.  Guesstimation is my favourite way of cooking.

%d bloggers like this: