Marzipan

I made this for a recipe that I’ll be posting in the next two weeks, but I thought it should have it’s own post. I brought some of it for the Montengarde Culinary Group meeting yesterday.

Modern Marzipan uses a 5:3 ratio of blanched ground almonds to sugar then adding rosewater until the texture is right (between one and two parts). However An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook (13th century Spanish), Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (16th century German), and Delights for Ladies (16th century English) use a 1:1 ratio of almonds to sugar so I’ll be using the same. You can make this in your mortar but this time I’m using my kitchen servant, aka food processor, to speed things up.

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St. Hildegard Cookies

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This month the theme of Montengarde Culinary Night is “Vegetables or German Food”. I’ve had this one sitting in my drafts for a bit, and since it’s a German cookie recipe it seems like a good time.

I came across references to St. Hildegard’s “Cookies of Joy” or “Happy Cookies” in a few places but no one had the original recipe. Instead it was a modern cookie with butter, sugar, egg, baking powder, and a lot of spices (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon). I knew that was a far remove from what she must have been talking about in 12th century Rhineland so I looked into it a bit more.

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Potatoes

There was a great post today on The Recipes Project about Potatoes written by Amanda Herbert. There’s some great information in Dr. Herbert’s work, take a look at it here:

Some key bits:

By 1500, the sweet potato had become an established crop in western Europe.  “Common,” or white potatoes, took a bit longer to catch on; they arrived in Europe as a cultivable vegetable between 1550-1570.

Britain was one of the last European countries to take to the potato; the first mention of potatoes (sweet or otherwise) in a printed British book was in 1596, when famed herbalist and botanist John Gerard included it in his Catalogue. This was apparently so well-received that a year later, Gerard devoted an entire chapter of his famous 1597 Herbal to this new and unfamiliar plant.

Which reminded me that the Herball often has brief explanations of how to eat the items listed. So off I went to the original.

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Minced Meat Pie

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This month the Montengarde Culinary Group is hosting a winter feast themed night. Since I’ve been wanting to do a hand raised pie for a while I figured this was a good occasion.

With that in mind I thought I’d do a minced meat pie. Yep, with actual meat. Though in the 16th century they’d just call it a Pye of Beefe. So I’m looking at six recipes from England in the 1590s.

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Levels of Skill

A discussion on the Avacal A&S facebook group lead me to think about levels of skill. These are only my thoughts, and I’m not a Laurel, so feel free to take this with a grain (or barrel full) of salt.

Updated: Master Thorvald gave some advice on this that I’ve added as an addendum. I agree that I’m putting too much emphasis on research while someone can definitely be at master level based on their artistic merits alone.

When considering levels of skill I like to think in the context Novice/Intermediate/Proficient/Mastery. These have nothing to do with SCA granted awards, but I think A&S awards frequently line up with them.

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Medieval Fruitcake

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A number of years ago I put together what I thought might be a good period fruitcake recipe. I never got around to making it, so, since we’re having a Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice theme for culinary night this week here’s an updated recipe and my finished version of it.

I originally got the idea for this from Jennifer Strobel, so again, many thanks go to her.

Medieval Fruitcake

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Qurabiya

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It's easiest to roll it in your hands to make the balls

Her Ladyship Kayleigh rolling the cookies

Qurabiya (sometimes spelled Ghorabiye) is a type of almond cookie, likely originating in Persia, which had spread to the Ottoman court by at least the 15th century. I haven’t been able to find any remaining period Qurabiya recipes, so instead this is being built on a lot of conjecture and various “traditional” and modern recipes. From what I can tell from a few different sources it was a cookie made from egg white, almond, sugar, and rosewater. Modernly different fats and oils as well as other nuts are added to the recipe. Every recipe is different and all have various flavourings. A modern version that seems quite similar to the references I’ve found is this one for Iranian Almond Cookies. The cookie spread west early and several types of cookie (such as in Greece) have names that are very similar. But what is interesting is to compare early French macarons:

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Early Tudor Rapier

I wrote this article for Tournaments Illuminated and it was recently published in Issue 200, Fourth Quarter 2016 p.15-19. Early Tudor Rapier: The teaching of the rapier in London before 1580 by the Masters of Defence examines the history of the rapier in Tudor England and how early it was accepted by the Read more…